Brazilian Dinner

Brazil Spread(Originally Posted 7/15/2014) Before finally leaving the World Cup behind in Brazil, we should pause for a moment to enjoy a Brazilian dinner. . .

Lawrence and I had been looking for an excuse to cook a Brazilian menu anyway. Me because I’d been gifted some Pao de Queijo (a cross between a cheese puff and a popover) from a bakery with the assurance that you really needed to eat them fresh out of the oven to get the best effect (which turned out to be true). Lawrence because he had a new grill and remembered Brazilian dinners as 99% grilled meat, and because he wanted to use his World Cup drinking game joke in a dinner invitation:

Mix one pitcher of Caipirhinas and commence drinking for offsides, drinking for red cards, drinking for yellow cards, nursing your drink for guys rolling around holding onto their ankles until the ref moves off down the field, taking a shot for bites, and when there is a goal go take a pee, get more food, wash the dog, whatever, because it will certainly be a very long time before you risk missing the next one

We had our dinner in absolutely gorgeous weather, on the porch (of course) and here is the menu. For someone who has never been to Brazil and knows very little about Brazilian cooking, I took a surprising number of liberties with the recipes – for which I apologize to literalists everywhere, but they did taste good:

Moqueca – Bahian Fish Stew, see my recipe below
Feijoada – I don’t know how Lawrence makes this black bean stew, it involves stalking around and demanding more meat and more smokiness. Here is Saveur’s recipe – we didn’t have the rice or collards this time, but would have if we’d made it as its own dinner.
Churrasco – A platter of grilled meats with Chimichurri Sauce, we’ll overlook the fact that chimichurri appears to be from Argentina

Pao de Queijo – Very easy and, due to the gluten-free enthusiasms of central Vermont shoppers, tapioca flour proved easy to find.

Cheese Bread

The Pao de Quejio look a little deflated because we were so excited we ate one full tray of them before remembering to stop and take a picture.

Anqu – I mixed 1 1/2 cups grits (our version of polenta), 1/2 stick butter, 3 cups whole milk, 1 tsp chili powder and cooked over medium-low heat stirring and adding water and salt until it was the consistency I wanted, then added 1/4 cup minced scallion and a drained 16 oz can of hominy and cooked until the hominy was warm (adding a splash more water).
Chojin – Radish & Citrus Salad. I’d say more of a relish, my version (not authentic) was equal parts grated radish and grated carrot, generous pinch of salt, juice from half a lime, then orange juice to make sure everything got damp. Would have added chopped Brazil nuts on top if I had remembered (which I didn’t).
Green Salad with a Pseudo-Brazilian Dressing – Pseudo Brazilian dressing was mashed avocado, lime, pineapple juice, salt, pepper, pinch of cayenne, splash of olive oil then water to thin it to dressing consistency.

Rapadura Ginger Cake with Olive Oil Ice Cream – almost certainly not authentic, see recipe below
Brigadeiros – Cook 1 can of sweetened condensed milk and 2 Tb butter in a small saucepan over medium heat to a boil (stir often!) then reduce and cook until starts to caramelize, add one splash of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of high quality unsweetened cocoa powder, whisk well. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until it thickens. Cool then scoop into balls and roll in whatever coating you desire (I used cacao nibs because I had them – chocolate sprinkles would have been more traditional, or cocoa powder)

Caipirhinas

Brigadeiros

* * *

Moqueca Fish Stew:

  • 2 lbs Catfish or other white fleshed fish cut into smallish cubes (2″ or so)
  • Juice of 4 limes plus more as back up
  • 2 Tb Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 2 Green Peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 Large Onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, thin sliced
  • 1 28 oz can Whole Tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can Coconut Milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt
  • Avocado and Cilantro to garnish

In a large bowl, mix together the ingredients from fish through the first set of garlic cloves. Toss. You want to be sure the fish is fully covered in the citrus, so add more if needed. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours (if you get to this point and panic because you don’t have 4 hours, just cover and leave out on the counter while you do the other stuff)

In very large flat bottomed skillet or dutch oven, cook the onion and garlic until onion is opaque (you aren’t browning it), add green peppers and cook until they start to soften. Add tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add coconut milk and water. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add in the fish (not all the dressing they’ve cooked in, but you can be sloppy about it – you want *some* of the marinade getting in). Cook until fish is just warmed through.

Garnish with avocado and cilantro.

Moqueca Recipe

Ginger Rapadura Cake with Olive Oil Ice Cream

This cake goes on the premise that if you make a sponge cake and soak it with sweet syrup it will be good, especially with ice cream or whipped cream on top.

Make a sponge cake – I use the Mark Bittman recipe, the one where you *don’t* separate the eggs before beating them. I couldn’t find that online, but this from Epicurious should work – add 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp ground ginger to the dry ingredients.

While the cake is baking, make a rapadura sauce. Rapadura is unrefined sugar. You could also use a mixture of white sugar and molasses to get a close-enough taste. Bring 1/3 cup water, 2 Tb grated ginger, 1 1/2 cups rapadura shavings to a boil (make sure all the sugar is liquid) then leave to steep as the cake bakes.

When the cake is done, prick it all over with fork tines, then pour the syrup on so that it gets absorbed down into the cake.

Then, serve with olive oil ice cream and (if you have them, which we happened to) fresh figs.

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