Pão de Queijo

I have always found it very intriguing that the one thing that people always rant and rave about after visiting Brazil is Pão de Queijo . Seriously people? What about the beautiful beaches, Caipirinhas, Feijoada? Pão de Queijo , which literally translates to Cheese Bread, are baked cheese-flavored balls, made of sour cassava flour. You can find sour cassava at any Brazilian or Latin food store. If you have the unfortunate pleasure of not living close to one of these stores, you can order the flour online. There is really no substitute for the sour cassava flour. It is what gives the Pão de Queijo its famous “gooey” texture.

The traditional recipe calls for Queijo Minas. However, being that it is very hard to find that cheese here in the US, unless you live in a highly Brazilian populated city, you can use Parmesan cheese, Farmer's cheese, or any fresh cow's milk cheese.

What I like to do is make a three times a batch and freeze them for up to 3 months. Whenever I’m in the mood for some cheesy goodness, I just defrost them and pop them right into the oven!This recipe is for all of you out there, whose fondest memory of Brazil was popping a warm, cheesy, gooey, chewy Pão de Queijo in your mouth!

1 cup Water
1 cup Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 ¼ tsp Salt
1kg Povilho Azedo (Sour Cassava Flour)
4 Eggs
2 cups Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a sauce pan, combine water, milk, oil and salt. Heat over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Do not let mixture come to a boil. Sift flour into a bowl. Pour milk mixture over flour slowly and let sit for a few minutes. Add eggs and cheese, mixing well by hand until a smooth texture is achieved. Let dough sit for about 15 minutes. Roll the dough into little balls. Place on a greased and flour baking sheet and bake in oven for 15 minutes or until balls are golden.


Rib Eye Steak with Yuca cake and Cachaça-Malagueta Cream

I don’t know about you, but I can really get tired of the basic steak and potatoes dinner. So, guess what? Substitute those plain ol’ taters for some deliciously rich and buttery yuca root. For those of you who have had the misfortune of never eating yucca, I’m sorry you’ve been missing out! Yuca is root, a sort of “cousin” to the potato. But, unlike potato, the flavor is pretty much amazing; it is rich, buttery, creamy, and just pure heaven! You can do just about anything with them; they are as versatile as potatoes. One of my favorite things to do with them is make little yucca cakes and serve them with steak, for a new twist on steak and potatoes. This dish is so simple, yet full of flavor, which is what I love about it. The three components: protein, starch and sauce, really work together to enhance each of their flavors.

The rib eye is already super tender and full of flavor. Wanting to preserve its natural deliciousness, I simply seasoned it with salt and pepper-cumin. Some of you may be asking yourselves right now, “What the heck is pepper-cumin? Pepper? Or cumin?” Well, my answer to you is, both! In Brazil, pimenta-cuminho (pepper-cumin) is a staple seasoning. We rarely use plain black pepper when seasoning food, especially meats. We toast both black pepper and cumin seeds and grate them together until fine. I will be posting a video soon showing you how to make your own pepper-cumin. And trust me, your black pepper shaker better be shaking in it’s boots right now because once you go pepper-cumin you will never go back! After seasoning my steak, I grilled the steak to medium-rare and sliced each of them into strips.

To make the yuca cake I boiled the peeled and cut yuca unitl it was tender. With a potato masher, I mashed the yucca until smooth and added some grated parmigiano-reggiano and heavy whipping cream. I then shaped the yuca mixture into thick discs and fried them until they were golden brown.

In my list of things I love from Brazil, pimenta malagueta ( malagueta pepper) and cachaça (Brazilian rum) are defiantly in the top 5! So, I thought to myself, why not combine these two to make an outrageously good sauce! Let me tell you, the result of this match was purely amazing! I got my malagueta pepper from a Brazilian store in Kirkland, WA which is just outside of Seattle. The malaguta peppers come in a little bottle with a bunch of little red peppers in a preserve. I used only one pepper because malagueta is pretty powerful and even though I can handle powerful, I really wanted the flavor to stand out more than the heat. I chopped the pepper and combined it in a mixing bowl with the cachaça. I then added the heavy whipping cream and beat it until it was nice and thick!

Serving: Makes 10
2 rib-eye steaks
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 medium-sized yuca roots, peeled and cut into cubes
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ cup of vegetable oil
1 malagueta pepper
1 tsp cachaça
Pepper-Cumin (or substitute equal parts of black pepper and ground cumin)

Season steaks with salt and pepper-cumin. Grill until steaks are medium-rare and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice each steak into ten slices . Boil yuca roots until translucent and tender. In a bowl, combine cooked yuca roots, cheese, 1 1/3 cups of heavy whipping cream, and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Pour oil in a frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Shape yuca mixture into ten ½’’ discs and fry over medium-high heat until golden on both sides. Finely chop malagueta pepper and in a mixing bowl combine it with the cachaça and remaining cream. Beat mixture until thick. To assemble, place yuca cake on plate, top off with cachaça-malagueta sauce and top with two strips of steak.


“Gotta-Have-It” Plantain-Wrapped Prawns with Passion Fruit Sauce Drizzle

Being a seafood lover and having to live and share a life with someone who absolutely despises it is a pretty intricate situation. I guess what saves the relationship is that I can survive for a decent amount of time on beef. But, when I am in one of those gotta-have-a-succulent-plump-sea creature mood, I usually have to fix something not so time consuming, since you could probably bet I will be preparing two different entrees for dinner. The other night, when I was in my “gotta-have-it” mood, I picked myself up some fresh, gorgeous looking prawns at University Seafood, which is close to where I work. When I got home, I noticed a plantain that had been sitting on my counter for a couple of days. It was to the point where it was nice and ripe, just how we love to eat our plantains in Brazil. At that moment, I suddenly got into a gotta-have-delicous-ripe-plantain mood. I thought to myself, how am I going to incorporate this plantain into a prawn dish? And then it came to me: Plantain-Wrapped Prawns. I had to take it to another level and add a tangy, citrusy passion fruit sauce drizzle on top.

I started by marinating my prawns for about 30 minutes, just enough to get started on Mike’s dinner. I cut my plantain into not so thin lengthwise strips. The reason I didn’t use a mandolin to shave thin slices was 1. the plantain was pretty ripe and sensitive, so the mandolin would have destroyed it and 2. I wanted a little bit thicker slices, since I was aiming to get rid of the plantain and use it all. I wrapped my prawns with the plantain strips and secured them with toothpicks. I browned the prawns in a sauté pan until the plantains had caramelized and finished them off in the oven. I plated my prawns, drizzled a little of the passion fruit sauce on top and was ready to indulge in my seafood heaven!

Plantain-Wrapped Prawns

5 Large Prawns, peeled and deveined with tail still in tact
1tsp lime juice
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 Plantain, ripe
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Passion Fruit Drizzle – for decoration, recipe follows
Combine prawns, salt, pepper and lime juice in a small bowl and let marinate for at least 30 minutes. Cut plantain, lengthwise, into 5 strips. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drain prawns. Wrap plantain around prawns and secure it with a toothpick. Sauté the prawns in a non-stick pan, that has been heated and brushed with olive oil. Cook until plantains have caramelized, about 3 minutes. Place the prawns on a broiler pan and bake for 2 minutes on each side. Careful not to burn plantains or overcook the prawns. Plate prawns and drizzle the passion fruit reduction over.

Passion Fruit Sauce

½ sup sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup Passion fruit juice
½ tsp lime juice
Combine all ingredients in heavy small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low. Let simmer until sauce has reduced about half a cup.