How to make true Brazilian Rice

DSC_0203Rice is a staple food in the Brazilian diet. Walk into any house and you will find rice on the table ready to be eaten. Go to any restaurant that serves Brazilian food and you will find rice with every dish. Rice is a part of life in Brazil, it is a part of the culture, and it is something you need to know how to cook when making Brazilian food.

Because rice is such an important part of the Brazilian cuisine it is a must know recipe. Rice in Brazil is seasoned differently to rice in the USA or Europe. In Brazil they use onions and garlic to flavor the rice. Without the onions and garlic you do not have Brazilian rice! Before traveling to Brazil I cooked rice the plain and simple way, without onions and garlic. I thought my rice was great before my husband told me how tasteless he thought it was. Once I learned to cook rice the Brazilian way I was hooked and have never wanted to cook or eat rice without the essential flavoring of onions and garlic. I promise that once you learn how to cook Brazilian rice you will be hooked too and will not want to return to the rice you made before.

Brazilian RiceCooking Brazilian rice is simple and just requires a few extra steps. Here are a few things that I needed to learn and keep in mind when learning to cook Brazilian rice:

– Basmati or jasmine rice work best. It took me forever to find the perfect rice, but once I discovered jasmine rice I never changed. Jasmine rice is my favorite to use.
– Always rinse the rice before cooking it. Using a rice washer is a must have for guaranteeing you have well washed rice (this is the Brazilian one which I have been unable to find in the USA). You know the rice is properly washed when the water runs clear!
– Allow the washed rice to dry. It is important to have dry rice before adding it to the pan.
– Don’t over fry the onions and garlic. If the onions and garlic become brown it will give the rice a burnt flavor to the rice.
– Practice makes perfect. If it doesn’t work the first time, try again. It took me quite sometime to get it perfect!

So here is the recipe for Brazilian style rice.

Ingredients

1 cup basmati or jasmine white rice
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small/medium onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 tbsp tempero caseiro (substitute for onion and garlic)
1 tsp salt
2 cups boiling water

Wash the rice until the water runs clear and set aside to dry. Boil enough water for two cups. Chop the onions and garlic finely; if using tempero caseiro measure out the necessary quantity. Place a pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once olive oil is heated add the chopped onions and garlic or tempero caseiro. Sauté until fragrant; approximately 3 minutes. Add the dry rice to the pan and stir for an additional 3-4 minutes making sure that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the two cups of boiling water to the rice and the salt (if using the tempero caseiro you do not need to add the salt). Place a lid on the pan and cook on medium heat for 8 minutes. Decrease the heat to low and cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the water has all evaporated. If the rice is not cooked yet, add a little bit more water!

For a PDF of this Recipe CLICK HERE!

Brazilian Rice

Thanks to Paula from Blogging Foods for the specifics on this recipe….!

Caipirinha the National Drink of Brazil

Caipirinha made with cachaça

The weather this week has been miserable and it has been very cold; in parts of the south of Brazil it snowed for the first time in 50 years. Cold for Brazilians in São Paulo is in the low 40sF (6C), and with a wet cold it definitely does feel bone chilling. The last days I have been spending my nights next to a warm fire!

But, knowing that the weather in the northern hemisphere has been unbearably hot, I thought that I would try to bring some of your warm weather to Brazil and try to get rid of the horrible rain that has been plaguing us for the last days. And, what better way to do this then to make the national drink of Brazil, CAIPIRINHA.

Caipirinha is a cachaça-based drink made with lime, sugar, and ice. Cachaça, also known as pinga, is a distilled liquor derived from sugarcane and is very popular throughout Brazil. Cachaça comes in several different varieties and prices. Some people use cachaça to mix drinks and others prefer it in a small shot glass sipped slowly. Until recently cachaça was largely unknown outside of Brazil, but because of increased availability outside of Brazil it is slowly becoming known to other parts of the world.

Caipirinha is a drink that is enjoyed in restaurants, bars, beaches, and households throughout Brazil. At some point or other every tourist to Brazil will get there hands on one of these tasty and refreshing drinks. The best place to have a caipirinha is on the beach!

Beautifully easy to make, caipirinha is my all-time favorite cocktail. Although it is best made with cachaça, using a good quality vodka works just as well.

Because I am a bit of a fussy cocktail drinker I have never used specific measurements for making caipirinha. Instead, I have always gone by taste. My advice to you is follow the recipe below and before gulping the whole thing down check the flavor and add more cachaça, sugar, or ice as needed.

Happy drinking!

Ingredients

50 ml cachaça or vodka
1/2 lime sliced thinly, or cut into four wedges
2 tsp white sugar

Place the lime in a glass and muddle (mash the lime with a muddler or wooden spoon to extract all of the juice). Add the cachaça, sugar, and ice cubes or crushed ice.

Pão de Queijo – Brazilian Cheese Bread, yum!!!!!!

Brazilian Cheese BreadIf you have visited Brazil you are likely to have tried these tasty morsels known as pão de queijo, or literally translated, cheese bread. Pão de queijo is a popular snack all over Brazil, but especially in the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and Espirito Santo. Found in any coffee shop, lanchonete, or padaria, these are the perfect treat with coffee, for when you are feeling peckish, just want a little something to keep you going, or in my case can’t get enough of them.

On my first trip to Brazil in 2005 I, of course, ate my fair share of pão de queijo, and I have been addicted to them ever since. Not being in Brazil can be a big challenge when you crave these tasty morsels on a daily basis. Every time I visited Brazil I would bring packets of quick and simple pão de queijo mix back to the the USA. Brazilian Cheese BreadUnfortunately these never lasted long enough and I didn’t make the effort to learn how to make them from scratch myself (everyone had told me that they were very difficult, and silly-me, I believed them). So, I was usually without them for many months and had to manage my cravings!

Most Brazilians do not make pão de queijo from scratch. Instead, they either get them from their local padaria (bakery), or buy it frozen from the supermarket. Although buying them frozen is the quick and easy solution to making pão de queijo at home, I knew that I could make these scrumptious treats from scratch and meet the padaria quality.

Now, making pão de queijo in Brazil is easy because all of the ingredients are easy to find. Unfortunately, it is much more of a challenge in the USA. First, the recipe calls for polvilho azedo, which is a sour manioc starch, that is almost impossible to find. The best substitute that I have found for this in the USA is tapioca flour, or you can try searching for it in latin markets where it is sold as almidón agrio. The other ingredient problem you have out of Brazil is the cheese. The cheese that is used for pão de queijo is a half-cured cheese that is tangy and flavorful. Finding a substitute for the cheese is a challenge and I have usually resorted to a mix of parmesan and mozzarella.

Brazilian Cheese BreadNevertheless, you can make these tasty morsels in your own home. And, I can guarantee that once you have tried these you will want to run back to the kitchen, make a huge batch, and store them in the freezer so you never run out!!!!

Anyway, I won’t keep you from these goodies anymore. Here is the recipe for the pão de queijo that I made this weekend. They turned out amazing as you can see from the pictures. Hopefully they work out for you as well as they did for me. If they don’t work the first time don’t give up! Remember, if the mixture is too runny just add some more flour until you can roll the mixture into small balls that will keep their shape on the tray.

I look forward to hearing and seeing pictures from your pão de queijo!

Ingredients

makes approx. 30

320g (or slightly more than 2 cups) polvilho azedo or tapioca flour
1/2 cup vegetable, canola, or sunflower oil
1 cup milk
2 tsp salt
2 cups finely grate queijo minas (or you can try a mix of 1 part mozzarella and 2 parts parmesan cheese)

Brazilian Cheese BreadHeat the oil and milk together in the microwave or stove. Do not bring to a boil. Mix the oil and milk with the polvilho azedo and salt until fully combined. Put in the fridge to cool to room temperature. Finely grate the cheese. When the mixture has cooled mix a little and then add the cheese. Make sure mixture is combined well. If mixture is too runny add more polvilho azedo until mixture is slightly firm and when rolled into a small ball it holds. Preheat oven to 375F or 180C. Cover hands with oil and roll balls approximately 2.5cm or 1inch (make sure not to make the balls too big, otherwise they will not rise). Place on a baking tray or cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until tops are slightly golden.

If freezing, place rolled balls onto wax paper and put in the freezer for approximately 8 hours, or until well frozen. Transfer to ziploc bag. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375F or 180C, when oven is hot retrieve pão de queijo from the freezer, place on baking tray or cookie sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until tops are slightly golden. It is important to remember to bake when still frozen.

Serve immediately. Pão de Queijo is best eaten straight out of the oven.

For a PDF of this Recipe CLICK HERE!

Brazilian Cheese Bread

Bolo de Cenoura – A Brazilian Carrot Cake

Brazilian carrot cakeWhen I was young I used to look forward to September 26th every year. September 26th was my sister Rianne’s birthday and each year my mom baked a carrot cake for her birthday (maybe she only did this one year, but in my memory it was every year). My mom’s carrot cake was my favorite cake of the year. I loved the spices in the cake and the bits of grated carrot. It was the grated carrot that made me fall in love with this cake. I thought it was so funny to have bits of carrot in a cake, yet at the same time I absolutely loved it. I have tried endlessly to reproduce my mom’s carrot cake, but with little success!

When my husband told me about the Brazilian carrot cake, my first response was ‘whats the point if there are no bits of carrot?’ The thing with the Brazilian carrot cake is that the carrot has been liquified, and instead of seeing or chewing on bits of carrot it is all blended into the now orange cake. But, as I knew from experience, Brazilian cakes are always very tasty, light, and simple. So clearly I knew that this was a cake I needed to try.

Brazilian carrot cakeIt took me years to try the Brazilian carrot cake, but a few weeks ago I was able to try it. My mother-in-law and I went out to get some food for lunch a while ago and while choosing which pasta and dessert we wanted to take home she chose an orange looking cake covered with chocolate to go along with our coffee that afternoon. I didn’t catch what type of cake it was and didn’t think to ask at the time; it looked tasty and that was good enough for me. When we sliced into the cake the color was a beautiful golden, it was fluffy, and smelled amazing. Yes, the Brazilian carrot cake lived up to my expectations and once again managed to impress. After trying the cake I knew that I needed to learn how to make this Brazilian specialty. So that’s just what I did!

What I love about this Brazilian carrot cake, and most Brazilian cakes, is that they are very simple to make. Most Brazilian cakes are made in a blender and take less than 15 minutes to put together. Most often you just need to put your ingredients in the blender, turn it on, empty into a baking tin, and bake. Simple!

I started this cake with the full intention of only using the blender. It turned out that when adding the dry ingredients to the wet the blender stopped working because the batter was too heavy. A note to myself and those who can’t wait to try this recipe – don’t use the blender for the whole cake, just for the wet ingredients. Once I mixed the wet and dry ingredients by hand everything started to go much smoother. The chocolate glaze is supposed to be a hard shell over the cake. If you prefer soft and runny chocolate skip the last oven part! The cake will be just as yummy. This was a simple cake to make and tasted absolutely amazing. Next time I make it I will remember to add more carrots though; I could have done with a stronger carrot flavor.

Brazilian carrot cakeIngredients 

Cake:
2 large carrots
1 cup oil
2 cups white sugar
2 cups white flour
2 eggs
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon rind
pinch of salt

Glaze:
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp milk

Cake: peel the carrots, chop into small chunks, and place in a blender together with the oil. Add the eggs, one at a time, continuing to blend until a smooth liquid. Pour carrots, oil, and eggs into a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, flour, baking powder, lemon rind, and salt. Pour mixture into a cake tin that has been buttered and floured. Bake in a 375F oven for 30-40 minutes.

Topping: Mix the cocoa powder, sugar, and milk until it is a very smooth consistency. When the cake is taken out of the oven, immediately remove from the tin and place on a plate. Cover the cake with the glaze and return to the warm oven, make sure the oven is turned off. Leave the cake in the oven with the door open for 15-20 minutes.  

Brazilian carrot cakeNow the question I keep asking myself, and I am sure you will ask me, which carrot cake is better, my mom’s or the Brazilian? To be honest, I cannot say. Both are very tasty and both are very different! I will always like those bits of carrot in my mom’s carrot cake and will always love the simplicity of the Brazilian carrot cake.

I look forward to hearing about what you think of this carrot cake.

For a PDF of this Recipe CLICK HERE!

*Recipe from Delicias da Cozinha Deliciosa*

Brazilian Cuisine

Before I dive more deeply into cooking Brazilian food and learning about the different ways to cook the traditional dishes of Brazil, I want to tell you a little bit about where the Brazilian cuisine comes from. Brazil is a large country, approximately 8,515,767 km² and has a population of approximately 200 million people. Brazil is the largest country in South America, and remember, they speak portuguese, not spanish. Brazil is a country that is built up of immigrants, every Brazilian has a mixed heritage. The diverse population of Brazil with many different cultural influences, Italians, Germans, Japanese, and Africans alike have all had a distinct impact on the cuisine of Brazil.

Brazil can be divided into four main regions, each with a distinct cultural heritage and cuisine. The north of Brazil, which consists primarily of the Amazon, has a population made-up of indigenous tribes and people of mixed Indian and Portuguese ancestry. The main foods that can be found in the north of Brazil are fish, manioc, yams, peanuts, and a mix of tropical fruits. The northeastern region of Brazil, best known for the cuisine of Bahia has its influential roots in African and Portuguese cuisine. Central ingredients to Bahian cuisine are coconut milk, palm oil, and malagueta chili peppers. In the south of Brazil a larger mix of cultures is visible, immigrants from Lebanon, Syria, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain boast a rich variety of foods. Finally, the southeastern region of Brazil has a large influence from the gaucho, the cowboys of the pampas. In the south they like meat Brazilian Foodand are famous for their churrasco; barbecue.

Many different foods abound throughout Brazil, but staple foods can be found throughout the country: beans, coconuts, dende oil (red palm oil), dried and salted codfish, dried shrimp, rice, and manioc. Rice and beans are a staple food that is found in every home and is served at almost every meal. (If you don’t like beans, no need to worry, you will not be forced to eat them. It took me many years to enjoy eating beans and I am still not the most avid bean eater!)

Brazilian cuisine revolves heavily around meat. It is easy to say that Brazilians LOVE their meat. It is difficult to have a meal that does not consist of some type of meat while in Brazil. When having a celebratory meal, such as for Christmas, you can expect to be greeted with ham, turkey, and fish; there is never just one type of meat on the table. You will never leave someones house hungry in Brazil.

Besides a heavy diet of meat and starches, Brazil has an amazing abundance of fruits and vegetables. Walking into a grocery store or visiting the local street market you will soon learn that there is no such thing as one variety of fruit. Bananas come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, oranges are small, large, sweet, or watery, there are normal looking fruit and odd looking fruit. In Brazil, I am always learning about a new and different fruit that I have never seen or even heard of. Surviving off of fruit and vegetables is easy here!

Food shopping is an enjoyable chore in Brazil. The choices of where to go and what to shop for is endless. Everyday there is a street market, with time you learn where the street markets are, and which are the good ones. The local market where I do shopping and my mother-in-law and friends go to has an abundance of different foods. To read more about the Brazilian shopping experience read a recent post from a fellow blogger in Rio.