Pumpkin and chicken stew (Frango na Moranga)

The last few weeks on the farm have been extremely busy and I have barely had any time to write-up some of the wonderful things I have surprisingly found the time to make. Although I have been busy with farm work, I have managed to squeeze in some time in the kitchen to try out some new recipes. Hopefully I will manage to get those recipes written and posted within the next few weeks.

But, today I want to share a recipe that I made a couple of weeks ago and just haven’t gotten around to posting. This is a recipe that I have been wanting to do for a long time, but traditionally it is made with shrimp, and I rarely buy shrimp, so, I never really had the possibility of making this. But, to my surprise and great joy a little while ago I came across a youtube video (if you speak portuguese you can WATCH IT HERE) of this dish being made with chicken. After watching the video I ran to my freezer to see whether I had chicken and to my delight I DID! All the other ingredients I had, so I went ahead and made it.

Frango na morangaThis is a beautifully simple recipe and has such amazing taste. What I love about this dish is that if you are careful when scooping out the pumpkin, you can use the shell of the pumpkin as a serving dish for the stew. This makes for a beautiful center piece and definitely a great way to impress your family and friends!

If you do not have chicken or would prefer to make this dish with shrimp, you can simply go ahead and substitute the chicken for shrimp!

PUMPKIN AND CHICKEN STEW

600g chicken, cubed
1 small onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsps of parsley finely chopped
1 pumpkin, approximately 3kg or 6-7lbs
1 cup of cream cheese (optional)
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1 tsp of chilli flakes
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
Salt to taste

STEP 1: Wash the pumpkin well and cook in the microwave for 15 minutes on high or in the oven at 200C/390F for approximately 1 hour, until soft, but not mushy.

STEP 2: When the pumpkin is cooked, cut out the top in a circle and put aside. Remove the seeds from inside the pumpkin and remove the pulp from the sides. If you plan to use the pumpkin as a serving dish do not remove the pulp from the bottom. Cut the pumpkin into cubes and set aside.

STEP 3: Lightly stir fry the cubed chicken in a wok or deep pan together with some oil, onions, garlic and parsley. Add the pumpkin, the cream cheese and coconut milk. Bring to a light boil and leave for approximately 6-7 minutes until the mixture becomes creamy. Season with the chilli flakes, nutmeg and salt.

STEP 4: Spoon the stew into the pumpkin, place the top on and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes at 200C/390F. Serve hot with rice!

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Banana Cake (Bolo de Banana)

Brazilian Banana CakeI am always looking for new cake recipes and the simpler the better. At home we always like to have a cake on the counter. We eat cake for breakfast and as a snack in the afternoon, so its an important part of our diet:)! I don’t always manage to have a cake, but I do try. Because we eat cake frequently, I like to make simple cakes. Usually I don’t bother with an icing as it makes the cake much heavier. Also, I like cakes that are quick and easy to whip up. I usually make my cakes at the end of a busy day, so the less time it takes to make the cake the better.

A little while ago I had a lot of over ripe bananas in my kitchen. Instead of throwing them to the pigs to eat I decided to look for a simple Brazilian cake recipe. I came across a simple looking recipe and decided to give it a go. The cake turned out tasty, but it was a little dense. I liked the flavor, but not the texture. So, I noted down the recipe and made note of some changes I wanted to make.

A couple weeks after my first attempt I gave this recipe another go. I made the changes I had wanted to and………the cake turned out fabulous. The flavor was perfect and it was a nice light and fluffy cake. Not greasy at all and just the perfect taste of banana. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE banana cake!

So, here is the recipe, I hope you give this cake a try as it is a true gem and has become part of my regular cake rotation:)!

 

BANANA CAKE

Brazilian Banana CakeIngredients
2 1/4 cups of white flour
1 1/4 cups of white sugar
1/2 cup of butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
2 1/2 tsps of baking powder
1 tsp of vanilla essence
1/2 tsp of baking soda
3/4 tsp of cinammon powder
5 ripe bananas
1/2 cup of milk

Place all of the first seven ingredients into the bowl of a standing mix.

Mash the bananas in a separate bowl. Add the milk and mix until well incorporated.

Begin mixing the first seven ingredients and gradually add the banana and milk mixture to it. Make sure that the butter has been fully incorportated into the batter. Mix at a medium speed for about 3 minutes.

Pour batter into a greased and floured baking tin. Bake at 180C (355F) for approximately 30 minutes.

Brazilian Banana Cake

Pinhão – The Brazilian chestnut

PinhãoI know it is autumn here when the pinhão starts falling from the araucária tree. I have an araucária tree right in front of  my house and when the pinhão starts to fall, my deck becomes littered with these brown chestnut like nuts and there is a constant rain of them for weeks. From a distance you can often here them falling in the woods and almost everywhere you go the ground is littered with them.

Although temperatures do drop a little bit during winter here, no leaves on the trees change their color and everything remains green, although as the winter months drag on a little the grasses begin to turn brown and the trees lose their brilliant green because of a lack of water. But, all of these winter changes are subtle. The real indicator that autumn is here and winter is soon starting is the falling pinhão.

Pinhão

This is the seed ball from the Araucária tree.

The pinhão is the seed from the aruacária tree (see my post about the aruacária tree HERE), a pine tree that can be found in southern Brazil, Chile and Australia. The seed begins growing in a tight green ball in about February or March, it continues to grow throughout the year. The next March and beginning of April these seeds turn a beautiful brown and as they continue to expand, eventually their seed ball bursts and the seeds fall to the ground.

The seeds or pinhão as it is called here in Brazil is like a chestnut. It has a woody outside layer and inside is a soft, starchy, nut. When boiled they becoming this lovely soft nut that is a great addition to any kind of dish.

Pinhão

The seed balls all burst!

Every year I make sure that I gather some pinhão and, besides eating them straight out of the pan, I add them to rice, stir fries or even make gnocchi with them. They keep for several months, so it is always nice to get a good collection in the house to boil-up whenever you want.

Because you cannot find pinhão for sale in the USA I will not share a recipe. But instead leave you with some pictures of this beautiful nut.

If you are ever in the south of Brazil in March or April make sure to look out for these!

Cooked pinhão

Cooked pinhão

Tapioca Recipes – Two ways to use ‘goma de tapioca’

Gluten-free anything seems to be all the rage at the moment and quite regularly I get questions from people curious about tapioca flours and wondering what other gluten-free tapioca recipes I have. After a long hiatus, I am ready to share a new gluten-free tapioca recipe. If you are still a little confused about what I mean by tapioca take a look at my post on tapioca/manioc flours, hopefully that will clear some things up!

In the north of Brazil there are many foods that are made with manioc flours, much more than in the south. For a very long time manioc flours were the primary flour source in the north, therefore all breads, cakes and cookies were made with manioc flours. Over the past years these recipes have begun to make their way to the south of Brazil and slowly new and different gluten-free recipes are getting known, as well as access to some different manioc flours!

One of the most popular items at the moment is a dry-white manioc starch pancake called tapioca. This pancake is eaten for breakfast or as a snack in the north of Brazil filled with butter and cheese, or jam, or any other filling you may like.

Tapioca is made with a hydrated manioc starch called ‘goma de tapioca’. It used to be almost impossible to find goma de tapioca in the south, but with the growing popularity of tapioca you can almost find it anywhere.

Making the tapioca pancake is super easy. For those of you in the USA, the hardest thing will be trying to find the goma de tapioca. If you cannot find the goma you can always use polvilho azedo and hydrate it yourself (see below for instructions).

I often eat tapioca as an afternoon snack and for breakfast I sometimes make a richer european pancake, substituting the white flour for goma de tapioca. I have included instructions for making the traditional northern tapioca and my european tapioca pancake. Enjoy!

Making Goma de Tapioca at home:
To make the hydrated tapioca starch flour you will need to start with either tapioca flour, polivilho azedo or polvilho doce. To buy online take a look at these links: tapioca flour, polivilho azedo, polvilho doce.

You will need:
> 500g tapioca flour, polivilho azedo or polvilho doce
> 200ml water

Step 1: Put the tapioca flour, polvilho azedo or polvilho doce into a bowl. Begin adding the water a little at a time, mixing well with each addition. It is important to add the water slowly so that you guarantee all of the flour is fully hydrated. Once all the water has been mixed in, let sit for 30 minutes.

Step 2: Pass the hydrated flour through a sieve to get rid of all lumps. Store in a sealed container in the fridge. The hydrated flour will keep for up to 2 weeks.

The Brazilian Tapioca Pancake: Once you have the hydrated tapioca flour sieve the flour into a hot frying pan, make sure you create a good layer and making sure to spread evenly over the pan. Leave for 30-60 seconds and then turn over (you do not want the flour to brown). Bake on the other side for another 30 seconds. Remove from pan. You can eat the tapioca pancake with any filling you wish; my favorites are jam or cheese.

Pancakes made with goma de tapioca instead of white flour

Pancakes made with goma de tapioca instead of white flour

The European Tapioca Pancake: Although I am providing a recipe for the european tapioca pancake that I make at home, you can use any pancake recipe, just substitute the white flour for goma de tapioca (hydrated tapioca flour). I have not made this with american style pancakes, so do not know if it will work.

Give these pancakes a go, they are super tasty and are a little bit chewier than regular pancakes. They make for an excellent pancake for anyone who is gluten-free or for a different pancake in the morning!

Ingredients
3 Eggs
1 1/2 cups of Goma de tapioca (hydrated tapioca flour)
A splash of milk
Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together until you have a slightly runny batter free of lumps. Heat a frying pan and melt a bit of butter in it to prevent the pancakes from sticking. Pour some of the batter into the hot pan, bake until brown and then turn over. Bake the second side until brown. Remove from pan. Eat while hot with you favorite pancake toppings!

Do any of you have your own goma de tapioca recipes? If so, I would love to hear them!

 

Chicken Stew With Peas

Chicken stew with peasIt has been a month since my last post and definitely time for a new recipe. This past month has been busy with lots of farm work and a wonderful visit from my parents. We are coming to the end of our summer here and slowly our work is beginning to decrease just a little bit. Unfortunately though, a lot of our work is being disrupted because of relentless rains. Everyday for the past months we have been getting torrential rain storms that release tons of water on top of us and have turned everything into a mud bath. To top things off these storms are usually accompanied by thunder and lightning which tend to cause power outages….so, no peace for us!

But, rain and work aside, let me share with you this delicious recipe I stumbled across last week.

So, last week, amid lots of farm work and delays in all of our transplanting because of rain, I needed to find something to cook one evening. I had taken a kilo of chicken already out of the freezer and at 5pm wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to make with it. I pulled out one of my favorite recipe books (O Brasil À Mesa by Heloisa Bacellar) and began leafing through it. There were several chicken recipes, but this one caught my eye, frango ensopado com ervilha or in english, chicken stew with peas. I quickly read through the recipe and was hooked. Chicken, bacon, onions, garlic, tomato and peas, what could be better? Plus, this was a recipe where you throw everything into a pot and just let it boil. Quick and simple, not much to go wrong!

I whipped everything together, making some adjustments to the recipe because I didn’t have all of the ingredients, and then I let everything boil on the stove for almost 2 hours. The recipe called for approximately 45 minutes of boiling, but I decided to stretch it to increase the flavours and tenderness of the chicken.

The result? Perfection! The chicken was super tender and rich with flavour. This was by far one of the best chicken dishes I had made.

Without further distraction here is the recipe. This is a MUST TRY and a recipe that nothing can go wrong with. You can easily substitute ingredients and if you don’t want to boil this for very long you could easily throw everything into a pressure cook and boil for approximately 30 minutes!

ENJOY!

CHICKEN STEW WITH PEAS
serves 4

Chicken stew with peas1kg of chicken thighs, with or without skin
100g of bacon, cubed
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp of sugar
1 cup of dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1 cup of tomato sauce
1 cup of green peas
1/4 cup of parsley, finely chopped
Oil
Salt and pepper

Cover the bottom of your pot with oil, heat, and quickly brown the chicken. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve on a plate. Sautee the bacon in the same pot, add the onion and, mixing continuously, cook until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and sautee for one more minute. Add the sugar and leave to caramelize. Add the wine and mix well, making sure to loosen everything from the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken to the pot, add the bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the tomato sauce and cook on a low heat, with the lid half-on for approximately 40 – 60 minutes (you can boil for up to 2 hours if you wish). Boil until the meat becomes very soft and the sauce has thickened. Add the peas and leave to cook for another 10 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper, add the parsley and serve with white rice!

Changes that I made:
1. Instead of using bacon I used smoked sausage chopped very finely.
2. I did not have white wine for cooking, so instead just used water.
3. I also didn’t have bay leaves, so instead seasoned with a little bit of thyme.
4. I did not add the sugar as I do not like to put sugar in a lot of my dishes.
5. The parsley I was fully prepared to add in at the last-minute, but ended up forgetting it completely. The dish was still wonderful without it:)!
6. I did not measure the peas, instead I just threw in a whole can.