Brazilian Sweet Squash Dessert

Long neck squash - Abóbora pescoço

This is the beautiful squash that we harvested. They can weigh from 5kg (11lbs) to 20kg (44lbs) and have a beautiful orange color!

At the beginning of May we harvested a ton of squash here on the farm. This is not the americana butternut squash, but a gigantic squash that can weigh up to 20kg/44lbs. . Although I am selling most of it, I am still up to my arms in squash and most of my cooking at the moment involves squash in some form or another. One of the best things that I have made so far is a sweet squash dessert. Boiling the squash with cloves, coconut and sugar makes the most delicious dessert, especially if paired with fresh cheese.

Here is the recipe. Enjoy!

Brazilian Sweet Squash DessertSweet Squash Dessert

1.5kg/3.3lbs cubed squash (you can use any kind of squash or pumpkin)
450g/1lb white sugar
15-20 cloves
50g-100g/1.7oz-3.5oz shredded coconut

Cube the squash. In a medium to large pan add all of the ingredients except the coconut. Bring to the boil. There is no need to add water as the squash will release a lot of water, but if you think it is a bit dry and the squash is burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan, you can add some water. Boil for approximately 30 to 45 minutes until the squash is soft. Using a fork, mash all of the squash until you have a nice pulp. Add the coconut, mixing in well. Continue boiling until you have a thick puree. Add more sugar, coconut or cloves if you want.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Serve on it own or with fresh cheese.

Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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Brazilian boiled pork (Carne na panela)

DSC_0012Coming up with an appropriate translation for this dish was not easy. In portuguese this dish is called carne na panela which translated literally means ‘meat in the pan or pot’. Although this is an accurate description of what the dish is and how it is cooked, it doesn’t sound too appealing as a name for such a delicious dish. Stew would be a completely misleading name as there is nothing stew-like in the end result. So, I was actually a little bit stumped of how to properly translate the name of this dish and how to make it sound as delicious as it is. After a lot of thought I came up with something that didn’t sound too horrendous and accurately described what this dish is, brazilian boiled pork.

Between all of the sweets that I have recently been making I have managed to make this dish quite a number of times. As many of my regular readers will know, my husband and I raise our own pork on the farm. This means I usually have a freezer full of meat (this Saturday it will get restocked as we will be killing and butchering our piglets that are now pretty big) and have to use all the different parts of the pig. My speciality in the kitchen is definitely not meat. It is not something I am very good at making and something that I still have a lot to learn about. Usually, it is my husband that does all of the meat cooking in our house and I stay far away for fear of destroying the dish. But, recently, with all of the pork that we have, I have begun digging my hands into some more meat dishes, more out of necessity really! The first dishes I made were not that great and definitely had a lot of faults, but over time I am getting a better feeling for how to cook meat and I already am developing my little book of tips and tricks for making delicious meat dishes. And, this dish is probably the best that I have made and mastered.

Carne na panelaIn my search for good meat dishes and my attempt to learn how to properly cook meat I came across this recipe of boiling pork loin for about two to three hours. The recipe and process sounded easy and I knew from eating meat cooked this way that it is really tasty. So, I pulled out some pork loin from my freezer, marinated it with salt, pepper, garlic and lemon juice and let it sit for about three hours. I then put some oil in the bottom of a cast iron pan, added my marinated pork, filled the pan with water and added some herbs for extra seasoning. I left the pan to simmer for a good three hours and until most of the water had boiled off. The smell that permeated through the house was amazing! Once most of the water was boiled off and the pork loin was literally falling apart, I took the pan off the heat and let it sit for another 30 minutes. 

The end result…….this dish was absolutely amazing. My husband and I loved it and it was by far the best pork dish we had made.

Over the next weeks I made this dish several more times, using different cuts of pork, mostly the leg. Each time the flavor got better and the meat juicier. Now, this dish is my go-to meat dish and every chance I get I pull some pork out of the freezer and make this. The real secret to this dish is a long marination time and a slow simmer. This is not a dish to be rushed.

For anyone who is as shaky as me with cooking meat, definitely give this recipe a go. It is difficult to go wrong with this dish and the results are always amazing.

Happy cooking everyone!

PAN BOILED PORK (Carne na panela)

1.2kg/2.6lbs of pork loin or leg
1-3 garlic cloves, crushed
Juice from 2 lemons
1 bay leaf
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

Season the pork with garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Set aside for a minimum of 3 hours and up to 24 hours in the fridge.

In a medium pan, cover the bottom with vegetable oil, add the seasoned pork, the bay leaf and enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil, when boiling lower the heat, and, with the lid half on simmer for 2 to 3 hours or until almost all the water has boiled off and the meat is very soft and falling apart.

Serve the pork with rice, beans and vegetables or potatoes.

Banana and Guava Jelly Pie

I have been on a sweet streak recently. Everything that I am making in the kitchen seems to be sweet. Everytime I tell myself that I will now make a savory brazilian dish, another sweet dish turns up and I just have to make it. So, there will probably be a lot of sweets coming up soon, just a little warning;)!

This recipe was one of those that just popped-up. One of my favorite blogs O Caderno de Receitas posted this recipe the other week and as soon as I read through it, I just had to make it. The filling for this pie, banana and goiabada (guava jelly) was absolutely irresistible and since I had almost all of the ingredients at home, there was no excuse not to make it. We devoured this pie really fast and it is one of those pies that you can make a dozen of and it still won’t be enough.

For those of you who do not know what goiabada is, you don’t know what you have been missing. This is a very common brazilian sweet that is made from guavas. Although you probably won’t find it in any store in the USA, you Torta de banana e goiabadacan buy it HERE on amazon.com. To make this recipe you will need to buy some as there is no reasonable substitute that I can think of. But, you won’t be sorry. I promise!

Enjoy the pie.

BANANA AND GOIABADA PIE (Torta de banana e goiabada)

Ingredients for the PASTRY
120g of white flour
60g of butter, at room temperature
60g of white sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
Water

Ingredients for the FILLING
150g of goiabada, cut into small pieces
5 ripe bananas

Making the Pastry: Mix all of the ingredients together adding enough water so that it forms a soft ball. Set aside.

Making the filing: Cut the goiabada and banana into small pieces. Place into a medium sized pan with a little bit of water and slowly bring to a boil on low heat, making sure to continuously stir. Allow the mixture to slowly boil, adding water as necessary and continuing to mix until the goiabada has fully melted and incorporated with the banana and the mixture has thickened.

Putting it all together: Line a round pie dish with the pastry. The pastry is very light and soft so may not roll out well. This doesn’t matter. Just piece it all together in the pie dish. Once you have lined the pie dish with the pastry add the filling. Bake at 200C/390F for approximately 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool!

Notes: If you would like a thicker pastry you can always double the recipe. Or if you would like more filling you can easily double the recipe too. Have fun with this recipe. It will always taste good!

Homemade Bread

DSC_0133I have been wanting to write this post for a long time now, but never quite managed to get around to it, some other delicious recipe always crept in and I have been constantly pushing this post further and further down my to-do list. But, today, I am finally going to tell you all about my homemade breads, why I make homemade bread and how I get beautiful and tasty loaves.

My husband and I have been making homemade bread for years. It was my husband who really introduced me to bread making and who taught me many of the things that I know today. We began making our own bread for several different reasons, but the primary reason has always been that we enjoy the process of making our own bread and really, there is nothing better than homemade bread fresh out of the oven. Right? But, we also began making our bread because it was cheaper and we always felt that our breads were of equal or superior quality to what we found at the supermarket. Now, living on our farm, we continue to bake our own bread because we like to, but also because we need to. We live far from any supermarket and although we do have a bakery about 15 minutes from our farm and they make good breads, the variety is limited, and they don’t make a lot of the breads that we like to eat on a daily basis! Plus, any breads of really good quality can cost quite a lot and making bread at home, I can make a loaf for very cheap:)

Additionally, I want to share with all of you some of my bread making tips and experiences, because there is a lot of information on the internet about bread making, and sometimes I feel that this information is geared a little bit too much to people who only want to use expensive flours and make complex sourdough loaves. So today, I want to share with you a little bit about how I manage to get super tasty loaves, using cheap flours.

Homemade BreadI have never been someone to buy super expensive flours for my bread making. I like to mix whole wheat and rye flours, sometimes wheat germ and some seeds, but I have never felt it necessary to spend an arm-and-a-leg on my flours. In the USA there are many flour options and you can spend hours researching for the perfect flours. In Brazil, it is the opposite. There are a limited amount of flours available and, although you can probably buy some fancier flours in some supermarkets, the majority of supermarkets here carry white flour and probably some whole wheat flour, but not much else. So, although I anyway always bought the simpler flours, here in Brazil I don’t have much choice. White flour here is just plain white flour, there is no bleached or unbleached flour, there is no regular flour or bread flour. White flour is white flour. And, if I am not mistaken it is all bleached. Many breadmakers stress that you must use unbleached white flour and preferably bread flour. I have never had any problems using the regular white flour that I find here in Brazil. And, contrary to what a lot of people say about buying top quality expensive flours, I actually buy the cheapest flour at the supermarket. Some of our friends recommended it and it works beautifully.

Going on to whole wheat and rye flours. Again, my choices are limited here. My husband and I do all of our shopping for flours and grains in an area in São Paulo where they only sell these types of products. If I was going to find super specialty flours, I would find it here. All of the stores sell an insane amount of nuts, seeds, flours, grains….anything you can imagine. Guess what, I don’t find stoneground whole wheat flour or ten different types of rye flour. Usually, there is one type of whole wheat flour and that is the one I buy. Nothing special, just normal whole wheat flour.

Homemade BreadSo, for any of you people out there getting overwhelmed by the specialty flours and the many people telling you to use stoneground this or that flour. Forget it, buy some simple white flour, regular whole wheat or rye flour, and don’t give it too much thought. I have come to learn that, although expensive flours might make a difference for the breads, it is the way that you make your breads that is most important. Focus on the process!

I make all of our bread at home, we rarely buy, and this means that making complex loaves isn’t always ideal. Usually what I do is set aside one weekend to make about 10 loaves of bread. I then freeze everything and in about 4 to 6 weeks I will have a huge bread making weekend again. What I like to do on my bread making weekend is plan to make about 6 quick and simple loaves (I call these my everyday loaves) and about 4 sourdough loaves. We like sourdough loaves a lot, but these are not loaves that we can eat everyday! I always love my bread making weekends and contrary to what most people think, it does not take-up a lot of my time.

Most people think that making bread takes a lot of time. Well, I am here to tell you that it does NOT! The trick with bread making is that you need to plan. Usually what I do is make a schedule for the weekend. I write down exactly at what time I need to do everything for my recipes and as much as I can I join everything together. By doing this I know when I need to be in the house and when I have time to go out and do things around the farm! Planning is the key to easy bread making.

The primary loaf that I make is a quick and simple bread. It takes about 7 hours from start to finish and only requires about 1 hour of real hands on attention. I love this loaf because there is a lot of room to make adjustments. Depending on my mood, I will sometimes just make a 100% white loaf, or I will do 40% whole wheat or I will do 30% whole wheat and 10% rye, or I will even add linseed, sesame seed or sunflower seeds to the recipe. No matter what adjustments I make, the loaf always turns out super tasty and is a perfect everyday loaf. This is the loaf that I used to really perfect and improve my breadmaking techniques and skills and it has paid off. I have been constantly making this load for about a year now and I have managed to really fine tune it. But, it has also given me an amazing springboard for more complex and richer breads!

This is the perfect loaf for beginners. There is little room for error and even if the bread doesn’t turn out 100% it will probably still be edible and very tasty.

So, without saying too much more, as I have rambled quite a bit already, I will leave you with my white bread recipe taken from the wonderful recipe book by Ken Forkish Flour Water Salt Yeast.
White Bread Recipe

For the full recipe CLICK HERE!

These are some of my recommended changes to the recipe if you are feeling adventurous:

  1. 60% white flour; 40% whole wheat flour
  2. 35% white flour; 75% whole wheat flour
  3. 60% white flour; 30% whole wheat flour; 10% rye flour
  4. 90% white flour; 100g wheat germ
  5. Normal recipe but add 50g of seeds of your choice

Homemade Bread