Sweet Farofa Recipe

sweet farofaA little while ago I received an e-mail from one of my favorite blogs (O caderno de receitas) with a recipe for sweet farofa. For anyone wanting to try a new farofa recipe this one is perfect. It goes really well with pork or turkey. If there is anything in the recipe that you do not like or don’t have at home, you can simply leave it out.

Enjoy this recipe!

Ingredients
80g bacon, cubed or chopped finely
Olive Oil
½ onion, grated or chopped finely
50g prunes, chopped
50g raisins
50g chopped brazil nuts
50g chopped walnuts
250g breadcrumbs or farinha de mandioca

Put some olive oil in a frying pan, add the bacon and fry on a low heat. When beginning to brown add the onion and continue to fry. When the onion begins to soften and brown, add the prunes, raisins, brazil nuts and walnuts, continue to fry, mixing regularly. Add the breadcrumbs or farinha de mandioca a little at a time, mixing well after each addition to make sure that everything is well incorporated. If the breadcrumbs or farinha de mandioca begin to get dry you can add some more olive oil (you want the flour to be humid, but not wet). Serve warm or at room temperature together with meat, rice and beans!

Thank you to ‘O caderno de receitas’ for this wonderful recipe!

Photo credit: http://ocadernodereceitas.com.br/2015/12/29/farofa-doce-da-minha-mae-sugestao-para-o-ano-novo/

Another essential – Cheiro Verde

DSC_0174Because I want to learn how to cook Brazilian foods I need to continue coming back to the essentials of the Brazilian kitchen. Over my years of cooking Brazilian foods I have realized that with the Brazilian essentials at my fingertips you can make any dish smell and taste amazing; and, these basic ingredients are important to making Brazilian dishes perfect. The smell that wafts through the house is mouth watering. I also love having ingredients ready to go. I am never happy when I need to spend half an hour in the kitchen chopping ingredients that I could have prepared at the beginning of the week. Why waste time chopping onions, garlic, parsley, and spring onions every night when I can do it once a week or less?

As I have learnt over the years, the Brazilian cooking essentials usually serve as time savors while adding extra flavor and smell to the food that is being cooked. What more could you ask for?

So, with that, here is another essential for your Brazilian kitchen: cheiro verde, which literally means green smell. It is the green smell of parsley and spring onions chopped and added as seasoning to almost all Brazilian dishes. What a beautiful name for two beautiful ingredients – cheiro verde!

Parsley and spring onions are two ingredients that you can find in almost all dishes. They add flavor, smell, and color to the dishes being cooked and are some of my favorite ingredients to cook with. Open almost any freezer in a Brazilian kitchen and you will likely find chopped parsley and spring onions ready to be added to the dish that is cooking on the stove. Chopping your parsley and spring onions and freezing them saves you time in the kitchen and they can be added quickly at the end, or as a last thought, to a dish.

Recently, my husband and I went grocery shopping. I was looking for a full bunch of parsley to add to some of the vegetable juices we make at home. While on the hunt for my bunch of parsley all I could find was bunches of parsley and spring onions sold together. I kept looking but didn’t find parsley sold as a single bunch. In exasperation I asked my husband to have a look for a single bunch of parsley. Finally, tucked behind the cheiro verde (parsley and spring onions) was a single bunch of parsley. Clearly, parsley and spring onions are married in Brazil and it is not favorable to split them apart!

DSC_0170All you need to do with the parsley and spring onions is finely chop them up. Mix well together. Place in a freezer proof container and leave them in the freezer until you need them.

I like to freeze my cheiro verde in plastic tupperware containers. I fill them up and scoop out handfuls whenever I need to add it to a dish!

Take a look at my simple bean recipe for one easy way to use the cheiro verde to add color and flavor to the dish. I use cheiro verde in almost everything, pies, soups, stews, rice…the list goes on!

Essential ingredients in the Brazilian kitchen

If there are two ingredients that you will find in every Brazilian home it is onions and garlic. Almost every dish in Brazilian cooking has some form of onions and garlic in it and you can guess how every dish will start, com cebola e alho (with onions and garlic). Kitchens in Brazil are usually fully stocked with onions and garlic and at least once a day the beautiful aromas of frying onions and garlic in olive oil waft through the air.

Before I first came to Brazil I didn’t cook much with onions and garlic. Most of my food lacked the beautiful flavors of onions and garlic and I didn’t think to add them to my food. You could take a look around my kitchen and it was often difficult to find an onion or garlic in sight. But, when I went to Brazil for the first time I quickly learned how important onions and garlic were to Brazilian food. The first time I made rice for my husband he was not too impressed, it tasted bland and lacked that rich flavor that the onions and garlic add. He was quick to teach me that every dish NEEDED to start with onions, garlic, and olive oil. My lack of use of onions and garlic showed pretty quickly as I didn’t even know how to cut them the proper way. The first time I chopped an onion I fumbled through it and I had large onion pieces, small pieces, and some that came somewhere in-between. All-in-all my onion and garlic skills were terrible and my husband, the avid cook, taught me how to properly chop and cook with onions and garlic. So, it is because of my husbands patience that I can credit my ability to properly cut and cook with onions and garlic now.

Some History
Onions have been cultivated for approximately 5000 years or more and were likely used as a staple food in the prehistoric diet. Onions are an excellent vegetable to use, in large part because they are not highly perishable. Today it is estimated that approximately 105 billion pounds of onions are produced each year and on average a person consumes 13.67 pounds of onions each year.

It is thought that garlic originated from central asia and was a wild plant; today garlic is only found in cultivation. It is believed that garlic has been used since the neolithic times as a food flavoring and seasoning. When we think of asian food we generally think of ginger, onion, and garlic.

Preparing the Onions and Garlic
When I think about onions and cooking I always ask myself whether I want large or small onions and white or red. Not much more needs to go into the selection of onions at the grocery store. My go to onions are the white medium sized one. I prefer the white onions in cooking as they do not leave traces of color, and especially when cooking rice I want the rice to stay a beautiful white. When selecting your onions at the grocery store make sure that the skin is not broken, they are firm, and have little to no scent. Follow the same steps for selecting garlic.

To cut the onion peel off the outer layers of skin and cut the onion in half. Leave the root end on as this will help you with getting nice small onion pieces. Begin by cutting the onion length ways. Then starting at the opposite end from the roots, cut width ways. Make sure to keep all pieces tightly together and cut as small as possible until you reach the roots. Cut off the roots and discard.

To chop the garlic place the garlic clove on the chopping board and with the flat side of the knife squash the clove hard until it breaks. Remove the skin and chop the garlic finely.

If you don’t get everything the first time, don’t worry, it took me a while before I had this routine down! For some tips on selecting, cutting, and storing onions take a look at this site.

Tempero CaseiroTempero Caseiro
Now for the easy and quick way to cook with onions and garlic everyday. Because Brazilians use onions and garlic so much in their foods they have created an onion and garlic base to help them save time. Cutting onions and garlic everyday can get pretty tiring and takes up precious time in the kitchen.  This base, called tempero caseiro in Brazil, is a simple mix of onions, garlic, olive oil, and salt that can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks. When you need your onions and garlic all you need to do is simply open your jar of tempero caseiro and you are ready to cook!

Making the tempero caseiro is wonderfully simple and will not take you more than 10 minutes.

Ingredients

1 large onion or three small
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp salt

Peel and chop the onion into quarters. Peel the garlic cloves. Place all ingredients into a small food processor and blend until you have a fine paste. If you want a more chunky paste, blend less. Pour the paste into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to one week.

SIMPLE, SIMPLE, SIMPLE. This recipe is not science and you can make as many changes to it as you want. If there is too much or too little oil, change it. If you want more salt, change it! For a great variation of this recipe take a look at the tempero with herbs.

Happy cooking and I look forward to hearing about your variations of this essential Brazilian kitchen ingredient.

For a PDF of this Recipe CLICK HERE!