How to snack like a local at the Rio Olympics

If you have travelled to Brazil for the Rio Olympics you will definitely find the time to enjoy the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro. While meandering through streets, walking along Copacabana beach or visiting the pão de açucar, at some point, you will need something to snack on. The culinary delights that Brazil has to offer are endless, but what should you eat for a quick snack? And, how do you order it?

(If you are enjoyng the Rio Olympics from the comfort of your own home you can make some of these delicious snacks for everyone to enjoy!)

A common place to stop for a snack is a lanchonete, snack bar. Or, one of the many beach stands. Anywhere you go, you are likely to find the same snacks. Here are some MUST-TRY snacks.

Caipirinha
Everybody has heard of the Brazilian drink, caipirnha, probably your local bar is now serving it. But, while in Rio you HAVE to drink at least one. Grab one at Copacabana or Ipanema beaches, breathing in the salty sea air, squishing your toes in the sand and brushing off the constant bombardment of beach vendors.

The traditional capirinha is made with cachaça and lime, but nowadays there is a myriad of different caipirinha options. You can have it with vodka or cachaça, lime, passion fruit, pineapple, strawberry…the list goes on. So, how do you order the traditional caipirinha?

how to order caipirinha in portuguese

I suggest you stick to the cachaça. If you want a different fruit just substitute the limão with: abacaxi (pineapple) or morango (strawberries) or maracuja (passion fruit).

And, if one capirinha is not enough (which, it is likely not to be). Just say: “mais uma, por favor.”

CLICK HERE for the traditional recipe! And HERE for one made with blackberries!

Pão de Queijo
These are all the rave in the USA at the moment. But, you have to try the real deal. Anywhere you go in Brazil you will find pão de queijo. Any lanchonete, padaria or beach stand will serve them. Sometimes you will find large single serving pão de queijo and other times they will be small bite-sized. There is no difference between the two in flavor, just the way you order.

Brazilian Cheese Bread

If there are large pão de queijo being sold you will ask for how many you would like, um, dois, tres or quatro.

You: Eu queria um pão de queijo, por favor. (I’d like one pão de queijo, please).

OR

You: Eu queria dois/três/quatro pães de queijo, por favor. (I’d like two/three/four pães de queijo, please).

Now, if the padaria or lanchonete is serving bite-sized pão de queijo, you will need to order by weight. Remember, in Brazil we use the metric system, so you will be ordering in grams. Don’t panic, it is not that difficult. Let’s see how it is done.

You. Eu queria 100g (cem gramas) de pão de queijo, por favor. (I’d like 100g of pão de queijo, please).

Simple, right? 100g of bite-sized pão de queijo will be about 10 units. Think of each one as weighing 10g.

Now you’re ready to go onto the streets of Rio and order pão de queijo like a local.

CLICK HERE for recipe #1! And HERE for the blender recipe!

Empadinha de frango
Finally, we have a popular Brazilian snack that you may not have heard of. The empadinha is a small, cupcake sized, pie. Popular fillings are frango (chicken), palmito (hearts of palm) and queijo (cheese). You will find this common snack anywhere. Brazilians like to eat it with an expresso or cappuccino. Let’s learn how to order an empadinha and how to find out what the filling is.

Chicken Pie

How to ask what the fillings are:

You: Essas empadinhas são de quê?

And ordering:

You: Eu queria uma empadinha de frango/palmito/queijo, por favor.

Now go out, grab an empadinha and a coffee!

CLICK HERE for my delicious recipe!

Coxinha
Another popular coffee time snack: coxinha. Translated this means ‘little thigh’. You will be able to easily identify it in any display window as it is shaped like a chicken thigh. This is a deep-fried chicken and potato snack. Shredded and seasoned chicken is wrapped with pureed potato, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. What could be tastier than that? Sometimes you will find the whole drumstick wrapped in pureed potato, but I recommend going for the more common one with the shredded chicken.

How to order? Just ask for a coxinha as we have practiced with the other snacks.
Brazilian Coxinha

Pudim
If all of these savory snacks are getting a little bit too much for you, head over to the sweets section and pick out this delicious dessert. Pudim is a Brazilian staple and is a must-have. It is a flan-like dessert made from condensed milk, milk and eggs. Accompanied with a delicious caramel sauce, it is eaten cold.

condensed milk pudding

CLICK HERE for the recipe!

Pastel com caldo de cana
If you pass-by anywhere that is selling pastel STOOOOOOOOOOOP! You will want to go and get one of these popular Brazilian street foods. Commonly, pastel is sold at the neighborhood vegetable street markets or feiras.

So, what is pastel? Well, it is a light, deep-fried, pastry that is filled with any kind of filling you can imagine, cheese, ground beef, hearts of palm, escarole, pumpkin, jerked beef, just to name a few. You can even mix and match. Anything goes.

Pastel com caldo de cana

And, there you have it, some tasty snacks that you will find anywhere in Rio de Janeiro during the summer Olympics. Or snacks which you can make at home while watching the Rio Olympics on TV. And, you now know some portuguese!

Want some more snacks for all of you Rio Olympic watching? Here are some more suggestions:
Fried Manioc Balls
Feijoada (Brazilian Bean and Meat Stew)
Broa (Sweet corn breads)
Avocado ice-cream
Fried Rice Balls
Passion Fruit Mousse
Brigadeiro

We learn the most from our mistakes!

A Taste of Brazil (c)I am sure that even Gordon Ramsay messes up recipes sometimes. Come on, he has to, right? Making mistakes and messing up in the kitchen is all part of becoming a good cook. Every chef has made one big mistake in the kitchen or has had a simple recipe go completely wrong or mix up the salt for the sugar. Making mistakes is important to learning how to cook and how to become better at cooking. Actually, making mistakes is part of becoming better at anything.

A Taste of Brazil (c)Just because I post pictures of my successful recipes does not mean that I don’t have complete failures in the kitchen or absolute melt downs. Just ask my husband, he would be more than happy to share the countless times that something has not worked out properly or I have thrown the empty bowl of cake batter across the kitchen. It happens to the best  of us.

I wanted to learn how to cook Brazilian food and I knew that meant that there would be disasters, failures and hair-pulling moments. But, always, along the way there have been wonderful successes. After persevering I have mastered some delicious Brazilian foods and am always hungry for more recipes.

This weekend I had a complete and utter failure in the kitchen. A recipe that should have worked fine was an absolute disaster. Ok, the pão de queijo was edible, but it looked terrible, stuck to the ramekins and had no flavor.

A Taste of Brazil (c)I used my blender pão de queijo recipe that has always worked perfectly for me. But, this weekend absolutely FAILED. Instead of letting this defeat me it motivated me to be more careful with my baking and to analyze whether I couldn’t improve this recipe (see, out of failure comes greatness…hopefully!). I quickly discovered why my recipe probably failed this weekend, it was because I used a different  type of cheese, instead of using a hard cheese I used a creamier cheese. But, still I am now on a mission to see whether this recipe can’t be improved.

So the lesson of the day people is to NEVER, EVER give up!

Failed pão de queijo

The mass of failed pão de queijo!

 

Rural Brazil – Curing Cheese

How to cure fresh cheese

I’m not sure if it is just because I live very far from stores, or really anything for that matter, or if it is really because this is something I like to do, but I try to make as much as I possibly can at home. Whether it be, jam, tomato sauce, bread, granola, soap or cheese, you can be pretty sure that I make it on a regular basis here on my farm. There is no question that I enjoy making my own things. I make bread on a bi-weekly basis and I love it. There is nothing better than digging into a fresh homemade loaf of bread. The same goes for jam. Sounds silly, but I often find that what I make at home tastes so much better than anything I can buy at the store.

So, after almost a year of buying fresh cheese from my neighbor, my husband thought it was time that we tried to cure some of the fresh cheese and see if we could diversify our cheeses at home (we had basically just been eating fresh cheese for months). I bought a couple of cheeses and put them in a cheese mold on a plate and left them to sit for several weeks. For the first week I had to remove the whey that accumulated on the plate everyday. I also turned the cheeses daily. After a week most of the whey had been released from the cheese. I left the cheese for about another 2 to 3 weeks, turning it every few days. Once the cheese had developed a nice protective crust I removed it from the cheese mold so that it had more access to air and could dry a little quicker.

At some point, about 3 weeks after we began the curing process, my husband and I decided it was time to try the cheese. It was absolutely amazing. The flavor was rich, it was not too hard and was perfect for eating with toast, on crackers or using in pão de queijo.

We were onto something with our cheese curing and so began my mania of trying to find the perfect way to cure cheese.

I tried soaking the fresh cheeses in a brine of approximately 50% water and 50% salt. I left some cheeses for 24 hours in the brine and others for almost a week. After soaking in the brine I left the cheeses on plates to cure. Some of the cheeses I weighed down with a stone cheese weight to try to press out as much liquid as possible, others I didn’t weigh down. With some cheeses I covered the outside with salt instead of doing a brine. The length of time I left the cheeses to cure varied and I wasn’t very diligent at recording the lengths of time that the cheeses sat curing.

I had a whole variety of results. The cheeses that I weighed down became very dry, I even had one that turned into a perfect parmasan. The cheeses that I took out less water from were tastier and much moister. Some accidents occured, giving some of the best results! One of these accidents consisted of me forgetting a cheese in my refrigerator for almost more than a month. When I found it, it had turned into a cream. My husband and I decided to try it as we didn’t want to throw it out. It was a delicious spreadable cheese.

We have tried to recreate that accident with some success!

My final conclusion on curing cheese has been to scrap the brining process and placing weights on the cheeses to remove as much liquid. Instead, as soon as I bring home my fresh cheeses (they are usually no more than 24 hours old when I buy them from my neighbor) I place them on plates. I  remove all the whey from the plates each day and turn the cheeses. This usually lasts about a week. Then, once the cheeses have developed a little crust I move them onto a rack and let them cure for 3 to 4 weeks, turning them every few days.

After about a week of curing the cheeses can be eaten. They will still be relatively soft, but the flavor will already be much richer than a fresh cheese. I like to leave my cheese cure for much longer as I like a harder cheese. But, sometimes I eat them quicker……

I now always have at leat two cheeses curing on my kitchen shelf. I usually eat the cured cheeses on toast or crackers. But, I also use them in baking!