Farofa

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User Carioca [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D
Another great use for Cassava Flour, besides Pao De Queijo, is to make Farofa. Farofa is a very Brazilian dish, its simple to make, and you will find it served regularly with many different types of meals. It is sometimes used as a topping for foods (such as steaks, chicken, or hot dogs), but more commonly you will find it served as a side on it’s own. While a first-time eater might be a bit shy to try it on one’s own, it actually does a great job of satisfying a craving for a starchy side – and it is much healthier to eat than french fries. I think part of the reason why the food works well as a topping or on its own is that Brazilians, much to my personal chagrin, like to mix their food on their plates. So, many foods have remnants that become toppings for the next food. Farofa is not spicy in the least, and I find it is a good replacement for seasoning salt atop steaks (it has some salt, but less than the store-bought seasonings), or for anyone seeking a gluten-free alternative.

What you’ll need:

  • two cups of Cassava Flour
  • One third cup of butter
  • half an onion (small)
  • two cloves of garlic
  • Salt

Steps:

1. Either mince or grate the onion and garlic. Protip: chewing gum can prevent tearing while cutting onions.
2. Melt the butter in a medium size pan on medium heat.
3. Add the garlic and onion, let it fry to a rich golden colour.
4. Add the Cassava Flour and salt to taste. It burns very easily, so do not leave it unattended at this point.
5. Stir/fold the mixture regularly until golden brown, which should take about four minutes.
6. Serve either hot or at room temperature.

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I’m not sure if this is using it as a side, or as a seasoning, but its lovely either way!

Pão de Queijo

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In my opinion, Pão de Queijo is one of the best foods Brazil has to offer.

Pão de Queijo translates simply as “bread of cheese”, but it is so much more.  Imagine the rolls from Red Lobster (TM), but more moist, and with a soft exterior.

Pão de Queijo is very common in the region of Minas Gerais in Brazil, but can be found anywhere. It is not made with wheat, as its history comes from a time and place where wheat was in short supply. Instead, it is made with a base mostly of Cassava and Tapioca – both staple crops in Brazil. The actual cheese used varies from place to place, but brand name stores, such as the Casa de Pão de Queijo (TM) will be the same across locations.

Pão de Queijo used to be more difficult to make in Canada due to the difficulty in finding Tapioca or Cassava Flour, but the increasing number of individuals with gluten sensitivity (celiac disease or otherwise) has created more of a market for wheat flour alternatives, so tapioca flour can now be found at places like Walmart.

Ingredients:

500 g of Tapioca Flour or Sour Cassava Flour
250 ml of water
250 ml of milk
125 ml of oil
2 eggs
100 g grated Parmesan cheese
salt (as desired)

Instructions:

1. In a pan, boil the water and add the milk, oil and salt.

2. Add the flour, mix well and remove from the heat. This is also a good time to begin to preheat the oven to 350 F.

3. Begin to knead the dough.

4. While the dough is warm, add the parmesan cheese, the eggs and mix well.

5. Using your hands, create small balls of approximately 2 cm in diameter.

6. Place the balls on a non-stick baking dish, leaving a small amount of space between them.

7. Bake in the oven (at 350 F) for about 40 minutes.

 

Brigadeiro

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Brigadeiro is one of the preeminent desserts in Brazil. Every party, from kids birthdays to weddings, is expected to have a large supply of brigadeiro and other docinhos (sweets). Brigadeiro is incredibly simple to make, but can then be used in many different ways. My personal favourite is to put it on top of ice cream as a topping, but, even though I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, it is not too sweet to even be eaten on its own. I think that the most common way of eating it, as any search online will inevitably show you, is in mouthwatering cup-cake like balls of brigadeiro wrapped in sprinkles.

When I first saw it, I was sure I had eaten it before as a child, but despite all the wonderful reactions evoked when I took my first bite, nostalgia was not one of them. I didn’t recognize the smell or taste, despite the fact that smell is strongly linked to memory.  I have thus concluded that I did not ever have brigadeiro before – given how similar it can look to other desserts, I think it is more likely just a common way of presenting desserts.

If you live in Toronto, there is actually even a brigadeiro place where you can try it out, Mary’s Brigadeiro. However, if you are feeling more adventurous and want to try your hand at making it yourself, as I mentioned, it’s very simple:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 4-7 table Spoons of Chocolate Powder (optional – the more you add, the more chocolate flavour the Black Brigadeiro will have, White Brigadeiro has no chocolate)
  • 1-2 tea spoons of butter
  • Toppings (see below)

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Toppings

Common choices include Chocolate sprinkles, powdered milk, dehydrated cocunut, or granulated sugar.  Please note that sugar does tend to be quite sweet, and the brigadeiro will not keep as long.

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Directions

1. Combine the condensed milk, chocolate power, and butter in one pot on medium heat.

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2. Stir the ingredients constantly until the mixture stops sticking to the bottom of the pot.

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3. Pour the ingredients out onto a large plate or tray (be careful, it will be hot)
4. Wait for a little bit for it to cool to room temperature.
5. Put a bit of butter on your hands (to help you roll)
6. Using a tea spoon, scoop a small amount of the mixture, and roll into a ball.

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7. Have a small bowl (or mug) filled with sprinkles, dehydrated coconut, powdered milk, or sugar. Drop the rolled brigadeiro inside and shake the bowl to cover the brigadeiro in the topping of your choice.

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8. Plate and serve.

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Makes 30-50 brigadeiro (depending on the size you roll them).

Carne De Sol

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Traditional Carne de Sol from Restaurante Picuí Praia. one of the two best restaurants in João Pessoa specializing in Carne de Sol

Carne De Sol is a treasure from Northeastern Brazil. Imagine if Brisket and Beef Jerky had a baby… And you’ll have a good idea of this wonderful taste. I had the delight of eating this the first night I was in Brazil, and I fell in love with it immediately.

Carne De Sol’s history comes from the sertanejos (read: Brazilian Cowboys), who dried their meat in the sun and using salt – much like other cultures around the world. However, the process developed in Brazil involved shorter days and colder nights, drying the outside, while maintaining a moist and tender center.

While it is a common food in the Northeastern Region, it is easy to make, and has become popular around Brazil, so can be found in restaurants across the nation. It is hard to follow the exact traditional (now commercialized) drying process, but here is a simple recipe that approximates it:

  1. Buy 2 kg of Rump Roast (or whatever beef you prefer)
  2. Cut the meat into pieces no thicker than 3-4 cm (or about 1.5″)
  3. Place a very thick layer of salt on the bottom of a Tupperware container. Then place the meat inside and cover in another thick layer of salt on top (Essentially make a sandwich with salt instead of bread), and put in the fridge for one to two days. Check the meat every few hours, draining what we commonly refer to as the blood (Fun Fact: its not actually blood that drains from a steak), and replacing the salt that washed away. By doing this in the fridge, you preserve the moist center, while adding wonderful crisp and salty exterior.
  4. You will know it is done, when the meat changes colour from Red to Brown.

This meat can then be used as the beef in whatever other recipes you are following, to give it a Brazilian twist. IMPORTANT NOTE: you must still cook the meat to a high temperature before it is safe to eat. Salting the meat merely preserves it, this is not a replacement for cooking.

Here are some of the most of common dishes from Brazil containing Carne De Sol: (Hint: use Google Translate for recipes)

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Purê de Macaixeria com carne de sol
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Tabua de Carne is the other main Carne de Sol restaurant in João Pessoa.