Brazilian Flavours, Recipes & Cooking

by Georgina Ribas

Brazilian Barbecue Series – Rump Cap Barbecue Step-by-Step

As soon as the weather got warmer, more precisely in the beginning of spring an Australian friend of mine who is a fan of my website (thanks Pete!) asked me to publish a barbecue recipe. I thought it was a great idea but it took me a couple of months to decide what I was going to make. After watching a video on how to prepare the perfect mouth-watering Brazil’s rump cap barbecue I immediately got inspired! Starting with the rump cap, in the next few weeks I will be posting barbecue-related recipes, including refreshing salads, sides and desserts, all inspired by Brazil’s world famous barbecuing style and my own family recipes. Rump cap or top sirloin cap is a prime beef cut very popular in Brazil  known as picanha (pea-kan-yah). When cooked appropriately (rare or medium rare) this cut is incredibly tender, juicy and tasty. Because Brazilian beef cuts are different from Australian ones, rump cap is not a cut you will find easily at supermarkets – although I already saw them in large supermarkets in Brisbane. The best way is to ask your butcher to slice it for you. In Hobart I buy mine at West Hobart Gourmet Meats. Just show the chart below and explain that picanha (cut no. 8 – image source is the capping meat over the rump/top silverside and let them know they have to keep 1cm of fat layer. Notice the fat is extremely important as it enhances the flavour of the meat. Some Brazilians are so crazy about picanha that they even eat the fat! In order to have the authentic picanha cut only, you will have to cut the excess beef at home or ask your butcher to... read more

Sweet Corn and Herb Pasties

We Brazilians love our pasties, the greatest example is our classic deep-fried called pastel which is everywhere in Brazil and I call it the king of street foods. Baked versions are also very appreciated by home cooks and are similar to the Argentinian empanadas. Two of the popular fillings are the ‘pizza flavour’ which is a combination of mozzarella cheese, ham, tomato and dried oregano or the thick ‘hearts of palm sauce’ made with onions, garlic, tomato, hearts of palm and parsley. The baked version which is close to my heart is made with corn and fresh herbs. It was one of the first snacks I had on my mother-in-law’s house, almost 18 years ago when I started dating my husband. This happened while we were still university students, a period in which we had no idea that a few years later we were going to end up in Australia! It is another delicious recipe by my sister-in-law out of her special collection of cooking treasures. When you are passionate about cooking it is great to meet a family that hold recipes very different from yours so you can always learn something new. I remembered the first time I had it they served as an afternoon snack with freshly squeezed orange juice and the combination was just perfect. They are great warm or cold and indeed go really well with any fruit juice of your choice or iced tea. Since then, this is a recipe that I make quite often and it is for sure a winner. Everybody who tries loves it! These pasties are also a good choice of appetiser or cocktail party fingerfood. How about bake them for the New... read more

Christmas Boozy Chocolate and Hazelnut ‘Brigadeiro’

Brigadeiro was one of the first recipes I posted in my blog, that was about 6 months ago. I can’t believe 6 months have already passed and it’s almost 2015. I have to say these months were some of the most exciting of my life. It’s been great having the chance to write about Brazilian food, creating and sharing recipes and learning the tricks of food styling and photography. Brigadeiro had to be one of the first because it is such a classic Brazilian chocolate sweet. To us Brazilians brigadeiros are synonym of party and celebration. For this reason I decided to make a Christmas version of the sweet. The traditional brigadeiro recipe is made with sweetened condensed milk and cocoa powder. Following the trend in Brazil of gourmet brigadeiros and the holiday mood I decided to add hazelnuts, orange zest and glacéd cherries soaked in cachaça to my Christmas sweet. To go all the way with the festive season, for the coating I used a tip by my sister-in-law to turn the chocolate sprinkles into golden colour using chocolate dust. I also added the stars on top so they look more glamorous and suitable for this special time of the year. I think they look like little edible jewels on the table! Both the star sprinkles and the chocolate dust can be found online or from good pastry supply shops. Have your Christmas dessert sorted with this recipe. This sweet is incredibly easy to make and can be done 4-5 days in advance, just keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. Also, since they are bite-sized and served in paper cases, they are also very practical and handy to... read more

Brazilian Strawberry Trifle

‘Every food has a story’, so it says the slogan of Australia’s Feast Magazine. This is absolutely true. When I am cooking, in special for my blog, I always think about the story that is behind that particular food. I am there in the kitchen, stirring something, slicing, mixing a cake, preparing a dessert, etc, thinking about what I am going to tell and all of the sudden I remember an event related to the dish. It can be either the cooking process, any difficulties I had, how I learnt the dish, something special about the produce, shopping or the story of a special occasion in which the dish was served. This Brazilian Strawberry Trifle is no different. This dish reminds me when I used to work for an accounting firm when I lived in Albury (NSW) many years ago. I met lots of great people over there and made good friends and many of them are still in touch with me today. It is amazing how they embraced me as part of their team in a very warm way. Being originally from another country it is always more difficult to start a new job because of cultural differences. But from day one they treated me as part of their team. There was an occasion in which they had a morning tea to celebrate ‘Harmony Day‘, a wonderful initiative by the Australian government in which all Australians are invited to celebrate Australia’s diversity. It is amazing that people from more than 200 countries make up the Australian community and more than 300 languages are spoken in Australian homes, including my mother language Portuguese! Anyway, they asked me to cook... read more

Brazilian Crème Caramel with Fresh Raspberries

Thanks to the Portuguese, crème caramels have been part of the Brazilians’ table for many years. Initially the basic Brazilian custard recipe was very similar to the original Portuguese caramel recipe and had milk, sugar and eggs. In the beginning of the 20th century, however, sweetened condensed milk slowly started to be incorporated into our recipes and these days most Brazilians prefer to use this ingredient. In reality, if I were to translate the name of the dish literally, it would be ‘Sweetened Condensed Milk Flan’. There is not only a plain version of this recipe, the usual Brazilian excitement in the kitchen led to the creation of hundreds of flavours. Recipes may include fruits like pineapple, mango, banana, guava, strawberry; nuts like walnuts and peanuts; white or dark chocolate; and vegetables such as corn or pumpkin, to name a few. Although the caramel recipe is very easy to follow, the result is not always satisfactory. If you are not careful, the custard can easily overcook ending up in a caramel that instead of being smooth and silk, has a texture of a Swiss cheese! Some people in Brazil don’t mind the overcooked version, but to me, silkiness is totally required! I love the melt-in-the-mouth feeling that this dessert provides. Therefore, if you have the same taste as me, keep an eye on the cooking time (preferably use a timer) to get the recipe right. It’s 45 minutes in a fan-forced oven, then switch it off and leave the custard finish cooking gently for about 3 hours or until the oven has cooled down before you put it in the fridge. By the way, I did not test this... read more

Crumbed ‘Cuddled’ Prawns with Mango and Coconut Salad

Camarão abraçadinho or ‘cuddled prawns’ is a typical dish of Brazilian beach restaurants. The cute name ‘cuddled’ comes from the way the prawns are threaded onto the skewer which gives the impression they are hugging each other. They are often served either as an appetiser, entrée, or as part of a seafood platter that may include prawn and fish croquettes, French fries and steamed or pan-fried fish. In many occasions they are eaten with a cold beer or a caipirinha on the side. In Brazil these skewers are made with very small prawns. In fact, legend says that the cuddled tiny prawns were created to make them give you the sensation you are eating a bigger one. Large prawns used to be quite expensive in Brazil so the cuddled prawns would provide the feeling of eating something better for a fraction of the price! Summer has arrived in Australia and to me it is a very exciting time of the year because it means more beautiful produce becomes available to use in my kitchen. Strawberries are super flavoursome (stay tuned for a strawberry dessert I am making for Christmas) and other little fruits like blackberries, blueberries, cherries and raspberries will soon be plentiful and cheaper. Peaches and nectaries are also a delight that come with summer along with the exquisite Australian mangoes. Native to South and South-East Asia, mangoes are full of vitamins and a great source of calcium. Brazil is also a top producer of the highest quality mangoes, so much so that they taste like a native fruit.  For many years, mangoes have been playing an important part on the diet of Brazilians: they are eaten as a snack, in fruit salads, used to prepare... read more

Coconut Mousse with Pineapple Flowers

So summer is officially here and coconut and pineapple are the faces of the season! Many beaches in the Northeast of Brazil have beautiful rows of coconut palm trees representing Brazil’s tropical essence. When you go to one of those beaches, it is not uncommon to see little frisky boys climbing huge coconut palms to pick green coconuts for their own consumption or to be sold at the beach to thirsty beachgoers who love to drink a refreshing and healthy coconut water. Coconut water is such a fever in Brazil that I think probably 100% of the Brazilian beaches have carts selling the drink. It’s so entertaining to see some of the vendors opening a coconut! They grab a very big sharp knife and cut the fruit open with such dexterity that you almost believe that is easy to copy that. After you finish your water you go back to the cart and ask to the vendor to split it in half so you can eat the fleshy and slippery green coconut meat using an improvised spoon made from coconut skin. With time you will learn that improvisation is something that has been mastered in Brazil! Coconut can be considered one of the key ingredients of our cuisine. The fruit and its by products are widely used in Brazilian recipes for many savoury dishes, desserts and drinks. Being a fruit native to Brazil, pineapple is available all year round and many types of pineapples are sold in supermarkets. Brazilians enjoy freshly squeezed pineapple juice to cool down those hot summer days, a slice of fresh pineapple early in the morning or barbecued pineapple on Sunday summer lunches.... read more

How to Open a Fresh Coconut

1. Firstly drain the coconut water. Hold firmly the coconut on a non-slippery surface (or over a tea towel) and insert a corkscrew in the softest hole. Alternatively use a thick nail and hammer or a driller. Pour the coconut water into a glass. 2. Place the coconut in the freezer for 20 minutes. This will help you detach the fruit from its shell. 3. Wrap the coconut tightly in a freezer bag. Put it over a concrete floor or in a non-breakable surface and using a hammer hit it very strongly to open up. 4. Put the coconut on top of a kitchen towel so it does not slide. Using a round knife or a spoon carefully run the knife between the hard shell and fruit lifting it and inserting like a lever to slowly detach the fruit from the hard shell. 5. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin off. 6. Grate the coconut in the food processor or using a grater. Shave the coconut using a vegetable peeler. Obs: Coconut can be frozen for up to 6 months. Yields about: 320g of fresh... read more

Peanut and Chocolate Bon-Bon (Cajuzinho)

Peanut is another precious produce that was a gift from South America to the world. Many people don’t know that peanut is not a nut, but actually a member of the pulse family. Despite the fact that the name cajuzinho translates as ‘little cashew’, there is no cashew on the recipe! With more than 100 years old, the ancient cajuzinho is a bite-sized sweet that used to be served in dinner parties as part of a dessert and sweets buffet of Brazilian farm houses. In its old recipe, cajuzinho used to be made with peanuts, grated chocolate, sugar and beaten egg whites (or water). and then rolled into mini cashew apple shapes. In some modern recipes sugar and egg whites are replaced by sweetened condensed milk, but some of the purist cooks still prefer to stick to the original recipe. In the 80s, along with cajuzinho, brigadeiro and beijinho were the main sweets served in kids’ parties. Even though it is incredibly delicious, interestingly cajuzinho was a bit underrated by the kids and adults alike, who always preferred the other two. I don’t know the reason, but my guess is that cajuzinho was probably not as popular because it is made with peanuts, which are used to make many types of commercial sweets easily found in supermarkets in Brazil. Even so that these days cajuzinho is nearing extinction from kids’ parties and being replaced by other sweets like gourmet brigadeiros and cupcakes. If you are a fan of peanuts, this is the sweet for you. Differently from brigadeiro or beijinho, cajuzinho does not require any cooking or stirring (apart from roasting the peanuts). It has only 5 ingredients and very easy to prepare, making it the perfect party sweet. In addition, the shape is original and they look... read more

Cheese Bread Rolls

Cheese bread is a Brazilian type of roll essentially made with cheese, tapioca starch, eggs, milk and oil. These little beauties are originally from the state of Minas Gerais located in the south-eastern part of Brazil. Minas Gerais is one of the leading producers of cheese in the country and is where many of the typical Brazilian cheeses were invented. For example, Minas cheese is a type of fresh cheese with mild and salty taste, and a rubbery texture. It is appreciated in the morning with some fresh bread or as dessert with either guava paste (which is called Romeo and Juliet) or with dollops of dulce de leche. Prato cheese, which is yellow and sharp in taste, was created in the 20s and its recipe is inspired in the Danish cheeses Dambo and Tybo and the Dutch Gouda and is commonly sold in brick shapes. The production of the soft Catupiry started in 1911 and is a cheese that is added to many popular recipes like ‘prawns in tomato sauce with catupiry‘, ‘chicken with catupiry‘, ‘catupiry pizza’ or ‘catupiry and chicken fritter’ (coxinha). The cheese culture of the estate of Minas Gerais resulted in the creation of many recipes with cheese including these rolls. They are extremely popular in Brazil and eaten any time of the day: for breakfast with a cup of coffee, as a mid-morning or afternon tea snack. In many restaurants it is served as an appetiser with dips. Cheese bread rolls are also found anywhere you go in Brazil. In bakeries they are freshly baked on a daily basis and usually it is possible to find more than one type of cheese bread. In the supermarkets many types of cheese bread are sold... read more

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters (Acarajé)

In my opinion, this is the best street-food that Brazil can offer. I still remember when I went many years ago to sunny Salvador in Bahia state and bought them straight from the very friendly Baianas of Acarajé: the gorgeous cooks who make these fritters in a street cart. Baianas are very easy to spot in the streets of Salvador as they are dressed in long white dresses with a wide skirt made with layers of lace. On the head they wear a white turban and with the clothes lots of colourful bangles and necklaces. This costume dress has African influence and is related to the Afro-Brazilian religion called Candomblé. The dishes of the state of Bahia are the most famous in our country and many traditional foods like bobó, moqueca and vatapá essentially have red palm oil (dendê), chilli, coconut milk, coriander and seafood. These dishes are offered to gods during sacred rituals of Candomblé. When baianas are dressed in colourful clothes they are called Baianas of Tourism. In Rio’s carnival parade every samba school has a special wing dedicated to Baianas and they wear the same dress and turban but made with shiny colourful fabric and lots of sparkly beads. Carmen Miranda, the late Brazilian star who is known for her tutti-frutti hat and flamboyant style got inspiration from baianas to create her style. She became a Hollywood star singing and dancing songs about Brazil in the Hollywood musicals of the 40s. Both the typical baiana’s dress and acarajé are very important to Brazil’s culture and are heritage-listed. Acarajé is often filled with dried or fried prawns, vatapá and chilli sauce. Because they are a bit plump,... read more

Strawberry, Guava Paste and Rosemary Shots

Batida is a Brazilian cocktail commonly made with fruit juice and some alcoholic beverage such as cachaça, vodka or rum. Batida translates as shake and refers to the way the drink is made just by quickly blending the ingredients. Batidinha or shot is the small version of batida and they are often served as a treat in the waiting area of grill houses (churrascarias) or large restaurants while customers are waiting for a table. Customers are welcome to have one or more as they please, which is good to stimulate one’s appetite. Many restaurants also have batidinhas on their menu, some of the common recipes have a type of fruit juice (e.g. cashew, passionfruit, grape or pineapple) mixed with condensed milk, cream and cachaça. Batidinha de Sonho de Valsa was a classic shot of the 80s made with a cashew and chocolate truffle blended with cream, ice cubes and cachaça. The coconut version of batidinha made with coconut milk, sugar (or condensed milk) and cachaça or vodka is another favourite. Some Brazilians like to enjoy a shot before or while having a snack in a typical pub called boteco. Others like to make these mini-cocktails to offer to their guests  as an appetiser before a home-cooked barbecue. At the moment Tasmanian strawberries are in season and they taste delicious. Strawberries are a perfect match with the Brazilian guava paste so I decided to use both as essential ingredients to my batidinha recipe. The tastes of rosemary and vanilla also enhance the aroma of this drink in a very special way. In my first attempt I tried to make it using cachaça but... read more