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Chuchu

Choko or Chayote

Native from Mexico, choko is used in Brazil as an ingredient of salads, soups and bakes. Available from selected fruit and vegetable markets and large supermarkets. I still haven’t been able to find it in Hobart! If you know where to find it here, please send me an email.

Choko or Chayote
Apple crumble

Brazil Nut and Apple Crumble

It is still cold in the South of Brazil and in Australia, so a crumble recipe brings that comfort that we need this time of the year here in the Southern Hemisfere. Who doesn’t love the smell of crumble baking in the oven, that buttery-cinnamon scent that spreads all over the house and makes everybody’s mouths water?
I am currently in Brazil in my mother-in-law’s house and when I was baking this crumble earlier today, the house is full of family members and they were all very happy to hear that this is what they were going to eat. It is one of our family’s favourite!
One of my sisters-in-law is a great cook and regularly tries  something new in the kitchen, so to my delight I am always learning new recipes and techniques with her. This  Brazil Nut and Apple Crumble is one of the hundreds of recipes she shared with me over the years. The recipe is a treasure that has been passed from generation to generation of my husband’s family who are German and Russian descendants. Coming from the Volga’s river region in Russia, the first family members who are called Russian-Germans  settle down in the XIX century in the South of Brazil where they set up three different colonies. With that they left their stamp in the area which includes delicious recipes.

It has been a tradition of my husband’s family to always have some kind of apple pie when they make big family reunions. This recipe given to my sister-in-law by her Auntie was originally made with walnuts. My sister-in-law once used Brazil nuts because she didn’t have walnuts in the house and now everyone prefers her version of the recipe. A little change in ingredient makes this crumble so special and that is why I love cooking. The sky is the limit and many times improvisation results in something surprisingly extraordinary! Very quick to make and with simple flavours this crumble can be enjoyed warm or cold with a scoop of a good quality vanilla ice-cream on the side.

 Ingredients

250g Brazil nuts

1 cup plain flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 tbs ground cinnamon

2 tbs unsalted butter, cubed

5 Granny Smith apples

1 tbs caster sugar

1 cup sultanas

Brazil Nut and Apple Crumble

Instructions

1. Pre-heat the oven 130°C, fan-forced. Grease a large baking dish with butter.

2. In a bowl of a food processor, finely grind the Brazil nuts. In a medium bowl combine the nuts, flour, sugar and cinnamon. Add the butter and rub the mixture with the palms of your hands until the butter is combined. Reserve.

3. Cut the apples in half, remove the core and seeds, and finely slice in half-moon shapes. Spread the apple slices onto the dish, dust with 1 tbs caster sugar and add the sultanas.

4. Cover with the Brazil nut mixture and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until golden. Serve it with your favourite vanilla ice-cream.

Serves: 10-12…

Fruit truffles

Passion Fruit Truffles

I know It’s been a while since I last posted a recipe. I missed my little space so much! Unfortunately I had to take a break from the blog in the past weeks. There were too many things going on at the same time in my life, nothing serious but a few hurdles we all have to face every now and then which took a lot of my time and energy. Anyway now it’s all sorted and things are again back to normal.

We are reaching the end of the long Easter weekend here in Australia. Holidays always make me miss Brazil a lot because celebrations are very exciting over there. We are super social beings who love to celebrate life, therefore special occasions are always a good excuse to have a barbecue or a fancy Sunday lunch with family and friends. All supermarkets and shopping centres are decorated with chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies in a very vivid way. For the joy of both kids and adults alike many supermarkets are turned into a chocolate world and have a number of aisles with a roof made of large chocolate eggs of many colours and kinds. It is possible to smell the chocolate as soon as you get in. Similar to Christmas season supermarkets get super crowded and the vast majority of those beautiful eggs will be gone before Easter Friday so don’t leave your shopping for the last minute or you might be empty handed for an Easter treat.

Or, to avoid the trouble you could try to make your own! I know it is a bit late to post how to make an Easter egg but I couldn’t help myself and show you how easy and pleasurable this is. So perhaps you could use my tips for next year?

Easter Egg Filled with Passionfruit Truffles

Provided you find passion fruit or a good-quality pulp these truffles can be made and eaten all year round. They are super delicious and make great edible gifts. The combination of flavour and tartness of passionfruit are great match with dark chocolate and taste quite exotic.

When I researching about truffles I came across this very helpful tutorial, if you are a fan of truffles I recommend you watch it too. Ann Reardon shows many recipes and provide great tips on how to prepare truffle fillings. She makes them look so easy to make! One day I will get there!

Also, in order to have a beautiful glossy and firm chocolate it is necessary to temper it first. If you opt for melting the chocolate over a water bath, just make sure the bowl does not touch the water and don’t let the water boil, melt over gentle heat. Alternatively you can temper chocolate using the microwave, heat the chocolate for a few seconds at a time stirring in between until melted. For both cases it is handy to have a kitchen thermometer to ensure you do not overheat the chocolate. There is also a quick and easy tutorial on how to make Easter Eggs on youtube by AllRecipes.

 Ingredients

Passionfruit Truffles

500g good-quality cooking dark chocolate*, chopped

Ganache:

80ml passionfruit juice (about 5 small purple passionfruit) or good-quality pulp, sieved

2 tbs double (heavy) cream

2 tbs glucose syrup

250g good-quality white chocolate (not chips), roughly chopped

Easter Egg

Cooking white chocolate to make a marbled egg (optional), roughly chopped

350g good-quality cooking dark chocolate*, chopped

Equipment

Large egg mould

Chocolate truffle moulds (or any mould shape of your choice)

Pastry brush

Silicone spatula

Kitchen thermometer

Paper and ribbon to wrap the egg

*approximate measurement depends on the size of your moulds

Instructions

1. For the Passionfruit Ganache, place the white chocolate in a bowl. Pour the juice (or pulp), glucose syrup and cream into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour over the chocolate and stir until melted. Cover with plastic film place in the fridge for 3-4 hours to set.

1. For the Easter Egg,  place the white chocolate (if using) in a microwave-proof bowl and microwave for a few seconds. Stir until melted, microwave for a little longer if necessary. Using a small spoon drizzle the egg mould with the white chocolate and place in the fridge for a few minutes to set. Place 2/3 of the dark chocolate into a heat-proof bowl and place over a pan with simmering water making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Stir and melt very gently over low heat until the temperature reaches 50°C then remove from heat.   Add the remaining chocolate and stir until melted and the temperature reaches 32°C so it is ready to use. Remove the egg mould from the fridge and using a brush cover evenly with dark chocolate, chill for 10 minutes in the fridge. Brush on another layer of dark chocolate and chill again for 10 minutes. Repeat this process for the third and final layer then umould. Repeat the whole process for the other half of the egg.

3. For the truffles, place 2/3 of the dark chocolate into a heat-proof plastic bowl and place over a pan with simmering water making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Stir and melt very gently over low heat until the temperature reaches 50°C then remove from heat.   Add the remaining chocolate and stir until melted and the temperature reaches 32°C so it is ready to use. Fill the chocolate mould with the chocolate, tap on the bench to remove air bubbles, turn down and tap to remove excess chocolate over a clean bench. Turn it back up and use a spatula to scrape off excess chocolate. Set aside at room temperature to set. Spoon the set ganache to fill about 2/3 of the mould. Top it with more chocolate, scrape off excess chocolate. When set turn the mould over and tap on the bench to get the truffles out.

4. To assemble the egg, fill one half with some truffles. Brush the edges with melted chocolate and close with the other half. Wrap the egg with a fancy paper and tie ribbon.

Makes: 1 egg and about 40 truffles

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Receita em Português

Ovo de Chocolate recheado com

Country-Style Brazilian Chicken Pie

Known in Brazil as Empadão de Frango, this is definitely our national chicken pie. There are countless versions and each family I know has its own recipe, but the best ones are those that make the chicken the king of the dish. The secret  is to cook the whole chicken in the stock to intensify the flavour of the meat. It is also very important to shred the bird very finely so it retains its moisture during baking resulting in a very creamy filling. The outcome is a pie with an intense chicken and buttery flavour that will literally melt in the mouth.

There is a lot of work involved in cooking this pie and it is really time consuming but if you are a poultry fan you should give it a go and I can assure you will fall in love with this recipe.

Note: for best results the chicken should be finely shredded:

 Ingredients

Country-Style Brazilian Chicken Pie

To cook the chicken:

1 large (1.6kg) chicken, rinsed

1 large onion, quartered

1 large carrot, roughly sliced

1 leek (white part only), roughly chopped

3 tomatoes, roughly chopped

3 celery stalks, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, roughly sliced

2 dried bay leaves

1 tsp whole black peppercorns

Enough chicken or vegetable stock to cook the whole chicken (about 3L)

Filling Sauce:

2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tomatoes, skin and seeds removed, finely chopped

1 tbs unsalted tomato paste

1 tbs corn flour

½ cup parsley, finely chopped

½ cup spring onions, finely sliced

Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

1 ½ qty shortcrust pastry (check recipe here)

Egg wash:

1 egg yolk

1 tbs milk

Instructions

1. Put chicken, onion, carrot, leek, tomatoes, celery, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns in a stockpot and cover with chicken or vegetable stock leaving approximately 2 cm of stock above the chicken. Cover the pan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 1 – ½ hour or until meat falls from bone, skimming foam from surface occasionally. Remove chicken and strain stock through a muslin-lined sieve. Discard solids and reserve 1 cup of the stock. The remaining stock can be frozen in ice-cube trays for later use.

2. Remove skin and bones from the chicken and finely shred it with your hands (see picture above).

3. Prepare the shortcrust pastry as per this recipe. Make two balls being one twice as big than the other, enclose them in plastic wraps and leave in the fridge until ready to use.

4. Pre-heat the oven 180°C, fan-forced. Heat the olive oil in a frypan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and stir for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic, fry for 2 minutes then stir in tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken. Dissolve the corn flour in 1 cup of the stock prepared in step 1 and add into the pan.  Stir in parsley and spring onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer this mixture to a plate and set aside to cool.

5. Meanwhile, roll out the bigger ball on a lightly floured surface to 5 mm thick, then line a 25 cm diameter removable-bottom baking pan. Place the baking tin in the fridge for 10 minutes. Line with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Blind-bake  for 15 minutes, then remove paper and weights and cook for a further 5 minutes or until golden and dry.

6. Roll out the smaller pastry ball on a lightly floured surface to 5 mm thick keeping around shape. Pour chicken mixture into the baking pan. Cover the pie with the remaining pastry and brush with egg wash (1 yolk slightly beaten with 1 tbs milk). Bake for 35-40 minutes or until firm and golden. Remove from oven and set aside for about 15 minutes to set. Serve it warm with a salad on the side.

Serves: 8-10…

Cassava Flour

It is the flour of the cassava root. It is sold as plain or toasted and in Brazil it is eaten daily all over the country as an accompaniment of meats and cured meats, barbecues, stews and rice and beans. It is also used to make farofas (Brazilian crumbs) and to thicken fish stock (and other stocks).The delicious exotic mixture of stock and cassava flour is known in Brazil as pirão. Available online*.

List of recipes of this website using cassava flour:

Cassava Flour
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