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New Year’s resolution!!

January 3rd, 2011

We left Brazil two years and a half ago to study in the United States. During this time I traveled, learned, experimented, met, saw, tasted, heard, ate, cried. But I don’t call myself a homesick at all!!! I love each detail of this experience, I love it because of the new things and I love it because everything just makes me look to my culture and my roots with different and better eyes.

Fortunately, I was able to come home with my whole family for the first time to spend the Holidays with my relatives.  Besides the rainy weather, common on this time of the year, every corner where I put my eyes seems to shine as they never did before and, besides the extra weight we got here, each meal leaves the feeling we could have eaten more.

One of the greatest things that happened though was to see my grand-grandmother’s cookbook again, the 83 years old book I’d better call a magic one. Traveling through the pages, I’m more and more amazed to discover the big meaning food has on the life of a nation, how it shapes our identity and how it helps to keep our sweetest memories.

So, New Year’s resolutions??  Keeping old things alive!!!

I don’t want to turn a page, to start all over again or promise everything is going to be different for the next year, at least when the subject is food.  I want to bring back memories and good feelings and the idea that people we used to love will always be present through the tastes of the food we ate together.

It’s Christmas!!

December 24th, 2010

For me, Christmas began a few days ago, when we got here in Brazil. A colorful, hot and rainy Christmas full of gifts: the old streets, the same houses and faces, the fresh market and its sweet fruits, the familiar scents and the well known tastes!!!

Holiday classics!

December 19th, 2010

We’re at home, in Brazil, and as I already thought, it’s been hard to write. And even harder is to keep focused and to choose the right recipe to share. Here we eat all day long, believe me!!!!!

Finally, I thought it’d be good to celebrate one more time the meeting between Brazil and United States. And for this celebration, brigadeiro!!!! Brigadeiro is a classic Brazilian candy, a kind of caramel traditionally made with sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter.

Known as a “child birthday party candy”, brigadeiro is getting its merited place on the red carpet and showing its face in luscious and important parties, wearing a simple black dress or designer clothes. (Check this spectacular store in Sao Paulo: Maria Brigadeiro). Here, wearing its eggnog, gingerbread and peppermint outfit, brigadeiros are ready for the holidays!!!

Before, starting, just one general rule for making brigadeiros. They are better cooked in low to medium heat. Never try to accelerate the process otherwise they are going to be lumpy and grainy. Have it in mind, patience is the key!!

Eggnog: combine the first four ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook stirring constantly ‘til you are able to see the bottom of the pan, approximately 20 minutes.  Remove from heat, add the run and stir ‘til well combined. Let it chill, shape into balls and roll in small pieces of white chocolate.

Gingerbread: In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and cook for approximately 20 minutes, stirring constantly. Let it chill, shape into balls and roll in crushed toasted pecans.

Peppermint:  start with a classic brigadeiro recipe. Combine in a medium saucepan the condensed milk, butter, honey and cocoa powder.  Cook stirring constantly ‘til you are able to see the bottom of the pan, approximately 20 minutes. Let it chill, shape into balls and roll in small pieces of crushed candy canes. For a deeper peppermint flavor, use peppermint extract.

All the recipes can be used as a cake filling or a relief for PMS!!

one more cookie…

December 9th, 2010

I’m leaving today to Brazil. A lot of expectation and a mix of feelings: seeing the whole family, visiting familiar places, talking in Portuguese, talking freely without looking for the right word, eating together, eating the food I always used to eat. Oh my, I need a cookie right now!!!

I’m in a hurry, packing, checking the last details, so I’m playing safely here. That’s not a new recipe, just an old and good one I got from Martha Stewart cookbook Cookie, with a few changes, less sugar and much more chocolate.

Just one more cookie and then, I’m ready to go!!!

Pre heat oven to 350ºF.
Stir together the six first ingredients in a large bowl
Cream together the butter and the sugars until pale and fluffy.
Mix in eggs and vanilla
Add the dry ingredients and mix just ‘til combined.
Add the ingredient of your choice (nuts, chocolate chips…)
Drop dough onto baking sheets spacing 2 in apart.
Bake ‘til golden and set for about 14 min.

Surprising Pot Roast

December 5th, 2010

I love holidays food but between a turkey and a pork (and I’m going to eat a lot of pork on the next days!!!!), I need some red meat.

Brazilians are usually known for the barbecue and their appreciation for beef. I totally honor it but, living in the United States, it can be a big issue. It’s not everyday we can afford to eat a steak and, besides that, there’s the weather that doesn’t allow me use the grill as much as I would like. So, pot roast is the solution!!!

All I need is a cheap cut of meat and an oven.

And why not make it a bit fancier? An anise star, just one star, combined with a stout beer, is enough to make a whole piece of chunk meat shine as a kingly cut!!!

Just plan in advance, it requires certain time. But little work, I promise!

The first step is to make a good and rich dried marinade. And dont worry about your skills for cutting the ingredients, just dice and cut onion, carrot and celery in small pieces or put them into the food processor and let it do the job for you. Mix in olive oil, herbs and spices. Set aside.

Season all sides of the beef with salt and pepper and rub it with the marinade. Place the meat in a bag, put the remaining marinade together and let it rest overnight on the refrigerator. Save the beer for the next day, dont drink it.

On the next day, heat the oven to 350F. Take the beef out of the marinade cleaning it as much as you can (but save the marinade). In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot that has a tight cover, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately high heat. Brown the meat on all sides, taking the time to get a nice crust on the outside. Add the beer, cover and braise for about 1:30 h, until the beef is fork tender.

Slice the pot roast and serve with the pot juices.

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