a Brazilian dish of grilled beef with chimichurri.
the land of nuts and wax, home to beautiful beaches and many
beautiful people, where one of the world’s largest statues
of Jesus looks out over great wealth and some of the world’s
is unique — it is the sixth-largest country in population,
and the fifth largest in size, and it is the only country in
North or South America where the official language is
Portuguese influence is only part of the country’s
culinary charms. The indigenous people who were colonized by
Portugal in 1500 still leave their mark on some of the food,
and so do the many slaves from Africa who were brought in
for 200 years to work on the sugar plantations.
a history much like our own, and the food that resulted from
this forced and often unhappy blending of cultures is
a tour of the foods of Brazil with help from a friend, who
spent her childhood there. I asked what her favorite dishes
were, she told me and then I made them.
can, too. There is a whole world of flavor that awaits.
began with a true delight, an appetizer called Pão de
Queijo. Also known as Brazilian Cheese Bread, these are
essentially the Brazilian version of French gougeres, those
delectable cheese puffs that are the hit of every party.
de Queijo are the same — same idea, same cooking method
— with one big difference. Instead of wheat flour, they
are made from tapioca flour. Cassava, which is what tapioca
comes from, is native to South America and grows easily
tapioca flour makes for a crispier texture on the outside
and a subtly different flavor. They are chewier than
gougeres, and less hollow, but just as insanely addictive.
were also somewhat cheesier than the gougeres I typically
make, because I used a combination of parmesan and farmer’s
cheeses. The farmer’s cheese adds creaminess, and you may
be able to find it in a store, but I just made it myself
because it is so easy and I’m a little obsessive. If you
can’t find it and don’t want to make it, just use more
parmesan. You won’t be disappointed.
main course, I made the dish that Brazil is most famous for,
churrasco. Churrasco is meat, usually beef, that has been
grilled on skewers. It requires no seasoning except a fairly
heavy dose of salt just before grilling.
Brazil they use large, coarse salt called sal grosso, which
is larger than kosher salt but smaller than rock. I used a
Celtic gray salt that is about the right size, but you can
just use kosher salt — or table salt, for that matter. Don’t
cut of meat Brazilians use for churrasco is called picanha,
which we know as the top sirloin cap. But just because we
have a name for it doesn’t mean it is easy to find at a
store. I used a sirloin, because the cap is just the top
part of the bottom sirloin, if that makes sense. But you
could also use skirt steak, as they do in Puerto Rico, flank
steak, as they do in Argentina, or tenderloin, as they do in
topped mine with chimichurri, the all-pervasive sauce made
from parsley, cilantro (in this case), garlic, oregano, red
wine vinegar and oil. Nothing goes better on grilled meat,
which is why it so frequently accompanies churrasco.
another entrée, I used a recipe that combines the coastal
country’s love of seafood with its African influences,
Vatapá. This is a spicy shrimp stew, made with a surreal
amount of onion that is pureed with raw shrimp, flavored
with coconut milk and thickened with bread crumbs. Whole
shrimp are then cooked into this sauce.
all, it’s a typical recipe for the tropical regions, until
you get to this: It also has peanut butter.
the influence of Africa, where a similar dish would have
been made with groundnuts. The peanut butter adds a singular
flavor, a heady shot of umami that undergirds the entire
meal. This is a hearty dish that’s remarkably satisfying.
I made dessert. And I was wowed.
is just that kind of dish. It is a coconut custard,
impossibly rich, that makes you stand up, take notice and
pay it your respects. And I’m not even hugely fond of
secret is the egg yolks. It requires eight yolks. It serves
eight people. The math is not difficult.
it is a lovely shade of bright yellow. And there aren’t
many ingredients beyond the yolks: a lot of coconut, a bit
of sugar, a splash of coconut milk, a hunk of butter and
just enough vanilla.
are so rich — and good — that portions are intentionally
small. Brazilians make them with molds like miniature bundt
cakes, but any small ramekins will do. I used a muffin tin,
and they came out perfect.
never use it to make muffins again.
DE QUEIJO (BRAZILIAN CHEESE BREAD)
cup whole milk
stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
teaspoons kosher salt
tapioca flour, see notes
farmer’s cheese, optional, see notes
cup grated parmesan cheese (1 1/2 cups if not using farmer’s
Tapioca flour (do not use tapioca) is available in the
alternative grains section of many grocery stores, often in
the baking aisle. Bob’s Red Mill is a popular brand.
Farmer’s cheese may be available at some of the
best-stocked stores, or you could make it yourself with the
Arrange racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven;
preheat to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment
Heat milk, butter, salt and 1/4 cup water in a large
saucepan over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until
butter is melted and mixture begins to boil, about 4
minutes. Remove from heat and add flour all at once;
vigorously stir with a wooden spoon until dough is dry and
shaggy, about 10 seconds. Transfer to the bowl of a stand
mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large bowl. Let
cool 5 minutes.
Beat mixture on low speed just until dough starts to come
together, about 30 seconds (alternatively, vigorously stir
with a wooden spoon). Add eggs, one at a time, and continue
to beat on low speed until incorporated (dough will look
broken at first, then come together). Continue to beat on
low speed until dough is smooth, sticky and somewhat
stretchy; do not overbeat or dough will lose its stretch.
Add farmer’s cheese, if using, and parmesan and beat on
low speed until evenly distributed.
Using a 1 1/3-ounce ice cream scoop or a large spoon,
portion dough into 11/2-inch balls and place on prepared
baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.
Bake 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees
and continue to bake until pão are very light brown, with
some darker brown speckles (that’s the cheese), and sound
hollow when tapped on the bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Halfway
through baking, rotate pans top to bottom and front to back.
Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
piece: 67 calories; 3 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; 20 mg
cholesterol; 2 g protein; 8 g carbohydrate; 1 g sugar; no
fiber; 139 mg sodium; 46 mg calcium
from Bon Appetít
About 3 cups
gallon whole milk, see note
cup white vinegar
Do not use ultra-pasteurized milk, which will have a long
expiration date, perhaps 30 to 90 days from when you bought
a heavy-bottomed large pot, bring the milk and salt to a
slow boil. Keep the heat at medium or medium-low, to avoid
scorching the milk.
When small, foamy bubbles begin to form on the surface, but
it is not yet at a rolling boil, turn off the heat. It
should be about 190 degrees.
the vinegar and stir the milk; curds will immediately begin
to form. Let sit for 15 minutes. At this time, you may add
additional flavors, such as fresh herbs.
Place a colander over a large bowl or pot. Drape a dampened
cheesecloth or dampened dish towel over the colander, and
strain the mixture. Lift the cheesecloth and wrap it around
the curds, twisting and squeezing to remove as much liquid
as possible. The resulting curds will be dry and crumbly. If
you want a creamier texture, mix a little of the reserved
whey back into the curds.
shape the cheese, keep it wrapped in cheesecloth and form it
into a mound on a plate. Set another plate on top and press
the curds into a flat disc that is 1 to 2 inches tall. Cover
and refrigerate for 1 hour before removing cheesecloth.
Farmer’s cheese will keep up to a week in the
refrigerator. Use it as a spread, in recipes or as you would
use cream cheese or cottage cheese.
tablespoon) serving: 38 calories; 2 g fat; 1 g saturated
fat; 6 mg cholesterol; 2 g protein; 3 g carbohydrate; 3 g
sugar; no fiber; 44 mg sodium; 69 mg calcium
WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE
tablespoons red wine vinegar
teaspoon kosher salt, plus more coarse salt
clove garlic, thinly sliced or minced
tablespoon finely chopped shallot
teaspoons finely chopped Fresno chile or red jalapeño, more
or less if desired
tablespoons minced cilantro
tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
pounds top sirloin cap, sirloin, flank steak, skirt steak or
Combine vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, garlic, shallot
and chile in a medium bowl and let stand for 10 minutes.
Stir in cilantro, parsley and oregano. Whisk in oil with a
fork or whisk. Can be refrigerated overnight or up to 2
days; use at room temperature.
steak is fairly wide, such as sirloin, flank or skirt steak,
slice it in half lengthwise. Liberally season with coarse
salt. Skewer the steaks; traditionally, the meat is curved
to form a ‘c,’ with each piece pierced twice. Grill on a
medium-hot grill until cooked to your preference. Allow to
rest 5 minutes before carving against the grain into thin
strips. Serve with the chimichurri sauce.
serving: 618 calories; 49 g fat; 3 g saturated fat; 200 mg
cholesterol; 40 g protein; 1 g carbohydrate; 1 g sugar; no
fiber; 294 mg sodium; 12 mg calcium
from Bon Appetít
6 to 8 servings
pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, divided
2 to 3
1 to 3
jalapeño peppers, chopped
teaspoons ground turmeric
tablespoon minced ginger, optional
tablespoons vegetable oil
cups stock or water
cup natural peanut (or cashew) butter
(1 can) coconut milk
Place the onion, 1/2 pound of the shrimp (about 1 cup),
garlic, jalapeños, turmeric and optional ginger in a
blender and purée well. Add a little water if necessary.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the
onion-shrimp mixture and sauté until cooked through, about
5 to 7 minutes.
Stir in the stock or water and whisk in the peanut or cashew
butter until smooth. Stir in the bread crumbs, salt and
pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and
simmer for 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 pound
shrimp and coconut milk and simmer another 5 or 6 minutes or
until shrimp is almost cooked through. Serve over rice.
serving (based on 8) : 416 calories; 29 g fat; 15 g
saturated fat; 106 mg cholesterol; 20 g protein; 22 g
carbohydrate; 7 g sugar; 4 g fiber; 804 mg sodium; 101 mg
grated or shredded coconut, fresh or dry
cup coconut milk
yolks, pushed through a sieve
plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
tablespoons butter, melted
teaspoon vanilla extract
tablespoon butter, soft
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the coconut in a large bowl and pour the coconut milk
on top. Mix well and let stand 5 minutes.
a blender, add egg yolks, 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of the
sugar, the melted butter, the coconut mixture and the
vanilla. Mix for 2 minutes.
softened butter thoroughly inside 8 small ramekins or 8
muffin tins. Coat bottom and sides with remaining 1/2 cup
sugar, or as much as it takes. Pour the mixture into the
molds and let stand 10 minutes at room temperature. Place
molds or muffin tins in a baking dish and fill with water
halfway up the sides of the molds (the water does not have
to be hot).
Cook 40 to 50 minutes until the tops are golden and the
custards are set — the centers jiggle just a little when
the mold is tapped.
Allow to cool almost to room temperature before unmolding.
To unmold, run a knife around the edges. Place individual
serving plates or a platter on top of the molds, and turn
both upside down; the custards should release easily.
Refrigerate custards until chilled; this dessert is best
serving: 250 calories; 14 g fat; 9 g saturated fat; 200 mg
cholesterol; 3 g protein; 29 g carbohydrate; 28 g sugar; 1 g
fiber; 14 mg sodium; 54 mg calcium
from a recipe by 196flavors.com