Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread

Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread

Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread

Pão de Queijo, or Brazilian Cheese Bread for you North Americans, is AMAZING, and with the Olympics in Rio, what better time to enjoy the chewy, cheesy goodness?

The first time I had these I was at a brunch among friends. One person brought them upon request because it was another friend’s favorite food. I embarrassingly ate at least 4 of them, they are so yummy.

I have tried a couple of recipes. Some call for blending/food precessing the ingredients (SimplyRecipes) instead of using a stove top. Others call for cheddar (Food52), feta or any kind of cheese. Some encourage using muffin tins for baking (gawd I hate washing those). This one seems to be the most authentic, but what would I know? I have only ever had them at brunch. Either way, feel free to mix it up a bit.

Pão de Queijo

Makes 10 – 12 biscuits. Based on the recipe from Wikipedia

ingredients

  • ½ cup Oil (your choice; olive, vegetable, butter)
  • ⅓ cup Water
  • ⅓ cup Milk
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 cups Tapioca Flour
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • ⅔ cup Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated (it seems you could do cheddar or feta instead, either way it should be fresh)
  • 2 Eggs, beaten

 

instructions

  1. Combine oil, water, milk and salt in a large saucepan and place over medium heat.
  2. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and immediately stir in tapioca flour and garlic. You may have to be aggressive with your stirring, the tapioca can be a bit stiff.
    Add tapioca and garlic
  3. Set mixture aside to rest for 10 – 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°
  4. After the mixture has cooled, add the Parmesan and eggs. Stir until well combined, though it will still be a bit chunky.
    Add cheese and egg
  5. Using well-greased hands or a greased measuring cup, drop rounded ¼ cup balls onto an ungreased baking sheet. I like to use a silpat. The smoother the balls, the smoother the buns, but either are fine.
    Scoop dough onto baking sheet
  6. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
    Baked cheese bread

Best served warm.

Brazilian Cheese Bread #Olympics #Recipes #Rio2016 🇧🇷

A photo posted by Belén Torres-Gil (@lemontinely) on Aug 5, 2016 at 2:35pm PDT

Grandma’s Cheese Enchiladas Recipe

Grandma’s Cheese Enchiladas Recipe

Enchiladas Pre Baked Closeup

I love enchiladas, but I never order them at restaurants. Of the many varieties I have witnessed, none ever compare to my grandmother’s. Soggy, drowned in sauce from a can, flour tortillas, filled with god-knows-what monstrosities, where only forks separate them from a burrito? No thank you.

I’m not going to say there is anything wrong with the more popular versions of enchiladas, they are just never what I am looking for. You can’t get the sauce out of a can, you can’t cover up a bad sauce with cheese, and you certainly can’t expect me to be happy with an enchilada in a flour tortilla.

I’m not saying there isn’t a gem out there on occasion, it’s just never worth the risk. The problem is that at it’s heart, enchiladas are an incredibly simple dish. There are less than a dozen ingredients, and while the process can be messy, the entire meal should be able to be made for less than $10 in under an hour, and should feed many.

This recipe was difficult to piece together because it didn’t come with any measurements. The language is a combination of my mother’s and grandmother’s with some heavy editing. I have made and remade this recipe often, recording my own measurements, but much of this is ‘to taste.’ It also took a while to figure out how to scale it down. I can’t remember a time we ever made enchiladas in a pan smaller than your standard Pyrex Baking Dish, and often we made two.

One important note, even if you don’t like olives, do not substitute or skimp on the olive juice. It is the essence of the flavor. You don’t have to add chopped olives to the final product, but the sauce will not even slightly resemble its true origins without olive juice.

We have always used lard, but I made a batch for my sister-in-law who was vegetarian with vegetable oil, and the results were fabulous and highly similar.

Also, my mom notes that you can add shredded chicken or beef, but we have never preferred this in our family, and when she was a kid they could never afford it. So, below is the cheese only version.

Finally, as my mom likes to remind me, always top the enchiladas with the ingredients, so people know what is inside. In this case, top with olives, onions & cheese. No one likes an olive surprise.

Enchilada Ingredients

Grandma’s Cheese Enchiladas

makes 15 – 20 Enchiladas

ingredients:

  • 15 – 20 Corn tortillas (one package)
  • Oil or Lard
  • 2 tbsp Flour
  • 1 tbsp Chile Powder
  • ¾ – 1 cup Water
  • 1 can Black Olives, pitted & diced, save juice
  • ½ lb Monterey Jack or Colby cheese, shredded
  • 1 bunch Green Onions, diced

instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Prepare Tortillas: Add enough oil or lard to a large sauté or frying pan to generously cover the bottom (about 1 cup), and heat until hot, not burning (about medium heat). Once the oil/lard is hot, place one tortilla in and count to 4, flip, count to 4 then remove to a cookie rack over a paper bag to drain. Do not overcook tortillas, they simply need to be pliable. Continue until all tortillas are cooked. Turn off the burner.
    Preparing Enchilada Tortillas
  3. Make the Sauce: After frying pan cools a little remove all but approximately 2 tablespoons of oil, but don’t throw out the excess until you’ve finished making the sauce. Add approximately 2 tablespoons of flour and stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of chili powder and stir until smooth. Add approximately ¾ cup of water and stir until smooth. Turn burner on to medium. Whisk in about ¼ cup of the olive juice. Whisk constantly to keep the sauce smooth as it thickens. Continue stirring and adding chili powder, olive juice and salt to taste. Add only a little at a time. You may need to add more water. Once you have the right taste and consistency continue cooking until the sauce is bubbling, this will thicken the sauce. Turn off the burner and remove from heat.
    Making Enchilada Sauce
  4. Assemble Enchiladas: Place approximately ¼ cup of sauce on the bottom of a 8 x 8 baking dish, enough to coat the bottom. Spread around. Dip a fried tortilla into the sauce. Make sure it’s coated on both sides, scrapping any extra if there is too much. Place on baking dish. Sprinkle cheese the length of the tortilla in the middle. Sprinkle a few diced olives and diced onions. Do not overfill. Fold tortilla over then roll. Move to the side of the baking dish. Continue with the rest of the tortillas. Feel free to crowd the pan, this will help the enchiladas keep from being too flat. When done, pour remaining sauce over enchiladas, sprinkle with cheese, olives, and onions.Dip Tortillas Into Enchilada Sauce
    Assemble the Enchilada
    Done
  5. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
    Baked Enchiladas

Serve warm.

Enchilada Bite

Mexican Mac N Cheese Recipe

Mexican Mac N Cheese Recipe

Mexican Mac

When I was young, the sound of onions sizzling in a pan used to scare me the way vacuums scare cats. There was something about the attention-seeking onions that were different from other foods. Where pancakes hissed and then surrendered to the pan, onions continued to cast their spell throughout the cooking process, gaining strength with every stir. I was certain that at any moment the evil onions were going to burn my mother, as she continued to wage war on the pan.

But, they never did.

Now, that same sound is the sound of home. Most of my mother’s dishes begin with the sizzle of an onion, and end with a full belly and a warm heart. When my siblings and I moved far away from home for college or work it was the simple foods we craved, my mother’s own personal sucker punches to ensure we would return. Mexican Mac N Cheese is one of those dishes.

 

Close up

 

Mexican Mac-N-Cheese

serves 4

 

ingredients

  • stars1 – 2 tbsp Canola Oil (or your choice of Olive, Canola, Vegetable, Lard or Bacon Fat)
  • ½ cup Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 7 oz pkg small Mexican Noodles (Stars, Alphabet or Small Elbow work best, can be found in the International aisle of your supermarket)
  • 8 oz can Tomato Sauce
  • Boiling Water
  • Optional: Chicken Bouillon
  • 1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded plus more for serving (you could substitute Jack, Colby, or other hard cheese)
  • Wide sauté or frying pan with a lid

instructions

  1. Add enough oil of your choice to your pan to coat the bottom and place over medium heat. The wider your pan, the faster your noodles will brown. Let the oil heat for a moment before moving on, this is how you’re going to get that great sizzle.
    Noodles & Onions
  2. Add the onion and noodles to the pan and stir. Brown the noodles in the oil until most of the noodles are browned.
    Browned Noodles
  3. Once the noodles are nicely browned, quickly pour enough tomato sauce to cover the surface of the noodles. This may not be the entire can. Do not stir, or the sauce can boil or burn.
    Sauced Noodles
  4. Continuing to work quickly, pour enough boiling water over the pasta to cover completely, do not stir. If you do not add enough, you will have crunchy pasta, if you add too much, you will have soup. At this point, you can sprinkle with chicken bouillon for a richer flavor, or skip for a vegetarian option.
    Watered Noodles
  5. Bring to a boil (if it isn’t already), sprinkle the cheese on top of the water, cover and reduce to low heat. Cook for 20 minutes and check if the noodles are cooked through.Cheesed Noodles
  6. Once they are fully cooked, fluff the noodles and serve. Top with extra shredded cheese.

Mexican Mac N Cheese

 

Lobster Mac

Lobster Mac

I have been dying to make Lobster Mac and Cheese since the first time I heard of it which had to have been in the late 90s. The marriage of the creamy mac and cheese and delicate chewiness of the lobster seemed an unbeatable combination. The dream was always delayed because:

  1. Lobster is expensive
  2. I hate taking risks on expensive ingredients

The other day lobster was on sale for $5 a tail, so I bought 4, the store limit. After feasting on a lobster tail dinner with my husband, I decided to use the last two tails on a Lobster Mac Fest. I spent a lot of time researching recipes, and have had a couple iterations. For example, I knew I didn’t want a bland white bechamel sauce, but rather a punchier cheddar based sauce. I wanted to use a heartier noodle, and not some ravioli or shell or linguini. Scouring the web, and after watching a plethora of Food Network episodes dedicated to the cause, I decided on this recipe courtesy of The Neelys. The sauce is creamy, decadent, flavorful, and a gorgeous color. I opted for spirals instead of penne, and likely used more cheese than the recipe calls for, though after watching the video, so do they.

Result:

Lobster Mac and Cheese… the sum is less than the whole of its parts.

The concoction is good. Maybe even great. But is it better than a lobster tail with a really good mac and cheese on the side? Eh…

I do not blame the recipe. The recipe is outstanding and completely accurate. It’s just when you get a good bite of a chunk of lobster embedded in molten cheese alongside a swirl of perfectly al dente  pasta, you can’t help but wish that the mac and cheese tasted slightly less oceany, and that the lobster were simply steamed and served with lemon and butter.

Call me crazy, but some foods are better left in the pure form and need no adornment.

So, if someone else is serving it, make mine a double. If I am paying for it, and preparing it? I think I can do better.

Purée of English Pea Soup with White Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps

Purée of English Pea Soup with White Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps

I have been dying to make this recipe ever since buying The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller. It was the first recipe I saw, and my mouth watered immediately. There were two obstacles, however:

  1. I don’t own a food processor, and
  2. It wasn’t spring, and therefore there were no English peas in season

Since, apparently, both of these things are still true, I took some shortcuts, but the result was still outstanding. Bright green, bursting with flavor, and delicious hot or cold.

Purée of English Pea Soup with White Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps

Serves 6. Recipe care of The French Laundry Cookbook

ingredients

  • 3 lbs English Peas, shelled (I used frozen peas in lieu of fresh)
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Vegetable Stock (high-quality, if not fresh)
  • White Truffle Oil
  • Parmesan Crisps (recipe here)

instructions

  1. Regardless of fresh or frozen peas, shock them in a bowl of ice water to bring out their bright color.
  2. The recipe recommends boiling 7 quarts of water, 1 cup Sugar, and 1 1/2 cups Salt. No offense to Thomas Keller, but this is way too much. You will throw away much of the water, and need the largest pot in your kitchen to contain it which will take forever to boil. Instead, fill a 4-quart pot with water, add 1/2 cup Sugar and 3/4 cup Salt, or however much water your favorite pot can hold along with salt and sugar to taste. Bring to a boil.
  3. Boil the peas in batches. You don’t want the want the water to stop boiling, and you don’t want to crowd the pot. Boil until tender, 10 minutes.
  4. While you’re waiting, put a colander into a large bowl of ice water. Once the peas are cooked through, strain the peas into another bath of ice water. If you’re doing multiple batches of peas, leave the cooked peas in here so they keep their color.
  5. Here’s where I skipped some steps. Because I don’t have a food processor, I just threw the peas and the vegetable stock into the blender and blended. How much vegetable stock? Just enough that the peas will blend. Taste the concoction along the way. If it’s too flavorful, add some water instead of vegetable stock. We have a “Will it blend?” blender, so it got very smooth. Had we a food processor, we’d have processed the peas, and then put the entire mush through a sieve, then blended the puré with the stock. I’m sure there’s a difference between my lazy version and Thomas Keller’s attention to detail, but mine also tasted amazing.
  6. At this point you can either chill the soup or heat it, as the soup will be pretty lukewarm after the boiling and then soaking in ice. I heated.
  7. Serve into individual bowls.
  8. Top with a generous drizzle of truffle oil and a Parmesan Crisp. (Thomas Keller swirled the truffle oil in, I liked it on top).

 

Parmesan Crisps

Parmesan Crisps

There is no reason you shouldn’t make these. They are awesome, easy, and only require one ingredient, which you may even have in the fridge.

Parmesan Crisps

Recipe care of The French Laundry Cookbook

ingredients

  • High-quality Parmesan Cheese, shredded

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Shred Parmesan.
  3. Create small piles of shredded parmesan on a cookie sheet, approximately 2 tbsp each. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.
  4. Remove from pan immediately and let cool.
  5. Try not to eat them all before serving.

 

Play With Your Food

Play With Your Food

The little tyke

Tentacle Noodles

I can’t explain why I like The Blue Box Mac-n-Cheese. Call it comfort food, nostalgia, or addiction, but I have to have it on occasion. I especially like it with hot dogs, another substance pretending to be food. While they are just fine quartered lengthwise and sliced, occasionally I like to go old school style with my mom’s Tentacles & Noodles.

ingredients

  • 1 box of Mac-n-Cheese, and ingredients called for on box (milk, & butter usually)
  • 2 Hot Dogs
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Poppy Seeds, if you got ’em

instructions

  1. Start boiling water.
  2. Cut hot dogs in half. Starting at the cut end, make a slit halfway up. Continue making slits until you have eight “legs.”
  3. Boil hot dogs with noodles until noodles are tender, drain, and remove hot dogs. Continue mac-n-cheese instructions on box, and move to serving bowls.
  4. Place two “octopuses” on each serving. Decorate with mustard for eyes, and poppy seeds for pupils.
Tentacle Noodles

Aren’t they cute? Boiling them with the noodles makes the tentacles curl.