Celeiro

10 Dec 2010 Blog

Part One: Review

The restaurant Celeiro has been at the same location for an astonishing 28 years. The owners have continually refused to expand the brand in spite of a number of enticing opportunities. Run by a very charming family – the mother Rosa Hertz ( photo above, left), and her two daughters Beatriz (center) and Lucia (right) – Celeiro is one of the most beloved restaurants in Rio.

The restaurant was founded in 1982. Located in the trendy Dias Ferreira Street, Celeiro was a pioneer in the neighborhood known as Leblon, and I don’t think I ‘d be exaggerating to say that much of the buzz around this street was slowly built upon and around its existence.

To eat at Celeiro is like trying to enroll your kids in a New York City private school; there aren’t enough schools for the number of children in the city. At Celeiro, the restaurant is much too small for all the people who want to lunch there everyday.

I recall many times when I was forced to have my meal there sitting with someone else’s derriere literally standing across my shoulder because the limited space gets so unbearably crowded. And I keep asking myself how could I possibly desire to go back? The truth is I do, and the more I do, the more I love it.

Why? The food is just amazing. It’s really the best salad restaurant I’ve ever been to. And despite the crowd (I’ll talk about it in a second) the restaurant has quite a charming decor with wicket baskets hanging from the ceiling, cozy wooden panels on the walls, and a loyal and welcoming staff of nice ladies who seem to be working there since the day it opened doors. All in all, Celeiro has that unique feeling of your kitchen-away-from-home in Rio de Janeiro.

Although some of the hot dishes are occasionally exciting, to be honest, I don’t even bother with them. I go straight for the salad bar, though I do keep an eye in the hot main courses in case I am bringing a first time visitor.

Perhaps because of the light menu, Celeiro seems to appeal more for a feminine crowd. Most women eating at the restaurant are spectacularly good-looking, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that is just some sort of chi-chic place without much culinary credentials. In fact, consistency is their motto. While they often innovate with new dishes and ingredients, it is the classic salads displayed at the counter bar for all these years that do the honors of the house.

There are more than 30 fresh salads every day prepared with local and organic ingredients. Have the chicken curry salad with almonds and raisins, some wheat berries with apple and celery, or pasta fuzzily al pesto with Minas cheese, and lunch is pretty good.

 

Never mind New York, never mind Paris. Celeiro indeed has a special place in my heart.

Celeiro:

Rua Dias Ferreira, 199 – Leblon

Tel: ( 55- 21) 2274-7843

http://www.celeiroculinaria.com.br

On my next post, I will feature an interview with Lucia Hertz and her secrets to keeping Celeiro at the top.

 

Seared Fresh Tuna with Hearts of Palm Tagliatelle and HorseRadish Sauce

Part three

Chef Ludmilla Soeiro shared this recipe with me and although not everyone will find Pupunha hearts of palm easily, I still wanted to share with you since it’s such a great technique. The recipe was translated and adapted. Enjoy!

Seared Fresh Tuna with Hearts of Palm Tagliatelle and Horseradish Sauce

(Serves 2)

Zuka Barra

Ingredients:

1 lb fresh hearts of palm, preference Pupunha *

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb sushi-grade tuna, cut into two loins

Salt and pepper

1 bunch chives, finely chopped

½ cup jarred horseradish

½ cup heavy cream

2/3 cup whole milk

Teriaki sauce for garnish

Procedure:

Cut the hearts of palm horizontally into slices about ¼ inch thick. Cut each slice into super thin strips, simulating a tagilatelli shape.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and season with a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Plunge the strips of hearts of palm into the water and cook until they it’s just soft, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove from the water and place on a plate. Cover with aluminum foil. Reserve the water.

In a medium saucepan, combine the horseradish, heavy cream, milk, and simmer over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, cover the pan, and let it steep for at least 30 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and keep warm.

Season the tuna with salt and pepper.  Cover the outside surface with chopped chives making sure it sticks. Place the remaining olive oil on a medium-sized non-stick skillet over high heat. Sear the tuna for about 2 minutes rotating the loins to create a nice crust, but make sure to keep the center raw, about 2 minutes. Remove the loins from the pan and let it rest on a cutting board. Cut the tuna into ¼ inch slices and arrange them on each plate.

Plunge the hearts of palm into the hot water just to heat it through and remove with the slotted spoon. Arrange attractively into a tagliatelli shape on the plate. Spoon the horseradish sauce over. Garnish with small circles of teriaki sauce.

Ludmilla Soeiro © 2010 © Zuka

© 2010 The Brazilian Foodie. All rights reserved.

Interview with Zuka’s Chef Ludmilla Soeiro

11 Nov 2010 Blog

Part two Not every restaurant in Rio is packed full for lunch and dinner every night of the week. But Zuka is. So what’s the secret? Is it because Zuka is owned by a dominant trio of woman-restauranteurs (***) in the carioca dinning scene? Or is it because Chef Ludmilla Soeiro is a spitfire woman with a mind of its own? In my opinion, it’s both.

Sushi Leblon

At 34, and with 3 marriages under her belt, Ludmilla ( photo above) is simply fearless. A quality that on a personal level comes at a high price, but professionally pushes her forward like a rocket ship farther than other chefs. With a restless look on her face, Ludmilla has the strength of a young soul. Her youth does magic to her food, and to her face too – she looks like a recent college graduate. After ten years working as the head chef of Zuka, she is now one of the most established chefs in Rio, with a full house restaurant every day, and every night. Last summer, I had the opportunity to sit down with Ludmilla for an interview and as I began the conversation, I became fascinated by her big personality, her passion for cooking, and her free-spirited-mind. Enjoy the interview!

Q: How did you start cooking? A: My father had a very simple restaurant that prepared food for workers and I was always in the kitchen helping him. At 13, I was cooking full-time, and by the age of 15 I was already consulting for other restaurants. At 19, I moved to the US because I wanted to learn English. I worked in the restaurant business from the day I arrived; from dish washer to sous- chef at two restaurants in California.

Q: What restaurants? A: Mellise, a French restaurant in Santa Monica, and Kemo Sabe was an Asian Fusion restaurant in San Diego ( now closed).

Q: How long did you live in the US? A: I stayed for 6 years and then I developed ulcer. I was really sick and I had to come back to Brazil for treatment. That was right after 9/11. I returned to Rio and two days after I arrived I got a job in the kitchen at Zuka, which at the time was under the control of a carioca chef trained at the CIA – Felipe Bronze. After only one year in the position,  he left to open his own place. They offered me his post then.

Q: How would you define the menu at Zuka? A: We prepare rustic food based on charcoal and grilling. At the same time, our menu is contemporary with a focus on regional ingredients.

Q: How many people work with you in the kitchen? A: We have a staff of 27, between dish washers, grilles, and 4 sous chefs. We serve about 300 covers a day, between lunch and dinner.

Q: What do you see happening with Brazilian cuisine today? A: For a long time Brazilian chefs only wanted to use imported ingredients and cook other ethnic foods. Today it’s quite the opposite; we only want what’s regional, and we are completely interested in our native Brazilian cuisine.

Q: What other chefs in Brazil you look up to? A: Well, Chef Alex Atala from D.O.M restaurant in São Paulo is definitely the most established chef in the media and he is certainly a great influence. But there are other chefs on the rise doing a fantastic job. I love the work that Chef Helena Rizzo is doing combining high technology with Brazilian ingredients in her restaurant Mani restaurant in São Paulo.  Chef Roberta Sudbrack from Roberta Sudbrack restaurant in Rio, and Belgium Chef Frederick de Mayer (from Eça restaurant in Rio), are also extremely creative and talented.

Q: What do you like to eat at home? A: Very simple and homey food, like chayotte soufflé ( soufflé de chuchu), steak involontini (bife rolê), vatapá, farofa, and other comfort foods. I spend on average 13 hours daily in the kitchen, so when I get home I try not to cook too much. But when it comes to holidays, I like to spend time with my family and they insist I should do the cooking, which I do, with pleasure.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job? A: I love when someone say they don’t like a certain ingredient, then they try it at Zuka and like it. Because we have an open kitchen, I also love to see people’s faces and expressions when they are eating. And I love to talk to the clients, participate in their lives. Some people come over to dine with us and we end up exchanging recipes. I also love when I am responsible for wedding proposals; when the groom sends a wedding request through food. I’ve had a few of those.

Q: And what is the least fun part ? A: I don’t like when the reviews are too harsh. I always believe in giving the restaurant a second chance.

Q: What’s your biggest challenge culinary-wise? A: It’s my own pressure to be constantly creative. Some days it just comes naturally, but other days, I am just so tired and not necessarily felling inspired. Yet, I have to perform every night.

Q: Is there anything you to hate to eat? A: My mother used to force me to eat cow’s liver. Because of that, I hate it to this day. On my next post ( third and final from Zuka’s series), I will share a recipe from Chef Ludmilla Soeiro with you. Stay tuned, and see you tomorrow! *** The trio is composed by Ana Carolina Gayoso, Marina Hirsch, and Ma. Beatriz Stewart.

Zuka

Part One

Sometimes I wonder what would an acclaimed restaurant critic from the US would write about some of Rio’s restaurants. When I took a food journalism course with Alan Richman back in 2007, I remember honking at his ears that he should go on a food mission to Brazil. Oh my, what was I thinking? What audacity of mine! But with my naive sense of patriotism I was just trying to tell him – “look Alan,  there is a country called Brazil!” If that day ever arrives, I assume his editor at GQ magazine, Michael Hainey, might probably send him to São Paulo, or, more likely, to both Rio and São Paulo.

Well, let me admit to you that after my last trip to Brazil, I am not so sure I will keep honking the same lyrics into Richman’s ears. In my opinion, no restaurant in the world should be reviewed regardless of its price.  Here is the main issue: with Brazil’s booming economy, restaurant prices sky rocketed in the past few years. Food quality however, didn’t follow suit.

That bring us to Zuka. It’s one of the few places where I found a middle-ground.  A restaurant that maintains its food quality on a constant basis, with a great atmosphere, and yes, expensive prices, but not outrageously so. Zuka is a versatile restaurant; whatever is the purpose – business lunch, romantic date, lunch with friends, dinner with friends – you name it, Zuka seems to fit the occasion.

Why? It has a little but of everything, just at the right dose. It is modern, but not techno. It is trendy but it doesn’t get out of date.  Food-wise, the menu is structured in a way that sprinkles some exotic Brazilian ingredients with dishes and ingredients that are internationally accessible and familiar. But most importantly, Zuka has maintained itself as a good restaurant for at least a decade now.

There are many hits on the menu. The grilled tuna with pupunhatagliatelle and a horseradish infusion, photo above (Atum Semi Cru e Tagliatelle de Palmito com Infusão de Raiz Forte ao Leite)( stay tuned for the recipe coming up in the following posts) would not keep Zuka in the category of merely good. Oh no, we are talking here about great, truly divine.  Although pupunha tagliatelle originated in the kitchens of DOM and his master chef Alex Atala in São Paulo, I suppose even he would be proud of this dish.

The Garlic-Bread-Crusted Shrimp with Lemon Risotto, photo below (Camarões em Crosta de Pão de Alho com Risotto de Limão Siciliano) is sheen and creamy, with hints of lemon zest perfuming and lightening the risotto while contrasting perfectly with each bite of crunchy crusted shrimp.

For those who are looking for a gamey taste, I highly recommend the Lamb with Passion Fruit Infused Baroa Mashed Potatoes ( batata baroa, aka mandioquinha is a tuber vegetable that tastes something between a potato, a yucca, and a carrot). The most notable component of the dish is the bold combination of tropical passion fruit with rural Baroa potatoes, but not to be forgotten is the sauce, that rounds up the meat and the tangy mashed potatoes.

 

Desserts tend to get lost in translation, and I mean from Portuguese to Portuguese.  I’ll explain. Many desserts are titled one thing, perhaps to sound more attractive, but bears little resemblance to their descriptions. With White Chocolate Petit Gateaux, for instance, if you are expecting a white chocolate molten cake like I was, be ready for an individual almond cake with nothing molten about it, and a white chocolate sauce on the side.  I might have been less disappointed if the description of the dish had been more accurate.  The same goes for the Pistachio Brownie with Red Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream.  What brownie? That was a pistachio cake, and while it was a bit too sweet, it was still quite pleasant.

Egg Cream with Cinnamon Ice Cream (Ovos Moles com Sorvete de Canela, photo below) is a big revelation. I tend to have a barrier overOvos Moles; nearly every recipe I have ever tried, tasted overly sweet.  To my surprise, not only was the description correct this time around, but the execution was the best I’ve tasted in quite a while. It proved that any dessert, when rightly dosed with sugar, can be spectacular.  Paired with marshmallow ( again not overly sweet) and a fruit salad, this dessert is the perfect example that when you’re sampling Ludmilla’s creations, the next dish is always more exciting than the previous.

 

One my next post, I will write about chef Ludmilla Soares and my interview with her.

Zuka

Rua Dias Ferreira 233, loja B

Leblon, Rio de Janeiro

Tel: ( 011-55-21) 3205-7154

http://www.zuka.com.br

Caldo de Piranha

It’s hard to imagine a restaurant in Teresópolis serving Brazilian mid-western food. But for Mr. Ernani Antônio de Oliveira, Caldo de Piranha is a specialty. In fact, when I heard about this place, my enthusiasm for trying this famous dish from the Pantanal region got even stronger, as I was about to enrich my knowledge for an important item in the Brazilian culinary identity.

One of Teresópolis most traditional and beloved restaurants, Caldo de Piranha was established in 1994, June 17th to be precise. Mr Oliveira, the owner, does not claim the creation of the recipe but his restaurant popularity was built upon it. That began 25 years ago, the day he caught a Piranha fish for the first time on his trip to Pantanal (located in the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul). He knew about the dangerous of the species, which in a way, made this challenge even more fascinating. There, he tried Piranha for the first time and since then, he became intimate friends with the beast.

At first, he followed a well-known recipe. As time went by, he perfected his own version, found a supplier in Vitoria, Espírito Santo, and practiced cooking it back at his hometown in Teresópolis. He tried selling the dish in his son’s snack bar. On the first day, he sold 53 soups. On the second day 113, and on the third day, 240. After 30 days of increasing demand and continuous success, his son realized the potential of that one single recipe and transformed his bar into a real restaurant specializing in his father’s signature dish.

When I tasted the famous dish, I quickly understood the deep pleasures of a warm fish soup echoed of course by the prized flavors of the Piranha fish. With a rich creaminess that nevertheless comes without cream, this hearty and earthy soup is the kind of meal that can be served as an appetizer or as a main course.

Going to Teresóplolis is the best way to sample Mr Oliveira’s famous soup. Ok, let’s be realistic; although chances are slim that you’ll do that, or that we’ll find a piranha fish in the US, I will still post this fantastic recipe, because my desire is to at least adapt the fish soup, possibly with another fish. To do this, you must know your fish. Take a good look at these photos and then investigate as many fish as possible, talk to fishmongers * and try to imagine a fish soup as satisfying as Caldo de Piranha. And then you cook. You cook your fish soup slowly; submerged it in golden garlic, in the Brazilian style, and you adjust it for the American taste. You add onions and tomatoes and make a refogado**. You blend your refogado and return to the pan. You cook the fish and flake the meat and you add everything to the same pan. You stir, you mix, you season, and you simmer until the soup thickens properly bubbling in the pan.

Cook it often, and cook it well, and be sure to write down the recipe because your friends and family will want to make it at their homes too. But most importantly, you write it down because discovering a new recipe will only brighten your life.

The recipe below is adapted from Mr Oliveira’s recipe.

Caldo de Piranha (Adapted to the United States)

1 whole Branzino, gutted, scaled, head and tail off (about 1.46 lbs or 665g)

Kosher Salt

Freshly ground pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

3 scallions (white and green parts), finely chopped

3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (1 1/3 cup or 240g)

3 tablespoons (20g) all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro

1. Cut the fish into large chunks, about 2-inches and season with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven or large casserole, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the fish and cook, turning occasionally until it starts to turn opaque, about 4 minutes. Depending on the fish, the skin might stick to the bottom of the pan, and that’s ok, you can scrape it later. Add enough water to cover the fish (about 3 cups), cover the pan, and bring to boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the fish is cooked, about 5 minutes taking care to skim off any foam that bubbles to the surface.

2. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the fish and place in a bowl. When is cool enough to handle, shred the meat into small thin threads; discard skin and bones. Keep the fish covered with foil. Strain the liquid and reserve in a bowl.

3. In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat and add the garlic; cook until just lightly golden brown. Add the onions, scallions, and cook stirring frequently until it’s nice and soft. Add the tomatoes and cook until it just starts to release its water. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl of a food processor and whir until it becomes a puree, about 1 minute. Scrape back into the pan.

4. Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the fish threads and all reserved liquid; simmer the soup until it reaches proper consistency (not too thin, not too thick), about 10 minutes. Adjust with a little bit more of water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

5. To serve, ladle the soup into small individual dishes and garnish with, parsley and cilantro. (The soup can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)

* I called a reliable source, Paganos in CT (www.paganosseafood.com) and they were somewhat familiar with Piranhas. Although small red snapper, Branzino, and pompano are salt-water fish, they suggested as an accepted substitute for the Piranhas.

**Refogado is the name of onion/garlic (and) tomato mixture, similar to sofrito in Spanish cooking.

Restaurante Caldo de Piranha
Rua Jose Elias Zaquem, 305
Agrioes, Teresópolis
Tel: ( 55) (21) 2643- 4908
www.caldodepiranha.com.br

Piranha : Heavenly Super Fish

5 Oct 2010 Blog

If a fish could speak Portuguese or English, I would tell piranhas how famous they are. Maybe they would change their behavior if they were aware of that. Ok, their reputation is mostly based on being the most ferocious and voracious fish of all, inspiring many movie titles and idiomatic expressions. Their face looks devilish! But really, if you’re looking for a fish authentically Brazil, you must know about Piranhas.

Slim and silvery, the piranha has a distinctive forward projected lower jaw and red colored belly, making it instantly recognizable. Their scales shine as bright as glitter and they swim mostly in a school of fish. Their teeth are as pointy and sharp as a knife and according to scientists; it can bite at a speed of 80 frictions per second, hence their ferocious reputation. Piranhas are relatively small fish and vary in size from 8 to 12 inches, and while a piranha can weight up to 3 pounds, it is mostly found in half this size.

Piranha is plump and smooth; it’s snowy flesh tasting faintly oily, somewhere between a lean whitefish and a dark, fatty one. They swim mostly in the rivers of the Amazon and Pantanal regions (located in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul) and are a regular part of the local diet. Catching them is quite easy: anything you throw in the water is the perfect bait to attract the whole school close by.

Despite their reputation, Piranha is hell of a delicious fish and one of Brazilian classic dishes – Caldo de Piranha is made with it.

In the next post I will tell you about a great restaurant specializing in Caldo de Piranha, a specialty from the Pantanal region.

Tamarind Ice Cream

Whenever I think of tamarind, the first thought that comes to my mind is a small, round, dark brown candy that was sold by the street vendor in front of my school. When I was a little girl in Brazil, I use to eat one every day after school while waiting for the bus.

But the fruit of the tamarind is far more than a memory from childhood. It is one of the greatest sources of sour taste in cooking. It is broadly found in the cooking of India, Asia, and African dishes. In Brazil, although the fruit grows abundantly since the tall tamarind tree adapts perfectly to our tropical climate, it has never been explored to its full potential. But now in the wave of “wake up to our local ingredients” it’s nouvelle cuisine.

Recently in Brazil, I bought a small tray and devoured the whole thing by myself in a matter of minutes. To suck on a tamarind pit is to experiment the quintessential taste of the exotic. As you can see in the photos, the fruit itself is not your typical apple, orange, or banana. There is very little pulp, and the size of the pit occupies most of the fruit. In my opinion, this so called “fruit” is almost like a natural paste of tamarind that carries so much acid and so much sugar that it feels like eating that tamarind candy of my childhood.

The secret of cooking with tamarind is how to best extract the pulp. To use the fruit, you have to crack the fava, peel it, and clean away the “hair”. If you have about ¼ lb (125g) place that in a glass bowl and cover with 1 cup of boiling water. Soak for 20 minutes periodically mashing the tamarind with your fingers. Strain and discard the pit and any debris. Keep this concentrated paste in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Tamarind can be used in many different ways: In Brazil it is mostly used in sauces, and juices. In India is common in chutneys and curries. In the US, tamarind can be found in the form of paste, cubes, or frozen pulp.

The recipe below is adapted from ©Joseluis Flores and Laura Zimmerman Maye cookbook Dulce, Rizzoli, 2010

Tamarind Ice Cream

Helado de Tamarindo

Serves 8

2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream

1 cup (240ml) whole milk

¾ cup (150g) sugar

7 egg yolks

1 cup tamarind puree*

1 – In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes.

2 – In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Continue whisking while pouring a small amount of the hot cream mixture into the yolks. This will temper the yolks and keep them from curdling. While whisking the hot cream mixture, gradually add the tempered yolk. Stir with a wooden spoon over medium – low heat until the custard coats the back the back of the spoon, being careful not to boil, about 4 minutes. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a clean bowl.

3 – Chill the custard in the refrigerator until very cold, about 3 hours or use an ice bath. Stir in the tamarind puree. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

* In the US tamarind paste can be found in many Asian or Indian markets. In New York, I recommend www.kalustyans.com.

Tamarind

Tamarind

8 Aug 2010 Blog

Whenever I think of tamarind, the first thought that comes to my mind is a small, round, dark brown candy that was sold by the street vendor in front of my school.  When I was a little girl in Brazil, I use to eat one every day after school while waiting for the bus.

But the fruit of the tamarind is far more than a memory from childhood.  It is one of the greatest sources of sour taste in cooking. It is broadly found in the cooking of India, Asia, and African dishes. In Brazil, although the fruit grows abundantly since the tall tamarind tree adapts perfectly to our tropical climate, it has never been explored to its full potential. But now in the wave of “wake up to our local ingredients” it’s nouvelle cuisine.

Recently in Brazil, I bought a small tray and devoured the whole thing by myself in a matter of minutes. To suck on a tamarind pit is to experiment the quintessential taste of the exotic.  As you can see in the photos, the fruit itself is not your typical apple, orange, or banana. There is very little pulp, and the size of the pit occupies most of the fruit. In my opinion, this so called “fruit” is almost like a natural paste of tamarind that carries so much acid and so much sugar that it feels like eating that tamarind candy of my childhood.

The secret of cooking with tamarind is how to best extract the pulp. To use the fruit, you have to crack the fava, peel it, and clean away the “hair”. If you have about ¼ lb (125g) place that in a glass bowl and cover with 1 cup of boiling water. Soak for 20 minutes periodically mashing the tamarind with your fingers. Strain and discard the pit and any debris. Keep this concentrated paste in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

 

Tamarind can be used in many different ways:  In Brazil it is mostly used in sauces, and juices. In India is common in chutneys and curries.  In the US, tamarind can be found in the form of paste, cubes, or frozen pulp.

The recipe below is adapted from ©Joseluis Flores and Laura Zimmerman Maye cookbook Dulce, Rizzoli, 2010

Tamarind Ice Cream

Helado de Tamarindo

Serves 8

2 cups  (480 ml) heavy cream

1 cup (240ml) whole milk

¾ cup (150g) sugar

7 egg yolks

1 cup tamarind puree*

1-    In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes.

2-    In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Continue whisking while pouring a small amount of the hot cream mixture into the yolks. This will temper the yolks and keep them from curdling. While whisking the hot cream mixture, gradually add the tempered yolk.  Stir with a wooden spoon over medium – low heat until the custard coats the back the back of the spoon, being careful not to boil, about 4 minutes. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a clean bowl.

3-    Chill the custard in the refrigerator until very cold, about 3 hours or use an ice bath. Stir in the tamarind puree. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

* In the US tamarind paste can be found in many Asian or Indian markets. In New York, I recommendwww.kalustyans.com.

Tamarind Ice Cream © 2010 Joseluis Flores and Laura Zimmerman Maye

Paraty

17 Jun 2010 Blog

I last went to Paraty many years ago, on a field trip with my high school. I remember sitting on a 3-hour bus ride with Tatiana El-Mann, a great friend from childhood with whom I remain very close to this day.

On a recent cloudy and humid day, we decided to bring back the old days, literary, and revisit history. Tatiana and I went on a day trip to Paraty, this time joined by her beautiful daughter Nicole (photo below), a 9 year-old going on 13, who seemed more interested in history than we ever were in high school.

Paraty was founded in 1667 and is located on the coast between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Since the old days, the region is cluttered with sugar cane mills producing cachaça. During the XVII and XVIII centuries, a triangle path build by slaves linking Rio de Janeiro – Minas Gerais – São Paulo, known as Caminho do Ouro (gold path) brough even more prosperity and high economic value to Paraty, whose harbours strategically served as a place to ship gold to Portugal. As 1667 turned into 2010, a very handsome African- Brazilian man stands by the church as a model, dressed as a slave.

Epiphany

1 Apr 2010 Blog

Epiphany.

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Lately it became my new favorite word in the English vocabulary. My husband asked me yesterday – ” Why are you having so many epiphanies lately? ” Realistically, there are many reasons I should not be having an epiphany, nonetheless many. Our sink is clogged, my tooth is aching, the American economy is putting 30 years of wrinkles in everybody’s face and while Brazil is emerging as one of the strongest economies, our President Luíz Ignacio Lula da Silva is practicing some pretty bad foreign policy spinouts.

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But guess what? My cookbook came out in February. Yes, this past February 2010, to some amazing reviews! Want more? This week the Wall Street Journal published a beautiful section on Brazil titled For Brazil, It’s Finally Tomorrow . Want more? The very next day, the Wall Street Journal published an advertising section just on my hometown Rio de Janeiro. And today I am launching my very own blog. So tell me if I shouldn’t be having an epiphany? Last week I filmed a demo of Molton Dulce de Leche Cake to post on my web site and it came out of the oven with the best runny center ever. Another epiphany. I guess I am in the epiphany phase, and I hope to stay in it for quite some time.

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