Brazilian Caipirinha

Brazilian Caipirinha

Of all things Brazilian, you’ve probably heard of the Brazilian Caipirinha, our heraldic emblem and one of Brazil’s greatest contributions to the food and wine world. Refreshing, cool, sweet, and relaxing, caipirinha is Brazil. And if caipirinha is Brazil, then cachaça is our national shrine.

The spirit was invented in the mid 1500s in Brazil, when Portuguese colonizers began to cultivate sugar cane. Back then, somewhere in a sugar mill around São Paulo some stems of rough cane were forgotten, left to sit around and yielded a foamy, non-alcoholic juice that naturally fermented. The drink had a strong effect on the body, frequently used as a painkiller, and served to slaves at the time.

Watch a video of the Brazilian Caipirinha in the works.

Eventually the Portuguese decided to distill and age it, creating a new type of aguardente (spirits distilled from fruits or vegetables) and named it cachaça. There are many different kinds of wood (oak, cherry, and jequitiba rosa among them) used for aging the spirit, each leaving different traces of taste; some with a more floral flavor, others with a hint of vanilla or cinnamon.

Cachaça was considered a poor man’s drink, and the disdain lingered for quite some time. But in Brazil in the current wave of “waking up” to our own ingredients, the culture has changed a lot, and today cachaca couldn’t be more in vogue and caipirinhas have reached a global audience.

In the US, cachaça is also called Brazilian rum and the distillation process is quite similar indeed. The difference however, is that rum is distilled from molasses (which also comes from sugar cane) while cachaça is distilled from the fresh sugar cane juices. Good cachaça has an intense aroma and flavor of fresh sugar cane.

Essentially, caipirinha is a simple cocktail based on a mixture of mashed lime with sugar, ice, and cachaça. As elementary as it is, there are a few variables that could make all the difference in your drink.

The lime should be cut into medium-sized chunks. It is then mashed with sugar by a wooden muddler until the lime releases its oils. Transfer this mixture to a shaker, add some ice, cachaca, shake it, and pour. Done!

I like my caipirinha on the lighter side, although it’s very common to use a bit stronger dose then suggested here.

Another important point is that caipirinha is not the type of drink to serve out of a pitcher. It’s also not the type of drink you can prepare in advance. For the sake of great taste, each must be prepared individually, shaken individually, and immediately poured into a wide sturdy glass. Of course, this creates catering obstacles. Once I bought the biggest shaker I could find and when I needed to serve a large group of people, I could assemble 2 to 3 caipirinhas at a time. On the other hand, making caipirinha doesn’t take more than a minute per cocktail, and part of the fun is making them.

 

Brazilian Caipirinha

Makes 1 drink

2 limes

1 tablespoon sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons cachaça (adjust amount to taste)

Ice cubes

  1. Cut the two ends of the lime and cut lime into medium chunk wedges.
  2. Using a muddler, mash the lime with sugar, making sure to squeeze all the juices and to dissolve the sugar in the juice.
  3. Transfer the lime mixture to a shaker. Add the cachaca and ice cubes. Shake well (about 8 to10 times) and pour into a large (but not tall) sturdy glass.

 

 

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Beef Brodo

Beef Brodo

If you are reading this page, you are probably considering making beef brodo at home. Congratulations! Your cooking will never be the same! When I worked in restaurant kitchens, I used to prepare stocks and brodos that would simmer for 10 to 12 hours or overnight. In my home kitchen, it’s pretty hard to deal with this large number of bones, so I work with smaller batches and simmer for 1-2 hours. That’s enough to yield an incredible broth. I use it for everything, and it’s so good that it doesn’t last long.

Watch this quick video of Beef Brodo in the works.

Broth or Brodo? Brodo or Broth? What about stock? What’s the difference between them?

Good question. Brodo is more of a drinkable “tea,” and broth is the term used for cooking purposes. Broth and stock are two terms for the same thing. Brodo is seasoned; the broth is unseasoned for stews, sauces, soups, and many purposes.

Can you use brodo for cooking purposes instead of broth? Of course, you can; just be sure to taste the recipe as you cook and adjust the seasoning accordingly. You might need to go lightly on the seasoning if you use brodo.

What about consistency? Do they have the same texture?

It depends on who is making it. I like to give brodo a bit more body than broth, simply because the broth will probably be reduced in cooking recipes. In contrast, the brodo is the final product.

Brodo is considered one of the healthiest foods you can eat/drink. It helps your body function better, improves digestion, strengthens joints and helps the body absorb protein. Speaking of protein, brodo is loaded, about 10 grams per cup of beef brodo.

Brodo is a fantastic meal replacement. It is very satisfying and will give you a sensation of a full meal. I have documented my own brodo drinking experiences. Whenever I drink brodo for dinner, I notice that it fills me up. Maybe that’s just me. I’d love to hear your experiences when drinking brodo.

About the bones: You can start with raw bones and roast them. I like to make many short ribs stews during the wintertime, so if I have leftover bones, I’ll save them for brodo. That was the case when I made this video. You can see in the video that the bones are from short ribs and not raw beef bones. Can you use veal bones instead of beef? Absolutely! Use this same recipe and proceed to make veal brodo. This brodo will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months and it’s one of the easiest frozen dinners you can make.

One last note about Beef brodo, I’m not against recipes (obviously), but some things in the cooking world really don’t need them. Brodo (or broth or stock) is one of them. The recipe below is just a guidance, feel free to go with your instincts. Get in touch if you have any questions. Happy to help, always and forever!

 

Beef Brodo

Makes about 3 quarts

 

6 pounds beef bones

3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

2 onions, peeled and quartered

2 stalks celery

5 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon black peppercorns, cracked

3 to 4 bay leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚F. Place a large roasting pan in the oven. Place the beef bones in the roasting pan with the vegetables. Try not to overcrowd the pan so they have lots of space to brown evenly. Drizzle the olive oil and toss well. Roast until they are medium brown all over, about 30 minutes,
  2. Transfer the bones to a large stockpot (about 10 to 15 quarts) with the vegetables and cover them with about 4 to 6 quarts of cold water. The water should be 1 to 2 inches above the bone level. Cover the pan and cook over high heat just to bring to a boil, about 15 minutes. Uncover, reduce the heat to low, and cook at a very gentle simmer, skimming occasionally for fat and foam. Do not try to rush the process by raising the heat and boiling. You want very small bubbles at the most. The longer you cook your stock, the more viscosity and complexity it will have.
  3. When the bones have cooked for about 30 minutes hours, add the peppercorns and bay leaves. Continue to simmer the stock for another hour, skimming occasionally.
  4. After about 2 hours, the stock should be very gelatinous and medium to dark brown. Remove the big bones from the stockpot with a slotted spoon and strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer. This moment is gold! Discard the bones and vegetables.
  5. Place the brodo over an ice bath then chill in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours – chilled is the best way to judge the quality of the stock. The more gelatinous, the better. Carefully remove any fat that accumulates on the top and discard it. Divide the stock into several small plastic containers, label them, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

 

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Baked Brie

Say Cheese for Baked Brie

Every Thanksgiving has it: a basket of rolls, buns, or biscuits. Some kind of cheese, spread, or dip. Say Cheese for Baked Brie because for one night a year, you can eat these treats, and it will hurt you, but not so badly—that is the magic of Thanksgiving, appetite and America combined. After that, such a meal must be counted a special treat and reality kicks in, our minds adapting to health conscious again. So, for that one night, that one moment, when you get high on thanksgiving supply, you might as well eat a rocking delicious baked brie.

On a recent visit to The French Cheese Board Store in New York City, I was delighted to taste so many delicious cheeses with a guide from expert John Braga, aka “O Queijonista”. You can see a video of our tasting (collab with the amazing Rodolfo Sanches) on my YouTube Channel @LeticiaMoreinosSchwartz.

Some people don’t like the strong smell of Brie or Camembert. They are typical from Europe—France to be more specific and they’re made of raw cow’s milk and prepared in a very particular way. Fresh wobbly stinky milk curds are encased in molds and left to ripen in humid conditions. As the cheese ripens, the wheels of cheese are salted and flipped. Many times, the rinds are gritty and bitter (and they can have a certain strong smell too). But there is something interesting about cheese and people who claim not to like it: they love this recipe! Say Cheese for Baked Brie!

This is exactly the reason why I love to bake brie instead of eating it plain. When you enrobe a cheese (like brie) in puff pastry and bake it, it can be the center of a girl’s night out dinner or a book-club meeting. Take it one step further, cut the cheese in half horizontally, fill it up with caramelized onions and bacon and then, boom! You have a recipe that is the life of a party, the center of attention, delicious and oh so tasteful! This recipe is a witness to elaborate skills and boundless passion for cooking. It’s not just perfect for entertainment. The recipe itself is entertaining to prepare and to eat.

 

Say Cheese for Baked Brie

Serves 6 people

 

Ingredients:

2 slices bacon, chopped

1 small white onion, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly group peppers

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed in the fridge per package instructions

All-purpose flour for rolling out the dough

1 egg, lightly beaten

One 9-ounce wheel Brie (or Camembert), sliced in half horizontally

 

  • Cook the bacon in a small skillet over medium heat and allow the fat to render, stirring occasionally about 2 minutes. Add the onions and reduce the heat to low and let the onion sweat in the bacon fat until it’s totally soft and the bacon is cooked though, and lightly browned, stirring occasionally, abut 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Drain excess fat.
  • Pre heart the oven to 375. Place the puff pastry on a lightly floured sheet of parchment and use a rolling pin to even out any folds and roll out until it’s about 12 X 12 inches. Brush off any remaining flour, and brush all over with egg. Transfer the parchment and pastry to a baking sheet. Place half of the cheese at the center, cut side up. Spoon the onion bacon mixture and the preserves on top of the Brie, then place the remaining half Brie on top, cut side down. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Baked Brie
  • Bring the edge of the dough up and over the cheese, working your way around, gently pressing and pinching to seal. Make sure there are no gaps, which could allow the cheese to leak from the puff pastry parcel. Flip the parcel over, brush the top and sides of the parcel with the remaining egg wash and use a knife to puncture a small hole at the center, and to make a design along the top, if you like.
  • Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked through and golden brown all over. Allow to cool on the sheet pan for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate with crackers or toasts and enjoy!

Baked Brie

 

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Brazilian Quentao Recipe

Brazilian Quentão Recipe

I wasn’t exactly in a cozy room when I tried the Brazilian Quentão Recipe, a spiced tea made with chachaça, but I quickly immersed myself in the excitement of this rich drink while sitting in a snack bar in Teresópolis, a mountain town about one-hour away from Rio de Janeiro.

Teresópolis allows us, Cariocas (people born in Rio), a fake-winter excuse to wear warm sweatshirts and boots, while sitting by the fireplace with a coffee cup, as the local weather is at least some 20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than Rio itself.

 

Teresopolis
Photo by Ricardo De Mattos

 

In Portuguese the word quente means hot and the superlative quentão means super-hot. By tradition, the tea is prepared with flavorful spices such as cinnamon stick, lemongrass, ginger, cloves, star anis, and some sugar, and finished with cachaça.

Brazilian Quentao Ingredients
Sugar, ginger, lemongrass, cinnamon, lime, star anise and cloves.

 

Quentão is known to Cariocas as the typical drink from Minas Gerais. I was happy to try it from the hands of an expert, Mr. Ernani Antonio de Oliveira, who learned to make quentão in Minas and has been offering it for years at his restaurant Caldo da Piranha in Teresópolis.

Caldo da Piranha
Mr. Ernani Antonio de Oliveira

 

“Quentão combina com o clima de Teresópolis”(Quentão goes with the climate of Teresópolis), said Mr. Oliveria.

The appeal for Quentão in cold weather may just be simple thermodynamics: weather a bubbling stew or a hot tea, it generates heat, never a bad thing in winter. Or perhaps, its power lies in its own recipe. If Quentão promotes cozy feelings in the mild winters of Teresopolis, imagine what fantasies it would promote during a snowstorm in the American north-east? Its warmth, balanced by a lingering peppery sweetness surely promises happy endings­­ – or at least, to ease the winter blues. This recipe is inspired by Mr. Ernani Antonio de Oliveira.

 

Brazilian Quentão Recipe

Serves 8

 

1 L (4 cups) water

1 large piece of fresh ginger (about ¼ lb), peeled and roughly chopped

2 limes cut into 4 pieces

3 to 4 cinnamon sticks

1 lemongrass, roughly chopped

6 cloves

3 star-anise

1 cup sugar

I bottle (750 ml, or about 3 cups) cachaça

 

Place all the ingredients except the cachaça in a large sauce-pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil turn off the heat and cover the pan with a tight lid. Let it steep for 20 minutes. Add the cachaça, mix well, and strain the liquid. Serve hot. Keep the left over in a plastic container in the fridge and re-heat before serving.

 

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Basil Lemonade

Basil Lemonade

 

 

Magic hours: Welcome brighter days with this Basil Lemonade in your kitchen!

I concocted this green juice and have been drinking first thing in the morning on an empty stomach about 30 minutes before breakfast. Give it a try. It works magic. Let me know, and if you can share a photo, I’d love to see it. Because together is much better.

 

Makes 1

1 lemon

1 lime

½ cup fresh picked basil leaves

1 tablespoon honey

Blend everything together until bright green and completely smooth. Strain over a fine sieve, pour over ice and serve.

 

 

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Caipirinha

Caipirinha

Caipirinha
Photo by Hollie Bertram

 

Refreshing, cool, sweet, and relaxing, Caipirinha is Brazil. And if Caipirinha is Brazil, then cachaça is our national shrine.

In the US, cachaça is also called Brazilian rum and the distillation process is quite similar indeed. The difference between them is that rum is distilled from molasses (which also comes from sugar cane) while cachaça is distilled from the fresh juices of sugar cane. Good cachaça has an intense aroma and flavor of fresh sugar cane. Essentially, caipirinha is a simple cocktail based on a mixture of mashed lime with sugar, ice and cachaça.

 

Caipirinha

Makes 1 drink

2 limes

1 tablespoon sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons cachaça (adjust amount to taste)

Ice cubes

  1. Cut the two ends of the lime and cut lime into medium chunk wedges.
  2. Using a muddler, mash the lime with sugar, making sure to squeeze all the juices and to dissolve the sugar in the juice.
  3. Transfer the lime mixture to a shaker. Add the cachaca and ice cubes. Shake well (about 8 to10 times) and pour into a large (but not tall) sturdy glass.

 

 

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Chicken Brodo

Chicken Brodo

From braising to roasting, grilling, sautéing, or poaching, chicken is so universal and I just can get tired of it. In my house, we eat at least once a week, and I make chicken stock and chicken brodo from the bones every time a chicken is served. I have adapted this recipe to this situation- carcass from a chicken that was dinner.

I suggest creating a habit: every time you cook a chicken for dinner, don’t toss the bones out. Not even the bones that were in your husband’s or children’s plate. Make chicken brodo! Even a very small amount of bones, from 1 little bird, will yield about 2 cups of bordo. And with that small amount, it only takes 30 minutes to make brodo. Bird by bird, my freezer is stocked with chicken brodo.

And what is the difference between chicken stock and chicken brodo, you might ask? There is a very fine line between the two. Chicken brodo is chicken stock that has been seasoned and simmered longer than chicken stock. Chicken stock is used for cooking, brodo is used for drinking, like tea. But can you cook with chicken brodo? You can, just remember the brodo is already seasoned.

 

Chicken Brodo

Makes 3 to 4 cups

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 to 2 pounds of chicken bones from a rotisserie chicken

1 onion, peeled and quartered

1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks

1 stalk of celery, cut into chunks

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 to 3 bay leaves

Kosher Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly ground nutmeg

 

  1. Remove excess fat from the bones. In a large stockpot, add the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bones, vegetables, and bay leaves. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until bones are hot and vegetables are cooked about 20 minutes. Add enough cold water to cover the bones, about 1 inch above the amount of bones. Don’t add too much water, or the brodo will be watery and lacking flavor. Bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for about 30 to 45 minutes, skimming the foam occasionally.
  2. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the liquid. When the brodo has a rich, bright chicken flavor, remove the bones and vegetables with a slotted spoon and strain the stock, first through a medium strainer then through a fine-mesh strainer.
  3. Place the brodo over an ice bath then chill in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours – chilled is the best way to judge the quality of the liquid. The more gelatinous, the better. Carefully remove any fat that accumulates on the top and discard it. Divide the brodo into several small plastic containers, label them, and store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

 

 

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Eggnog Cocktail

Eggnog Recipe

This season, I’m here to help you craft the new chapter of your unique cooking story. The rich bold tastes of the season, the unique ingredients, and some very special occasions are designed and curated to be an integral part of the moments that matter—like sitting by the fireplace drinking an eggnog cocktail.

Raise your hands if you heard about eggnog many times before but never made it, and don’t know when or how to drink it? Welcome! You’re not alone. This delicious drink is one of the greatest pleasures of the Holiday season, unknown to a lot of people.

Many international cuisines have a version of eggnog cocktail. In France, it’s called Lait de Poule or “hen’s milk”. In Mexico, it’s called Rompope and it’s made with Tequila and sometimes Mezcal.

In Brazil, it’s called Licor de Ovos and it’s mostly prepared with cachaca. I have to admit I didn’t grow up drinking eggnog, as no one in my family used to make it. But as my taste buds evolved and I moved to a winter climate region like New England, eggnog fits the Holiday season like a glove.

In the U.S, the drink is so popular that is even sold in cartons at the supermarket this time of year. As always, the homemade version is so much better, and you can add whatever alcohol you want, in the dosage you want.

Most recipes for eggnog call for whole milk and heavy cream. While I certainly enjoyed the taste of the recipe prepared this way, I also noticed that it made it so filling that I could barely eat anything after drinking it. On a quest to make a lighter version, I opted to use coconut milk instead, still delivering a smooth, delicious, and satisfying drink

I like to add rum to my eggnog, but as you can see, the drink is receptive to a wide variety of liquors. So, go ahead, follow the recipe as a guideline, and add your favorite alcohol.

As this year we’re all confined at home, it might be a great idea to sit around the fire with the family and enjoy a round of eggnog while talking about life.

At least we’re done talking about the elections!

 

Eggnog Cocktail

 

Serves 6 to 8

 

4 cups coconut milk, divided

¾ cup (160g) organic cane sugar

5 large egg yolks

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 cup heavy cream

¾ cup dark rum

 

  • In a saucepan, heat 2 cups of coconut milk, but don’t boil.
  • In a bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks until nice and thick.
  • Pour some of the warm milk into the yolk mixture, whisk well, and then pour the rest. Return this mixture back to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened and smooth. Turn off the heat, add the cinnamon and nutmeg and stir in the cream.
  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl over ice water. Stir occasionally until chilled, then add rum and the remaining 2 cups coconut milk. You can prepare the recipe up to 3 days ahead of time. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Serve slightly chilled, or at cool room temperature with a small dollop of whipped cream on top and a dash of ground cinnamon.

 

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Orange Coconut Shake

Orange Coconut Shake

I’m not always in the mood for a mocktail, but that doesn’t mean I just want water. Consider this Orange Coconut Shake, a refreshing drink made with orange juice and coconut milk. Think of it as a nonalcoholic drink that uses simple ingredients that you probably have on hand. It can be a menu addition to your small family gathering in times of Covid. Especially if this means you get to have a chic adult cocktail without any alcohol.

 

Orange Coconut Shake

Makes 4 small shakes

 

1 tablespoon cardamom pods

¼ cup (50g) organic cane sugar

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

¼ cup sour cream

½ cup crushed ice

 

  • In a small skillet over high heat, toast the cardamom pods lightly until they are fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Let it cool completely. Reserve 3 pods for garnish.
  • Place the cardamom, sugar and coconut milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
  • Strain the coconut milk mixture directly into a blender, along with the orange juice, sour cream, and ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into 4 tall thin glasses (or champagne glasses) and grade a little bit of cardamom on top as garnish. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

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Mint Lemon Agua Fresca

Mint Lemon Agua Fresca

Let’s suppose someone opened a Mason Jar and poured you a glass of Mint Lemon Agua Fresca. It’s refreshing, full of zest and sweet intensity from the coconut water, and if acidity can be thrilling, this recipe has it. Would you be surprised to learn this is a staple from my cookbook Latin Superfoods? I usually drink it right after exercise, or as soon as I wake up, on an empty stomach. It feels pretty awesome. And you can watch a video of this recipe on You Tube. Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel!

 

Mint Lemon Agua Fresca

Makes 2 Ball Mason Jars

 

6 sprigs fresh mint

10 thin slices of cucumber

1 lime, sliced thinly

4 cups coconut water

Ice cubes

 

  • Divide the mint, cucumber, and lime between the 2 Ball Mason Jars. Fill each with coconut water.
  • Close the jar and let it steep in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. Add ice before serving.

 

I’m so happy that you visited today! Thanks for reading and browsing my site!

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And remember always,

Cook at home! Body Up! Health up! Wise up!

See you next time!

Leticia

 

 

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