Cuscuz Paulista

Cuscuz Paulista

Cuscuz Paulista da Dona Angelina

Serves 8- 10


One tube pan with capacity for 10 cups


1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

4 scallions (white and green parts), chopped (save some for garnish)

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 can (15 ¼ oz, 432g) corn

1 can (15oz, 425g) tomato sauce

2 cups polenta

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

4 hard-boiled eggs, 2 sliced and 2 roughly chopped

8.5 oz sardines packed in oil (from two cans, each with 4 3/8 oz, 125 g), scaled and bones removed


Freshly ground pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg


1. Brush the bottom and sides of the tube pan with olive oil. Garnish the bottom of the pan with thin slices of hard-boiled eggs and scallions and set aside.

2. In a medium size Dutch-oven, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, scallions, and small pinch of salt, and cook slowly, stirring regularly. Don’t let the onions turn dark, they should “sweat” their moisture becoming tender and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

3. Add the corn and peas and stir with a wooden spoon, cooking gently until everything gets hot, about 2 minutes.

4. Add the tomato sauce and simmer gently for 3 minutes.

5. In a bowl, place the polenta and pour 3 ½ cups of tap water; stir roughly with a wooden spoon. Pour the “wet” polenta in one stroke into the corn-pea mixture and cook, stirring until the polenta starts absorbing some of the liquid, about 5 minutes. You don’t want the mixture to be too wet or too dry, but it should be pasty and sticky. Season with salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg.

6. Add the parsley, chopped egg, and sardines. Stir everything gently, being careful not to shred the fish.

7. While still hot, carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an off-set spatula. If you have a little extra mixture, you can use an individual ramekin greased with oil to save the extras (or nibble, like I do). Let the mixture cool at room temperature for 20 minutes then chill overnight.

8. Remove the cuzcus from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving. Run a knife around the edges and invert the mold onto a platter. Lift the mold. Serve at room temperature with a green salad on the side.

Pão de Queijo’s Cousin- Part One

Part One

Eronária de Souza is a happy woman. You can tell it by by the way she cooks, the food she makes, and the way people enjoy what she prepares. A Brazilian from Goiás, she lived in Danbury, Connecticut for 7 years until the day she – and thousands of other Brazilians for that matter – returned home in the end of 2010 (due to the down economy in the United States versus the booming economy in Brazil).

She came to the Unites States in 2003 to make a better life for herself, working as a cook in many Brazilian establishments in the Danbury area. We met at a party in 2009. She was preparing the food and I was in awe with everything she served. When I saw her passion for cooking, we instantly connected.

We bonded through cooking so deeply I wanted to honor her by featuring one of her recipes (Chicken Beef Roulade, page 99) in my cookbook The Brazilian Kitchen. The recipe I will share with you today didn’t make it into the book simply because we had already included a cheese cracker (Baked Cheese Crackers, page 25) and a yucca cookie (Yucca Sticks, page 34). My editor told me then that we just didn’t have space for another cheese snack. But that didn’t stop me from making this recipe time and again in my house for my family.

I ‘ll say it’s a cousin of the Pão de Queijo becaue they have many characteristics in common: the recipe calls for manioc starch and cheese as its structural ingredients; it is served as snack or hors d’oeuvres; and it’s just as addictive as Pão de Queijo. The difference, however, is that Pão the Queijo is more of a bread roll – chewy, steamy, almost succulent (ah, what a little milk, oil, and eggs can do!), while this recipe ressembles more of a cheese cracker. Yet, it is not your regular cheese cracker because of the manioc starch – which gives the cracker a melt in your mouth feel – and butter, increasing that razor flakyness, toasty flavor, and golden looks.The result is divine!

In her manner of doing it, the dough is scooped a little bigger than a tablespoon,

then it is streched into a 3-4 inch strip,

scored diagonally with the sides of a fork ,

and finaly, shaped into a crescent circle (croissant-like) that is pinched at the ends.

Once you get the hang of it, which you should be able to do it after a single try, play around a bit. You might want to change the shape, or even add spices. Some parika and nutmeg would be nice. Swapping parmesan for pecorino makes a difference. Or top with cheese, or egg wash, or whatever your favorite way of eating cheese crackers is. In any case, you can’t fail to make it personally yours, like Eronaria makes hers.

Stay tuned for the recipe on the next post!

Coconut Cake (Bolo de Côco)

10 Mar 2011 Blog, Desserts, Recipes

Recipe for Toalha Felpuda

This is Toalha Felpuda adapted from Colher de Pau’s original recipe.

Serves 8 to 10


6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated

1 ½ cups (250g) potato starch, sifted (**)

1 ¾ cups (350g) sugar, divided

½ cup (125 ml) coconut milk, heated and cooled (to soak the cake)

Coconut Pastry Cream:

1 2/3 cup (400ml) coconut milk

3 egg yolks

5 tablespoons sugar, divided

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons (25g) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup + 2 tablespoons (150ml) heavy cream

¾ cup (50g) unsweetened grated coconut

Coconut Meringue:

50 ml water

1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (190g) sugar

125 ml egg whites

Pinch salt

¼ cup (60g) sugar

1 ½ cup (100g) unsweetened grated coconut, preferably fresh


1. Set an oven rack in the middle position. Pre-heat the oven to 325˚F. Butter a 10X2 inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter again, and dust with flour shaking off the excess.

2. To Make the Cake: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whish the yolks with ½ cup (100g) of sugar until it has thickened and turned pale yellow.

3. In another bowl also fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. With the mixer running, gradually sprinkle the remaining sugar and beat until soft peaks forms.

4. Using a rubber spatula, fold one third of the whites into the yolk mixture, then the remaining egg whites.

5. Slowly sprinkle the potato starch over the mixture and fold carefully with a rubber spatula, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the potato starch from accumulating or making lumps.

6. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake rotating the sheet about two thirds of the way through the baking time until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.

7. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cake out and let it cool completely on the rack.

8. To Make the Coconut Pastry Cream: in a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and cornstarch.

9. In a saucepan bring the coconut milk to a simmer. Whisking constantly, pour the hot coconut milk into the bowl with the yolk mixture, gradually at first to temper it, and then more quickly. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. The mixture should thicken to a pudding-like consistency, about 3 minutes.

10. Transfer the coconut pastry cream to a bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes to cool a bit. Whisk in the butter and vanilla.

11. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until nice and fluffy. Fold into the coconut cream pastry cream. Finally fold in the dried coconut. Press plastic wrap directly over the cream to prevent a crust from forming, and chill until firm, 1 to 2 hours.

12. To Make the Coconut Meringue: Place 1 cup of the sugar with the water into a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to boil. When bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan, begin to whip the egg whites.

13. Place the egg whites, pinch of salt, and the remaining sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium speed until peaks form.

14. In the meantime, insert a candy thermometer into the sugar mixture. When the sugar reaches 250˚F (121˚C), pour the cooked sugar down the sides of the bowl while you continue to whip the whites. (Alternatively, you can check the sugar by plunging your fingers into an ice water then dipping quickly into the sugar to catch a sample – it should feel like what is called – a soft-ball stage). Continue whipping the meringue on medium-high speed until the outside of the bowl is warm but not hot, about 5 minutes.

15. To Assemble the Cake, use a long serrated knife to trim the top and sides of the cake. Cut the cake into three equal horizontal layers. Set one layer cut side up on a cardboard and brush deliberately with coconut milk. Scoop about half of the coconut pastry cream and spread over the cake with an offset spatula. Top with another layer, brush with coconut milk, and spread the remaining coconut milk. Set the third layer on top, cut side down, and give a very thing coating of the meringue to capture any loose crumbs. Refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes, until the meringue is set, and spread the cake with the remaining meringue. Gently press the coconut all over the cake to coat completely.

(**) Different brands of potato starch weight differently. If using Bob Red Mill brand, add 3 tablespoons of potato starch to reach exactly 250g.

Portuguese Flan from Priscos (Pudim Abade de Priscos)

Portuguese Flan from Priscos (Pudim Abade de Priscos)

10 Jan 2011 Blog, Desserts, Recipes

Pudim Abade de Priscos

My love for Portuguese sweets keeps on growing at the first sight of an eggy recipe. So after writing this 3 part series, I couldn’t resist to offer you a recipe for Pudim Abade de Priscos, originated in the Convento dos Congregados, in Braga, Portugal. Traditionally, this Pudim is made is a large single mold, but due to its richness I find it is better served in a small individual ramekin.

OBS: In Portuguese we use the word PUDIM usually referring to a molded custard, not to be confused with pudding.

Inspired by The Food & Cooking of Portugal/ Miguel Castro e Silva.

Makes 18


2 cups sugar

¾ cup + 4 tablespoons water

¼ cup (45 g) lard *

1 cinnamon stick

1 small piece lemon rind

15 egg yolks (about 250 g)

¼ cup (60 ml) Port wine

½ teaspoon lemon juice

18 one-once ramekins (or custard cups, or mini muffin molds)


1- Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F (do not use convection oven). Line a roasting pan or a large baking dish with double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil;, when it boils, turn off the heat.

2- To make the caramel: Place 1 cup sugar and 4 tablespoons water into a medium size heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar turns into an amber-colored caramel, about 4 minutes. Distribute the caramel carefully and evenly among the ramekins coating the bottom. Set them aside.

3- To make the pudim: In another medium heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the remaining 1 cup sugar, ¾ cup water, lard, cinnamon and lemon rind to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar mixture becomes thick syrup (about 215 ˚F on a candy thermometer). Strain into a bowl and chill over an ice bath for 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick and lemon.

4- Place the yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk in the port and lemon juice. Add the cooled sugar syrup and whisk everything until it’s nice and smooth. Strain once again into a large bowl with a spout.

5- Distribute the custard evenly among the ramekins pouring carefully without forming any bubbles. Place the ramekins inside the roasting pan and fill with hot water from the kettle to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the pudims are set, about 35 minutes. Be sure to rotate the pan once during baking time,

6- Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the ramekins to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, about 15-20 minutes.

7- Run a knife between the custard and the sides of the ramekins to loosen it. Place a small plate over each ramekin, quickly flip the plate and ramekin over and remove the ramekins; the pudim will shimmy out and the caramel will coat the pudim.

* lard is rendered pork fat, easy to find at your regular butcher or supermarket. Technically you can also use bacon fat, but the smoky flavor of the bacon does not go so well with this dessert (at least in my opinion).

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


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


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.

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 ( 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

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

Orange Papaya Smoothie

Vitamina de Mamão com Laranja


Today, for no specific reason, I woke up kind of sad. I know, you’re gonna say come on! There are so many bad things that could happen and didn’t, why on earth are you feeling sad? Get up and smile!

You’ll probably say that because you want to encourage me, but you also might say that because you are terrified of sadness. Didn’t smile today? Where is Valium? Want to cry all day? Call the therapist. Sad is bad, sad is contagious. Sad is not attractive. Sad doesn’t sell.

The truth is nothing really happened to make me sad. Everything is normal. But even when I am sad, things are also normal. Because being sad is just as legitimate as being happy. Sad is not depressed. Depressed is so much more serious than sad.

When I feel sad it’s because I am paying attention to my own feelings. It could come from being disappointed with someone, or being tired of the same old, or feeling vulnerable, or a million other reasons.

We all make an effort to run away or revert the picture but we seldom make the effort to face it and brave it. Of course it is much better to be happy than sad, but the greatest of all would be if we could just allow ourselves to feel whatever it is that we are feeling.

Perhaps I am just too demanding on my self, always trying to maintain a certain level of euphoria. I know I feel sad when I don’t feel like cooking. I just need to retrieve, stay quiet, and be alone. I’ll be back. We all come back, usually stronger. Ready to face the next wave of sadness, whenever that might be. Hopefully not so soon.

Alleluia, I hear my stomach! It’s growling. It’s alive! I need to eat. The natural necessity of having to prepare something to feed myself might do the trick. What can lift me up in this morning? My husband went to Costco this past weekend and bought Papayas from Brazil. Bingo! Papaya is tropical, bright, buttery, and has a complex sweetness. The fruit never found big roles in dessert, but in Brazil, Suco de Mamão com Laranja (Papaya and Orange Smoothie) is as classic as it gets.

Off to the kitchen I go. Cooking is my medicine. What’s yours?

Vitamina de Mamão com Laranja (Orange-Papaya Smoothie)

1 small papaya, seeded and peeled (between 120-150 g of flesh)

1 cup orange juice (about 2 oranges)

Place the papaya and orange juice in a blender and puree until smooth. If you’d like a little less thick, adjust with orange juice. Pour into a tall glass and serve immediately.

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