Pickling has taken over!

Oh my I feel as though I have deserted A Taste of Brazil for the past weeks and all of you must be thinking that I disappeared and gave up on cooking. Please don’t despair, I am still here, I am still cooking, and I am still writing!!!!

The past weeks have been crazily busy and finding the time to try new recipes in the kitchen has been impossible along with having no time to sit down and write. With summer on the farm our vegetable production is in full swing and instead of spending time in the kitchen cooking Brazilian foods my time has been taken over by harvesting vegetables and creatively finding ways to preserve the left over vegetables that we have.

We are coming to the end of a busy few weeks of harvesting cucumbers, and we are now beginning to harvest lots of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. My kitchen has been constantly filled with different vegetables waiting to be processed and now tomatoes are starting to flood through the doors.

It has been cucumbers that took over my kitchen for the past weeks and all I have been doing is turning these beautiful fresh cucumbers into relish and a geléia de pepino (cucumber jam). Yes, pickling has taken over my life!!!!!

Although relish has been priority number one, pickled beets managed to make there way into the canning process last week, and this week I started turning tomatoes into a simple tomato sauce and a blend of red and yellow cherry tomatoes, roasted, and canned for a richer flavored pasta sauce.

So, although this may not be a Brazilian recipe, it is what has been going on in my kitchen these last weeks. Hopefully, I can get these vegetables a little bit more under control and be able to find the time to do some Brazilian cooking soon.

Enjoy this wonderful relish recipe. In the next weeks I will share my other recipes for  geléia de pepino, pickled beets, simple tomato sauce, and roasted cherry tomato sauce. 

Receita de Relish

Ingredients

1 kg cucumbers, finely sliced
2 tbsp salt
water

1 1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black pepper corns
1/4 tsp turmeric powder

Slice the cucumbers and place in a large bowl together with the salt and enough water to cover the cucumbers. Cover and set aside for 3 to 24 hours.

To make the brine mix the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, pepper corns, and turmeric in a pan. Heat over a medium heat making sure to not bring to a boil. Turn off the heat just before the brine begins to boil. Add the drained cucumber and leave in the brine for approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer cucumbers to sterilized jars (for sterilizing jars instructions see here). Fill the jars well and then add the brine. Clean the rim of the jars and close with lid. Place filled jars in a pan of water, bring to the boil and leave for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, remove jars from the water, and place on a towel to cool.

Enjoy this simple relish on sandwiches or on its own.

(Please excuse my picture on this post, it was taken with my phone so the quality is not that good, and pickling has taken over so no time for more a professional looking photo:/)

Recipe Source:
http://zakuskas.blogspot.com.br/2012/03/relish-de-pepino.html?m=1

Rural Brazil – End of the year views from the countryside

Although my blog is relatively new, six months old, and my posts about living in rural Brazil are even newer, I realized that I had not shared any views of the Brazilian countryside. Brazil is a very large country and quite obviously the area where I live, Serra da Mantiqueira, is not representative of the whole country, but, I hope that these photos will give an idea of how one part of the Brazilian countryside looks.

Happy New Year!!!!

I am not always out of bed when the sun rises, but I do manage to catch a lot of beautiful sunrises while lying in bed, waking up, and looking out of my window. Sunrises are one of the most beautiful times of day here in the Serra da Mantiqueira.
sunrise serra da mantiqueira

Fog and mist are a common sight. I always love it when the fog hangs in the valleys and I can see the tops of distant mountains behind the fog.
fog serra da mantiqueira

On sunny days it seems as though we can see for hundreds of miles.Serra da Mantiqueira

Serra da Mantiqueira

Trees and forests are all around. One of my favorite trees is the pinho bravo which is a pine tree native to Brazil that looks as though it is hundreds of years old. Pinho bravo forests are absolutely breathtaking and I am fortunate to have a little area on my farm that has a gathering of these beautiful trees.

Although everything here seems to look very green there are a lot of flowers and I do manage to get out and take photographs of these beautiful colors that dot the landscape.

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Animal life is all around us. Bird songs fill the air from sunrise to sunset. Although rare to see, this little squirrel paid us a visit recently. Squirrel Serra da Mantiqueira

It seems that he was interested in the bird food that we had put out. We were happy to watch him eat and are hoping to see him come back soon. Squirrel Serra da Mantiqueira

Here in the serra da mantiqueira I have been privileged to witness some of the most amazing cloud formations, night skies, and moons.

Serra da Manitqueira

Serra da Mantiqueira

DSC01195

Not only cloud formations, but beautiful rainbows cross from mountain to mountain!

And, because we live in the countryside there is no abundance of animal skulls and bones. This sits on a dead tree stump outside of my house. Slowly more bones are adorning the stump.Skull

And lastly, cloudy days are not uncommon, but the view of the mountains still remains beautiful!Serra da Mantiqueira

Panettone: The “Brazilian” Christmas Bread

Beginning sometime around mid October Brazilian supermarkets begin to stock up on panettone and the panettone eating season begins. There is no way to avoid it and at every corner you will be bombarded with this tasty sweet bread loaf.

PanettonePanetonne is originally from the city of Milan, Italy and the orthern Italian immigrants brought panettone to Brazil in the early 20th century. There are several different stories of how the  panettone loaf received its name. The first tells that Fr. Antonio was very fond of this particular bread and because he wore a hat similar to the shape of the bread (tall with a puffy top) it became known as ‘pane di Tony’ or Tony’s Bread. Another story suggests that the name panettone came from the Milanese ‘pane del ton’ meaning ‘cake of luxury’. Or another play with these words says that the name came from ‘pane’ which means bread and ‘tone’ which is large. Now, the last story tells that a Milanese nobleman, Ughetto Atellani, loved Adalgisa, the daughter of a poor baker named Toni. In order to try to win Adalgisa’s hand in marriage the nobleman disguised himself as a baker and invented a rich cake to which he added flour, yeast, butter, eggs, dried raisins, and candied lemon and orange peel. The bread was praised and the nobleman and Adalgisa were married.

This is how my panettone should have looked with the nice puffy top! (www.saporiericette.blogosfere.it)

This is how my panettone should have looked with the nice puffy top!

Whether any of these hold true is not for me to say, but a bread with a little story behind it is always something wonderful.

So, although panettone is so easy to buy at this time of year in Brazil I decided that, nevertheless, I still needed to learn how to make it. This recipe is my first attempt, and, although it tasted absolutely delicious there are some things that I need to work on to make this loaf much better. For starters, I didn’t quite get the puffy top to the loaf which gives it its signature look. Secondly, I think that I kneaded the dough a little too much and maybe added too much flour taking away some of the light fluffy texture. But, apart from those two issues I was so happy with my first results that I thought I could still share it here.

If you do not want to try to make this recipe at home, but still want to have a slice of this delicious cake, you can order it on amazon.com.

PanettoneThe recipe that I used is a quick bread recipe based on brioche bread. Many of the panettone recipes that I came accross required about two days of rising, kneading, etc, etc, etc. I wanted to make a quick and easy panettone and opted to go with this recipe. The brioche dough is very sticky and runny and can be difficult to work. Don’t make the mistake that I made by adding tons more flour to try to make the dough easier to work!

To purchase the panettone mold online CLICK HERE!

Ingredients

250 ml warm milk
15 g yeast
350 g white flour
120 g butter
2 egg yolks
60 g white sugar
10 g lemon zest
10 g orange zest
30 ml vanilla essence
100 g crystalized fruit
50 g raisins
60 g almonds
60 g cashew nuts

Begin by mixing the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl or on a counter top. Add the egg yolks, lemon zest, and orange zest and mix together. Add the warm milk and knead the dough together. Add the cubed butter and knead into the rest of the dough. Knead well for approximately five to ten minutes until the dough comes together well. Place in an oiled bowl and set aside in a warm area to rise. Leave to rise until doubled in size. Once doubled in size, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured counter top. Press the dough down forming a thick pancake. Add the crystalized fruit, raisins, and nuts to the dough and work in by kneading. Knead until all the fruit and nuts are fully incorporated. Split the dough into two equally sized balls, shape, and place into the panettone forms. Set aside in a warm area to rise. Leave until the dough is doubled in size. Preheat oven to 160C. Brush the top of the panettone with egg and bake until the top is brown!

PanettoneSources:
http://brazilinmyeyes.blogspot.com.br/2013/12/munchie-time-sao-paulo.html
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panettone

Fresh Fruit Juices

Living in Brazil I sometimes forget how lucky I am to have so much fresh fruit available to me, especially in the form of fresh fruit juices. At any restaraunt, padaria (bakery), or lanchonette (snack shop) you can order fresh fruit juices. Depending on the place, your options for fresh fruit juices will change; some will have an endless variety of fresh juices and the simpler places will probably just offer orange juice. But, no matter where you are you can guarantee that you will at least be able to order a fresh orange juice.

Açai Juice (www.boaforma.abril.com.br)

Açai Juice (www.boaforma.abril.com.br)

Fresh fruit juices are one thing about Brazil that I absolutely love and feel privileged to have. In the USA your juice options are limited and the chances of finding fresh juices are often next to impossible. And, if you do find somewhere selling fresh fruit juices you are going to pay an arm and a leg for it.

Although I often order fresh fruit juices when I go out to a restaurant or have a snack I often forget about the fruit juice options available to me and I tend to order the same juices every time. I also don’t always mix fruits together which can be easily done and always makes for a really delicious drink. Why I stick to the same juices and don’t mix fruits is probably because I know that I can always do this because these fresh juices are on my doorstep. But, I do need to start trying more juices, even if I CAN do this at any time!

Acerola Juice (www.ahgustalimentos.com.br)

Acerola Juice (www.ahgustalimentos.com.br)

These past two weeks my parents were visiting from the USA and one thing that they could not get enough of was the fresh fruit and the fresh fruit juices. Being with them encouraged me to try new juices and combinations and we all managed to sample a wonderful variety of fruits and juices. At almost every restaurant and snack stop we would see what different juices were available to us and usually we would order at least one new  flavored juice. There were definitely some juices though that got repeated because we liked them so much. Although we didn’t do too much mixing of juices the one mix that my parents did try and absolutely loved was orange and acerola juice. Acerola is a very small fruit that is known for its high vitamin C content. The flavor of acerola is like a very sour orange, but in a good way! (Acerola Wikipedia Link).

The juices we tried were: orange, acerola, guava, pineapple with fresh mint, passion fruit, lemon, acai, graviola, corn, sugar cane, papaya, and blackberry. Because some of these juices were so tasty we ordered them several times causing our list to be a little bit shorter, but, we did pretty well with sampling the different juices.

Pineapple Juice with Mint(www.portalestacaoespacial.com.br)

Pineapple Juice with Mint(www.portalestacaoespacial.com.br)

One thing my parents noticed, sometimes to their disappointment, was that because a juice was really tasty in one restaurant it did not mean it would be good at the next one. This is something to always remember when in Brazil and ordering fresh fruit juices, or in my case ordering  caipirinhas, everyone makes it a little bit differently. One restaurants passion fruit juice may be absolutely amazingly delicious but the next restaurants may just about be drinkable. Because these juices do not come from a box they will always be different. For me this is one of the excitements of ordering fresh fruit juices (unfortunately it can also be very annoying) along with the endless variety!

Bolinho de Arroz (Little Rice Balls)

Little Rice BallsYou know that I like the simple recipes and I always think that the simple recipes are the tastiest. Laboring in the kitchen to produce an extravagant meal is always wonderful and the rewards are big, but, for me, it always comes down to those small and simple morsels of goodness. Bolinho de arroz is one of those foods that I just absolutely love. And, to make them even better they are fried. Really, anything fried is delicious and irresistible. Translated to english bolinho de arroz means little rice balls and there isn’t much more to add to it because that is just what they are.

The wonderful thing with this recipe is that you never need to throw out rice again. I always struggle to think of what to do with the small amount of rice I usually end up with after a few meals of eating the large pot of rice that I make every few days. I usually end up giving the scraps to the dogs. So really the old rice never really goes to waste, but there are those times that I just want to do something more with the rice so that I can eat it and not my dogs (yes, a little selfish I know).

Little Rice BallsSince learning to make this recipe there is no more excuse for me to throw out the left over rice or feed it to the dogs (ok, they will still get the leftovers sometimes as I can’t eat fried rice balls all the time). It is easy to make and a great snack before dinner or to accompany dinner. Who could ask for more? Quick to put together, tasty, and you’re using leftovers. This is my perfect recipe!

Little Rice BallsIngredients

2 cups of cooked rice
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated cheese
Parsley and spring onions, finely chopped (Cheiro Verde)
Salt to taste
1/2 cup flour
Canola, sunflower, or vegetable oil

Put the rice, egg, milk, grated cheese, parsley, spring onions, and salt into a bowl. Mix together well using a spoon or your hands. Slowly add in flour, one spoon at a time. Keep adding the flour until the mixture becomes slightly firm and holds together when you roll a ball, approximately half a cup of flour. Roll the rice into small ovals. Pour enough oil into a pan to cover half of the rice balls. Heat the oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the rice balls into the oil and cook until golden brown. Turn the balls over and cook the other side until golden brown. Remove from the oil and place on a paper napkin to drain the oil. Eat when still warm.

For a PDF of this recipe CLICK HERE!

Little Rice Balls