Game changers

Fall in love with Brazilian food as you are watching The World Cup.

Fall in love with Brazilian food as you are watching The World Cup (photo credit: MCT)
Fall in love with Brazilian food as you are watching The World Cup
(photo credit: MCT)
I’m in love with Brazilian food and I’m only two recipes into it. That’s the magic of the new Brazilian Barbecue & Beyond by David Ponté and Jamie and Lizzy Barber, who founded three branches of the Brazilian restaurant Cabana in London.
Their book appeared on my desk shortly before the World Cup was to begin, and I haven’t stopped thinking about what I should cook next.
Most of the ingredients are familiar, but how they come together is not. Broccoli finds its way into rice, avocado into ice cream and cynically cynically pineapple into hearts of palm salad with honeycinnamon dressing. And the limes. They are everywhere, including coconut and lime sorbet.
Traditional Brazilian food has its roots in home cooking, say the authors, with eclectic flavors brought to the table by its indigenous people, Africans, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, Lebanese and Germans who have made the country their home. Many dishes incorporate black beans, rice, cashews and fruit in all its variety. As the book title suggests, grilling and barbecue are a big part of the nation’s culinary identity.
Makes: 20 to 25
Note: These are a mainstay of Brazil’s bar scene. They’re little balls of rice that are lightly fried for a golden crunch, which gives way to a soft, almost creamy interior. Either leftover or freshly made rice can be used. If the rice is too dry, add an extra egg to help it stick together.
✔ ¾ cup long-grain uncooked rice ✔ 1 egg, lightly beaten ✔ 4 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped ✔ 2⁄3 cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling ✔ 1 tsp. sea salt, or to taste ✔ 1 tsp. baking powder ✔ ¼ cup flour, plus more if needed ✔ Small bunch parsley, finely chopped ✔ Vegetable oil for deep frying ✔ Lime or lemon wedges, to serve, optional To cook the rice: Put it in a pan with 1¾ cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partly covered, for about 10 minutes, until most of the water has been absorbed. Remove, cover and let steam for another few minutes. It will be slightly overcooked and sticky, and you should be able to shape it easily. Set aside to cool completely.
To make the bolinhos: To the rice, add the egg, green onions, Parmesan, salt, baking powder, ¼ cup flour and most of the chopped parsley (all but 1 Tbsp.). Mix well and check the consistency: It should be stiff enough to shape into balls. If it’s too sticky, gradually add more flour until you get the right consistency. With well-floured hands, roll into walnut-size balls.
Heat oil in a deep fryer (it should sizzle when a little rice mixture is added to it). Fry in batches for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown all over, then drain on paper towels.
Keep warm while you fry the remaining batches. (No deep fryer? Use a sturdy pot and cover bottom with about 1½ cm.
oil and fry the rice balls, turning them around to brown them.) To serve, transfer to warmed bowls and serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan and the remaining parsley, with lime wedges alongside.
Makes: 6 servings
Collard greens and lemons, two natural coolants, come together in this vibrant salad found throughout Brazil. While many Brazilian recipes call for giving the greens a quick sauté, these are shredded, raw and “cooked” only with the lemon juice. Enjoy as a salad, as a condiment, paired with beans, whole grains or grilled vegetables or as a filling for tortillas.
✔ 2 bunches collards greens
✔ 2 garlic cloves, minced
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 juicy lemons)
✔ Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Wash the collards well. Blot dry. Slice out the thick central stems and discard (or reserve them to make broth later). Stack the collard leaves and roll them up widthwise, forming a tight collard cigar. Using your sharpest knife, slice across as thinly as possible, forming skinny ribbons, or to use the proper culinary term, chiffonade. Alternately, shred the collards in a food processor using a shredding disc. You’ll have about 4 cups of greens.
Scoop the collards into a large bowl. Add the minced garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Toss to combine. Season with sea salt and pepper.
Enjoy. Couve a mineira keeps tightly covered and refrigerated for up to two days.
Makes: 8 servings
✔ ½ cup golden or dark raisins
✔ ¼ cup light rum or 1 tsp. rum extract plus ¼ cup water
✔ 3 cups water
✔ 1 cup arborio rice, rinsed until water runs clear
✔ 1 stick cinnamon
✔ 1 tsp. vanilla
✔ ¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
✔ 1 cup light coconut milk
✔ 2 to 4 Tbsp. light-brown sugar
✔ 1 tsp. each: grated orange zest, grated lemon zest
✔ Pinch of salt
✔ ½ cup toasted shredded unsweetened dried coconut
Combine raisins and rum (or rum extract and water) in a small bowl; let soak, 15 minutes. In a large saucepan over high heat, combine water, rice, cinnamon stick and vanilla. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low; simmer, covered, until rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 20 minutes.
Stir in condensed and coconut milks. Add raisins and their liquid. Simmer, covered, until rice is very soft, 10 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, citrus zests and salt. Cook, 5 minutes. Add more sugar if desired. Cool pudding to room temperature. Discard cinnamon stick. Spoon into serving bowls or martini glasses. Refrigerate until cold. To serve, garnish with toasted coconut.
Makes: 15 patties Adapted by Ruth Yules for Sugat. The fishcakes are extra light, because potatoes are used rather than bread crumbs.
✔ 500 gr. white fish fillet
✔ 3 or 4 medium potatoes
✔ 1 onion, grated and strained
✔ egg, beaten
✔ 1 Tbsp. soft butter
✔ 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
✔ ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
✔ Salt and pepper For frying:
✔ ¼ cup oil + 15 gr. butter
For the remoulade sauce:
✔ 6 Tbsp. mayonnaise
✔ 3 anchovy fillets, chopped
✔ 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
✔ 1 tsp. chopped parsley
✔ 1 tsp. chopped tarragon (optional)
✔ 2 tsp. chopped pickled cucumbers
✔ 2 tsp. capers, chopped
Cook potatoes in water until done. Strain and cool completely. Remove skin and mash coarsely. Cook fish in a little salted water over medium heat, about 10 minutes, until done. Strain and mash the flesh. Place the cooked fish, potatoes and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, season and mix well.
Cover and refrigerate for a few hours.
Meanwhile mix together sauce ingredients and refrigerate. Heat the oil and the butter in a deep pan. Shape fish mixture into medium size patties using wet hands, and fry on both sides until golden-brown. Serve with sauce on the side.