Pão de Queijo

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These cheesy Brazilian bread balls are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. But I’m warning you; you won’t be able to keep your hand out of the bread basket!

Pão de Queijo

½ cup milk

¼ cup cooking oil

½ tsp. salt

1 ¼ cup tapioca flour

1 egg

¼ cup mozzarella cheese

½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

 

– Heat oven to 425

– In a small pan, combine milk, oil, and salt. Bring to a light boil then remove from heat.

– Place tapioca flour in a mixing bowl. Add hot oil and milk mixture and mix into the flour using a wooden spoon. The mixture will thicken and it will be difficult to mix at the beginning.

– Allow the mixture to cool for 1 minute.

– Add egg and mix

– Once egg is incorporated, add the cheese and mix well.

Note: The consistency of the dough will be less dense than most bread dough. Still, you should be able to manage the dough without it sticking to your hands. If the dough is not manageable, add 1-2 more tablespoons of tapioca flour or until you obtain a drier dough.

– Form dough into small ping-pong sized balls and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper

– Place tray in oven and lower oven temperature to 350. Bake for 20 minutes.

– Serve and eat immediately or at least within one hour from baking.

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Shrimp Cocktail

 

Shrimp cocktail is perfect for this time of year and is great served as an appetizer or as the main course. It’s usually served with crackers, lemon wedges, and hot sauce such as Tabasco. Serve this chilled cocktail at your next cookout with your favorite ice-cold beer. Salud!

Serves 4 appetizer portions

Ingredients:

20 fully cooked large shrimp, tails removed

1 cup peeled, seedless cucumber, chopped into small cubes

1/2 cup white onion chopped small

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped into small cubes

1 tbsp. chopped jalapeño without the seeds

1 large avocado, cubed

1/4 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped

1/2 cup Ketchup

2 cups Clamato Cocktail Juice with Clam

1/4 cup cold water

4 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (use lemons, not limes)

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. sea salt (optional – add at the end if needed and adjust to your preference)

Serve with:

Crackers

Lemon slices

Tabasco

 

– In a large bowl, combine ketchup, Clamato juice, cold water, and lemon juice. Stir.

– Add chopped cucumber, tomato, jalapeño, onion, and cilantro.

– Stir in cooked shrimp.

– Add pepper and season with salt according to taste.

– Serve chilled

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escondidinho de camarao

Escondidinho de camarão is another popular Brazilian dish and can be served as the main course or as an appetizer. Ramequins are prepared by layering a generous serving of shrimp cooked in tomatoes and spices then requeijão (cream cheese) and yucca puree. As a final touch, they are sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan cheese and placed into the broiler until the top slightly browns and crisps. If you have never tasted yucca puree, it is similar in taste and texture to mashed potatoes. I absolutely love this dish and I encourage you to try it!

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Makes 2 appetizer portions

Ingredients for yucca puree:

1 cup fully cooked yucca in cubes

1-2 tbsp. butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

pinch of nutmeg

salt, pepper to taste

Ingredients for shrimp:

* 10-12 fully cooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and tails off

1/4 white onion, finely chopped

3 large garlic cloves, finely minced

3 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped

handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

red pepper flakes, according to taste (optional)

salt/pepper to taste

*If you use uncooked shrimp, cook them separately in olive oil then set them aside and introduce them into the tomato stew at the end.

Additional Ingredients:

4-6 tbsp. mascarpone cheese or cream cheese (Brazilians use Catupiry but it’s difficult to find it in U.S. supermarkets)

2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

 

Let’s Cook!

– In a small pot, add cubed yucca, heavy cream, and butter. Heat.

– Mash yucca into puree and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg according to taste. Set aside.

– In a large pan, add about 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Heat.

– Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.

– Add chopped tomatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat.

– Stir in salt and pepper and adjust flavors according to your preference. Add red pepper flakes now if you like it spicy (optional).

– Add cooked shrimp and cook until tomatoes begin to fall apart. Careful not to overcook the shrimp.

– Remove from heat and stir in fresh cilantro.

Prepare your ramequins:

– Separate the shrimp and tomato mixture into two ramequins.

– Next add 2 tbsp. of cream cheese and spread over both portions.

– Follow with a thick layer of yucca puree

– Top with parmesan cheese and place in the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the parmesan cheese slightly browns.

– Serve immediately. Enjoy!

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Flour Gorditas

Gorditas are made using the same dough you would use to make flour tortillas except you roll the dough into smaller and slightly thicker “patty-like” portions. So feel free to roll and extend the dough further to make tortillas and serve them on the side with your stew. Gorditas are very popular throughout Mexico and are sold for a buck, maybe even less depending on the filling! They’re a convenient bite to eat on-the-go.You can stuff them with just about anything from chorizo refried beans, scrambled eggs with potato, or chile colorado con carne, but I highly recommend you try the recipe below. You won’t be disappointed. Also, keep in mind that the spiciness of the dish will vary depending on the jalapeños you use.

Gorditas:

Makes 8

3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cups softened butter

3/4 cups hot water

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

– In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Make sure salt and baking powder are well incorporated into the flour.

– Add butter and with your hands, incorporate the butter into the flour. You can also use a food processor but careful to not over mix.

– Add hot water and continue to knead dough. Once the dough comes together, form into a ball. Cover dough and allow it to rest for approx. 45 minutes at room temperature.

– After 45 min. heat your griddle on medium

– Separate dough into 8 sections and form into balls.

– Using a roller, extend the dough to make approx. 1/4 inch thick gorditas

– Place the gordita on the hot griddle and cook until brown blotches begin to appear, then flip and cook the other side – approx. 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side if your griddle has heated properly.

– Once cooked, place between two kitchen cloth towels to keep warm while you make the rest.

– When you are ready to fill them, using a sharp knife, make a slit around half of your gorditas to form a pocket.

Notes: Roll out one gordita at a time. When one is on the griddle, roll the next and so on. That way, the dough does not shrink back while you tend to the ones cooking.

Also, eat these fresh off the griddle! Remember these are homemade and unlike the packaged store-bough tortillas made with nonsense, these may harden over time.

Filling: 

2 large chicken breasts, poached in water, drained, and shredded

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes

8 jalapeños

2 tomatoes

1/2 white onion

4 garlic cloves

handful fresh cilantro

2-4 chicken bouillon cubes, according to taste (add one at a time tasting as go)

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

3/4 cups water

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

– In a large pot, add jalapeños and tomatoes and cover with water. Cook until jalapeños and tomatoes are soft.

– Drain water and let cool. Cut off the jalapeno stems and deseed.

– In a blender, add cooked jalapeños, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and cilantro. Blend until smooth.

– In a large pot, add vegetable oil and heat.

– Add green salsa and bring to a boil.

– Reduce heat.

– Add chicken bouillon (1 or 2 to start), cumin, and garlic and onion powder. Stir until bouillon cubes dissolve. Taste and if necessary, add more chicken bouillon.

– Stir in potatoes and water. Cover and cook until potatoes are very soft and break apart easily.

– Add shredded chicken. Stir and cook for 10-15 more minutes or until flavors combine and the liquid begins to evaporate.

– Remove stew from heat and allow to cool a little bit before filling your gorditas.

Note: When spooning the filling into the gorditas, drain enough liquid to prevent the gorditas from falling apart once stuffed.

 

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Fish Tacos with Smoked Bacon

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Fish tacos are a favorite in our home and this recipe is just one of the many we make during this time of year. Top off your tacos with your favorite salsa and serve with avocado and lime slices. It’s a perfect recipe for cookouts and even your next camping trip as it can be made in one pan from start to finish and all of the ingredients are easy to obtain.

Makes 6 tacos

2 cod fillets cut into cubes

2 slices of thick smoked bacon, chopped into small pieces

1/2 white onion finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small tomato, chopped

1/4 cup fresh, chopped cilantro

A pinch of lemon zest and the juice of half a lemon

1 tbsp. butter

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (adjust according to taste)

salt to taste

6 corn tortillas

avocado, limes, and salsa for serving

 

– In a large pan, cook bacon for 3-4 minutes.

– Add onion and continue to cook until onions soften.

– Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.

– Add tomato and continue to stir

– Add butter into pan

– Add cod and cook until the fish begins to flake. Using a spoon, break the cod apart into smaller pieces.

– Add oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt.

 

– Stir until fish cooks and juices from the stew begin to evaporate

– Turn heat off

– Add the lemon zest and juice. Stir.

– Taste and adjust seasonings according to taste.

– Fold in cilantro right before serving

– Warm tortillas on the stovetop

– Serve with avocado, limes, and your favorite salsa

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Churros and Hot Chocolate

 

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Churros are very popular in Central and South America but word on the street is, they originated in Spain. Spaniards eat this pastry for breakfast alongside a cup of hot chocolate. The hot chocolate is thicker than most found in the U.S. which makes it perfect for dipping. I remember when my parents would take me to the mall in Mexico on Sundays and bought me a churro filled with cajeta (caramel sauce). Those were much larger and I used to have to share one with my mom. Now that I’m an adult and can make my own, I can have more! Well… maybe. The recipes for both hot chocolate and churros vary but the one below is easy to follow and all of the ingredients can be found at your local supermarket.

* You will need a piping bag with a 1M star tip and kitchen scissors.

Serves 4

Ingredients for churros:

1 cup flour

1 cup whole milk

1 cup water

1 tbsp. melted butter

1/4 tsp. baking powder

pinch of salt

cooking oil for frying

sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling

Ingredients for hot chocolate:

1, 12 oz. can evaporated milk

3/4 can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup ground, unsweetened dark chocolate bar (preferably 70% cacao)

1 tsp. flour (optional)

pinch of salt

Churros:

In a pan, add cooking oil and heat.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking power, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, bring water, milk, and butter to a boil. When it begins to boil, remove from heat.

Add flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon to mix the dough. It will be difficult to mix but don’t give up!The flour should be well incorporated. The end result will be a sticky dough.

While the dough is still warm, scoop it into your piping bag.

Make sure the oil is HOT.

Squeeze the dough into the oil and using your kitchen scissors, cut dough according to the length of churros you want to make. Continue until you fill the pan.

Fry on each side until light to golden brown but be careful not to burn them.

Remove from oil and place on paper towel to drain excess oil.

Toss in the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Serve immediately.

Hot Chocolate:

Grind chocolate bar in a blender or food processor. You will need 1/2 cup.

Place all ingredients except chocolate and flour in a medium sauce pan and heat.

Once it begins to simmer, add ground chocolate. Mix until the chocolate melts and incorporates with the milk.

Add flour (optional) and whisk until fully dissolved.

Bring to a boil while continuing to whisk for approx. 5-8 minutes.

Turn heat down to low and cook for 20 minutes or until chocolate thickens.

*Note: Make chocolate in a medium/large pan to avoid spilling the milk as it cooks.

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I can’t get enough of this stew perhaps because of my obsession with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. The combination of chicken, garbanzos, and adobo is just fantastic! In this recipe, I recommend the use of half a 7 oz. can of chipotle peppers in adobo but feel free to make adjustments depending on the level of spiciness you want to achieve. However, the peppers in adobo are absolutely essential in the preparation of this stew so don’t skip them! They add a special, smoky flavor to the stew.

Serves 4

8 cups water

2 large skinless chicken breasts

6 Roma tomatoes

1/4 white onion

2 large garlic cloves

1/2 of a 7 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

2 cans cooked garbanzo beans

4 cups mixed vegetables such as carrots, peas, corn, and green beans

3 cubes chicken bouillon

3 cubes tomato bouillon

– Roast the tomatoes until the skin is slightly charred. Place tomatoes in a blender with 1/4 cup water, onion, garlic, and chipotle peppers. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

– In a large pot, add water and chicken breasts. Cover and cook thoroughly. Once chicken has cooked, remove from water and allow the breasts to cool. Shred the chicken breasts and set aside.

– In the same water where the chicken was cooked, add tomato and chipotle sauce. Add vegetables, garbanzos, and bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil.

– Add shredded chicken and reduce to a simmer. Stir and cook for approximately 20 minutes.

– Adjust seasoning according to taste.

Serve with corn or flour tortillas, lime slices, and avocado.

Provecho!

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Poblano Fish Stew

I like to make this stew sometime in the winter months and in the summer for a light meal on the patio. Topped with queso fresco and fresh avocado, this spicy Poblano stew will leave you satisfied and full. Make it as mild or as spicy as you like by changing the recommended amount of peppers. For a hardier meal, add potatoes.

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Serves 4

6 cups water

4 cod fillets

5 poblano peppers, charred, peeled, and sliced (remove seeds)

5 Roma tomatoes

1 zucchini, sliced

1 yellow squash, sliced

1 1/2 cups yellow corn

2 garlic cloves

1/4 white onion

4-5 cubes tomato bouillon (adjust according to taste)

1/2 tbsp. ground cumin

2 avocados (for topping)

1 cup crumbled queso fresco (for topping)

– Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, and two poblano peppers in a blender. Blend until smooth and set aside.

– In a large pot, add six cups of water, yellow squash, zucchini, sliced poblano peppers, and corn. Bring to a boil. (If you are using potatoes, add them at this point.)

– Reduce to a simmer. Add tomato and poblano pepper sauce and continue to cook until vegetables are soft.

– Add spices. Taste and adjust seasonings.

– Once vegetables are soft, carefully introduce the fish fillets into the stew. Cook until fish begins to flake.

– Remove from heat. Serve in individual bowls and top with queso fresco and avocado slices. You can also serve this stew with lime and fresh bread.

Provecho!

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