Archive for Recipes: Savory

Pao de Queijo or Brazilian Cheese Bread {Gluten Free}

My gateway drug to any culture has always been food. I remember so clearly the first time I tried curry. The first time I tried sushi. The first time I had real Chinese food. Falling in love with the culture, for me, always starts with falling in love with that culture’s food.

Brazilian Cheese Bread

My first introduction to Brazilian food (and culture) was through my friend Lili, who made me this amazing french toast called rabanada.

I have a lot of Brazilian culture in my life, thanks to my students. The school that I teach in is full of Brazilians here in Canada studying, and with them, of course, they bring a positive attitude, and really great food.

In addition to rabanada, they make this killer chocolate candy/dessert that’s a lot like truffles called Brigaderos. And they are known for using Cassava or Tapioca flour to make a kind of crepe or tortilla which can be served with either a sweet or savoury filling.

Tapioca is also the base of the Pao de Queijo, or Brazilian Cheese Bread.

You guys, to describe them as little fluffy pillows of heaven is to not give them really enough credit. They are light and fluffy and cheesy, with a nice, crisp exterior. Served warm out of the oven?? I challenge you not to eat them all (I regularly do).

The great thing about tapioca? It’s gluten-free.

If you know anything about French pastry, you’ll be familiar with a technique called pate a choux, or choux pastry. It’s made by melting together the milk and butter on the stove, then transferring to a mixer and whipping while adding eggs. This dough can be made either sweet (it’s the base of cream puffs and eclairs) or savoury (cheese gourges), but the either way, the end result is the same: a super light, super fluffy pastry.

This recipe is very similar to pate a choux, but it uses tapioca flour in the place of regular flour.

In Vancouver, tapioca starch is easy to find at your local Asian supermarket (bonus: it’s super cheap).

If you don’t want to make your own, you can buy them in the frozen food section of many stores. Otimo and Quesava both make them.

To try them for yourself, there are only a few places in Vancouver that serve them: Quejos on Main (obvs) and Boteco Brazil. I recently had them at a tiny little wine bar in Steveston called The Porthole, but I suspect they were made from frozen, and not in house. Still tasty though! The BRoots food truck also serves them up.

There are also a few places that sell a mix called Beiju (try Maple Leaf Deli on Burrard).

But if you want to make them yourself, they’re not hard! And you get the reward of eating them hot and fresh out of the oven, which, let’s face it, is how they should be eaten.

You’ll find in many places, they are served as little balls. I prefer to make them in mini muffin tins like this one. Be sure to grease the pan generously–these little guys will stick!

pao de queijo

Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

(recipe adapted from The Kitchn–makes 1 dozen)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 oz tapioca starch
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cheese–Parmesan is recommended, but I actually prefer cheddar

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, oil and salt just to the boil, whisking to avoid burning.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the tapioca starch, mix well with a spatula until all the flour is incorporated. It will be gloopy.
  3. Dump the contents of your pot into the bowl of your stand mixer, and attach the paddle. Mix on medium for a few minutes until the dough is cooled and smooth.
  4. With the mixer running, add the egg and allow it to incorporate until smooth.
  5. Turn off the mixer, scrape off the paddle and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the cheese and fold in.
  6. Grease well a mini muffin tin, or line a baking sheet with silicone or parchment. Using a small scoop (like this) drop by spoonfuls into your muffin tin, or onto a cookie sheet.
  7. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Put the cheese puffs in and then immediately drop the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 10-15 minutes, turn and then bake an additional 10-15 minutes.
  8. Serve warm.

Farm Fresh Ratatouille with Polenta {Vegan}

Ask me about my food philosophy, and it’ll be the same answer every time: obviously it needs to be delicious, made with love, mostly plant-based, and ideally, sustainable, local and in season.

You see, what we eat has far-reaching effects, probably more so than we realize. By supporting local farmers and eating seasonally, it’s much better for the environment. Our carbon footprint is reduced when we eat locally-produced stuff, and the truth is, it tastes better, too. Now, I’m not saying I don’t buy bananas (I totally do), but given the choice between a locally-grown cucumber and one grown a continent away, I’ll choose the local one every time.

Cucumbers growing int he greenhouse

Cucumbers being grown in a greenhouse.

Supporting local farmers also supports our local economy. I’m a small business owner, I want to support other small business owners, and hopefully they will support me. More money stays in our local economy, and that’s also a good thing.

BC Greenhouse Vegetables

I really love visiting farms, so I was stoked to get invited to a long table dinner last week that took place inside a working greenhouse where they were growing cucumbers. It was a really cool experience to see how they are able to grow way more cucumbers hydroponically, by growing them vertically instead of on the ground. And it’s not just cucumbers. Other farms are growing eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.

BC Greenhouse Longtable Dinner

The dinner was fantastic, and paired with lots of other local ingredients, like cheeses and wine from Mt. Lehman, and local meats as well.

Roasted red pepper bisque Veggie Fritters Lemon curd with rhubarb

We went home with very full bellies, and also a bag of superfresh produce. I decided to turn mine into ratatouille, which is a kind of French peasant stew made of vegetables. You could serve it plain, or as a side, but I like serving mine on a bed of creamy polenta.

It’s such a great spring/summer dish, the perfect thing to make after a trip to the Farmer’s Market.

Hug a farmer, you guys! They work so hard, and without them, our lives would be much less colourful and a whole lot less delicious.

Ratatouille and Polenta

Ratatouille with Polenta

Ingredients for the stew:

  • 2 tbsp–1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small green zucchini, not peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 small yellow or light green zucchini,┬ánot peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled or not peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 3-4 vine-ripened tomatoes (small to medium), diced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olives (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs: parsley, basil, oregano
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce or 2 tbsp tomato paste plus 2 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the polenta:

  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup non dairy milk, unsweetened, unflavoured
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 tsp vegan butter

Vegan Ratatouille and Polenta

Method:

  1. In a dutch oven on medium heat, heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the diced the onion, season and stir well. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the eggplant and zucchini and stir well to coat with oil (add more if needed). Season. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  3. Add the garlic and stir well to combine.
  4. Add the peppers and stir well, allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Stir everything well together and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the sauce has thickened. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and the olives. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  6. Lastly, stir in the fresh herbs just before serving, reserving a few for garnish.
  7. To make the polenta: bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Combine the polenta and the corn flour together, and then add it to the boiling vegetable stock in a a steady, slow stream, whisking all the time.
  8. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to whisk until the polenta is a thick, porridge-like consistency. Remove from heat and whisk in the vegan butter and the vegan milk. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  9. To serve: pour the polenta onto a large serving platter and top with the ratatouille. Garnish with fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, EVOO and (if you’re not vegan) a little cheese.

 

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