Monday, February 23, 2015

B is for Brazil

About Our Choice

Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, France (French Guiana), Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela neighbor Brazil in South America. Brazil’s cuisine consists mainly of barbeque and potatoes, which is not quite what we had been expecting. Most Brazilians that you would have heard of are soccer players or models, including Ronaldo and Adriana Lima.

The Selection Process

18 countries begin with the letter “B”, and the Bahamas and Brazil were our first choices. Brazil was chosen almost immediately, as I knew my dad would not be there to help cook. He was at a conference in Florida and would not be home until after the meal was done. However, help was provided by my step-mother, Leslie.

The Recipes

It was fairly easy to find some recipes that would not be difficult and that looked amazing. Here is what we came up with:

The Process

The first thing that we did was start the broth (for the canja) and the chicken mixture (for the coxinhas). After that, we began to work on the dough for the coxinhas and shredding the chicken for the canja. The chicken and rice went in the soup, and it was almost done. We rolled out the dough and cut them into circles with about a 2” diameter. The dough was easy to work with, but we had difficulty making the coxinhas into their shape without ripping holes in them. We figured out that if you stretch out the dough in your hand before you start to fill them with the mixture, then it is so much easier to not rip any holes. After we had gotten the coxinhas into the right shape, they needed to be fried. This took a lot longer than expected, and while this was happening I started on the brigadeiro. It is so simple to make the brigadeiro. To make them, I put the ingredients in a pan and let them cook for about 10 minutes until they were thick.

During the cooking experience, we added Brazilian music which was a lot more relaxing than the Austrian music (not hating, just stating). “The Girl From Ipanema” by Antonio Carlos Jobim must have played at least seven times. Brazilian music has a little bit of a jazz influence that the Austrian music didn’t have.

Some difficulties that we had began with the canja and the brigadeiro. The rice in the canja soaked up so much broth and we ended up having to add extra. The brigadeiro ended up being very sticky and thick, so I would recommend chilling them in the fridge for about half an hour before you start to make them into balls.

What We Learned

  • Even though the Brigadeiro is very easy to do, make sure that you chill it in the fridge for a little bit before you shape it, or your hands will be extremely sticky.
  • Brazilian food has quite a few bay leaves. Like way more than you would think. 
  • We added the rice too early without realizing how long it would take to fry the coxinhas. The rice became very plump and absorbed a lot of the broth.
  • It is easier to stretch the dough from the Coxinhas out while it is in your palm so there is more dough to work with.

Overall Thoughts

Annie: I thought that the food was very delicious and it did not take much work to make it happen. The coxinha could make an excellent lunch any day, and I would love to be able to eat them again sometime. Brigadeiro is so simple and it tastes magical. Overall, while it was not easy, we still produced amazing results that I hope to experience again.

Leslie: I thought that cooking this meal was easy. I would have added more spice to the coxinhas, but the blandness was easily fixed with some hot sauce. It was a great lunch.

Tim: Arriving after a long drive and smelling the food was awesome. I was really tired and ready to eat. My favorite part was the coxinhas, but close behind was the brigadeiro. The coxinhas were so light, but also very filling at the same time. I have a notorious sweet tooth, and the brigadeiro was like a super tootsie roll on steroids.

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Greetings! We welcome your comments. Please keep in mind that we are amateur cooks, and we are going to make mistakes. This project is more about learning and fun than it is about perfectly recreating a particular recipe or cuisine. We'd love to learn with you. Cheers!