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Feel The Spirit

Of Brazil In Your Kitchen crack

We look at how to recreate those samba-inspired dishes in your kitchen.

In the UK, Brazilian culture has gradually been seeping into our lives and cook Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, who was born in Ipanema, has written Cook Brazilian, a recipe book containing more than 100 easy-to-follow recipes, from salads, soups and desserts to the classic Caipirinha cocktail.

Schwartz is quick to point out that the culinary tradition of her homeland is rich. Brazilian cuisine is a melting pot of three main culinary traditions.

Portuguese conquerors brought their love of salt cod, soups, stews and egg-based sweets, the Africans their delight in nuts, rice and beans, while the country’s native Indians shared their enthusiasm for coconut, fish spices and exotic fruits.

Here are a few Brazilian dishes for you to try out...

Caipirinha
(Makes 1 Caipirinha)

2 limes
1tbsp sugar
2-3tbsp cachaca
Ice cubes

Trim the ends off the limes. Cut the limes into medium-sized wedges.

Using a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon, mash the lime with the sugar, making sure to squeeze all the juices from the lime and to dissolve the sugar in the juice.

Transfer the lime mixture to a shaker. Add the cachaca and ice cubes.

Shake well for about 8-10 minutes and pour into a large but not tall sturdy glass.

Pineapple Manchego skewers
(Makes about 20 skewers)

225g fresh pineapple, peeled and cored
175g Manchego, at room temperature
(alternatively, try Roncal, Zamorano
or Terrincho Velho cheese)
2tbsp sugar
25g salted butter
1tbsp water
1/8tsp ground cinnamon
1/8tsp ground chipotle chilli
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
20 small bamboo skewers

Cut the pineapple into 1cm cubes using a serrated knife.

Cut the Manchego into cubes about the same size. You should have about 20 cubes of each.

Place the sugar in a small frying pan and add the water. Cook over a high heat until it turns into a light amber colour, about 2-3 minutes. (Be careful not to overcook).

Add the butter and swirl the pan around. It will splash and bubble, so be careful. When the butter is well blended with the caramelised sugar, turn the heat to low and add the cinnamon and ground chipotle. Cook the caramel until it becomes a little thicker, about 2 minutes.

Add the pineapple cubes and swirl the pan around for about 3-4 minutes, allowing the pineapple to caramelise in the sauce and become lightly golden brown, but being careful not to let it get too mushy. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the pineapple and sauce onto a flat plate. While the fruit is still hot, place a piece of pineapple on the skewer, then a piece of Manchego.

Place the skewers on a serving plate and serve immediately, while the pineapple is still warm.

Brazilian fish stew
(Serves 4)

550g fish fillets, such as cod, haddock or halibut, cut into 5cm chunks
1 spring onion, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 small piece of fresh root
ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
5tbsp dende oil
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4tbsp freshly chopped coriander
2/3 green pepper, chopped
2/3 yellow pepper, chopped
350ml fish stock
225ml coconut milk
2tbsp tomato paste
1tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
85g canned hearts of palm, drained
2 plum tomatoes, peeled deseeded and diced

Prepare the marinade for the fish: in a bowl, mix together half of the spring onion, half of the onion, half of the ginger and half of the garlic. Add 2 tbsp of the dende oil, all of the olive oil and half of the coriander. Place the fish chunks in a zip-lock plastic bag and add the marinade. Rub it around the fish so that it is well distributed.

Remove all the air from the plastic bag and seal it well. Place the fish in the fridge, covered by the arinade, and leave for at least 3 hours.

Take the fish out of the fridge 30 minutes before using.

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Place the remaining 3 tbsp of dende oil in a large saute pan over a medium heat. Add the remaining spring onion, onion and the green and yellow peppers and cook for about 3 minutes until they are soft.

Add the remaining ginger and garlic and mix well. Cook for another minute or until hot. Add the fish stock and bring to a full boil. Add the coconut milk and tomato puree, and bring to a full boil, then reduce the heat to simmer the sauce gently.

In the meantime, spread the fish and marinade out in a gratin dish. Pour the lemon juice on top and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until almost done, about 10-12 minutes.

Carefully transfer each chunk of fish to the pan with the sauce. Pour in any remaining juices from the fish and marinade. Braise the fish in the sauce over a low heat with the pan covered until the fish is soft and tender, about 5-8 minutes.

Uncover the pan, add the hearts of palm and tomatoes and heat through.

Taste the sauce, then season it with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the remaining coriander. Serve over rice.