Bem Vindo…Welcome. On a recent trip to Brazil – the largest country in South America – I spent 5 days travelling up the Amazon, visited Iguazu (a world heritage site with 250 waterfalls), Rio de Janerio, and Ilha Grande. This trip inspired me to create a dinner menu based on the foods I tasted there, so different from our Canadian fare. The cuisine of Brazil is influenced by that of Portugal who settled the country and Africa, with the slaves who were brought over.
Wild Rice in the morning mist, Amazon River. Photo credit: Patricia Petty
My Brazilian Dinner began with appetizers. First up was shrimp and mussels simply poached in a white wine ( I had a Reisling open) infused with fresh herbs (including cilantro), lemon peel, and garlic. Once the seafood was cooked I strained the liquid, reduced it down and added coconut milk before adding the seafood back in. Of course there were ham and cheese filled empadinhas, various olives and wine. We found wherever we went empadinhas (almost always filled with ham and cheese of some sort) were on the menu and olives were always brought to the table – what a nice touch.
With the appetizers, I served an Argentine Torrontes, an Ontario Rosé and of course beer, although not the Brazilian Brahmin that we drank everywhere. Next was a Portuguese inspired Caldo Verde. I used a recipe, which is somewhat untraditional from Martha Stewart’s web site and is one created by Emeril Lagasse. See here for full details of Emeril’s “new-style” Caldo Verde so-called because the kale is cut into thin strips and is cooked only until crisp-tender.
Our main course was inspired by an amazing fish stew I had at a small seaside restaurant on Ilha Grande, an island approximately 2 hours south of Rio de Janeiro and a short ferry ride away. I am not sure what the fish was although I know it came from the waters around the island that afternoon. It was fragrant with coconut and cilantro and truly wonderful. Vegetables were not commonly found in most restaurants as a side dish but I served this with the rice that accompanied it there and green beans. The white rice had the flowerettes from brocolli shaved very fine and folded in…pretty green specks!
View of the harbour, Ilha Grande, Brazil. Photo credit: Patricia Petty
Our desert was inspired by the fresh pineapple found everywhere. We actually saw pineapple growing in the Amazon jungle on a 3 hour trek one morning. Dinner was a way to relive my journey through Brazil. Funny how things come back to life when you’re eating food. The recipe for Caldo Verde is listed below & the Brazillian fish stew and the grilled pineapple will follow in the recipe blogs this week.
I always believe in drinking local when travelling and oh how I tried – the restaurants carried only a few local wines, the rest on the list were mostly from Portugal, Chile, Argentina. So it saddens me to say that I didn’t find any great wines from Brazil while there I was there – but maybe I just needed to stay a bit longer! Or I’ll have to go back again soon to continue my search.
Emeril’s New-Style Caldo Verde
From Martha Stewart
Emeril calls this version “new-style” because the kale is cut into thin strips and is cooked only until crisp-tender, which differs from the traditional version. Serve with crusty bread.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (sweet potatoes could be used as an alternative) this is my note
7 cups chicken stock or canned, low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 ounces kale, large stems and ribs removed
8 ounces firm (smoked) chorizo or other hot smoked sausage, diced or crumbled
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot, and add the onions and garlic then cook until the onions are wilted, 4 minutes.
Add the potatoes and chicken stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, and add the crushed red pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, 20 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, thinly slice the kale. Set aside.
When the soup is thick and the potatoes have begun to break down, add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the kale and simmer until the leaves have softened but are still slightly crunchy and the flavors have melded, 15 minutes.
At the end, stir in the cilantro, parsley, and mint, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Suggested Wine Pairing:
2010 Hewitson Miss Harry, Austrailia,Grenach, Syrah, Mouvedre Well balanced, fruit, pepper notes. Paired beautifully with the smokiness of the soup.
Cheers & Enjoy!