Gluten free Cheese Biscuits

Cheese Biscuit is a classic recipe from the states of Minas Gerais and Goiás in Brazil. The main ingredient for this recipe is a popular item of Brazilian origin: the tapioca starch or tapioca flour. The history tapioca flour begins on farming and cropping cassava root, the most Brazilian of the ingredients.

In the traditional communities of Brazil, tapioca is a by-product of manioc flour production from cassava roots. In this process, cassava is ground to a pulp. The pulp is squeezed, releasing a white starch-rich liquid. This liquid is collected and left to decant. The water is discarded, and the moisture is allowed to evaporate, leaving behind a fine-grained tapioca powder similar in appearance to cornstarch.

Tapioca flour is great for baking and an excellent alternative to wheat flour, as it is gluten free. For this recipe, the main ingredients are tapioca flour and a good cheese. Simple and quick to make, these cheese biscuits are great to serve for breakfast or afternoon tea.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup grated cheese

  • 1 cup tapioca flour

  • 1 tbsp butter

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a bowl, mix and knead all the ingredients until the dough becomes uniform. It should be very soft and easy to model. Taste the dough and adjust the salt if necessary.

  2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Model the biscuits as you wish, using a tsp measuring for each one. Place it on a non-stick baking tray.

  3. TIP:To make the marks you see in the photos, use the back of a fork and apply gently on the side of the biscuit.

  4. Bring the biscuits to the oven and bake it until slightly golden on the surface - usually 30 minutes. You can not let it get golden brown; otherwise, it will get dry and hard.

  5. Remove from oven and serve. It's great for breakfast or afternoon tea! Enjoy

Coxinha

Coxinha is a very famous Brazilian snack, almost a national treasure in Brazil. It's a delicious deep fried chicken croquette, crispy outside, with a creamy potato and flour dough, and traditionally filled with shredded chicken. It is also common to have cream cheese along with the chicken filling.

Why do Brazilians like coxinhas so much? Because it's a quick snack, rich in flavours and textures, found in every bakery, café or pub. It goes well with beers and other drinks, and it is commonly served freshly fried (warm and creamy inside), which makes it impossible to resist. This Brazilian number one snack is also common in Portugal. Recently people got creative and started preparing coxinhas with all sorts of flavours: shredded meat, chorizo, dulce de leche, etc.

Back to the original recipe, there are some steps to prepare a proper coxinha at home. I've tested some recipes but ended up with my mother's recipe. For that, it is necessary to season the chicken generously, as the broth used for the dough preparation will come from that. It is essential to sauté the chicken pieces until golden brown, as all the rich flavours come from that process. The dough is made with all-purpose flour and mash potatoes along with the broth saved from the chicken cooked previously. So it will become light, creamy and flavourful dough that will wrap the chicken filling. Coxinha has a teardrop shape (trying to resemble the chicken drumstick). After modelling, it is coated with egg wash and breadcrumbs and deep fried. It can be frozen after modelling and coating. I recorded a video you can watch below, along with the recipe details:

INGREDIENTS

For the filling

  • 1 and 1/2 kg chicken breast and thighs

  • 2 tbsp salt

  • 1 fresh chilli

  • 4 cloves garlic minced

  • 2 tbsp vinegar

  • 1 pinch black pepper

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 large onion diced

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 and 1/2 litres water

  • 1 ripe tomato, skin off, diced

  • 1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped

For the dough

  • 2 cups chicken broth (from the filling)

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1/2 cup mashed potatoes

  • 1 tsp butter

  • 2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour sifted

For coating and deep fry

  • 2 eggs beaten with a splash of water

  • 2 cups breadcrumbs

  • 1 litre vegetable oil for deep frying

INSTRUCTIONS

For the filling

  1. Prepare a paste with the minced garlic, salt, fresh chilli and black pepper. Add the vinegar to the paste and mix well. Place the chicken pieces in a bowl, spread the paste over the chicken pieces, cover it to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  1. Place the water to heat separately. Place a deep saucepan or a pressure cooker to heat over high heat. When it is very hot, add olive oil, and quickly saute the chopped onion with bay leaf, until soften the onions.

  2. Add the chicken pieces and saute as well, until have a golden brown colour. Then, add the hot water and cook it for around 30-40 minutes, for the chicken becomes very soft.

  3. Strain the chicken and save the broth for preparing the dough. Place the chicken in a large dish and let it cool. Remove the chicken skin and bones and set aside. Shred well the chicken, add the finely chopped tomato, parsley and chives, mix well and the filling is ready.

For the dough

  1. Prepare 1/2 cup of mash potatoes. Sift the flour separately and set aside. Grease a dish with 1/2 tsp butter for placing the dough after cooking it.

  2. In a high pot with a thick bottom, add the chicken broth, the milk, the potatoes and 1 tsp of butter. Place it to medium heat and when it starts to simmering, add the flour all at once, continuously mixing with a wooden spoon. When the dough turns a ball and loosens off from the pan, it will be ready.

  3. Put the dough over into the greased dish and let it cool. Once it is lukewarm, knead it gently until smooth and flexible. Divide the dough into equal pieces (yield 20 medium-size or 30 small-size coxinhas).

Finishing

  1. Now it is time for shaping the coxinhas. Open the dough with your hands, forming a shell, arrange the filling in the middle of the shell. Close it and shape in teardrop form.

  2. After modelling all the coxinhas, cover each with egg mixture, then with bread crumbs, pressing crumbs to coat. Heat the oil in deep pan over medium-high heat. Fry in hot oil until golden brown and drain on absorbent paper. Serve it when it is still warm. Enjoy it!

Pão de queijo - Brazilian Cheese Bread

I come from Minas Gerais, a state in the centre of Brazil which has a great culinary tradition. To us, the kitchen is the heart of the house. When you arrive at a Mineiro’s home, you are invited to the kitchen for a cup of freshly brewed coffee and some quitanda (baked goods). One of the favourite treats to offer is pão de queijo. This is a tapioca cheese roll with a crispy outside and chewy centre.

The main recipe ingredients are tapioca flour and cheese. Tapioca flour is the starch extracted from the cassava root. Some people use regular tapioca flour, called polvilho doce, and some use the sour version, called polvilho azedo. The cheese rolls made of regular tapioca flour tend to be more dense and has a subtle flavour. The ones made only with sour tapioca flour become bigger, dryer and has a strong flavour coming from the starch. I like to use a mixture of them to get o good balance in flavours and textures. It is easy to find tapioca flour in Brazilian shops, organic and whole markets, and even in Amazon. The best ones I recommend to buy in UK are Amafil and Zaeli.

For the cheese, we use a cured local variety, known as queijo minas curado. The state of Minas Gerais produce the best cheeses in Brazil. Unfortunately, it is not possible to find them abroad. But I'm lucky that UK produces amazing cheeses. I did some research and ran tests at home. With the help of some friends I could find a good mixture of cheeses to get the best flavour and texture to pão de queijo.

There are many different methods to prepare pão de queijo. For a traditional recipe, there are some important steps if you want to achieve the right texture and flavour. I would like to share the same method I learned from my family, a recipe handed down for generations, adapted to UK ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola or sunflower)

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 3 cups tapioca flour

  • 2 cups grated cheese (mix mature cheddar and feta)

  • 3 eggs, medium

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the tapioca flour into a large bowl.

  2. In a saucepan add the milk, water and oil, and place over medium heat. When start boiling. Turn off the stove and pour all the liquid over to the tapioca flour, in the bowl.

  3. Stir with a spoon until obtaining a lumpy sticky dough. Let it cool for about 20 minutes. While you wait, grate the cheddar cheese finely and mash the feta cheese with a fork.

  4. When the dough has cooled, add the cheese and three eggs, slightly beaten, to the mixture. Knead well with your hands until you get a very soft dough. If you find the dough too dry, you can add one more egg. Taste the dough and add salt if necessary.

  5. With the dough ready, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Using a teaspoon, take a spoonful of dough and roll into a ball. Place it on a baking sheet giving some space among them for growing.

  6. Bake them until golden brown, about 30 minutes, until the crust becomes golden. Then, serve them with a freshly brewed coffee and enjoy!


Moqueca - Brazilian fish stew

Moqueca is a Brazilian fish stew recipe commonly found on the coast. It is a fragrant and flavourful dish, usually prepared with white fish, tomatoes, coriander, garlic and onions, with some variations.The Moqueca Capixaba is from the state of Espírito Santo and influenced by Native Brazilian and Portuguese cuisine. They use olive oil and natural urucum pigment powder, and it is always cooked in a traditional clay pan. Moqueca Baiana also has a strong influence from African cuisine. They use dendê palm oil and coconut milk in the preparation. It is easy to find the dendê is Brazilian Shops.I will share the best version I have prepared at home, mixing those references, with an accompanying recipe for pirão, which is a moqueca sauce polenta.

INGREDIENTS

  • 600 g fish white firm, skin off

  • 1/2 lime

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 5 plum tomatoes ripe

  • 2 onions medium

  • 2 bell peppers yellow and green

  • 1 bunch coriander

  • 1 bunch chives

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 green chilli fresh

  • 1 tsp paprika (substitute for urucum powder)

  • 5 tbsp olive oil

  • 200 g coconut milk

  • 2 tbsp dendê palm oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cut the fish in 4 big pieces and season it with salt, black pepper, the lime juice and leave it to marinate in a glass dish while you do the next step.

  2. Chopp finely the chives and coriander (saving some for garnish in the end). Don't throw away the coriander stalks (you will use them). Dice the tomatoes and onions. Slice finely the bell pepper.

  3. Using a food processor, combine the peeled garlic, urucum (or paprika), coriander stalks, fresh chilli, 1 tsp of salt and blend until you have a paste. Divide the paste into 2 parts. Use one half to spread over the fish as it continues to marinate.

  4. Place the olive oil and the rest of the paste inside a large deep frying pan, and turn the heat on. At medium heat, fry the onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, chives and coriander. When the vegetables releases their juices, add the fish pieces into that, cover with lid and let it gently simmer for 10 minutes.

  5. After 10 minutes cooking, turn down the heat, add the coconut milk and let it simmer for 5 more minutes, until the fish is properly cooked. Open the lid and garnish with chives and coriander. If you want, add a splash of dendê palm oil.

  6. Serve hot, with long grain rice, farofa and pirão. It will be a success, a truly flavourful meal!

Feijoada - Brazilian bean stew

Considered the national dish of Brazil and becoming popular worldwide, Feijoada is a comforting, warm, intense and flavourful black bean and pork stew. It is served with rice, sautéed collard greens or kale, orange slices and farofa (toasted cassava flour).

The main ingredients are black beans, salted cured pork cuts like ears, trotters, and tail, and smoked cuts like ribs, loin, sausages and bacon.Living in Brazil, it is common to find those ingredients in supermarkets. But if you live in the UK, it is possible to find some of them in Brazilian and Portuguese shops. Polish products like sausages and smoked pork can be a good substitute.

Sausages are an important item to pay attention to. If you are looking for an authentic Brazilian feijoada, using Spanish chorizo is not a good idea. It has strong paprika and chilli taste, and it could cover the flavours of other ingredients. Rather, I recommend looking in Brazilian shops for calabresa and paio sausage.

Bay leaves are important to create one more layer of flavour, giving a hint of freshness to the stew.Although there are plenty of methods to cook feijoada in a fast way, my experience tells me that time is the most important ingredient. Slow cooking the ingredients step-by-step is required. My grandmother's Feijoada recipe starts 2 days in advance, with plenty of time to desalt cured meats and cook them slowly.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 kg salted cured pork cuts trotter, tail, ears

  • 400 g smoked pork ribs

  • 200 g smoked bacon

  • 1 paio sausage 2cm thick sliced

  • 1 calabresa sausage 2cm thick sliced

  • 500 g black beans

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 2 onions chopped

  • 4 cloves os garlic chopped

  • 10 cups water

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 4 bay leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. After buying the right ingredients, it's time to remove the excess of salt from the cured cuts. You do that giving them a good wash and placing them in a bowl where you will soak the meat, and change the water from time to time.

  2. Slow cook the ingredientes in steps. It starts with the desalted cuts, placed in a big pressure cooker or sauce pan. Give them a fast sautée, then add 2 cups of water and cook until they soften, to release the collagen and thicken the mixture.

  3. Fry the smoked bacon and ribs with onion, garlic and bay leaves. Add the cured meat prepared before, the beans and the water, and let it cook slowly and gently for about 2 or 3 hours, stirring it occasionally.

  4. After the beans are cooked, add the sliced sausages and, if the sauce seems too thick, add more water. Let it simmer until the sausages and meats tenderise and starts break apart.

  5. Serve it with rice, sautéed collard greens (thinly sliced, sautéed with olive oil and garlic), sliced oranges and farofa.