The more Brazilian food I eat and the more I visit Brazil, the more I realize how little I really know about Brazilian cooking. The country is massive, a continent of its own. By Leticia Moreinos-Schwartz’s The Brazilian Kitchen: 100 Classic and Creative Recipes for the Home Cook (Kyle Books, 2010) is thebest all around study on Brazilian food I’ve read thus far.
Though a proud carioca – she was born and raised in Ipanema – Moreinos-Schwartz has worked as a chef and culinary instructor for more than a decade in the states, so they’ve been tweaked, as the author admits on page 8, to her now Americanized palate and she frequently mentions alternative ingredients for those hard to find Brazilian ones.
The book begins with the caipirnha and is followed by 25 pages of petiscos, or bar food. These are some of my favorite recipes in the book. I haven’t made it yet, but the Pão de Queijo, Brazilian cheese bread, looks rather good. Flan de Abóbora com Salada de Carne Seca, or Pumpkin Flan with Jerk Meat Salad, is one of the more complicated recipes in the front of the book, though little hints like the one that describes how Brazilians use a pressure cooker for everything, including Carne Seca, are extremely helpful.
The Salad and Soup chapter (Salades E Sopas) is quite varied. There’s the Portuguese Caldo Verde and Sopa de Abóbora com Côco. The Main Courses, or Pratos Principais, is the big one though. This chapter goes all over the country from Bahia to the Amazon. There are the traditional plates you would expect like Feijoada and Empadao de Frango (Chicken Empanada), but it’s the lesser-known plates like Vatapá (Fish Puree with Coconut Milk) and Torta Capizaba (Baked Shellfish Frittata) that really caught my attention. The chapter on Sobremesas (desserts) reveals the authors famous Brigadeiros, which she sells in the U.S.
The recipe heads don’t get too involved with the history or background of the dishes, though each has a paragraph intro. The photos in the book are mostly studio shots by Ben Fink (though there is a smattering of shots from Brazilian markets) and he, with Moreinos-Schwartz food styling, does a fine job of making everything look appetizing.
The simplicity of the recipes in this book, even when they look and sound exotic, make this a exceptional addition to any cookbook collection. Highly recommended.
CHEFLETICIA.COM: Moreinos-Schwartz’s website is a nice companion to the recipe book. Here she sells her line of chocolates that use Brazilian flavors like Açaí, Acerola, Cashew Fruit, Coconut, Cupuaçú, Guava, Passion Fruit, and Caipirinha. A few recipes from the book are there, like Pão de Queijo and Bolinho de Bacalhau. She also gives a round up of her favorite restaurants in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and a fairly complete glossary of Brazilian culinary terms.You can also get info about signing up for her Brazilian cooking classes in Connecticut and elsewhere along the East Coast.
The Brazilian Kitchen: 100 Classic and Creative Recipes for the Home Cook
Kyle Books, 2010
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Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.