Yes! Brazil! Beautiful Brazil... I say it about every paradisiacal location on my travel list, but oh how I ache to see this place for myself! Considering just how costly that trip (i.e. flight) will be, I made due by searching for a couple snackies that could give me a taste of the tropical Portuguese.
I found two recipes on globalgourmet.com that worked into my current pantry stock perfectly: Bolinhos de Arroz and Couve Minera.
Couve Minera is simply sauteed kale with garlic and onions... which I guess means that "Couve Minera" is Portuguese for "everything I like." And the fact that it is ridiculously easy to throw together only makes it that much better. There is actually a part of me that doesn't believe this constitutes a real recipe because I still think of recipes as lists of ingredients that require you to exert a little effort to manipulate them into something.
(kale in the style of Minas Gerais)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Wash and drain kale thoroughly. Bunch the leaves together and cut into 1/4 inch strips. Sauté the garlic and onion in oil. Add kale and cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes. Kale should be soft but not discolored.
I'm pretty sure as long as you don't cook the kale down into complete mush (which is somewhat difficult considering how tough the leaves are raw), you can't mess this up. Cook down the garlic and onions first in the skillet--at least sweat the onions out before adding the kale. This is a great example of cooking "to taste" because you can easily cut back on the garlic and onions if you don't care for that (although that's such a foreign concept to me) or you can, more logically, have a heavy hand with the garlic. Remember, garlic is good for your heart.
The second recipe I tried was a more useful application as I had leftover rice from some Chinese delivery--hey, sometimes delivery just hits the spot, no matter how much I love to cook. I found a perfect throw-together appetizer that would be ideal for a lazy afternoon snack or possibly a Girls' Night In.
Bolinhos de Arroz
(little rice balls)
Makes about 12
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 green scallion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup leftover rice
Vegetable oil for frying
Mix together the egg, onion, scallion, parsley, flour, milk and salt. Add rice. Fry rounded tablespoons of the batter in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.
This recipe works well for improvisation also--short on onions? Eh, that's fine. Loosely measuring the flour? Just eye-ball it; add enough to make a dough that looks similar to drop cookies. Obviously if you're frying something, you don't want it so runny that it bleeds out before it's cooked. I think I may have refrained from adding garlic to this one--shocking, I know--but I bet it would make a tasty addition. Mixing in a little Parmesan cheese or asiago would also create an addictive variation, I'm sure... come to think of it, I may have to try that soon... whenever I finally get back into my kitchen.
When I tried this recipe, one thing stood out more than anything else: these are hushpuppies for adults! Honestly, little morsels of fried rice, onions, and scallions are like the savory counterpart to bonbons. I could have popped a movie into my DVD player and munched on these for the rest of the night. Forget popcorn.