Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Pao de Queijo, Pork and Other Things Not Beginning With P
A while ago during Chinese New Year, I'd baked up a batch of fantastic Pao de Queijo but never got around to posting the pictures up. I'd promised the friend who introduced me to Elise of Simply Recipes' wonderful Pao de Queijo page, that I'd make both versions that were given there - one is a kneaded dough, the other is put together in a blender and poured into mini muffin tins. I didn't get around to the second one till much later, and life interfered so here are both photos and thoughts on both recipe versions.
Pao de Queijo, as far as I can dig up, is Brazilian cheese bread made from manioc flour, or tapioca starch. Manioc flour is apparently fermented and has a slightly sour taste to it, but that's not something I can find here in Malaysia at all. Tapioca starch however I can find in -scads-. It's also known as tapioca flour, confusingly enough, but they're both the same thing.
Elise lists down two recipes - one is the easy blender version, another involves no blender, a mashed potato, and kneading up the dough by hand.
The Kneaded Version
The first time I made this, I thought I'd made a mistake. While the dough came together fine after mixing up the milk, flour, oil potato and the cheese, the recipe instructions didn't say that the addition of eggs would turn it into a completely soggy, goopy mess that looked like a disaster area. And the dough was supposed to be very silky and mouldable! However, after a few minutes the tapioca starch absorbed everything nicely and what do you know, it DID turn out silky and mouldable.
And it baked up like a -dream-. My mother, who normally doesn't eat a lot of dairy or cheese, couldn't stop eating them. The flavour was amazingly wonderful, and so was the texture. I used a combination of cheddar and parmesan cheese for a very strong cheesy flavour, having read that the blandness of the tapioca needed it. By golly it worked! However, I think next time I would store leftover dough in the fridge rather than the freezer, because when it thawed out, there was far too much excess water and the dough became far too liquid. I'd make this again, no hesitation.
The Blender Version
The blender version of the recipe is very simple - all ingredients get thrown into the blender, whizzed into a batter, and then gets poured into a mini muffin tin to bake. It takes about 15 minutes, or less if you're faster than I am at measuring stuff.
It baked up fantastic too, rose like little puffy hats! The flavour was good - if I hadn't actually baked the kneaded version, I'd have been ecstatic with this. As it is, I think the flavour of the kneaded one is better. I'd also use a neutral-flavoured oil, rather than the olive oil - the olive oil flavour was very distinct and a bit strong.
Otherwise though, this was a very, very simple and very good recipe. I would definitely make it again, due to how little time it takes.
Another recipe that I'd been dying to try for a while was the Lisu Spice-Rubbed Pork from Beyond the Great Wall. When Leite's Culinaria posted the recipe last year, I decided to finally give it a shot but I only managed it about two weeks ago. Whoops. However, it turned out to be one of the easiest, most flavourful recipes I've ever come across. The pork was tender and moist, and all around -wonderful-. In fact, when I made it today and accidentally left out the allspice which I substituted for nutmeg (not having any), it STILL tasted amazing.
Recently a friend and colleague came back from taking the Youth Chamber Choir to Vietnam for competition (they won the category championship!) and all the talk about Vietnamese food and Banh Xeo (Vietnamese sizzling crepes) got me into the mood to make some.
I used Rasa Malaysia's Banh Xeo recipe, cutting the quantities down in half. The results? Wonderful! Crispy on the edges and soft in the centre, just like it was supposed to be. I didn't have bean sprouts or chillies, so I just used shredded chicken and some pork and the green onions for the filling. It was great regardless, and so easy - I am going to make another round of this -with- all the ingredients next time. There's a vegetarian version I've come across, which I plan to try one day - Winnie, you'd like that I know!
And yes, Banh Xeo really -is- that lovely bright yellow colour - it's the turmeric powder that does it.
I'm not posting the recipes I used; I've linked them for you so you can go read them for yourself. These cooks have done amazing work; they deserve all the credit for their wonderful recipes!
Next up, ie: when I get around to editing photos - Migas! And possibly soda bread (and a dozen other things that I really should get around to writing up eventually.)