This all started many years ago. My daughter and I were on trip to Brazil. I was on tour for my writing textbooks (my other life’s work!), and Sofia was my travel partner. During that trip, when she was about 12 (so hmmmmm….almost 10 years ago!), we spent three weeks together there — during which we visited the state of Minas Gerais, and were treated — thanks to our Cambridge
University Press hosts—to a wide array of delicious Brazilian dishes. As with many of those we sampled, it was love at first bite…
A few years later, we returned (this time with my son and husband in tow!), and had more chances to not only enjoy Brazil, but also pão de queijo, or “cheese bread.” It was then that I decided they were not only something I had to serve at home, but also a must-include in my book of cocktails, appetizers, Mambo Mixers.
Since then, I’ve had many Brazilian ESL students who have helped me improve and adapt my recipe! Here I am sharing one that I recently taught in a cooking class; it’s just slightly different from the original. Oh — and for the ingredients — the place to go is Gramatan Avenue in Mount Vernon! Not a block away from Westchester Community College’s Extension Center there (which is located at 175 Gramatan), is a small market that sells the flour you need to make these babies! (And you can find other treats I like to “play with” and share with guests on my blog: In the Kitchen with Arlen!)
Recipe after the jump!
Brazilian Cheese Puffs
Adapted from Mambo Mixers,© 2005, Arlen Gargagliano
Makes about 6 dozen small cheese puffs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
1 3/4 cups “sweet” tapioca starch or manioc flour (available in large grocery stores and Latin markets) in Portuguese: polvilho doce
1/4 cup “sour” tapioca starch, in Portuguese: polvilho azedo (This I’ve only found in Brazilian markets.)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups freshly grated Sardo (Argentine parmesan), your favorite parmesan, or Pecorino Romano cheese
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a medium saucepan, combine the oil, water, and milk and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, pour the starch into a large bowl. When the liquid has boiled, add it to the starch and mix well. Let it rest for about 15 minutes. Then stir in the eggs and the cheese.
Form into medium size balls, about the circumference of a half dollar. (At this point you can refrigerate them up to three days in advance.) Just before your guests arrive, place them an inch apart on parchment paper covered sheet pans. Bake in the top rack of the oven, until they start to brown (about 15 to 20 minutes). Serve immediately. Keep remaining (if you have any left!) cheese puffs in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat, wrapped in a paper towel, for about 15 seconds in the microwave.