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7.30.2010

Brazilian Cuisine

It began as most ‘ethnic food movements’ do – with small restaurants in the neighborhoods where immigrants settled, diners and lunchrooms and tea rooms opened by those who wanted to offer a taste of home to their fellow émigrés. Chinese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Thai – from family run bistros, the cuisine spread as those outside the cultures of the ‘neighborhood’ learned of the good food and the word spread. The latest ‘new cuisine’ that is spreading like wildfire is Brazilian – a delicious blending of three separate cultures that comes together in dishes and delicacies that aren’t found anywhere else in the world.

To understand the cuisine of Brazil, one must understand a little of its history. The base of Brazilian cuisine is in its native roots – the foods that sustained the native Brazilians – cassava, yams, fish and meat – but it bears the stamp of two other peoples as well: the Portuguese who came to conquer and stayed, and the African slaves that they brought with them to work the sugar plantations. Brazilian cuisine today is a seamless amalgam of the three influences that interweave in a unique and totally Brazilian style.

The staples of the Brazilian diet are root vegetables, seafood and meat. Manioc, derived from cassava root, is the ‘flour’ of the region, and is eaten in one form or another at nearly every meal. The bitter cassava root is poisonous in its raw state, but when prepared properly, the cassava root yields farinha and tapioca, bases for many dishes of the region. The Portuguese influence shows in the rich, sweet egg breads that are served at nearly every meal, and in the seafood dishes that blend ‘fruits de mer’ with coconut and other native fruits and vegetables. The national dish, bobo de camarao is one of these, a delicious mingling of fresh shrimp in a puree of dried shrimp, manioc (cassava) meal, coconut milk and nuts, flavored with a palm oil called dende.

It is the African influence that is most felt, though – as is to be expected of the people who worked in the kitchens. Pineapple and coconut milk, shredded coconut and palm hearts worked their way into everyday dishes, flavoring meat, shrimp, fish, vegetables and bread. Brazilian food, unlike the cuisines of many of the surrounding countries, favors the sweet rather than the hot, and more than any other South American cuisine, it carries the savor of tropical island breezes rather than the hot wind of the desert.

The most common ingredients in Brazilian cuisine are cassava, coconut, dende, black beans and rice. Bacalao – salt cod – features in many dishes derived from the Portuguese, but flavored with typical Brazilian insouciance with coconut cream and pistachio nuts it becomes an entirely different food. It is typical of the Brazilian attitude toward food – an expression of a warm and open people to whom feeding and sharing food is the basis of hospitality. Brazilian cuisine is like its people – all are welcome, all are welcomed and all make their mark – without ever overwhelming the contributions of the other.

7.29.2010

Cook from the Heart, Not by the Book

by: ARA
(ARA) - You don’t have to go by the book to create tasty, easy, sociable food. Easy-peasy meal preparation is all about stripping cooking down to its bare essentials (they don’t call me the Naked Chef for nothing!), using little techniques and conveniences to make the most of your recipes. It’s so simple: Skip the fuss and follow your heart.

Here are some tips to take the stress out of cooking, whether you’re stirring up supper for your mate or hoping to impress the new in-laws:

Dinners-in-a-Bag

When Jools and I first moved to London we were completely broke, our kitchen was the size of a cupboard, and we were working opposite shifts. I didn’t want Jools to feed herself on frozen dinners, so I found myself custom-making the fantastic “Jamie Oliver Dinners in a Bag,” involving glorious aluminum foil.

What I would do for Jools was make up a combo at 4 p.m. as I was going off to work and write with a marker pen “25 minutes at 425 F”, for example, on the foil. Even though Jools didn’t like cooking, she never had a problem with cooking the bags. Now that we have our Amana range, however, it’s easier than ever -- I just program the “Favorites Cycle,” which lets me preset the cook time and temperature for the recipes I use most often. Here’s just one version, but feel free to vary the recipe with things like grated parsnip, smoked bacon or red wine.

Chicken Breasts Baked in a Bag

(Serves two)

2 7-ounce skinless chicken breasts

1 handful of dried porcini

9 ounces of mixed mushrooms, torn up

1 large wineglass of white wine

3 large pats of butter

1 handful of fresh thyme

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

Using wide aluminum foil, make your bag by placing two pieces on top of each other (about as big as two shoeboxes in length), folding three sides in and leaving one side open. Mix everything together in a bowl, including the chicken. Place in your bag, with all the wine, making sure you don’t pierce the foil. Close up the final edge, making sure it’s tightly sealed and secure on the sides, and slide it onto a roasting pan. Place the pan on a high heat for one minute to get the heat going, then bake in the middle of a 425-degree oven for 25 minutes.

When it’s time to take it out, the Amana EasyRack oven rack, with its practical U-shape design, lets you remove the pan without touching the hot rack. Then you just place the bag on a big plate, take it to the table, break open the foil, and start hearing the raves.

Bare-Bones Cooking Techniques

Here are some other bare-bones techniques I’ve perfected using my Amana range:

* If you invited friends to come round but they’re running late, pop up to four plates of food in the separate warming oven. Your glorious food not only stays warm, but also keeps the kitchen smelling wonderful until they walk in the door.

* If your side dish is ready but you still have other things to cook, just slide the pot onto the middle of the cooktop. The “warming zone” there acts like a fifth burner, keeping it warm and freeing up the other burners so you can finish cooking.

* If your recipe’s left a mess in the oven, don’t fret -- the hidden bake element and smooth oven bottom make it simple to mop up spills before they become baked-on disasters. The oven can clean itself while you’re in the middle of a dinner party -- just flip on the self-clean mode, pour yourself another glass of wine, and go back to your guests.

Visit www.amana.com for more practical appliance solutions from Amana.

Courtesy of ARA Content

Organic Cooking Connected to Brilliant Brain Memory and Good

Medical professionals and researchers do advice people to keep up their level of the so-called good cholesterol in order to reduce the risk of heart attack or disease. But it has now been discovered that high level of good cholesterol may also prevent a decline in memory as reported by a new study.

Then what is cholesterol? Cholesterol can be defined as a chemical substance found in fat, blood, and other cells in your body, which doctors think may cause heart disease. Most of the cholesterol in the body is synthesized by the body and some has dietary origin. Cholesterol is found in animals fats and major dietary sources of cholesterol include egg yolks, beef, poultry, and shrimp. Plant cholesterol products are flax seed and peanut.

Researchers found that people with more high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, know as HDL, did better on memory tests than people with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level. The study which was led by Archana Singh-Manoux, appears in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, an American Heart Association journal.

The researchers carried out a check on the cholesterol level of more than 3,600 British civil servants and gave them simple memory tests at an average age of 55 and again at 61. The simple test involves reading out load a list of 20 words to the volunteers and then asking them to write down as many as they could remember within two minutes.

It was found that not only did those with higher HDL do better than other people, but those whose HDL levels declined between tests also saw a decline in their performance.

Did you find this information on good cholesteroluseful? You can learn a lot more about the link between organic cooking and good cholesterol by logging on https://ehimare4.wordpress.com

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