On a personal level, my highlight for 2016 was successfully nurturing a tiny fragile human being into a happy and healthy little toddler. Her big siblings are doing alright, too, and Romas is still (hopefully happily) married to me, so all is great. Bring it on, 2017 (I mean adventures, not more babies).
From a foodie perspective, it was a great year. Our family and some generous friends and neighbors (and Trader Joe’s prepared foods) fed me while I nursed Cecilia 24×7 for the first few months of her life. When I came out of hibernation, I connected with a friend and felt inspired to get back to cooking, creating, experimenting, brainstorming, researching, and blogging.
The best of food blogging in 2016:
- I expressed myself in cooking and writing and loved it
- kids were excited to help and try things (sometimes)
- Romas was thrilled to (continue to) be the guinea pig
- I ate well
- I slowly recreated my grandmother’s empadinhas (a Brazilian version of mini empanadas) and caught up with my aunt Valeria in the most relaxing way, like there was no tomorrow (well, it was tomorrow already at 3 a.m.)
The worst of food blogging in 2016:
- the food I loved and did not photograph and never blogged about (regrets!)
- the cooking I did not take notes of and never blogged about (more regrets!)
- the food I took beautiful pictures of but did not think the recipes were blog material yet and never blogged about (no regrets)
- the realization that I don’t have enough time to cook + blog half as much as I’d like
And my homecook/food blogger resolutions for 2017:
- visit more farmer’s markets and farms in my area
- take more notes and pictures while cooking and eating out
- invite friends to cook with me / invite myself to cook with friends
- host meal time gatherings often
- make my aunt Valeria’s seasoning for storage and weeknight dinner chaos salvation
- actually use all saved egg whites (some of my grandmother’s recipes are great for that)
- make my own granola (and sometimes my own yogurt)
- teach our kids how to cook more / teach more kids how to cook
If I can contribute to your New Year’s brunch (or anytime in the new year!) with a great Brazilian recipe, it’s got to be pão de queijo – the every day beloved Brazilian cheese bread. You may see a couple more recipes for pão de queijo here in the future – you can make these puffier using a blender; with different cheeses; more or less cheesy or crunchy, etc. – so let’s call this one the #1.
This recipe is the one I can more easily find the ingredients for: tapioca flour and parmesan cheese are more readily available where I live than the traditional polvilho azedo (sour tapioca starch) and queijo minas meia-cura (a semi-soft cheese traditionally produced in the State of Minas Gerais, in Brazil). It has also consistently gotten rave reviews from my toughest pão de queijo critics (Mateus and Julia). Happy New Year!
PÃO DE QUEIJO (BRAZILIAN CHEESE BREAD) #1 – TAPIOCA FLOUR
Makes approximately 28
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups tapioca flour
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups parmesan cheese, finely grated
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or grease it with cooking spray.
Combine the milk, oil, and salt in a medium saucepan and whisk over medium heat, just until it starts boiling (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat.
Pour hot milk mixture over the tapioca flour in a large bowl and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until combined. The dough will be grainy and gelatinous at this point.
Incorporate the eggs into the dough, one at a time, stirring thoroughly after each is added. The dough will be moist and sticky at this point.
Stir in the parmesan cheese until fully incorporated. The dough will still be sticky.
Grease your hands and roll spoonfuls of dough into ping-pong size balls. For a more rustic version (like the ones in the pictures here), scoop rounded portions of the dough into mounds directly on the baking sheet. Space the balls or mounds an inch apart.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cheese balls are lightly brown. Cool briefly on the baking sheet and serve immediately.
Pão de queijo is best served warm, straight from the oven. Leftovers make great mini sandwiches for breakfast: slice them in half, toast them in the toaster and spread cream cheese on them.