Wednesday, February 18, 2009


By Margarida Nogueira

For Brazilians, Carnival is the most beloved of all traditional holidays. It is the time of the year when Brazilians express their happiness and joy de vivre. And for three crazy days before Lent, the whole country seems to be in a celebratory mood. The Escolas de samba (Samba Schools) lead the parades with people dressed in those amazing and colorful costumes that Brazilians make throughout the year – from devils and angels, to queens and pirates, Indians and beautiful Bahianas; it is a time of joy and good will, of simply letting go.

When we were teenagers, my parents preferred to leave Rio de Janeiro and go to our country home in a small town up on the hills. They knew that the Carnival there was still celebrated as a big party, in a smaller, healthier environment, where we could dance, have fun or just, as we like to say in Brazil, brincar o Carnival (horse around) and go to the parades. Besides, my brothers and I were free to bring as many friends as we could fit in the house.

I can still taste and remember all the good food my mother used to prepare with the help of the maids, who also enjoyed having all the young people around. The guests always brought special treats – cakes, cookies and preserves. For Saturday, Sábado de Carnaval, Feijoada Completa (Bean and Meat Stew) was a must. Moqueca, Picadinho, Vatapá and many other Creole dishes were prepared during those magical days.

On Mardi Gras (Terça-feira Gorda) we generally had my mother’s special Roast Loin of Pork with Farofa de Banana and a most anticipated dessert, Pudim Quero Mais (I want more pudding).

Over the years things have changed and, although the Carnival parade is still fantastic, for me it looks more like a Broadway musical. Regardless, the memories of those days are always present in my mind and in the pudding I prepare for my grandchildren who say: quero mas, quero mas!

Roast Loin of Pork

1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
6 black peppercorns
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon olive oil

2-1/2 to 3 pounds loin of pork boneless
1 cup sliced onions
Juicie from 1 orange
1 tablespoon orange zest

1. Place all the ingredients for the marinade in the blender and process until pureed. Place pork in a glass container, or plastic bag, add marinade, cover and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.

2. Remove pork from the marinade and reserve marinade. Put pork over a bed of sliced onions in a baking pan and bake in a preheated 425° F oven for 20 minutes; reduce the heat to 375ºF and continue baking for about 40 minutes or until golden brown, basting from time to time with the marinade. Remove roast from the pan and let it rest for a few minutes while finishing the sauce.

3. Degrease juices in the pan, add remaining marinade and the juice of 1 orange and bring it to a boil, simmer for a few minutes, stirring, season with salt and pepper to taste and add orange zest.

4. To serve, slice the pork and serve with some of the sauce on top, either with farofa de banana or mashed potatoes.

Margarida's grandchildren helping prepare pudim.

I want more Pudding

Brazilian sweets are generally very sweet. I have cut down the amount of sugar in this recipe and even so, for some palates, it is still too sweet. I have also made this dessert without the caramel and found it to be just as delicious. I sprinkle some dry coconut on top and serve either warm or at room temperature.

Caramel ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Pudding ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
6 whole eggs
1-1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup coconut milk (Brazilian coconut milk is thin)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a small heavy saucepan, mix all caramel ingredients. Cook over medium heat without stirring, for about 13 to 14 minutes or till you get a golden caramel. Immediately pour caramel into a 4-6 cup ring mold and turn in all directions to film the bottom and sides.

2. In a medium size saucepan mix sugar and water to prepare a sugar syrup; when it reaches a medium density, remove from the heat, add butter and let it cool.

3. In a large bowl beat the whole eggs till they begin to foam; add coconut milk, grated cheese mixed with the flour and finally the sugar syrup. Mix well and pour into the caramelized mold.
Bake in water bath in a pre-heated 375ºF oven for 1 hour approximately. Let it cool for 20 minutes before unmolding.

Obs Receita da minha mãe, Luisa Nogueira e que sempre fez muito sucesso na família.(This is my mother’s recipe that was always a hit with the family)
Margarida Nogueira lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. She is a food writer, culinary historian, cooking teacher and restaurant consultant. She has worked as a consultant with cookbook writers in the United States.

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