Friday, June 28, 2013

Homemade Chicken Pizza with Catupiry

I'm already back in Canada but still with the vibe from Brazil and nothing is more delicious in Brazil than the pizza. Seriously, I think it only seconds to Italian pizza if it doesn't go head to head. If you have the chance, try it.

Brazilian pizza is made with a huge variety of toppings, from just simple mozzarella to shiitake mushrooms, to pesto and cherry tomatoes and even to buffalo mozzarella, arugula and sun dried tomatoes, which is one of my favorites. Chicken and catupiry is also one of my favorites and this is what we are talking about today here on the blog.

Now you may ask me: what the hell is Catupiry? Well, catupiry is a Brazilian cheese spread, in the requeijão family and used for pizzas and other recipes all over the country. Everybody knows it and everybody loves it. Catupiry was actually invented by an Italian couple who immigrated to Brazil a long time ago, more than 100 years to be exact, and that was even before the creation of requeijão cremoso (creamy) which derived from this product.

Catupiry is used in the culinary mostly with chicken because it's really a great combination. Chicken pizza with catupiry is a famous dish and has many versions, but my favorite is simply chicken and catupiry, nothing else.

Pizza in Brazil is always made in a wooden oven and that gives it a very distinct flavor that is quite especial in my opinion. The dough varies from very thin to very thick and the crust is usually stuffed with catupiry or any other creamy cheese such as cheddar for example.

Nowadays the pizza menus are so extensive that it's actually hard to choose just one. That's why you can actually ask for up to 3 different toppings in one large pizza, that comes divided in 9 slices, 3 of each topping. There are also many places that offer 'all you can eat pizza' so you can pay a fixed price and they will keep bringing different pizzas to your table, one by one, and that way you can have 8 slices of 8 different pizza toppings.  But usually in a pizzeria a large pizza comes with 8 slices and you can order half chicken and half mozzarella for example.

This is what I did 2 weeks ago when I went to a pizzeria near São Paulo. It was half chicken with catupiry and half buffalo mozzarella with olive tapenade, basil and tomatoes (Caprese). They were both incredibly yummy!!!

Pic: Chicken catupiry on top and caprese on the right.

Although that was unbelievably good it's virtually impossible to recreate the exact same flavor at home, unless you have a wooden oven so, I adapted the recipe to an easier and faster way of enjoying a Brazilian flavor in North America.

This pizza dough recipe is borrowed from an old friend that once told me she could have homemade pizza ready in less than 1 hour and a half, from scratch, and I doubted her. She proved me wrong and I have been using this recipe ever since. Bare in mind that it's not an usual pizza dough recipe, it doesn't even use yeast, but baking powder instead. However it's the fastest and easiest recipe you will find and it tastes pretty good too.

If you have a wooden oven available, please refer to the Martha Stewart website as there are many good pizza dough recipes there. Just be ready to spend a big part of your day making the dough as it takes about 2 to 3 hours to double in size when rising. I totally recommend it though. Love her and absolutely everything I've tried from her website worked great. (

About the topping: use whatever you like and have in hand. If you do want to try this specific recipe but don't live in Brazil, try to find catupiry in a local latin market or try the Portuguese neighborhood, as they usually have Brazilian products, but keep in mind it's going to be very hard to find it outside Brazil. You can always substitute catupiry for requeijão (follow the homemade recipe published earlier on the blog) and make it a little bit more consistent so it doesn't melt completely when baked.

Without further due, here is the recipe with pictures.

Homemade pizza dough with baking powder - crunchy and delicious
(This recipe makes 2 medium round pizzas)

Pre-heat oven to 400 F


2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup water (more if needed)


1- Mix all ingredients together using a fork at first until combined and then using your hands press dough well together.
If dough is too dry and it won't come together, add a little more water, about 1/4 cup should be enough, but be careful, add 1/2 the amount and check the consistency before adding more, otherwise it could get too sticky and you don't want that. The right consistency is slightly sticky and well combined. It shouldn't come apart easily.

2- On a floured surface roll dough with rolling pin into desired shape and size. I decided to make 1 large rectangular pizza as you see in the pic. This is not an easy dough to roll as it is very elastic and not so soft. It also breaks easily so be careful and patient the first time you do it. After doing it 2 or 3 times you'll get the hang of it, don't worry.

3- Once the dough is in the shape and size wanted, carefully transfer it to the pan by rolling it around the rolling pin and unrolling it back onto the pan's surface.

4- Pinch the entire surface of the dough before baking it to avoid bubbles

5- Spread tomato sauce all over dough and roll sides to make a thicker crust and keep toppings from falling off into the oven.

6- Bake it for about 20 minutes on a 400 F oven before adding any toppings, so you make sure pizza dough is completely cooked by the time mozzarella melts completely.

7- Add desired toppings and bake it for 20 minutes more at 400F. Turn on the broiler and bake it for 10 minutes more or until cheese melts and pizza dough is cooked.

For the chicken catupiry topping:

1- Boil 2 chicken breasts in water for about 30 minutes. Don't bother adding any salt or seasonings as you will do it later.

2- Let it cool down and shred it.

3- In a frying pan, add some olive oil and the shredded chicken. Add your preferred herbs, both fresh and dry. I used fresh thyme, parsley, oregano and basil and dry Italian seasoning.

4- Add salt and pepper to taste and keep stirring until chicken is hot all the way through. Add tomato sauce and stir well. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
I like to use organic tomato sauce with basil for both the pizza and the chicken. This is the one I use and it's available at Costco.

5- Once it has cooled down a bit, add the chicken to the pizza dough, on top of the tomato sauce (already baked for 20 minutes) and top it with either requeijão or catupiry.

6- To make the criss cross with catupiry, simply take it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before using to soften it. Using a pastry bag (without a tip but with a hole about the size of a tip number 10 - about the size of your pinky) make lines in both directions.

7- The pizza is ready for the oven and keep a close watch whenever you turn on the broiler to make sure the catupiry doesn't spread all over making a mess and ruining the decoration. Set broiler on low and be patient!

So, what do you think of this pizza recipe? Did you like the dough made with baking powder? I hope so.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Rice and Beans - Brazilian style!

Brazil is all about rice and beans! Rice and beans is the staple food here and they go with absolutely everything. A usual Brazilian meal is rice, beans, meat (of any kind) and potatoes, eggs or stir fried vegetables. It's very common to see farofa as well, farofa is a mix of seasonings such as onions, garlic, parsley and bacon with either yucca or corn flour and it's eaten all over the country, especially with the famous Brazilian barbecue called "churrasco".

My delicious rice and beans with chicken!

But back to the rice and beans...... most Brazilians know how to make delicious rice and beans. In fact most Brazilians cook very well. They understand about flavor combinations and that simple means more. It might be a consequence of the European colonization, mostly Italian and Portuguese.

This is Farofa:

 yucca flour

 corn flour

This is Brazilian Churrasco: 

If you want to make beans the Brazilian way, you need to own a pressure cooker. Not only it will save you time but it will also make it easier for you to get the right consistency. All you have to do is add a few garlic cloves (about 2 or 3 for every cup of beans) and a tablespoon of olive oil into a pressure cooker. Cover it with a cup of beans (of any kind) and top it with water up to half the size of the pan, about 1.5 liters. Throw in 2 bay leaves and a teaspoon of salt and start cooking! Once the pan gets pressure it will take about 20 to 30 minutes to cook the beans. Release the pressure and open the pan and keep cooking the beans until the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes more on medium heat. Add an extra drizzle of olive oil and you’re good to go. If you do not have a pressure cooker though, you can soak the beans in cold water overnight to soften them and cook them the same way the next day in a regular pan, for about 2 hours or until very soft. Keep boiling the sauce after beans are soft for about 20 minutes more to thicken it.


Brazilians use a specific kind of bean in each region. The one used in São Paulo (the one I used in my recipe) is not so common in North America. It’s called feijão carioca (Carioca beans).
You can use the same recipe for any kind of bean though, from black eyed peas to pinto beans. The famous Brazilian feijoada is made with black beans for example, and the recipe for simple black beans is the same.
Feijoada is a Brazilian kind of cassoulet, made with black beans, cooked with pork meat, served with white rice, stir-fried kale and orange slices. It’s very popular all around, every Wednesday.
This is Feijoada:

And this is Cassoulet:


Rice and beans go well with mostly everything you eat in an ordinary day, such as chicken, meat, fish, veggies, savory blender pies, potatoes, eggs, etc. Rice and beans together is a very healthy, hearty and nutritious food. Beans are very high in protein and iron, so you wanna make sure to eat them often if you are a vegetarian like me.
However, it’s not really easy to make perfect beans, so don’t be upset if you don’t get them exactly right on your first attempt. You just have to keep trying. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Wikipedia has a page dedicated to rice and beans:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Carrot Cake with Chocolate Frosting à la Brésilienne!!!

In North America carrot cake is a seasonal cake with fall flavors like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice with a delicious cream cheese frosting. This is the one you usually make, am I right?

Well, carrot cake in South America, especifically in Brazil is a whole other experience. Very natural and with a real carrot flavor it is usually topped with a luscious chocolate frosting. You may think this sounds weird and that carrots don't go well with chocolate, but you will really be surprised as how good this combination is once you try it the first time.

This week the blog is all about Brazil as I am here, in Brazil, writing to you all about my adventures with food.

This photos and recipe are from Dona Alda's carrot cake, which I had the pleasure of tasting this week, non stop after every meal!

Dona Alda is my mom's cook and here is the recipe for this delicious and exotic cake.

Carrot Cake with Chocolate Frosting


2 or 3 carrots, washed and peeled (3 if they are not so big)
5 eggs (separated)
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp butter (soft)
4 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder


In a blender, mix together the carrots, cut in small pieces, the egg yolks, oil, sugar and butter. Blend well until creamy. Stop when you cannot smell the eggs anymore or the color of the eggs is very light. Pour the mix into a bowl.

Mix the flour with the baking powder and add to the carrot mix in 3 steps, stirring well with a spatula or using a stand mixer on medium speed, don't over mix. Reserve.

Beat the egg whites until stif peaks (when you can turn the bowl upside down and the whites won't move). Incorporate the whites, folding gently in 2 steps.

Pour the batter into a large rectangle pan (about 30cm X 22cm) and bake for about 40 min or until golden in a 375 F oven. (180 C)

Let it cool down before adding the frosting.

Ingredients for the frosting:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter (soft)
2 cups cocoa powder
3 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp sugar

Mix all ingredients together and spread all over cake's surface. Wait until it dries to slice cake.