Cook Brazilian for the World Cup competitions

  • Article by: LEE SVITAK DEAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 11, 2014 - 2:29 PM

Time to broaden your palate with the bright flavors of the World Cup’s host country.

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Toasted Giant Corn, a Brazilian snack.

Photo: Lee Svitak Dean • Star Tribune,

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I’m in love with Brazilian food and I’m only two recipes into it. That’s the magic of the new “Brazilian Barbecue & Beyond” by David Ponté, Jamie Barber and Lizzy Barber (Sterling Epicure, 192 pages, $24.95), who founded three branches of the Brazilian restaurant Cabana in London.

Their book appeared on my desk recently, shortly before the World Cup was to begin. And I haven’t stopped thinking about what I should cook next.

Most of the ingredients are familiar, but how they come together is not. Broccoli finds its way into rice, avocado into ice cream, shrimp and pineapple into hearts of palm salad with honey-cinnamon dressing. And the limes! They are everywhere, including coconut and lime sorbet. Then there’s the shrimp soup, the salmon ceviche, sweet potato crabcakes. Need I say more? Makes me hungry just to think about it.

In anticipation of the games on TV, I tried two appetizers that are mainstay bar snacks in Brazil. Toasted Giant Corn starts out as big kernels of hominy, more often used in the U.S. as a Southern and Southwest staple for grits or stews. In this recipe it’s toasted and sprinkled with smoked paprika and salt for a bet-you-can’t-eat-just-one corn nibble.

Bolinhos, deep-fried balls of rice, packed with Parmesan and parsley, offer a more substantial snack that’s light and cheesy.

Traditional Brazilian food has its roots in home cooking, say the authors, with eclectic flavors brought to the table by its indigenous people, Africans, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, Lebanese and Germans who have made the country their home. Many dishes incorporate black beans, rice, shrimp, pork, cashews and fruit in all its variety. As the book title suggests, grilling and barbecue are a big part of the nation’s culinary identity.

With great photos, fascinating historical commentary and some cultural discussion (samba lessons, Brazilian music for your party), this book is a winner, no matter which World Cup team you are rooting for.

Follow Lee Svitak Dean on Twitter: @StribTaste

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