If I were to pick one thing from the Brazilian kitchen, this – pão de queijo – would be it. And for me to not choose something sweet or cake like, or involving any delicious exotic fruit, well, that just means it has to be something out of the ordinary. Whenever something is chosen before cake, to me, that’s a sign of quality. When I lived in Brazil, I quickly became aware of these cheeseballs. It’s sold in all kind of cafés, it’s an easy snack on the go and everyone makes it at home. They origin from the state of Minas Gerais, but can now be find throughout Brazil. Though, if you’re ever in Minas Gerais, you can’t really miss the fact that you’re in the pão de queijo state. When I was in Belo Horisonte, the capitol of the state, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. There was literally pão de quejio-shops, (yes!) on every corner! And some in between them. And here you didn’t buy 1 or 2 or 3 for a couple reais, oh no. You bought a bag filled with goodness. And with so many competitors, each shop had to be cheaper, or make a better offer. You could easily get 10 cheeseballs for 1 real, which is pretty close to nothing. Oh my. Happy days.
So naturally, back in Norway, the cravings began. I’d been acostumized to having pão de queijo whenever I felt like it, but it wasn’t all that easy now. The flour used for pão de queijo is farinha de mandioca, or cassava/manioc flour. And that my friend, turned out to be impossible to find. And trust me, I tried. After some time I had to face the facts – I would have to go to Brazil to get my beloved cheese balls.
But then, this easter, I was in Barcelona. Wandering around La Bouqueria which is a huge food market in Las Ramblas. And then, suddenly, between all the fruis, the sausages, cheeses and all the tapas bars, I was faced with a long lost friend. Farinha de mandioca! Cheese balls flour! And the exact same kind that I used in Brazil! I had found the Latino-booth…
And if that wasn’t good enough (Which it wasn’t. There’s only so many bags of flour you can drag across Europe) I just made a recent discovery. A newly opened shop, in my neighborhood, sells – you guessed it – farinha de mandioca. Not the same brand, but still the right kind I hope. I see a lot of cheesy weekends ahead. My life is complete.
This recipe I got from my host-mom in Brazil. Thanks Ica!
Cheese wise, anything goes I’ve been told, but I usually go for mainly parmesan cheese. That gives a nice salty flavour. And if I have some other cheese left, I put that in too. Philadelphia, Jarlsberg, Fetacheese – like I said, anything goes, but parmesan is a safe bet.
Pão de quejio
2 cups farinha de mandioca
1 cup of hot milk
2 cups of grated cheese
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon salt
Turn the oven to 200 C.
Heat up the milk, oil and salt.
Mix into the flour.
Grate the cheese and add it to the mixture together with the eggs. Add more milk if it needs more liquid. According to the recipe one should be able to form little balls, but don’t worry if the batter is to sticky. They will still taste delicous, just have a rougher look. I usually make mine about the size of a cupcake, but you can make minis or make them bigger, just adjust the baking time.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they have a golden surface. On the outside, a golden crispy crust, but one the inside, there’s sticky melted cheese. You can eat them as they are, but as anything else in this world, it get’s better with butter. Hot from the oven, sliced in half, with some butter spread on and an additional slice of cheese just to top it off! Holy cheese-o-rama, that stuff is good. So if you have this flour available, you owe it to yourself (and to me) to try this. Enjoy!