So I asked Camila about the way she spends Christmas in Brazil with her family, regarding the food mainly.
On Christmas Eve, all the family stays together at the grandmother's house and each person brings a different food item: it can be turkey, fruits, desserts, cakes, etc.
Then, the family eats appetizers for a long time: Italian cheeses, salted pistachios, pates, nuts, dried fruits, etc. And they drink wine and soft drinks.
When it is almost midnight, they pray to thank the year they lived and the fact that they are all together.
Following the prayer, they start having the Christmas dinner.
At midnight, they celebrate by embracing each other and wishing 'Feliz natal' to all (Merry Christmas in Portuguese).
They continue eating and open their gifts. The presents have been left under the Christmas tree upon arrival but for the kids, Santa rings the doorbell and leaves them at the door.
Now let's talk about what the dinner consists of.
Farofa com ovo e bacon (farofa with eggs and bacon) is a classic Brazilian dish served at Christmas and also at other occasions. The farofa itself is made with manioc flour toasted in butter and onions in a frying pan. Then, people usually add bacon and eggs, but also olives.
Then, for dessert, Camila and her family have bolo de nozes (cake with nuts) and other desserts involving nuts.
I really love the idea of a table covered with an array of delicious food items. It looks like Brazilian people know exactly how to do that!
I decided to use the farofa dish and changed it into a recipe of farofa croquettes.
I also found out that Brazilian people like having a special treat of rabanadas (French toasts equivalent) on Christmas Eve as a tradition. I decided to use it and create a special recipe of rabanadas with a dark and rich Port and chocolate sauce.
Scroll down for some delicious recipes inspired by Camila and her Brazilian Christmas.
Ingredients (10 to 12 croquettes)
2 free range eggs
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
4 tbsp olive oil
For the farofa filling
300g manioc flour*
50g chopped green olives
2 free range boiled eggs (roughly chopped)
2 finely chopped shallots
50g salted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
Let's start with making the farofa filling.
Put the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted and sizzling, add in the shallots and stir them until softened and golden.
Add in the manioc flour and stir well constantly. It should start toasting in the bottom after it has absorbed the butter and olive oil, so keep stirring until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs.
Take it off the heat and transfer into a large bowl. Add the chopped olives and boiled eggs, season with salt and pepper and mix well with a spoon. Let it cool down for 5 to 10 minutes.
Get a large plate ready.
Beat the two eggs and add them with the ketchup to the filling. Mix it all with your hands and shape the croquettes by rolling some of the mixture between your hands (you should get 10 to 12 balls). Lay them on the large plate. Drizzle with the olive oil and coat them well. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Place the croquettes on a tray on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until they are golden.
Serve them as a side dish with your Christmas meats and trimmings.
If you wish to have them on their own, I would suggest to serve them with a lovely spicy tomato dipping sauce or some tomato ketchup.
* You can find manioc flour in ethnic grocery shops. I found it in a Brazilian food shop on Moore St in Dublin.
Ingredients (for 4 people)
40g unsalted butter
cinnamon powder for dusting
For the rabanadas
8 slices of brioche
50ml Port wine
2 free range eggs
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
For the sauce
100g chopped dark chocolate (70% cocoa minimum; if possible, get some good South American chocolate)
100ml whipping cream
2 tbsp Port wine
20g unsalted butter
1. Prepare the rabanadas in advance.
Get a tray ready.
Whisk the eggs, milk, Port wine and sugar together in a bowl. Dip the slices of brioche one by one in the mixture and lay them on the tray. Pour whatever remains in the bowl over the slices evenly.
Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
2. Make the sauce using the process of bain marie (explained here with the chocolate brownie recipe).
Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until it has melted.
In the meantime, whip the cream until you get soft peaks.
When the chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the heat and let it cool down a bit (3 to 4 minutes). Then, fold in the whipped cream until the sauce is lovely and smooth. Add in the Port wine and stir well. Pour in a sauce boat and set aside.
3. Take your tray of eggy brioche out of the fridge.
Put the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat (I had to cook the slices in two batches because of the size of my pan; if you do so, divide the butter, counting 5g per slice).
When the butter is sizzling nicely, add your slices of eggy brioche in the pan. When it is lovely and golden, turn on the other side (about 3 minutes on each side).
Warm the chocolate sauce a bit.
Serve two slices of rabanadas per person, sprinkle over with cinnamon powder and pour the chocolate sauce on the top.
Feliz Natal and bon appétit!