Corn has been a staple of Brazilian diet for hundreds of years. No wonder it keeps popping up in all kinds of recipes, from entrees to ice-cream. My favorites come from Bahia. My friends from Salvador have delighted us with offerings of corn and cornmeal (called fubá) based cakes and puddings for so long, I decided to share some of these recipes with food-lovers in cyberspace. Of course, if you live in the U.S., you'll be twice-lucky...you get the recipes and come summer, some of the most delicious fresh corn on the planet! The coconut milk, which is almost a "must" for Bahian cuisine, can be found in Latin and Oriental grocers. In Rio de Janeiro, curau is sold during the "Festas Juninas" (June festivities dedicated to Saint Anthony, Saint John, and Saint Peter). In Ipanema, you'll find a vendor with a cart on the sidewalk right after Livraria da Travessa after 5 p.m. His curau is the best, I think! But the one at Chaika near Nossa Senhora da Paz Square in pretty good, too (see photo below).
Curau or Canjica, Canjiquinha (Brazilian Fresh Corn Pudding)
10 medium size ears, cleaned and washed
2 quarts of milk
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 cup of coconut milk
2 tbsp of margarine
cinnamon to taste
Grate the corn ears inside a large glass bowl, using a cheese grater. Make sure you get as much as you can out of each ear and put them aside. Mix the milk with the grated corn. Dip each ear into the milk and use a paring knife to squeeze out as much of the corn starch as you can from them. Use a strainer or a cheese cloth to separate the liquid from the grated corn. (In Brazil, the solids are then used to make bread, but I wouldn't know how!)
In a large, heavy saucepan add the sugar to the liquid and start cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly until it starts to thicken. Add the coconut milk. Continue to cook, stirring, and test the cream by dropping a 1/2 teaspoonful onto a plate. When it cools it should have the consistency of Jello, firm but not solid. OK, I promise. Next time I make it I'll time it. Brazilian recipes are generously shared by everyone, but they are a bit vague sometimes...Stir in the margarine, mix well. Pour onto a pirex or a more decorative pie server. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Let it cool and serve or refrigerate to serve later. Fabulous stuff!
Bolo de milho Carioca (Carioca Corn Cake)
1 1/2 cup of fubá (yellow cornmeal)
3 cups of sugar
3 whole eggs
1 tbsp margarine
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp baking soda (if you can't find the Brazilian Fermento Royal)
4 cups of milk
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix sugar, whole eggs and margarine. Add the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, parmesan and milk. The consistency will be liquid. Pour into baking pan. Bake until it turns a golden color on top. The center should be very moist, theoretically that's where the parmesan cheese ends up. This is fantastic with a nice cup of espresso. If you, by a miracle, still have time for kaffeeklatsch, I can't think of anything better to accompany it. Then again maybe I can...