The oddest little things…

December 28, 2015

Pao de quiejo. Little cheesy not-biscuits.

Pao de quiejo. Little cheesy not-biscuits.

I’ve had this recipe hanging around forever, and took a notion today that I’d make it. So I did.

It’s Pao de Quiejo, or Brazilian cheese bread. It’s a concoction of tapioca flour, egg, milk, butter, salt, and grated cotija or parmigiano. And it behaves more oddly than anything I’ve ever cooked before.

With homemade honey butter.

With homemade honey butter.

Recipe here. Essentially, one melts butter with milk and a bit of salt, and brings it to a boil; then one snatches it off the heat and stirs in tapioca flour (which, I learned, is the same as tapioca starch, as I didn’t have enough of what I’d labeled flour and had to piece it out with the other bag, labeled starch) and garlic. Which promptly turns into a crumbly mess. At which point I thought, “Well, I screwed that up,” as I was halving the recipe and doing so on less than a full cup of coffee, and therefore was more subject than usual to mathematical errors. But I looked at the recipe again and determined that, for once in my life, I’d done the math right.

So I let the crumbly mess cool, as directed, while I measured out cheese and beat an egg, and then when I stirred the egg and cheese into the crumbly mess, it magically became a relatively smooth soft dough. It did not, as the recipe said it might, look like cottage cheese (it actually looked more like cottage cheese in its crumbly mass state). Perhaps I stirred it too much.

This made a half-dozen cheese puffs, which were dipped out onto a baking sheet and baked for 15 minutes in a 375-degree oven. They smelled heavenly while baking — hello? Cheese and garlic, anyone? How could you go wrong with that?

As an aside, I was dying for something savory for breakfast. Having been given six, count them, six, separate containers of candy for Christmas, into only one of which I have made serious inroads, I’m about done for sweet stuff. It’s time for some savory. Actually, what I’m really in the mood for is a pot of vegetable beef soup; it’s obviously time for a pot roast this week, while it’s cold.

Anyway. These did not puff up like I’d expected them to; I thought we might have something like a popover. No, they make a relatively dense quickbread, essentially the same consistency as a drop biscuit, which they greatly favor. But I am hear to tell you, they are quite excellent with some homemade honey butter.

Interesting texture. They start out with a mouthfeel like a biscuit, but they morph to a sort of chewy-gluey, though not unpleasant, consistency as you chew, rather than dissolving like a wheat-based bread does.

They may not be something I make all the time, but they’re definitely good for a change of pace at breakfast. I ate two and have four left. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em drop by and try ’em.




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