Friday, November 30, 2012

Taste of Brazil

I have a confession to make: I love food. Not only do I love food, but I love cooking. Let me count the ways....

1.) I love cooking by the season with locally grown food. Cooking with the seasons is one of my favorite ways to stay in the present moment, and locally grown food always tastes better.
2.) I love all food and cooking recipes from around the world. One of the ways to learn more about a group of people's culture, geography, and history is through their food.
3.) Cooking is one of my favorite ways to de-stress. I find it meditating chopping fresh produce, watching the food simmer on the store, and stirring the medley of flavors.
4.) Cooking allows me to be creative: by using leftover ingredients and experimenting with flavor.
5.) I love creating food because it brings people together: family, friends, co-workers, book-clubs, meet up groups, religious groups and ceremonies. One of the most essential components of community development, in my opinion, is food.
6.) I find immense satisfaction cooking and sharing my food with others. I love the sounds that great food creates: that "heaven in your mouth" expression of which each person has their own version.

With all this love for food and cooking, I thought I would open a new avenue by sharing with the Hofstra Community some of my favorite recipes and cooking experiences.

Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
Weeks before, I purchased an edible pumpkin, a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, from a farmer's stand in Suffolk County. Known by its lighter color and similarities of looking like a cheese rind, the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, as its name suggests, is a native to Long Island. I bought this pumpkin with the intention of cooking Camarão na Moranga or "Pumpkin stuffed with shrimp"

 I was introduced to Camarão na Moranga while my life-partner and I were visiting a friend on Santa Catarina Island, Brazil in 2009. We were impressed by this uniquely cooked dish, its presentation, and the intense flavor. In 2010, while living in Colorado, another friend from Brazil introduced to me how to make this dish. At that time, we used a Jarrahdale pumpkin variety. I was now excited to try this Long Island Cheese Pumpkin with this dish.

Here is my version of Camarão na Moranga (Serves 4):
  • 1 yellow onion - diced
  • 1 medium-small edible pumpkin --washed and scrubbed well
    Requeijao cremoso
    3 garlic cloves - pressed
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • splash of white cooking wine
  • 3 ripe tomatoes - diced
  • 1 pound uncooked jumbo shrimp -- peeled and de-veined
  • 1 container of requeijao cremoso (found at Mineola Food Market: International supermarket)
  • cilantro for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooked rice (I prefer Basmati, but choose what you like best)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
 1. Cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin. Set aside top, and remove all the seeds*. Place the top back on the pumpkin and wrap the pumpkin with aluminum foil; place in a baking dish and put it in the oven to cook for 45 minutes.

2. While the pumpkin is cooking: Heat a saucepan, add oil and onions and saute until transparent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the paprika and mix until the onions are coated. Add the splash of white cooking wine and cook until dissolved. Add the chopped tomatoes. Cook until the sauce thickens. Then, add the shrimp, and cook until they turn pink. Mix in the requeijao cremoso.

3. After the pumpkin cooked for 45 minutes, remove the pumpkin from the oven and remove the top (be careful of the steam). Add the shrimp mixture inside the pumpkin. Replace the top. Put the pumpkin back into the oven. Bake for another 20-45 minutes until the pumpkin flesh is soft.

For serving: Take off the pumpkin top. As you are serving, be sure to scoop into the pumpkin flesh. Serve with rice and season as needed with cilantro, salt and pepper.

*Use all parts of the pumpkin:
Wash the pumpkin seeds, coat lightly with oil and your favorite seasonings (like cinnamon and sugar; or chili powder and cayenne pepper, or ginger). Scatter the seeds on a baking sheet and cook until soft in a 350 degree preheated oven.


What a "tasty" end to a month of diverse, educational and interesting programs. Diversity Awareness Month was indeed a success and we are thankful to the Hofstra community for supporting these programs.

Check out our next program: Flavors of our Neighborhood, on Friday, December 7, where we will explore the cuisine of Haiti. Space is limited: sign up in advance at the Multicultural and International Student Programs Office: 242 Student Center.


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