Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sweet Passionfruit

Of course, my mom didn´t allow us to take anything that didn´t belong to us. But I did. I took two green sweet passionfruit and hid them in a cool and dark spot. As it was my usual spot to play, after a few days, unexpectedly, I found them totally ripe and...sweet. So I learned that green fruit may become ripe away from its tree - it was unknown to me. A big finding for someone who only picked ripe fruits.
Even though we may find sweet passionfruit growing in many places, it is not largely sold in markets. After that episode, I ate again many years later, bought at the produce market in Sao Paulo city. In America? I don´t remember having eaten any, so whenever I came to visit, I would buy several and gorge on them. As a matter of fact, the edible part is the jelly like pulp and the seeds. We don´t chew seeds, or they will sour your mouth.
This kind of passionfruit is eaten as a fruit, different from the "juice kind" which is rounder and pale yellow, and easily found in the market. The juice kind is sour, yet, very popular for juice making. You will need to mix with water and lots of sugar, just like lemonade. You may try to mix the pure juice with cold black tea and sweet condensed milk. It´s a deep, smoky, creamy, sweet with a hint of acidity and very fragrant drink that it is almost a dessert by itself.
Brazilians like to use passionfruit (the juice kind) to make mousses, jello, creams, you name it. Use it as would lemon. Just sieve the juice and discard seeds. For juice, blend together the pulp with seeds, sugar and cold water. It is known to have very calming effect. There is even some herbal medicine made from it.
If you want to see its beautiful exotic looking flower, please check May 17, 2010 - April Reviewed blog.

Friday, August 12, 2011

August 12, 2011 - Green Banana

Banana is the most popular and the cheapest fruit in Brazil. We appreciate it in several ways, raw, cooked, baked, grilled, ripe or green. Yes, green bananas can be made into chips. But the latest findings came from Universidade Estadual do Rio Grande do Norte where researchers claim that a certain substance (inulin) in the green banana helps the digestion and in weight loss program. It is recommended to take 2 tablespoons the first thing in the morning and before going to bed. You can always mix it into soups,cakes,stews, and smoothies.

Cooked green bananas smell like asparagus (!) and the cooked skin tastes like one. But the texture is different. Even after blended, it resembles pureed asparagus. Fry lots of garlic in olive oil, add pureed green bananas, and here is an original creme of bananas.

Here is the recipe:

3 green bananas with the peel, stalk and the bottom removed, washed
Boiling water enough to cover the bananas (for cooking)
1 1/2 cup Boiling water for blending

Cook bananas with the peel on for 20 minutes or until soft. Peel the bananas, discart skin and the cooking water. Place pulp in a blender and blend in with boiling water.

"The result starts to appear in two weeks added to a healthy diet and exercise", claims the dietician. With a healthy diet and exercise, no need for puree of green bananas I believe. But it is supposed to be very healthy, fat-free, sugar-free, so, why not to try?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Favorite Household Use Soap Recipe

Many years ago my father got homemade soap from his niece and brought a recipe with it. I imagine that he wanted make it someday. He never did, but I have made countless batches of it, and it turns out perfect every time. I love it as it is a "flash" system of making soap - no need to mix for 40 minutes like any other recipe.
Soapmaking in Brazil is not seen as treasured craft, rather, a boring task that many housewives are to do to save some money. We use reclaimed kitchen oil and suet. Many will render it at home, some others buy at the butcher shop. It is cheap. The most costly item is lye followed by alcohol we usually buy at the gas station. It is called ethanol, used as car fuel. Here is the recipe:

4 liters reclaimed kitchen oil
2 liters melted suet (warm)
1 kg lye flakes
4 liters alcohol
2 liters cold water

In a sturdy bucket pour lye flakes slowly into 2 liters of water. Mix until well dissolved. Set aside. In a larger bucket (capacity of 18 liters), pour melted suet, oil and alcohol. Mix a bit. Pour lye solution slowly while mixing with another hand using a very long stick (such as wooden broom stick). It will trace very quickly - in less than 5 minutes in Brazilian warm climate. Alcohol speeds up the trace, so be ready to pour the soap into a proper container. I use a sturdy plastic (bus)tray (used in restaurants.) It will be hard for cutting next day and let it cure.
Tips: The soap is ready when it forms a foam in the center while mixing and when the mixture displays some honey like gel hanging on the stick. Do not take long to pour the soap or it may boil over by itself. If it does happen, let it subside by itself and then pour. Also, do not let it cool in the bucket. The alcohol releases some fume while in process, beware. It yields 20 kg.