Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

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When I was in high school, we had to read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. If you read the book, you can probably guess where this is going. I quickly gave up red meat, and haven’t eaten it to this day. I do eat poultry, but I toy with the idea of going vegetarian.

I bring this up because on one of my first few dates with my ex-boyfriend, he took me to Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse where the servers walk around with meat on skewers. (Hmm, dating red flag?) They had one chicken option and of course, it was wrapped in bacon. However, they also have a ridiculously good salad/side bar and pao de queijo, tiny cheese rolls made with tapioca flour. I was probably the restaurant’s favorite customer ever, because I ate mainly veggies and bread; they made a ton of money off me.

Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

Fortunately for me, there’s another Brazilian restaurant, Bossa Nova, in my neighborhood. They also have pao de queijo, and they even have chicken, sans bacon! I’ve gone regularly over the years and recently became obsessed with their cheese bread. So much in fact, that I decided to give a recipe a whirl.

Pão de Queijo

This recipe was super easy, and the puffs were delicious and pretty close to the restaurants’ versions. I probably wouldn’t make these without a stand mixer and cookie scoop, but if you have both of those, you’re good to go!

And, because these are made with tapioca flour, they’re kosher for Passover (and also gluten free). This is a life changer!

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (10 ounces) tapioca flour or sour cassava flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking pan with parchment and set aside.

Combine the milk, oil, and salt in the saucepan. Whisking occasionally, bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove from heat as soon as you see big bubbles coming through the milk.

Add the tapioca flour to the saucepan and stir until the tapioca flour is completely incorporated. The dough will be grainy and gelatinous.

Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed until it smooths out and has cooled enough that you can hold your finger against the dough for several seconds. (If the dough is too warm, there’s a chance your eggs may scramble, so take your time here!)

Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl. With the mixer on medium, beat the eggs into the dough in two additions. Wait until the first addition has been fully incorporated into the dough before adding the second. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

With the mixer on medium, beat in the cheese until fully incorporated. The resulting dough will be very sticky, stretchy, and soft with a consistency between cake batter and cookie dough.

Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop rounded portions of the dough into mounds on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Space the mounds an inch or two apart. Dip your scoop in water to prevent sticking.

Transfer the sheet with the puffs to the oven and immediately turn down the heat to 350°F. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the puffs have puffed, the outsides are dry, and they are just starting to color. Cool briefly and eat. Leftover puffs can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week and re-crisped in a warm oven or toaster oven.

Yields: I used a small OXO cookie scoop and got around three dozen puffs.

Recipe from The Kitchn.

Napa Valley Wine Train

Disclosure: I received two complimentary tickets for the Wine Train. And it was AWESOME.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to experience the Napa Valley Wine Train, and it was a day like none other! If you haven’t heard of the Wine Train, it’s a train that runs from Napa to St. Helena and is made up of restored, vintage train cars that are absolutely beautiful.

All aboard the Wine Train!

There are different experiences to choose from–you can have lunch, dinner, or a meal plus winery tour. All of the trains include a gourmet meal prepared in the kitchen car (yes, on a moving train, it was quite impressive!), and the winery tours include a private tour and tasting. We decided on lunch and the Castle Winery Tour and it was so much fun!

Our first glass of wine, aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train
Cheers to the Wine Train!

If you want to enjoy the beautiful views from the train while having a meal, the Vista Dome car is perfect for that as the domed windows allow for amazing views. Additionally, the Vista Dome Premier Train, which runs select weekdays during winter months, is limited to only 56 passengers so you have a very intimate experience. This train debuted just this week, and it’s going to be incredible! When I come back to Napa, that’s the next train I’m taking.

Vista Dome Car on the Napa Valley Wine Train
Vista Dome Car

So onto our day–we arrived at the station at 10:30, received a special tour of all of the cars, then promptly boarded the dining car. Seating is arranged before you board, so there’s no worrying about making sure your group is seated together which was really nice.

Dining Car on the Napa Valley Wine Train
Dining Car

We perused the menu and selected our courses (lobster bisque for both of us, followed by chicken for me and salmon for my friend, and desserts–chocolate covered tiramisu and creme brulee with blueberries). Everything was delicious and prepared fresh in the kitchen car, which is amazing considering how much the train sways while it’s moving.

Kitchen Car on the Napa Valley Wine Train
Kitchen Car

Fabulous Lunch on the Napa Valley Wine Train
Spectacular meal on the train

After our soup and entree, we moved into the Lounge Car for dessert and coffee.

Lounge Car on the Napa Valley Wine Train
Lounge Car

If you want to do a wine tasting on the train, there’s also a magnificent wine tasting car.

Wine Tasting Car on the Napa Valley Wine Train
Wine Tasting Car

With our bellies full and ready for our tour and tasting, we took a private shuttle to Castello di Amorosa, a gorgeous authentically-styled, 13th century Tuscan castle winery. It took 14 years to build the castle, and it has more than 30 acres of vineyards.

Castello di Amorosa in Napa Valley
Castello di Amarosa

Castillo di Amarosa
More of Castello di Amorosa

Barrels at Castillo di Amarosa
Barrels during the tour

Tasting straight from the barrel
We got to try wine straight from the barrel. Also, our guide, Mark, was awesome.

In the tasting room at Castello di Amarosa in Napa.
In the tasting room

Following our tour and tasting, we took the shuttle back to the train station and gushed over how fun the day was.

If you’re looking for a special way to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or bridal shower, or a girls’ weekend, you should consider the Wine Train. I promise you’ll have a fabulous time!

For more information:
Web: Napa Valley Wine Train
Twitter: @WineTrain
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WineTrain
Instagram: http://instagram.com/winetrain

2014 In Pictures

It was a fun and delicious year both in and (mostly) out of the Nosh With Me kitchen. Thanks for being a part of it, and Happy New Year!

2014 In Pictures

SOLD OUT: LA Cookie Con Info (and Promo Code)


Have you heard of LA Cookie Con? It’s like a dream come true–a day filled with sweets in LA! There will be samples, exhibitors, contests, celebrity chef/author appearances, pastry decorating classes and more. Plus, a portion of proceeds benefit Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Save the date–January 25, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Pasadena Convention Center. Use promo code NOSHWITHME to receive $3 off any VIP or general admission ticket. This code is only good for the first 25 users, so don’t wait!

See you there!

Gingerbread Men Cookies

I love Christmas cookies, especially gingerbread cookies. But being Jewish, I’ve never had to do one of those marathon baking sessions…until now. This year, I decided to bake and ship cookies as gifts, and gingerbread men were on the list.


This recipe is wonderful–it’s easy, the dough rolled out well, and the taste and texture are both fantastic! I’ll be the first to admit that my decorating skills leave a lot to be desired (and may cause nightmares), but that’s part of their charm, right?

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3 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured work surface. Cut into gingerbread men shapes with 5-inch cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are set and just begin to brown. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Decorate cooled cookies as desired. Store cookies in airtight container up to 5 days.

Recipe from McCormick.

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