Pão de queijo

Please note: I have modified this recipe from multiple sources, and it still needs a little tweaking. The batch I made yesterday turned out very well indeed, but I actually made it with more liquid than listed below (1 c. milk, 1 c. water, 8 eggs) and then had to add another 300 g polvilho to get the right consistency because it was a runny batter. (In past efforts, my dough has been too dry and stiff.) So, no guarantees that the recipe as written below will work properly. The liquid might need to be reduced more to get the right consistency with the given amount (1 kg total) of polvilho. If you can't find polvilho azedo, you can use all doce, but they're better with both kinds. Also, you can use all water rather than water plus milk and/or 1 c. canola oil rather than oil plus butter.

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1/2 c. canola oil
3/4 c. milk
1 c. water
1 T. salt

500 g polvilho doce (manioc flour/tapioca starch)
500 g polvilho azedo (fermented manioc flour/tapioca starch)
1 t. garlic powder, optional

7 eggs, lightly beaten

ca. 400 g grated cheese: I use ca. 1/4-1/3 Parmesan and ca. 2/3-3/4 cheddar

1) Place the butter, oil, milk, water, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Heat until the butter is melted and the mixture comes to a boil.

2) Transfer the boiling mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer, then add all the polvilho (and optional garlic powder). Mix thoroughly, then beat well until smooth, ca. 4 minutes.

3) With the mixer running slowly, pour in the beaten eggs and mix thoroughly. The dough should be homogeneous, smooth, a bit shiny, soft, and sticky but not a runny batter nor stiff and solid.

4) Add all the cheese and mix just until well blended. The texture of the dough should be like soft putty or caulk.

To mix by hand
2a) Put the polvilho in a large mixing bowl and pour the boiling mixture over it. Stir well with a big wooden spoon, then beat as best you can until smooth and homogenous. The mixture will probably be dry and stiff.

3a) Wait for the dough to cool enough that you can put your hands in it. It is easiest to mix using your hands. Add the eggs and blend well, then mix/knead with your hands until dough is as described above.

4a) Add the cheese and mix in with your hands, but no need for further kneading.

Shape and bake
5) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

6) Scoop out walnut-sized balls of dough. A standard cookie scoop works well for this. Place them 1"-1.5" apart.

7) Bake for about 25 minutes until they are well puffed, dry and crisp on the outside and spongy and not too wet on the inside. The bits of cheese showing at the surface should begin to brown nicely. Unlike most breads and pastries, they do most of their puffing in the last ca. 1/3 of the baking time.


Why the USPS is awesome

In spite of its troubles, I happen to think that the United States Postal Service is terrific.

You may not even be aware of all its handy and user-friendly services, like online shipping and free carrier pickup. That's right: you can ship priority or express mail packages without ever leaving your house. Plus, you can save a bit of money by paying for priority and express mail shipments online.

Delivery is almost always fast and accurate. I recently ordered a print from an eBay merchant in Pahoa, Hawaii, and the envelope -- sent First Class, not even Priority Mail -- arrived here in Durham, North Carolina in two days!

They have all of these awesome stamps and if none of them floats your boat, for a little extra money you can get nifty custom designs or even design your own. Benefits of modern technology.

(Image above lifted from http://www.fedbenefits.net/fegli.html.)

In the past week, I sent postcards to my friends H. in AZ and D. in NJ; a much-belated graduation card to brother-in-law J.; a note to a woman I serve with at church about the music for next Sunday; and postcards to sister R. in NY and brother-in-law B. in CA congratulating them on two months of marriage. Finally, I contributed some fruit snacks, roasted almonds and Oreos to a package that my parents assembled for brother E. in Ghana; I also supplied a greeting card that everyone signed to put in the box. My parents, sister R2 and brother I. are visiting us this weekend. Since I contributed to the package and it was mailed from my local post office, I am counting it in my tally.


Daily mail 8-14 July 2010

I'm not sure exactly how often I'll write in this blog. It will be at least once a week, maybe twice a week. I am also still considering the "rules" for my project: will I mail something for every day of the week, or only every day of mail pickup (so no mail for Sunday)? Do I have to stick something in the box every morning, or do the numbers just have to average out to one a day? For example, it doesn't seem quite right if, hypothetically speaking, I decide to send out 60 Christmas cards, get them all done in one massive weekend effort, and then don't mail anything else for the next two months. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, but if you have any suggestions on the parameters of my project, feel free to offer them.

In the last week, I didn't stick something in the box quite every day. Almost. But it actually averaged out to 1.5 pieces of mail per day. On Thursday, I sent a letter to my Grandma C. in St. George, UT; on Friday, I send a (very belated) graduation-cum-birthday card to my brother I.; on Monday, I sent a letter to my Grandma M. in Mesa, AZ and a birthday card to my brother E. in Ghana (with an international stamp, not by pouch); on Tuesday, I send a birthday card to my sister-in-law A. and four postcards to family members; and today, I sent a postcard to my friend H. in AZ. So ten items in seven days.

I've been using Thanksgiving Day Parade 44-cent stamps (right). Out of season, but I think they're cool because they have a marching band on them. As for those four postcards I mentioned, I sent one to my parents and brother in UT and one to each of my sisters (NS, NY, CA). They were in honor of our own family holiday, Minnissippi Founders' Day, which is today. Celebrations involve Cajun and/or Scandinavian food, chocolate, and a lot of M&Ms, but my postcards had organic potato varieties on the front. I use what I've got. I have quite a large stash of assorted greeting cards, but I'm out of regular stationery and getting low on postcards.