Last week I went to a city near the beach called São Vicente to stay with my friend Lucas and his parents. His parents own a restaurant and seeing that I am food obsessed, they invited me to come and learn a few things from the meninas (girls) in the kitchen at the restaurant. I ended up mostly just peeling potatoes and garlic, but they did invite me in peek at the real action and gave me a few tips on cooking.
1. To make beans without a pressure cooker. First, soak them all night. Then, in the morning, wash them with hot water and pick out the weird ones. Sauté onions and garlic, and add just a bit of thinly sliced sausage. You want it sliced so thin that it dissolves after cooking it for a while, you don't want pieces of meat in your beans. That's a different dish. Add beans, a bit of oregano, a bay leaf and enough water to generously cover and cook until soft, about 2 hours. Now, I have to tell you, I have not yet perfected my Brazilian beans. In fact, I have some cooking right now. Let's see if I can master this!
2. They soak the whole bulbs of garlic without the outer skin in water for about an hour before cutting off the tops and peeling the cloves. The skin comes off super easily. This is great if you are making a big meal where you need lots and lots of garlic.
4. They did not use any fancy Cuisinart, slicers, dicers, choppers, nothing. Just a simple, decent steak knife. This was quite impressive to me since I always use all types of crazy gadgets.
In the time I peeled about 30 potatoes and 30 bulbs of garlic, these 3 women prepared 12 different items to set up for the buffet table. I was was thoroughly impressed with the ease and skill they prepared this lavish spread. Good job, meninas!!!!!