On Thanksgiving Day, I attempted to make pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread). The first thing that threw me for a loop was the tapioca flour. My regular grocery store had about a dozen different flours, none were tapioca. I made a special trip to a high- end grocery store to get it. Next, I didn’t quite have enough olive oil and used vegetable oil to make up for the gap. Then, I added the milk to the oil and brought them to a boil. Afterwards, I removed the wok from the burner and stirred in the chopped garlic and flour. That tapioca flour was a different animal altogether. I think the recipe referred to the texture as “sticky,” whereas as I would call it “rubbery,” but perhaps the texture was off since I’d never made it before.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, I then stirred in two beaten eggs and the finely grated parmesan cheese. At that point, I put the wok on the counter and used two wooden spoons to integrate the eggs and cheese. Reminded me more of a science experiment than a cooking technique. One thing that eventually became true, as predicted by the recipe, was the cottage cheese appearance.
As best I could, I dropped one wooden spoonful of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. The batch didn’t look like much going in, but once they came out…I of course, did a quality control check and ate one. Absolutely delicious even though it was my first time.
Perhaps the biggest compliment came from an adorable child who was almost 2. He kept eating so many pao de queijo, to the surprise of his parents. Admittedly, Thanksgiving would have seemed weird without the bird. The host prepared a special, initially secret, flavor injection. Then, he took it outside where the turkey fryer awaited. As he carefully lowered the turkey, I reminisced about the early dangerous days of the first generation of turkey fryers that got so hot, it burned down people’s wooden decks. The newer generations are a bit risky, but nothing like their ancestors.
The turkey was as moist and delicious as it was beautiful. I loved how we all brought side dishes and desserts that went beautifully for this gathering of adult orphans.