Brazilian food, World Cup action come together at Regina’s Farm in Fort Lauderdale


If you go

Where: Regina’s Farm, 1101 Middle St., Fort Lauderdale (Sailboat Bend neighborhood)

When: Arrival time between 6 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, but not every Saturday. Special events planned for Brazil World Cup matches.

Contact: Reservations required; no walk-ins. Call 954-465-1900 or search for Regina’s Farm

Parking: Free parking at Las Olas Worship Center across the street.

Price: Suggested donation is $20 a person.

Side Dish

Easy Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)

Pão de quiejo are delectable little puffs that can be found throughout Brazil, but they’re most associated with Minas Gerais, which is famous for its cheeses. They’re best served warm, but you can make ahead and reheat. You can find tapioca flour at Sedano’s or Brazilian or specialty markets; it may be called polvilho or sour cassava starch.

1 egg, room temperature, slightly beaten

1/3 cup olive oil

2/3 cup whole milk

1 1/2 cups tapioca flour

1/2 cup packed grated cheese (queso fresco, parmesan or mozzarella)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400. Pour all ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth. (The dough will be soupy.) Pour mixture into a greased mini-muffin tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes until bread is puffy and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for a few minutes. Makes about 18 rolls.

Source: Adapted from Simply Recipes

Eat your way through the World Cup

A sampling of Brazilian restaurants, cafes and bars where you can catch World Cup action and try Brazilian cuisine.

Beer 360º : 18090 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach; the steakhouse and sports bar has 360 types of beer and cuts of picanha cooked tableside in mini-brick furnaces; two-for-one drinks 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 305-466-4599.

Boteco: 916 NE 79th St., Miami; one of the most popular Brazilian hangouts in South Florida, Boteco is known for its all-you-can-eat feijoada at 1 p.m. Saturdays and free samba classes on Monday nights; 305-757-7735.

Cypo Café: 7438 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; typical Brazilian fare, open noon-10 p.m. daily; 305-865-3811.

Feijao com Arroz Brazilian Steakhouse: 559 E. Sample Rd., Pompano Beach; traditional Brazilian steakhouse will have a special appetizers menu and live music after Brazil games, $10 cover; 954-784-0909.

Fogo de Chão: 836 First St., Miami Beach; all-you-can-eat rodizio-style steakhouse, open weekdays for lunch and daily for dinner; games will be broadcast during regular hours; 305-672-0011.

Little Brazil: 6984 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; typical Brazilian fare, open 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. daily; 305-397-8215.

Steak Brasil Churrascaria: 190 SE First Ave., Miami; new rodizio-style steakhouse will host a samba party for the first World Cup game, Brazil v. Croatia, on Thursday, reservations recommended; 305-415-2006.

Tutto Pizza Beer House: 1763 SW Third Ave., Miami; oldest Brazilian pizza place in South Florida has an extensive selection of world and craft beers, plus burgers and paninis, open 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. daily; two-for-one beers from 4 p.m. Thursdays; 305-858-0909.

Via Brasil: 18505 W. Dixie Hwy., Aventura; grocery store and cafe will set up two big-screen TVs under a tent in the parking lot to show Brazil games; no alcohol; 305-932-7848.

Chris Delboni

Main Dish

Shrimp Stew (Vatapá)

Vatapá is a classic shrimp dish from the state of Bahia. There are many versions, but a good Vatapá will have shrimp, coconut milk, peanuts or cashews, bread and palm (dendê) oil, which gives the dish its orange color and unique taste. You can substitute vegetable.

2 cups torn pieces of white bread, crusts removed

1/2 cup coconut milk

3/4 cup roasted salted peanuts

3/4 cup roasted salted cashews

2 cups water or fish stock

Salt and pepper to taste

3 cloves garlic, minced, divided

Juice of 1 lime

1 pound frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 large onion, diced

1 red chile pepper, roughly chopped with seeds removed

3 tablespoons palm or vegetable oil

Soak bread in the coconut milk for 10 minutes. Put the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth; set aside. Grind the peanuts and cashews in a food processor or blender until finely ground; set aside. Bring fish stock or water to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, add two cloves of minced garlic and the lime juice. Add the shrimp and boil until they turn pink (about five minutes). Remove shrimp and set aside. Reserve the cooking liquid.

Put onion, chile pepper and additional minced garlic in a food processor or blender and process until fine. Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium heat and saute the onion mixture for about five minutes until soft and golden. Add the nuts to the skillet and saute for a few minutes until golden, adding a little more oil if necessary.

Add the bread and coconut mixture and 1 1/2 cups of shrimp cooking liquid to the skillet. Cook, stirring until the sauce thickens, about five minutes. Add more liquid if needed. Add shrimp and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm over rice. Serves 8.

Source: Marian Blazes, South American Food

Main Dish

Regina’s Chicken with Okra

Chicken with okra is another Minas Gerais speciality and is a popular dish at Regina’s Farm’s Saturday night dinners.

3 tablespoons olive oil

One medium onion, chopped

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

Two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into one-inch pieces

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon saffron

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

2 pounds frozen okra

1 diced yucca (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Add chicken and saute until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saffron and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth, okra and yucca, if using. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice, polenta or corn grits. Serves 8.

Source: Regina Kátia Martins Rodrigues

Watch the video

Miami Herald photojournalist Al Diaz captures an evening at Regina’s Farm. See it here.

Not far from downtown Fort Lauderdale, just off busy Broward Boulevard, you’ll find a place where chickens peck in the yard, kids play on tire swings and adults gather at picnic tables to feast on food cooked the old-fashioned way, on outdoor wood stoves.

If you’re Brazilian and nostalgic for the hearty food your grandmother made, you’ve come to the right place.

On Saturday nights, Regina Kátia Martins Rodrigues opens the gates of her fazendinha (little farm) in Sailboat Bend and transports her guests to an earlier, simpler time in her native state of Minas Gerais. Everyone is welcome, but she says about 90 percent of the guests are Brazilian.

Vats of moqueca de peixe (fish stew), chicken and okra, dried beef, rice, polenta, ribs, feijao tropeiro with red, black or pink beans and sausage, and much more bubble on stoves in the open-air kitchen, flanked by a Brazilian hammock, overhead pots and mini rolling pins hanging from the horns of a steer.

Rodrigues always starts with soup. As helpers pass her pão de queijo (cheese bread), her husband, Elizeu Silva, cranks out glass after glass of fresh sugarcane juice from an iron grinder and cane that a Homestead farmer delivers weekly.

World Cup games

Rodrigues’ limit is 120 people, and she doesn’t cook every Saturday night, so call to confirm. Reservations are a must. During the month of World Cup games, she and her husband plan to set up a plasma TV in the yard — but only for the games Brazil plays.

The couple, who met at seminary in Brazil, came to the United States in 1992 with a plan to stay for a year. But they found a home at the Las Olas Worship Center across the street from their current home. When the former pastor retired, Silva, who also runs a tree service business, took his place.

Rodrigues started cooking for church members on Mother’s Day and other special occasions. That proved so popular that last spring she began inviting the general public for her meals, which are fundraisers to pay for renovations to the church. The suggested donation is $20 and includes all you can eat and eat and eat.

“You will not find a place like this, with this quality of food, at this price, anywhere else. You would only eat like this if you were in Brazil,” said Lou Freire, born in Rio de Janeiro, who has been living in South Florida for more than 30 years. He and his wife, Monica, have been coming to Regina’s since she hosted her first gathering.

“It’s like eating in the back yard of your grandma’s house,” said Roseline, who had driven over from Naples with six friends and family members on a recent Saturday night. “You feel like you’re back home.”

Family affair

Fazendinha da Regina is definitely a family affair. Silva built the two wood stoves and a cooking pavilion with pots and gourds hanging from the ceiling and stirrup leathers and other country accents suspended from the rafters. Bales of hay that double as seats are placed around the perimeter.

Their sons Caio, 26, and Matthew, 21, help with the guests and pull children around in a crayon-colored train car hitched to a riding mower.

Tomatoes, green beans and collard greens from the garden find their way to the table as do the 10 or so eggs a day that their hens lay.

It is a tradition that is ingrained. Until she was 6, Rodrigues and her family lived on a farm in the village of Coronel Fabriciano in Minas Gerais. The family of six girls and one boy grew up eating from their garden. Although her father was an important man in the village, she was a free spirit and hung out with the cooks and other humble people, sitting around the wood fires, sharing coffee and learning their ways.

Rodrigues honed her culinary skills working in the kitchen at Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale. “I learned how to do food for 900 students; I learned to do big,” she said. “I said, ‘One day I’m going to cook for a lot of people.’ Now I get so overwhelmed and happy that people are coming.”

‘Old-fashioned way’

As Brazilian music wafts over the crowd and the lights in the pavilion twinkle, Rodrigues and her helpers begin laying out the desserts. Tonight there are nine, including bolo de coco pega marido (husband-catching coconut cake), flan, corn cake with guava, sugarcane candy, doce de leite, and Romeo e Julieta (guava and cheese).

Rodrigues begins to make the coffee, placing a bar of sugar in water heating on the stove and then using a cloth filter for the final brew.

“There’s a saying in Brazil, the older the filter, the better the coffee,” laughed Denise Mata, who lives in Sunrise and grew up in Rio de Janeiro. “This is the old-fashioned way. It is just delicious.

“This is the fourth or fifth time we’ve been here,” she said. “Instead of a fancy restaurant, I prefer to come here.”

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