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November 16, 2008

Pineapple (Recipe: Love in pieces)

Pineapple2

Guest post and photos by Peter in Brazil, chef and co-owner of Pousada do Capão

Back in Rhode Island, whenever I could afford it (when Dole ran a Maui Gold supermarket special), I would stand in the produce aisle and carefully smell, pull the leaves from, and gently press my thumbs into dozens of fresh pineapples, until I found the perfect one.

I would nurse that perfect pineapple to full ripeness over the next week or so. Then, my daughters and I, in a rare and special ritual, would sit around a bowl of freshly cut pineapple chunks and savor each golden morsel, each juicy bite.

Like many Northerners, I had been brainwashed to associate pineapple with Hawaii, colonial New England hospitality, Cantonese cocktails, and the archway on Federal Hill in Providence (I know it’s a pine cone on that arch over Atwells Avenue, but it’s amazing how many people think it’s a pineapple.).

Forgive me, Carmen Miranda.

The only bromeliad that produces edible fruit, pineapple is actually native to southern Brazil and Paraguay and was cultivated by the Tupi Indians. It eventually spread throughout South America and the Caribbean. Columbus brought the first pineapple to Europe in 1493; Spanish explorers introduced it to the Phillipines and Hawaii. The rest is history.

Here in São Gonçalo, pineapple is everywhere, a true pantry item -- a way of life.

There's nothing more refreshing for shoppers in Belo Horizonte’s Mercado Central than a quarter pineapple cooled on ice and expertly carved from its shell as you watch and drool. We always stop on our way back home at our favorite roadside stand in Lagoa Santa to select the biggest, most fragrant bundle of four pineapples, tied with string and dangling from Marcelo´s truck.

Dona Luzia arrives unannounced from time to time at the inn, weighed down by a knapsack bulging with a delicious white-fleshed variety from her patch on the outskirts of town; I bought six from her on Monday. Dole can’t hold a candle to Dona Luzia. Let’s just say I really never knew what I was missing.

Pineapple resides in various forms in my pousada pantry. We always serve fresh slices on the breakfast buffet accompanied by homemade yogurt and granola, so there are always pineapples in various stages of ripeness in a huge wooden bowl. Leftovers are pureed, sometimes with fresh mint, and used as the base for sherbet or frozen to be served later as juice.

When we have more ripe fruit than we can use, Marlene makes a to-die-for pineapple spoon sweet, doce de abacaxi, which she puts up in jars to be served as dessert accompanied by our delicious Serro cheese. Or we might make a minted honey and pineapple crostata. Nothing goes to waste. I even use the chopped peels to make a pineapple liqueur which has a deeper, more redolent, real pineapple flavor and a brighter golden color than when made with the flesh of the fruit.

Gradually we have planted a few dozen of the spiny topknots in our orchard in hopes of harvesting our own production within a few years.

Carmen Miranda would be proud.

Loveinpieces2

Love in pieces (amor em pedacos)

Love in Pieces is traditionally served at children’s birthday parties, the squares rolled in superfine sugar. I prefer it au naturel. It is normally made with fresh grated coconut, but you can substitute store-bought unsweetened coconut. Makes 12-15 pieces.

Ingredients

For the filling:
Fruit of 1 pineapple, grated or pureed in the blender
1 coconut, grated, or 1 cup unsweetened dried coconut
3 eggs
1 heaping Tbsp butter
2-1/2 cups sugar
A few cloves, and a piece of cinnamon stick

For the pastry:
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
Juice of 1/2 lime
All-purpose flour -- 1 cup to start, then add just enough to make a dough that you can roll out

1 egg, beaten with a tsp of water
Additional sugar or large-crystal sugar, for topping

Directions

Mix all of the filling ingredients together in a sauce pan and cook oven medium heat until thick enough that it coats the bottom of the pan (it should be quite thick). Cool, and remove the cloves and cinnamon stick.

In a large bowl or a Kitchenaid type mixer, cream the butter and sugar; then add the eggs, baking powder and lime juice, and add just enough flour to obtain a dough that you can roll out easily with a rolling pin. Let rest a few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Butter a shallow metal 12” X 8” (or thereabouts) baking pan. This is just like making a rectangular two-crust pie. Divide the dough in half. Roll out the first half into a rectangle and line the bottom and sides of the pan with the dough. Add the filling and spread evenly. Roll out the remaining dough and lay on top of the filling. Pinch the edges to seal. Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Place the pan in the oven and turn the heat down to 350F. Bake until golden, approximately 30 minutes. Cool and cut in pieces to serve.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Bola de fuba (cheese-y cornmeal cakes)
Pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread)
Spice cake
Lemon-yogurt cake
Coffee spice cake

Comments

I am so making this. What a great recipe for fresh pineapple.

I'm with peabody, can hardly wait to try that fantastic recipe. Street vendors in Shanghai sold fresh, fragrant pineapple that we gobbled up, juice streaming down our chins. Your post is a fascinating read.

Hi Peter - thanks for making the actual fruit more accessible to those of us who assumed the canned pineapple grew on trees! "Love in Pieces" sounds wonderful, and I'm anxious to taste the difference!

I love pineapple!

Paz

i have half a pineapple in the fridge right now. i love pineapple too! looks like i will be making this too!

This looks delicious! I love pineapple in savory dishes too!

Wow, what a unique recipe; it must taste amazing. One of the best brunches I ever had was just a grilled baguette with a fresh pineapple and vanilla bean marmalade. Mmmm.

Lydia, your post is likely to inspire me = I found a jar of pineapple salsa in my cupboard yesterday. Not sure what I will do with it...

That bit of history is fascinating. In my various reading, I haven't come across the origin of pineapple, just the symbolism that it meant hospitality.

peabody - let me know how it comes out.

Marcia - Shanghai sounds delicious. Hope you try Love in Pieces.

TWBarritt - Try Pineapple Upside Down Cake with fresh pineapple, too. It is totally different.

Paz and Meeta - Sounds like we all love pineapple.

veron - send some savory recipes - it'll be great for when we have extra fruit.

Aimee - vanilla bean marmelade? what's the base? I'm intrigued.

Mimi - maybe I'll try making salsa here in Brazil. We'll call it pineapple samba!

Mae - the Spanish and Portuguese really moved a lot of foods around the world. Fascinating reading.

For many years, the only pineapple I had ever tried came from a can. Yuck. Then one day, my husband brought 2 gorgeous pineapples home from the market, and proceeded to slice & serve them before he had even unpacked the rest of the items. One bite of fresh pineapple, and I was in love!

While I'm sure the pineapples we get in KC don't hold a candle to Dona Luzia's, they are the best I've ever had. I would love to try some in the recipe you've provided---child's birthday or not, these treats are right up my alley!

I like the pineapple in rum (at least I hope it's rum in that jar), although baking with it is a good second option!

I'm an RI native, now in California. What do you mean it's not a pineapple on the Federal Hill Arch?? ;)

Thanks for the delicious recipe too.

I was one of those brainwashed believers too, thinking pineapples came from and were native to Hawaii. I never would have thought that they were native to Brazil & Paraguay!

My family just loves pineapple and enjoy it just like you, freshly cut and savored fresh! But another delicious treat is adding it to fish soups and curries.

The fresh pineapple in your dessert sounds just heavenly! I shall get my hands on a pineapple next week and give it a try!

Interesting, very nice. Advice I read those articles and I decided to also contribute. I am of Slovak republic and I also site - a blog focusing on recipes for cooking.

Sandie - funny how growing up in the 50s we were overexposed to all those processed, prepackaged or canned foods that were the convenience rage at the expense of quality. Canned pineapple just ain't the same beast.

David - me too. Try it with cachaça - Brazilian sugar cane spirits - or make a fresh pineapple caipirinha.

Susan - You're welcome. It's a pine cone - you know like the kind that pignoli come from. What would Italian immigrants in the 1800's be doing hanging a pineapple at the entance to their neighborhood? I agree, it does look kind of like a pineapple, especially the leaves. But look again...

White on Rice Couple - Please send savory recipes. I could introduce them here just like I am trying to do with avocado.

Gabriel - Thanks. I'll be sure to check out your blog. Soon we'll be featuring Slovak night here at the inn!!

WOW! I always thought that was a pineapple (the symbol of hospitality) on the Federal Hill arch!!! I just googled it and you're right. I had a lovely lunch at Venda Ravioli yesterday and then a delicious cupcake at Nancy's Pastries before venturing to the J&W Culinary Museum.
What a great day.
Thank you for educating me on the pineapple/pinecone issue.

Sue - sounds like a great day! I will be in RI for Xmas and think I'll head up to Federal Hill for a little eating and shopping spree too. Glad to be able to resolve the pineapple/pinecone issue!!

I SO thought that was a pineapple too!! on Atwell Ave.

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