Pampa Brazilian BBQ Cooking Class and a Gluten Free Cheese Bun recipe 

Hi food friends,

This weekend I attended a cooking class at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse. The class was on Brazilian BBQ and included lessons and recipes for making Picanha (their signature rump steak), lime-coconut prawns, marinated chicken drumsticks, warm onion salad, Pampa’s potato salad, and a gluten free cheese bun called Pao de Queijo. 

Our instructors for the day were Archie and Anup. They were fantastic at explaining things and let us get hands on with the techniques. 

We began the class by starting the fire! The trick they showed us to lighting the charcoal started with an empty wine bottle. They take sheets of newspaper and tie them around the bottle then place the paper wrapped bottle in centre of the BBQ and pull the bottle out. This creates a well for air to circulate in. At this point they pour the charcoal around the paper then light the paper from the inside. They exclusively use Dragons Breath charcoal in the restaurant which is a hickory/oak blend. Now we left it to get nice and hot and let the charcoal catch, this takes about 20 minutes. 

During this time we made some of the other recipes (see below for the Pao de Queijo – Cheese Bun recipe) and prepped the meats for the fire! I feel like fire needs an ! after it is that wrong? 

Though we learnt a marinade for the prawns and chicken and how to skewer those I’m going to concentrate on just the beef or you’d be reading all day here. 

So their signature meat, Picanha, is a rump roast which is the equivalent to a top sirloin. You want to leave the fat on the meat because it gives it good flavor and keeps the beef moist but if there is any silver skin you want to cut that off because it would be tough and chewy once cooked. It is also very important to make sure you get the meat right on the skewer so that it doesn’t spin around and can cook evenly.  

Archie getting the Picanha ready

Anup showing how to skewer the meat


Picanha on the skewer

The meat shouldn’t move when you shake the skewer

Once the meat is all skewered up they strictly use sea salt as the seasoning. Very generously season the meat with salt, after cooking you brush the excess off. Now if you don’t have the ability to do a roatisary you can do 1″ thick steaks in the same manner with the coals and the salt. 

So once the meat is all skewered and seasoned you want to stir your coals and even the heat out a little. Then you want to put the meat as close to the hot coals as you can and start your rotation so that it gets a good sear. Once it’s got a good sear you can move it farther away from the heat source and continue to cook the meat through to whichever doneness you prefer. At Pampa what they do is remove the meat and carve your first serving off. But before you carve it off make sure you brush that excess salt off the meat. They just use a stiff bristled plastic brush like the kind you would use in the kitchen for scrubbing pots. After carving the first serving they re-salt the meat and return to the fire. And on the process goes throughout the night. 


Meat over the fire


The caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail made with lime, sugar and cachaça (a Brazilian liquor). And before they served us lunch we all got to try our hand at making our own signature cocktail with our choice of fresh fruits. 

Me shaking up my own version of a caipirinha

Then we all got to sit down for lunch and enjoy the fruits of our labours. 



As part of the cooking class we also got a sample of the charcoal and salt (more than what I’ve show in the picture) that they use and an apron. 


It was a fun morning and a great lunch. I would highly recommend the experience to try. It would make a great gift for the men in your life that like to cook… with fire!

Special shoutout to my classmates for the day: Jason, Charlene, Gonny, Jen, Brent, Amanda and Darcy! Now onto the recipe!!

Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Gluten free Cheese Buns)


– 3 eggs

– 275ml canola oil (or any other oil that has mild flavor such as vegetable oil)

– 1tsp salt

– 3C tapioca starch (rooster brand is available at T&T)

– 1/2C fine grated Grana Padano Cheese 

– 1/2C fine grated Asiago Cheese

– 275ml whole milk (at least 2%) 


– Preheat oven to 375F and grease a mini muffin pan. 

– Using a blender, blend eggs, oil and milk together. Add the cheese and salt to the mixture and blend until smooth. Add tapioca starch in small batches and continue to blend. 

– Scoop mixture into baking pan filling each cup full (they will puff up in the same manner that Yorkshire pudding will) then bake for 12-15 minutes or until they become a light golden brown colour. 


Here are some pictures of us making the Pao de Queijo…



Thanks and until next time, enjoy your adventures!


Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse on Urbanspoon


The Common – Downtown Dining Week

Hi food friends!

This week (March 13-22, 2015) is the 12th annual Downtown Dining Week. Several downtown restaurants participate in this 10 day event and present multi course special menus at set prices.  Two-course lunches for $15, three-course dinners for $28 or an Executive dinner for $48. It’s a great way to try a restaurant that maybe you haven’t had a chance to before. 

I dove right in at the first possible chance and went for lunch on Friday with a friend from work. We decided to tried The Common, a gastro-lounge that boasts a scratch made kitchen taking pub and comfort foods and putting modern twists on them.  

The Downtown Dining  Week lunch menu offers a salad as the starter. It had roasted apples, mushrooms, blue cheese, pecans, brussel sprouts and a mix of greens. It was quite tasty and I liked the mix of warm apples and brussel sprouts with the crisp greens. 

They have 2 options for your main course, pork meatballs with gnocchi carbonara or a tandoori nada sandwich with rocket (arugula), avocado, sweet ginger and olives. We got 1 of each and shared. 

The gnocchi was wonderfully light and fluffy, the carbonara sauce was rich and flavourful with big bits of bacon. The meatballs were moist enough and topped with a little Parmesan cheese for some flavour. 

The sandwich was also quite good. The basa was cooked just perfect! Crunchy on the outside but perfectly moist on the inside! Since this was supposed to be a tandoori fish I did expected a little more flavour. Now I know that a tandoor is a type of oven or cooking method traditionally, however when the menu states tandoori I usually expect the tastes of masala, garlic, ginger and cumin. Nonetheless the sandwich was tasty. The olives added a nice salty flavour but wasn’t overpowering and the bun was really fresh. The sandwich also came with a side; options were salad, fries or soup. Since we had a salad as a start we decide on soup. Which was a tomato veggie soup and was also very good. 

Well I hope you will take this opportunity to go and try some new-to-you places and we couldn’t have asked for better weather for a chance to check out the city’s downtown core. 

Thanks and until next time, enjoy your adventures!



The Common on Urbanspoon

Parmesan Kale Chips Recipe

Hi food friends,

I love to snack! Snacking doesn’t typically go hand in hand with healthy eating. I try my best to keep lots of fruit and veggies in the house so when I’m feeling peckish in the evenings I have something healthy to grab but sometimes I just want something salty and crunchy. These kale chips hit the spot while still remaining quilt free. They are easy to make and can be stored in an air tight bag for a couple of days (though they probably won’t stick around for that long). 

Give this recipe a try the next time you want to have a clean snack. 

Parmesan Kale Chips


– 1 bunch of Kale

– olive oil in a spritzer 

– 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan 


– Preheat oven to 350F  

– Remove the middle rib from each kale leaf. Then cut into “chip” sized pieces (about 2″ square). 

– Use a salad spinner to rinse and dry your kale. 

– Place kale in a single layer on 2 baking sheets. Spray lightly with olive oil.

– Place in oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully turn the kale chips over. Careful because the pan is hot! Sprinkle 1T of Parmesan on each tray doing your best to get the cheese actually on the kale. (I do this slowly and pretty close to the kale so it doesn’t just jump off). Put trays back in oven for 2 mins. Remove from oven and allow to cool on tray before transferring to a bowl to serve. Be gentle when transferring as they are quite fragile little chips. 


*Tip keep close watch on your kale while it is baking. It can go from done to burnt very quickly. When it is done it usually will make a slight sizzling sound from the oven*

Thanks and until next time, enjoy your adventures!



Baked Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti Squash

Hi friends!

This version of chicken parmesan is healthier than most as it is baked not fried and served on a bed of spaghetti squash instead of pasta. I made it a few weeks ago and it was really quite easy to make. Plus both hubby and I gobbled it right up so it was tasty too. 

Baked Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti Squash 


– 1 spaghetti squash

– 1 C shredded mozzarella   

– 2 C marinara sauce 

– 4 Chicken breasts 

– fresh basil (about 1/4 Cup) 

Chicken Coating: 

– 1/3 C bread crumbs 

– 1/3 C panko 

– 1/3 C parm (2oz) shredded 

– 2 t Italian seasoning (or 1 t dried basil & 1 t dried oregano)

– 1/2 t salt 

– 1/8 t pepper 

 Egg wash: 

– 1 egg 

– 1/4 C water 

– S&P 


– Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and rub with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side up on a baking tray and bake at 350F for 40 minutes then turn over and bake for another 20 minutes. The squash is fully cooked when it’s tender when you stick a fork in it (like a potato 😉 ). 

– For the chicken mix the coating ingredients together in one bowl and wisk the egg wash ingredients together in another bowl. 

– Take each chicken breast and coat first in egg wash then in the coating. Make sure to really press the coating onto the chicken. Then place the chicken on a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until cooked through. 

– While chicken is cooking chop basil. An easy way to chip basil is to stack all of the leafs then roll them all up tight and slice. You get nice long ribbons like this. 

– Once chicken is cooked remove from oven and spoon about 3 tablespoons of marinara on the top of each piece of chicken then sprinkle 1/4 cup of mozzarella on top. Then sprinkle top with basil. Return chicken to oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted. 

– Heat the remaining marinara sauce to use on the squash. 

– Once the squash is cooked give it about 5 minutes to cool then use a fork to scrape the strands loose. Season to taste with a little more salt and pepper and mix in 2 table spoons of the basil. 

– To plate put the squash on plate first then top with marinara then a chicken breast. 


Squash ready for the oven

Ready to eat!

Thanks and until next time, enjoy your adventures!