Hello, pinhão.

I once had a boyfriend (or – as some of my friends might point out – I had a boyfriend once) that just couldn’t grasp the idea of cooking with a pressure cooker.

“That’s a weird looking pan” “It’s a pressure cooker, darling”
“Oh, you have one of those?” “Actually, a couple, but one was my mom‘s and I don’t really use it”
“Wow, your mom also had a pressure cooker?” “Yup, and she didn’t even cook”.

To be fair, it is not that my mom didn’t cook at all. Around when she was about my age, she decided she didn’t like to cook anymore. She still cooked very well, though. Not rice.  She used to buy this nasty parboiled rice.

Back to the pressure cooker.

“It’s too dangerous” “It can be, but only if you don’t know how to use it”
“So you are cooking those nuts in it?” “Yes, otherwise dinner will be in about 6 hours”

“How do you know you are using it correctly?” “If it blows up, you’re not doing it right”

I won’t mention that he once asked me why I cooked beans from scratch (using the pressure cooker) if they can be bought in a can. First of all: buying beans from a can is not the most common thing around here. Second of all: Dude, seriously?

Those nuts I was cooking that day (and yesterday) were actually seeds. The seed of the Araucaria – a native tree from Brazil –  which is called pinhão. When the temperature goes down, so do the pinhões (plural for pinhão). They fall from the trees around May/June (sometimes sooner) and that’s when they should be harvested. When they are found on the ground.

I bought a couple of pounds last week (from a vendor I like to think is harvesting it the proper way.  The species is endangered and the sales are controlled).

With these ones I bought, I made a cake called Cuca. I think the word derives from the German “Kuchen” but it is basically a coffee cake topped with a crumble. (Apples and bananas are normally used. I used pinhão instead). Cuca’s are very common in southern Brazil where I come from.

My grandma makes the best Cuca.

So this is how it goes:


Pinhão (2 cups), milk (1 cup), eggs (2), oil (1 cup)
Flour (2 cups), sugar (2 cups), baking soda (1/2 tablespoon), cinnamon (2 teaspoon).

Combine all, don’t over mix. Pour in a cake pan (oiled and floured).

Combine the crumble ingredients (Butter (1 cup), brown sugar (1 cup) flour (1 cup). Sprinkle over the cuca. In the oven (pre heated, 180C, 374F) for 30 minutes.

That was breakfast today. Cuca and black coffee.

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