I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my brother lives in Portland, Oregon. He used to live in Dallas, and he and his family are moving back again this summer. I’m excited about that for a number of reasons. First, my brother, his wife and my niece are three of my favorite people in the world. Oregon is a long haul from southern Alabama, but Dallas isn’t.

Plus Dallas is great. I mean, really. I’ve lived all over the country—Maine, Missouri, Washington state, Puerto Rico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and a very short stint in California—and I settled here in Alabama for a reason. It’s home. I love it. And there are only a few places I would give it up for: anywhere in Florida, Rome, and Dallas.

Why Dallas? Because there are very few bad things I can say about it. There’s no beach and a lot of traffic. But that’s it. Everything else is a plus. You can find just about anything there. Great concerts that we don’t get here. The Perot Museum. The Christmas ice sculpture exhibit at the Gaylord.

And Brazilian steak houses. We were visiting my brother a few years back, and I had never been to a Brazilian steak house before. He said we had to try it. So we all trekked over there.

I had no idea how unprepared I was.

My brother had neglected to tell me that, to fully appreciate a Brazilian steak house, it’s better to go really, really hungry. As in starving. Don’t eat for at least two days. I had eaten lunch that day–a rookie mistake that will never happen again.

And there was the disc. Green means go, red means stop. Fairly elementary. I thought I could handle that. What he didn’t tell me was that the second you flip that disc over to green, prepare for an ambush. I flipped the disc and a stream of servers began to wave sides of meat under my nose. You go to take a bite of one and they’re plunking something else on your plate. Your taste buds are singing and you want to try it all, so you tell them to keep it coming. And they do.  

At first, I thought it was no big deal. After seven or eight of the servers had come and gone, I had a collection of small bites on my plate. They were just little bites, after all. When I eat dinner, don’t I usually eat more than eight bites? That didn’t seem like much.

But after five or six bites, I was filling up. And the servers just kept coming. There was stuff I hadn’t tried. I didn’t want to wave the white flag on an all-you-can-eat meat fest after half a dozen bites of food. I soldiered on for a few more bites, but I am, apparently, a wimp. A couple more of the servers were preparing to pounce. I flipped the disc over to red.

The assault stopped.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the term “meat sweats,” but if you’ve never experienced them before, I can personally assure you it is exactly what it sounds like. Oh. My. Gosh. I began to wonder how many people they’d had to scrape off the walls after they exploded. As my husband said, that was a different kind of full. I left wanting both to take a nap and to run around the block three times to beat that heavy, gut bomb feeling out of my system.

It was awesome. Seriously.

One of the things they dropped on the table before the chaos started was a basket of this Brazilian cheese bread. These little guys are incredible. When I came across this recipe some time later, I snatched it up. And when my doctor made me give up gluten, these became my go-to rolls for steak night. They’re dirt simple to make, and they’re made with tapioca flour, which means they’re gluten free and have a light, chewy texture that’s unlike any wheat rolls you’ve ever tried.

I suspect these would keep well, but I haven’t managed to have any leftovers yet. Even when I double the recipe, my family still scarfs them down like I haven’t fed them in a week. Make sure to use freshly grated parmesan, and not the pre-shredded stuff. And save the recipe. I promise you’ll want to make these again.

Brazilian cheese bread

Pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread)

1 egg

1/4 c. vegetable oil

1 1/2 c. tapioca flour

3/4 teasp. salt

2/3 c. milk

1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Spray mini-muffin pan with non-stick spray. In a blender, blend egg, oil, flour, salt and milk until well blended. Add cheese and blend for another 5-10 seconds. Fill each cup about 2/3 full. Bake until golden brown (about 15 minutes).