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Brazilian Chicken Hearts (Coração de Galinha Frito)


Chicken hearts have been one of my favorite parts of the chicken, along with livers, since I was a little girl. We used to eat them all the time at home – my dad loves to roast big skewers of chicken hearts simply seasoned with salt. Rich and sweet, its taste resembles of a sweeter chicken thigh with chewer texture – but it is way faster to prepare than thighs. It is phenomenal.

In the US, chicken hearts are commonly served in the Brazilian steak houses, but they are quite versatile little things, and other ways to make and serve can be just as good.
They are very popular in the South of Brazil – where I come from – and it had been a long time since I was looking for a great, easy recipe to share… Until I came across Chef Geovani Bassani Lima.

Chef Geo, how he prefers to be called, is a Brazilian Chef who has been working in London since 2008. His pub, The Hampton, has achieved unforeseen success under his lead - winning the Good Food Award for three consecutive years, since 2015.

I love to highlight the story of fellow Brazilians who are, just like me, sharing with the world their passion for our culinary. And Chef Geo’s story is one worth sharing – and so is his recipe, which is featured at The Hampton’s menu.

Chef Geo’s recipe for chicken hearts was the one that I had been looking for! It is simple and incredibly flavorful. If you haven’t tried chicken hearts yet, I think that this might be the recipe you also have been looking for ;) Serve with a bold red – the Chef suggests a Malbec and I agree. Perfect to be enjoyed with your most fearless friends. Bom apetite!

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Pumpkin-Jerky Meat Croquette (Bolinho de Abobora com Carne-Seca)


One of my favorite things to do when I am in vacation in Brasil is to go to the countless bars by the beach. I love to order a "gelada" (really cold beer) and an appetizer. Brazilian bar food is something else...

Usually shared by everyone at the table, servers bring these appetizer plates along with full sets of silver wear, napkins and small plates - it is expected that people hold their finger food using a paper napkin or, many times, using utensils. Different, right? Also, nobody stands up while eating - common habit here in the US. Everyone seats down enjoying the moment. It is such a relaxing vibe!

I miss that atmosphere and food very much, so I must replicate it here ;)

There are dozens – maybe hundreds – of Brazilian bar food recipes. In Brazil, we have a variety of pumpkins available year around, but here in the US I must wait until the right time comes to share some of my recipes. And the time is right for my Pumpkin-Jerky Meet Croquette (Bolinho de Abóbora com Carne-Seca).

Creamy, with a hint of sweetness and a crunchy crust, this croquette is amongst my favorite choices of appetizers when I go to Brazil. It begs to be enjoyed with a cold beer, but it goes just fine with wine too!

I have shared before recipes with Brazilian Carne-Seca, which is a very flavorful meat like a gourmet jerky beef. It’s dried and salted, and it can be substituted for other Latin kinds, such as the Mexican dried beef. If you can find Brazilian carne-seca, be sure to trim the fat and soak overnight before using. I promise the extra time is worth it! Plan in advance and you can serve a unique Brazilian appetizer at your next gathering – maybe game night?

I promise that the flavor of my Pumpkin-Jerky Beef Croquette will transport you to the beach bars of Ipanema – especially if paired with a “gelada”. Bom Apetite!

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Coxinha (Brazilian Chicken Croquette)


It's been a really long time since I've been wanting to share a recipe for Coxinha. I love this Brazilian traditional snack SO MUCH, that the recipe had to be more than perfect… So my recipe had to be perfected to the point of this being the best Coxinha recipe ever.

Well, first of all, if you are Brazilian or if you have ever been to Brazil, chances are that you know Coxinha. It is one of the most popular finger foods/appetizers/snacks down there. Recipes and sizes can vary quite a bit, but the one thing that all of the Coxinhas have in common is its “chicken leg” shape – in fact, Coxinha literally translates to “little chicken leg”. I am not going to lie, achieving that shape can be time consuming. Making Coxinhas is the perfect example of labor of love… Time consuming, but absolutely worth it!

I usually make Coxinhas when there is someone around who can help me. Then, it can become a lot of fun! This time, it was a total family affair… My parents were around, so my dad helped with the pictures and my mom helped with shaping the little chicken legs. In between sips of wine, watching the boys, and frying some batches in advance (we were so hungry and excited to try that we had to fry a few even before they were all ready) we had a great time during the process!

In Brazil, Coxinhas are sold at “lanchonetes” or “confeitarias” (snack stores), and at bars (as an appetizer to have while enjoying a cold beer). They are also served in birthday parties – usually a smaller, finger food style version. For me, hands down, the Coxinha from the “confeitaria” Edelweiss in Curitiba (where I grew up) had always been the absolute best one! Well, so far… I will never forget the face that my husband did when he tried a bite of the Coxinha I served him… It was like he had died and gone to haven at that second!! It turned out that amazing!!

This recipe turned out extremely well, and if I had Brazilian cooks and Chefs looking at it I am sure they would call it a “gourmet version” of Coxinha. I will explain: instead of the traditional requeijão (Brazilian creamy cheese), I used Mascarpone. During all these years of adapting Brazilian recipes to the American palate I learned that Mascarpone can be a wonderful substitute to requeijão – and it can be found at all major grocery stores at a very competitive price. Requeijão is hard to find in the US - and it can be quite expensive – but if you have requeijão on hand, you can substitute the mascarpone in this recipe (although mascarpone tasted better – sorry requeijão, but it is the true!).

I am very proud of this recipe. For that reason, I am sharing it today to celebrate the 30-day count down to the Olympic Games in Rio! It will be a beautiful celebration and I know that Rio will deliver!! So if you cannot go to Brazil to watch the games, call some friends and celebrate just like the Brazilians: make some Coxinhas together, sip on some Caipirinhas, and have a good time with it! Which could be a better occasion to get together and make some traditional Brazilian food? Yes, it will be a party!

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Brazilian Jerky Beef and Yuca Bowl (Escondidinho de Carne-Seca)


Do not be fooled by the rustic look of this traditional Brazilian recipe – this simple dish has an incredible amount of flavor!

Originally from the North Eastern region of Brazil, this delicious meal can be served as a full entrée or as an appetizer – sometimes prepared in individual small casseroles, which makes for a really cute presentation. These days, you can find it in restaurants and homes at all corners of Brazil.

Carne-seca is the equivalent of a very high quality jerky beef (take a look at the Cook’s Notes to learn more). It is basically a kind of dried and salted meat that has been used for centuries in Brazilian cuisine.

The real name of the dish is “Escondidinho de Carne-Seca”, which literally translates to “Jerky Beef Little Hidden One” – the carne-seca is “hidden” in between the two layers of velvety yuca purée. I thought that the literal translation would be a little crazy, so I am calling this recipe “Brazilian Jerky Beef and Yuca Bowl” – long name, but more comprehensive ;) I also have a version of this same meal with shrimp. If you are a fan of seafood, you should check this link for the recipe.

My husband says that this dish is like crack – extremely addictive! Sometimes the most rustic, simple meals have some of the most surprisingly incredible flavors. I hope you take a look and enjoy!

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Salpicão (Brazilian Chicken Salad)


Salpicão is the name given to a typical chicken salad from Brazil; and just like a Waldorf salad in the United States, it may have some variations in the recipe, but the main ingredients remain the same. Chicken, apples, raisins and a mayonnaise based dressing are usually featured, but the best Salpicão that I ever had also has pineapple, lime juice, green apple and Media Crema. This recipe is extra moist and tasty because it is made with rotisserie chicken, and one of the “secrets” to achieve a good blend of flavors and great texture is to manually shred the chicken into really tiny pieces. The fuits must be cut into a really small dice. This “secret” was passed to me by the two ladies who have been making this recipe for the past 25 years: my mom and one of her best friends, Leila (I think Leila, who is my mom's comadre, started making it first and my mom quickly followed). Crunchy, slightly sweet and creamy, this salad is often found on the large salad bars at Brazilian steak houses. Serve on top of croissant, crusty bread or inside lettuce rolls. It makes for a great appetizer, or a light lunch. I hope you enjoy the ultimate Salpicão recipe!

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Pastel with Meat and Cheese Filling (Pastelzinho de Carne com Queijo)


Pastel is one of the most loved bar foods in Brazil. This small savory pastry is usually served inside small baskets and it is ordered by the dozen or half dozen; so friends gather around the bar table to munch on the Pastelzinhos (small Pastel) while chatting, drinking a cold beer and having a good time. The variety of fillings is endless, but one of the most popular is ground beef and cheese. Crunchy on the outside with a creamy, meaty filling, this typical Brazilian appetizer is often called “Empanada” in the US. Empanadas are usually baked, instead of fried; and the dough is different. But… I am cheating in this recipe and using store-bough empanada dough!!!  Store-bought dough is faster and easier to use (and it tastes great too, because if it didn’t I wouldn’t be here telling you to use it). Make sure you check my Hearts-of-Palm Pastel recipe if you want to make the authentic version with home-made dough. Enjoy this delightful appetizer with a cold beer!

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Shrimp and Yuca Bowl (Escondidinho de Camarão)


When I participated in the ABC show “The Taste” I had the honor to serve this traditional Brazilian recipe to four amazing culinary talents: Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lafebvre and Brian Malarkey. After trying the “bite” I served, they gave me great intake on ways to improve the flavors and texture of my recipe (especially Ludo). I was very appreciative and certainly took their advice seriously. So this is my ultimate version of this classic Brazilian appetizer, to which I added some extra spices and crunchy textures. Enjoy with a caipirinha, just like the Brazilians!

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Acarajé – Black-Eyed Pea Fritters from Bahia, Brazil


Acarajé is a traditional street food in Brazil, it is especially popular in the state of Bahia. This fritter is light in texture and bold in flavor: the red palm oil (where it is deep-fried) and the unique ingredients in the filling make the acarajé extremely distinctive. This is a little piece of some of the best things that Brazil has to offer! If you have been to Bahia, you know exactly what I am talking about. Enjoy!

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Traditional Brazilian Cheese Balls (Pao-de-Queijo Mineiro)

cheese-bread-mineiro copy

This is the traditional recipe for Brazilian cheese bread (or cheese ball). It is a staple from the state of Minas Gerais and, just like my other cheese bread recipe, it is a favorite among kids (and adults)! Great for breakfast, as a snack or with any main course. Eat warm, just right off the oven. Cheesy, fluffy and delicious!

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Creamy Hearts of Palm Soup


Hearts-of-palm add a very delicate and distinctive flavor to this traditional Brazilian recipe. My version has cream and Parmesan cheese for a velvety and nutty finish. Enjoy!

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Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão-de-queijo)


Cheese bread is a Brazilian staple! Gooey and fluffy at the same time (hard to believe possible, right?) this typical snack is a crowd pleaser: kids and adults love it! Many different versions are available, this one is really easy (the batter is mixed in the blender!) and most ingredients are widely available in the US – there is not a substitute for tapioca starch, sorry!  Serve warm, right off the oven. I dare you to have only one!

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Chicken and Asparagus Mini-Pies (Empadinhas de Frango com Aspargos)


This creamy and crumbly savory mini-pie is a great appetizer for parties. The dough melts in your mouth and the filling is so flavorful! Everyone will love!

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Cod Croquettes (Bolinho de Bacalhau Fresco)


This appetizer is very popular in Brazil and it goes very well with a cold beer and some hot sauce on the side.

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This is a very popular appetizer in Brazil and the possibilities for fillings are endless! Besides the hearts-of-palm, my favorites are the classics: mozzarella cheese with herbs, shrimp with Catupiry, and ground beef with black olives. But you can use your creativity and experiment!

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Shrimp and Yuca Gratin Appetizer (Escondidinho de Camarão)


"Escondidinho" is bar food in Brazil and it can also be prepared with different kinds of meat like chicken, ground beef, and carne-seca - the Brazilian Beef Jerky.

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Brazilian Veggie Pot Pie (Empadão de Palmito)


During the colder months, I feel like we eat a lot of pot pies here in the States – at least, that’s when I more often see recipes of it being taught on cooking shows or shared on magazines. Creamy and comforting, the (allow me to call) American pot pie is a perfect dish for when it’s cold outside.

In Brazil, people are obsessed with pot pies. I am obsessed with pot pies! Our version, though, is more adaptable to, let’s say, a wider variety of climates… Most of the country is warm year-round; therefore, our very own version of the dish has a filling that is moist and creamy, but not as soupy, which tastes great either warm or at room temperature. Since the filling is less runny, the pie can be assembled in a springform and unmolded in a serving platter – which is my favorite way to present it. But setting it up in a deep-dish is also fine (and easier).

If you haven’t yet met my Brazilian Chicken Pot Pie or my Shrimp and Hearts-of-Palm Pot pie, please let me introduce you to my Brazilian Veggie Pot Pie! This recipe has hearts-of-palm as its main star which gives this pie its distinct zesty flavor. Black olives, corn, and green peas are some of the other featured ingredients, but you can add or subtract accordingly to your taste (just keep proportions balanced so you don’t end up with less – or too much – filling).

I truly enjoy this recipe since I have been a little girl, at any season of the year. I hope you do too!

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Brazilian Jeweled Rice and Lentils (Arroz à Grega e Lentilhas)


I am going to start this conversation with a very straight forward question: “Do you want to be as lucky as a Brazilian in the next year?”. Ok, let’s assume that your answer is: “Yes, I absolutely do!”. I am so glad that you have chosen the only right answer to my question!!! So, I am going to tell you exactly what to do – or eat – to achieve such good fortune in the upcoming year.

People might roll their eyes at us, Brazilians, since we have this reputation for being superstitious. But… It doesn’t hurt to try, right?! And in this case, the worst that can happen is that you will end up enjoying some really delicious food over the New Year's Eve – or Réveillon, as we call it.

Traditionally, Lentils and Brazilian Style Jeweled Rice cannot be absent from our New Year's feast – which happens only after midnight (yes, we do not eat until after the new year has made its debut). Both dishes are normally served as sides to proteins such as pork or seafood (no chicken or beef allowed in the occasion). This side dishes are colorful, tasty, and they can be prepared somewhat quickly, although their best feature is to bring good fortune in the upcoming year.

I wish everyone a happy and healthy year! Peace, love, and joy. XO- Cynthia

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Salt Cod with Potatoes and Olives (Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá)


Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá is a very traditional dish from Portugal that Brazil decided to make its own – like all the other salt cod recipes ever invented in Portugal. 

The method of salting fish or meat, was widely used during the time when Brazil became Portugal’s colony. Therefore, the different recipes and ways to prepare the salt cod were fully embraced by the Brazilians. Wonder why? It’s very tasty and much easier to make than most people would think. 

This recipe is called Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá, but if you can’t pronounce that, simply call it Salt Cod with Potatoes and Olives. It is a simple dish that uses only a handful of ingredients. Just watch for timing: it can be prepared in advance, but the salt cod must be soaked for at least 24 hours before cooked. Using salt cod just takes a bit of planning. 

Another important thing: use high quality olive oil and olives. I feel like that, besides the salt cod, the stars in this dish are the olive oil and the olives. Good quality, pungent, rich varieties of olives will work best here. The slightly caramelized onions bring a touch of sweetness, and the potatoes will balance everything out and add sustenance to the dish. The eggs make for a pretty topping – and a delicious one – do not skip it!

A big prove that Brazilians have fully embraced salt cod dishes is that these recipes became an Easter tradition down there! On Easter Sunday, a large casserole or skillet is one of the most popular main courses served at the occasion. It has become that kind of special food that everyone looks forward to.

Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá is simple to prepare and full of flavor. I promise that salt cod is really easy to handle! Give it try and maybe you will also want to incorporate this new dish into your traditional repertoire - at Easter or at any time of the year!

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Brazilian Baked Cauliflower “Rice” (Arroz-de-Forno de Couve-Flor)


In the last year or so, cauliflower has become a trend ingredient for healthy lifestyle. With this versatile vegetable, people have figured out ways to make low carb recipes in which the cauliflower usually replaces the flour, or rice.

I don’t always go for those trends, but this time I believe this fashion will survive the test of time and simply become a regular item on people’s diet. The reason? Cauliflower makes truly delicious tacos, pizza doughs, fried rice, etc… It’s not something I eat just because “today is Monday so I will try and cut my carbs”. I make and eat recipes in which the carbs are replaced by cauliflower because I enjoy them!

In Brazil, rice is on our table every day. And oh my, we tend to make a boat load of rice at once! So, of course, this often leaves us with more rice than the family can possibly eat. To put those leftovers to good use, Brazilians usually make “Arroz-de-Forno” which consists of leftover rice that is mixed with ANY other ingredient that is available, then baked in the oven with a ton of cheese. It’s comfort food that is often served for Sunday lunch. It’s creamy and cheesy – and by using those two words to describe this dish, you already know that it is delicious! 

I recently used cauliflower in lieu of rice on this recipe, and it turned out just as good! My mom said that she found it comforting, yet lighter if compared to the regular recipe. But she said that she did not miss the rice at all.

You can use all sorts of pantry ingredients that you like. I keep mine very Brazilian – well, I tend to have a very “Brazilian pantry” – so hearts-of-palm, corn, chicken, tomatoes, media crema, and scallions are always there, but you don’t have to limit yourself to those. When I have olives, split peas, and other fresh herbs, I like to throw in the pan too. And lots of cheese of course – which can be any kind that you like – in this case I used a mix of gruyere and swiss that I found in my fridge, but you can use mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, or whatever you have on hand.

This “clean your pantry” meal is easy, low in carbs, and lighter than its regular version. So, if you haven’t yet tried riced cauliflower, you are missing out! Enjoy!

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Shrimp with Catupiry (Camarão com Catupiry)


When I first moved to the US, I was very surprised to learn that most people - especially those who were cooking and talking about food on TV - did not think that the combination of shrimp (or shellfish in general) and cheese worked well together. I would think: “How in the world?! I bet these people have never been to Brazil!”.

One of my favorite combinations in Brazilian cuisine is shrimp and a creamy cheese called requeijão – which is our nuttier and creamier version of cream cheese.

There is a brand of requeijão named Catupiry – which has an extra luscious texture – that tastes amazing with shrimp. In fact, they go together so well that there is a dish named “Camarão com Catupiry”. Translating to English, it simply became “Shrimp with Catupiry”.

Several versions of this recipe are available, but all of them have the creaminess and luxurious texture in common. Like most dishes from Brazil, white rice (I prefer jasmine) is the side of choice. To add a bit of crunch, shoe string potatoes are usually served on the side too - my husband rolls his eyes every time I add string shoe potatoes to a dish “Oh! This Brazilian thing”. Sorry, we like it. In fact, we love it!

My version is made in one single skillet that goes from stove top to oven. It has garlic, onions, and a bit of brandy for fun – and smoky sweetness. Béchamel sauce smoothers the shrimp before it is topped with Catupiry prior to broiling. It is simple to make.

As I mentioned, in Brazil we eat “Shrimp with Catupiry” over rice and shoe string potatoes, but I can see this recipe being served with slices of crusty bread (like a dip), or even mixed with elbow pasta for a Brazilian version of mac n’ cheese.

If you think that shrimp and cheese don’t go well together, give this recipe a shot. I bet that you will change your mind.

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