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Brazilian Chicken Hearts (Coração de Galinha Frito)

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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 Coquette (Bolinho de Abobora com Carne-Seca)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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

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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)

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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

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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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Pastel


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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)

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"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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Canja (Brazilian Chicken and Rice Soup)

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Canja is the ultimate Brazilian “food for the soul”. It tastes like a warm, mild, comforting, and delicious bowl of chicken, thick broth, and vegetables.

When someone does not feel very well, you bet that the Brazilian grandma will show up with a big bowl of Canja to cheer up the heart and to sooth the body… I think that Canja is for the Brazilians the equivalent of what Chicken and Noodle soup is for the Americans. It is like love in a bowl.

In Brazil, Canja has another reason to be so popular: it is believed to prevent hangovers! Early in the morning during the week of Carnaval, often restaurants serve Canja for patrons who have partied all night long. Many times, the grandmas who don’t do Carnaval anymore wait for the younger with a big pot of the soup ready to be enjoyed. After eating some Canja, everyone goes to bed – usually at around 6 am. I have done that several times myself! Canja helps people recover so they can party the whole week straight. Viva a Canja!

I had been thinking about sharing this recipe for so long… Finally, with my mom here visiting from Brazil I found the right opportunity… Last week we all got kind of sick around here. Sure enough, my mom made a big pot of this soothing Brazilian remedy. It was deliciously comforting.

This is her recipe in which the rice serves as the thickening agent – the rice almost loses its shape into the broth. There are other versions where the soup is more “brothy”, therefor they spend less time simmering over the stovetop. I definitely prefer the thicker version of my mom’s.

Don't wait until you get sick to try this recipe. Enjoy it today and feel the love :)

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Brazilian Cuscuz (Cuscuz Paulista)

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My Goodness! How much have I missed working on my recipes and, especially, sharing them?! Life with two boys – one being a two-year-old that is not yet at school - and our move to Tampa, “forced” me to take a step back on my cooking activities.

Well, one thing is for sure: I HAVE NO REGRETS!

In fact, spending the last year focusing on the needs of the boys and helping our family to adjust into our new hometown have been a great experience. I feel incredibly grateful to have being able to do that.
That said, I am ready to push the restart button and go back to the kitchen!

I believe that a great come back calls for a super traditional dish – for that reason, I am sharing with you a recipe for Brazilian Cuscuz (Cuscuz Paulista).

I know what some might be thinking: “I had no idea that Brazilians had a couscous recipe!”. Yes, we do! And the version I am sharing here is delicious and it is spelled Cuscuz.
Couscous has its origins in the Northern part of Africa – mainly Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. The geographic proximity to Portugal made the recipe make its ways into the Portuguese table – and in the 1500’s it was a very popular dish (not anymore these days).

When the Portuguese arrived in Brazil, they found out the indigenous people had a very similar dish. But instead of using semolina flour, the natives used maize flour and/or yuca flour to prepare it.
So the Portuguese incorporated some of the ingredients that they were using already - such as seafood, green olives, and eggs - into this new found flour mixture. Boom! The Brazilian Cuscuz was born.

The version I am sharing here was inspired by the traditional recipe found on the book “Viagem Gastronomica Atraves do Brasil”, by Caloca Fernandes. I made some adaptations on the method and ingredients. I also added a spicy sauce to serve on the side to suit the American palate ;)

This specific version is very popular in the state of São Paulo – that’s why it’s called Cuscuz Paulista. There are different versions around Brazil, especially on the Northern and Northeastern parts of the country. Those versions are more basic, with less ingredients; and often served as side dishes.

This gorgeous and delicious version I am presenting is definitely the center of attention at the dinner table! Enjoy!

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Salmon with Passion Fruit Sauce (Salmão ao Molho de Maracujá)

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It was such an honor to be a guest at the TODAY Show once more! Receiving such an invite is so exciting, but the most exciting part is not about being on national television in such a high profile show - like all those movie stars we see on the TODAY show ;) What really gets me excited is to be able to share my Brazilian background through my recipes with a much wider audience!


Being invited to run their cooking segment has allowed me to reach people on four corners of the United States to present them with something that would be new for most. Of course I can reach anyone through my website, but people would have to have the interest on such things to research online. So having that kind of opportunity is like knocking on everyone’s door and saying: “Here is a Brazilian recipe for Salmon with Passion Fruit and Coconut Rice. The hosts of the TODAY show ate and approve it. Why don’t you give it try?” And that is awesome!


So I was delighted to be part of the TODAY’s Valentine’s Day segment and share a delicious, fresh, healthy, and romantic recipe. The whole idea was to present a recipe “to set the mood” and they all agreed that my Salmon with Passion Fruit Sauce and Coconut Rice fitted the bill perfectly – the combination of salmon and passion fruit might sound unusual for some, but it is very well known (and loved) in Brazil. In this easy recipe, I use brown sugar to break the acidity of the passion fruit, and table cream (or crème fraiche) to add a velvety texture to the sauce. Top with fresh herbs and serve over Coconut Rice. 

Photos - Samantha Okazaki/NBC

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Fish Moqueca (Moqueca de Peixe)

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Greetings from… Florida! If you often follow my recipes, chances are that you noticed that I haven’t posted anything new in a little while. Well, it was all for a very good reason: we were in the middle of a move! Selling the house, packing all our belongings, finding a place to move in, finding a new school, etc. has kept my hands completely full for a few months – and doing it all in the middle of summer while taking care of my two crazy boys certainly did not make the process any easier… But what really matters is that we are all moved in and well-adjusted to Tampa! We absolutely love it here!!


So to celebrate my first post in long time, I want to share one of my BEST recipes! In fact, I cannot believe I haven’t posted my Fish Moqueca here earlier (I just had a recipe for Shrimp Moqueca).


Fish Moqueca is a traditional stew from the Northeastern part of Brazil – especially from Bahia, which is a culinary paradise! It is made with delicious ingredients, such as coconut milk, red palm oil, and cilantro. It has a beautiful yellow/orange color – due to the red palm oil – and a delicate, unique flavor. I often make this recipe in my events because it is such a crowd pleaser! It is so simple to make and it is, in my opinion, one of the recipes that best showcase the delicious food from Brazil. I hope you enjoy!

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My Ultimate Shrimp in a Pumpkin (Camarão na Moranga)

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If you have been following my website for the past couple of years you may have noticed that this is the third recipe of Shrimp in a Pumpkin that I post. The reason for these many versions is that I keep making improvements to the same traditional Brazilian recipe and the results keep getting better and better… So this one is my ultimate!

If you compare this version to the other ones I have posted, you will notice that this recipe is simpler. It has less ingredients, but the flavors are bolder! I added hot peppers – which I found out to be very complementing of the sweetness of the pumpkin – and the true Brazilian cream cheese, called Catupiry (which we can buy on Amazon!! Yessssss!!!!).

Shrimp in a Pumpkin – or Camarão na Moranga, in Portuguese – is a traditional Brazilian recipe that can add a pretty cool twist to your dinner table this fall! When serving this goodness to your family and friends, make sure you scoop the pumpkin and the sauce together; then serve with simple jasmine rice. Offer Farofa as a side as well, if you want to make this meal even a bit more Brazilian!

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