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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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