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Brazilian Cuscuz (Cuscuz Paulista)


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)




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)


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)


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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Cod Casserole with Hearts-of-Palm (Bacalhau Fresco com Palmito ao Molho Branco)


In Brazil, the dishes that are traditionally served on Good Friday are the ones with some kind of fish, especially salt cod (bacalhau). I love salt cod!! My sister is an expert and she makes some amazing salt cod recipes for our family every year!! Salt cod is delicious, but a bit tricky to be prepared… It must be desalted in water overnight, and the water must be changed several times (people say at least 7 times). I have to confess that as much as I love salt cod, these days I prefer to substitute fresh cod in some of those traditional Brazilian recipes. 

This Cod Casserole with Hearts-of-Palm is a creamy and delicious recipe that I adapted with the use of fresh cod. This dish is easy to make and WAY faster to prepare, since I used fresh cod. Hearts-of-palm are a bit acidic and the white sauce balances that out, giving this dish a smooth and velvety texture. To give a bit of a fresh touch, I used scallions and cilantro to finish the white sauce, but Italian parsley would also taste incredible in this recipe. I hope you enjoy sharing this recipe with your family!

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Jamaican Style Fish and Shrimp with Coconut Milk, Papaya and Plantains


This light, slightly sweet Jamaican Fish and Shrimp recipe was created after an incredibly tasty dish that my husband and I had during our visit to Jamaica. We love traveling and we are the kind of people who go out and explore, so we had the chance to try all kinds of different dishes during our stay. We tried from the simplest and also the most elaborate Jamaican delights and, hands-down, this recipe was our favorite. So once I got back home, I HAD to replicate it.

Figuring out the flavors in Jamaican cuisine is not that hard for me – Brazilian cuisine is quite similar – which means that both cuisines use plenty of tropical fruits, herbs, coconut milk and seafood. The techniques are simple too. Although, in the recipe that I am sharing here, I tried papaya and bananas (plantains) for the first time mixed in a savory sauce – and it was phenomenal! In Brazil, papaya and bananas are typically served in desserts and cakes, so I loved to have tried something unexpected!

I want to say a big THANK YOU to Chef Shane Thompson from Blue Mahoe (at the Spa Retreat Hotel, in Negril) for serving me something that delighted and inspired me. ONE LOVE.

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Fish Tacos with Mango-Jalapeno Slaw


There is no other food in this whole world that reminds me more of the great years I spent in San Diego then fish tacos. I used to go fish taco “hopping” with my husband (boyfriend at the time), going from restaurant to restaurant, or bar to bar, in search for the best fish taco in San Diego. I sure tried many, one more delicious then the other. Well, I live in Indiana now and I really miss my fish tacos from San Diego! So in honor of this upcoming Cinco de Mayo I have decided to share my “Fish Tacos with Mango-Jalapeno Slaw” recipe. Delicious and healthy, this recipe is the perfect way to celebrate the festivities, or just to celebrate any day of the year. Serve with margaritas!

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Shrimp in a Pumpkin (Camarão na Moranga)


I am not an advocate for the use of microwave oven in cooking, so when one of my mom’s best friends, Leila, told me she had a delicious, EASY and much QUICKER version of Shrimp in a Pumpkin (Camarão na Moranga) that was mostly prepared in the microwave I was not convinced at first. But she was firm: “You have to try”. Since Leila is a great cook, I decided to give it a shot. Well, I am glad to say that she was right! The pulp of the pumpkin was moist and soft; and the cream cheese incorporated into the shrimp sauce perfectly. This classic Brazilian recipe is normally prepared in the conventional oven so take a look at my other version of Shrimp in a Pumpkin. The version made in the conventional oven has that delicious slightly roasted flavor; and the version made in the microwave is more moist and, of course, easier to make. Well, both recipes are slightly sweet, creamy and delicious. If you like spicier, use more jalapenos in the sauce, or remove them completely if you prefer it mild; or use a different kind of hot pepper to your preference. Enjoy!

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Salmon with Mango Sauce and Coconut Rice


Mango, limes and coconut are some of the most traditional ingredients used in Brazilian cuisine. In this recipe, they were split among main course and side dish in a very harmonic combination of flavors with the salmon and rice. Greek yogurt adds a creamy texture to this fresh, healthy and flavorful meal. I hope you enjoy!

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Shrimp Bobó (Bobó de Camarão)


Shrimp Bobó is a Brazilian traditional recipe from the state of Bahia. Yuca, coconut milk and red palm oil give this delicious stew its rich color and flavor. Everything about this dish might sound exotic for most people, but Bobó is one of the most beloved dishes from Bahia, along with Moqueca, Acarajé and Vatapá (sorry about the crazy names). Everytime I throw a dinner party where I want to show off some of the best authentic flavors from my country, I include this recipe in the menu. Fairly simple to make, it is perfect over a bed of jasmine rice (some like it with Farofa on the side). This dish will awaken your palate and transpor you to Bahia, Brazil. Be ready for a party of flavors in your month!

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Shrimp and Heart-of-Palm Pie (Empadão de Camarão e Palmito)


This Shrimp and Heart-of-Palm Pie is a traditional Brazilian dish. It is super creamy in the inside, and the dough is so crumbly it melts in your month! In fact this dough recipe has a curious name: “rotten dough” (massa podre). Definitely a weird name for something that tastes so good. I think this pie is comparable to an American pot pie, but the dough is flakier and the filling is thicker. Also, it is a great recipe for large parties since it can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept in the fridge until it is time to bake. This pie will feature on the buffet table at my house this Christmas, and I am excited to present a Brazilian traditional dish to our family! I hope they enjoy as much as I do.

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Lobster Mac and Cheese


Lobster Macaroni & Cheese is one of my top 3 favorite American dishes, and for a while I had been thinking about creating my own version. But despite of what most people think of a mac’ n cheese recipe, I consider it one of those that either turns out fantastic or it is a complete disaster.  So when I came across my friend Alejandra Ramos’ tutorial of an extra creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese, I finally found the perfect basic recipe to dress up. My version also got a touch of luxury from black truffle oil and a Brazilian twist with the farofa topping. Enjoy this rich and delightful dish in a cold night, with good company and a glass of wine. Cheers!

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Vatapá – Coconut Milk and Dried Shrimp Stew from Bahia, Brazil


Vatapá can be served as a main dish over rice or as a filling in the also famous and exotic acarajé. This delight is typical from the Northern region of Brazil, especially popular in the state of Bahia. The unique flavors in this stew come from coconut milk, red palm oil, dried and fresh shrimp, cashews, peanuts, herbs and ginger. It might sound really different but it is actually pretty simple to make.

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Seared Tuna with Roasted Avocado-Pepper and Wasabi Sauce


Searing tuna is not a difficult task. The marinade seasons the steak really well, but the biggest “secret” for achieving great flavor is purchasing super fresh tuna steaks. The real twist on this recipe comes from the sauce: grill the vegetables prior to making the sauce for a delicious smoky taste. Healthy and so good!

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Fettucini al Mare with Asparagus and Crème Fraiche


This pasta tastes like the ocean with a touch of freshness from lemon juice and dill; and it takes only 15 minutes from start to finish!

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Coconut and Salmon Soup


Some of my favorite Brazilian ingredients are in this creamy soup: coconut milk, lime juice and cilantro. I created this recipe a copuple of years ago; and even as delicious as it is, I did not repeat it for a while until my husband decided that he wanted to try the paleo diet. That made me research back to some of my recipes that I had not touched in a while... Well, it was well worth it because my husband was raving about this dish after I made it for him - and for me too of course ;) This delicious soup is perfect for this time of year: rich and delicious, but also healthy! It fullfiled perfectly his "paleo demands" - which means no dairy or grains. This easy soup can also be served over rice, if you prefer. 

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Asparagus and Shrimp Risotto


The combination of shrimp and asparagus is perfect in this velvety risotto recipe.

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Pasta Salad with Shrimp and Peanut Butter-Ginger Dressing


I love Asian food and this salad has all those wonderful flavors... The dressing is rich and spicy, with peanut butter, honey, ginger, chile paste and soy sauce;  but the scallions add a bit of freshness to the bite. Roasted bell peppers and decadent shrimp complete this perfect summer salad! It is a whole meal on its own. Enjoy!

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Fish Roulade with Hearts-of-Palm and Mascarpone, over Olive-Apricot Tapenade

fish-roulade-tapenade-olives-apricots-hearts-of-palm-mascarpone 2 600x336

I used cod in this roulade, but it can be made with sole or tilapia too. The process is very simple (the only fancy thing about it is its name!) but the presentation is very pretty. My version of tapenade has dried apricots for a sweeter touch and it can also be served as a dip for crackers or bread. Enjoy with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris.

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Shrimp in Red Sauce, Cream Cheese and Roasted Rosemary Potatoes


The cream cheese adds richness to this shrimp dish. I used Catupiry (the Brazilian style cream cheese) and I made this recipe while spending time with my family in the beach town of Camboriú, Brazil.

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