Baked Eggplant Bolognese

“Beringela assada ao molho Bolognese”

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Eggplant with Bolognese sauce is not typical Brazilian food but became part of everyday Brazilian diet. Italian Immigration to Brazil started in the 16th century but it was in the 19th Century that large numbers of immigrants, facing the industrial revolution in Europe, went to Brazil. Brazilian government and land owners offered land to farm as they were facing the suppression of the slavery system.

According to Brazilian government today, there are 31 million Brazilians of Italian descent. Brazilians of Italian descent have duo nationalities.  Italian identity and culture shaped much of the Brazilian culture after the Portuguese colonization.

This recipe celebrates the fusion of three nations. A popular Brazilian dish influenced by Italian cuisine and once again adapted to ingredients easy to find in the USA.

Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 3 large red peppers
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey
  • fresh mozzarella
  •  shredded asiago cheese
  • 3 shallots
  • 1/2 onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup rose wine
  • fennel seeds
  • dried basil
  • fresh basil
  • 1 can 20 oz.  San Marzano crushed tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • agave nectar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Cut eggplant lengthwise in thin slices and let it soak in water for 15 min, it helps cut the bitterness of the eggplant. Cut red pepper in large strips and set aside.
  3. Chop celery, half onion, 3 garlic cloves and fresh basil.
  4. In a sauce pan, add olive oil, the can of tomatoes, celery, onion, garlic  and stir until tomatoes start bubbling. Add salt and pepper and smooth it with an immersion blender. Add fennel seeds, dry basil,  fresh basil ( leave some for garnish), a drizzle of agave nectar and let the flavors incorporate at low heat. Cover and leave at low heat while preparing the meat.
  5. Chop shallots and the rest of garlic.
  6. In a sauce pan, add olive oil, ground turkey, shallots and garlic. Cover and let cook; stirring occasionally until meat is browned and water and liquids dried. Add wine, salt, pepper. more fennel seeds. Cover and let cook over medium heat until meat is completely cooked. Add meat to tomato sauce. Remove from heat.
  7. Drain the eggplant water.
  8. Drizzle olive oil all over a rectangular baking dish, approximately 13×9.
  9. Arrange the dish by making a layer of eggplant. Put enough Bolognese sauce over, then a layer of red peppers (it should take all the red peppers). Then put some more Bolognese sauce over the peppers and another layer of eggplant (should use the rest of the eggplant). Cover with the rest of the Bolognese sauce.
  10. Add slices of fresh mozzarella until completely covered. Drizzle olive oil, sprinkle salt, pepper and dried basil. Top with shredded asiago cheese.
  11. Bake for 30 min.  Garnish with fresh basil.

Bom apetite!

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Caramel and Chocolate Torte

 

 

                     ( Torta  de Doce de Leite e Chocolate)

It’s oozing with goodness!

This is a very rich dessert. It is cold, smooth, and silky. Absolutely divine! It is very easy to make but requires a few steps. I recommend to start a day before serving.

Originally, this dessert was made with “Biscoito Maria”, a type of corn starch, and sugar  cookies or “Biscoito Champagne” ( lady finger cookies), but both can be difficult to find,  so I substituted them for chocolate graham crackers, which are widely available at all grocery stores.

 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 box chocolate Graham Crackers
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 4 oz semi-sweet dark chocolate
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp sugar

Directions:

  1. To  make milk caramel, place condensed milk inside a digital pressure cooker, cover the can with water, and close the top. Set it for canning and let it cook until the pressure is completely out. If using a regular pressure cooker, let pressure build at high heat. Once the pressure builds, turn heat to low and let it cook for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it cook until the pressure is completely out. If you do not have a pressure cooker, fill a pot with water and let the can cook for 30 minutes. Keep hot water handy in case you need to add hot water. Do not let the water dry out because the can will explode; stay close to the pot. In all the cases, make sure there is enough water to cover the can. Once cooked, remove the can from the hot water and let it cool.
  2. While the can is cooking, pre-heat the oven to 350F. Place one and a half packets of chocolate crackers in a food processor to make crumbles. Place the crumbles in a bowl and add melted butter; mix them with a fork. Press this mixture inside a removable tart ring with the help of a spoon and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, whip heavy cream and set it in the refrigerator.
  4. Melt chocolate in a water bath. Once melted, add half and half and stir until a silky chocolate cream is formed. Set aside.
  5. Remove cream from the refrigerator and divide it in half. Place one half back in fridge and add the sugar to the other half by folding it gently with a fork to preserve the air pockets. Add melted chocolate to the cream and gently  mix to preserve air pockets. Place it in fridge.
  6. When the can of condensed milk is cooled, open and fold the milk caramel with the other whipped cream and sugar that was resting in fridge. Whisk gently until a creamy silky mixture is formed. Place this mixture back in the fridge.
  7. Both the chocolate cream and the milk caramel cream should be left in fridge for at least 2 hours to firm.
  8. Once both creams are firm, spread the milk caramel over the crust of chocolate crackers. Break the rest of the chocolate crackers into small pieces and cover the caramel mixture with the broken pieces. Then, spread the chocolate cream on top.
  9. Place the tart mold on a plate, and cover it with another plate. Place in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
  10.  Before serving, remove the torte from the freezer and let it stand for 5 minutes. Turn the plates over to remove the tart ring and …voila! It is ready! Wait another 5 minutes before cutting.

*Store in refrigerator. The freezer was only to help remove dessert from tart ring.

Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Biscoitos Veganos  de Chocolate

Chocolate chip cookies are not a Brazilian original  but as a Brazilian living in the United States for so long I learned to love and to make them for my family. This is also not a  traditional chocolate chip recipe, it is a vegan adaptation as we are moving more towards vegetarian and vegan foods. I have not seen chocolate chips that are 100% chocolate, it is usually milk chocolate, so I use 100% chocolate bar ( no milk) and cut into chunks. It is absolutely delicious! You will be hooked!

Ingredients:

1 cup pitted dates

1 cup natural peanut butter or almond butter

2 cups almond flour

1 table-spoon “neategg” vegan egg substitute

1/4 cup almond milk ( or any non dairy)

4 OZ unsweetened dark chocolate 100% cocoa

powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Using a food processor, beat the dates and peanut butter until all mixed and smooth
  3. Add almond flour and process.
  4. Dissolve “neategg” on non dairy milk and add to food processor. A ball of dough should be formed now but if still dry and crumbly add another spoon of non dairy milk.
  5. Place dough in a bowl, break chocolate into very small chunks and mix with your hands making sure dough incorporates all the chocolate chunks.
  6. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper, roll dough into small balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let it stand for 10 min.
  7. place cookies on a rack or a plate and sprinkle powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

 

 

Milk Rolls

 

 

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“Paezinhos de Leite”

These rolls are so easy to make, very popular with butter or stuffed with deli meat and cheese, it is a perfect lunch snack and is usually paired with a nice cup of coffee. This is a basic recipe but you can jazz it up with potatoes*,herbs, garlic, onion, just add to the dough. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 and 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 table spoons of sugar
  • 1 table-spoon of salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tea-spoon of active dry yeast
  • 1 cup of lukewarm milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 3 eggs

Directions:

  1. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk. Pour milk, 2 eggs, oil or butter, sugar and salt in a blender and blend well, about 1 minute.
  2. Pour mixture in a large bowl and add the flour slowly. Mix with a fork until all ingredients are incorporated. Then use your hands to gently knead until dough is  no longer sticky.
  3. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Roll about 16 rolls placing them on cookie sheet. Beat the other egg and brush the top of each roll. Then place them in oven at a 350F for 18 minutes. Notice that oven is not to be preheated.

*If making potato rolls, you will need 2 potatoes peeled and boiled until very soft. Add the potatoes to the blender with the other ingredients.

 

 

 

Pita Bread

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Pao Arabe

Pita Bread is so easy to make, the perfect pair for Hummus! The warm and rich flavor of the Arab cuisine that reached Portugal and Brazil.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 tea-spoon salt
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 table-spoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tea-spoon dry yeast

Directions:

  1. Mix flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Dissolve yeast in water and add olive oil.
  3. Make a hole in center of flour and add yeast mixture, then slowly knead mixture to make a soft dough.
  4. Turn dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
  5. Place it back in the bowl, brush top with a little extra olive oil, cover with a plastic wrap and set aside, in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.
  6. Punch dough, place it on a lightly floured surface and divide it in 6 balls.
  7. Roll each ball in to a circle or oval shape about 1/3 inch thick. Brush each one with a little more olive oil, cover them back and let them rest for 30 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, pre heat oven to 400F. Place 3 pita circles on a pizza pan or cookie sheet. You will need to pans or bake in batches.
  9. Bake for 6 minutes or until they puff up and are golden brown.

So Yummy!

Hummus

 

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Garbanzo Bean Dip

Hummus comes from the Arabic word meaning “chickpeas”

Believe it or not but Brazil is home of one of the best hummus you can find. The History of Brazil and Syrian/Lebanese immigration go as far as the Ottoman Empire when  Arabs conquered Portugal and became new Christians “Moors”. During the colonization of Brazil many of the colonists were the new christians and they brought with them to Brazil, their culture. The influence of the Moorish in Brazilian food is rich.  Moorish cuisine has been fully integrated as Brazilian food. Today there are approximately 7 million Brazilians of Syrian/Lebanese descent. You will find Arab Restaurants everywhere and Middle Eastern food as part of the main Brazilian menu.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked Garbanzo beans or 2 cans drained
  • juice of half a Lemmon or lime
  • 2 garlic cloves sliced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tea spoon ground cummin
  • salt to taste
  • 2 table spoons Tahini (optional)*
  • mint leaves to garnish

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients in a food processor except for mint leaves and process until creamy and smooth.*
  • Place hummus in a serving dish, drizzle some extra olive oil and garnish with chopped mint leaves. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

*If you remove the skins off the garbanzo beans you will have a silkier puree.

* It can be difficult to find Tahini, when Tahini is added then you have a Hummus bi Tahini, but it is not necessary for just making garbanzo bean dip.

Serve with Pita bread, following is a recipe for homemade pita bread

 

 

 

 

 

Brazilian mini Doughnuts

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“Bolinhos de Chuva”

“Bolinhos de Chuva” translates to English as ” mini rain cakes” or perhaps “rain scones”.  Bolinhos meaning “little cakes” and “chuva” meaning “rain”. The popular say for the origin of the name is that when you drop the batter in to the hot oil it forms what looks like a rain drop. Brazilians love “Bolinhos de Chuva”, it is easy to make and very much resembles a doughnut hole. It is usually served with coffee or tea but it can also be a dessert, definitely a treat. It is delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 table-spoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • zest of 1 lime or orange
  • 1 tea-spoon baking powder
  • extra oil for frying ( I like to use coconut oil)
  • powdered sugar and cinnamon

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl beat eggs and sugar until smooth. Add milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and lime zest and whisk until well mixed. Add flour, salt and baking powder, whisk until a batter is made.
  2. heat oil in a medium low temperature. If oil is too hot it will burn the doughnuts before the inside in fully cooked. Drop batter using a tea-spoon full.
  3. Place doughnuts on a paper towel. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar!

Enjoy!