Banana Cake with Caramel Swirl

Bolo de Banana com calda de Caramelo

20190712_160918

Bananas are a very common fruit in the Brazilian house hold and there are several types of bananas everywhere. They are inexpensive and widely available, which means lots of different recipes for banana cake. Banana cake with caramel sauce is one of my favorites because it’s easy to make with only two bananas and it’s very flavorful.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cake flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 bananas mashed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp baking powder

For Caramel:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup hot water

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F and grease a round cake pan with a hole in the middle.
  2. Add all ingredients for the cake (except for the baking powder) to a bowl and mix well until smooth,preferably an electrical mixer. Add baking powder. Gently mix.
  3. Transfer to the baking pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The cake is ready when fork comes out clean.
  4. While the cake is baking, melt sugar in a sauce pan, stirring constantly until it is golden brown. Turn heat to low and add 1/2 cup of hot water. Keep stirring to prevent the sugar from hardening. If needed, add the rest of the hot water and keep stirring until a caramel sauce is formed. Transfer the sauce to a glass cup and let it rest until the cake is finished and cooled. Once the cake is cooled, transfer it to a serving platter and drizzle with the caramel sauce.

Enjoy!

 

Baked Eggplant Bolognese

“Beringela assada ao molho Bolognese”

20190626_110832

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!

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.

 

20190528_133830

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

20180413_125936

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

 

 

20180228_174529

“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

20180202_200416

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

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
  • 1 tablespoon tahini *
  • 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 “hummus”.

Brazilian mini Doughnuts

20180124_142121

“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!

 

 

 

Brazilian Shrimp Torte

 

 

20171015_192744

Torta de Camarao

 

This is a very popular dish in Brazil, it can be served as a main dish, side dish, party food.

This dish is also known as “Empadao de Camarao” and it is found in every bistro, served in big slices or in mini sizes,as finger food or appetizers .

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup ( 2 sticks) cold butter cut into cubes
  • 8 tablespoons ice water
  • shredded fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg yolk beaten
  • 2 table spoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound of cooked shrimp
  • 1/2 lime or Lemmon
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 1/4 of an onion finely chopped
  • 2 Roma tomatoes finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 cup thinly sliced hearts of palms ( optional but highly recommended)
  • 1/2 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives ( optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 table-spoon flour

Directions:

  1. Add 1 and 1/2 cups of flour and salt to a food processor or to a medium bowl. Pulse or stir until combined. Add butter and process or use a fork to mix. Add remaining flour and mix until dough is crumbly. Add cold water and process or use hands to shape dough into a ball. If dough falls apart add another table-spoon or two of cold water and work the dough until  forms a ball.
  2. Remove dough from food processor or bowl, place it on a clean surface and divide dough in two halves. Wrap each half with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pan over medium heat, saute onions, garlic, tomatoes and red pepper in olive oil,  cook until soft. Add shrimp, squeeze lime juice, add salt and pepper to taste and red pepper flakes. Then add hearts of palms, olives, fresh parsley and flour. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Pre heat oven to  350 F.
  5. Remove one half of dough from refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Open dough with a rolling-pin and place it on a round pie dish. Prick dough with a fork and place it in oven for 15 min.
  6. Remove from oven, place but leave oven on. Pour shrimp filling inside pie crust, set aside.
  7. Remove other half of dough from refrigerator and open with a rolling-pin on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on top of filling. Press the sides to close the edges. Brush the top with the beaten egg yolk and sprinkle parmesan cheese. Make a cut like a cross in the middle with a knife. Place it on top of a cookie sheet and in the oven and bake for 35 min or until top is golden brown. Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Brazilian Sweet Bread ” Rosca Doce”

 

 

Brazilians love sweet bread!  there are many varieties of this delicious treat and you find them in every bakery around the country. Sweet bread was brought to Brazil by the Portuguese, it is as popular there as it is in Brazil. Great with butter and honey or fruit preserves, it is usually  served at breakfast or in the afternoon accompanied by a cup of bold strong coffee or” café au lait”

Ingredients:

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of butter softened
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup granulated coconut sugar or brown sugar

 

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add milk, 1/2 cup sugar,salt, vanilla, eggs, butter and 1/2 cups of flour and whisk all together, it will look like a cake batter.
  2. Then add remaining flour and knead until dough is elastic and easy to handle.
  3. Turn dough onto the counter top and grease the bowl. Set dough back in bowl and turn greased side up. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and place dough in a warm area and let it rise for ate least 1 hour. I like to place mine outside , the warmth of the sun is perfect.
  4. Cover a cookie tray with parchment paper and set aside
  5.  Punch  dough and place it on a lightly floured kitchen counter. Divide dough in half. Then divide each half into three parts. Roll each part into a 16 inches string approximately and braid them. Makes 2 braids. Place them on cookie tray and let them rise for another hour.
  6. Heat oven to 325F. Bake them until  golden brown, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven, brush bread with water and sprinkle granulated coconut sugar or brown sugar on top.

ENJOY!