Posts in Brazil
Brazilian side dishes: Hearts of Palm Salad, Deep-Fried Polenta, and Shredded Greens
Brazil dinner

This meal had so many flavors, textures, different tasty elements, it was hard to pick a favorite. I think if I was pressed to choose though, it would be the Hearts of Palm Salad, I loved the tangy palm hearts, crunchy onion, fresh tomatoes, bitter watercress, and just a slight drizzle of olive oil. Delicious, particularly as a side to rich steak and fried polenta!

Heart of Palm Salad

Palm Heart Salad

Adapted from ‘The Food and Cooking of Brazil’ by Fernando Farah

1 can heart of palm stalks, sliced into large diagonal slices
2 ripe tomatoes or 1 cup cherry or plum tomatoes, chopped into large pieces
1 medium red onion, sliced into rings, use only the middle perfect rings
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ - 1 cup watercress or arugula
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Arrange the tomatoes and hearts of palm in a serving bowl, top with rings of onion and watercress. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Deep-fried Polenta

Adapted from ‘The Food and Cooking of Brazil’ by Fernando Farah

 4 ¼ cups water
3 ¼ cups polenta
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp plain flour
vegetable oil for deep frying

1. Add water, polenta, stock and oil to a large pot. Slowly bring to a boil, then simmer until it becomes a think puree, about 20 minutes. The mixture is ready when the bottom of the pot begins to show when you stir the polenta. Sprinkle in the plan flour and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

2. Pour mixture into an oiled 11x11in pan, using a spatula spread into an even layer. Cool, then chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or until set.

3. Turn the chilled block of polenta out onto an oiled cutting board. Wet the blade of a long knife and cut into approximately 3/4in x 3/4in x 3 ½ in sticks.

4. Half-fill a deep pot with oil, heat to 375° F. Preheat oven to 200° F. Add about 5 pieces at a time and fry for 3-4 minutes, until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper-towel lined plate and immediately sprinkle with salt.  Keep warm in a 200° F oven.

5. Fry remaining pieces. Serve right away or keep warm in oven until ready to serve.

Fried Polenta
Shredded Greens

Brazilian-style shredded greens

Adapted from ‘The Food and Cooking of Brazil’ by Fernando Farah

1 bunch collard greens or other dark green
3 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Clean and trim collard greens, removing the thick part of the stalk. Thinly slice by rolling a stack of leaves and slicing in narrow strips across the width of the leaves.

2. Heat olive oil in a large pan, add garlic and let fry for just a moment, then add shredded greens. Cook 3-5 minutes until wilted and softened but still slightly al dente. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve right away.

 I always forget how much greens cook down. I ran out of small bowls, so these greens looked so sad in the big serving bowl. But they made up for their lack of picture-perfectness in punchy flavor. We threw them in the cast-iron after cooking the steak for some extra rich meaty goodness, but if you prefer them vegetarian or don’t want all that au jus in your greens feel free to follow the recipe as is.

Pastel de feira de carne (Brazilian pastel pastries with meat filling)

We first had these on a beach in Hawaii from a Brazilian food truck in Haliewa. It is hard to beat that experience, but knowing we can make them in our own kitchen is getting pretty close.

I highly recommend making both these and the Deep-Fried Polenta since you will already have a nice hot pot of oil, may as well make the most of it!

Pastel de feira de carne

(Pastel Pastries with meat filling)

Adapted from ‘The Food and Cooking of Brazil’ by Fernando Farah

Makes 6 large Pastel, or you can size them smaller for more

2 ¾ cups plain flour, sifted
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp lard, chilled or extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cachaça or vodka
1 tbsp white vinegar
½ cup warm water
Vegetable oil for deep frying (vegetable or peanut oil)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ onion
10 ounces ground beef
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup green olives, sliced
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tbsp green onions, sliced
ground black pepper

1. Pour the flour and salt in a bowl, mix. Rub in the lard with your fingertips until mixture forms crumbles.

2. Make a well in the center and pour in cachaça, vinegar, and water. Mix the ingredients well.

2. On a clean surface, dust some flour and work the dough vigorously for 5 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onion, stirring for 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the garlic and ground beef, breaking the meat with a wooden spoon. Keep frying for a few minutes until the meat is cooked through. Stir in the olives, parsley and green onions, cook for a further minute. Transfer to a bowl, cover and place in the fridge until required.

4. Using a pasta machine or a rolling pin, roll the dough flat until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Using a pastry cutter cut the pastry into rectangles 4 inches by 8 inches.

5. Pour some water into a small bowl. Place 1 ½ tbsp of the meat mixture on one half of the pastry rectangle. Using a pastry brush or your fingertip, brush the edges of the pastry with a little bit of water. Press the edges of the pastry together and then press down the edges with a fork to ensure it will not open while is being fried. Repeat the process with the remaining pastries.

7. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan to 375° F. Fry the pastries, one at a time, for 1 minute on each side or until slightly golden and crispy. Place each fried pastel on the a paper towel-lined plate. They can be served hot (in which case you can keep them warm in a 200° F oven) or cold.

Pastel with meat filling



Batida Cocktail

I love a good creamy cocktail. Coconut milk adds just enough creaminess and tropical flavor to work well with the serious kick of cachaça and lime. Try these! You won’t regret it.

Batida Cocktail


Adapted from

2 oz silver cachaça
1 oz passion fruit syrup
1/2 oz coconut milk
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
Garnish: Pineapple leaf

Add all the ingredients into a blender with 1/2 cup of ice, and blend until smooth.

Pour into a rocks glass over crushed ice.

Garnish with a pineapple leaf.

Brazil GP 2018: Grilled Steak (Picanha Fatiada) with Fresh Salsa

The penultimate race.

Somehow it is here again, the end of the season. At least these final races are great spectacles and keeping us on the edge of our seats! As a solid Max fan I couldn’t believe he got run off the track by a backmarker. What drama! But all is fair in love and racing and it was an awesome race nonetheless. You could tell how proud Lewis was to win it for Mercedes and solidify the championship. This year he really did show he is a real champion. He was fast, focused, and didn’t make any mistakes. Three cheers for Lewis, or hell give him and the team five!

We went all out for a Brazilian feast. All the recipes come from ‘The Food and Cooking of Brazil’ by Fernando Farah. A gift from our tenant and Brazilian friend Luis before he moved back home last year.

We started off with Pastel de feira de carne (Fried pastel pastries) and Batida cocktails. And our dinner featured Pichana Fatiada (Grilled Rump Steak), Fried Polenta, Brazilian-style shredded greens, Palm heart salad, and Fresh Brazilian-style salsa.

Brazilian Steak

Grilled Rump Steak

Adapted from ‘The Food and Cooking of Brazil’ by Fernando Farah

1 whole cut of beef rump (picanha) about 2 ½ pounds
2 tbsp coarse sea salt

1. Rub the salt all over the beef, massaging it in. Leave at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Slice rump steak into 4 inch thick steaks 1½-2 inches each.

3. Pat the steaks dry on both sides and grill them on the barbecue or hot grill pan until medium rare or done to your liking.

4. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

5. Cut each steak into ½ inch slices for serving, pour juices over on serving plate.

Serve with any or all of the following: White Rice, Farofa, Brazilian-style salsa, Deep-fried Polenta

Steak and salsa

Brazilian-style Salsa

Adapted from ‘The Food and Cooking of Brazil’ by Fernando Farah

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 plum tomatoes or 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 large white or red onion, diced
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper

1. Place all chopped vegetables in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl, or combine in a mason jar and shake.

3. Pour over vegetables and mix well.

4. Serve immediately or cover to chill and let flavors meld together for no more than an hour.

Brazilian GP - Pastel and Coxinha (Vacation Edition)

Even on Oahu with the beach 15 feet from our Airbnb and the sunset streaming pink through the windows we managed to watch the Brazilian race. It was a good thing it was exciting enough!

I did not make anything for the race... since a hotplate and Hawaiian grocery prices just did not combine to make a tempting enough setting for creative cooking. But we did find a Brazilian Food Truck!

Thanks to Crispy Grindz in Haliewa, Oahu, we had some awesome coxinha and pastel, along with some local brews on the beach before heading back to our Airbnb to watch the race. 

Next year I will make up for not cooking this year by making everything in the cookbook Luiz got for us as a goodbye present before he headed back to Brazil- I promise it will be epic!

This post is delayed and short, but I hope some sunset pictures make up for it this time around. 

On a side note, if you happen to find yourself in Oahu anytime soon, there are a few things I highly recommend  you try:

ALL the Poke - Foodland has an awesome selection as does Tamura's liqour stores and many a restaurant
Garlic shrimp from any of the food trucks along the Windward side or in Haliewa (we liked Camaron's)
Butter mochi - a ridiculously delicious dense cake sold at most grocery stores, Foodland's is to die for
Beer from Maui Brewing Company, they were hands down the favorite... and we tried a few
A drink or two at La Mariana Sailing club - we recommend the tapas style starters, especially the Ahi Spring Roll - it was the hands down favorite of everyone at the table, along with the Zombie

If you're interested in places to hike, kayak, or snorkel let me know and I'm happy to pass along those recommendations as well!

BrazilMaria DawsonComment
Brazilian Grand Prix -Pão de queijo

The Brazilian Grand Prix this year was a special one. We have a Brazilian tenant and friend, Luiz. He has shared some of his favorite recipes with us and he cooked up a feast for the Brazilian GP.

All the classics were there:

Feijoada (Brazilian Black Bean Stew)
Brazilian White Rice Pao de Queijo (Cheese Bread)
Farofa Brigadeiro and Beijinho de Coco (Coconut Little Kiss)

It was magical, and steeped in homemade deliciousness.


We contributed as we usually do with the cocktails:


1/2 lime
½-1 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces cachaça
Soda water

Slice the lime into 1/2-inch rounds and muddle them in an old-fashioned glass or small tumbler with the sugar. Add a couple of ice cubes. Pour in the cachaça. Top with soda water to taste.

To start off though we had some Brazilian Witbeir, which safely made its passage to California in Luiz's suitcase when he first arrived!


 Luiz shared some tips and a recipe for his version of Cheesy Bread, enjoy!

Bread cheese (pão de queijo):

350 g tapioca flour
1 spoon of salt
200 ml of milk
200 g of cheese (your choice - parmesan or combo of cheddar and parmesan works)
1 egg

Put the flour in a recipient, boil the milk and put in the flour recipient. mix a bit with a spoon. Add the cheese, salt and the egg. Now mix everything with your hands until became homogeneous. The dough  should not glue in your hands and should be dry, so if you need you can add bit more of milk to achieve the right consistence (can be cold). Important: test if the dough needs more salt.

Preheat the oven at 400 F and bake for 30-35 minutes.


The Kitchn also has a great easy to follow recipe: 

Pao de Queijo


Brigadeiro recipe

This video from Tasty Demais is by far the quickest way to learn how to make this tasty treat. 


Brigadeiros are apparently the treat of choice in Brazil. No birthday party, wedding, or special event is complete without a selection of brigadeiros. My favorite kind are actually the coconut infused Beijinho de Cocos. 

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(Brazilian Fudge Balls)

From Olivia's Cuisine

1 (14oz) can sweet condensed milk
4 Tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
2 Tbsp butter, plus more for rolling balls
A pinch of salt
Chocolate sprinkles

1. In a small sauce pan mix the sweet condensed milk, the cocoa powder, the salt and the butter.

2.  Bring the sauce pan to the stove and heat it over medium-low heat. Cook it, mixing constantly (this is important, otherwise it will burn!) until it thickens. A way to know is to run your wooden spoon (or spatula) in the middle of the mixture. If it takes a while for the mixture to move, then your brigadeiro is ready!

3.  Reserve, letting it cool to room temperature.

4.  In a plate or bowl, spread your sprinkles. Once the brigadeiro is cool, grease your hands with butter and roll the brigadeiros into little balls.(Half a tablespoon or 1 ½ inch balls)

5. Roll the brigadeiro balls into the sprinkles and place them in paper/foil candy cups.


Beijinho de Coco

Little Coconut Kisses

From All Recipes

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon butter, plus more for pan
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
sweetened flaked coconut for decorating

1. Bring milk and butter to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the milk has reduced to half and thickened, about 20 minutes.

2. Remove from heat, stir in the 1/4 cup coconut, and allow to cool a bit before pouring into a buttered bowl. Chill in the refrigerator until cold, about 2 hours.

3. With buttered or oiled hands, form milk mixture into 1/2 to 1 tablespoon-sized balls, and roll in coconut flakes. 


Or if you prefer it from the source, Luiz prefers the Tasty Demais version for learning to make these babies from scratch:

Brigadeiro recipe

This video from Tasty Demais is by far the quickest way to learn how to make this tasty treat. 



1/2 lime
½-1 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces cachaça
Soda water

Slice the lime into 1/2-inch rounds and muddle them in an old-fashioned glass or small tumbler with the sugar. Add a couple of ice cubes. Pour in the cachaça. Top with soda water to taste.


Caiparinhas are the perfect tangy, bright counter to the salty deliciousnes of pao de queijo.

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A note on personalization: I highly recommend making these to order and adjusting the sugar level to the liking of each person. I liked it at about 1 tsp, my husband 1/2 a tsp and our friend kept pouring sugar in until I'm pretty sure it was just alcoholic limeade. But that's what it is all about, make something you love! 

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