CHICKEN AND HEART OF PALM SQUARES

Puff pastry turns any delicacy into something special. It is hard to beat the taste and texture of a nicely laminated dough. You can go sweet or savory, you can skip any additions, just form them as sticks, twist them around and enjoy plain or with a humble sprinkle of spices. Today I share a recipe for puff pastry squares using a classic Brazilian filling: chicken and hearts of palm.

CHICKEN AND HEART OF PALM SQUARES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for rough puff pastry:
(makes a little more than you’ll need)
345 g unsalted butter, frozen
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
300g all-purpose flour + 2 Tbsp (to toss with grated butter)
80 g whole milk, cold
80 g water, cold (may not use it all)
1 egg for egg wash

for the filling:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 lemon (to poach chicken)
salt and ground black pepper to poach chicken breasts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic
salt and ground black pepper
2 large tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
100 g hearts of palm, cut in ¼ inch rounds
100 g frozen peas (no need to defrost)
80 g cream cheese (full-fat)
Sriracha sauce
fresh cilantro to taste
1 lemon
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup whole milk

Mix in a large bowl the 300g flour, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

Grate the butter using a food processor with a grating disk attachment. Toss it with 2 Tbsp flour and reserve.

Take 155 g of the grated butter and mix with the flour in the large bowl, tossing with your hands to form reasonably small crumbles. Keep the rest of the butter in the freezer. Add to the flour/butter mixture all the cold milk and half of the water. Make a smooth dough, trying to handle it as little as possible. Adjust with water and or more flour.

Roll it out as a rectangle, about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Add roughly 50 g of frozen grated butter to the center of the dough. Fold bottom half up, add 50 g more butter to the folded portion. Fold the top portion down, covering the butter. Turn the dough so that one open side is facing you. Roll it out as before, add the leftover grated butter exactly the same way. Fold and place in fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough as before, fold two more times without adding any more butter. Roll out as a rectangle and keep in fridge until filling is ready and cold.

Roll out about 1/3 of the dough (roughly 300 g) as a square a little bigger than 12 inches. Do the same for another third of the dough.  Cut 12 squares from each piece of dough, punching a star using a cookie cutter in the center of half the squares (they will be the top of the pastry).

Place the squares that will be the bottom over parchment paper. Add enough cool chicken filling, brush the sides with egg wash, place the top pastry and push the edges to close it down. Brush the top with egg wash and bake at 400F for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.

FOR THE FILLING (can be made a couple of days in advance)
Poach the chicken breasts very gently in water seasoned with salt, pepper, soy sauce and lemon juice. I like to bring the water to almost a boil, turn the heat off, and leave the chicken in the pan for 15 minutes. Keep in mind it will cook longer in the pie.  When chicken is poached and cool enough to handle, shred the meat with your fingers or a couple of forks. Reserve.

Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil with a touch of salt and pepper in a large skillet until fragrant. Add the shredded chicken breast, tomatoes, tomato paste, hearts of palm pieces and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring. Dissolve the flour in the milk, whisking well to avoid lumps. Pour into the meat mixture and heat until it starts to thicken.  Add the cream cheese, then the frozen peas and mix everything gently. Add the Sriracha sauce, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Add the minced cilantro, lemon juice and allow the mixture to cool completely before assembling the pastries.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The filling for these puff pastry squares is very similar to this one of my recent blogging past. It is a classic component of Brazilian recipes like pasteis, empadinhas and pies. The recipe will provide you with leftovers that you can enjoy over rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, or if you are truly daring, try it as a topping for pizza or flatbreads. Add a bit more cheese on top for good measure.

You will have a little bit of puff pastry leftover. You can cut in small squares, fill mini-muffin pans and play with other fillings like….

Mushroom duxelles!  Or save in the freezer for future important experiments in the kitchen. It does freeze beautifully…

ONE YEAR AGO: Seedy Crackers for a Fun Party

TWO YEARS AGO: Brutti ma Buoni Low-Carb Soup

THREE YEARS AGO: Turkey Stir-Fry with Almond Butter

FOUR YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Tailgating Party!

FIVE YEARS AGO: One Million Page Views!

SIX YEARS AGO: Tlayuda, a Mexican Pizza

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Paradise Revisited 

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Feijoada, the Ultimate Brazilian Feast

NINE YEARS AGO: Vegetable Milhojas

TEN YEARS AGO:  Italian Bread

MANDIOCA FRITA 101: FRIED YUCCA ROOT

Flash back from the past, a delicacy from Brazil that is sure to please anyone who tries it! A bit of work to prepare, but oh-so-very-worthy!

Bewitching Kitchen

I suspect that many people have never tried it, and that those who saw manioc root for sale didn’t take it home, because it looks too strange and intimidating.   That’s  all quite sad, because it means they’re missing this: the Brazilian version of french fries.

For many Brazilians, “mandioca frita” is even better than french fries.  I know, it sounds heretical, but trust me – once you try it you will be hooked.  Crunchy outside, creamy inside, with a flavor that can only be described as addictive.    I won’t lie to you, mandioca  frita takes some effort.  But  if you follow my instructions you won’t regret it.

Manioc, also known as cassava and yucca, is a major ingredient in many cuisines of the world.  You can read all about it here.

To cook the manioc, you first must peel it, a task that requires a good…

View original post 507 more words

BRAZILIAN PAO DE QUEIJO: Love at first bite!

Brazilian cooking at its best, in a quick, easy and super tasty recipe!

Bewitching Kitchen

cheesebread1

If you happen to know any Brazilians leaving abroad, ask them to name the five foods that they miss the most. I’m willing to bet that “pao de queijo” (little cheese bread) makes the list. Some might even shed a tear or two thinking about it.

Originally from the beautiful state of Minas Gerais, they are made with a farmer’s type cheese, quite unique (Minas’ cheese, read about it here).   Brazilian cheese bread  is so popular that nowadays you can buy it in stores all over the country called ‘Casa do Pao de Queijo” (Home of the Cheese Bread),  or as a dry mix, in colorful bags available at most grocery stores. I’ve lost track of how many such bags we’ve stuffed in our luggage coming back from annual trips to visit family and friends.

Last year I found a recipe for pao de…

View original post 428 more words

MEMORIES of PASTEIS

Dad left us 15 years ago today. But he did not really leave. This is a post from 9 years ago, which I re-blog today.
(comments are shutdown)

Bewitching Kitchen

When traveling to a country for the first time, it’s a good idea to pay special attention to their “street food.”   In Paris, for example, the tiny shops selling crepes (sometimes slathered with Nutella!) are a delight as one strolls along the avenues.   Many big cities are filled with  such delicacies, and in fact, one of my favorite cookbooks revolves around this topic.

On the streets of Brazil, you might stop to buy a “pastel,” and after sampling it, immediately return to the vendor for a couple more (plural = pasteis).    These fried savory pastries are sold at the entrance of street markets: every week on the same day a few blocks of a neighborhood street close to traffic, while farmers sell their produce from early morning until slightly past noon, with prices dropping as the hours pass.  You’ll smell the pasteis from a distance…

View original post 1,102 more words

NOT QUITE MOQUECA

Moqueca is one beloved dish in Brazilian cooking. Several ingredients are mandatory: coconut milk, dende oil, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. The main protein can be shrimp, fish, or both. It is spicy, luscious, quite filling, and always served over a simple white rice. I have already messed up with this classic before, but with this recipe I shall infuriate my fellow native Brazilians a second time.

MOQUECA-STYLE SHRIMP AND CHICKPEAS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1.5 pounds large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (14.5 oz)
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1 shallot, finely diced
1 red or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon harissa (or to taste)
1.5 cups crushed tomatoes with their juice
3/4 cup light coconut milk
fresh cilantro to taste
juice of half lemon

Heat the oil on a large sauce pan. Add the fennel, shallot and bell pepper, saute everything together seasoning with salt and pepper until translucent and very fragrant.

Add the crushed tomatoes, harissa, and chickpeas, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the shrimp and  coconut milk, simmer gently until the shrimp is cooked, 5 minute or so. Add the cilantro, lemon juice and serve over white rice.  If you like, add some hot sauce on the plate.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Moqueca originated in one of the hottest states of Brazil, Bahia. Even though it is a kind of stew, it is enjoyed the whole year, even at the height of the summer. I like to bring this up because those of us living in the Northern hemisphere are headed to very warm days. Don’t twist the nose to a nice serving of moqueca for that reason. This will please you no matter how hot it is outside.

I completely forgot to get fresh cilantro at the store, so I added a couple of Dorot frozen cilantro cubes together with the coconut milk/shrimp mixture. But don’t make this mistake, fresh cilantro not only looks great but it adds a lot more flavor, especially if added right before serving the meal.

I committed many sins with the recipe, but served it over white rice as any good Brazilian would. I hope this helps restore my reputation.

ONE YEAR AGO: Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Nuts

TWO YEARS AGO: Mississippi Roast and the Open Mind

THREE YEARS AGO: Walnut-Raisin Bran Muffins

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Star is Born!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chestnut Flour Sourdough Bread

SIX YEARS AGO: Kinpira Gobo and Japanese Home Cooking

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Walnut Sourdough

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Thai Chicken Curry

NINE YEARS AGO: Zen and the art of risotto

 

BRAZILIAN CHICKEN AND HEARTS OF PALM PIE

I have two favorite ways out of culinary trouble: rustic and fusion. I am calling this fusion cuisine. The filling is a very traditional example of Brazilian cooking (Torta de Frango e Palmito), and the crust – hot water pastry – originates from England. They were a good match, shaping a dish that is perfect for chilly evenings (sigh). Leftovers keep well for a few days. The pastry is so sturdy that it does not suffer from being re-heated. Obviously, this is very filling, a small piece will be enough as a satisfying meal. You could make it vegetarian by adding a bunch of roasted veggies in place of the chicken, but make sure to double the amount of hearts of palm in that case, you want it to be a prominent flavor.

BRAZILIAN CHICKEN AND HEARTS OF PALM PIE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

equipment: 9-inch springform pan

for the pie crust:
400g all-purpose flour
150g bread flour
½ tsp fine salt
80g unsalted butter
100g lard
200ml water

for the filling:
3 chicken breasts, bone-in
2 tsp salt (divided)
1 tsp black pepper (divided)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
squeeze of lemon juice
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained (about 15 oz)
250-300 g hearts of palm, drained and diced
1/2 to 1 cup frozen green peas
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup whole milk
fresh parsley and cilantro, minced (to taste)
1/4 cup cream cheese
a few slices of fresh mozzarella (optional, see comments)
egg wash to brush the dough (1 egg + 1 tsp water, whisked well)

Make the filling. Poach the chicken breasts very gently in water seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. I like to bring the water to almost a boil, turn the heat off, and leave the chicken in the pan for 15 minutes. Keep in mind it will cook longer in the pie.  When chicken is poached and cool enough to handle, shred the meat with your fingers or a couple of forks. Reserve.

Sautee the shallot in olive oil with a touch of salt and pepper in a large skillet until fragrant. Add the shredded chicken breast, tomatoes, hearts of palm pieces and heat for a couple of minutes, stirring. Dissolve the flour in the milk, whisking well to avoid lumps. Pour into the meat mixture and heat until it starts to thicken.  Add the cream cheese, then the frozen peas and mix everything gently.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Add the minced parsley and allow the mixture to cool completely before assembling the pie.

Make the pie dough. Place the flours, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Place the butter, lard and water in a small saucepan and heat until boiling. Allow to cool slightly, then pour onto the flour mixture and stir with a large wooden spoon. Once it is cool enough to handle with your bare hands, knead the mixture until smooth and elastic. Roll out about 2/3 of the dough and cover the bottom and sides of the springform pan, making sure to take the dough all the way to the top. Unless your pan is a true non-stick pan, you will be better off by slightly greasing it with butter.

Add the cool filling, top with a few slices of mozzarella, and cover the pie with the remaining dough, rolled out a little bigger than the diameter of the pan. Join the bottom and top dough to seal the pie. Brush the surface with egg wash and make two or three cuts on top to allow steam to be released during baking.

Heat the oven to 400 F. Bake the pie for 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350F and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool over a rack for 20 minutes before opening the springform pan and serving the pie.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The combination of chicken, hearts of palm and green peas is a true classic in Brazilian cooking. Sometimes made as filling for appetizers called “empadinhas” – not to confuse with empanadas, another South American concoction but made with a different type of dough and usually much bigger.  Empadinhas are tiny, one or at most two-bite delicacies. I should make some before too long, although they are quite a bit of work to prepare.

Now, confession time. The real Brazilian version of this pie takes a type of cream cheese that is not available in the US, called “requeijão”.  I decided to use cream cheese, but completely forgot about it until I grabbed the cold filling and saw the package of cream cheese un-opened next to it. That is why I decided to add some mozzarella slices on top. I really like the way it turned out, so I included it in the recipe. Double cheese won’t hurt, I say go for it.

This was made back in July, so we enjoyed it with peak of the season tomatoes and cucumbers in a refreshing salad. For a winter meal, I suggest a fennel and orange salad, which will go perfectly with all the flavors in the pie.

Note to self: make empadinhas before the blog turns 10 years old!

say it as a native: 

ONE YEAR AGO: Roasted Butternut Squash with Walnuts and Tahini Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO: The Complicit Conspiracy of Alcohol

THREE YEARS AGO: Candy Cane Cookies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Macarons: Much better with a friend

FIVE YEARS AGO: Our Mexican Holiday Dinner 

SIX YEARS AGO: The Ultimate Cranberry Sauce

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Edamame Dip

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Gougeres

NINE YEARS AGO: Beef Wellington on a Special Night

A TRIO OF AIR-FRIED GOODIES

For those who follow my blog for a while, it’s obvious that I love a new gadget. In the kitchen, in the lab, I am always excited to try something new. Then comes the flip side of that coin. The after-taste of guilt after brining a new toy home. “Did I really need that?”  Next, I make solemn promises to never ever fall to temptation again (yeah, right). Lolita, our Philips air-fryer, was no exception, I went through intense mea culpa sessions every time I passed by the laundry room and saw her in all her shiny beauty sitting on the countertop. Ready and waiting. Guilty feelings are not fun, so I fight them with my best weapon: putting Lolita to work as often as possible. You know what? It seems to work. So here I am to share three guilt-removing dishes made in the air-fryer.

GOODIE #1
FRIED MANIOC ROOT, A BRAZILIAN CLASSIC

I’ve published quite a few years ago a full tutorial on how to make “mandioca frita.” You can read it here,  so that you learn how to prepare it. Please, don’t ever try to fry the root without cooking it first.

Once you got your pieces of yucca root cooked, they can sit in the fridge for a few days, or even be frozen. To cook them in the air-fryer, simply coat them with a little olive oil, season with salt, and place in the fryer at 390F for 20 minutes or so.  The time will vary depending on the size of your fries. Watch them as they start to get dark brown, then remove them and salt the pieces before enjoying them.

Just like potato fries and sweet potato fries, there will be a difference in texture, as the fried pieces will not be soaked in oil. That, of course, may turn off some traditionalists, but I find it a brilliant way to reduce the fat content still allowing us to enjoy this delicacy.

GOODIE #2
SWEET POTATO CHIPS

I’ve blogged about sweet potato chips made using the spiralizer. In this simpler version, I cut them by hand and omitted the soaking. The idea was to get them to the table as quickly as possible on a weeknight. I used a mixture of orange and white sweet potatoes, cut them more or less uniformly in 1/4 inch slices, coated them very lightly with salt and into the basket they went. Temperature was set to 390F, which is the highest setting the Philips will go to, and they took about 18 minutes to get brown, shaking the pan every once in a while.  I must say I preferred the batch made with the spiralizer, but if you need to take a simpler, faster route, these are still pretty pretty pretty good (any Curb your Enthusiasm fans out there?).

GOODIE #3
PARSNIP FRIES

These turned out excellent! The only problem with them was the amount. I ended up with a smaller portion than anticipated. It so happened that when I was peeling the parsnips, the largest of all slipped from my hand and fell on the floor. A race took place between Sally and a certain dog that attends by the name of Bogey Quit That. Against all odds, since the cook happened to be closer to the fallen root, BQT won, and thought it was super fun to grab it and run around the house with it, as fast as his powerful legs would allow. There was a bit of profanity involved, some screaming, until he finally dropped the badly mangled veggie on the second floor of our home, near the bed in a guest bedroom. Into the trash it went. Serial killer, folks. As I mentioned many times, I must have been a serial killer in a past life. Eternal karma.

But, back to the recipe. Cut the parsnips as uniformly as possible. Not an easy thing to do, those are creatures shaped in exotic ways. Coat them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and then add one to two teaspoons of cornmeal all over, shake gently. Any cornmeal that doesn’t stick, it’s ok, you just want a very subtle coating. Place them in the basket of the air-fryer, and set it to 360F. Cook for 10 minutes, increase the heat to 390F and cook a few more minutes, shaking the pan every once in a while. As they brown, remove them and adjust seasoning with salt if needed. Due to their shape, some bits will be more cooked than others. No big deal, it’s all good. They have this wonderful sharp taste, like fries that had a date with a lemon. Yeah, that’s about right. Love them.

We really love the air-fryer, and I have no regrets about buying it. It makes portions that are perfect for the two of us, it is not too noisy, it doesn’t smoke, it is super easy to clean, and it doesn’t require a lot of time to reach temperature. Two minutes at most, but I don’t even worry about that. I put everything inside, turn it on and add two minutes to the cooking time to compensate for the heating.

Of the three goodies, I think the parsnips were my favorite. I might try to make them in the spiralizer as chips, just for fun. We enjoyed them with a New Mexico Pork Chile, rice, and avocado slices. Simple, but very tasty dinner. Of course, a little more parsnip fries would have been nice… But life with BQT has its complexities…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Focaccia with Grapes, Roquefort and Truffled Honey

TWO YEARS AGO: Moroccan Carrot Dip Over Cucumber Slices 

THREE YEARS AGO: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cilantro-Jalapeno “Hummus”

FIVE YEARS AGO: A Moving Odyssey

EIGHT YEARS AGO:
 Shrimp Moqueca

SaveSave