Corcovado_statue01_2005-03-14By Klaus with K – CC BY-SA 3.0,

Olympic games are going at full speed, these are two exciting weeks! So much to follow, we tend to stay up late trying to catch up with the events we enjoy the most: swimming, running, track and field, synchronized diving, gymnastics, volleyball, beach volleyball, soccer, and this time even golf  is keeping us glued to the TV screen… Three words for you: Simone Biles rocks. 


In this post I share a full menu with Brazilian goodies published in previous years, but first I offer a new take on Shrimp Moqueca, adapted in honor of the games.



(from Bewitching Kitchen)

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or dendê oil, if available)
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Serrano pepper, minced
salt and pepper
roasted bell pepper, cut in large squares (preferably yellow)
2 cans (15 ounce) yellow tomatoes, drained, briefly processed in blender
a lot of cilantro (a lot)
about 1/2 cup coconut milk (full fat, please)
lemon juice to taste
hot sauce to taste

Squirt a little lemon juice all over the shrimp and reserve.

Heat the coconut oil in a large saute pan with a lid. Add the onions and cook until golden and fragrant. Add the Serrano pepper and roasted bell pepper, cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often.  Add the garlic, cook for about 30 seconds, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Now pour the processed yellow tomatoes, season with salt, pepper, a dash or two of the hot sauce of your choice. Cover the pan and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes in very low heat.

Add the shrimp, simmer until cooked, just for a few minutes, then add coconut milk and cilantro to the pan, stirring until warm. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more hot sauce to taste.  If you’d like, sprinkle fresh lemon juice right before serving. Perfect over white rice.


to print the recipe, click here

If you don’t have canned yellow tomatoes, use red.  I like to process them to have a smoother sauce. Yellow bell peppers would reinforce the golden color of the dish, but our store did not have any this time.



Let’s get a trio of appetizers going, starting with Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread).  This is a very easy recipe using a blender and a few minutes of your time. If you’ve never had Pão de Queijo, don’t blink. Make them right now!  They were born gluten-free, which is an added bonus to many.


For the recipe, click follow this link.

Another great, traditional option,  Pastéis (a bit like empanadas, but fried).


for the recipe, follow this link.

And perhaps my favorite, the one that gets the Golden Medal of Appetizers,
Mandioca Frita (Fried Yucca Root)

mandiocafrita1For the recipe, follow this link. 

To serve with the Golden Moqueca I recommend basic white rice and a nice helping of Brazilian Farofa, to help soak up the flavorful tomato-coconut sauce.


For the recipe, follow this link.


You definitely need the Brazilian national drink to get into the Olympic spirit!


recipe for Caipirinhas can be found here.

Finally, for dessert, let’s share a triple round of goodies, starting with Brigadeiros,
because how could you not have brigadeiros during a Brazilian feast?


For the recipe, click here

But it’s hard to beat the level of deliciousness of Cocada de Forno (Baked Coconut)


to get the recipe for Cocada de Forno, jump here.


And perhaps my favorite of all, as Brazilian as Brazilian gets, Mangas Flambadas, served  comme il faut, with vanilla ice cream (but if you use Dulce de Leche it won’t hurt my feelings at all).


For the recipe, click here.

Top the meal with what my Dad used to call um cafezinho esperto (a smart coffee), and dream with Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals around the neck of your favorite athletes.
Let’s keep in mind that medals are great but the effort each athlete puts into being there to compete, that’s what impresses me the most. Imagine the personal ordeals they go through to finally be part of the Olympic team.  Commitment, hard work, mental and physical struggles most of us could never face.

Quoting a great phrase from an advertisement for Under Armour: 

Watch the video in full here. It is moving, truly mesmerizing.

Golden Shrimp Moqueca, from Bewitching Kitchen

ONE YEAR AGO: Tomato Tatin

TWO YEARS AGO: Headed to Colorado! 

THREE YEARS AGO: Farofa Brasileira

FOUR  YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

FIVE YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

SIX YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 






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, and it’s  impossible to resist eating more than just one… The vendors are usually hard working Chinese-Brazilians, with red faces from the intense heat in their huge woks.

Growing up in our house, my memories of pasteis go well beyond the street markets.   Luisa, a cook who worked for my Mom every Saturday, often made them, and always from scratch. She used no machines or special gadgets, but only her strong arms, a rolling pin, and a fantastic disposition.

Luisa routinely prepared two batches, one for the whole family, and another for my Dad, which no one else would touch.  What was so special about his pasteis?  They were filled with minced peppers, and I am not talking jalapenos, poblanos, or serranos.  Those were incendiary Brazilian peppers that can make a grown man cry.  Dad was absolutely addicted to them.

Besides his love for hot peppers, he loved a good laugh.  You might see where this is headed: he’d  sneak into the kitchen to steal a couple of pasteis as Luisa was busy frying them, and then hide one of his “special ones” in the middle of the normal batch.   He later patiently waited for a very unlucky camper to bite into it.  Although everyone was on high alert at the beginning of the meal, we always seemed to forget until someone started howling in pain!   Dad, laughing to the point of tears,  insisted that he didn’t do it,  that Luisa had certainly made a mistake.  😉   The best times were when Mom got the fiery one…  Normally soft-spoken and even-tempered, a mouthful of hot pepper really made her fume, literally.   It’s been almost six years since my Dad left us, but the memories will never fade.

(recipe adapted from my friend and fantastic cook, Anita)

for the dough
250g all purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water
1 egg
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 Tbs pinga (or vodka)
1 tsp baking powder
vegetable oil, for frying (around 2 cups, depending on pan size)

Mix all ingredients together until very smooth. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes to 12 hours in the fridge, covered by plastic film.

Using a pasta machine, open small portions of the dough – on a Kitchen Aid, I roll up to number 5, not thinner. Place the dough on a floured surface and cut into squares. Add the filling of your choice to the center of the square and close the dough around it, pressing the edges with the tines of a fork to prevent it from opening as you fry it.  Make absolutely sure there are no holes for the oil to sip in, or they will be soggy.

Fry in extremely hot oil until golden, turning them only once. Remove to a tray with paper towels to absorb excess oil.  Pasteis can be kept in a 200F oven while you fry the full batch.

Ground beef filling
1 pound ground beef
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 diced onion
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs pitted, diced green olives
1 Tbs minced parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 Tbs cornstarch
1 boiled egg, finely diced

Saute the onions in the oil until translucent. Add the ground beef, and saute until cooked through. Add the tomato paste, green olives, salt and pepper and cook in slow-heat for 10 minutes. Add the boiled egg, mix well. Make a slurry with water and cornstarch, add to the ground beef mixture, cooking for a few minutes, until it thickens slightly. Let it cool completely before using. Leftover filling can be frozen.

(makes about 20 pasteis)


PDF file under preparation……  (it had a mistake when originally published)

If you don’t want the trouble of making the dough, won ton skins will work reasonably well, and they are quite easy to find in grocery stores.  But, this recipe will produce an authentic version, with a crust full of blisters and slightly more “substance” than you’ll get from won ton skins.

Pasteis can be filled with many different things.   Pastel de queijo (cheese pastel)  is very popular in Brazil:   just enclose  a piece of mozzarella with a sprinkle of oregano, and remember that it will be very hot once it’s done frying.    Hearts of palm is another popular filling (pastel de palmito) that I’ll definitely post about in the future, because I’m very fond of it.  Your own imagination is the limit: roasted chicken with a little cream cheese, cooked shrimp with tomatoes and herbs, all veggie…..  Have fun with it!

Pasteis can be made in a small size that’s  perfect as an appetizer with a cold caipirinha on the side.  But my favorite pasteis are as part of a full meal, with rice and a fresh salad.  Tropical paradise on a plate!
For more photos, follow the slide show…. And for a quick lesson on Brazilian Portuguese, click on the sound files down below.

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If you want to pronounce it like a native, listen carefully:

receita em portugues na proxima pagina….

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