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.

(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.


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



NINE YEARS AGO: Beef Wellington on a Special Night


Heart of palm (palmito) is perhaps not appreciated enough outside Brazil, but back home people love it in many types of preparations: pies, pastéis, filling for pasta, and in its purest form: “salada de palmito“.  Let’s practice those words now, by repeating after me four or five times. Ready?   😉

I’ve always been quite fond of a simple salad along the lines of this one pairing fresh, juicy tomatoes with slices of heart of palm, often adding black olives for color contrast and that boost of brine flavor.  But, a few weeks ago Denise, a Brazilian blogger who lives in the US shared her take on salada de palmito, and I knew I had to make it right away.  Denise blogs exclusively on Brazilian recipes, so if you want to learn more about my home country cooking, stop by her blog, and enjoy the tropical ride!



(adapted from Denise’s blog, From Brazil to You)

for the skewers:
6 heart of palm stalks, cut each stalk in half or thirds
8 grape tomatoes
Arugula or spring mix leaves, or any green of your choice
fresh parsley leaves for decoration

for the Lemon-Za’tar Dressing:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon agave nectar
a good pinch of za’tar
salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the salad, assemble 4 salad skewers by inserting and alternating heart of palm chunks, grape tomatoes, salad greens of your choice.

Once skewers are assembled, chill in refrigerator for about 30 minutes, covered with a wet paper towel. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together well until obtaining a thick and homogeneous dressing.

Drizzle the heart of palm salad skewers with the dressing, and serve sprinkling parsley leaves on top.


to print the recipe, click here

A little trivia about this post: recipe found on May 14th; enjoyed on May 17th; blogged on July 17th. 

Comments:  This was such a fun way to serve heart of palm! You can change it around in many ways, adding red onion chunks (like Denise recommends in her post), or black olives, maybe roasted zucchini slices. I can even envision some grilled halloumi cheese, making it a “Brazil meets Greece” version.

The lemony, acidic flavor of za’tar makes it a great addition to salad dressings. I added a touch of agave nectar to mellow things a little, but you should play with this basic vinaigrette idea and change it to suit your taste.

Denise, thanks for keeping Brazilian food always in my mind, every new post brings a smile to my face, and a sense of nostalgia for foods of my childhood.


 This post had been scheduled for a while, but just a couple of days before going live, I learned that Denise got a very well-deserved prize: her blog was chosen as one of 50 of the best Mom-blogs!  You can read all about it here.  Denise, you deserve all the recognition, I am thrilled for you!


ONE YEAR AGO: Potluck Frittata and Lavoisier

TWO YEARS AGO: Home-made Corn Tortillas

THREE YEARS AGO: Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Peanut Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: Brigadeiros: A Brazilian Party!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Lemony Asparagus



Cilantro haters better quit reading right away!  This is a salad for those of us who can take this gorgeous herb in all its green glory…   Very tropical, very Brazilian with the addition of hearts of palm and oranges.


(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

for the vinaigrette
2/3 cup cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

for the salad
baby romaine lettuce leaves
campari tomatoes, quartered
orange segments
hearts of palm, sliced

Add the cilantro leaves, shallots, lemon juice, vinegar, and honey into a blender. Process until very smooth.  With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.

Assemble the salad on individual plates, making a bed of lettuce leaves, adding tomatoes and orange segments on top. Place the hearts of palm slices in the center, drizzle the vinaigrette all over. You should have vinaigrette leftover; it keeps well in the fridge for a few days.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  When we have friends over for dinner, we normally bring the food to the table and let the guests serve themselves. I like informal. But, for this salad I opened an exception, and pre-assembled four individual servings. I wanted to highlight the hearts of palm, and make sure they would shine at the center, lightly covered by the bright green vinaigrette.  I loved the way the plates stood up waiting over the black granite, colorful, bright, as if calling for an early spring…  What am I saying? Spring can never be too early! 😉


ONE YEAR AGO: Watercress Salad

TWO YEARS AGO: Curried Zucchini Soup

THREE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Bread


brazilflagHeart of palm, that is…

Time for another traditional Brazilian recipe!   Heart of palm (“palmito” in Portuguese), is, as the name suggests, the core of a  palm tree sapling: it’s very delicious, but their harvest came at a huge price: to obtain the “palmito“, the whole tree was  killed. Brazil was the greatest producer until the 90’s, but the population of palm trees decreased to near extinction. Other varieties of trees that are perennials are now cultivated to  take the place of palmito; the most promising is called “pupunha“.  To listen to the correct pronunciation of those words, click the sound wave below. “Pupunha” might be a challenge for Americans, but practice makes perfect!  Go ahead and give it a try…

Heart of palm is often associated with salads (as the classic  “millionaire’s salad”), but I want to  expand your palmito-horizons to cooked dishes, like this wonderful pie. It is great warm or cold, by the way. Make sure to read my comments after the jump for some more thoughts on “palmito“.


HEART OF PALM PIE (Torta de Palmito)
(slightly modified from this recipe, taken from one of my favorite websites, “Chucrute com Salsicha”)

Clique no link acima para a receita em portugues….

2.5 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cold, cut in pieces
3/4 cup yogurt
1 t salt
1 egg yolk

2 T olive oil
1 onion, diced small
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 can hearts of palm, diced
1/2 cup olives, diced (I used a mixture of kalamata and green olives)
1/2 cup green peas (frozen is fine)
green onion and Italian parsley, to taste (minced)
4 – 5 oz cream cheese
1 T flour
salt and pepper to taste

Make the filling first, because it needs to be used cold. Saute’ the onion in olive oil until translucent, add the tomatoes, allow them to release some liquid, then add the diced heart of palm, olives, salt and pepper. Cook a couple of minutes, add the cream cheese, parsley, green onions, and flour, cook for a couple more minutes until the cheese melts and the texture turns creamy. Transfer it to a bowl and allow it to cool to room temperature. You can prepare the filling the day before and keep it refrigerated.

For the dough: add almost all the flour (2 + 1/4 cups) and the salt to a large bowl, work the butter into the flour with your fingers or a pastry fork, then add the yogurt (cold). You may or may not need to use the rest of the flour. Do not overwork the dough. Allow it to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes (you can also prepare the dough the day before).

Open half of the dough in a circle and cover the bottom and sides of your pie dish, making sure the dough is not rolled too thin.  Add all the filling, open the second half of the dough, and either cover the pie completely, or cut strips, forming a simple grid over or a more elaborate lattice pattern. Brush the dough with egg yolk mixed with a little water to thin it. Cook in a 375F oven for about 40 minutes (please see my comments for variations on this).

Allow the pie to sit for 15 minutes before slicing.

Bom apetite!

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