Meat Brazilian empanadas

Pastel Dough (Massa para Pastel)

Enough for 25 pasteis

1.1 lb (1/2 kg) flour
1/2 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. lard or butter
1 bbsp. cachaça (you can also use tequila, vodka or any hard alcohol)
1 cup warm chicken broth, approximately
Mix the flour and salt, then add lard. Add the cachaça to the warm broth, and add to the dough in 1/4 cup quantities, mixing in thoroughly and stopping just when the dough forms a ball. Do not over mix or add too much broth.

Form into a ball, then let rest for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, dough for the empanadas is ready for rolling out, filling and fried as desired.

Ground meat filling
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
¼ medium yellow onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ( 454 g) lean ground beef
Salt to taste (about ¼ to ½ teaspoon)
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or fresh juice of ½ lime
2 tablespoons chopped green olives (optional)
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro, parsley or basil
1 cup cream cheese

*Extra ingredient: Canola or vegetable oil enought to deep fry.
1. In a medium skillet, heat the oil and sweat the onion over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and let cook for about 1 minute, stirring occasionaly (NOTE: The purpose is to cook the onion and garlic, NOT to brown them).

2. Increase heat to medium-high and brown the ground beef, stirring every now and then. Stir in both the salt and pepper, and then the tomato paste. Stir in the vinegar or lime juice. Let ground beef cook, uncovered, for about 5-7 minutes or until cooked throughout, stirring occasionally. Stir in the olives (optional) and the chopped cilantro or parsley. After out of heat, add cream cheese and let cool a bit before filling the pasteis.

3. Using a rolling pin or a pasta maker roll your dough more or less1/10 inches (0,25cm). Be careful because this dough dries very easy. After you dough is rolled place on the top a wet cloth.

4. Place the pastel wraps on preparation surface. Fill each with ½ to 1 Tablespoon of the cooked ground beef mixture and brush the egg white or water around the edges. Overlay another dough on top on the filling and seal edges well, pressing firmly with your fingers.

5. Using a fork, make a pattern over the edges. 
Heat a heavy-bottom pot to 350 degrees F (about 180 degrees C). If you don't have a thermometer to measure the temperature, dip a small piece of pastel into the heated oil. If you hear a sizzling sound, the oil is ready.

6. Fry the pastel, a few at a time, turning them while frying so that they brown evenly on both sides. The first and second batches will take about 3-4 minutes while the next batches will only take 1-1/2 to 2 minutes to fry because the oil will be hotter. They should be lightly golden and crisp. 
They will darken further once they are draining on paper towels.Transfer pasteis to baking sheet lined with a double layer of paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Serve hot with hot sauce.


Pork stew with tomatoes, wine and almonds

1 kg pork loin, cut in cubes
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 cup almonds, cut in half
2 bayleaves
6 ripe tomatoes or one can of tomatoes
3 juniper berries
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt & Pepper

First step is to marinate the pork with the wine and the juniper berries. Then in a big casserole, fry the onions, almonds, carrots and celery until golden brown. Add the meat without the wine, cook until is all seared. Combine the tomatoes, let reduce for 15 minutes. Add the wine with the juniper berries and the bayleaves. Cook in low/medium heat for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Serve with potatoes, polenta or vegetables.

Semifreddo with Hazelnut chocolate cream, cookies and Amaretto

200g whipping cream
70g Mascarpone
70g Condensed milk
50g hazelnut chocolate cream (Nutella or similars)
1/4 cup Amaretto
1 tea spoon cocoa powder 
Your favourite chocolate cookies

In a big bowl, mix the condensed milk , hazelnut chocolate cream with mascarpone (try to heat the mascarpone on microwave, so is not so hard to mix) until is all incorporated. Then add the amaretto.
Using a mixer, whip the cream until is firm. You can test it turning the bowl upside down.
Fold the whipped cream with the mixture, fold very carefully to make it most fluffy as possible and slowly add crushed chocolate cookies.
You can set the semifreddo in espresso cups in the freezer for about two hours. 
Before serving, dust cocoa powder in the top and add a little bit more whipping cream.
It's possible to keep it for six weeks on the freezer.

Creamy tomato sauce with sausages

3 cloves of garlic, minced
200g of sausage, taken out of their casings
1/2 cup of tomato paste
1 cup Mascarpone
1 1/12 cup of red wine
Thyme, about a Tablespoon
Olive oil for frying the onion
Salt & Pepper to taste

Fry the onion, garlic and sausage in a generous amount of olive oil.  Once onions have browned and meat has cooked, add one cup of wine and let liquid reduce half it's amount.  Add tomato paste, and thyme.  Let cook for five minutes and add another half cup of wine.  Cover and simmer the sauce at a low temperature for about 30 minutes then add the mascarpone, stirring occasionally, do not allow to boil.
Serve with a hard cheese, recommended Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano).


Chicken with oranges and lemons

Super easy dish to put together when you don't have a lot of time but you want to impress anyway! This chicken with oranges and lemons dish is a quick, inexpensive and healthy option. The chicken will turn out citrusy, tender and will melt in your mouth.

1 whole chicken cut in pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, sliced
1 orange, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tea spoon of crushed red chilli peppers
10 fresh sage leaves
Salt & Pepper

In a baking dish combine all the ingredients together. Using your hands or a big spoon, mix all the ingredients very well. Place the chicken skin facing up, so you have a tender and moist chicken. Bake in 200C/390F for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is brown. Serve with baked potatoes, rice or anything you like.

Tip: leave the whole dish marinating overnight. The next day the dish will taste much better.


Zucchini curry with coconut milk, lemongrass and ginger

This Zucchini curry is delicious, healthy and vegan. This is a very easy dish that for sure you will impress all your family and friends! Delicious served with barley, quinoa, buckwheat or rice. Perfect for making on the summer, when you find the best tasting zucchini.

3 tbsp coconut oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tbs ginger, chopped
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 lemon grass leaf
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp tumeric
1 tbsp curry paste (you can pick, green/orange or red)
1 can coconut milk
500g / 1lb Zucchini (smaller the zucchini are better they taste, I used baby zucchini)
4 roma tomatoes
1/ cup orange lentils
Red chilli peppers, by your taste
Fresh cilantro
Lime to serve

Heat the oil on a big saucepan over medium heat and fry the ginger, garlic, onion, kaffir leaves and lemon grass leaf for about 2 minutes.

Add two cups of water and the lentils, increase the heat and combine as well the cumin, turmeric, curry paste and the chilli pepper, keep in high heat for another 2 minutes (this process will help to extract the flavours of the kaffir leaves and the lemon grass leaf. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and cook in medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add the zucchini cut in sizes not bigger than a cherry, the zucchini cooks very fast so after you add the zucchini, close the lid and turn off the pan. Let rest for five minutes, the heat of the curry will cook the zucchini without getting soggy.

To finalise, open the lid add the chopped cilantro and squeeze one lime. Serve with rice, quinoa or anything else you prefer.

For serving, squeeze more lime on the top of the zucchini curry and serve with some peanuts.


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