Brazilian · Brunch

hearts of palm pie @ Escola Wilma Kövesi de Cozinha

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When we think about kids in the kitchen we often think about baking cookies or cupcakes, but preparing meals together can be just as much fun and entertaining for kids of all ages. Kids are naturally curious about cooking and they are more willing to try foods that they help prepare, or vegetables that they choose at the supermarket or even plant in the garden.

While in Brazil last month I did a little internship cooking with 18 kids ages 9-13 at the beloved Escola Wilma Kövesi de Cozinha, which included a trip to the charming organic nursery Sabor de Fazenda, where the kids learned about organic gardening and composting and tried edible flowers and herbed butter as part of their snack.

During 3 mornings the children learned where ingredients came from, what they tasted like separately and how they transformed when combined in a recipe. They learned about safety in the kitchen and how to work in collaboration with other kids. They experimented, explored, boosted their creativity and their confidence, all while having fun and making friends. Some of the kids were experienced cooks and others were first timers, but they were all equally eager to experiment in the kitchen. Most of them were positively surprised by their accomplishments and many of them had second servings, while very few were not too keen on eating everything, but still loved the experience. I, was in heaven, cooking surrounded by curious little cooks.

We made vegetable kebabs, quick bread, mini cookies, lemonade, fish with spinach cream, fruit with chocolate sauce, kibe (Lebanese-style dish of beef and bulgur wheat) and the hearts of palm pie that I share with you here.

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Torta de Palmito appears often in Brazilian cuisine. It is delicate in flavor and a great dish for a brunch, lunch or a light dinner (especially if made ahead). Recipes sometimes will include chopped tomatoes, peas, corn or hardboiled eggs, but the classic and simple is a favorite and great to make with children and teach them different skills.

And if you are based in São Paulo, check out these awesome businesses for adults and children alike:

Escola Wilma Kövesi de Cozinhawww.wkcozinha.com.br 11 3063 1592 / 11 30829151

Sabor de Fazenda: http://www.sabordefazenda.com.br 11 2631-4915

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HEARTS OF PALM PIE (torta de palmito – recipe from the children’s classes program by Escola Wilma Kövesi de Cozinha)

Ingredients:

For the crust:
1/2 cup of corn starch
1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
a pinch of salt
6 tablespoons of butter at room temperature
1/2 cup of milk
To brush the crust: 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water or milk whisked together

For the filling:

1 can or jar of hearts of palm, chopped (approximately 2 cups)
1 tablespoon of chopped onions
2 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of parsley finely chopped
1 tablespoon of pitted green olives, chopped
salt to taste
Directions:
Crust:
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and knead the dough until it is smooth, uniform and stretchy. Form a ball, flatten it, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
Filling:
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter and sauté onions until golden (don’t burn it!). Add the flour and stir it well, cooking for about 1 minute, until combined. Turn off heat and add milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly to make sure no lumps will remain. Turn heat on low and let the sauce boil and thicken, stirring often. Remove from the oven and add the hearts of palm, parsley and olives and salt to taste. Let it cool.
To assemble the pie:  Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
Sprinkle flour on a clean surface and on a rolling pin. Reserve 1/3 of the dough for cutting strips to cover the pie. Roll out the 2/3 of the dough to cover an 8 or 9 inch pan with removable bottom. Spread the filling over the dough and cut excess dough. Roll out the remainder 1/3 of the dough and cut out strips of dough using a pastry cutter. Place strips of dough over the filing forming squares, cut excess dough and fold the dough over the edges of the strips. Brush crust with the egg wash and bake it for approximately 40 minutes or until brown.

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