Having been totally impressed by the Olympic performances out in Rio and the amazing medal haul team GB are bringing back home, Mr E & I marked the games with a Brazilian meal the other day. Now being a little topsy-turvy, I have already shared our dessert, a Quindao (a fabulous coconut dessert using just 4 store cupboard ingredients), on Only Crumbs Remain. Well, I am the sort of girl who, when eating out, often chooses her dessert before her main meal! J
Rest assured though, I do follow convention and enjoy our savoury meal before diving headlong into a dessert 😉
The dish we chose to make for our Brazilian themed meal is Risoles de Palmito. The original recipe translated this as Hearts of Palm Croquettes, but to be honest, to Mr E & I these are more of a pasty rather than a croquette which is why I've called them Brazilian Heart of Palm Pasties.
The pasties contain a scrumptious vegetarian filling which not only contains heart of palm but also carrots, tomato, and cream cheese. The dough is easy to make, and although the method resembles a hot water crust pastry the result is far more delicate than rigid. The original recipe sees the shaped pasties coated in breadcrumbs before they're deep fat fried. As deep frying isn't a method of cooking I usually carry out and because our usual stock pile of breadcrumbs had been used and not replaced, we decided to oven bake these delicious Brazilian vegetarian pasties. I suspect the traditional egg and breadcrumb coating provides some extra strength to the delicate dough, but our oven baked method resulted in a healthier meal which was easy to pull together. There was no stressing about the fat temperature or any need to keep a vigilant eye on them whilst they cooked.
These pasties really were absolutely delicious. In fact I had intended to photograph them part eaten, but the flavour captivated me so much that before I realised where I was they had been completely devoured! The filling was packed with flavour and was easy to pull together. We served them simply with new potatoes and salad.
About Hearts of Palm
Hearts of palm is a vegetable which I often see during our routine shopping trips whilst down the canned vegetable aisle, but until now we have never tried them. You can buy Green Giant Heart of Palm in most supermarkets, canned and ready to eat. Now, I must admit that at around £2.30 per tin they're not a cheap buy (sshhhh, Mr E doesn't know how much they cost!) and that price was explained when I came to read about this unusual vegetable.
If you're unfamiliar with hearts of palm, as we were, they are white, cylindrical and each piece measures around 10cm long. To me they look a little like the white section of a leek, though much softer and narrower. They are often used in salads, but can also be deep fried, used in soups or filling such as with these Brazilian Hearts of Palm Pasties. As regards to the flavour, it really is quite unique. Some describe it being like artichoke whilst others compare it to water chestnut. However you describe it, they really are very delicious.
Like many foods, hearts of palm can often be referred to by a number of names, such as palmito, palm cabbage, swamp cabbage but the one which made me chuckle and will no doubt be a question in a pub quiz one day, burglars thigh!
Wikipedia explains that hearts of palm are a vegetable which is harvested from the inner core of certain types of palm trees. In order to reach the vegetable, often regarded as a delicacy, the palm tree is cut which clearly results in the death of single stemmed trees! Clearly a controversial and sensitive subject. However Wikipedia goes on to explain that a particular palm tree has been cultivated for the canned hearts of palm. As it is multi stemmed the plant can be harvested for many years without resulting in its death.
In doing my on-line reading about hearts of palm, I came across this You Tube video which shows the stages the plant goes through before it is harvested and prepared for canning. It highlights how much of a delicacy hearts of palm are which explains the relatively high price for just one can.
So, let's get to it and bake!
de Palmito baked rather than deep fried to produce a healthier meal
which is jam-packed with flavour. Lovely served with salad and new potatoes.
Hands on time: 30 mins Cook time: 20 - 25 mins Yield: 8 pasties, sufficient to feed 4 adults
For the pastry dough
- 450ml Water
- 20g Butter
- 1 Vegetable Oxo
- 1.5 tbsp Olive Oil
- 140g Strong White Bread Flour
- 140g Plain Flour, plus extra for rolling out
For the Hearts of Palm Filling
- 20g Butter
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 medium Onion, chopped
- 1 Tomato, chopped
- 1 Garlic Clove, crushed
- 1 medium Carrot, chopped
- 220g (drained weight) Hearts of Palm, chopped (1 whole heart reserved for the salad)
- 1 tbsp Corn Flour
- 106ml Milk
- 2 tbsp Cream Cheese
- Pinch Salt
- 1 Egg, lightly beaten
7.Roll out the dough. Divide the pastry into 8 pieces. Roll the pastry into a circle about 3-4mm thick on a well floured work surface. Flour the rolling pin too if necessary. 8. Assemble the pasties. Stir the filling. Place a dessert spoonful of the cold filling onto the dough, off set from the centre. Fold over the dough. Use an up turned large cup/drinking glass to cut the half moon pasty shape, being careful to retain a dough boarder around the filling. Remove the off-cuts of dough. Ensure the pasties are sealed on the joined edge. Repeat until the filling and dough has been used up. 9.Transfer to a baking tray. Carefully transfer the prepared pasties onto a baking tray which has been lined with greased proof paper and liberally floured. 10. Glaze. Use a pastry brush to glaze the upper surface of the pasties with beaten egg. 11. Bake. Place the baking tray into the centre of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. You may need to rotate the tray after 15 minutes of cooking. Remove the cooked pasties from the tray with a fish slice. 12. Enjoy 🙂Notes:
a) Aim not to roll the dough too thinly. b) Try not to stretch the pastry when encasing the filling. c) The pasties can be made smaller providing a greater yield which would be great for a buffet.