Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Craft Butcher Shop

September 1, 2014
Ryan Fibiger (left) and Paul Nessel (right)

Ryan Fibiger (left) and Paul Nessel (right)

Today ‘s sophisticated food culture includes TV shows, glossy magazines, and comprehensive newspaper articles that have elevated our understanding of food—and of meat. People used to buy meat at traditional supermarkets, sold in small packs of styrofoam and plastic wrap, without really knowing where the meat came from. Now, it’s a whole different ball game.

Craft Butcher

Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing Ryan Fibiger at his outstanding Westport, CT butcher shop, where he offers highly prized and boldly flavored cuts of meat. He is the first generation of butchers in his family, and is fast expanding his reputation as one of the best butchers in the country, changing the way food lovers and home cooks connect with meat. An old fashioned butcher shop with modern day ideals—simple as that

The store opened in November of 2011, and two years later, expanded to a bigger location across the street

Craft Butcher


craft butcher

The profile of the clientele is mixed, and the shop is not intended for the elite. Craft Butcher is for one and all, global style. Ryan didn’t anticipate that the core of his business would come from an international crowd that now live in Westport or nearby. ”These are the people who grew up with a butcher near their home, and look for the same experience here in the US,“ he said.

craft butcherRyan spends most of his days helping people find the exact cut of meat they are looking for. People really prefer to buy sustainably raised meat, which goes along with the farm-to-table concept.

craft butcher

The same craving that drives homecooks to farmer’s markets for local produce, has made meat sourcing a sport equally praised.

Growing up in Michigan, Ryan was surrounded by good food, but nothing on the professional level. He pursued a career in finance, and married a great cook, his wife, Katherine Fibiger. As the couple moved to New York City, they immersed themselves into its hip food culture, and started to dream about it.

craft butcher


craft butcher

“I was looking for a way out of the business world, and my passion for food grew bigger. My wife suggested we open some kind of food business, but definetly not a restaurant.

They began to research and visit farmers, and suddenly the idea of a butcher shop started to take shape. Ryan studied the craft of butchery with Fleisher’s Organic and Grass Fed meats in Kingston, NY.












“We invested everything we had to open this shop,” said Ryan. They partnered with Paul Nessel, and Mark Heppermann, two other chefs and butchers.

The team share the value of quality and sustainability. They only source whole animals, and follow a nose-to-tail philosophy, meaning they use every part of the animal.

craft butcher











“We get a lot of special orders. Seventy percent of the business is pre order, very customized, like double cut pork shop, bone in beef, etc. Most of these cuts are not American, and most of the people cooking these meats aren’t either”, he explained.

At Craft Butcher, the animal is pretty much slaughtered at site, which gives them the freedom to create and name new cuts.

“We have our preferences, for example I prefer cattle to be grass fed, but we are sympathetic to the fact that here in the north-east, there is a lot of snow, so it’s ok, if they feed the cattle some grain, because we trust our farmers.” said Ryan.

Education is really their best selling product, right after meat, of course. Leading people by the hand is what they do, and if you are looking into advancing your meat theory, this is the place to go.



Nespera, a Velvety Sweet Brazilian Fruit

August 11, 2014


nesperaPassion fruit, coconut, pineapple, papaya, and mango are some of the first fruits associated with Brazil. But one of my favorite fruits from home is a small, pastel orange-colored little fruit that has a velvet skin and a juicy flesh. I am referring to nespera, aka Brazilian Loquat or Japanese plum.

Ripe and Sweet

Ripe and Sweet

Nespera is commonly displayed at table centerpieces in Brazilian kitchens but not fully explored in our cuisine. Eating the fruit in its raw state is still the prevalent way of enjoying it.


My son Thomas picking nesters

In fact, I can’t remember seeing nespera on a Brazilian menu. But this unappreciated fruit deserves more attention. On my last trip to Brazil, we picked fresh nesperas right on our backyard, from a tree in our Teresopolis house. I grabbed one still warm from the sun, so juicy, sweet, crisp, and perfect that it was almost a sanctified act.

The fruit is original from China and Japan, and abundant in Brazil, Israel, Spain, and India as well. The scientific name of the tree is eriobotrya japonica, of the Rosacea plant family. Nespera trees can reach up to 26 feet high (8 meters) and have strong branches acting as a strong grip to hold the fruit and protect them from falling during rain and winds. Each little branch can bear 2 to 5 fruits. The dark green leaves are thin, shiny, and long, giving the perfect balance of shade and sun to ripen the fruit.


When compared to other fruit grown in Brazil, its production has not yet become truly relevant, although, things are slowly starting to change, thanks to a region in São Paulo called Mogi Das Cruzes (birthplace of Neymar, since we are fresh from the World Cup).

In 2012, only two thousand tons of nesperas were produced, of which, 85% came from this region. In 2013, the region produced 20 thousands tons and in 2015 they predict 30.

One problem buyers face is the brown spotting the fruit starts to acquire after it is harvested. Because nespera is quite perishable, each fruit must be wrapped in paper (in Brazil they use newspaper) before being harvested, making the treatment quite labor-intensive. Another problem less obvious is that because nespera is not so explored in our own cuisine, even Brazilians are not fully familiar with the fruit.


Biting into a nespera, whose season extends from May through October, is an easy task and a pleasurable one. The velvety skin is easy to peel off, but it is so thin and delicious that I don’t even bother. Each fruit contains between 2 to 5 brown pits that you spit while grabbing another to eat. Next time you go Brazil, be sure to try this delicious fruit!



The World Cup of Food

July 1, 2014


My Favorite Places to Eat in Rio

June 6, 2014

Hello World Cup!

If you are going to Rio, here are some of my favorite places to eat:


Aconchego Carioca

Aconchego Carioca

Aconchego Carioca

Aconchego Carioca is rickety bar in Rio located at a not so touristy area, but worth the trip. Katia Barbosa, the chef and owner prepares the famous bolinho de feijoada, which is a fritter version of the Feijoada stew. The restaurant also boasts a good selection of beers, including numerous domestic offerings.

Rua Barão de Iguatemi, 379

Praça da Bandeira

Tel: (55 21)2273-1035



Located at a perfect corner of Leblon, Jobi represents the quintessential carioca spirit. For over 50 years this place has been enchanting the city with its impeccably Portuguese cuisine prepared in a tiny little kitchen that nonetheless serves extraordinary food.

Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva, 1,166/ Loja B

Leblanc, Tel: (55 21) 2274-0547

Chico & Alaide 

Alaide and her many delicious recipes

Alaide and her many delicious recipes

Chico & Alaide serves some of the best Petiscos (Brazilian tapas) and chopp (beer). The owners are as charismatic with their food as with their smile. Take a seat at one of the tables lining the street outside and enjoy some of the best finger food in Rio.

Rua Dias Ferreira 679,



Claude Troisgros

Claude Troisgros

Olympe, from French chef Claude Troisgros a more refined dining option in Rio, perfect for that special evening meal. He focused on the fusion between French cuisine and Brazilian ingredients and the result is just super.

Rua Custodio Serrao 62,

Jardim Botanico



Iraja combines good service, reasonable prices and a modern take on typical Brazilian dishes to create a winning formula. The desserts, in particular the hot chocolat brigadeiro cake, have a fantastic reputation throughout the city.

Rua Conde de Iraja, 109




Chef Ludmilla Soeiro

Chef Ludmilla Soeiro

Zuka fits all the occasions. It is packed day and night. The chef Ludimilla Soeiro is very creative and on top of every dish that comes out of the kitchen.

Rua Dias Ferreira 233 B




Photo Credit Camilla Maia

Photo Credit Camilla Maia

If you are wondering why a Spanish tapas bar has made into this Rio list, I will tell you that this is one of the few botequins that have embraced the spirit of Rio combined with Spanish influences as heartedly as Venga.

Rua Dias Ferreira, 113/Loja B

Leblon Tel: (55 21) 2512-9826

Rua Garcia D’Avila 147/Loja B

Ipanema tel (55 21) 2247-0234


Academia da Cachaça

Academia da Cachaca

Academia da Cachaca

If Caipirinha has a birth restaurant, then Academia da Cachaça is the turf. The fragrance of the national cocktail drips from the glasses as waiters carries dancing trays. You can choose among a wide variety of cachaças, from Magnifica to Seleta to Leblon cachaça.

Rua Conde Bernardote, 26/ Loja G

Leblanc, Tel: (55 21) 2239-1542



Pavão Azul

Under the leadership of Vera and Bete Afonso, this tiny place in Copacabana has a spot in the carioca’s heart. Pavão Azul specializes in comfort home food, as if you are eating a dish prepared by your carioca grandmother.

Pavão Azul

Rua Hilário de Gouveia, 71- A


Tel: (55 21) 2236-2381



No matter what time of the day, or night, tables at Bracarense are always occupied. If you look around you’ll see a mix of regulars, beachcombers, straight from the office people, and oil-business-man from all over the world who now call Rio home. A squad of speedy waiters keep the beer flowing while also distributing Bracarense’s signature’s bar delicacies, which are devoured piping hot.


Rua José Linhares , 85-B

Leblanc, Tel: (55 21) 2294-3549


Filet de Ouro

Just as you cannot go to Bahia and not eat Acarajé, you cannot go to Filet de Ouro and not eat Filet Osvaldo Aranha, a simple piece of Filet Mignon topped with golden fried garlic accompanied by rice, potatoes and farofa (toasted manioc flour).

Filet de Ouro

Rua Jardim Botânico, 731

Jardim Botânico Tel (55 21) 2259-2396


Braseiro da Gávea

If one restaurant can represent an entire neighborhood, then that it the case of Braseiro da Gavea, the highlight of this neighborhood: Gávea. It captures the bohemian atmosphere of the place and the flamboyance of the carioca crowd.

Braseiro da Gávea

Praça Santos Dumont, 166

Gávea, Tel (55 21) 2239-7494


Enchendo Linguiça

It’s certainly impossible not to be swayed by the amount of sausages offered at Rio’s botequins. Enchendo Linguiça, however is the “it” place for sausage lovers. The name translates to stuffing sausage and apparently that is what they do all they long.

Enchendo Linguiça

Av. Engel Richard, 02-loja A

Grajaú, Tel: (55 21) 2576-5727


Oro, by chef Felipe Bronze, opened in October 2010 and took Rio by storm. Other chefs in Brazil have embarked on a smiliar path, but Oro stands out. It reaches a level of art in cooking, an idealization of ingredient interpretation.

Rua Frei Leandro, 20

Jardim Botanico, Rio de Janeiro

Tel: (55 21) 7864-9622


Chef Felipe Bronze, photo by Tomas Rangel

Chef Felipe Bronze, photo by Tomas Rangel

Pipo opened doors in July of 2013, bringing him back to Rua Dias Ferreira, and offering culinary delights in a looser way, more in sync with the culture and current economy of Rio de Janeiro.

Rua Dias Ferreira, 64


Tel (55 21) 2239-9322





NBC 4 New York’s Raphael Miranda, Brazilian Weather Reporter

March 1, 2014
Raphael Miranda

Raphael Miranda

With an Emmy award to his credit for his coverage of Hurricane Irene (August 2011) and the coverage of superstorm Sandy on October 2012, Raphael Miranda could have easily layed in bed to take a rest after working days into nights to keep the public updated and informed of the weather to come.

That’s typical in the life of this half Brazilian reporter and weatherman. I met Raphael when I was at NBC 4 New York’s studio cooking for a segment with Merck, as we promote our campaign  Cuida Tu Diabetes Cuida Tu Corazon.

Raphael and I

Raphael and I

I knew of his Brazilian side by watching him on TV often enough to catch him teaching a few Portuguese words on air to his guests co-hosts Pat Battle and Gus Rosendale.

His path to this ascending career has been an unusual and interesting one. Raphael Miranda was born in New York to an American mother and a Brazilian father, who immigrated to the US in the 60’s. All of his father’s family still lives in Brazil and Raphael grew up flying back and forth between the two countries.

His words are ever measurable, his diction is perfect, his accent is crystal clear of any other language influence—and his Portuguese, impeccable.

Raphael Miranda

Recounting all this, Raphael, 36, chats in his articulation of words, which is well balanced and very high in Brazilian spirit, even when the weather he delivers is far from Brazilian tropical weather; the rain, the snow, and the chill. On January 7th of this year, when half of the country was frozen into record low temperatures, Raphael was a source of heat and hope announcing that in only two days, temperatures would go back to normal.

Watch him on TV; through his toned voice and earnest smile, he’ll bring peace to your day even when reporting nasty weather. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter and you’ll feel the warmth of his personality through constant updates of the weather forecast.

Interacting on social media is a huge part of his job

Interacting on social media is a huge part of his job

As we sat for lunch at the new NBC’s Cafeteria at Rockefeller Center, he worked his way through sushi and talked about his career, how none of this was actually planned, and how it’s been close to five years that he ‘s been at NBC.

He didn’t know what path to take right after college. When he graduated from NYU with a degree in Spanish literature, he spoke broken Portuguese and decided it was a good time to live in Brazil. At first, he went to Minas Gerais, where his father’s family is based, but then, relocated to the sunny state of Recife where a cousin was living.

Life is good in Brazil

Life is good in Brazil

In Recife, Raphael taught English to children in school, but after two years, he started to miss the crazy lifestyle of New York City, while also realizing that he might have other ambitions.

Turns out that life takes Raphael in directions that even he gets surprised.  Planning, he tells me, has never been much of his personality.

Career. Flow. Brazil. With those words, suddenly he started telling me about a boyfriend he left in Brazil, how he went back a few times to try to bring him here, and then excitedly about his husband Douglas, and how this is an aspect of life that he is extremely proud of: to be openly gay in broadcast journalism, and active in the LGBT community.

Raphael and Douglas

Raphael and Douglas

Upon his return, Raphael got a job in retail as a manager of a fancy store at Madison Ave—a job he didn’t enjoy very much. Eventually he got sick with meningitis, which set him back for a while, forcing him to do some thinking.

“One day, I reached out to Craig Allen, a weather man who I really admired, and to my surprise, he replied”, said Raphael. He asked the veteran for career advices and in a few short years, Raphael received degrees from Brooklyn college and Mississippi State University in broadcast journalism and meteorology. He prepared a reel, sent to a few stations, and got an offer at the Westchester News Channel, in New York. From there, he went to NBC.

To write about him is to gradually succumb to our own hopes and dreams, in a very inspiring way. There just doesn’t seem to be any lack of energy around this man. Raphael is elegant in his own work, incredibly talented, and entirely committed to his profession.

Raphael monitors the weather through various computer screens

Raphael monitors the weather through various computer screens

Schedule wise, broadcasting the weather is a job that demands nothing less than total submission to the craft. “I am out of rhythm with the rest of the world. That is the hardest part of my job,”, he said. Most days, he has to go to bed around 7 pm and wake up at crazy hours. “But not every job is perfect, and I like the camaraderie between my colleagues. We are all on the same boat. “

Sleeping at work: Raphael, Lauren Scala (traffic reporter) and their producer XXX)

Sleeping at work: Raphael, Lauren Scala (traffic reporter) and their producer Tere Mele

During our conversation, I asked Raphael about his eating habits and his link to Brazilian cuisine. Raphael has been a “on and off” vegetarian. Now he is on the “on” phase, but with a little more flexibility, eating fish and chicken.

To end this article in “food” style, I asked Raphael to share with us one of his favorite recipes.

Below is Tilapia with a Lemon Butter Sauce, which I adapted for this blog.

Tilapia with a Lemon Butter Sauce

Tilapia Raphael Miranda

Serves 2


½ cup all purpose flour, plus 2 teaspoons

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 lb tilapia filets (about 2 whole filets)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup white wine

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley


1. Pre-heat the oven to 200˚F.

2. Place the flour in a large plate, season with salt and pepper and whisk well.

3. Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper and dredge on the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.

4. In a large saute pan, melt 2 tablespoon butter over medium heat and cook the fish on both sides until opaque, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to a plate and keep warm at the stove.

5. Add the wine and bring to a boil over high heat, reducing almost entirely. Add the remaining 4 tablesppons of butter to the pan and lower the heat to a minimum not to break the butter.

6. Add the 2 teaspoons flour and whisk well. Pour the lemon juice and cook the sauce until thickened. Stir in parsley. Return the fish to the pan and baste the fish in the sauce on low heat. Carefuly transfer fish to warm plates and spoon sauce on top.

Rita and Bianca’s Chocolate Cake

February 1, 2014

Rita and Bianca Chocolate Cake

I have two full knifed draws in my kitchen and usually, I don’t allow my kids near them, even though they prepare food, in some capacity, every single day. That doesn’t necessarily mean they cook. It means packing a sandwich for lunch, cutting strawberries for snack, and so on. Knives and fire are off limits. But when it comes to oven, kids just can’t resist, especially when it has a bright light inside that allows you (or your kid) to watch the baking process.

Take my daughter Bianca, for example.

Bianca, quite entertained

Bianca, quite entertained

Say the word brownie, cookie, or cake, and she will come to the kitchen jumping like a sheep (actually she will come cartwheeling), and exploding with baking mojo.

We often bake together, and I absolutely love it. It takes me to haven! And then, I often I catch my self wishing that Bianca will be the kind of person who will make her own chicken stock (like me) and fry her potatoes in duck fat (like me). The reasons for my delusions, no doubt, are as complicated as any mother-daughter relationship.

On a recent trip to Brazil, I came home one day to the wonderful aromas of deep chocolate cake, crumbly yet moist on the inside, with a smooth ganache covering the entire cake.

Chocolate Cake

I asked Rita, the lady that helps us around the house, how she prepared that delicious cake, and she told me Bianca helped her.

Rita and Bianca

Rita and Bianca

I was like, “Yeah, right, Rita. Come on, how did you make it?”

Rita: “ I am not kidding Leticia, Bianca really helped me. She knew what ingredients to include, and we pretty much eyed balled it together.”

Me: “Did you write the recipe??”

Rita: “No.”

Meanwhile, Thomas (my son), who witnessed their adventure in the kitchen, heard our conversation without listening to a word we were saying. He was too busy eating the cake.



Their cake. Rita and Bianca’s Chocolate Cake.

I could look at the cake and know it was going to be delicious. But when I tasted it, I couldn’t believe its perfection.

I asked Rita and Bianca to repeat the recipe—and the magic— so that I could write the recipe. Then I tried to replicate the cake in my American kitchen for this blog.

Both Rita and Bianca approved. I hope you will too!

Bolo Chocolate Rita Bianca

Nescau is a sweetened chocolate milk mixture typical from Brazil. The brand belongs to Nestle— the came comes from the mixing the words Nestle and Cocoa (in Portuguese the word cocoa is cacao, therefore Nescau). The product was launched in Brazil in the early 1930’s and by 1960 it was a very established product. In the early 1970’s Nestle marketed the product even more and today it is a staple Brazilian ingredient. It is very easy to find Nescau in any Brazilian specialty store, including many sources online, but one can use ovaltine or Nesckuick as substitute.

Serves 4-6

For the Cake:

1  1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (200g) all-purpose flour

¾ cup (105 g) nescau ( see headnote)

1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 stick (8tablespoons, 115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup (100g) sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup (250ml) whole milk

For the Glaze:

¾ cup (200g) heavy cream

6 oz (170g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Equipment: one tube mold (with capacity for 5 cups), buttered and floured

1. Make the Cake: Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F.

2. Whisk together the flour, nescau, baking powder, and salt.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 4 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, and beat for one minute more, then beat in the vanilla. At this point the batter will look a little crudely—that’s normal. Reduce the speed to low, then add half of the milk, then half of the flour mixture; repeat with the remaining milk and flour until homogeneous.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared mold and bake in the oven until the cake starts to pull from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the cake to rest for 5 minutes, then invert onto the rack and let it cool to room temperature.

5. Make the Glaze: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a boil, then pour over the chocolate; let it stand for a minute to melt the chocolate; whisk until smooth. Let it cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. When is pourable but cool, pour the glaze on top of the cake.

What Women Really Want?

January 1, 2014

What Women Really Want?

The other day I was thinking about how grateful I am for having a wonderful therapist. Because of therapy—and this goes way back to my teenage years— I was able to discover what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life: to cook.

But wait. It’s not so simple. In an imaginary conversation with my therapist, disguised as Dr. Sigmund Freud himself, I saw myself lying on his couch, looking at my broken nail, conflicted between my many existential questions, and then I realized that I am not much different from most women I know. I looked at him, and he asked me: “Why does it have to be so complicated, Leticia?  What is it that you—women—really want?”

Where is my nail polisher? I looked in my purse. We don’t want broken nails, that’s for sure. We also want at least one, nice, fancy-looking purse. Every woman must have one.

We want to feel attractive in our own bodies. We want to be credited for our work—and make money from it. We want to be loved. We want to be in love. And we want to have fun.

This could be the sum of it, Dr. Freud, but there is a whole lot more that women want. We want to bear children, or at least, many women do. Then, we want to have more time for ourselves. When we have free time, we want a hectic life. When we have a hectic life, we want free time. We are always looking for the perfect balance. We believe there is such a thing. Got that?

We don’t want to die our hair constantly, although we need to. We like to talk, but we also like silence. We want to listen too; some women are better than others at this. We want to listen to our children, but especially to men, and we don’t give up trying to understand them. When they say“ I love you”, we hear “I want to marry you”. We are truly from different planets Dr. Freud! We want them to be crazy for us, and we want to right to be crazy ourselves.

We want to check our e-mails and have our inbox full. Only juicy e-mails please, but we’ll take a sale coupon at Pottery Barn as well. We want to be speechless and surprised. We want to learn how to be more selfish. At least once in life, we want to think of no one else but us. Are you still with me?

We want to be an inspiration for others. We want to put dinner on the table and we want our kids to eat everything. We want them to sleep the whole night, preferably in their own beds.

We want to turn off the TV. We want to have sex. We want to look good in photographs. We want to be noticed in a restaurant the moment we enter the front door.

We want to go to bed earlier. We want to do something positive for society. We want to help those in need of help. We want to be useful. But we want to be helped ourselves, especially with the groceries. Oh, and with anything regarding cars.

We want to laugh. We don’t want to be taken so seriously. We want to fight for our goals without being obnoxious. We want peace. We want to read more, travel more, know more. We want to kiss, and be kissed. We want to feel alive. We want to grow young. And lastly, we want to eat—AND NOT GET FAT!

What Women Really Want?

That’s all Dr. Freud. As you can see, we’re really not that complicated!


“Ok Leticia, your time is up.” said Dr. Freud. “See you next time.”



Now that I have shared with you my imaginary session with my very own Dr. Freud, I will share with you my fantasy recipe —albeit a real one— that celebrates all those crazy moments I have when I want to indulge completely, entirely, and dream that I am not gaining an ounce of fat from it.

Dulce de Leche Brownies

I would love to hear what is YOUR fantasy recipe? The one you dream about eating forever and NOT getting fat?

This recipe for Dulce de Leche Brownies comes from David Lebovitz, a pastry chef, blogger, and cookbook author whose work I really admire, and whose recipes, often brings me to Dr. Freud’s imaginary couch.

Dulce de Leche Brownies

Dulce de Leche Brownies Adapted from David Lebovitz

Makes 12 servings


8 tablespoons (120g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan

6 ounces (170g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

¼ cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (120g) sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup (140g) flour

1 cup (250ml) dulce de leche


1. Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F.

2. Grease an 8-inch square pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

3. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the chocolate and stir constantly over low heat until melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, and flour.

5. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Drop one-third of the dulce de leche in prune size dollops, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. Spread the remaining brownie batter over the top, then drop more dulce de leche by the spoonful. Use a knife to swirl the dulce de leche ever so slightly—if you over do it, the whole thing will bake into a bubbly mess. Just drag a knife once or twice through the batter and leave it at that.

6. Bake until the center feels just slightly firm, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. These brownies actually become better the second day, and will keep well for up to 3 days.

Thank you Alessandra Kalko for the illustrations supporting this post.

Bring Rio into your Kitchen with My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook

November 1, 2013

Cover Book My Rio

Yes! It’s here! My second cookbook arrived and I am over the moon! I started working on this book soon after The Brazilian Kitchen came out and within a few intervews for my blog, I saw another book being born.

My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook is now available at Amazon, or Barnes&Noble, or

This is my second book with publisher Kyle Books, and once again my editor Anja Schmidt put together an amazing creative team, including food stylist Paul Grimes and photographer Kate Sears. Some of my happiest days were spent testing, writing, and shooting this book.

Creative team of My Rio

Each chapter takes you to a different neighborhood in Rio. You can visit a botequim (tapas restaurant) very close my home in Leblon called Jobi, and prepare their fantastic Risole De Camarão com Catupiry (Shrimp and Catupiry Turnover);

Risole de Camarão, inspired by restaurant Jobi

Risole de Camarão, inspired by restaurant Jobi

you can go to Búzios and try a recipe inspired by its fish market like Farfale with Salmon and Caipirinha Sauce;

and you can have a taste of the Botanical Garden with the classic Filet Oswaldo Aranha.

Filet Oswaldo Aranha

Filet Oswaldo Aranha

And that’s just a hint! There are many more delicious recipes and gorgeous photos!

I hope you buy the book and please stay in touch with me! Let me know your favorite recipes, comments, and questions!

Below you will find a recipe for Molten Brigadeiro Cake from My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook. Enjoy!

Bolinho Quente de Brigadeiro

Molten Brigadeiro Cake

Molten Brigadeiro


Serves 6

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

2 oz  (60g) 70% dark chocolate, chopped


½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the molds

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon (12g) sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup (40g) all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for the molds

Special Equipment: 6 individual foil cups, buttered and floured

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

2.  In a heavy saucepan, place the condensed milk, cocoa powder and chocolate, and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. When the mixture begins to bubble and the chocolate melts, reduce the heat to low and continue whisking for another 3 to 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened like fudge. You should be able to tilt the pan and the whole batter will slide, leaving the sticky fudge on the bottom of the pan. Slide the batter into a large bowl without scraping it, as you don’t want to incorporate any of the thick residue left on the bottom of the pan.

3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Pour the butter into the chocolate mixture and whisk vigorously until smooth. At first the mixture will totally curdle and break. You will think this recipe cannot possibly work, but keep whisking constantly until the mixture comes together again.

4. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, yolks, salt, sugar and vanilla. Add this into the chocolate mixture and whisk until incorporated.

5. Add the flour and mix until just blended, using a spatula.

6. Pour the batter into foil cups filling them almost to the top (leave about ¼ inch). You can prepare the recipe up to this point and refrigerate for up to 5 days,

7.  Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the edges are firm but the center is still soft. Invert onto a dessert plate. Serve with ice cream (pistachio, ginger, coconut or vanilla are all flavors that work well with this dessert).

© My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook , Leticia Moreinos Schwartz

Confessions of a Hopeful Brazilian

July 30, 2013
A visit with Christ the Redeemer brings a lot of hope!

A visit with Christ the Redeemer brings a lot of hope!

Over the last few weeks, my country of Brazil has been going through imperative historical moments. First, the protests and manifestations, then the remarkable Pope Francis’s visit, which ended with a glorious Mass gathering more than 3 million people at the sands of Copacabana beach on Sunday July 28th, 2013.

Between one ongoing event  and another, Brazil has been on the news almost every day. It all started with a simple protest in São Paulo against an increase of 20 cents of Real (our currancy) on public transportation. Through social media, these protests grew across the nation to critizise the government on a wide range of issues such as political corruption, the high cost of living, and the billions of dollars being spent to build stadiums for the upcoming World Cup and Olympic events, while the rest of country receives no injection of improvement.

This men lives in Rocinha and found art as a happy outlet

This men lives in Rocinha and found art as a happy outlet

Despite the violence that emerged from these protests, I am proud to see that “ O Gigante Acordou” or, the giant woke up, with Brazilians screaming and fighting for a better life.

Brazilians with hope: this girl also lives in Rocinha and I see dreams in her eyes

Brazilians with hope: this girl also lives in Rocinha and I see dreams in her eyes

There is almost always a larger context like that when protests of this magnitude dominates the country as spectacularly as it’s happening in Brazil. In this case, the inevitable has occurred: unfortunately, the down global economy arrived in Brazil, after a long steady period at the highs, with a sharp reversal from the booming of previous years.

This is a chandelier made of plastic bottles, a sign of creativity—and hope.

This is a chandelier made of plastic bottles, a sign of creativity—and hope.

I just came back from Brazil this summer, and I have to admit that both these events have touched me deeply, and posed a moment of reflection, making me question, what is now on the table.

Just how long can we live in a country where the government doesn’t invest in infra structure? Just how long can we pretend that we are happy with our music, soccer and samba, while many of our people remain living in poverty? Just how long can we pay an exorbitant amount of taxes, and see nothing in return?

As a cookbook author, there is nothing else that I want to do other than promote all the wonderful things about my country: first and foremost the food, and of course music, beaches, soccer, and the beautiful culture in general.

As a Brazilian however, the level of dissatisfaction and injustice is boiling in my blood, just as in every protestor. The high cost of living is just unbearable and if I begin to attempt to site number examples, like the cost of goods, it is revolting.

Now, as a Brazilian living in the US, I am torn, wondering if any word that I write  makes any sense at all. I look at my life in Brazil, and my life in the US, and realize the new reality, the new world, this new global economy,  and how different my generation is having to face life, with much less than our parents, when it should be the opposite!

But life is bigger than my generation, and Brazil is bigger than this moment. After this trip, I got to the conclusion that I too belong to the hopeful group of citizens who dream with a better country. I can attest that wether I live in Brazil or in the US, what’s most remarkable of all this, is the sheer spirit of Brazilians, which I’ve observed in the highs and lows across the nation, through a sequence of my own experience.

“The Pope may be from Argentina, but God is Brazilian”, Pope Francis joked about this “saying” with warmth in his heart. And I may be putting a lot of stock on this Pope, but so is the rest of Brazil.

This World and My Mother

May 8, 2013

Babi Wrobel Mundo

My mom was a great mother when I was a child. She is even better now that I am adult. When I was a teenager, I thought that I could live without her. Big mistake. I guess we all go through a phase growing up, when we think we’re simply invincible.

Having a mother is great at any stage of life. Without her, we are orphans from everything, since this world is not very maternal at all.

This world doesn’t care if it’s cold outside and I am not wearing the proper jacket. It doesn’t care if I spend the night out, or if I’m in bad company.

This world wants me to get married, have children, buy a house, and keep paying the mortgage for the next 20 years. This world wants me to be fashionable, to own a car, and to buy things on a credit card.

Mother also wants me to look fashionable, but she is more worried about my health, my teeth, my ears, my well–being ; she doesn’t want me to use drugs, drink, or smoke.

This world looks at me only superficially; it can’t see through my skin; it doesn’t detect sadness or loneliness. This world wants me to be beautiful and successful so that it can benefit from my existence, as if we were mere objects of decoration on the planet. This world doesn’t take my temperature, it doesn’t comb my hair, or offer me a piece of home-made cake.

This world wants my vote, but it doesn’t listen to my needs. When this world disagrees with me, it stamps me, it burns me, it excludes me. This world doesn’t have patience, and it doesn’t listen to what I have to say.

This world wants to see the size of my house and my resume; it asks me how many children I have and what’s my education. But it doesn’t know about my fears, my grades in high school, or how hard it is to find a job. In this world, you snooze you loose. This world doesn’t care for individuals, but only for people in general, which represents statistics, dogmas, and slogans.

My mother doesn’t belong in this world. She is from another planet. She can be emotionally challenging; she is laud, nosy, bossy, stubborn, dramatic, and opinionated. She suffers for me, with me; she cares about the details and knows my likings, while this world demands maximum efficiency from me all the time. This world selects the most likely to succeed, the smartest, and the strongest—and it charges very very much for that.

My mother? She is mine, for free.

maefilha Babi wrobel



©2013, Leticia Moreinos Schwartz

© 2013, Illustrations by Babi W.Steinberg


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