Like in most Latin American countries, empanadas are a big hit at the “to go” lunch counters in Brazil. Traditionally, in Brazil, they are made to look like mini quiches that are baked with flakey crusts and a wide variety of fillings. In this recipe, we used hearts of palm, a common ingredient found in many Brazilian dishes. The star ingredient -heart of plam- contains zero cholesterol, saturated fats or sugar and is high in protein. You can easily incorporate any other protein such as shrimp and chicken to this recipe for extra flavor.

Pie Crust Ingredients

• 1 stick of butter
• 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3 egg yolks
• ½ cup buttermilk

Filling Ingredients

• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
• 1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 – 14.4 ounce can hearts of palm, drained and chopped
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 1 cup 1% milk
• 1 cup large black olives (about 15), chopped
• ½  cup crumbled farmer's cheese

Directions

1. Chop all of your ingredients before you begin cooking. Set aside.
2. To prepare the crust, melt the butter and let it cool.   In a large bowl mix the flour and salt then using a fork, stir in the cooled butter.  The flour mixture will begin to form crumbles.
3. Next, add the egg yolks and continue to mix.  Slowly add the buttermilk while mixing, and then knead with your hands until dough is smooth.  
4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for about an hour.
5. While dough is resting, you can prepare the filling.  In a deep skillet, cook the bacon in melted butter and olive oil until crispy.  Remove from heat and drain the excess fat.   After it has cooled, crumble into little pieces.
6. Add the onions and sugar to the skillet and sauté until onions are translucent.  Then add the hearts of palm and sauté a few minutes more.
7. Stir in the flour until well incorporated then add the milk and stir until mixture thickens.
8. Remove from heat and stir in the olives, farmer's cheese and bacon bits.  Set aside to cool while preparing the dough.
9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into 12 pieces. Roll out 10 of the pieces into circles large enough to line the bottom and sides of a standard muffin tin. Let it rest for a few minutes and roll it out again.  This process will help maintain its shape.
10. Line 10 muffin tins with dough circles, pressing them into the bottom and sides of the pan.
11. Divide the filling between the 10 lined muffin cups.  Divide remaining dough into 12 pieces and roll out circles large enough to place on top of the cups pinching all around to seal in mixture.  
12. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

Makes 10 pies.

Elizabeth Carrion, a Dominican, co-founded Mi Cocina, a New Jersey-based catering service that also offers cooking classes, with her sister, Ana Martinez.

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Elizabeth Carrion, a Dominican, co-founded Mi Cocina, a New Jersey-based catering service that also offers cooking classes, with her sister, Ana Martinez. Follow her on Twitter: @micocinalatina and visit her website micocina-latina.com.

Follow us on twitter.com/foxnewslatino
Like us at facebook.com/foxnewslatino