Bolo Rei The King of Christmas Desserts

It wouldn’t be Christmas in Portugal without a Bolo Rei Around the Family Table.  Some will even go as far saying there is no Christmas without Bolo Rei.

Although it is called a cake. Bolo Rei  is more like a sweet bread.  Traditionally there is a broad bean, usually large fava bean, and a coin placed inside the Bolo Rei.

One of the explanations for the tradition comes from a legend regarding the Three Kings as they followed the Star of Bethlehem on their way to greet baby Jesus.  On their travels, they met a baker who gave them a loaf of bread with a broad bean hidden inside it.  He told them that the one who ended up with the slice of bread with the bean should give baby Jesus his present first.

So the tradition continues and it is made clear that whoever ends up with the bean is expected to make the Bolo Rei for the following year.

Whoever wins the coin is said to be blessed with good luck.   Hmmmm….wonder why I always wind up with the bean?

We had so much fun baking Bolo Rei with Vovo.  Although this is a time consuming recipe, it is totally worth it to do once a year.  I love the tradition behind it and love that three generations spend the day baking Around the Family Table.

All of Vovo’s recipes are in Portuguese, so the first thing we had to do is figure out the conversions.  Thank good Alexandra and Vo are so smart and figured it all out!







Port wine is a big part of any dessert in Portugal.  Bolo Rei is no different.  We soaked our dates, candied fruit and nuts in it for this recipe.








Riley helps us get started by measuring the flour and sugar.








Then it’s time to get serious. The kneading of the dough is no easy task and we all have to take turns. Vovo goes first.  After a while she is exhausted.










Then it’s Reis’s turn. What a workout!








After Vovo and Reis are completely exhausted, Vo comes to the rescue! Truly a team effort by all.










The dough must be left to rise over night.  We couldn’t believe how much it had grown!







Then we shaped the dough  into a ring and it is so much fun to decorate.  We used candied fruit and Natural Delights Medjool Dates added the perfect touch.







Of course, we couldn’t just make one.  One for our home, one for Vovo and Vo’s home and one to share with friends!







Our Bolo Rei is ready for the oven.  We can’t wait to try it.  The best part is that after a couple of days, you can toast it and add a butter and it is perfect with a cup of coffee or afternoon tea.


1/2 Cup candied citrus fruit 3 T. raisins  1/2 Cup Pine Nuts and Walnuts

1/3 Cup plus 2 Teaspoons Port Wine

2 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast 

1/3 Cup plus 2 teaspoons milk

3 1/2 Cups unbleached flour

1 1/2 teaspoon salt 

7 Teaspoon unsalted butter, softened 

1/3 Cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar 

Grated zest of 2 oranges

3 eggs, beaten 

1 dried fava bean and Large Coin 


1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water 

10 candied cherries 

1 package of Natural Delights Medjool Dates 

Powdered sugar for garnish 

To prepare bread: 
Soak candied fruit, raisins and pine nuts in Port Wine overnight or until plump. Sprinkle yeast into milk in bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve.

Mix flour and salt in large bowl. Make well in center and pour in dissolved yeast. Use wooden spoon to draw enough flour into dissolved yeast to form soft paste. Cover bowl with dish towel and let stand until “sponge” is frothy and slightly risen, about 20 minutes.

In separate bowl, beat butter with sugar and lemon and orange zests until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat well after each addition. Add mixture to flour mixture and mix in flour from sides to until dough is soft. 

 Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until soft, smooth, silky and elastic, about 10 minutes. Knead in dried fruit and pine nuts until evenly distributed.

Place dough into clean bowl and cover with dish towel. Let rise until doubled in size. We usually let it sit overnight, but as little as 2 hours is usually ok. Punch down, then let rest 10 minutes. Shape dough into ring and place on buttered baking sheet. Wrap dried fava bean or trinket separately in wax paper. Insert tiny package into bottom of shaped dough. Cover with dish towel and set aside until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
To prepare topping:
Brush dough with egg glaze and decorate with candied fruit and powdered sugar. Bake at 350°F. 45 minutes until golden.  Cool on wire rack.
Makes 1 Loaf

Kid Ratings: Alexandra 10, Ronnie 9, Reis 9.5, Riley 8.5


Flan and Candied Raspberries Holiday Dessert

At our home. It’s not a Holiday unless we have Flan Pudding.  This is a very traditional recipe that Vo-Vo loves to makes.  She is so good at it…that honestly no one can make it quite as good as her.

If you have never had Flan, you have no idea what you are missing.  It is so creamy and smooth and delish….oh, and carmel sauce that goes on top…You just have to try it!

Our Holidays wouldn’t be complete without it.  I have a feeling when you try it…it will be a Holiday Favorite in your Home too!


  • 8 Eggs
  • 1 14 oz can Condensed Milk
  • 2 Cups of Milk (2% or whole milk) Or if you do like Vo-Vo, just fill 2 cans full
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 Tablespoons Water
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
Optional: 6 oz Raspberries & 1/2 Cup of granulated sugar

Mix Eggs, both milks and vanilla on low until well blended.

Pour sugar and water in the bottom of a bundt pan.  Place pan on the stove and wait for sugar to bubble and turn a golden brown.

Swirl the liquid sugar around the sides of the pan until all sides are covered.

Let sugar cool for 5 minutes.  Add the Egg mixture to the Bundt Pan.

Place a large shallow pot filled half way with water on the stove and bring water to a boil.

Lower heat to medium-low  and place bundt pan in the pot and cover.

Let Flan cook on stove for approximately 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out dry.

Let cool completely and invert into a serving dish with a lip.

If adding Raspberries, lightly dampen with water and roll in the sugar.  Place on a baking rack and broil for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle on top of the Flan.

I love my Eat Smart Precision pro Kitchen Scale it is the only way I can translate Portuguese measurements. Can’t live without it!

Kid Ratings: Ronnie 10, Reis 8, Riley 9

Around the Family Table with @emeril and @jimjosephexp

I woke up this morning at my usual time 4:30 am. Got ready to meet my friend for our daily walk …. and realized I had a little extra pep in my step for a Monday Morning!

Nothing excites me more than Food Around The Family Table and today is the day that Emeril will air his new show Emeril’s Table!

Today is also the day that I am honored to be a guest blogger on Jim Joseph’s Blog!

I have loved Emeril for as long as I can remember… He loves food, loves to cook for his family, values time Around the Family Table and he’s Portuguese….what’s there not to love?

I love Jim’s take on Marketing, he believes  “marketing is a spectator sport” and we can learn from each other!  …. He also loves food, loves to cook for his family, values time Around the Family Table and boy is he on the cutting edge of  any new trend!  You have no idea how much it meant to me when you asked me to be featured on your blog.

The truth is…. you both had me at…. loves food!

I thank you both for inspiring me in my love for food and the importance of branding.

Jim tried my Portuguese Meatballs Around his Family Table this past Sunday and gave them a raving review on his blog: Jim Joseph Around the Family Table

Food is Love and whether you like Italian Meatballs or Portuguese Meatballs what really matters is the time Spent Around The Family Table nurturing conversation and values.

What a great day this is!  What do you think about making 09-26-11 National Portuguese Meatball Day?

Who knew? iPads and Meatballs have so much in common….

My son’s  school has exploded with a new iPad Pilot Program. What an exciting time for our  children  …some  parents were so EXCITED, we were jumping up and down …The 6th graders were given iPads and the traditional way of teaching is being challenged by new technology.

We have chosen a Catholic School Education for our family. If you know anything about most Catholics, we love Tradition.  So to say that we always embrace change with open arms is quite a stretch. Let’s just say that not everyone was ready to throw the pencil and paper aside and start downloading apps.

One of our families favorite meals for Sunday Supper  is good old fashioned Italian Meatballs. My family loves my Italian Meatballs…they are so yummy and we are so comfortable with them…we can’t imagine anything  better Around the Family Table.

The Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… I’ve raised Foodies and we get sooo excited over a new recipe.

Recently I cooked Almondegas or Portuguese Meatballs and our Family taste buds were jumping up and down with excitement….

When I mentioned this new spin on Meatballs  to some of my best friends who happen to be Italian, they were grounded in their tradition that Italian Meatballs are the only real Meatballs!

I explained that Portuguese Meatballs are delicious, they have Chorizo in them and the sauce is to die for… wine, garlic, chorizo… your house will never smell better… and you serve them over Portuguese Rice…

ahhh! Fugettaboutit it’s one thing to reinvent the Meatball but now you want to serve it over rice instead of Macaroni???….and a wine sauce instead of Gravy???… What? This is just nuts!

That’s when I realized there is a part of us that will  embrace change and a part of us will always hang on to the comfort of tradition…

While I want my children  to experiment and be open to new things… I want them to be grounded in the traditions we have nurtured in our home…

The table is set….whether doing homework on the iPad or breaking bread with our family… what matters is the Traditions that are grounded within our families and how we embrace the change that is inevitable in our homes and in our lives…

Did I mention that some of our friends are from Sweden… and they believe the Swedish meatball is the real Meatball?

Family Foodie Portuguese Meatballs

2 lbs. Ground Pork
1 Small Onion
1 tsp Paprika
4 eggs
1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup Olive Oil (Portuguese if you can get it)
3 oz. Chorizo (2 small links)
2 small garlic cloves finely chopped
2 Bay leaves
2 Cups Red Wine
2 TBS butter
Sea Salt to taste

-Finely chop the onion in a food processor
-Finely chop the the chorizo in a food processor
-Combine the Pork, Onion, Paprika, 2 eggs and half of the chopped chorizo
-Form into balls
-Add Olive Oil to large frying pan on medium heat
-Dip meatballs into beaten eggs
-Flour the Meatballs
-Brown Meatballs on all sides in batches
-When all Meatballs are well browned, don’t worry about them being cooked all the way, remove from frying pan and sprinkle lightly with Sea Salt
-Remove Olive Oil from pan but do not wipe clean
-Add garlic and chorizo and brown
-Add Bay Leaves, Meatballs and wine
-Simmer on low until sauce is reduced in half
-Remove Bay leaf
Cook Portuguese Rice and serve Meatball and Chorizo Sauce over the Rice
A Green Salad and Portuguese Sangria or Vinho Verde are perfect for this meal.

Family Foodie Kids Ratings: Alexandra 10, Ronnie 8.5, Reis 9.5, Riley 10

A day of great cooking, great wine and great friends: Portuguese Hamburger

When Wine Twits contacted me about their 3 Burgers, 3 Ways, 3 Wines. 1 Perfect Summer Night event #GDandBurgers.  I was thrilled and knew I wanted to share this occasion with friends.

This turned out to be one of the best days in my kitchen! My friend Sandi aka @McMedia came over to help develop the recipes  and my 3 boys eagerly helped judge our creations!

What burger recipes to make? Hmmm….

In case you haven’t noticed, I love to cook Portuguese Food.  The first burger had to be what else?  The Portuguese Hamburger! No bun, No cheese, No Tomato, No lettuce and No Onion, No kidding!  Just purely deliciousness!

What is that on top of the hamburger you ask?  What else would be on top of a Portuguese Hamburger but a Sunny side up egg!  Let me tell you when the yolk mixes with the juicy burger meat in your mouth… it is pure heaven!

And I haven’t even mentioned the best part…. the Chorizo, Wine Sauce that the burger sits in…..Incredible!  That’s where it is comical that there is no bun because I guarantee  that you can not eat this burger without some crusty bread to dip into this delicious sauce!  It really is that good!

Just when I thought this sauce couldn’t get any better….it miraculously does…. Why?  because we used Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais_Villages 2009 in the sauce!   This wine also pairs quite nicely with this burger.

Ratings by my boys:

Ronnie 10, Reis 10, Riley 10…. Can you tell they may have had this before and it is one of their favorite meals!

Portuguese Hamburger Recipe

  • 1 lb Ground Round
  • 4 Garlic Cloves thinly sliced
  • 4 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup Red Wine
  • 1 Cup Beef Broth
  • 1 small Chorizo finely chopped
  • 2 stems of fresh Parsley chopped
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 TBS Butter
  • 4 Eggs
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Pepper to Season

I am a minimalist when it comes to food.  This is especially true when cooking Hamburgers.  I love to taste the meat in it’s natural state.

Form the Ground Round into 4 Round Patties no thicker than 3/4 inch and make sure the middle is a little thinner than the outside of the burger.

Brush the burgers with Olive Oil and season with Sea Salt and Fresh Pepper.

Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Place on the grill on medium flame and cook for approximately 7 mins. for Medium Rare Burgers.  Flip the Burger only once and do not press down with a spatula.  We want all those yummy juices to stay in the burger

I like to cook on the side burner of my grill so that I can keep a close eye on those bad boys.  So while the burgers are cooking I start working on my sauce.  You will love love love this sauce!  I promise!

Add the remainder of the olive oil to a large frying pan.  Add the garlic and chopped chorizo.  Saute until they start popping but be careful not to burn (there is nothing worse than burnt garlic.)  Add the red wine and the beef broth and bring to a boil.   Once it boils, simmer on low and add the parsley and bay leaf.  Once sauce is reduced in half, remove bay leaf and add the butter.  When butter is blended into the sauce, add burgers to the sauce.  Remove from heat and let sit.

Cook the eggs sunny side up in a separate frying pan in a little bit of butter.  Remove the eggs and place one on top of each Burger.  Spoon Some of the Sauce with the Chorizo over the eggs.

Make sure you have some crusty bread for that yummy sauce.  You won’t be able to resist!