Only 6 People In The World Know the Recipe for Portugal’s Famous Tarts

Rebecca Rosman wrote . . . . . . .

We all probably have at least one secret family recipe — think your grandma’s chicken parmesan or uncle’s “mystery” jello mold.

But keeping that recipe a secret becomes a bit more complicated when an entire country falls in love with it.

That’s why Miguel Clarinha isn’t taking any chances.

Along with his cousin, Penelope, Clarinha manages The Antiga Confeitaria de Belem, an airy bakery and café just outside Lisbon, Portugal.

“Our recipe has been a secret since 1837,” says Clarinha. “It’s a tradition — a part of this place.”

The shop features a wide selection of traditional Portuguese cakes and coffees. But the real showstopper Clarinha is talking about is the Pastel de Belém (Pasteis if you’re talking about more than one) — a round, flaky and buttery tart with an egg custard filling.

“It’s kind of like a crème brulée tart,” says Lordes Pinero, who drove nearly 200 miles from her home in southern Portugal to visit the shop. “We’re going to ask for the recipe to see if they’ll give it to us.”

Pinero will find out soon enough that’s she’s out of luck. Only six people in the world know this recipe — three of the shop’s owners and three entrusted chefs who have been working in the bakery for more than 40 years.

“They were good bakers and also someone that management trusted,” says Clarinha.

Their names are Ramiro, Carlos and Vitor. They work in a back room sealed off by a large white door marked as “Oficina do Segredo,” or secret office. Every morning, the three men knead out huge slabs of the buttery dough and the homemade egg custard filling.

That makes enough to produce around 20,000 Pasteis a day.

Imitations, known as the Pastel de Nata, can be found all over Portugal — all over the world, really. But the tarts made here are called “Pastel de Belém,” named for the town where they were invented back in the 18th century — and still baked today.

It all started at the neighboring Jeronimos Monastery, where monks would use egg whites to starch their clothing. The leftover yolks became dessert.

The monastery closed in 1820 following a liberal revolution, but the recipe found new life after being passed down to a sugar refinery owner. In 1837, he opened up a small trading shop where he sold the tarts.

That shop still exists today as the bakery’s front counter.

Clarinha’s family took over the business in the early 20th century. They now have been overseeing operations for four generations. It’s a detail he thinks makes just as big a difference as the secret recipe itself.

“If this wasn’t a family-owned business it would have expanded,” says Clarinha. “The cakes would probably start being frozen and exposed and franchised … and that’s really not our philosophy.”

It’s a tradition that keeps customers coming back. Giles Williams first came to the shop on holiday from London 20 years ago.

Immediately when he landed at the airport on a recent trip, he knew exactly where he was taking his friends.

“Every time I come to Lisbon I come here within about the first two hours,” says Williams. “They’re just the best.”

What makes them the best? It’s hard to know without having the exact recipe, but most customers talk about the freshness of the tarts, which are served just out of the oven.

“They’re crispy and still warm here, whereas other places we eat them cold,” says Rosa Morigado, a visitor from France. “It really tastes different when it’s warm … topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar.”

At only just over a euro a pop, customers also say they can live without learning the secret recipe that lies behind the big white door.

Source: npr

Thai-style Stir-fried Seafood


2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp roasted chili paste
1 medium-sized prawn, shelled and deveined with tail left on
1 large prawn, shelled and deveined with head left on 4 mussels 4 scallops
4 crab claws
1 oz squid, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 stick celery, sliced
1 oz mixed red, yellow and green bell peppers, sliced
1 piece medium-sized carrot, about 1-1/2-inch long, cut into matchsticks
1-1/2 tbsp Maggi seasoning
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
5 Thai basil leaves


green salad leaves
fresh coriander leaves


  1. Heat the oil in a wok until very hot. Add the chili paste and stir-fry briefly. Add all the seafood and stir-fry for about 2 minutes until they are almost cooked.
  2. Add all the vegetables, the sauces, sugar and 3 tbsp water, then stir-fry for one more minute.
  3. Mix in the basil leaves, then remove to a serving dish lined with salad leaves. Garnish with the coriander leaves before serving.

Makes 1 serving.

Source: The Blue Elephant Cookbook

Early Summer Pancake with Melon

The pancake set is available from soffle pancake specialty store “Flippers” in Japan.

This is a lavish pancake with juicy, rich sweet Hokkaido Yubari melon and flavoured melon cream and melon jelly.

It will be sold for a limited time period for 1,600 yen (plus tax).

The Keto Diet

Vanessa Raymond wrote . . . . . . . .

The keto diet was originally developed for kids with epilepsy. But when weight loss-minded adults caught wind of a diet that not only allowed but encouraged the consumption of bacon, butter and other fatty foods, it didn’t take long for it to become a trend.

What is the keto diet?

A ketogenic diet—or keto, for short—is a high fat, very low carbohydrate and moderate protein diet. The diet’s name comes from ketones, molecules formed when the body burns fat for its source of energy instead of carbohydrates.

On a more typical diet, your body converts the carbohydrates you eat into glucose for fuel. It either uses the glucose immediately or sends it to your liver and muscles where it is stored as glycogen for future use, explains Vanessa Imus, a registered dietitian at the Weight Loss Management Center at UW Medical Center-Roosevelt.

On the keto diet, without the carbohydrates your body usually uses to produce energy, your liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies, or ketones for short. This metabolic state of burning fat instead of carbohydrates for fuel is known as ketosis.

Ketosis is just another way of saying that you are no longer a carbohydrate-burning machine, but a fat-burning machine instead.

What makes keto so popular compared to other diets?

The high ratio of fat to protein to carbohydrate distinguishes the keto diet from other weight loss diets. It’s also what makes it so popular. You can eat high-fat foods that are more often considered diet-busters than boosters—like butter and bacon.

Some diets, such as Atkins, start off with a stage of ketosis and then slowly reintroduce carbohydrates. But even other low-carbohydrate diets don’t recommend the high-fat consumption of the keto diet.

“People become excited about the diet when they first hear about it. They think that maybe this is a diet they can succeed at without having to give up the high-fat foods they love,” says Imus.

How do you know when you’ve reached ketosis?

If the keto diet is all about ketosis, how do you know when you’re in it?

Your body’s transition from burning carbs to burning fat does not happen overnight. It takes about three to seven days to adjust, and the process leads to a state commonly known as the keto flu. Keto flu symptoms can include tiredness, nausea, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, upset stomach, dehydration and fruity-smelling breath.

That fruity smell is acetone. Yup, the same acetone that’s in your nail polish remover. Acetone is one of the ketones released by your liver. Because it is the most volatile of the ketones, it diffuses into your lungs and is released when you exhale.

Fruity breath is a good indicator that you are in ketosis. But if it isn’t enough confirmation for you, you can buy strips to test the ketone levels in your blood or urine.

What are the cons of the keto diet?

Keto is not a diet that Imus recommends for weight loss.

It’s true that low-carb diets can lead to fast short-term weight loss, but most studies find that at a year or two out, people have put the weight back on. Imus sees a lot of people at the Weight Loss Management Center after they go off the keto diet and have put back on all the weight they lost (and then some).

And that’s not her only beef with the keto diet.

If you are at liberty to eat as much fat as you want, you are likely going to eat more saturated fats, which can be inflammatory. Heart disease, diabetes, many cancers and other diseases are caused or made worse by inflammation.

Worst of all, because the keto diet virtually eliminates carbohydrates from your diet, it eliminates most fruits, many vegetables and all the nutrients they contain—vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients, too.

“Anytime I see a diet that pretty much rules out an entire category of food—like carbohydrates—I say no. It’s too extreme,” says Imus. “As with most diets, you are either on the diet or off the diet, so it’s not teaching you a sustainable way of eating for the long term.”

The best way to lose weight and be healthy is to consume a balanced diet of unprocessed whole foods. Include a variety of high-fiber vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and lean proteins.

“Author Michael Pollan said it well when he said, ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants,'” says Imus. “Being mindful of the body’s cues of hunger and fullness will help guide people in the direction of moderation.”

Source: University of Washington

Gene Test May Allow Many With Early Breast Cancer to Avoid Chemo

E.J. Mundell wrote . . . . . . . .

A majority of women with an early form of a common breast cancer may be able to skip chemotherapy, depending on the results of a comprehensive gene test.

The new study of nearly 7,000 women found that use of the already available Oncotype DX gene test could pinpoint those women who needed chemotherapy, and those who did not.

The women had a specific type of breast tumor known as “hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, and axillary node-negative.”

The findings could be a game-changer in breast cancer care, researchers and experts said.

“Half of all breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, and axillary node-negative,” noted study author Dr. Joseph Sparano, who helps direct clinical research at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center in New York City.

“Our study shows that chemotherapy may be avoided in about 70 percent of these women when its use is guided by the test, thus limiting chemotherapy to the 30 percent who we can predict will benefit from it,” Sparano said in a news release from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

His team is scheduled to present the study findings Sunday at the ASCO annual meeting, in Chicago, and the study is also being published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

One oncologist agreed that the “highly anticipated” findings could transform care.

“Many women with breast cancer will be able to be spared unnecessary chemotherapy,” said Dr. Erna Busch-Devereaux, a breast surgeon at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital, in Huntington, N.Y. “This landmark study will help better guide treatment recommendations for early stage breast cancer,” she said.

The Oncotype DX test looks at 21 separate genes in breast tumor cells, and gives patients a “score” predicting how their cancer might progress over the next 10 years. Based on those findings, decisions are made on the need for post-surgical chemotherapy.

According to Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, “Breast surgeons and oncologists have been using the 21-gene assay for years to guide treatment after surgical excision.”

For women whose tumors received a low Oncotype DX score (1-10) or a high one (26 to 100), decisions on post-surgical chemotherapy have been clear. Low scores mean women receive hormonal therapy only to keep cancer from spreading, while patients with a high score get hormonal therapy plus chemotherapy.

But prior to the new trial, “there was uncertainty about the best treatment for women with a mid-range score of 11-25,” Sparano explained. “The trial was designed to address this question, and provides a very definitive answer.”

The new study focused on 6,711 women with early stage, hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, axillary node-negative breast cancers. All had received a mid-range Oncotype DX score.

The patients then went on to receive either hormonal therapy alone or the combo of hormonal therapy plus chemotherapy.

The result: After an average follow-up of 7.5 years, the researchers saw no added benefit in this group to adding chemotherapy to the treatment mix. There was no benefit in terms of overall survival, disease-free survival, or cancer spread beyond the breast.

There was some benefit from the chemotherapy for a small subgroup — women with a score of 16 to 25 who were age 50 or younger, Sparano’s team said.

In a separate analysis, hormonal therapy alone did seem very effective in deterring the spread of cancer for women with an Oncotype score of 10 or below. And for those with scores of 26 or above, 13 percent went on to develop metastatic cancer despite receiving both hormonal treatment and chemotherapy, the team said.

Based on all this, Sparano’s team concluded that chemotherapy is now unwarranted in women over 50 with this type of breast cancer who have an Oncotype score under 26. That comprises about 85 percent of women with breast cancer in this age group, the researchers noted.

For women 50 or younger, chemotherapy is unwarranted for those with an Oncotype score under 16 — about 40 percent of breast cancers in this age group, the researchers said.

That’s great news, since the short-term side-effects of chemotherapy can include everything from nausea, hair loss, fatigue and infection, to numbness in hands and feet, and other symptoms. Longer-term effects of chemotherapy include infertility and heart failure.

“When someone had an intermediate score, it was hard to decide whether or not to proceed with chemotherapy,” Bernik said. “Now that we know many of these women can safely avoid chemotherapy, we can spare them the physical and emotional effects that chemotherapy can have.”

Source: HealthDay

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