Thursday, 30 October 2014

Uma mistura hambúrguer se fecha o circulo (a burger mix comes full circle)

 New school Thai
A recipe I have been making for over ten year has now come full circle.This is a characteristic recipe from Nigel Slater. It's a combination that plays a bit with authenticity, but doesn't seem like that much of a major departure. The left-field ingredients here are  an integral part of Thai cooking.Lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, (Nam pla) fish sauce and birds eye chillies (piri piri in Portugal).I know that lemongrass and lime leaves are sometimes hard to find, but the unmistakable flavour adds something extra. I started off all those years ago making the mix into quarter pounder burgers and afterwards realised their potential for being served as meatballs with a sweet chilli dipping sauce or fresh salsa.These make a great starter, part of a tapas or as canapés.These two applications of the same basic pork mince mix ran alongside for a few years before I picked up a handy hint of adding tomato purée into the mix.This made perfect sense. Meatballs are traditionally served in tomato sauce,but take the sauce away and introduce the tomato flavour into the meat mix and it lifts the spicy pork mixture.You will however need some breadcrumbs as well to maintain the right consistency without damaging the overall flavour ( breadcrumbs like potatoes absorb flavour so be careful with the quantity you use).Now having noticed the arrival of NY slider outlets in Portugal´s two major cities I thought it was time for Nigel´s taste sensation, now less than recognizable from the author´s original incarnation, to be served up in miniature version. Welcome Thai pork sliders in miniature artesan buns, served with chili coriander chutney, a bit of salad foliage, cornichons and artesan potato crisps.The NY slider concept as recreated for the Portuguese market by chef Francisco Meireles is somewhat like a fast food tasting menu ( now there´an idea ).The menu consists of the customer´s choice of three different mini-burgers allowing the possibility for the recipient to taste a variety of flavours in the same meal.

 a selection of three NY sliders comprises one portion

Thai pork basic mix
makes four burgers, four patties, six sliders or 30 meatballs
500g organic pork mince or minced porco preto
1 tablespoon soya sauce
1 tablespoon Nam pla( thai fish sauce)
2 small hot birds eye or piri piri chillies,deseeded

Large handful of fresh coriander
2 sticks of lemongrass trimmed and roughly chopped or 6 Kaffir lime leaves
3 cloves garlic peeled
1 shallot peeled and finely chopped
hamburger  buns,baps or mini rolls
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
Get your butcher to put the pork through the mincer twice.Put the minced meat in a bowl.Add the soya and fish sauces.Put the chillies,coriander,chopped lemongrass,garlic and shallot in a food processor and chop as finely as you can.Add this mixture to the pork and season with salt and pepper.Mix all the ingredients till well combined and then shape into burgers patties,sliders or meat balls.Warm the oil in a non-stick frying pan.When the oil is hot,put the burgers or sliders in the pan and let them cook for aminute or two until the underside is golden,then flip them over carefully.Continue cooking for aminute,a nd then turn the heat down,cover the pan and cook for afurther four minutes.Drain on kitchen paper and serve

JUST FOR THE PURIST: The perfect patty can be a thing of simple perfection if your meat is of the best and the seasonings are correct.Don´t skimp and use any old mince.You need to buy finely ground ("duas vezes", as we say in Portugal, literally twice through the mincer).You will then have finely ground skeins of silky pink meat speckled with white fat to make the perfect burgers, sliders or meat balls.

JUST FOR THE HISTORY:According to the earliest citations, the name may have originated aboard U.S. Navy ships, due to the way greasy burgers slid across the galley grill while the ship pitched and rolled. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Hendricks Gin and Fever tree jelly shots, the perfect tonic


Everywhere I go these days I seem to be bombarded by gin menus and gin bars.What is it with Gin? it seems gin is the new vodka.Well actually it is. I only recently learnt that gin is actually vodka  up to the point  when the juniper is added.Don´t get me wrong I love a gin I but what a lot of fuss.
So why is mothers' ruin back in fashion? For decades gin was dismissed as a rather fuddy-duddy drink, to be drowned in tonic and consumed by maiden aunts and grandparents.Even that was a marked improvement on the spirit's reputation in the 18th century, when gin was blamed for a whole host of social ills. It became known as "mother's ruin" and the artist William Hogarth did the drink no favours in his print Gin Lane, which depicted a babe falling from the arms of an addled woman.London,once famous for its gin palaces is again up there on the gin wagon.It is not only London it seems that is being hit by this revival.In recent years it has become hugely popular across Europe and beyond, with takes on the classic drink that would have the Queen Mother turning in her grave.A new wave of spirited enthusiasts is embracing and imbibing gin and getting excited about new artesan distillers such as  Sipsmith.It seems we are in the throes of a global gin craze,and nowhere is this more apparent than in Spain. If you’ve been to the Iberian peninsula in the past five years, you’ve probably been handed a “gin-tonic” in a glass the size of your head. “Spain is gin paradise, and the biggest market for gin in the world per head of population,” says Geraldine Coates, the editor of Gintime.com.
The craze for gin-and-tonic means Madrid and Barcelona are positively fizzing with new gin bars,spurring high end publications like Conde Nast Traveller to publish guides to where to get the best gin and bear it juniper fix.


Gin and tonic jelly Spanish style en copa de ballon

 The most marked difference between a Spanish G and T and a British one is the glass – in Spain’s case a large, balloon-shaped stemmed glass, the copa de balon.
The Spanish have taken gin and tonic to their hearts: “Even in the smallest bar in the smallest city, they’ll have glass cabinets stocked with a whole host of never before heard of brands and a choice of different tonics,”
The Spanish may be drinking their gin-tonics in big glasses, but that doesn’t mean they’re falling down drunk in the calle. The typical measure is 50ml gin to 100-200ml tonic, and plenty of ice. It comes with anything from cinnamon sticks to rosemary to grapes, it seems the Spanish are getting bored with “fruit salad floating in their drinks”. The copa de balon trend has also spread to Portugal, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Oh dear, gin used to be straightforward: spirit, tonic, ice and a slice. Or - if we're harking back to Hogarthian times - a pint pot dunked into a tin bath tub of the stuff, followed by a nice lie down in the gutter.Now thanks to new independent distilleries and a whole new molecular mixology gin is attracting a much younger audience.

Hendricks Gin and Fever tree tonic jelly shots
Makes 10 shot glasses
It's the perfect tonic,but the question is before or after the meal?

150ml (¼pt) water
150g (5½oz) caster sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
125ml (4fl oz) gin
200ml (7fl oz) tonic water
5 gelatine leaves
Lemon and lime wedges

Pour the water and the sugar into a pan, bring to a gentle boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest. Leave to stand for 15 minutes.
Pour into a measuring jug. Add the lemon juice, gin and tonic - top up with more if it does not reach the 600ml (1pt) mark.
Place the gelatine in a shallow bowl and cover in water. Soak for 4 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water, then whisk the gelatine into 30ml (1fl oz) hot water. Stir this into the lemon syrup until combined.
Pour into individual shot glasses and leave to set for 6 hours.













Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Nuts about an algarvian satay

I am a glutton for peanut butter,but have never thought of making my own. - See more at: http://www.marmadukescarlet.blogspot.pt/2014/09/homemade-peanut-butter.html#more

I am a glutton for peanut butter, but had never thought about making my own until Rachel Kelly aka Marmaduke Scarlet showed me how easy it was. I made it and have never looked back. I am now on my third batch.Tried and tested, it is just as she says, infinitely superior to the shop-bought varieties and can be made in a matter of minutes,well 3 to be precise.I was on a roll and there was no stopping me now.


Home made peanut butter reminded me of a scrumptious Nigel Slater Chicken satay sandwich I used to make back in the day.Could I re-work this idea for the Casa Rosada tasting menu? Yes I could. Chicken satay skewers (above top). It was only when we piloted the idea on a tasting menu for friends that it occured to the thespian that this was not very Portuguese, and our tasting menu should really be a showcase for modern Portuguese and Spanish food.Would it be possible to put an Algarvian twist on something essentially Asian?  By replacing the peanuts with almonds we would have an have an almond satay, maybe served with Iberican Porco preto.It was all starting to make sense.
Now my work was cut out.I would have to make home made almond butter.If I´d churned out successful peanut butter I figured I could churn out an almond version. Patience would be a virtue  and I’m not a very patient person, which probably explains why I haven’t made my own almond butter up until now.Are you patient? Because trust me you’ll need it if you want to make your own homemade almond butter.
Patience, almonds, and a food processor. That’s all it takes.But first a word of warning and a couple of tips.Peanuts and other softer nuts like cashews and macadamias turn to butter easily and very quickly.Not so almonds.They take much longer to release their natural oil and start breaking down.Make sure your food processor is powerful enough for the job.I thought mine was but when I smelt burning, the warning lights were telling me the motor was overheating and about to give up the ghost.It did and I had to give up and call on the help of a second processor.
Depending on the size of your food processor, you can grind up to 4 cups of almonds at a time. I recommend sticking to about 2 cups, to make the process move a little faster.You can use raw or roasted almonds. Raw almonds take a little longer, and freshly roasted almonds break down into nut butter faster, if added to the food processor while still warm. (You can dry-roast your own almonds for 10-12 minutes at 350F).




Home made peanut butter
500g raw peanuts (ready roasted in their shells )
peanut or ground nut oil
2tsp Flor de sal
1 tbsp honey (optional)

Split open the peanuts and discard the shells ( this is a lengthy process and should be saved for time in front of the TV when the particular programme does not require full concentration
Place your nuts in a food processor( ouch!!!) add the Flor de sal and process in short bursts.
for the first 10 to 20 seconds or so your nuts will look like ordinary ground nuts.Persevere.
After another 20 seconds or so, some of the natural oil is released from the nuts.The finely ground nuts will start to stick to the side of the food processor as well as clump together.At this point you will need to switch off the processor and scrape down the sides.
After 90 seconds you should get something that looks like a clump of nut paste.You still need to keep going.After 3 minutes the mixture will start to take on an oily gloss ,like peanut butter should. It will still be very thick,so add some ground nut or peanut oil to loosen the mixture.It will then become smooth and creamy.

Home made almond butter
A creamy almond butter that's more affordable than the store-bought versions!
Not only is homemade almond butter cheaper than commercial brands, it also gives you greater control over the quality of almonds you’re eating.

2 cups almonds

tip the almonds into the bowl of your food processor, fitted with an “S” blade.
Snap on the lid, get the food processor running, and let it do all the work!
Be prepared, the food processor will be running for a while. You’ll notice that the ground almonds will start to collect around the edges of the bowl, so be sure to stop and scrape down the sides every few minutes, just to keep everything blending evenly.
Depending on the amount of almonds you use, and the size of your food processor, you’ll notice a change starting to happen after about 10-15 minutes.
As the oils are released from the almonds, they’ll start to stick together and form a large mass that moves around the bowl. You’ll also notice that the almond butter is getting rather warm.
After about 20 minutes of consistent processing you think you’re never going to end up with almond butter– then it all suddenly starts to come together.
You’ll finally have a grainy-looking almond butter.
Don’t worry, you’re almost there!
After a couple more minutes of processing, your almond butter will become smooth and creamy.
Transfer the almond butter to a sealed glass jar, and store in the fridge for best shelf life.

SATAY
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic,peeled and crushed
a small thumb of ginger peeled and grated
1 stem of lemongrass, tender part only, shredded
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 small hot piri piri chillies,seeded if you wish ,finely chopped
1 teaspoon good quality curry powder
150g peanut or almond butter
3 heaped tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
teaspoon sugar
Soften and very lightly brown the chopped shallot,garlic,ginger and lemongrass in the oil over a moderate heat.Stir in the chillies and curry powder and continue cooking for acouple of minutes.Add the nut butter and 250ml water and bring to the boil.Season with coriander and sugar to taste.serve as a dipping sauce for Iberican pork skewers or chicken. Alternatively toss some grilled chicken strips in the sauce and with a few salad leaves put in a floury bap to make the sandwich above.


SOME EXTRA TIPS WHEN MAKING NUT BUTTER
Feel free to add salt or spices, to your own personal taste. 
Don’t use soaked almonds (without thoroughly drying), or add liquid, for longest shelf life. It might be tempting to add something like vanilla extract, but added moisture will reduce the shelf life greatly.

All you really need are peanuts and a good food processor or spice grinder. Of course there are a few things that you can add to your nut butter, so think of this as less of a recipe and more of a series of suggestions.

I have to say that the homemade version is infinitely superior in flavour to shop-bought peanut butter, and can be made in just a matter of minutes. It will store well in the fridge too.

ingredients:
500g raw peanuts
vegetable oil (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp runny honey (optional)

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.
  2. Lay the nuts out evenly on a lined baking tray.
  3. Heat in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the tray after 5 minutes. After 10 minutes the nuts should be lightly toasted, although they may take longer. However, if it looks as if they are cooking more quickly, then take them out of the oven. You really don't want burned nuts! Transfer to a plate and leave to cool.
  4. Place your nuts in a food processor and process in short bursts. 
  5. For the first 10 to 20 seconds or so, your nuts will just look like ordinary ground nuts. You need to persevere.
  6. After another 20 seconds or so, some of the natural oil within the nuts is released. The finely ground nuts will start to stick to the side of the food processor as well as clump together. You'll need to switch off the processor and scrape down the sides.
  7. After 90 seconds you should get something that looked like a clump of nut paste. But you still need to keep on going.
  8. After 180 seconds (yup 2 and a half minutes) the mixture begins to look shiny, like peanut butter should. It was still very thick, so I added 4 teaspoons of safflower oil to loosen the mixture. It was now smooth and creamy.
  9. Since I had used raw peanuts, I added 2 teaspoons of salt as well as 1 tablespoon of runny honey to the mixture.
  10. The peanut butter will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 weeks to 1 month.

tips:

  • If you prefer a chunkier texture, then add another 100g of whole peanuts to smooth butter and give a quick whizz.
  • I sweetened my butter with honey, but you could use a little brown sugar or maple syrup.
  • I actually prefer almond or cashew nut butter to peanut butter. Many nuts and seeds can be ground into a paste, so it is worth experimenting.
  • Don't bother removing the peanut skins, as they just add a little more colour to the finished butter.
- See more at: http://www.marmadukescarlet.blogspot.pt/2014/09/homemade-peanut-butter.html#more

I have to say that the homemade version is infinitely superior in flavour to shop-bought peanut butter, and can be made in just a matter of minutes. It will store well in the fridge too.

ingredients:
500g raw peanuts
vegetable oil (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp runny honey (optional)

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.
  2. Lay the nuts out evenly on a lined baking tray.
  3. Heat in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the tray after 5 minutes. After 10 minutes the nuts should be lightly toasted, although they may take longer. However, if it looks as if they are cooking more quickly, then take them out of the oven. You really don't want burned nuts! Transfer to a plate and leave to cool.
  4. Place your nuts in a food processor and process in short bursts. 
  5. For the first 10 to 20 seconds or so, your nuts will just look like ordinary ground nuts. You need to persevere.
  6. After another 20 seconds or so, some of the natural oil within the nuts is released. The finely ground nuts will start to stick to the side of the food processor as well as clump together. You'll need to switch off the processor and scrape down the sides.
  7. After 90 seconds you should get something that looked like a clump of nut paste. But you still need to keep on going.
  8. After 180 seconds (yup 2 and a half minutes) the mixture begins to look shiny, like peanut butter should. It was still very thick, so I added 4 teaspoons of safflower oil to loosen the mixture. It was now smooth and creamy.
  9. Since I had used raw peanuts, I added 2 teaspoons of salt as well as 1 tablespoon of runny honey to the mixture.
  10. The peanut butter will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 weeks to 1 month.

tips:

  • If you prefer a chunkier texture, then add another 100g of whole peanuts to smooth butter and give a quick whizz.
  • I sweetened my butter with honey, but you could use a little brown sugar or maple syrup.
  • I actually prefer almond or cashew nut butter to peanut butter. Many nuts and seeds can be ground into a paste, so it is worth experimenting.
  • Don't bother removing the peanut skins, as they just add a little more colour to the finished butter.
- See more at: http://www.marmadukescarlet.blogspot.pt/2014/09/homemade-peanut-butter.html#more

All you really need are peanuts and a good food processor or spice grinder. Of course there are a few things that you can add to your nut butter, so think of this as less of a recipe and more of a series of suggestions.

I have to say that the homemade version is infinitely superior in flavour to shop-bought peanut butter, and can be made in just a matter of minutes. It will store well in the fridge too.

ingredients:
500g raw peanuts
vegetable oil (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp runny honey (optional)

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.
  2. Lay the nuts out evenly on a lined baking tray.
  3. Heat in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the tray after 5 minutes. After 10 minutes the nuts should be lightly toasted, although they may take longer. However, if it looks as if they are cooking more quickly, then take them out of the oven. You really don't want burned nuts! Transfer to a plate and leave to cool.
  4. Place your nuts in a food processor and process in short bursts. 
  5. For the first 10 to 20 seconds or so, your nuts will just look like ordinary ground nuts. You need to persevere.
  6. After another 20 seconds or so, some of the natural oil within the nuts is released. The finely ground nuts will start to stick to the side of the food processor as well as clump together. You'll need to switch off the processor and scrape down the sides.
  7. After 90 seconds you should get something that looked like a clump of nut paste. But you still need to keep on going.
  8. After 180 seconds (yup 2 and a half minutes) the mixture begins to look shiny, like peanut butter should. It was still very thick, so I added 4 teaspoons of safflower oil to loosen the mixture. It was now smooth and creamy.
  9. Since I had used raw peanuts, I added 2 teaspoons of salt as well as 1 tablespoon of runny honey to the mixture.
  10. The peanut butter will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 weeks to 1 month.

tips:

  • If you prefer a chunkier texture, then add another 100g of whole peanuts to smooth butter and give a quick whizz.
  • I sweetened my butter with honey, but you could use a little brown sugar or maple syrup.
  • I actually prefer almond or cashew nut butter to peanut butter. Many nuts and seeds can be ground into a paste, so it is worth experimenting.
  • Don't bother removing the peanut skins, as they just add a little more colour to the finished butter.
- See more at: http://www.marmadukescarlet.blogspot.pt/2014/09/homemade-peanut-butter.html#more



All you really need are peanuts and a good food processor or spice grinder. Of course there are a few things that you can add to your nut butter, so think of this as less of a recipe and more of a series of suggestions.

I have to say that the homemade version is infinitely superior in flavour to shop-bought peanut butter, and can be made in just a matter of minutes. It will store well in the fridge too.

ingredients:
500g raw peanuts
vegetable oil (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp runny honey (optional)

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.
  2. Lay the nuts out evenly on a lined baking tray.
  3. Heat in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the tray after 5 minutes. After 10 minutes the nuts should be lightly toasted, although they may take longer. However, if it looks as if they are cooking more quickly, then take them out of the oven. You really don't want burned nuts! Transfer to a plate and leave to cool.
  4. Place your nuts in a food processor and process in short bursts. 
  5. For the first 10 to 20 seconds or so, your nuts will just look like ordinary ground nuts. You need to persevere.
  6. After another 20 seconds or so, some of the natural oil within the nuts is released. The finely ground nuts will start to stick to the side of the food processor as well as clump together. You'll need to switch off the processor and scrape down the sides.
  7. After 90 seconds you should get something that looked like a clump of nut paste. But you still need to keep on going.
  8. After 180 seconds (yup 2 and a half minutes) the mixture begins to look shiny, like peanut butter should. It was still very thick, so I added 4 teaspoons of safflower oil to loosen the mixture. It was now smooth and creamy.
  9. Since I had used raw peanuts, I added 2 teaspoons of salt as well as 1 tablespoon of runny honey to the mixture.
  10. The peanut butter will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 weeks to 1 month.

tips:

  • If you prefer a chunkier texture, then add another 100g of whole peanuts to smooth butter and give a quick whizz.
  • I sweetened my butter with honey, but you could use a little brown sugar or maple syrup.
  • I actually prefer almond or cashew nut butter to peanut butter. Many nuts and seeds can be ground into a paste, so it is worth experimenting.
  • Don't bother removing the peanut skins, as they just add a little more colour to the finished butter.
- See more at: http://www.marmadukescarlet.blogspot.pt/2014/09/homemade-peanut-butter.html#more

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

All aboard for bruschetta Todos a bordo mais uma refeição para os todos gostos

 Come aboard come aboard.It can go all night if you want it to
Cooking for friends customers or clients can be serious work. Don´t I know it. We often have guests coming in on late flights who want a form of sustenance on their arrival but not necessarily a full blown 3 course dinner. In a more relaxed scenario it might be that you have put it upon yourself to throw an  impromptu gathering that can suddenly become a culinary labour of love.You haven´t got the time and  you don´t want to spend the entire day slaving over a hot stove, so here´s how you take the pain out of prep.- a little or no cook bruschetta board .Its a variation on the theme of tapas.Prepare a wooden board with griddled garlicky bread, add an assortment of charcuterie, cheeses, roasted or grilled vegetables, sauces, pestos, tapenades, dips, and like magic, Fay presto....dinner´s done.Your key ingredient is griddled bread,after that flexibility and creativity can take you where you want to go.You dictate the toppings and your guests relish it.You choose and chop,they pick and mix.Get a little bit fishy if the mood takes you and push the prawn out.Yes prawns,chopped octopus,tuna,anchovies and cod´s roe pate would all work well here.Are you on board?I think you will be.You can delegate too; get your friends to pitch in and bring aboard a  bit of pot luck surprise.Once aboard here is how its done....

Heat a grill over medium high heat.
Generously drizzle the bread with olive oil on both sides. Using a pair of tongs, transfer the slices of bread to the grill and grill for a few moments until grill marks are present. Flip and continue to grill the bread on the other side for a minute more. Remove and set aside.
Rub the garlic on the toasted bread to give it an extra layer of flavor.
Arrange the toppings on a large platter or table and serve with the grilled bread.

    Friday, 3 October 2014

    The return of the Bounty hunter

    Bounty was always sold as two pieces in one package

    For many the Bounty bar was the chocolate bar of disappointment.It induced the same despondency that being the last kid to be picked for the football team at school did.For me however, the excitement of Bounty hunting was always the rattling through a thoroughly pillaged box of Celebrations  to find what my superiors in the family had already rejected in their search for the rich pickings of Galaxy or Snickers
    Thank heavens it was always the Bounty bar that was left by the time the box finished its round on my lap.
    It was my grandmother, or should I say step-grandmother to be precise, that introduced me to Bounty bars.As a child I was fascinated by the coconuts  that were balanced on wooden poles at the local fair´s coconut shy. Oh how I hurled those wooden balls in vain attempts to conquer a coconut to take home.And oh how I screamed when I didn´t get one. Later in life it was Rick Stein´s coconut sambal that I would serve up as an antidote to the torrent of chilli that assaults the back of your tongue when eating a Beef Rendang.More recently while trolling the tinternet for vegan recipes I stumbled across a recipe for "Raw bounty bars." A bit worthy I have to say but with a bit of work on the recipe I produced something that was far less healthy.That childhood craving during shopping trips with nanna had come back to haunt me.Being a precocious  child, I would always  ask "have you got your purse with you nanna? before we had even left home.I knew that if I behaved myself I would get nanna´s reward for being dragged round the shops.She could hardly say no when she was indulging in one herself.

    Nanna, Betty as she was known,was a bit of a trendsetter.Mars had only introduced the Mars bar into England in 1951, so for me to be eating a grown up Bounty bar before the age of 10 was somewhat of an accolade.My own personal preference, the dark chocolate(red wrapper version,also my mother´s favourite ) was introduced later.

    Home made Bounty Bars with flor de sal
    Makes 6 bars

    Coconut Filling
    2 cups / 175g unsweetened desiccated coconut
    ¼ cup / 60ml coconut oil, melted
    2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
    ¼ tsp. Flor de sal
    1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
    1 Tbsp. water


    Chocolate coating
    1/4 cup / 60 ml melted coconut oil

    100g melted cocoa butter or good quality (Callebaut) couverture with vegetable fat
    1/3 cup / 30g cocoa powder
    1/4 cup honey
    a couple pinches flor de sal to taste
      In a a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water) melt coconut oil. Remove from heat and add the honey, sea salt and vanilla seeds, whisk to combine. Set aside.
      Place dessicated coconut in a large bowl and sprinkle the tablespoon of water over top, stir well. Pour the coconut oil mixture over and fold to combine, using your hands if necessary. Taste for sweetness and adjust if necessary.
      Line a 7×7” (18x18cm) baking pan or ceramic dish with plastic wrap, leaving plenty of extra to hang over the sides. Press the coconut mixture firmly into place, especially around the edges. Wrap edges around coconut and place in the fridge to firm, at least 30 minutes,preferably overnight.
      In a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water) melt coconut oil and cocoa butter. Add honey and whisk to combine. When completely uniform, remove from heat and sift in cocoa powder, and add sea salt. Taste for sweetness and saltiness, and adjust accordingly.
      On an open work surface, place a piece of parchment paper underneath a cooling rack. Make space in your fridge for the rack to fit.
      Remove coconut from the fridge, unwrap and cut into 6 bars of equal size. Round off the ends by slicing off the corners if you like for authenticity. One by one, place a coconut bar into the liquid chocolate and turn over a couple times to coat. Remove with a fork, allowing any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl, then place on the cooling rack. Repeat with remaining bars. Once all the bars have been done and they re no longer dripping, place rrack in the fridge for the chocolate to harden, about 15 minutes. Remove from fridge and repeat the process, giving each bar with one more coat of chocolate. Return bars to the fridge.
      Return to the freezer to firm up completely, at least one hour. Remove bars from rack and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two months.



        Thursday, 2 October 2014

        Tonka -a missed opportunity

        Seductively aromatic, somewhat toxic, and celebrated 
        by many for its intriguing qualities

        Where was I when everybody was talking Tonka? It seemed a culinary craze has passed me by. While modern haute cuisine worked overtime to add scents to our plates I must have been working hard at something else.What plonka could have bypassed Tonka? Perhaps it was my aversion to ever reading about the revival of cooking with hay and "Parfum de barnyard",when all one heard of was Grant Achatz's pillows of vapourized fresh mown grass and José Andrés bowls of smoke seeping from under hay brulée. I acknowledge that in "avant-garde cuisine" drama and novelty are important but the FDA in America considered drama can sometimes be deadly.How exciting is that?
        Enter the Tonka bean, a flat, wrinkled legume from South America with a larger than life flavour that the US federal government declared illegal.(I have to say that on the two occasions I have used it I have experienced very vivid dreams,and on one occasion a mild nightmare,so be warned ) Nonetheless, somehow it has proliferated on elite menus. The tiniest shavings erupt like Arthurian legend in a myriad of mystical aromas.
        Tonka beans are an unusual spice that you don’t see in everyday cooking, but have a very unique flavour. In all likelihood,this is probably the one most versatile ingredient you’ve never tried. Like vanilla, the flavour of the Tonka bean can be very complex, but can also be very subtle when it is used in a recipe – which means that it can be difficult to pinpoint the origin of those flavours unless you know that the tonka is in there.
        The taste of the Tonka bean is linked strongly to its scent. Scents, I should say, as the Tonka bean has many at once. It does not come as much surprise that the fragrance of the Tonka bean, was once also used in the manufacture of perfume.One´s palate can register aromas of cherry, almond, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves with sometimes with hints of caramel and even tobacco.The Tonka bean has been adopted countrywide by the Portuguese as a flavour enhancer in Arroz Doce, Portuguese Rice pudding.
        When served cold—say, in ice cream, the taste is like a vanilla caramel with dark honey. When warm, perhaps shaved (it's almost always shaved) over scallops, it moves toward spiced vanilla.
        While the flavour has its own dependence, it adds a unique dimension when paired with chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon and the like. Wrinkled and black in appearance, the inside of the hard bean is a dusty chocolate brown that can be applied to dishes in the same way as nutmeg; easily grated as needed.While the tonka bean has savoury applications (such as in certain regional French stews), its more popular applications are sweet:ice cream,  panna cotta, crème brulee, chocolate desserts, truffles and many other dishes.
        With such a uniquely appealing aroma, one smell of a tonka bean will have you inventing recipes and imagining delicious applications for this underused ingredient.I would keep my eye out for the opportunity to try it if you haven’t encountered it before.It might not be common, but you won’t forget the flavour once you’ve had it.
        Tonka bean panna cotta
        makes 6 ramekins 

        500 ml good quality yoghurt
        500ml half and half mixture of single cream and mlk
        225g sugar
        1 teaspoon grated Tonka bean
        4 leaves gelatine

         
        Beat the yoghurt lightly with a fork until smooth and creamy.
        Combine the cream and milk mixture, sugar and grated tonka bean in a pot over a medium flame until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is nicely warm to the touch.Remove from the heat. Dissolve the gelatine in 4 tablespoons of water and add to the cream and milk mixture. Stir to mix, ensuring the gelatine is completely dissolved.Beat in the yoghurt.
        Strain through a sieve into the ramekins and chill for several hours or overnight until set.

        Friday, 26 September 2014

        Atravessando a ponte para delícias Crossing the bridge to deliciousness


        Hoje,estava o nosso dia descanso primeiro depois meses do trabalho ( today was our first day off after months of hard work) so with an autumn spring in our step the thespian and I put our best foot forward and headed across the bridge to Spain.It was time for a little relaxez-vous and some care from the community.What better place to achieve this than in Plaza de la Laguna,the main square in Ayamonte where you can find La Puerta Ancha.


        The lovely Clíodhna Browne gives you a big warm welcome, seats you and makes sure a bottle of Marcelo, our favourite Albarinho wine, is on the table while we make our selection. 
         La Puerta Ancha directly translated means "wide door"
        In the past the bar was used as a stable for horses and carts to break their journey from the port to Portugal or further into the hinterland of Andalucia and far reaching Spain.Over a period of time the merchants, while stabling their animals, began to find a use for La Puerta in the form of a meeting place,and since the start of the century it evolved into a bar.It is now the oldest bar in Ayamonte, serving the most modern food but fantastically without losing its original structure and charm.This is all down to the food and ingredients being served with a modern twist under the creative culinary direction of Fabio Zerbo, originally from Piedmont in Italy.
        Piquillo peppers with tuna and pea cream
        Why do I love I love Fabio´s food so much? Well, when I started out in catering all those years ago, Piedmont was my original point of reference. Piedmont's cuisine is famous for its immense variety of antipasti and is also known for rich dishes featuring truffles and cream sauces, but it’s also Italy’s most culinarily progressive region.It is quite plain to see where Fabio's modern tapas menu is coming from.
        Take for instance his Porcini mushroom risotto served with white truffle oil.The flatlands of Piedmont are the source of Europe’s prominent supplier of Carnaroli rice, prized for creamy risotto.Piedmont, which also happens to be Italy’s most developed and industrial area, has for a long time now been forging a new identity as an exciting and progressive restaurant region, where young local chefs have been playing catch-up (and forming close ties) with Spain’s avant-gardists.  No surprise then that this master of re-invention is finding ways of bringing together a myriad of international tapas style eating.

         Tuna tartare on seaweed wakame,where food becomes art

        Fabio won the award in 2011 for best tapa of the region with his Minced beef in a sauce of mushrooms and melted strips of brie. He is constantly re-inventing and consequently favourite dishes die hard, as has been the case with one of my favourites the mouth watering Mussels sautéed with basil and cream.But there are stalwart dishes that we keep returning for,dishes so delicious you could never tire of.Taste for example the Tataki tuna with wasabi and pickled ginger or his take on chicken yakitori.This Michelin tyred chef, (yes in his former life Fabio worked for Michelin Tyres in Italy) will own his Michelin star.

        Carpaccio of wild boar with parmesan and rocket
        Our favourite  prawn skewers always something to return for
         Thank you Puerta Ancha for another lovely table of food
        By the way You need "The Wide Door" to get out!”   


        Thursday, 18 September 2014

        Noelia heads north to fly the flag

                                                     Photo: RAUL LUFINHA
        No rescaldo da zaragata e chateado causada por um jornalista equivocada, Chef Noelia assume o papel de embaixador Algarvia culinária, e armado com Batterie de cuisine vai tomar de assalto a capital.

        In the aftermath of the rumpus and upset caused by a misguided journalist,Chef Noelia takes on the role of East Algarve Culinary ambassador and armed with batterie de cuisine is going to take the capital by storm.

        "Até parece que os algarvios fazem gata da sua antipatia"."Não há gordos nem sorrisos em algarve". "Em algumas destas terras, até podiamos fazer o casting para filmes de piratas". "Eles não sabem receber". "Eles estão ociosos". "Eles são indolentes".

        "It seems that the Algarvians like to boast about their antipathy". "Some places would give a great spot for a casting of a pirate film". "They don't know how to welcome people". "They are idle". "They are indolent".

        Estas palavras severas e equivocadas foram dirigidas a "Os algarvios" no mês passado em um artigo exagerada no jornal Expresso escrito pelo jornalista polêmico e franco Henrique Raposo.His palavras depreciativas deu origem a uma enorme onda de indignação no facebook e outros networks.His sociais acusação passou a acusar a região de sempre ter sido "desligado do resto do país" e "apenas juntando-se Portugal a partir do final década de 1960".

        These harsh and misdirected words were addressed to "Os Algarvios" last month in an overstated Expresso newspaper article written by controversial and outspoken journalist Henrique Raposo.His derogatory tone gave rise to a huge wave of indignation on facebook and other social networks.His accusation went on to accuse the region of always having been "disconnected from the rest of the country"and "only having joined Portugal from the late 1960´s".

        Se ele se inclinação para tomar uma jantar no Terraço do Hotel Tivoli, Lisboa entre os dias 8 e 19 Talvez ele não vai apenas engoliras suas palavras, mas também como o que é servido a ele por algarvia querida culinária Chef Noélia.
        Em outubro,durante 12 dias a capital fica ainda mais interessante.Lisboa recebe o restaurante algarvio Noélia e Jeronimo.A cozinha regional está em alta com uma iniciativa Portugal de Norte a Sul.Agora,é a vez de Cabanas de Tavira se mostrar.Receitas coma a canja de conquilhas,as pataniscas de polvo ou os filetes de peixe -galo vão poder ser apreciadas com o Tejo como pano de fundo.Durante esses dias,o encanto da Ria Formosa muda-se para a Avenida da liberdade,pelas mãos talentosas do chef Noélia.A dupla tem feito sucesso no algarve,com longas filas de espera nos meses mais concorridos e uma aprovação quase unãnime quanto à qualidade no prato.e essa poderá ser comprovada à mesa do Terraço.

        If O Senhor Raposo feels so inclined he could partake of dinner in the Terrace restaurant of Hotel Tivoli, in Lisbon, between the 8th and 19th October.Perhaps he might not only eat his words but also what is served to him on his plate by Algavian culinary sweetheart Chef Noélia. For 12 days the capital will play host to The Restaurant Noélia e Jeronimo.This North/ South initiative will demonstrate the rise in interest of regional cuisine, and it is now the turn of the Algarve to take a standpoint against this criticism and to show what it can do.Regional dishes such as a canja of conquilhas, octopus fritters or fillets of John Dory and other Noélia favourites will be served.The charm of the Ria Formosa will be transported for 12 days to the Avenida de Liberdade by the talented and creative hands of Chef Noelia.Lisbon diners will quickly understand the huge success she has achieved in The Algarve, causing long queues to form during the busiest months of the year to wait for a table.The unanimous accolade of approval she has received in The Algarve will prove itself again in the capital.

        E se algum dia você visitar Castro Marim, O Senhor Raposo por favor, venha e vá para a "bem-vindo" nosso "ociosidade" e nossa "indolência" .It pode ser um despertar chocante para você.
        And should you ever visit Castro Marim, O Senhor Raposo please come and check out our "welcome" our "idleness" and our "indolence".It might be a rude awakening for you.

        Tuesday, 9 September 2014

        Tapenade de Figo e amêndoa -cem por cent Portugues

        Figs have a long and illustrious history (legend has it they were Cleopatra's favourite delicacy).This striking and bewitching fruit with its fleckled green or dark bluish red skin and succulent luscious deep pink flesh is plentiful in the market right now.Dont panic Mr Mannering, their season is long (from now until late October).Eaten sensually out of hand, figs are delicious; but using them in recipes, sweet or savoury, can turn them into a delicacy.I have made sauces,preserves,tarts and I haven´t tried it. but I believe they make a great pizza topping with goats cheese.But is there something we haven´t thought of?
        Figs have a naturally high sugar content, making them a perfect complement for equally intense ingredients, such as salty prosciutto and soft cheeses.Last year I made a twist on tapenade with sweet smoky pequillo peppers and salty almonds.I decided to apply the same principal, but this time my thinking was perhaps a little more radical. A Franco/Italian fusion made with 100% Portuguese seasonal ingredients.I would Lusophonise the classic tapenade and then honour it by making Italian style tramezzini.First and foremost, forget about dried figs. If you've ever had fresh figs, you know there's a world of difference. Sweet and honeyed, fresh figs are something to be savoured. (After all, they were thought to be the food of the gods.)The figs you buy may not always look perfect, and that's okay. A bit of crackly skin is fine, but stay away from figs that are overly soft or oozy. A sign of a perfectly ripe fig is when you see a bit of bend in the stem and feel the skin is supple. Those should be eaten straight away, or used in the recipe below.

        Tramezzini de figo e amêndoa
        Thinly sliced soft white sandwich bread,crusts removed
        (2 slices makes four triangular tramezzini )

        FOR THE FILLING
        1/4 cup black olives
        1 fillet anchovy
        1/2 tablespoon capers
        1/8 teaspoon black pepper
        1/2 garlic clove
        1 teaspoon lemon juice
        1 teaspoon brandy
        2 FRESH figs
        1 soup spoon almonds
        2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

        Blitz all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor.Add the olive oil and process again until you have an almost  smooth texture.Calculate how many tramezzini you require, then cut enough slices of bread.Spread the filling over two slices of bread and join together.Cut on the diagonal into quarters.Trim the sandwiches again to prevent any overhang.

        Tramezzini are much like tea sandwiches, but more often like the revered tremoços, served with with aperitifs,a glass of cold beer or cocktails early evening.The combinations of fillings are infinite and,inevitably,wine worthy.Here are a few suggestions......

        Tapenade and mozzarella ( I have to say my all time favourite for both taste and aesthetics)
        Egg salad with anchovies and capers
        smoked salmon and horseradish
        Egg and avocado purée
        Prosciutto with mustard and mascarpone
        Chopped shrimp and lemon mayonnaise or aioli with watercress or rocket
        green olive tapenade  tomatoes
        Tuna pate
        Chicken liver pate
        Bresaola or Cecina with soft goat cheese or queijo fresco



        Or if you want to eat it the simple French way, just smear your baguette with it.   - See more at: http://www.apronandsneakers.com/2013/01/mini-ham-sandwiches-with-olive-fig-and.html#sthash.IP0vCZYo.dpuf
        Mini Ham Sandwiches With Olive, Fig and Almond Tapenade

        Olive, Fig and Almond Tapenade

        Ingredients:
        Makes 1/2 cup
        • 1/4 cup black olives like Taggiasche (not the green olives in the pictures)
        • 1 fillet of anchovies
        • 1/2 tablespoon capers
        • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
        • 1/4 garlic clove (or 1/2 - 1 whole if you like it more garlicky)
        • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
        • 1/4 teaspoon brandy
        • 2 dried figs
        • 1 teaspoon almonds
        • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil of good quality
        Directions:
        1. Soak the capers in water for 10 minutes then drain.  Squeeze out the excess liquid.  
        2. Mix all the ingredients except extra virgin olive oil in a blender.  
        3. While blending, pour the extra virgin olive oil slowly.  
        4. Keep refrigerated in a jar. 

        To Compose the Mini Sandwiches:

        Ingredients:
        Makes 8 mini sandwiches
        • olive, fig and almond tapenade
        • 6 slices of cooked ham (depending on the size of your bread)
        • 6 slices of sandwich bread
        • mayonnaise
        • 8 pitted whole olives (optional)
        Directions:
        1. Layer the following:  bread, tapenade, bread, mayonnaise, ham (double the ham if it's too thin), bread.  
        2. Slice away and discard the brown sides of the bread then slice to four parts.
        3. Top with olives if desired.
        - See more at: http://www.apronandsneakers.com/2013/01/mini-ham-sandwiches-with-olive-fig-and.html#sthash.yVmISncI.dpuf
        Mini Ham Sandwiches With Olive, Fig and Almond Tapenade

        Olive, Fig and Almond Tapenade

        Ingredients:
        Makes 1/2 cup
        • 1/4 cup black olives like Taggiasche (not the green olives in the pictures)
        • 1 fillet of anchovies
        • 1/2 tablespoon capers
        • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
        • 1/4 garlic clove (or 1/2 - 1 whole if you like it more garlicky)
        • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
        • 1/4 teaspoon brandy
        • 2 dried figs
        • 1 teaspoon almonds
        • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil of good quality
        Directions:
        1. Soak the capers in water for 10 minutes then drain.  Squeeze out the excess liquid.  
        2. Mix all the ingredients except extra virgin olive oil in a blender.  
        3. While blending, pour the extra virgin olive oil slowly.  
        4. Keep refrigerated in a jar. 

        To Compose the Mini Sandwiches:

        Ingredients:
        Makes 8 mini sandwiches
        • olive, fig and almond tapenade
        • 6 slices of cooked ham (depending on the size of your bread)
        • 6 slices of sandwich bread
        • mayonnaise
        • 8 pitted whole olives (optional)
        Directions:
        1. Layer the following:  bread, tapenade, bread, mayonnaise, ham (double the ham if it's too thin), bread.  
        2. Slice away and discard the brown sides of the bread then slice to four parts.
        3. Top with olives if desired.
        - See more at: http://www.apronandsneakers.com/2013/01/mini-ham-sandwiches-with-olive-fig-and.html#sthash.yVmISncI.dpuf

        Thursday, 4 September 2014

        Using your noodle

         Udon noodles with mussels  and a ginger mint basil and coriander pesto

        There´s a vegan in me kitchen what am I gonna do? Believe it or not I have never cooked a vegan meal before, but a few weeks ago the pressure was on when we had a vegan guest in the house and he and his partner requested dinner "Can he not have an egg or  a slice of wafer thin cheese"I said to the thespian.No was the affirmative response.Well donning my thinking head, noodles came to the fore. I had just made a batch of Ginger mint basil and coriander pesto which I usually serve as a dressing for fish salads, octopus,salmon or prawns.Well that would be no use to a vegan.Take the fish out of the equation though and I was on course for a delicious vegan dinner.Surprised? I think you will be. I have to say how surprised I was that the simple ingredients that I chose could create such spectacular flavour. I opted for Udon noodles, then tossed them in my pesto
         and then added diced cucumber, finely sliced radish,spring onion,finely julienned chilli, shallot and finished with a variation on a Thai noodle theme by replacing peanuts with a dusting of chopped pistachios.The final plate, a myriad of textures and flavours ....a little spicy, a little sweet, a little salty, very fresh and noodly al dente.

         Udon noodles with ginger mint basil and coriander pesto (vegan)

        Fortuitously, we liked the dish so much it got me thinking of how else I could apply my signature pesto in a new way.I had never served it warm and thought back to a tapas dish of mussels served in a lemon cream sauce that Fabio serves at Puerta Ancha in Ayamonte.The citrus of the lime in my pesto would pair well with mussels tossed in a pesto cream sauce.I flexed my mussels and like Popeye and spinach without Olive Oil I had served up an innovative and spectacular plate.