Tuesday, 27 June 2017

With regards to and reverence of the radish-Sorry mum!!!

When I was a small boy my mother used to read "A Tale of Peter Rabbit to me.I sat up in bed enthralled by Peter and Benjamin escaping from the vegetable garden hotly pursued by Mr McGregor,then falling asleep and dreaming that it was actually me in that vegetable garden,Peter Rabbit,the robber.This is how I came to love radishes, but it was not until very recently that I discovered there were many more ways to eat radishes than just with salt and butter.First of all,I always dunk them in iced water to crisp them up.They become so crisp that the sensation is almost like crunching on ice cubes and the soft green leaves, having been refreshed, regain their peppery bite, akin to watercress and rocket.There has always been room for a ruby red radish in my diet.

"First he ate some lettuces and some French beans; and then he ate some radishes.".

But now I have discovered some ravishing radish recipes that cook the little rubies in many ways. Roasted, sautéed, glazed,who would have thought it eh? In the realm of radishes they are all about the pared back style of cooking that lets ingredients shine,radishes reign and should be treated like heroes being allowed to win supremacy in whatever way they are being prepared-here are a few of the radish recipes that have won me over.
Serve radishes with olive oil and dukkah for dipping.Duqqa, du'ah, do'a, or dukkah is to die for. Its an Egyptian condiment consisting of a mixture of herbs, nuts, and spices. It is typically used as a dip with bread or fresh vegetables for an hors d'œuvre.Radishes and anchovies were born to be childhood sweethearts and what can be more delicious at this time of year than a radish confetti with that classic Italian green sauce of herbs, capers and anchovies, salsa verde.
 Try a "Real Simple" idea of a pesto, radish and sea salt crostini.And if you are still attracted by the idea of anchovies, a real simple variation of the crostini idea but use a traditional tapenade in place of the pesto.Another tasty tapa. and one of my faves, is a crostini of smoked cods roe pate and radish.Ruby red radish and ricotta would not go amiss either.
I stumbled upon an "Asian ham and chicken salad"which took me back to my childhood and a summer standby of my mother´s which she so endearingly named "slosh," I suppose because of the way in which she sloshed the dressing around a few times and poured it on the salad.This salad, although having similar flavours, is far more subtle and a lot healthier, using healthy oils and vinegar for the dressing as opposed to my mother´s lashings of mayonnaise.Sorry Mum, you know I draw great inspiration from you but not on this occasion.When raita is called for why not call for some radish.And for another side dish with a difference why not do what Martha does(ie Stewart)and serve up glazed radishes,tossed in butter,sugar and vinegar,yum.But finally my star act I owe to Mr Nigel Slater´s Sauteed radishes and grilled lamb chops.This is not dissimilar to my grilled lamb chops and chilli roasted pumkin salad.I was almost true to his recipe but I embellished it slightly by adding new potatoes to the sautée mix.I have to say in hindsight that his original dish was many degrees more vibrant and colourful in its presentation.The reason being he had different coloured varieties of radish to hand.Anyway thank you Nigel for giving us such a delicious dish.......
Sauteed radishes and grilled lamb
serves 2

radishes 125g
small new potatoes,125g
onions 2, small

butter 30g
vegetable or groundnut oil 3 tbsp
coriander seeds 3 tsp
cumin seeds 2 tsp
lamb cutlets 12
mint leaves 8

Trim the radishes and halve lengthways. Peel the onions, cut them in half then cut each half into 3 or 4 segments.Boil the new potatoes in salted water.Set aside to cool then slice in rounds.
Melt the butter in a shallow casserole, add the oil, then the onions. Cook for 10 minutes over a moderate heat until soft, then add the radishes. Lightly crush the coriander seeds. Season with the cumin, coriander, black pepper and sea salt. Cook for 10 more minutes, partially covered.
Season the lamb cutlets and grill lightly on both sides then finish with the chopped mint and grated zest. Place the radishes on a serving plate with the cutlets on top.
Asian ham and chicken salad
1 cup frozen shelled broad beans
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 soup spoon fish sauce,nam pla
1 heaped teaspoon golden granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed Szechuan  pepper 

1/4 teaspoon crushed ancho chilli
Flor de sal and black pepper
125g ham, chopped (1 cup)

1 roasted chicken breast,torn into strips
 2 cloves garlic crushed
6 radishes, sliced

1 small carrot grated
4 spring onions, sliced

handful chopped fresh coriander and mint
2 tablespoons chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Separately, cook the rice and edamame according to the package directions.
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oils,fish sauce,sugar,garlic ,pepper, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Add the rice, edamame, ham, radishes, and scallions and toss to combine. Top with the peanuts.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Peixe ensopado - Salmonete Acqua Pazza ( Fish over troubled water )

While we all love a night out at our favourite restaurant, it is equally enjoyable to cook at home. But nowadays it has become so easy to recreate  your favourite  restaurant dishes at home. Eating in is the new dining out.There are now even Bloggers who recreate restaurant dishes for their blogs,one of my favourites is London based blogger sam cooks food. If your memory of a dish fails you, the internet is always there as back up. 
 Start by researching recipes that sound close to your dish and think about differences and similarities. If the recipe calls for cream, for example, do you remember the sauce being creamy or was that perhaps omitted? You'll be surprised what you forget days, even minutes, after tasting a dish and how helpful jotting down a few tasting notes can be. Do you detect a spicy component, for example? Is there a citrus flavour hiding in the background? Sometimes the coriander garnish or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese makes all the difference in recreating that restaurant dish that feel you might forget as soon as you put your fork down. Taking a quick photo at the restaurant helps as well.
 It never hurts to ask the restaurant if they're willing to share their recipe. If they won't go for that, try asking specific ingredient questions like "What is the spicy flavour?" or "What gives the dish the crunch?" If all else fails, ask for a list of the ingredients, perhaps hinting that you have a certain intolerance or food sensitivity so they'll be inclined to include everything (not that I´d advocate fibbing, of course). Many restaurants are used to catering for food allergies and will be able to give a rundown of ingredients. 
The term acqua pazza (pronounced [ˈakkwa ˈpattsa]; literally crazy water in Italian) is used in Italian cuisine to refer to a recipe for poached white fish, or to simply refer to the lightly herbed broth used to poach it.I tend to draw my inspiration from pieces not of just one, but of several similar dishes, before bringing together their best elements to showcase a fine recipe. This particular recipe was  inspired by a dish I saw Massimo Bottura cook on an episode of Masterchef.The recipe was  his interpretation of Triglie (red mullet) alla livornese . This is an Italian fish stew,the sauce being not dissimilar to a bouillabaise. I searched the length and breadth of the internet but could I find his recipe? Could I heck.  So I improvised and "made it my own", a coin of phrase much over used to my annoyance on TV reality shows.
Well I was half way there and had to set out exactly how and what I wanted my final result to look and taste like.I wanted to keep the feel of the Bottura dish.Served on the Livorno sauce, he covered it with a very thin crisp slither of bread dusted with tomato powder, capers and black olives. I needed to put "my" own stamp on it.I decided to serve it as an ensopado de peixe salmonete, ( Portuguese Red Mullet stew ) but I was going to make a tomato acqua pazza and then deconstruct the way the dish was plated up and served.First of all I would place a slice of grilled country bread on the bottom of the dish, place the cooked  fish on top of the bread and then pour the sauce from a jug over each serving once it was on the table.II garnished the fish just before serving with some black olives and capers.
    Peixe ensopado - Salmonete com Acqua Pazza
    serves 4
    4 medium size salmonete (red mullet)cleaned and flleted
    600g ripe tomatoes,skinned de-seeded and coarsely chopped
    1 small tin anchovies including the oil
    1 onion
    2 cloves garlic
    1 stick celery
    1 leaf of leek
    50 ml olive oil
    50ml white wine
    few sprigs of manjericão (basil)
    salt and pepper to taste

    Clean the mullets. Skin and seed the tomatoes,Set aside.
    Chop the onion and the garlic.
    In a pan heat the olive oil and the oil from the tin of anchovies.Add the onion and garlic and cook until they are soft and golden.Stir in the anchovies until they break up and melt.Add the tomatoes,stick of celery and the leek.Leave to cook until reduced to a thick sauce.Remove the celery stick and leek and strain the sauce through a passe-vite or blend in the pan with a stick blender.In the pan bring back to the heat,season with salt and pepper to your taste.Strain the sauce into a jug and keep warm while you cook the fish.Fry the fish in hot butter skin side down turn and continue cooking until fish is cooked through about a minute.In a large soup plate place a slice of grilled country bread and place two fillets of fish on top.Pour the tomato sauce around the dish and scatter a carpet of parsley powder around the plate for garnish.

    Friday, 16 June 2017

    The hottest drinks for summer

    Its hot hot hot down here in the Algarve and when the heat is on the hot need hooch.The love child of rosé and slushies,"Frosé" took the world by storm last summer but it is still set to hold its own in summer 2017.You see the colour and assume that light,ballerina slipper pink means it’ll be “dry” and that deep magenta “I’d wear that as a lipstick” will be "sweet". So not so.Taste and try before you buy and then make it and see.Yes its pink but more like my accidentally sunburnt nose.In place of the peaches you could use 1 cup of frozen seedless watermelon chunks.

    6 large or 12 tiny peaches with dark red skins
    lemon zest 2 strips made with a potato peeler
    vanilla pod ½, split lengthways
    cinnamon stick 3cm
    750 ml Quinta do Barranco Longo rosé 

    caster sugar 175g
    Put everything into a saucepan, and add water to just cover the peaches – 500ml or so. Bring it to a simmer, and cook until the peaches are tender and the skins ready to slip off. This may be as little as 3 or 4 minutes if they are ripe, 15-20 if they are firm.
    Use a slotted spoon to lift them from the syrup and leave to cool until you can just handle them. Remove all the skin with your fingers and return it to the liquor; put the peeled peaches, covered, in the fridge and save for another occasion.
    Allow the syrup to simmer with the skins in it for at least 20 minutes longer (to extract all the colour and flavour), and taste for sweetness. If it's too watery, boil it down a little or add more sugar to taste. Strain the rosy pink liquid, let it cool, then pour it into a deep tray that will fit in your freezer (metal is best). Place it in the freezer and check after half an hour. Once ice crystals start to form, stir every 15 minutes or so with a fork or sturdy balloon whisk until you have a satisfyingly thick slush. If it gets too hard, thaw it a little before serving – it can be stored this way (frozen solid) for weeks.
    When ready to serve remove the slush from  freezer and fill the glasses 1/3 full of tonic water. Spoon the slush onto the tonic water and stir it into the tonic until you have filled the glasses almost to the top.
    And while I am on the subject of rosé drinks (whose colour is about as beautiful as can be, especially on a sunny day, lets talk about the other drink putting smiles on everyone´s faces this summer - The Rosé-Aperol Spritz
     A colour so vivid it doesn’t need an Instagram filter.

    A traditional Aperol spritz is Aperol + Prosecco, splash of soda, orange slice, and that is a thing of beauty and refreshment. The rosé spritz recipe adds passion fruit juice  which is sweet-sour so it doesn’t make the cocktail too sugary. You’ll still need a little sugar to balance out the bitterness of the Aperol, and lime juice for tartness that keeps the cocktail from being monotonous. You can play around with other combos (Mango! Lychee! Guava!) but  it’s hard to top passion fruit.Try and go for tropical juices, but not pineapple (too acidic), and keep an eye on juice colour that's as close to clear as possible or the drink will get cloudy like a summer rainstorm. This recipe calls for sparkling rosé, but get this—if you make this exact recipe as I did with regular, non-sparkling rosé wine and tonic water, it´s even better. No matter what, though, garnish with an orange slice and switch your email to sleep setting or out-of-office automated reply.

    Rosé - Aperol Spritz
    4–6 servings

    ¾ cup passion fruit juice, chilled
    ¼ cup Aperol
    ¼ cup fresh lime juice
    4 teaspoons sugar
    750ml bottle sparkling rosé, chilled
    33cl  tonic water
    Orange wedges (for serving) 

    Whisk passion fruit juice, Aperol, lime juice and sugar in a large pitcher until sugar is dissolved. Stir in rosé.Serve spritz in large ice-filled wine glasses. Garnish with an orange wedge.

    Tuesday, 13 June 2017

    All back to casa rosada for industrial quantities of coleslaw

    "Din´expect to be served a Vietnamese chicken salad in the Algarve"- recent American guests at casa rosada
    I have never really been able to stomach coleslaw. It is way too sweet, mayonnaise-y, and doesn’t have any colour at all! but freshly made coleslaw can be a wonderful thing, and every now and then it’s fun to zip up the formula with a burst of lively Asian flavours.Forgettable old coleslaw, your days are numbered.Coleslaw can and will be cool again. Or, at least, tasty. Coleslaw is a corruption of the Dutch koolsla, meaning cabbage salad, and arrived here via the USA. Cabbage was, according to the Oxford Encylopedia of Food and Drink in America, a popular crop "throughout the colonies", and Dutch settlers, who grew it "extensively along the Hudson River" liked to serve it in the familiar, old-country way: the first mention of coleslaw in the USA dates from 1785.Early versions seem only to have used a vinaigrette, but mayonnaise now seems to be the standard dressing, usually the gloopy sugary kind that smothers all other flavours, leaving you unsure whether you're eating cabbage or carrot.So lets go back to its roots and start again.This is based on a recipe from Taste: A New Way to Cook, by the marvellous Sybil Kapoor.The recipe has been emulated across the globe by the likes of Nigella and Bill Granger to name but two.It's filling, fabulous and packed with veggies. It's wonderfully aromatic, quite unlike any other coleslaw.There are many variations of this fabulous and classic Vietnamese Chicken Salad. The salad can be especially pleasing, with different textures and flavors ranging from fried shallots, roasted peanuts, fried garlic and pickled onions to different Vietnamese herbs such as mint, basil or the classic rau ram (Viet coriander). Some salads will be heartier with more chicken than cabbage, so you can choose your ratios and toppings to your personal taste. The chicken can be boiled, poached, grilled, fried or barbecued

    (Gỏi Gà or Gỏi Bắp Cẚi Gà)
    Yield: 4-6 Servings
    Total Time: 40 minutes 
      2 pounds (910g) boneless, skinless Chicken
      1 tablespoon (15ml) crushed or grated fresh Ginger
      2 cloves Garlic, crushed or finely minced
      2 tablespoons (30ml) Vegetable or Grape Seed oil
      2 tablespoons (30ml) Fish Sauce
      1 teaspoon (5ml) Sugar

      For the Fish Sauce Dressing:

      1/4 cup (60ml) Fish Sauce
      1 teaspoon grated fresh Ginger
      3/4 cup (180ml) Water
      3 cloves Garlic, finely minced or crushed
      1-2 Red Chilies, minced
      1 teaspoon (5ml) Sugar
      1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh Lime Juice or more to taste
      2 teaspoons (10ml) rice vinegar

      For the Salad:

      6 cups thinly shredded Chinese cabbage
      1 cup chopped fresh herbs: rau ram (Vietnamese coriander), mint, basil, and/or coriander
      1/4 cup (60ml) shredded Carrots
      about 1/4 cup (60ml) crushed, roasted Peanuts
      optional - about 1/4 cup (60ml) fried Shallots
      optional - 2 tablespoons (30ml) fried Garlic
      optional - about 1/4 cup (60ml) Pickled Red Onions

        In a large bowl, combine all chicken marinade ingredients (ginger, garlic, oil, fish sauce, and sugar). If your pieces of chicken are thick, place them between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound them with a meat mallet to an even 1/2-inch thickness. Remove the plastic wrap and add the chicken to the marinade. Let marinade for about 20 minutes.
        Heat a grill or heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until it is browned and cooked through, usually 3-4 minutes per side. Let cool, and then shred or chop the chicken.

        In medium bowl or large jar, combine all ingredients well (fish sauce, ginger, water, garlic, chilies, sugar, lime juice, and vinegar). Allow sugar to completely dissolve before using. (You can keep chilled in fridge for up to 1 month).

        In large bowl, combine cabbage, herbs and shredded carrots. Add the chicken to the bowl and toss to combine.
        Add fish sauce dressing to taste just before serving. Top with peanuts and other optional fried shallots, garlic, and/or pickled onions if using and serve.

        Chicken, chinese cabbage, mint, carrots, spring onions, peanuts,Asian vinaigrette, rolled in rice paper with dipping sauces, whats not to like?

        Monday, 5 June 2017

        A warm prawn salad with sriracha beurre blanc

         Summer in the Algarve with a nod to France

        "All you need is a knife and fork to travel this summer"- so says the current Marks and Spencer food campaign.Never a truer word was spoken.A plate of food can literally transport you like a magic carpet ride to exotic destinations where you are experiencing a different cuisine in a different climate.It could also conjure up memories of something you ate on the holiday you have recently returned from.I dont know why, but when I was creating and eating this salad I had a feeling for the south of France.Maybe I should have donned Julia Child´s apron and stuck to a more traditional approach, traditional by using champagne vinegar.Salad isn't everyone's first choice for a main dish, and this could work equally well as a starter, but when you try out this particular salad you'll want to make it your main instead of your starter.This salad  fuses Eastern flavours with Western methods and produces an irresistible plate.The secret to this dish is that the sauce is a version of that French classic, beurre blanc,quite frankly, indispensable to any cook. but with the addition of Thai Sriracha sauce.

        A Warm prawn salad with Sriracha beurre blanc
        serves 4
        100g (3.5 oz ) unsalted butter, chilled and diced 
        1 tbsp shallot or spring onion, finely chopped
        50ml (2fl oz ) whipping cream
        1tsp sriracha sauce
        1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
        salt and freshly ground white pepper
        2 plum tomatoes,skinned ,seeded and roughly chopped
        1 small avocado ,peeled and diced
        2tbsp fresh coriander leaves,roughly chopped
        1 tbsp chives, snipped
        400g king prawns,raw
        75ml sunflower oil
        2 small green chillies,seeded,and finely chopped
        2 cloves garlic,finely chopped
        mixed salad leaves of your choice 
        2 tbsp home made vinaigrette
        For the vinaigrette-
        (this will leave you with plenty to jar up and store in the refrigerator)
        300ml extra virgin olive oil
        125ml white wine vinegar
        1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
        1 teaspoon Flor de sal
        1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
        1 clove garlic
        generous sprinkling of Herbes de provence

        Make the vinaigrette by placing all the ingredients in a food processor until well emulsified.
        NOTE: Butter is essentially a smooth mixture of fat and water. The secret to making beurre blanc is to preserve its makeup by allowing each addition of butter to melt smoothly into the sauce, as you whisk it, before adding the next piece of butter. Never let the sauce come to a boil once the butter is added, this will cause it to separate.

        Thursday, 1 June 2017

        "Uma abundância de agrião, fazer sopa" .......

        "....and as we all know when life gives you an abundance of watercress,you make soup".......

        Sometimes the best things happen when you are least expecting them to. More often than not I shop with an open mind, receptive to what I may find in the market or fresh produce counters of the supermarket.Abandoning the shopping list can result in the creation of some of the most spontaneous and tasty meals.This happened to me yesterday, I walked into the supermarket the first thing that caught my eye was bunches of fresh young watercress still with root balls attached and on promotion at €0.99  for 3 bunches.Well that was a summer lunch taken care of.In the words of David Lebovitz whose blog I consulted
        "....and as we all know when life gives you an abundance of watercress,you make soup".......
        Well, there´s no time like the present and there´s no present like time.These were the words which came out of the mouth of a humble Indian taxi driver by the name of Babul in one of the Marigold Hotel films.How Profound” I thought to myself, damn shame it was scripted.Any way it was exactly the moment to put it to practice.I had some time on my hands and it seemed the opportune moment to do something with this abundant windfall.
        Watercress soup is one of those great soups, that don’t require a lot of ingredients. Instead it depends on coaxing flavour out of the few ingredients that you have. Potatoes,onion, butter, watercress, and I have to confess to throwing in a handful of peas to bulk it up and boost the colour. Watercress is packed with flavour, for example, so keeping it simple highlights that vibrant green color and peppery flavour of the cress.
        Watercress soup ( sopa de agrião )
        Serves 6
        Clean the watercress in a colander under the tap to get rid of any grit.You can use all the leaves and tender stems but discard any woody stems.For a creamier soup add a swirl of heavy cream,greek yoghurt or creme fraiche before serving the soup can be served hot or cold my preference is for a chilled version.
        3 tablespoons of butter
        1 medium onion peeled and diced
        salt and freshly ground black pepper
        1.5 ltrs vegetable stock
        450g potatoes peeled and diced
        250g watercress leaves and tender stems
        1 cup fresh or frozen peas ( optional
        In a large pan,melt the butter.Add the onion,season with salt and pepper, and cook over a medium heat stirring frequently until the onion is translucent,about 5 to 6 minutes.Add the stock and potato and cook,covered until the potato is tender,about another 10 to 15 minutes.turn off the heat and add the watercress and peas if using.Allow the watercress to wilt. Cool slightly then blitz the soup in a blender or alternatively blend in the pan with a stick blender until smooth.
        Reheat the soup if serving hot or chill the soup in a container in the refrigerator.
        The soup will keep for up to three or four days in the refrigerator.It can be frozen for up to two months 

        Monday, 29 May 2017

        Is there a vegetarian in the house?

        I can´t keep up, last week there was a doctor in the house and last night we had two vegatarians in the house.I,myself was a vegetarian once but alas I loved my meat and fish too much to run the course.I would describe myself as a lapsed vegetarian,rather like one who has abandoned the Catholic church (for which I also stand accused). I not only understand, but also enjoy cooking and eating vegetarian food, and therefore fully understand how difficult it is for travellers especially here in Portugal and Spain to find restaurants that even make a token gesture to the vegetarian diet.When I was vegetarian in the early seventies it was all the rage with worthy health food shops on every street corner.Times have changed and if one is lucky enough to find an establishment that caters for this group, what is served is usually of a pretty uninspired and of an unappetising nature.This was endorsed by our guests last night.I always stretch myself when it comes to cooking a vegetarian dinner as so often even if the meal has some flavour it can look grey and unappealing on the plate.It is not that difficult with a bit of imagination to put on a colourful and delicious spread.For starters its not rocket salad to understand that meat or fish can be taken out of a normal equation and replaced by a sympathetic alternative.Last night I served  one of my signature dishes, a bruschetta of white bean butter with lime and horseradish broad beans and rocket, almost in its entirety but substituted the crispy Iberican ham for beetroot crisps.
        A chèvre cheese and roasted hazelnut tart served with another of my signature dishes a Moroccan roasted carrot and beetroot salad and fondant potatoes continued the wow factor and complimented the guests wine selection of a Barranco Longo Colheita seleccionada.The meal was finished off with a honey and almond parfait served with pan fried apricots,vanilla sugar and thyme.Needless to say our guest went to bed refreshed and replete to get a good nights sleep before their long drive north to Porto.

        Friday, 26 May 2017

        Chouriço May

        It´s always good to know that come what May, the arrival of favas (broad beans)and ervilhas ( peas) is always eagerly awaited, for they are the first produce of the season and a sign of more abundant produce to come.They hold high ranking in the Algarve´s culinary heritage and are used subtly and creatively with cooking methods varying from place to place and from family to family.The finest example of their application is "Favas à Algarvia." This is lovely to make in the short season when broad beans are young and fresh.It can be a little laborious on account of podding and peeling the beans,but alternatively in my mind rather therapeutic. I like to peel away the outer skin of each par-boiled bean, even if it means extra work.The beautiful intense green of the beans keep their colour if added to the pan towards the end of the cooking.The way they are combined with some of the regions cured meat, Toucinho ( pancetta ) and Chouriço de porco preto (chouriço sausage from the acorn fed black pig), is like strawberries and cream, a marriage made in heaven.
        "Favas à Algarvia"
        500g (1lb) shelled fresh (or frozen) favas (broad beans)
        (about 3kg/6lb12oz in their pods) 
        2 tbsp olive oil
        160g (53/4 oz) Chouriço sausage,chopped
        1 small red onion,chopped
        2 garlic cloves chopped
        125ml(4 fl oz /1/2 cup ) white wine
        handful of mint and coriander leaves torn
        splash of red wine vinegar
        Rinse the shelled beans and put them(or the frozen beans if using) in a pan of lightly salted boiling water and boil for about 5 minutes.Drain and peel off the outer skins.many of them will split in half but that´s fine.
        Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and sautée the sausage chunks for a couple of minutes.Add the onion and cook,stirring,for a few more minutes until the mixture is sticky and the sausage is brown.
        Add the garlic and stir until you start to smell it,then add the white wine and a couple of twists of pepper.Cook until the wine has evaporated a bit,then stir in the broad beans and cook for acouple of minutes over a high heat so the flavours mingle.There should be just a bit of sauce in the bottom of the pan.Stir in the mint and coriander at the end with a splash of red wine vinegar.Check for seasoning and serve warm as side dish.

        Sunday, 21 May 2017

        `Hake with Everything´ Pescada com todos

        Hake with everything, everything with Hake,well almost everything it sometimes seems.Hake is one of the most popular fish in Portugal and even more so in Spain where they go mad for it.It is a fine sustainable sea fish with mild white, delicate flesh.Its versatility makes it suitable for poaching, frying and filleting.
        There is even a famous Portuguese dish called "Hake with everything".It is the simplest fish dish there is, and it makes an excellent and nourishing lunch( somehow it does not seem right in the evening,funny that? Practically every restaurant in Portugal serves it as well as every household.The "everything" is made up of hard - boiled eggs, onions, boiled potatoes and seasonal greens.A bit bland to my mind but incredibly popular to others.

        Hake is a genus term for 13 species of fish, although the most commonly marketed is European hake. Hake tends to be considered as a similar fish to cod, but it distinguishes itself by its long and sleek body and firmer, meatier flesh with a touch of the eel about it.It has a dull bluish or slate grey back and a large head with a rather menacing mouth displaying sharp teeth that give it a rather threatening appearance.
        Hake, like most other white fish, can be matched with flavours as diverse as bacon, horseradish and coconut and this versatility, along with its subtle, sweet flavour, means it is a popular fish the world over. It is perhaps more commonly eaten here in the Iberian peninsular, with Spain in particular incorporating hake into many of their regional dishes. Try drawing on Spanish flavours, pairing it  with chorizo and chickpeas.
        Inspired by the title "Hake with everything" I thought what the hake, I am going to throw everything at it and make an extremely tasty fish cake.With the help of some smoky bacon, some contrasting texture and flavour of a chimichurri sauce and a poached egg atop, it was a supper fit for a prince.
        Pataniscas de pescada com bacon, ovo escalfado e molho chimichurri
        serves 4,makes 12 cakes
        600g of good quality cooking potatoes,peeled and chopped
        1 tbsp sunflower oil
        1 onion finely chopped
        125g smoked streaky bacon,finely chopped
        500g hake fillet,skin removed
        1 egg
        5g fennel fronds
        vegetable oil for shallow frying
        2tsp apple cider vinegar
        4 small eggs

        For the Chimichurri sauce

        2 fresh jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
        6 pimentos padrão, finely chopped
        2 habañero peppers, finely chopped
        2 cups salsa (flat leaf parsley), finely chopped
        1 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
        6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
        2 tbsp golder cane sugar
        1 cup apple cider vinegar
        1 cup olive oil
        Juice of 1 lime
        Put all the ingredients into a processor and blitz

        Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for about 15minutes,drain then mash.Meanwhile in a frying pan,heat the oil and sweat the chopped onion until soft.Add to the mashed potato,mix well,then set aside to cool.
        Wipe out the pan used to cook the onion.Add the bacon and cook until pale golden but not crisp,then drain on kitchen paper.
        Finely chop the hake and add it to the cold potato.mash it with a fork to break up any chunks then beat  in the egg.season with Flor de sal and black pepper and fold in the bacon and fennel fronds.Flouring your hands form the mixture into 12 patties and set aside on a floured board or dish until ready to cook. Meanwhile make the chimichurri sauce if you have not done so already.It can be made in advance and kept in ajar in the fridge.
        Heat some of the oil in a large frying pan over a low heat and cook in batches for 3-4 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through.Keep warm in the oven while you poach the eggs
        Poach the eggs by adding the apple cider vinegar to a saucepan of boiling water.Swirl the water with a spoon and crack in one egg followed by a second and cook for about 3 minutes.remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into abowl of cold water to stop them cooking any further.Skim off the froth in the pan and poach the remaining 2 eggs.To re-heat,place them in barely simmering water for 1 minute.Drain on kitchen paper then place them on top of the warm fish cakes.Serve the chimichurri sauce alongside or in a small dish.

        Monday, 15 May 2017

        Garnalenkroketten - the most delicious croquettes that one could ever dream of

         Not far different in taste from the Portuguese Rissois de camarao
        However you care to spell it croquette,croqueta, croquetes, kroketten and whether you replace the "c" and "q" with the "k" ,the croquette (from the French croquer, "to crunch") gained worldwide popularity, both as a delicacy and as a fast food. It started life humbly as a great way to use up leftovers. Sunday roast ended up in the mincer and was then folded into a creamy thick gravy,after which it was refrigerated rolled into logs,breaded and deep fried to produce beautiful golden crispy cylinders.These type of croquette are the more traditional Dutch kroketten crammed with beef or veal ragout – however Garnalenkroketten (prawn croquettes) are something else. My passion for croquettes started at a very early age when my mother used to make the Eastern European variant, the Kromeski, minced poultry, game, or meat, bound to a stiff paste with sauce, wrapped in bacon, coated in batter, and fried.There was no turning back and I used to ask my mother incessantly to make them for me.
        Being fried, starchy and assertively salty they're pretty damn perfect in tapas terms. Its hardly surprising therefore that the Spanish adopted them.Made with a stiff béchamel rather than mashed potato, they need to be eaten hot – so hot you burn your fingers on the crisp breadcrumb exterior as you rush to bite into the molten centre.They are not easy to make, so the bar or restaurant that achieves the perfect croqueta will have a loyal following.It is the same in Holland where Patisserie Holtkamp in Amsterdam is one of the more sophisticated croquette producers and has embraced a more varied range of fillings than its competitors.It is most famous for its best selling  Garnalenkroketten (prawn croquettes)When I discovered this recipe from Ottolenghi´s column in the Guardian I had to make them immediately.Oh how I love a croquette but a prawn croquette? The temptation was too great. It was irresistible.And what a treat was in store,they were the most delicious croquettes that one could ever dream of and they left us wanting more.Its a good thing they freeze well, so now I will always have some to hand either for a TV snack,tapas,luxurious dinner starter or an item for my tasting menu.

        Ottolenghi´s version of Garnalenkroketten
        (prawn croquettes)
        Makes 24 croquettes, enough to serve twelve as a starter. 

        This recipe, which is based on Holtkamp’s, is quite long, and it makes a lot, but croquettes freeze really well: make them up to the point when you coat them in breadcrumbs, then freeze, ready to thaw and fry as required.Ottolenghi suggests serving them with a simple green salad and a sharp, lemony dressing.His other serving suggestion as a snack with some lemony mayo or mustard,we found too rich and we felt it needed something to contrast the rich bechamel rather than accentuating it.I would suggest there fore serving them with a chilli jam,sriracha sambal oelek or a coriander dipping sauce.

        110g unsalted butter
        3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
        700g raw tiger prawns, shell on
        120g plain flour
        250ml whole milk
        4 sheets (or 6g) fine-leaf gelatine, soaked in cold water
        4 eggs, separated: you need all 4 whites and 2 of the yolks; use the remaining yolks in a mayo, custard or pasta
        50ml double cream
        ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
        2 drops Tabasco
        10g parsley leaves, finely chopped
        10g tarragon leaves, finely chopped
        Salt and ground white pepper
        200g panko breadcrumbs, half of them finely blitzed in a food processor
        About 400ml sunflower oil, for frying
        2 lemons, cut into wedges, to serve

        On a medium-high heat, melt 30g butter in a large saucepan for which you have a lid, then fry the shallots for two to three minutes, until golden brown. Add the prawns, fry for a minute, then pour over 300ml just-boiled water. Cover and cook for two minutes, until the prawns are just cooked, then strain the liquid into a bowl, pressing down on the prawns with a back of a spoon or ladle to extract as much flavour as possible: you should end up with about 340ml of prawn stock.
        Leave the cooked prawns to cool a little, then peel and devein them. Discard the prawn skins and the shallots, and chop the flesh into roughly 0.5cm pieces.
        Put the remaining 80g butter in a medium saucepan on a medium heat and, once it starts to foam, stir in 110g flour and cook for three minutes, stirring constantly. Add the prawn stock bit by bit, until combined, then add the milk, also in instalments. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook the sauce for eight minutes, stirring, until it’s thick and shiny.
        Squeeze the water out of the soaking gelatine leaves, add them to the bechamel, then take the pan off the heat and stir to dissolve. Stir in the egg yolks, cream, cayenne, Tabasco, herbs and chopped prawns, and add an eighth of a teaspoon of white pepper and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt, then leave to cool.
        Using two dessert spoons, divide the bechamel mix into 60g portions, and place on two plates lined with greaseproof paper. Refrigerate for at least an hour, to firm up, then wet your hands (this stops the mix sticking to them) and roll each portion into a 3cm-wide x 7cm-long sausage. Refrigerate again while you prepare the coating.
        In a small bowl, gently whisk the remaining flour into the egg whites. Put the fine panko in a second bowl and the unblitzed panko in a third. Roll one prawn sausage first in the fine panko, then in the egg white and then in the coarse panko, making sure it’s properly coated with each layer, and put on a tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with the remaining sausages.
        Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on a medium flame. To check it’s at the right temperature, drop a pinch of panko into the pan: the oil is ready if it turns golden-brown within 10 seconds (if you have a thermometer, you’re looking to get the oil to 180C). Fry a few croquettes at a time – don’t overcrowd the pan – for a total of three minutes, turning them once halfway (be gentle), until crisp and golden brown all over. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a wire rack lined with kitchen paper, to absorb any excess oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and repeat with the remaining croquettes. Serve hot with lemon wedges alongside.