Monday, 17 September 2018

"Umami bomb" - Som dtam salad with sweet crispy pork

Som dtam; is it really the world’s greatest salad, and if not, what is? And what would you suggest as a good homegrown substitute for green papaya when it is unavailable in your area? all will be revealed....
Despite its apparent simplicity, the magic of those characteristic mixtures of chillies, garlic,roasted peanuts,dried shrimp, lime and fish sauce are surprisingly difficult to replicate at home.In the name of fashionable veganism and veggie trends I have seen so many plagiarisations of this dish on the internet and in magazines ( for example Courgetti som tam salad  not even spelt correctly), being flagged up as if it was something new and making use of that tiresome gadget -the spiralizer.In fact this truly Thai dish when executed correctly, using the correct ingredients, is one of the most loved in the Thai repertoire.Originally street food from the North east of the country, Lao, where their food is hotter and referred to as Issan.It has proved so irresistible that it is now not only eaten throughout Thailand but has become a signature dish for Thai restaurants all over the world.Fermented fish sauce( garam ) is sometimes used to season the dressing rather than  regular Nam pla.I used colatura de alici. After consulting the oracle David Thompson´s "Thai Food" I set myself the challenge of making the dish.
I tested and tasted, tried and deliberated, cogitated and digested,and here are my findings. When you are faced with the urge for Som Dtam like myself and are unable to find proper resources you could on occasion use Granny Smith apples instead of green papaya.Green apples replace the green papaya brilliantly, so Granny Smiths julienned or quartered and very thinly sliced work very well with the sweet/sour nature of the dressing. It worked rather well I thought.You CAN make a similar salad with cucumber, and very good it is too ( you do need to include mint as well), but it is definitely not Som dtam. The texture is entirely different. Courgettes are considered by some to be  a better substitute than cucumbers, but I really don't like limp raw courgette in salads. And it does not hurt to add a few juliennes of carrot in order to get a sweeter take.Green beans are a must for a true Som dtam but raw,as specified I´m not so sure.I blanched the beans, but it is important to refresh them immediately in iced water. They will then retain their crunchiness.
I was thinking that a chayote /chu-chu /choko/ chaku  would be better than a courgette - it'd retain some crunch. Uncooked it tastes like a crisp cucumber without the seeds or bitterness, just the good part, and similar in many ways to green papaya.Whatever you call it chu-chu, chayote ,christophene, xuxu, mirliton, vegetable pear or sayote,and whatever bad press it has got, i think you’ll certainly agree that this vegetable isn’t just delicious, but nutritious too.
Someone compared it to a water chestnut. I don’t agree with that taste-wise, but the crunch is similar.Raw cucumber would be the best analogy. That pretty light green color that a cucumber has just under the skin runs all though the vegetable. While the skin is edible, but you don’t want to eat it any more than you would a cucumber.Anyway so,the great papaya debate aside,green papaya is difficult to source here in the east Algarve so I settled for the Chu-Chu,which I have always been able to  buy in my local supermarket.
"Almost" Som dtam salad with sweet crispy pork
This delicious Thai salad, Som dtam  is like an *umami bomb”waiting to go off,  it combines all four tastes - sour, bitter, sweet and salty, with that all important flavour sensation the "fifth taste".Som dtam  is  balanced sweet and sharp, and crunchy with tomatoes, beans, chillies and those little dried shrimp.
Tomatoes are rich in umami components.
Sweet Soy sauce used to season the pork is also rich in umami components.
Pounded peanuts are a source of novel umami flavour compounds and enhancers
It certainly gives Korean Bibimbap a run for its money.
3 garlic cloves ,peeled
pinch of salt
4-6 birds eye or piri piri chillies(scuds)
1 heaped tablespoon roasted peanuts
Coriander stalks,from a small tender bunch(not standard but amplifies the "fifth taste")
2 tablespoons dried prawns*( shrimp)
4 cherry tomatoes,quartered
6 french beans lightly blanched and cut into 1cm(1/2 in) lengths
1 cup grated Chayote or papaya, if you can get it
2 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp tamarind water
1-2 tbsp nam pla,fish sauce or colatura de alici (see main text above)
 *I was also unable to source these so I zipped it shrimpy 
   and dry fried some small shrimp in sea salt until crispy
sweet crispy pork
1 cup palm sugar or golden caster sugar
1/2 cup sweet soya sauce (kecap manis)
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
pinch of salt
pinch of ground star anise-optional
200g (6oz) pork neck
oil for deep frying
Prepare the sweet crispy pork a day in advance.Make a syrup by simmering the palm sugar with soya sauce,oyster sauce,salt and star anise(if using)until quite reduced- about 3 minutes.Be careful- the sugar and oyster sauce burn easily.Cool.Slice pork into 5cm x 2cm (2in x 1in) pieces and marinate overnight in the syrup.Dry on a rack for aday until almost dry.
For the salad:pound the garlic with salt and chillies in a pestle and mortar.Add peanuts coriander stalks and dried prawns,and pound to a coarse paste.Add the cherry tomatoes and beans to the mortar and gently bash together.Add the chayote or green papaya and bruise.Season with palm sugar,lime juice,tamarind water and fish sauce.
Deep fry the pork in plenty of oil over a medium heat until mahogany coloured and fragrant.serve alongside the salad.
Coconut rice is also a classic accompaniment to this dish.Wait for the bomb to explode.
a classic example of umami
*Umami (/uˈmɑːmi/, from Japanese: うま味)
Umami means “deliciousness.”or "pleasant savory taste" Beyond sweet, sour, salty, and bitter, the fifth taste of umami is rich and savoury. A word coined by the Japanese, Umami is a powerful force behind many of our food cravings. Umami-rich foods include soy sauce, miso paste and bonito flakes in Asian cuisine; and cured ham, cheese, tomatoes, ketchup and mushrooms in Western cuisine. Backed with a little bit of food-science we analyze ingredients and their flavour profiles to ultimately achieve this sought-after taste.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

A perfect pearing

Saffron poached pears with Parmigiano Reggiano ice cream
"You were made for me"...." everybody tells me so." sang the British band Freddie and the Dreamers in 1964. I dont think we need to be told that pear and parmesan is a match made in heaven. As the king of cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano is an incomparable, time-tested, complex cheese. It’s magnificent served on its own or paired with flavours that complement it. Go beyond grating and get to know why Parmigiano Reggiano reigns supreme! Highlight its subtle bite, creaminess and sweetness with one of my favourite marriages: pears.The combination of Portuguese desert pears and a strong mature hard cheese has always been a favourite flavour pairing for me.Pears and parmesan cheese make an unusual but delicious end to a meal especially these sweet and fragrant, wine-poached pairs served with a Parmigiano reggiano ice cream.I put it into practice for our guests last night.
Wine poached pears with saffron
2 cups white wine
⅓ cup sugar
Pinch of saffron threads
1 lemon zest strip
2 bosc pears
½ cup ricotta
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1. Cut pears in half, remove core and seeds and peel off skin.
2. In a pan heat wine, add sugar, saffron and lemon zest, and mix. Let it come to a boil. Once sugar has melted, add pears and cook in liquid for about 20 minutes, occasionally spooning them with liquid over. Turn at the halfway mark.
3. While pears are poaching, combine equal parts ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano in a bowl. Mix until fully blended. If you want, you can add some cinnamon or sugar.
4. When pears are finished poaching, set aside and continue to reduce the wine until it becomes a thick syrup. Plate pears and serve with a scoop of Parmigiano Ricotta cream. Drizzle with wine reduction.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Yia Yia potted chicken

Mamma Mia, here we go again!The fun filled film of the summer made me crave fun filled food.I left the cinema feeling I had just had a glorious experience.The spread on that Greek terrace left me salivating for bowls of Mediterranean summer salads, grains and a wonderfully resplendent cooked octopus sitting atop the buffet.Oh for the scorching heat of a Greek summer,or maybe not when we finally got one. My thoughts turned to a Mediterranean diet and in particular Greek food. I returned home and pulled from the bookshelf the wonderful "Real Greek Food".Theodore Kyriakou, the driving force behind this book changed my perceptions of what Greek food is all about.
Never losing sight of the true essence of "Real Greek food" I found a dish that I felt sits equally at home in The Portuguese Kitchen too. It acknowledges the Dieta Mediterrânica and traditional ingredients that are now recognised all around the world, walnuts,garlic cumin, coriander, cayenne , Flor de sal and last but lost least, that farmyard staple, chicken.Lo and behold this is fairly cholesterol friendly,no dairy, high in lean white meat and high in nut content.
Like their counterparts the Portuguese avõs,Greek grandmothers are hardcore about holding the secrets of traditional recipes, and there is much harrumphing and sucking of teeth if you deviate by a jot from "the way it has always been done". Yia Yia,here we go again.I dont want to be troubled  by a Greek yia-yia (granny) in my life, therefore I dare not  deviate, but when I tasted the finished dish I have to say, next time deviation it will be.The recipe below is not the original one I made, it is the revised version which was far and away an improvement.
Potted chicken with walnuts
1 chicken( about 1.5kg)
200g fresh white bread (crusts removed)
300g walnuts,finely ground and toasted in a dry pan with cumin (see below)
100ml chicken stock
1/3 cup shallots,finely chopped
1/4 cup celery
4 cloves garlic,peeled and crushed 
1 tbsp toasted cumin seeds
2 heaped tablespoons finely chopped coriander
2 bay leafs without stem and ground up finely
tsp crushed fresh thyme
1 small red chilli,finely chopped
heaped tsp cayenne pepper
flor de sal and freshly ground pepper
Put the chicken in a large deep saucepan and cover with water,Bring to the boil and then simmer with the lid on until cooked,about 25-30 minutes.
( Do not continue to boil or the chicken will become tough.)
Remove the chicken from the pan and when cool enough to work with, skin it and remove all the bones.Shred the meat with a fork.
Meanwhile heat a tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan and gently fry the shallots,celery thyme,chilli and garlic with the cayenne pepper.Cook until soft.
soak the bread in water,then squeeze it and put it in a blender or food processor together with the walnuts,cumin,chicken stock,coriander  and fried vegetable mix.Process until mixed.In a bowl mix the shredded chicken with the processed bread mixture until well amalgamated.Season well and then pack it into a terrine or a number of small individual ramekins.Press down firmly with your fingertips.Cover and refrigerate.Serve at room temperature.

Friday, 7 September 2018

At first there was cake....

.......and then there was none.
see what you´ve just missed at

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Verão até à última gota- tapenade

 Summer until the last drop

While there is still a little light left in the evenings I am not quite ready for autumn.For me it still feels like summer.The weather outside is still saying hot, but the labels in my closet say not.
It is only right and proper to embrace every last opportunity to sit out on the terrace with a well-chilled drink – heaven knows there will be time enough to huddle round the fire with a warming cup of tea once autumn girds its loins in earnest.
And, just as tea needs biscuits, a stiff drink demands nibbles.Roasted nuts are always a winner, of course, and an offensively cheesy whatsit,(may i call it a Pringle?) rarely fails to please, but to really string out that holiday feeling, you can't get much more Mediterranean than olives and more specifically, tapenade.
Not only in Provence,but other Mediterranean countries too it is a much loved favourite as the perfect drinking companion.It's that combination of the saltiest ingredients you could imagine, capers,anchovies, salt cured olives– great with a delicate, pale pink Algarvian rosé, yes, but also an unimpeachable pairing with the magic of a Portuguese Sharish gin with "Mediterranean Fever Tree" or, of course, a pink port and tonic.
Every year around the end of October, in fields all over Portugal little old ladies in blue gingham checked nylon wrap-around housecoats can be seen performing acrobatic feats.
Their men, sporting baggy flannel trousers and donning either a beret,cloth cap or more traditional homburg-esque black hat, drop their accordions for a day or two and join them to perform a merry fandango beneath the trees. In Spain, Italy and southern France, people will be seen whacking trees with sticks. This may seem like strange, and relatively cruel treatment for some poor trees who did nothing but stand there and help to prevent the warming climate from speeding along like an out-of-control freight train, but such is the life of an olive tree, full of shining black olives in the autumnal months. Nets are rolled out below the trees and then long sticks are used to knock the olives into the nets, so it’s easier to gather them into buckets. They are then either taken to the mill to be graded and turned into olive oil, or cured so they they can be made into delicious spreads, such as this tapenade (olive pâté) that graces every self-respecting Mediterranean household.Though the principal ingredient is olives, the French word comes from the Provençal name for caper buds, tapeno. The story goes that, in ancient times, these would have been preserved in amphoras of olive oil, to re-emerge, when required, as a pungent mush – the origins of the modern tapenade.In Italy and Spain it goes under the name Olivada and has distinct regional differences to the Provençal version.Recently, even I got the bug for making this delicacy from these autumn fruits.Before you could say aiaiai Azzedine Alaïa I found myself on the case, processing industrial quantities of tapenade.
When we think of tapenade, we usually envision a thick, smooth paste of black olives spiked with anchovies and garlic. But I also opted for this version which is tapenade's boisterous blond twin: briny green olives are kept chunky and are smashed to a crumbling rubble with the usual Nice suspects of  garlic, capers, and anchovies.With the addition of some peppery chilli flakes and a spoonful of Dijon mustard it helped the tapenade go down,in a most delightful way.
Green olive tapenade
4 cups green olives pitted
12 anchovies
4 tablespoons capers drained
2 garlic cloves
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix all in a processor, as above adjusting quantity of olive oil until your desired consistency is achieved.
I also found once again that "Italians do it better"
Pasta salads are always great ideas for summer parties and quick lunches, but not so much in autumn. That’s why I’m squeezing one last salad in before meteorological autumn comes along with it’s tidal wave of pumpkin recipes. The secret to making pasta salads, for me at least, is to keep them simple. No thick heavy dressings are needed, just a light olive oil coating which wont affect the taste of the other ingredients.
I usually use penne for my pasta salads but this time I picked up tagliata and added some olivada. I racked my brain trying to think of what cheese I could add, because, come on cheese is always needed. Parmesan would have been a respectable choice but burrata was the winner. It’s insanely creamy texture goes perfectly with the pasta and doesn’t get lost among all of the other ingredients. This is a solid recipe for a weekday lunch or supper on a Monday and if you are lucky it might last until Wednesday, I say might because you may just eat the whole batch for lunch and dinner on the Monday.We did.

Olivada salad
Getting the biggest flavour from the simplest ingredients.With this room temperature pasta salad, which combines al dente pasta,creamy burrata, spicy-tangy peperoncini and salty green  olive tapenade and salami. 
    4 cups coarsely chopped pitted green olives
    4 tablespoons capers, drained
    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    12 anchovies
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red chilli pepper
    1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    Mix all in a processor, as above adjusting quantity of olive oil until your desired consistency is achieved.
    500g dried tagliata pasta cooked in boiling water, 
     then dressed copiously with olive oil
    2 pints cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved 
    1heaped tablespoon olivada
    1 large ball of burrata cheese
    8-10 leaves fresh basil, torn

    lashings of cracked black pepper
      Once the pasta has been cooked, toss it with olive oil and allow to cool down.
      Halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes depending on their size.
      Take the cold pasta and add the tomatoes,then stir through the olivada.
      Carefully tear pieces of the cheese into smaller strips and mix into the salad.
      Tear the basil leaves and sprinkle over the top of the salad.
      Season well with plenty of ground black pepper
      Toss quickly to mix. Add more dressing if you prefer.
      Toss well and transfer to a large serving platter.

      Sunday, 2 September 2018

      Nervo de ganso envolto em folhas de videira com molho de limão salgado

      Using grape leaves from your garden is a wonderful way to do some urban foraging — very NORDIC, very NOMA, very NOW! Urban foraging is the way sustainability-minded hipsters and cutting-edge chefs with humming Instagram accounts are going at the moment. Unbeknown to us there is a sustainable bounty in our very own gardens.The footprint of the land many of our homes are built on has a food-producing past that provided crops before urbanisation was even conceived.We sometimes dont realise that edible ‘weeds’like nettles mint and dandelions are growing wild beneath our feet, providing a feast of fresh ingredients.Last year I enjoyed unearthing wild fennel,poejo, river mint, nettles, wild strawberries and rosehips in our garden.
      As I strolled down the travessa on the outside of our garden recently I was overwhelmed by the overhang of branches and leaves from our grapevine.Ripe for the picking I thought. If I dont, anyone else can.I read up on how to bottle them and related recipes.
      Stuffed Grape Leaves are popular in several Mediterranean countries and in the Middle East. The dish has different names depending on the region. The Greek call them dolmades or dolmathes, and the Egyptian and the Lebanese call them Mahshi Wara’ inab. But It’s okay like me just call them… stuffed grape leaves! I  took my lead from Portugal´s most prolific chef of the moment, Jose Avillez.While Lisbon vibrated with the opening of Jamie Oliver's first restaurant in the country, and the press and television jostled to give the first images of the British chef's italianesses in fashionable Principe Real, only a short schlep away,without all the fuss, another new venture, Pitaria, was quietly opening its doors,masterminded by Portugal´s very own Avillez.
      A new micro restaurante, at Rua Nova da Trindade, very close to Bairro do Avillez, with a new style of food,slightly different to  the range of restaurants Lisbon is used to: flavours of the Middle East, everything Pita.Smart innovative street food,all to take-away, a rare case for Chiado.
      The carefully chosen aromatic herbs and spices used in each pita is what distinguishes it from the competition, with pitas always prepared to order in full view of the customer.

      Well I thought; if Avillez has crossed the inexhaustible energy of Lisbon with flavours of the middle east I can cook up a bit of Levantine dolma in the east Algarve. street food in Castro Marim? We now have a tuk tuk so anything is possible.Pita falafel with baba ganoush anyone?
      My stuffed grape leaves with preserved lemon sauce 
      My very own  Stuffed Grape Leaves. These are grape leaves, stuffed with a tantalizing mixture of Portuguese beef,rice, parsley,garlic, paprika, tomato concentrate and lemon. 'Yum' is the only one word to describe these. These can either be a main dish or part of a mezze, depending on your appetite,and what size vine leaves you have to hand.

      250g(8oz) nervo de ganso,braising steak,round or flank

      Clean the piece of meat of any excess fat.Heat a little olive oil in the bottom of a deep saucepan or small casserole and over a medium to high heat. Colour the piece of meat on all sides.season with salt and pepper.Pour in enough beef stock and water to come half way up the meat.Reduce the flame to lowest setting and leave the meat to cook slowly uncovered until it begins to crack ( around 2.5 to 3 hours )remove the piece of meat from the pan and reserve the remaining stock for later. When cool enough to work with Shred the meat well using two forks.

      20 vine leaves
      115g (4oz ) long grain rice
      40g 1.5oz spring onion,finely chopped
      Tbsp finely chopped celery
      25g finely chopped parsley
      2 cloves garlic crushed
      80 ml lemon juice
      2 tbsp tomato concentrate
      heaped tsp smoked paprka (picante)
      Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add the celery, spring onion,garlic and paprika.Add the rice and stir until covered and glistening.Add the reserved stock that the beef was cooked in and enough water to cook the rice.Cook the rice until all the moisture has been absorbed and the rice is tender, then stir in the lemon juice tomato concentrate,and parsley.Mix in the shredded beef till well incorporated.
      What do you serve with them?
      Stuffed vine leaves are normally served hot with a lemony egg sauce called avgolemono.This is quite a tricky one to make and requires practice.Although the basic Greek Avgolemono recipe is relatively simple, experience has shown me that it can be really tricky. If you have ever tried making your own Avgolemono before lots of things can go wrong, leading to a disaster! The most common mistake is that the Avgolemono – egg lemon sauce curdles and gets lumpy.It is also often served in Greek restaurants as a starter.If you are in the right restaurant it is an absolute treat,but it has to be made  to the word.I have gone for a slight twist here and made a  creamy sauce with preserved lemon and garlic.I finished the plate with a simple tomato and red onion salad dressed with olive oil and oregano.
      Creamy preserved lemon and garlic sauce
      2 tsp butter
      2 quarters of a preserved lemon ,rinsed and flesh removed the diced
      tsp piri piri flakes
      3-4 cloves of garlic crushed
      2 tsp honey
      heaped tbsp fresh coriander
      1/2 cup white wine
      1/4 cup heavy cream 
      Sauté diced preserved lemon and garlic in the melted butter  and then add white wine (or chicken stock if you prefer) and heavy cream, then simmer gently until it reduces to a dreamy, decadent, creamy lemon sauce.If you want a smoother consistency,whizz the sauce in a processor and then return it to the pan.

      Sunday, 26 August 2018

      Takin' It to the Streets

      Once again our tabards have come out of the closet to get an airing.We have been jesting and japing, jousting and jollying.Tascas and tabernas have been popping up all over town, and street food is the order of the day.20,000 people supposedly have been on the streets of Castro Marim every night this week and they all need feeding.We took to the streets and see whats on offer...
      The return of this annual festival always makes me curious about the concept of medieval fast food.There are some surprising parallels that can be drawn between medieval fast food consumption and modern fast food consumption. Medieval people generally viewed fast food as a kind of last resort of the poor –cheap low-quality food prepared dubiously by shady characters, unwholesome and unhealthy. Many modern fast food establishments enjoy a similarly bad reputation; social media and the press keeps us posted with news about the fundamentally unhealthy nature of fast food, and yet fast food consumption continues to rise. When we look at who ate and eats fast food, a stark pattern emerges: convenient, prepared foods, however unhealthy, are still disproportionately consumed by those with few economic resources.
      Street food has always been renowned for being at the forefront of food innovation and therefore should be more than a pig on a spit,pork in a bun that pulls no punches, or a bit of Donna and the kebabs.There is a limit to the amount of crepes, buddha bowls,seitan burgers and falafels one new age person can eat.But looking at some of the more sophisticated offerings that are being purveyed, perhaps one should pay closer attention and take note.Todays cutting edge street food could be tomorrows Michelin star?
      Street food is a relatively narrow category of food. Ready-to-eat, intended to be consumed immediately. Purchased from a hawker, or vendor, in a street or other public place, such as at a market or fair. This style of eating is in contrast to made-to-order foods (as would be available in inns or taverns or similar establishments) It is often sold from a portable food booth, food cart, or food truck and meant for immediate consumption. Some street foods are regional, but many have spread beyond their region of origin. Most street foods are classed as both finger food and fast food, and are cheaper on average than restaurant meals.Bread and ale were prevalent in medieval towns and cities, and buns or baps soon became the carrier for portions of cured or cooked meat.These foods are roughly equivalent to modern fast food, and were a unique facet of the history of urban food. Fast foods found in towns in the middle ages included spiced meat and fish pasties; cooked meats, game, and poultry (wild and domestic); “cheesecakes” and flans made of eggs, bread, cheese; and of course many varieties of pies.

      On my street learning crusade I stumbled upon one such stall selling what appeared to be little pies.They were called pão do tesouro, and on closer examination were what turned out to be molten, garlicky cheese breads, which made me relish them with gusto.I did some further research and discovered that there is a very old Portuguese recipe called "O Tesouro escondidinho no Pão" This literally translates as "The hidden treasure in the bread" The treasure you hide in it can be anything from vegetarian, fish, shellfish, sausage or even small macaroni type pasta.What a great idea.I took the treasured pie home and set about creating a replicant.

      "O Tesouro escondidinho no Pão"
      makes 6
      6 pão bijou or miniature bread rolls
      100g alho Françes (Leeks)
      2 dentes de alhosesmagado (2 cloves garlic crushed ) 
      25g manteiga sem sal (unsalted butter)
      1 colherada farinha (tablespoon flour)
      150ml leite gordo ( full fat milk )
      1 colherada vinho branco (tbsp white wine)
      1 colher de chá mascarpone
      50g chevre
      50g parmegiano reggiano

      Chop the leek finely.Sauteé the leek in the butter until glistening and soft.Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes.Remove the pan from the heat,add the milk and white wine and return the pan to a medium heat stirring constantly until the sauce thickens,stir in the three cheeses and some chopped parsley.Set aside to cool.
      Meanwhile slice a lid off the top of each roll and scoop out enough dough to allow the bread to be filled with the sauce.When the sauce is cool spoon the filling into the bread rolls and replace the tops.wrap each bread in a piece of foil so it is completely sealed and bake on a baking tray for 40 minutes at 180c.After 30 minutes remove the foil and lids. continue cooking them unwrapped for the last 10 minutes.Discard the foil but keep the lids warm.When ready remove the breads to a serving platter and replace the lids slightly off centre.Eat
      with gusto. 
      Back on the street again,smoky whiffs of grilling beckoned.The fragrances of Mediterranean spices mingled with others not so appealing.Charcoal cinders and dust filling the often acrid and arid evening air. All combined with the deathly smell of octopus tentacles and tuna drying on a hot grill! yes thin slices of tuna and octopus tentacles dry grilling without any oil or seasoning on them.A delicacy I was assured by its purveyor but I decided to pass.Could we see this being adopted on a novochic Avillez menu one day? He´s done "Greek street"this summer so next stop another Mediteranean "street."There’s a time and place for fine dining, but in 2018, street food staples like some that I have mentioned here should be given more than just a paper bag or cardboard container.

      Saturday, 25 August 2018

      Drink your greens, and lose weight the chayote way

      Its better for you than any Um Bongo.
      I have to admit that I have always been a victim for trying out a particular food or drink  when the media is flagging it up as being good for you.Our mothers always told us "eat your greens" but hey mums, how about if we "drink our greens? It’s still summer so we carry on eating our glossy green salads with mint, celery and basil, and still its normal we  crave a lie down later.But what if we were to consume our greens another way and get energized? And after a cruel summer of chocolate, ice cream and cocktails, get that wasp waist back again? What would you say to that? I can see my dear mother grimacing in her grave as I tap this keyboard.I have tried many a green smoothie over the past few years and I have to say with great success.Carbohydrate squared is always the way forward.First came my cool summer hit,a Melon and ginger smoothie followed by the Green Genie,and more recently a detoxifying green smoothie with broccoli apple and celery.Now I just needed a new kitchen challenge, so I concocted a slightly different green smoothie, one that I hoped would not only be beneficial to my well being, but one that I  could really enjoy.
      I have recently re-discovered the wonder that is the chayote.Often called the vegetable pear,chu chu, chayote, christophene, xuxu, mirliton, or sayote, it’s not actually from the pear family,but you can call it what you will. It’s high in fibre, vitamin C and vitamin B. It’s got really good properties that help lower your blood pressure,lower your cholesterol levels and help you lose weight.My dear mum could never get her head round cholesterol.She considered anyone who mentioned the word cholesterol a hypochondriac.
      Chayote Smoothie
      1/2 chayote
      1/2 granny smith apple cored and de-pipped
      2 cups green melon
      1 celery rib
      1 tablespoon honey optional
      Juice from one lemon (only if making in advance)
      Spring Water (if you want it thinner)
      Blend all the ingredients.  If it is too thick, then add water,or if you prefer coconut water

      I found that many smoothies required a banana for optimum flavour and texture,not so this one.
       Although I wouldn´t reccomend it, this can be made the night before but it will lose its colour.Lemon juice, or a similar acidifier, will help delay this discolouration.and you may need a corresponding addition of honey once you are ready to drink your smoothie.

      Add mint to your smoothie if you ever get bored of it! It really changes the flavour!

      This smoothie is loaded with phytonutrients, and it´s filling. It is definitely a meal in a glass. When I was testing this recipe I enjoyed every sip and felt very energized for hours afterward.

      It will help you lose weight – the chayote is a veggie that contains a very low amount of calories,16  in 100 grams. This means that it can be seen in the nutritional content table at a very high number,because the chayote also contains no cholesterol and no saturated fats at all! Also, the chayote contains a lot of fibre. This is why it is such a recommended food for those people who are eagerly trying to lose some weight.

      Will lower your cholesterol levels – when it comes to the nutrient content table of the chayote, this is a veggie that does not contain any saturated fats whatsoever, even for the caloric content alone in very small amounts. So, based on these factors, the chayote is definitely used to control your overall cholesterol levels. This is why it is quite good to be used by people who are dealing with high levels of cholesterol.

      Thursday, 23 August 2018

      Tiborna de Codorniz espalhada apimentado em cima de torrada saboroso Portuguese-style devilled spatchcock

      What better way to kick off our Medieval festival? A piece of exemplary quail atop a piece of toast slathered with a piquant tomato sauce, that for me is what I call dinner.Simplicity, straightforwardness and good, honest cooking is where it’s at. Portuguese food sometimes gets a bad rap from euro critics, the likes of Giles Coren or the late AA Gill.My very own brother is not to be let off the hook here either. On a recent trip to Porto he claimed that "Portugal is not renowned for its gastronomy."My reply to all of them would be that they had chosen the wrong restaurant.Unprepossessing it maybe,basic perhaps and definitely conformist, but I have to say some of my greatest dining experiences have been since living in Portugal, particularly on a visit to Porto.

      When Portugal finally shuffles off this mortal coil,one would hope, at the very least,to go out with a certain degree of style and grace and dignity.
       I thought I would put this theory to the home test.I’ve borrowed two ideas for today’s dish.Both cooking and eating it transported me just a fraction closer to the kitchen of a Portuguese avõ.

       We have a glut of basil in the garden at the moment, and so I turned to a saved Jamie Oliver tear sheet, from a back in the day Olive magazine summer supplement, to apply a true "root to stem" principle.A pungent tomato salsa freshly made,rustic looking and brimming with earthy charm made more than worthy use of both basil leaves and stalks.Two spatchcocked quails from the butcher,a loaf of  "grandmother´s" bread and dinner was ready to rock.
      That this was all to be served up on toast, plain ol’ toast, like you would with beans, eggs or sardines, seemed at first to be the last humiliation for this noble bird; a final injustice. But of course, the toast was the best element, growing soggy under the weight, soaking up all the juice from the sauce; becoming perfect for mopping the plate with a fork.
      Finger-lickin´good,suitably messy and definitely a no for those hoity toity people who try to tackle a prawn with a knife and fork.Tackle the birds first,wipe your chin with nice napkins,then sink your teeth into the bread and its salsa A culinary revelation,simply produced and Portuguese inspired.
      Devilled quail,Portuguese style

      2 quail, spatchcocked from the butcher

      1/3 cup olive oil
      2 limes, juiced
      1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
      2 teaspoons chilli flakes
      1 teaspoon smoked paprika
      1 garlic clove, crushed
      2 spatchcocks, halved, washed, dried
      Fresh oregano leaves, extra, to serve

      Marinade the spatchcocks in the marinade for at least  three hours or ideally overnight.
      Place on a wire rack over a roasting tray and grill skin side up for seven to eight minutes basting once with the marinade.Turn and grill them bony sides up for a further five minutes.Toast slices of rustic artisan bread and then drizzle them with olive oil and rub the edgers with garlic as you would bruschetta.Spread a spoonful of the salsa over the toast and place the spatchcocks split in half lengthways on top.Garnish with some fresh basil or parsley

      Salsa Rossa
      (feel free to amp up the number of chillies if you want to spice it up)
      4 garlic cloves
      Olive oil
      bunch of fresh basil stalks,chopped
      800g of tomate chucha (plum tomatoes),skinned and deseeded
      1 red pepper 
      2 large fat red chillies 
      Fry the garlic in olive oil until golden.Add the basil stalks,stir once and then add the tomatoes and a pinch of flor de sal.
      cook gently for an hour or so to let the sauce thicken and the flavours concentrate
      meanwhile,toast the red pepper and chillies under a hot grill or even better on your barbie,turning now and then until they blacken and blister evenly all over.Place in a bowl and cover tightly with clingfilm.After half an hour,unwrap and carefully peel away the skins.remove the seeds and chop the flesh into small pieces.When the sauce has concentrated and thickened,take it off the heat and add the chopped pepper and chilli.Season the salsa well with salt and pepper and stir in torn up basil leaves and a couple of glugs of your best olive oil.

      Wednesday, 22 August 2018

      Dias medievais 2018

      São 5 dias de regresso à Idade Média e a XXI edição dos Dias Medievais em Castro Marim, evento já reconhecido pelo rigor da recriação histórica e, simultaneamente, pela inovação que procura trazer a cada ano. É também um dos maiores eventos nacionais do género.
      Pelas ruas e ruelas de Castro Marim vamos encontrar a recriação da vida quotidiana do homem da Idade Média, com a representação de todas as classes que estruturavam a sociedade na época – clero, nobreza, burguesia e povo. Guerreiros, grupos de música e de dança, cavaleiros, malabaristas, zaragateiros, cuspidores de fogo, contadores de histórias, gaiteiros, equilibristas, espadachins e contorcionistas, entre muitos outros, colorem o resto do cenário medieval. Nas mesmas ruas e ruelas encontramos todo o imaginário de uma época que carregava criaturas mitológicas, monstros, criaturas demoníacas e mágicas, que explicavam tudo o que era ainda vago e impreciso.