Friday, 16 November 2018

Stew-pendous Chambão de vaca en daube

Daubes,Bourguignons, Pot-au-feu ,Irish stew Carbonnades, Feijoadas, Stifados, Spezzatino di manzo, and Osso Bucco, wherever you are, start stewing! The great winter warmer starts here.There is nothing any more comforting and wonderfully tasting as a big pot of beef stew on a chilly day! I just love it.When it’s starting to get chilly outside, get in the kitchen and turn it into the warm hub of your home.The joy and warmth of a homemade stew wafting around your house is second to none.A good slow-cooked beef in ale stew is a thing of beauty and known to cure all ills, with just a smidgen of fresh thyme and a bayleaf, and perhaps some mushrooms for extra meatiness.Oh dear i´m getting to sound like that person who always says "that probably could have benefited from a mushroom"
There is this thing that happens in English,where brands are so commonplace that they become a common noun or verb:Tupperware,Tagine, Bandaid, YoYo,Hoover,Granola are some examples. So it is with cooking and the French, where the cooking vessel becomes the name of the dish – casserole, poêle and, as in this case, daube, which is a terracotta cooking vessel from Provence.
a traditional daubiére
What distinguishes a traditional daube from a stew is that a daube would be cooked in an earthenware vessel called a daubière, which is shaped in such a way as to inhibit evaporation of the cooking liquid. Cooks would even go so far as to seal the lid of the pot with a paste made of flour and water. Daube was also served in the daubière.
There are many variations on the basic daube recipe, mostly based on the region of France where they originate.
It's possible to replicate the daubière effect using a Dutch oven by placing a piece of parchment paper over the meat while it braises, to help retain the condensation, or use a larger piece of parchment across the whole rim of the pot to produce a tighter seal of the lid.
Chambão de vaca en daube
1kg chambao (shin of beef)
100g plain flour
100ml olive oil
200g  toucinho pancetta or lardon cut into 8 pieces
4 large carrots peeled and cut into large chunks
12 small pearl onions
1 bottle good quality red wine,shiraz for example
1 litre chicken stock
23 fresh bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 bunch thyme
1 vanilla bean
2 all spice berries
2 cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 garlic bulb
1 orange zested
2tsp cornflour  
Cut the beef shin into eight large pieces and dust them in the flour.
In a large, deep, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, brown the beef on all sides in the olive oil. Drain and transfer the meat to a large ovenproof casserole.
Brown the pancetta in the same frying pan. Add it to the casserole, reserving the fat in the frying pan.
Brown the carrot in the frying pan then add it to the casserole.
Brown the onions in the frying pan and add them to the casserole, along with the remaining pancetta fat.
Pour the bottle of wine into the frying pan and cook over high heat until it has reduced to a syrup. Add the stock, bring to the boil and then add the contents of the pan to the casserole.
Preheat the oven to 120°C.
Tie the bay leaves, cinnamon, thyme and vanilla bean into a tight bundle using butcher’s string then add it to the casserole with the remaining spices, garlic bulb and orange zest. Put the lid on the casserole and cook in the oven for 4–5 hours until the beef is gelatinous and just starting to fall apart.
Whisk the cornflour with 1 tablespoon cold water to make a slurry. Stir the slurry into the casserole over low heat until it thickens. Serve the daube in the casserole at the table.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

"Fake Cheese" The closest food can come to cruelty and punishment,

'Bleeding' vegan burger arrives on UK supermarket shelves

 ....and uses beetroot juice to ooze or “bleed” a meaty red hue

Halloween or having a laugh? When I read this it was time to speak up."Lab created food" in my mind is almost worse than genetically modified crops.
There is so much controversy surrounding dietary choices these days.As a partner of a bed and breakfast offering bespoke dinners, I have to resign myself to cooking for all kinds of dietary requirements.The fact that I have to do it and often enjoy rising to the challenge it is not to say that I agree with, or understand, the many lifestyle choices behind them.Vegan, vegetarians,omnivores carnivores,fish and chippocrytes,lacto vegetarians,ovo vegetarians, pollatarians, pollo pescatarians, fruitarians.A faddist world gone mad? Passing fashion,gastronomic or green politics? Sadly the vegan debate recently lost one prominent British food critic his job as editor of one of the largest selling food tie-in magazines in the United Kingdom,perhaps Europe.
Where did all this nonsense come from? If God had wanted us to have a plant based diet he would not have given us a planet full of livestock.A vegan diet is strictly against animal products,in every form.It is an ethical and humane lifestyle choice.This seems to me to be a way of inflicting punishment on oneself,self inflicted cruelty.To give one example, vegans consider Parmesan cheese to be the anti-christ.
I myself am a sound omnivore,by my definition someone who was brought up to eat everything.Of course there are some foods I dislike and some others that I have intolerances to, but overall I eat most things.It has always vexed me that I will go to a lot of lengths and be more than happy to accomodate vegetarians when they visit my home,but in reverse,why,am I always subjected to having to eat vegetarian food when I visit a plant eating household.Don´t get me wrong here I love vegetarian food and in this way I am a flexitarian.I enjoy cooking it, but why can´t my vegetarian counterparts be more flexible and cook a piece of meat or fish for me when I am invited to their home? I am totally flabbergasted as to why so many vegetarians and vegans have this desire to eat mutations of what carnivores eat.Vegan burgers that bleed,Vegetarian sausages,Quorn bolognese,Quorn Moussaka."The implications of the proliferation of lookalike meats for the global food industry are enormous. The US beef industry has filed a petition to exclude non-animal products from the definition of meat, while in France a law bans vegetarian companies from calling their products sausages, mince or bacon".If you are missing these flavours why change?
‘The terms cheese and steak should be reserved for products of animal origin.’ 
The flexible part of the flexitarian diet means you get the best of both worlds: your favorite carnivore dishes and also inventive vegan creations.Flexitarianism also calls for cutting back on your fish intake, but there's no need to ban it from your diet entirely.I thought I would make an earnest endeavour to take on a plant-based menu for one meal and see how I got on.The meal I chose was lunch, and I decided to make it very simple to both cook and eat.I made a light lunch of vegan leek and potato soup,home baked bread and some home made "fake cheese".The bread and cheese I made with one common ingredient.Who ever would have thought that you could make both bread and cheese from lupins? Amazed? I think you will be.
Tremoço cheese ("fake cheese")
2 teaspoons brewer's yeast powder 
1 tremoços with skins on (bottled) 
2 tablespoons (coffee) salt 
8 teaspoons powdered agar agar*
3 cups  water 
4 tablespoons olive oil
Beat the tremoços with salt, the beer yeast and half the water in the blender until it turns into a thick paste.Mix the remaining half of the water still cold with the agar agar and dissolve well.Bring this mixture to the boil, stirring constantly, bring to the boil and bubble for about two minutes (it will look viscous, if it does not look like that, it will not solidify properly).Turn on the blender again and add the olive oil and agar agar direct from from the flame (it has to be quick as agar agar hardens even faster at room temperature),Beat until thoroughly mixed.Place in a loaf pan or terrine greased with olive oil and leave in a refrigerator until it hardens (about 30 minutes).

THE VERDICT: The cheese was the closest food could come to cruel and corporal punishment.It tasted like cold, bland ,unflavoured and unseasoned polenta.Why would any vegan want to inflict this hardship on themselves?The humane treatment of animals is the issue here,and to eat  "fake cheese" is surely an example of the inhumane treatment of human beings.I suffered such discomfort and indigestion.What I had just eaten was an assault on my stomach.I could think of many ways this recipe might be made moderately acceptable but quite honestly why would I waste the time spent on experimenting.
My thoughts on improvement were the addition of some herbs,thyme or such like and maybe some chilli flakes or dried fruit.I will not however be making this again.In short i will be returning to my trusted bacon and brie sandwich.
* Agar-agar is the vegetarian substitute for animal gelatine, obtained from an algae and composed of 70% soluble fibers. Remember: cheeses are not suitable for vegans and most of the time they are not suitable for vegetarians because they use  animal curd (they can also use pepsin and lipase). This alternative is free of lactose, casein, saturated fat and cholesterol.
Pao de tremoço (tremoço bread rolls)
350 gr self raising flour
200 gr Tremoços
,drained and mashed in a processor
250ml, 50/50 blend of plain yogurt and water,
or vegan alternative
Rinse the tremoços under running water to get the salt out. Then mash with the a stick blender
Put the flour in a bowl. Make a hole in the center and add the blend of yoghurt and water.Knead everything together and add the mashed tremoços.
Knead everything again very well until it is homogeneous.leave for 20 minutes to stand at room temperature.Divide dough into 3 or 4 balls and bake for +/- 40 min at 180c.

THE VERDICT: The tremoço bread rolls were quite palatable and indicative of Irish soda bread,which is not a bad thing at all, but they were a little too worthy for our liking. 
Vegan leek and potato soup 

2 medium or 1 large leek,trimmed of outer layers and damaged part of the green
25g vegan butter
3 medium potatoes,bakers or reds,peeled and coarsely diced
Generous salt and pepper
1 litre vegetable stock
Slice the leeks finely,put in alarge bowl of warm water,and swirl them about to rinse off any dirt.warm water is pretty vital here as leeks often secrete sand and mud,neither of which is ready soluble in cold water.Using your hands or aspider lift the leeks out of their bath and into a colander.Rinse the bowl out thoroughly and repeat the process.If you simply pour the leeksfrom the bol into the colander,all the caarefully washed out dirt will get back on them.(The Roux brothers insist that washing the leeks in warm water improves the flavour) Having made this soup for 25 years I would agree.

Melt the butter in a large solid-based saucepan and add the drained leeks.Sweat these over a medium flame for 5 minutes or so; the leeks should partially collapse and glisten from their coating of butter, but should not take on any significant amount of colour.Add the diced potatoes and sweat for a further 5 minutes,they will start to stick after this time,a sure sign that their sweating period is over.Season judiciously with salt and pepper and add enough stock to cover the vegetables.Stir to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan,turn the heat up high and boil until the potatoes are tender,about 15-20 minutes.Allow to cool a little then liquidise.Adjust the seasononing and reheat if necessary before serving.

THE VERDICT:The soup was delicious. I could not bring myself to pay the exorbitant price for vegan butter, and I am sure that if I had the deepness of flavour would have been lost. 

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Farmer´s market carrot top and coriander root to stem soup

 ceramic soup bowl sold by weight from AROMA ao Kg ,Tavira

Why is it so hard to find a recipe for carrot and coriander soup? I consulted all the usual oracles on my bookshelves and even computer said NO.Well there were recipes there on the internet, but so dull you would not want to bother with them.Well when I get my heart set on something I mean business, and with the chill in the air I wanted a heart warming comfort food.Today the monthly market was in town so I strode off to find my ingredients.There they were laid out before me, sheaves of fresh coriander tied with string, carrots with their  bushy, parsley-like greens still attached,that guarantees that farmer’s market halo of freshness.Why do supermarkets assume you will just throw the tops away so they waste plastic and bag them up. The perkiness and freshness of the greens are a good indication of how fresh the carrots themselves are. But that's not the only reason to buy intact, green-topped carrots. The greens themselves are pleasantly bitter and have tart imparting flavours that can perfectly balance out carrots' earthy sweetness in a dish. (And if the taste alone isn't enough to convince you, think about how many #wasteless points you'll get by using those tops rather than tossing them.) What a crime to throw away carrot tops.Stop throwing them away,and prepare a soup with them that´s full of local flavour, it's delicious! I cast my mind back to a sumptuous soup I used to make from Jane Grigson´s vegetable book
Potage Creçy it was called, in deference to the chalky area of France that carrots are supposed to grow best,But the twist I liked here was that she cited a variation which included fresh orange juice.Today I took it one step further and added coriander roots and carrot tops.
Carrot top and coriander root to stem soup
1 large bunch of carrots with tops,both chopped
Lower stalks from a large bunch of fresh coriander,chopped
1 onion, chopped
60g (2 oz) butter
125g (4oz)diced potatoes
1 heaped tablespoon of rice
1 liytre good quality vegetable bouillon
80ml (4 fl oz )milk
freshly squeezed orange juice to taste
plentiful flor de sal and freshly ground black pepper 
Soften the onion in the butter,add the coriander stems,carrot tops,potato rice and seasoning,stirring the about to mix them well together.Pour in the stock,simmer,covered,until the carrots are well cooked.blitz the whole contents of the pan with a hand blender till you have a rich thick velvety soup,When ready to eat.reheat with some milk and season to taste with the fresh orange juice mixing it in gradually so that it never becomes too strong,throw in a good handful of coriander leaves and blitz the whole lot again until you achieve your desired consistency.

Friday, 9 November 2018

"Simple" Yotam says...

 Yum yum-ollenghi
I am just love love loving my new Ottolenghi.This is the third recipe I have cooked from his new book and if you are lucky enough you will not need to even buy the book as I keep trying and testing and posting the results right here. The book is exactly what it says it is "SIMPLE."For this recipe "Squid and red pepper stew" I made a couple of minor changes.I had some prime baby octopus from the amazing Olhao market and decided to substitute this for the squid.He suggested serving the dish with rice or cous cous but I decided to add potatoes to it, making it a one pot dish and something I remembered from a Portuguese recipe that I had previously cooked "Octopus with red wine and potatoes" The only other change I made to the recipe was to use piri-piri flakes in place of the caraway seeds and allspice.The result delivered big on flavour and one I will definitely return to.Meanwhile I am bookmarking my way through the pages, and think next up will be a pasta dish or "Pork with ginger,spring onion and aubergine." Mind you I`m quite tempted by the "Fish cake tacos with mango and cumin yoghurt".I´ll keep you posted.
Squid or octopus and red pepper stew
Served 2 as a main course
80 ml olive oil
1 onion sliced into pinwheels about 1cm wide
I large red pepper,halved, core and seeds removed,cut into long slices 1 cm thick
2 garlic cloves,thinly sliced
( 2tsp caraway seeds, 3/4 tsp ground allspice) I used a sprinkling of piri piri flakes
1 kg baby squid,cleaned,skin removed,cut into 1.5cm strips (500g) I used Octopus
6 new potatoes, peeled and quartered
1.5 tbsp tomato paste 
3 bay leaves
1tbsp chopped thyme leaves 
150ml red wine
1 small orange,zest finely grated to get 1/2 tsp (optional)
salt and black pepper
Put the oil into a large sauté pan,for which you have a lid, and place on a medium high heat.Add the onion and red pepper,along with 1/3 teaspoon of salt,and cook for 5 minutes,stirring from time to time.Add the garlic,caraway seeds,allspice,(if using)and a really good grinding of black pepper.Continue to sauté for another 5 minutes,until everything is nice and soft.
Add the squid or octopus,and potatoes,if using, cook for 5 minutes,then stir in the tomato paste,bay leaves and thyme.Cook for another 2-3 minutes,then pour in the wine.Reduce the heat to low and allow everything to simmer away,covered, for about 30 minutes,stirring a few times,until the squid/octopus is cooked and soft.If the sauce is turning dry towards the end of cooking,you might need to add a tablespoon or two of water.Add the orange zest just before serving if using,and give everything a final gentle stir.

Monday, 5 November 2018

The Sage Maven

With its alluring, downy, grey-green leaves and lingering depth of flavour, it's hard to resist the pungent appeal of sage.Our garden has been a rain forest of sage this autumn and it was time for a severe cutting back,which only means one thing plenty of work for the herb task master here.Along with parsley, it's perhaps the herb most leant on by English cooks to give a savoury punch to stews, sausages and stuffings. Long before England´s dalliance with basil, coriander and more exotic flavourings, sage stole the English hearts and starred in some of their favourite dishes.Or did it? Well when I went to consult the arch English oracle Elizabeth David on the subject of sage how surprised was I with what I unearthed.Gastronomic Maven Elizabeth David is pretty damning in her book Summer Cooking:
 "Of that very English herb sage I have very little to say except that… it seems to me to be altogether too blatant, and used far too much; its all-pervading presence in stuffings and sausages is perhaps responsible for the distaste for herbs which many English people feel." 
 She liked the dried stuff even less:   
 "It deadens the food with its musty, dried blood scent."
Oh dear. That qualifies as a rant, doesn't it? in "Spices,salt and aromatics in the English kitchen", she expresses her distaste for rosemary too 

"With sage,this figures in my kitchen as a decoration only-with their grey-green and reddish leaves both herbs are beautiful in a jug of country flowers,but in cooking I don´t want either"........many Italians stuff joints of lamb and pork bursting with rosemary,and the result is perfectly awful.The meat is drowned in the acrid taste of the herb and the spiky little leaves get stuck between your teeth".
Grow some, chop some, cook some, eat some – I hope you'll do all you can to increase their pervading presence. Don't let Elizabeth David talk you out of it.
So having remembered that La David was never one known for her subtlety or lack of nuance I moved on. Saltimbocca,sausages,sauce, I thought,Sage is a great companion to pancetta, bacon and pretty much anything porky,so what I ended up with was a very tasty side dish of french beans and bacon.

Green beans with sage and pancetta
serves four as a side dish
400g green beans, tailed
20g butter
200g pancetta, cut into small cubes
20 sage leaves, 8 finely shredded, 12 left whole
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil (or rapeseed oil)

Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Cook the beans until just al dente, about four minutes, then drain.While the beans are cooking, warm the butter in a large frying pan and sauté the pancetta until it begins to take on some colour. Add the shredded sage leaves and fry for another minute. Tip in the beans, season, and give everything a good stir. Keep warm.
In a small frying pan, warm the oil over a medium-high heat. Sauté the whole sage leaves for a few seconds until crisp, scatter over the beans and pancetta, and serve.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Frango pontinha no forno

Can you even believe that it’s November,and the clocks have gone back,and its dark by five o´clock? I seriously cannot even wrap my brain around it and that’s probably due to the fact that I’m used to residing where it’s 85 degrees with 100% humidity and SUN every day.The following dish I feel fits the feeling you get with the shift in the seasons: summer starts to feel like a distant memory and the craving for richer, more comforting foods kicks in.It's a 30-minute, no fuss, kind of chicken dinner.I think it’s great for autumn. The flavours of the thyme, garlic and chive mixed with the punchiness of the paprika makes it a taste sensation.
I love the idea of everything in one pan and wham bam, your dinner is done! What I don’t enjoy is when the recipe asks you to cook the pasta, rice, chicken or other ingredients in a separate pan and then add them to the skillet.Not so this recipe,which also introduced a new ingredient into my repertoire,massa pontinha.
This rice looky likey shouldn't just be reserved  for soups - ‘massa pontinha’ (tiny pasta which looks similar to orzo or risoni ) is a versatile pasta that's fantastic in everything from salads to casseroles and side dishes.
Massa pontinha is available in the pasta aisle of most Portuguese supermarkets.Half a 250g packet will make enough for around four people; it’s very cheap too.

It looks like large grains of rice but is actually a type of pasta.Like most dried pasta, pontinha is made from a mixture of durum flour, semolina and water, which is kneaded into a dough before being rolled flat and shaped. The result is a creamy coloured, oval-shaped pasta with distinctive pointy ends.
Although massa pontinha is classified as a soup pasta,for a simple salad combine cooked pontinha with olive oil, garlic, fresh lemon juice, chopped tomatoes, basil and pine nuts, then sprinkle with parmesan to serve.
Alternatively, try stuffing aubergine and or peppers with cooked risoni, zucchini, semi-dried tomatoes and fresh herbs, and bake in the oven.
You don’t need to cook risoni when including it in soups or stews – simply add it to the saucepan eight to 10 minutes before the dish has finished cooking. When using it in salads and other dishes, cook in a saucepan of salted boiling water for eight to 10 minutes or until al dente.
Frango pontinha no forno

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

1 tbsp home made pesto diluted with olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and diced
1 courgette, trimmed and diced
1 aubergine, trimmed and diced
4 sprigs fresh oregano
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
250g pontinha /orzo
400g chopped tomatoes
250ml chicken stock
400g chicken breasts, cut into 1cm slices
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
Salt and black pepper
Small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
Small bunch chives, finely chopped

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Melt half the oil in a heavy-based flameproof casserole dish over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for one minute, then add the courgette, aubergine, oregano, thyme and two chopped garlic cloves. Fry for five minutes, until the vegetables are starting to soften.
Add the tomato puree and orzo and mix to combine. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and chicken stock and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring regularly. Put the lid on and slide the dish into the oven.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the sliced chicken and the remaining chopped garlic clove. It is more important at this stage to colour the meat than to cook it through.
Sprinkle in the paprika along with a pinch of salt and pepper, and toss the whole lot together.
Remove the pasta from the oven and carefully take off the lid, stir in the chicken, slide the lid back on and bake for 10 more minutes. Then take the dish from the oven and stir through the parsley and chives. Serve straight from the dish.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

The "Bombay burger",potato in a bun

The Bombay burger with all the trimmings
Alternatively spelt Vada Pao, Wada Pav, or Wada Pao, is a vegetarian fast food dish native to the Indian state of MaharashtraIt.The Vada Pav is my new go to comfort food.
Spherical patties, made with mashed potato mixed with masala spices, green chilli and, occasionally finely chopped raw onion,deep fried in hot oil and then sandwiched in a wodgy bun called a pav, and slathered with some green chilli-coriander chutney with fried green chillies  and dried garlic chutney,spicy lasun khobra on the side.What´s not to like.A perfect contrast of tastes and textures: the chewy blandness of the pav acting as a perfect foil to the piquant crunchiness of the vada.The vada pav is a delectable carb overload – that instant energy boost that we all so often need. 
This snappy little snack is synonymous with the city of Mumbai. The dish is believed to have been invented in 1966 by a Mumbaikar, Ashok Vaidya, who opened the first vada pav stall opposite the Dadar train station, through which hundreds of thousands of workers – often in need of a quick, inexpensive snack – passed every day on their way to the textile mills in suburbs such as Parel and Worli.Eat you hearts out slum dog millionaires.
Ironically, both of vada pav’s main components – the potato and the bun – are European imports, brought into India once again,yes you´ve guessed whats next, by the Portuguese around the 17th Century. The only key ingredient originally belonging to the region – or even India – in the dish, is the besan (chickpea flour) in which the potato mix is coated before being deep-fried.Macdonalds´tried to emulate it with their McAloo Tikki burger but it could not be more different from the beloved vada pav. Not only does it not match the spice levels of the home-grown vada pav, but it also leaves little room for artistry. The flavour of vada pav depends entirely upon the whims of the cook, with every vendor claiming to have a secret recipe or a special ingredient that makes his vada pav unique: a pinch of ground masala, or a topping of choora (the crispy crumbs left at the bottom of the frying pan) along with the quality of his vada.
 Vada pav as spotted by Grace Dent in Leytonstone, East London

Calling it the ‘Indian burger’ immediately gave it an aspirational value and licence to be copied the world over.Schezwan vada pav  and the Nacho vada pav (topped with tortilla chips,inspired by Mexican cuisine)).
Beats a soggy sandwich on the train home from work, I´d say? 

To make 4
350g potatoes or 2 large to medium sized potatoes
6-7 garlic +1 to 2 green chillies,crushed to a paste in a pestle and mortar 
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
a pinch turmeric
7-8 curry leaves
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Flor de sal as required

1 to 1.25 cups gram ( chickpea flour )
pinch of asafoetida
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
pinch baking soda
1/2 cup water or as much as required
salt to taste

1 cup coriander leaves,chopped
2 garlic cloves,chopped
2 to 3 drops of lemon juice
2-3 green chillies,chopped
salt to taste
Grind all the ingredients with a little water till smooth.
Avoid making a watery chutney.

This spicy and piquant dry chutney is made from garlic,dessicated coconut,sesame seeds and red chilli powder.It is also called lasun Khobra chutney.Everything is mixed and then pounded in a pestle and mortar to a coarse dry mixture.Both the flavours of dessicated coconut and garlic is felt distinctly in this chutney.The spice and heat comes from red chilli powder.I used my own ground piri piri to give a bright deep red clour to the chutney

1 tsp peanut or sunflower oil
20 to 24 garlic cloves or 1 tbsp small garlic cloves
2 tsp white sesame seeds
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 tbsp dried red chilli powder,or add as required 
salt to taste
Pound all the ingredients in a pestle and mortar.Next in a spice grinder,grind the ingredients in intervals of 4 to 5 seconds and stop. Do not grind at a stretch as then the oil will be released from the coconut and sesame seeds.You can use the pulse otion on your grinder to achieve this.Grind to a coarse or semi-fine mixture.Spoon the dry garlic chutney into asmall glass jar or bowl.Cover tightly and refrigerate.

Boil 2 large potatoes about 350grams till they are completely cooked.
Peel  and mash them with a fork in a bowl.
Heat 2 to 3 tsp oil in a small pan.Add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and crackle them.Add 7 to 8 curry leaves and asafoetida.Stir and sauté for about 5 seconds.
Add 6  to 7 garlic and 1 to 2 green chillies,which have been crushed in apestle and mortar.Add 1/8 tsp turmeric powder.Stir until the raw aroma of garlic goes away.
Pour this seasoning into the mashed potatoes
Add 1 to 2 tbsp chopped coriander and some salt.
Mix everything well and then make small to medium balls from the mashed potato mixture.Flatten these balls a bit.Cover and keep aside.
In another bowl,make a smooth batter with the gram flour, turmeric powder,asafoetida,baking soda,salt and 1/2 cup of water.The batter should not be too thick or thin.If the batter becomes thin,add 1 to 2 tbsp gram flour.if the batter becomes too thick,add 1 t 2 tbsp water.Keep aside
Heat oil for deep frying
Dip the slightly flattened potato balls in the batter and coat them evenly.
Gently drop the batter coated balls in medium hot oil.
Depending on the size of the fryer you can add more or less of the vadas while frying.
Deep fry the vadas until evenly golden.
Drain them on kitchen paper.

slice the pav or bun without breaking it into two parts and keep aside.
spread the green chutney on the sliced bun.Sprinkle some dry garlic chutney and then place the hot batata vada sandwiched between the bread slices.Serve immediately or else the braed will become soggy.You can also serve some fried green chillies and more of both the chutneys with it.Alter the amount of chutneys you spread in the braed according to your taste and liking.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Bochechas de porco com puré de nabo,cerezas amarenas, com feixes de feijões franceses finos e bacon

 Pigs cheeks with turnip purée,amarena cherries, bacon and french bean bundles
Amarena cherries, now there´s an opportunity not to be missed I thought. A special offer in the supermarket sent me over the edge of reason and I bought more jars than I will need this side of Trump sending the world into a catastrophic food shortage. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and I needed to find some additional recipes for these delicious bitter-sweet balls of shininess.
Winter is a wonderful time in the Algarve. We get to choose from a wonderful range of winter vegetables. I decided to put a childhood ghost to rest and cook some turnip. As a young schoolboy ,I was not a big fan of turnip. The peppery taste should work well with some slow cooked pork cheeks and I thought that the cherries would balance the flavours too.An umami of salt, fat, sweet, sour, acid and heat was about to erupt.(and I believed that my numerous jars of cherries would balance the flavour in almost anything at this stage).The thespian firmly reminded me that I don´t do and never have done fruit with meat.Correct indeed ,but time to lay another spirit to rest.
Bonus recipe: I also found some fine french beans,some kind of rarity here, to go with this dish.Keeping the pork theme running through I made them into bundles and wrapped them with some streaky bacon (above) which worked really well too. 
Bochechas de porco com puré de nabo,cerezas amarenas
Serves 4
olive oil
pig's cheeks 8, sinew removed
onion 1, roughly chopped
bay leaves 2
celery 1 stick, roughly chopped
white wine 125ml
Somersby cider 250ml
chicken stock 200ml
turnips 3 medium (about 700g), peeled and roughly chopped
whole milk 250ml
green beans 200g
smoked streaky bacon 4 rashers

150g of amarena cherries in syrup
      Heat a splash of olive oil in a large casserole and brown the cheeks, in batches, until golden brown, then remove to a plate. Tip in the onion, bay, celery and wine, and bubble for a few minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the cheeks back to the pan along with the cider and chicken stock, bring to the boil then turn down and simmer over a low flame, covered, for 3 hours or until very tender.
      Remove the cheeks and keep covered with foil on a plate. Pour the sauce through a fine sieve into a pan,add some syrup from the cherries and reduce until thick and sticky, then add the cheeks back in. Reheat to serve.
      Put the turnips into a pan and pour over the milk. Bring to boil then simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until very soft. Purée in a food processor with some seasoning, then tip back into a pan and reheat to serve.
      Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Blanch the beans in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then refresh in iced water. When cool, divide into 4 piles. Wrap each bundle in a streaky bacon rasher and put onto a baking tray. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until the bacon is crisp.
      To serve, spoon turnip purée onto the middle of each plate, then add the bacon-wrapped beans and pig’s cheeks with plenty of sauce. Finish by scattering the  cherries on top.Serve on plentiful plates and tuck in.

        Wednesday, 24 October 2018

        "SIMPLE" Anchovy and foraged samphire spaghetti

         simple as......

        Leafing through my copy of the latest Ottolenghi tome "SIMPLE", I stumbled upon a recipe that contained two of my favourite ingredients, samphire and anchovy.
        Oh Yum!!! I felt tonights simple supper in the making and how simple would this be to create something so Algarvian, and with the key ingredient ripe and ready just a stones throw away.I headed down to the Sapal and foraged my first ingredient, samphire (salicornia europea). I have always had a taste for samphire grass well before the present mania for eating the hedgerows.Available almost all the year round,this is wild food for free globally.Anchovies are always on the shelf of my store cupboard and I was recently given a bag of Aleppo chilli flakes.There are very few things in an Ottolenghi cookbook which aren´t improved by a dusting of these.Add the anchovies, some garlic, lemon,parsley and white wine and you have the makings of a super supper packed with a really salty punch.
         Freshly foraged salicornia
        Anchovy and foraged samphire spaghetti
        This dish was something well worth trampling through the dry dusty mud for
        serves four 
        75ml olive oil
        30g anchovy fillets in oil,drained and finely chopped ( about 8 or 9  )
        11/2 tsp Aleppo chilli flakes,plus extra to serve
        1 garlic clove,crushed
        1 lemon,finely grate the zest to get 1 tsp,then cut into 4 wedges to serve
        20g parsley,finely chopped
        100ml dry white wine
        250g spaghetti
        250g foraged samphire,( salicornia ) 
        salt and black pepper
        Put the oil into a large sauté pan and place on a medium heat.
        Once hot,add the anchovies,chilli flakes,garlic,lemon zest,half the parsley and agood grinding of pepper.Fry gently for 5 minutes,stirring frequently,until the anchovies have melted into the oil.pour in the wine and cook for 4-5 minutes,until thesauce has thickened and reduced,then remove from the heat and set aside while you cook the pasta.
        Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti until al dente.Thirty seconds before the spaghetti is ready,add the samphire( to the same pan the pasta is cooking in).Reserve a couple of ladles of the pasta water,then drain the pasta and the samphire.return the sauté pan of sauce to amedium heat.add the cooked spaghetti and samphire and toss to combine.If you need to loosen,add a little  of the reserved pasta water.Stir through the remaining parsley and another grind of pepper,then divide between four plates.Finish with a sprinkling of the extra Aleppo chilli flakes and serve with a lemon wedge on the side.

        Friday, 19 October 2018

        Soufle de bacalhau rising to the occasion

        That iconic Portuguese ingredient with a touch of the French cuisine
        Nothing comes with a trickier reputation to make than a soufflé. But I've since discovered the truth about soufflés: their reputation for being disaster-prone and finicky is undeserved. Don´t be put off, you can rise to the challenge.There was a time when the idea of making a soufflé was the furthest thought from my mind. Just seeing the words "eggs, separated" was enough to ward me off. Though how a thick white sauce with beaten egg whites folded into it ever became the most intimidating recipe in the world has always puzzled me.Silly, I know, but I remain amazed and delighted when a mixture of cheese or whatever and hot air works. It feels more like magic than cooking.The simple combination of eggs, milk, cream, seasonings and air, given the ­Montgolfier treatment with a blast of hot air, is one of the great culinary milestones.Make soufflé when you have guests, certainly,not least because it adds a certain theatre to the proceedings. Throughout food history, soufflés have been given a bad rap. They have been called difficult to make, and fall or collapse at the slightest touch. This is not entirely true. Soufflés can be time-consuming, but they are not altogether that difficult to make. The myth about them falling when there is a loud noise or a slight bump is entirely false. Soufflés will inevitably collapse, not because of being bumped, but because the air that is whipped into the egg whites, which has been heated by the oven, cools, so the soufflé falls. That’s why they are best served immediately. There are three main parts to a soufflé – a base, flavouring ingredients, and egg whites. The base is heavy and starch-thickened, usually a pastry cream or white sauce. If egg yolks are used in the recipe, they are usually usually included in the base. The flavouring ingredients,in this case salt cod, are also added and cooked with the base.There is something inherently thrilling about pulling a light, barely quivering souffle from the oven: on the one hand so pure, on the other so wanton. Souffles are ingeniously versatile, and make all sorts the stars of the show, from all things savoury to all things sweet. And the results always look fabulous. Most of all, a souffle is a brilliant bet for a low-cost, delicious dinner, as here, where cured fish is offset by the acidity of  creme fraiche.Codfish Soufflé is a sophisticated way of cooking codfish, an ingredient that is indisputably one of the symbols of the Portuguese gastronomy.This Codfish Soufflé is an exquisite recipe that combines the iconic Portuguese ingredient with a touch of the French cuisine but has that je ne sais quoi pas a bout de souffle.
        Codfish Soufflé
        200 g of codfish
        1 onion finely chopped
        2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
        2 cups ( 500ml milk )
        50 g flour
        50g butter
        3 egg yolks
        4 egg whites
        1 tbsp creme fraiche
        Nutmeg, paprika, butter, salt and pepper

        Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).  Butter and flour the inside of a souffle pan, or 6 individual ramekin dishes
        Be sure to soak the salt cod for at least 2 days in the refrigerator, changing the water several times. Flake the fish into small pieces and sauté briefly in 1 tsp of butter, until the fish is just done, about 2-3 minutes.  Set aside until ready to use.
        Sauté the onion in the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan until the butter has stopped bubbling.  Add the flour, stirring the mixture together until it is a smooth consistency and just begins to change color.  Add the warm milk slowly, whisking more or less constantly, and cook until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken.  Remove from the heat.  Add salt (if using salt cod, add carefully: you may not need more), pepper, and nutmeg. Let cool for 5 minutes.
        In the meantime, prepare the egg whites.  Beat the cold egg whites with an electric mixer until medium firm peaks form. Take the egg yolks, separately, and beat roughly with a fork.
        Add the yolks and the cod to the flour-milk mixture, stirring them in to blend.  Fold in the egg whites gently, allowing the air to remain in the whites.  Turn the mixture into the souffle pan or ramekins if using and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the top is fluffy and lightly browned.