Friday, 21 February 2020

O Carnaval - Uma festa da bossa nova no paladar

When Marimba Rhythms start to play, a bolero mambo is the order of the day.
It is therefore no coincidence that in Portugal, in February or March, we find a celebration of life, a celebration of the reawakening and fertility of the earth after the short, dark, damp winter days; we find this within the feast of music, revelry and dance that is Carnaval.
Fancy a foray to the south? Take a dose of Algarvian sunshine, add a good pinch of political satire, a splash of colour, copious helpings of music, and substantial servings of samba, salsiccia and sangria; the resulting party atmosphere that pervades ensures that Carnaval in the Algarve provides pleasure year on year.Sustenance is needed to keep a good stamina going for the party. What better way to celebrate than with a chilli con carne,but not just the classic con carne, this is a take on the original using braised to the point of falling apart chunks of beef rather than mince,which is what most people would expect.The benefit is that there´s more flavour in bigger pieces,and if we all had more time in the world I´m sure more people would dance our way down this road. It gives you more control about which bit of the animal is used too,which is a good thing.Apart from that party on your patio,this is the usual bossa nova party on the your palate that its supposed to be.It provides that same breathtaking buzz that is Brazilian carnaval.The quantity is enough to satisfy the appetites of four hungry gringos or just two with leftovers for the ultimate baked poatato topping,Oh yes!!!
Chilli con carne with a slight difference
1 heaped tsp dried chilli flakes 2½ tsps ground cumin
2 tsps dried oregano
1 tsp cinnamon
5 sprigs of thyme, tied together with string
5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
500g braising beef, chuck works well, roughly chopped into 4cm chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 heaped tsp coriander seeds
Half a red chilli (or more if you like it hot), thinly sliced
2 Spanish onions, cut into large dice
2 carrots, cut into small dice
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g tins of kidney beans,I used haricot beans,drained (If using dried beans, soak about 200g overnight in cold water and add at the same point in the recipe as the tinned ones.)
One small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup seville orange juice
or juice of 1 lime
Salt
Put the dried chilli, ground cumin, oregano, cinnamon, thyme and half the garlic into a dish and add the beef. Turn the meat to coat and leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours - overnight if possible.
Heat the olive oil in a deep stew pot over a medium heat and gently fry the cumin and coriander seeds for a few minutes until you start to smell them.
Whack up the heat, stir in the beef with the thyme and fry on all sides, picking up a good brown colour. Add some salt, the fresh chilli, remaining garlic, Spanish onions and carrots and keep stirring until the onions are transparent and the carrots soft - about 15-20 minutes.
Tip in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes before the kidney beans join in the fun.Pour in water just to cover, and simmer for an hour with
the lid on. Then take the lid off and simmer for up to an hour more, until the meat is very tender and the whole lot has become quite thickened.

In a little bowl squeeze the orange or lime juice over the thinly sliced red onion; turn the onions over with a spoon a few times, then leave to macerate for half an hour.
Finish by adding a good pinch of ground cumin to the chilli to give fresh flavour to the slow-cook. Lastly check the seasoning and consistency - if it looks a little dry, just slowly stir in water until it is pleasingly loose.
Have all the necessaries on hand: sour cream, cheddar cheese, wedges of lime and a New Orleans jazz band.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

No cows here mother!!

The days when your biggest milk decision was whole versus skim are long gone.Milk options now take up nearly half an aisle in my local supermarket. Whether you want variety with your morning meal or simply a non-dairy option that doesn't taste like cardboard, there's an option out there for you! It was like something out of a Victoria Wood sketch "The health food restaurant" where Wood with her mother in the queue having decided on 2 lapsang teas as opposed to the Ruiboss are then confronted with a choice of milks.
Wood:    What kind of milk would you like ,mother? 
              they´ve got soya,goat or cow´s" " 
Walters: ooooohhh cow´s please
Wood:    Right we´ll have one cow and one goat,please
Nondairy milk may have begun as a lactose-free alternative for vegans or nondairy eaters, but the rise in popularity can be attributed to much more than being a must-have swap. The options are endless: almond milk, soy milk, hemp milk, rice milk, and more. But there's a new kid on the block that's getting a lot of attention from nutritionists and foodies alike: oat milk. "Almost all nondairy beverages may be 'hot' right now because of the interest in plant-based diets," says Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N., C.L.T., author of The Small Change Diet. Oat milk is particularly accessible, as it's cheaper to make than nut milk and is more environmentally friendly, explains registered dietitian Kelly R. Jones M.S., L.D.N.
Well Great news for those of us with genuine lactose intolerance.We can now make our own oat milk at home for a fraction of the price the shops charge.
Want to make creamy oat milk at home with just 2 ingredients, 1 blender, and in 5 minutes!? its as simple as that.
Oat milk is simply rolled oats and water blended together then strained to leave the pulp behind. The result is easy, creamy, DIY oat milk!
 Make the milk using just 3 cups of water (750 ml) and 100g oats.You will need to play around with the proportion of oats to water until you get the taste and thickness you are looking for.The bigger the proportion of oats, the stronger the flavour and thicker the consistency.
I  make unsweetened oat milk, that way I can use it to make savoury or sweet recipes, but if you like your milk sweet, add any sweetener you want gently until the milk is sweet enough for you (maple syrup, agave syrup, cane sugar, etc.).


1 cup rolled or quick oats (100 g)
3 cups water (750 ml), this depends on how thick you like your milk


Soak the oats in water for at least 30 minutes. I soak them overnight, but it’s not necessary.
Drain the oats and wash them (discard the soaking water).
Add the oats and 3 cups of bottled water (750 ml ) to a blender and blend until smooth.
Strain the milk using a cheesecloth, a strainer, or a napkin.
Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.


Oat ‘cream’
There’s an oat cream that’s been widely available for several years now, but it has palm oil in it (which is a big no). Even organic palm oil – imported from long distances, leads to greater deforestation, and least importantly in this conversation, also bad for you.
Enter Oat ‘cream’ this is my current favourite thing.It  is delicious mixed into coffee or tea as well as on desserts. To make about 350ml, tip 50g rolled oats into a heatproof bowl, cover with 300ml boiling water and set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Pour the contents of the bowl into a blender, add two teaspoons of a flavourless or a mild tasting oil* and a small pinch of sea salt and blend until smooth. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator and use within seven days. Shake well before use.
* Oats contain virtually no fat. Compare to dairy cream, for example, or even cashew cream, which both contain a lot more natural fat. The oil makes things creamier, it’s emulsified (the molecules are so tiny, it’s like the water and oil combine) and results in an overall better end product.
 A very light tasting oil like grape seed, which is what I’ve used in the recipe, will be virtually imperceptible in the cream. You can also use olive oil if you know you’re making a savoury dish, or sunflower, or even organic canola oil. Most importantly don’t use an oil that solidifies at room temperature. You want a pourable cream, not margarine.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

"Brelcome",a view from abroad Vós adoramos Portugal.Muito obrigado.

How unusually abandoned and odd are we all now feeling in Europe? For this we can blame the legacy of the British Empire – but sadly we can’t blame anyone else for creating "The Empire". 14 years ago when leaving the grey shock of England and the English I am glad my chosen point of departure was Plymouth sparing me the possibly induced nostalgia that the white cliffs of Dover might drum up.Since then I haven´t had the extent of my exile from a land and people so clear for a long time.They are foreign to me, and their land seems foreign. ‘The past is a foreign country.They do things differently there.’ That immortal first line to L. P. Hartley’s The Go-Between wistfully condenses the problems inherent to memory and history.The country that is now my home, Portugal,a once former empire itself, offers me hope and happiness. More recently some angry Brexiteer ranted on social media as he was held up in long queues at some European airport."This is not the Brexit I voted for" Well I wonder what Brexit he had in fact voted for? Abandoned we may feel, but keen not to lose valuable tourism from their oldest ally, today some good news,The Portuguese government has launched the initiative "Brelcome".....

"Some times life plays little tricks and brings some changes. But there are a few things that will remain the same. You are part of our history and together, as allies, we changed the course of the world. No border will separate us.
Your sense of humour and zest for life will forever be part of the sand of our beaches, of our golf courses, of our wine cellars and of our music festivals. Brexit may be the word of the day, but from us, you will always hear Brelcome.
Portugal will never leave you. Have a look at our suggestions and discover what you cannot miss.

Our sand will never leave you
An extensive coastline with soft golden sand on every beach, a long summer and plenty of sunshine all year round make Portugal an obvious choice as a holiday destination.
Our sunsets will never leave you
Come to Portugal to enjoy the good life in every way. Just let yourself go and savour all the things we have to offer – the different landscapes, the aromas and flavours of Portuguese gastronomy, the sounds of nature, to name but a few.
Our flavours will never leave you
The food in Portugal is a closely guarded secret. Portuguese cuisine has everything to please even the most discerning palate because it is based on genuine quality products, cooked according to traditional recipes or to the most innovative and unusual trends". Know more about the Portuguese Gastronomy
If you are travelling to Portugal soon, casa rosada suggests you check the Portugal Health Passport in case you need healthcare services during your stay. In a Brexit situation, you probably want to know what will be different. Have a look at Brexit: Information for British travellers to Portugal.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Chinese make-away

 As you are aware from my recent post,one of my guilty pleasures stemming from my childhood is a love of Chinese food.For years I thought crispy duck with pancakes was the world’s greatest dish.So having got sesame prawn toasts out of my system I move on to something more challenging.
 Peking duck is a famous, centuries-old dish hailing from Beijing. Whole ducks are roasted in wood-fired ovens, rendering out fat and leaving behind perfectly crisp skin. Thin shavings of the crispy skin and meat are skillfully carved from the duck and served with Mandarin pancakes, along with a variety of condiments, including hoisin sauce, scallions, and julienned cucumber. Each person can wrap their own portion and enjoy it the way they like at their own speed.
Away from the hustle, bustle and hurly burly of a Chinese restaurant the most thrilling thing about crispy duck was the impossibility of ever making it myself. Everyone knew that it required a process of salting, boiling, rubbing, drying, roasting, and glazing so fiendishly complex that Confucius himself would have balked and ordered a takeaway.
 So it is with some trepidation that I post this  recipe for a makeover on a take away,may I call it a "makeaway". Not because it is too difficult for the novice cook, but precisely because it isn’t. Of course this isn’t the authentic method. It wouldn´t be with me would it? What you produce with this recipe will be subtly different from what a restaurant might serve (the pancakes will take on a lightly toasted colour for example). But it doesn’t take days, the duck will come out just as you like it and it will cost you about a quarter of the amount you would pay in a restaurant. 
 I am already planning on including julienned cantaloupe next time. Cantaloupe in particular may sound strange, but I think it would make a refreshing and delicious partner to the duck!If anyone has tried it,let me know.
Crispy duck and pancakes
The salting of the duck can be done the night before or a few hours before cooking. The duck can also be cooked ahead of time and re-heated to serve with the pancakes.

Prep time: 20 minutes plus overnight salting
Cooking time: 1 ½ to 2 hours

Serves 4
4 duck legs
1 tsp five-spice powder
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp salt
A drizzle of honey
200ml chicken stock

For the pancakes
150g plain flour
100ml boiling water
1 tbsp sesame oil
A pinch of salt

To serve
Cucumber sticks
Spring onions, sliced
Hoisin sauce

1 To salt the duck, prick the skin of the legs all over with the tip of a sharp knife or fork. Mix together the salt, 5-spice and crushed peppercorns. Rub the dry mix all over the duck legs and allow them to sit in the fridge overnight or for a few hours before cooking.
2 Preheat the oven 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Pat the duck legs dry with some kitchen roll. Place them skin-side down in a frying pan in which they will all fit comfortably. Place the pan over a high heat. After about 5 minutes the skin will start to crisp and brown. Make sure that the legs are well browned before turning them over to cook the other side.
3 Transfer the legs to an ovenproof dish. (Any reserved duck fat can be used for potatoes at a later date). Drizzle the skin with a little honey and add the chicken stock to the dish. Put in the hot oven for about 20 minutes before dropping the temperature down to 140C/275F/gas mark 1 for another hour or until the meat falls away from the bone of the duck leg.
4 While the duck is cooking, start to make the pancake dough. Tip the flour into a large bowl and add the hot water and sesame oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and bring the mix together with a palate knife or spatula. Knead the mix with your hands for about 10 minutes until you have a smooth dough. Leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.
5 When the duck is ready, allow the duck leg to cool slightly before shredding the meat from the bone with two forks.
6 It is now time to roll out and cook your pancakes. Separate the dough into several pieces the size of golfballs. Roll out each ball as thinly as possibly on a lightly floured surface. The pancakes don’t have to be perfectly round or uniform in any way – they should just be as thin as possible and be able to fit in the pan you are going to cook them in.
7 Heat a nonstick frying pan over a medium heat until hot and lower your pancake into the pan. You could stretch them with your fingers before placing in the pan.
8 Cook for about a minute on either side until slightly browned in places and transfer to a serving dish. Repeat with the rest of the dough mix.
9 Serve the shredded duck with the pancakes, cucumber sticks, spring onions and hoisin sauce.
Home made Hoisin sauce
To complete the make away process here is a recipe for a homemade hoisin sauce. Once you´ve tried it and you will never want to use a commercial brand ever again. This is a flexible recipe that you can customize based on the ingredients you have to hand.
Why would you ever want to make hoisin sauce at home when you can easily get it online store or any Asian market I hear you say? Well the answer is that it tastes a hundred times better.End of.  It never occurred to me that someone might want to make hoisin sauce at home, until I experienced first hand that it can be be pretty expensive to purchase, depending on where you are. Plus, it doesn’t make sense to buy a big bottle of it when you just need a tablespoon for a special recipe.

1/4 cup light soy sauce
2 tablespoons natural home made peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 clove garlic , grated
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon miso paste (OR 1/2 teaspoon spicy fermented bean paste, OR 1/2 teaspoon gochujang + 1/4 teaspoon five spice powder, OR 1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce + 1/4 teaspoon five spice powder


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to a month.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Cupboard love: the way to the heart is through the stomach: Red velvet cup cakes

drop-dead, look-at-me-I’m-Instagram-ready gorgeous

They say the way to the heart is through the stomach.If this can be achieved by rustling up a few store cupboard essentials, Valentines day will be a triumph for you.
To be honest, I was never a huge fan of red velvet up until a few years ago. Is it chocolate? Is it vanilla? The flavour always leaves me confused.
But I began to fall in love with it when I bit into a lavish 3 layer slice of red velvet cake at the Mónica Guerra artesan cake stall in the Castro Marim medieval festival.(Mónica is our favourite must have, go to Algarvian cake maker). It was so unworldly moist, very buttery, full of vanilla flavour with a hint of chocolate goodness. And the tang from the cream cheese frosting was the perfect compliment to the indulgently sweet red velvet crumb underneath.Simply put? That red velvet cake was the bees knees.
So I have  worked like a mad scientist on a red velvet cupcake recipe. And I think that I finally  NAILED IT! These cupcakes are Fab-u-lous,darling. And I’m not just saying that,the thespian thinks so too, and the glorious magenta cream cheese frosting I invented for all you Valentine lovelies is just the icing on the cake.You can be sure your valentine will have devoured two before you have even started on your passione d´amore.
Red velvet cup cakes
with pink cream cheese frosting


2 large eggs, room temperature and separated
1 and 1/3 cups (160g) all-purpose flour* (spoon & leveled)
1/4 cup (32g) cornstarch*
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons (6g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
liquid or gel red food coloring*
1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, room temperature*

FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
250g mascarpone
2 cups icing sugar
spoonful of milk if needed to thin
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. This recipe makes 18 cupcakes, so you will have 6 cupcakes to bake in a 2nd batch.
With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat 2 egg whites on high speed in a medium bowl until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
Sift the flour and cornstarch together to make sure it is evenly combined. Whisk this, along with baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the oil and beat on high for 2 minutes. The butter may look bitty and not completely combined with the oil. This is normal and ok.
Add 2 egg yolks and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the vinegar and the food coloring– until you reach your desired color. I use 2 Tablespoons. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. Fold whipped egg whites into cupcake batter with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The batter will be silky and slightly thick. (If there are still pieces of butter – and there were in 1 test batch for me – again, this is ok. They will melt inside as the cupcakes bake. Making them even more buttery.)
Spoon batter into cupcake liners filling 1/2 – 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don’t overbake; your cupcakes will dry out. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.


Prepare cream cheese frosting. 
Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
To make your frosting, beat your cream cheese, powdered sugar and milk,if needed, with an electric mixer.  Add more milk if it’s too thick or more powdered sugar if it’s too thin.  Once it reaches the desired consistency, beat in a few drops of your pink food coloring.
Refrigerate cooled cupcakes.
Keep in the refrigerator 

*Food coloring
Red velvet cake requires a lot of red food coloring, and if that doesn’t sit well with you there are natural alternatives.

  • Pure beet juice
  • Pure pomegranate juice
  • Dried hibiscus flowers steeped in hot water, strained
  • Cranberries boiled with enough water to cover, strained
These substitutes can affect the flavour, though some will be more subtle than others. You may also need to play around with amounts to get the red color you want.I used beetroot juice
 

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Chlorination Chicken a culinary solecism

 What a mess;I am sorry but it´s not for me.
 
Having nodded off on my Terry Pratchett,I awoke on February 1st worrying about chlorinated chicken. If it’s something Liam Fox likes, then I most certainly do not want it.There was a a distinct feeling of armageddon in the air.Attempts seemed afoot to sabotage the coming of the end times,or had I been taking my Terry Pratchett fantasy to heart.Britains have grown too accustomed to their comfortable surroundings.On the other side of the sea,how unusually abandoned and odd are we now feeling in Europe? For this we can blame the legacy of the British Empire – but ironically we can’t blame anyone else for creating that Empire.The problem is, Great Britain does not know how to be un-great.The 31st of January was a profound national shame,as too this dish.If its sovereignty and empire you are after,I give you "Chlorination Chicken". Any discerning palate flinches when a platter of sandwiches is passed around the boardroom table as part of a working lunch, and some clammy triangular white bread is holding together a jaundiced looking filling that is "Coronation Chicken". Much like the 2016 referendum this is a modern day solecism.So how has this recipe become to be so disgusting, possibly by chefs having allowed stages and ingredients to be bypassed and sacrificed in the name of cost cutting and time saving. If anyone who has had to suffer Coronation Chicken as it is served today could have the chance to sample it in its original form - here it is.Rather you than me. In their imminent green and pleasant isolation, all the United kingdom might be left with is bloody Chlorination chicken.
The provenance of this recipe is a story in itself.while it was created in India by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester´s cook, who eventually became housekeeper to the actor John Hurt´s parents. The recipe was passed on to me by John Hurt´s sister-in -law. It was originally created as a celebratory dish for the coronation of George VI.
I wonder if it is served as a working lunch to the cabinet in Number 10?
Coronation Chicken
1.5 kg chicken roast with tarragon

FOR THE SAUCE
1/2 tbsp olive oil
12.5g butter
50g finely chopped onion
1/2 desert spoon curry powder
1/2 desert spoon curry paste
1 generous tsp tomato puree
1 glass red wine
1 glass water
1 bay leaf
25g ground almonds
salt and pepper
pinch of sugar
1 slice lemon and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons apricot puree or jam
200ml mayonnaise
75ml lightly whipped cream 

Cook the sauce while the chicken is roasting.
Heat the oil and butter in a pan and gently fry the onion, stirring from time to time until the onion is transparent. Stir in the curry powder and curry paste and cook for a further two minutes. add the tomato puree, red wine, water and bay leaf. Bring to the boil. Stir in the almonds and season with salt and pepper and sugar. Add the lemon slice and lemon juice and simmer in the open pan for 5-10 minutes to reduce. Remove from the heat and mix in the apricot puree or jam, mayonnaise and the lightly whipped cream.Liquidise the sauce in a food processor, joint the chicken and coat with the sauce. Sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds and serve.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Octopus on toast? mastering a sea monster

Who doesn’t love a good bruschetta? This popular Italian antipasto is so much more than a simple piece of toast, though, at the same time, that is exactly what it is:posh toast. Yet, a good bruschetta, at its most basic level – crispy on the outside and slightly chewy in the middle, rubbed with garlic, and drizzled with good olive oil – can make almost anyone happy? A simple bruschetta is great, but it can go so many ways; the variation of possible toppings is endless!
Octopus on toast? not in my lifetime I hear you say!!
I know it sounds weird, but this marinated griddled octopus, sitting on top of a spiced up Portuguese sweet potato mash, is seriously delicious.
Cake with cheese? Not in my life time!

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2015/12/24/peter-kay-celebrates-20-years-on-tv-13-of-the-comedians-best-jokes-5583901/?ito=cbshare
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/
Cake with cheese? Not in my life time!

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2015/12/24/peter-kay-celebrates-20-years-on-tv-13-of-the-comedians-best-jokes-5583901/?ito=cbshare
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/
Cake with cheese? Not in my life time!

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2015/12/24/peter-kay-celebrates-20-years-on-tv-13-of-the-comedians-best-jokes-5583901/?ito=cbshare
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/
Cake with cheese? Not in my life time!

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2015/12/24/peter-kay-celebrates-20-years-on-tv-13-of-the-comedians-best-jokes-5583901/?ito=cbshare
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/
Well… have you ever thought of putting octopus tentacles on bruschetta, with a smear of a garlicky lemony sweet potato, olive and chilli spread and a sprinkling of fresh coriander? Because I have… and believe me it works! try it for yourself.This is my wintery way of mastering octopus.In the summer I will probably opt for a lighter spread of white bean butter, lime and horseradish.I used Portuguese sweet potato for this but the original recipe cited regular mashed potato.For those sweet potato fans among you this is the Portuguese purple skinned sweet potato not the orange fleshed Spanish variant.For non sweet potato admirers substitute a white fleshed potato variety that you would normally use for mash.
Octopus on toast
Serves 8 as a starter
I small octopus,cooked
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup (250ml) olive oil
2 thick slices white bread,crusts removed
4 cloves garlic
500g (1lb potatoes of your choice,boiled and mashed
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1Tbsp pitted and finely chopped black olives
2 tsp seeded and finely chopped red chilli
1tsp finely chopped lemon zest
Cook the octopus

TO COOK THE OCTOPUS
1 small onion
1 small carrot
3 bay leaves
6 black pepercorns 
Bring the water to the boil.Peel the onion and slice it thinly.Scrub the carrot and slice it into thin coins.Add the onion ,carrot,bay leaves and peppercorns to the water.

Dunk the monster into the boiling water.As soon as it returns to the boil,lift it out ( yes i know,unfortunately no tips here for handling a slippery cephalod with tongs and other assorted batterie de cuisine) leave it for a few seconds then return it to the pan. Repeat,then leave to simmer for about 40 minutes.Test it for tenderness by slicing off a tiny piece.If it is still tough,leave to simmer for for anything up to 30 minutes more,making the sign of the cross over your chest hoping for success.If it isn´t tender then, it probably won´t ever be.

Place the octopus in a ceramic or glass bowl.Combine the vinegar,oregano and1/4 cup of oil and pour over the octopus.Cover and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F.Cut each slice of bread into quarters.Place on a baking tray and toast in the oven until golden.Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.To make the sauce,place the garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt in a pestle and mortar and pound until soft and creamy.Place in a bowl and add the mashed potato and lemon juice.Whisk the mixture continuously while slowly adding the remaining olive oil. When the sauce is light and fluffy,fold in the parsley,olives,chilli and lemon zest.heat heavy based  frying pan over high heat and sear the octopus forb 2-3 minutes on both sides until coloured.Remove and cut into quarters.Place a heaped tablespoon of the sauce on each of the bread squares and top with the octopus.
 

Saturday, 1 February 2020

How gay is your kitchen?

Michelangelo´s David with a whisk,now there´s a thought?

Gay identity has long been openly linked to the decorative and performing arts — fashion, interior design, dance, opera, and theatre.The culinary arts have remained in the closet however. Gay men’s history of culinary sophistication dates back to a time when socializing was safer behind closed doors — at home, the only place where we could be ourselves and let our hair down, or wear that wig.This was all to change when in 1977 Joel Dean and Giorgio DeLuca, two passionate gay food connoisseurs, opened Dean and Deluca,a culinary mecca,in the heart of New york´s SOHO.This high-end food emporium was the first to link the world of fine foods with art and design.









 It launched a revolutionary trend in modern kitchen design and lifestyle that soon became known as the “loft look.”Some have credited the Dean and DeLuca aesthetic — white walls, white tile floors, and butcher block counters accesorized by stainless steel and chrome elements — with inspiring a contemporary revolution in home kitchen aesthetics. Joel saw to it that there was a common ground between the food and the design, This untouchable look, alongside the marked up prices, led some to refer to the store as a “food museum.”This kind of Grocers shop had never been seen before.
The Biba brand in London had launched its own label food range four years earlier in September 1973.This very much followed the fashion of the time and backed up the brands main creation, a retro fashion line that was innovative but was in no way the front runner for a new lifestyle movement.Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge however were the first to take a leaf or two from the Dean and Deluca catalogue when they launched their 5th Floor shopping experience in 1994.A new restaurant, café, bar and food market, designed by architects Wickham and Associates,opened on the fifth floor, with a direct access express lift which allowed for later opening hours after the main store closed.The design led food packaging was synonymous with and very much emulated what had been seen in New York 17 years earlier.


 

So where did all this come from? Remember when the word ‘gay’ meant happy? "Gay" is a great word. Here's why: it rhymes with everything. Also, it's brief. The term was originally used to refer to feelings of being "carefree", "happy", or "bright and showy" What happened next was that gayness and happiness split up, but they've been getting back together ever since and are going strong.Nowadays it is comfortably used to describe those with homosexual leanings, especially men.
  Look at how gayness has influenced our kitchens and what is in them, from cookery books to kitchen aids and I quote "Gayware."Its no wonder marketeers capitalized on the word to sell their products.I´d die for a Glamour food bin, wouldn´t you? I don’t need Ovaltine to wake up gay in the morning, but it does help, I’m not going to lie.This explains so much about my childhood. If my dear mother hadn’t been so stingy with the Ovaltine, I might have ended up bisexual instead of gay.
Ah but has anyone ever owned  a Gay-la singing kettle? I´d love one.
I remember my dear mother trying in vain to telephone me for days on end,When she finally got through and I answered her voice echoed down the receiver saying "where have you been? I have been trying to get hold of you.Were you out being gay?"  If only she had lived to know the truth.

A gay cookbook? Pre-Stonewall? I never thought any such thing could exist.The gay cookbook is a complete compendium of camp cuisine and menus for men... or what have you.
This gem of a cookbook combines the kitsch of 60′s cooking in all its urbanity and every gay stereotype known to mankind.
I haven’t been able to find much about it but it seems to have been done as high camp,really? Case in point the recipe for  “swish steak.”  The cover alone is worth the price of admission.Speaking of which its considered rude to talk with your mouth full but what about Cakes Men like






Thursday, 30 January 2020

Cauliflower risotto with pangrattato

 I was watching yet another food programme on the TV the other night.The contestants challenge was to take one particular vegetable and showcase it in a single dish.The judge selected as the chosen ingredient cauliflower,one of my favourite vegetables.Well I am sorry, but one lady opted for roasted cauliflower steak probably the blandest vegan non starter of the gastro pub history of the last decade.(Yes I know before you pick me up on the fact that I cooked it myself,not a vegan version I must add,and blog posted it on here,I had to test and try before I decried). The majority chose a curry in which to highlight the cauliflower´s potential.Another produced spicy cauliflower fritters.The potential in the originality of this dish appealed to my palate but sadly she failed on flavour,being brutally "stabbed through the heart" by one particular judge citing the dish as “a little clumsy.” I thought a programme about hearty, imaginative home cooking should be warm and nurturing not a cold kitchen of cruelty.
One contestant however wowed the judges with a classic cauliflower cheese.Good on you girl.If I had been put on the line here in a blind challenge of this type, I would have opted for this root to floret cauliflower risotto which uses every part of the crucifer right down to roasting some florets for the crumb topping.
Cauliflower´s Portuguese name, couve-flor,or cabbage flower, is prettier,and horticulturally more correct, than the rather pedestrian Anglo-saxon `flower on a stalk´translation.We are lucky enough here in Portugal to have these crucifers in season all year round.They are best however just after winter,when they have had a longer growing season and are packed full of vitamins, so ideal for soups curries and in this case a risotto with a difference.There is some disagreement over the origin of the cauliflower.My preferred source is that it was developed in the 12th century by Arab gardeners, giving a distinct link of how it came to the Algarve. More probably however it is attributed to the Romans a thousand years earlier.The wild cabbage grew throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and it was not long before its florets landed in the kitchens of Northern Europe.Whatever its humble patrimony this wonderfully versatile brassica deserves a rightful place on our tables today.Its reputation of being bland and soggy is the fault of the cook not the vegetable.If cooked correctly,  with a little imagination thrown in, it is a foil for many distinguished flavours. I used every bit of the cauliflower to make this dish,including the stock by boiling down the  protective leaves that most cooks would normally discard.The `pan´ in the pangrattato is not as one would have expected,bread, but crumbs made from the cauliflower, crisply roasted and mixed with garlic,parmesan, parsley and lemon zest.
Cauliflower risotto with its own pangrattato
serves 4 
500g cauliflower,broken into medium sized florets,leaves saved
500ml stock made from boiling down the leaves
1 bay leaf
75ml greek yoghurt
4 tbsp olive oil
20g salted butter
2 banana shallots,finely chopped
350g Arborio rice
100g parmesan
1 clove garlic finely grated
handful flat leaf parsley leaves chopped
zest of 1 lemon grated 
First remove and coarsely chop the outside leaves of the cauliflower and put them in a pan with750ml of boiling water.Boil for 20 minutes and allow to cool before discarding the leaves and straining and measuring of 500ml of stock.While the stock is cooling break off 200g of florets into very tiny crumbs,cutting them off the stalks( add these stalks to the rest of the florets to cook and purée.The pieces you break off should look like roughly chopped breadcrumbs.crumble a few with your fingers too to get a contrast in size. You need to end up with about 100g.Set aside.Heat the stock in a large pan.In another pan bring 800ml of water to the boil and add Flor de sal and the bay leaf.Simmer 200g of the florets(and the cut stalks from above)) for 6-8 minutes until just soft enough to purée.Strain through a sieve set over a bowl to catch the liquid and add it to the stock.Discard the bay leaf and put the cauliflower in a liquidiser with a few tablespoons of the liquid/stock mixture,season and whizz to a purée with the yoghurt and set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil with the butter in a heavy pan over a medium heat and sweat the shallot for about 5 minutes or until just soft.stir in the rice to coat the grains and start adding the stock a ladle at a time letting it get absorbed before adding more.keep the heat very low,enough for the rice not to stick and so the stock does not evaporate by boiling too hard.It should take about 15 minutes.When the risotto is cooked to how you like it( a slight bite inside each grain is best so it is not too soft)fold in the purée and add a little more stock if not loose enough.
Add 50g of parmesan and fold in,season to taste with salt crystals and freshly ground white pepper,heat briefly then turn off the heat.Put a lid on and leave until the pangrattato is ready.To make the pangrattato,heat the rest of the oil and fry the cauliflower crumbs until golden,add the garlic,stir for 30 seconds and tip into a bowl,adding the other 50g of parmesan,parsley and grated lemon zest.Serve the risotto with the pangrattato on top and a little olive oil spooned over. 

Friday, 24 January 2020

Mrs Maynes Scotch Broth, “the Pot au Feu of Scotland!”

As it's Burns Night this weekend (Saturday 25 January), I’ve put together one of my favourite recipes for a simple celebration meal.Forget the haggis and whisky sauce, this traditional Scotch broth is straightforward and delicious.
The quintessential Scottish dish for several centuries! Rich, robust and flavoursome, Scotch Broth represents everything that is good about rustic home cooking.
Traditional Scottish housewives, ever thrifty and knowing how to make much of little, knew how to gather up whatever fresh vegetables were available, add them together with lamb, mutton or beef, some barley, split peas and lentils (all staple Scottish ingredients), and simmer the mixture low and slow for hours to achieve a meal that by dinnertime would nourish both body and soul.There are as many variations of Scotch Broth as there are cooks in Scotland and this is my interpretation from memory.Growing up in Scotland in the 1950s and early 60s, there were two types of soup served at every Scottish table: Lentil Soup and Scotch Broth, both are hearty, filling and inexpensive ways to feed your family.
The first time I had this dish was in a small homely restaurant in Dunbar,made for us by  a lady called Mrs Maynes. My father took me there for an impromptu lunch after accompanying him in true bracing seaside weather round the links*.I never enjoyed golf as a game but what I did enjoy was the walking and taking in of the landscaping of a particular course of which there are many fine examples in the UK.
It was the perfect meal for a cold afternoon and left me feeling happily nourished,warmed through and ready to continue my day. Scotch Broth is a hearty soup made with meat stock (traditionally mutton) and vegetables and thickened with barley.To cook it authentically the meat must cook in the soup,adding its flavour to the vegetables.It can then be eaten as a separate course after the soup,or separated from the bones and added in small pieces to the soup,as preferred,much in the style of how Italian meals are constructed.
It must be accompanied by a bap.Baps are soft, wodgy, flattish bread rolls made with white flour,lard,yeast,milk and water and then dusted with flour.Particularly associated with Scotland,they are traditionally eaten at breakfast.The closest I have come to them outside of Caledonia is the Spanish bread roll,pan cristal.

Scotch Broth Serves 6
1 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder or shanks (or beef with bones)
2 tablespoons quality lard or butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/3 cup dried green split peas
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups home made lamb bone broth 
1 large carrot, diced
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 swede, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
1/2 cup shredded green cabbage
1 medium leek, chopped, rinsed and drained
Fresh chopped parsley for garnish


Cook the onions and garlic in the lard or butter until softened, 4-6 minutes. Add the lamb, herbs, barley, split peas, salt and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Skim off any foam.
Add the carrot, turnip, swede and parsnip. Simmer for another hour.
Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Remove the meat, shred it and discard the bones. Return the shredded meat to the pot along with the leek and cabbage. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Add salt to taste. We like this soup on the thick side, almost a stew. If you prefer the soup a bit thinner, add some more broth.
Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley.
 

  *"Links" and "links course" are terms that refer to a specific style of golf course whose hallmarks include being built on sandy soil along a coastline. Links courses are buffeted by strong winds that require deep bunkers to prevent the sand from blowing away. They are also completely or largely treeless. There are other criteria that specifically define a links course.
All the first golf courses in the sport's history were links courses in Scotland. Great Britain and Ireland are still home to nearly all the true links courses, although links-like courses can be found in other areas, too.