Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Oh for Ottolenghi!!

Fish kofta in ancho chilli and tomato sauce
Oh Yotam, where would be without you? Mealtimes changed when you came on the scene.I am sure more than a few people,myself included, have a culinary crush on you.
 Hardly a week goes by when this household does not cook up at least one, if not more, Ottolenghi inspired dishes.You are the man who by default was responsible for "sexing up vegetables."Caveat:you are-gasp!-not vegan.It is no secret that you–are a meat eater, however you credit the publishers restrictions of your original column "the new vegetarian" with aiding your meteoric rise to success. There really was no fabulous vegetarian food before you came along.Perhaps someone can now take a leaf out of your book and make dull new wave populist vegan food fabulous for us too.
You abandoned the word ‘vegetarian’ and just gave us wonderful food,you just omitted the meat and fish. It’s not about not having something in a dish. It’s not about what you omit or include, it’s just about celebrating vegetables as they are,and this is what you did. Your thinking was, ‘this wonderful dish would go with some pork chops’.It didn´t bother you.You have got a way with vegetables that makes even omnivores want them, and that to me is an even bigger coup.Recently you guaranteed us that we wouldn´t miss the dairy and eggs commonly used in doughnuts.Instead,you gave us a doughnut recipe with olive oil, which made them rich velvety and vegan amenable.And now I have to get onto the subject of your fish koftas.You have three inspired ways with these and they are all genius in their own right.Two with fresh white fish and one with canned fish.
In the first you have them swimming in a warm tomato chilli gravy,which has a bit of a kick eh boy.The second is spiced, citrusy and aromatic using canned fish, and in the third you serve them simply seared,finished in the oven and served up with a beetroot.What more can I say but I love them all.
Fish kofta in ancho chilli and tomato sauce 
Serves 4

For the kofta
500g firm white fish (such as cod), boned and skinned
4 spring onions, finely chopped (60g net weight)
10g fresh fenel fronds, roughly chopped, plus extra picked leaves to serve
handful fresh coriander,chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1½ tsp lemon zest
1 egg, beaten
30g panko breadcrumbs
3 tbsp olive oil

For the tomato sauce
15g dried ancho chilli (about 1½ chillies), stem removed
2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and roughly crushed
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly crushed
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped (150g)
60ml olive oil
1 green chilli, halved lengthways
1 tbsp tomato paste
3-4 plum tomatoes (400g), roughly grated and skins discarded (300g net weight)
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 tsp caster sugar
25g coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
First, make the sauce. Put the ancho chilli in a small bowl, cover with plenty of boiling water, and leave to soften for 20 minutes. Drain, discard the liquid, roughly chop the chilli then put in a food processor with two-thirds of the fennel and cumin, all the garlic, onion and two tablespoons of oil, and blitz into a coarse paste.
Add the remaining two tablespoons of oil to a large saute pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ancho sauce, green chilli and tomato paste and cook for seven minutes, stirring often, until softened and fragrant. Add the grated tomatoes, stock, 200ml water, sugar, half the coriander, one and a quarter teaspoons of salt and a good grind of pepper, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Keep warm on a low heat until needed.
Meanwhile, make the kofta. Chop the fish by hand into roughly ½-1cm pieces. Put in a large bowl with the spring onion, dill, chilli, lemon zest, egg, panko,coriander, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and mix well to combine. Form into 12 round fish cakes, roughly 6-7cm in diameter and about 55g in size. Make sure you press and compact them well, so they stay together when frying.
Add one and a half-tablespoons of oil to a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add half the kofta and fry for five minutes, flipping halfway, until deeply golden on both sides. Transfer to a plate, then repeat with the remaining oil and kofta.
Bring the sauce back to a simmer on a medium-high heat. Add the kofta, turn the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside for about five minutes, top with the extra dill leaves and serve directly from the pan. 

THE VERDICT:these are very rich but would make a delicious tapas item or sharing plate

Fish koftas in tomato and cardamom sauce 
serves 4
This dish,is inspired by a dish created by Moroccan Jews in Morocco.On first inspection, this dish looks like herb-flecked meatballs in tomato sauce, but the sauce is spiced, tangy and aromatic, and the meatballs are, well, fish balls, made of a combination of mackerel and sardines. Tinned sardines are used here, for ease, but you can obviously substitute with fresh sardines, scaled and boned. You'll also want to pay attention to the total weight or volume of the mackerel: Some types are larger than others. All work here, but you may not need to buy as many fillets. Serve with some couscous or rice and a spoonful of yogurt, if you like.
    For the sauce
    ⅓ cup/75ml olive oil
    8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    3 green chilli peppers, such as serrano, finely sliced (and seeded if you don’t like heat)
    2 large celery stalks, trimmed and finely chopped
    1 banana shallot (or a large regular shallot), finely chopped
    500g ripe vine tomatoes, blitzed in a food processor for one minute (or use two cups canned tomato puree)
    3 Tbs tomato paste
    2 Tbs granulated or caster sugar
    1½ tsp ground cumin
    1 tsp lime zest, plus 1 Tbs lime juice (from one lime)
    8 cardamom pods, crushed in a mortar and pestle, skins discarded (or use a scant ½ tsp ground cardamom)
    3 cups plus 2 Tbs/200ml dry white wine
    2 Tbs/5g finely chopped cilantro or coriander leaves, for serving
    2 Tbs/5g finely chopped dill, for serving

    For the fish koftas
    4 mackerel fillets (from two 500g fish), skin and pin bones removed, flesh roughly chopped into 2cm pieces
    150g drained tinned sardines in olive oil, roughly chopped
    1 heaping Tbs/10g pistachios, roughly chopped
    ½ cup/10g loosely packed roughly chopped fresh dill
    1 loosely packed cup/15g roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves (coriander leaves)
    1 Tbs finely grated zest (from two limes); cut the zested limes into wedges or juice them, for serving
    1 green chilli pepper (such as serrano), finely chopped
    1 egg, beaten
    5 Tbs/70g potato flour, divided
    3 Tbs/50ml vegetable oil

    1. Start with the sauce: In a large saute pan with a lid, heat olive oil, garlic, half the sliced chilli pepper and a good pinch of salt over medium-low heat. Gently fry for six minutes, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft and golden. Remove 2 Tbs of the oil (with some of the chilli and garlic) and set aside.
    2. Add celery, shallot and 1½ tsp salt to the same pan and continue to cook for eight minutes, stirring often, until soft and translucent. Increase the heat to medium, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, cumin, lime zest and juice and the cardamom and continue to cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wine, 350ml water and ¼ tsp salt and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, turning the heat down if the sauce bubbles too much, and stirring once in a while.
    3. While the sauce is simmering, make the fish koftas: Add fish, pistachios, herbs, lime zest, chilli and egg to a bowl with 3 Tbs potato flour and ⅛ tsp salt and mix together well. Grease your hands with a little oil and roll the mix into approximately 12 golf-sized balls (about 45g to 50g each), applying pressure to compact them as you go. Add the remaining 2 Tbs flour to a plate and roll each ball in the flour so they are coated.
    4. Heat vegetable oil in a large, non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the fish balls and cook for about five minutes, turning throughout until all sides are golden-brown and crisp. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside if it finishes before you finish the koftas.
    5. After the sauce has been cooking for 20 minutes, transfer the balls into the sauce, drizzling over some of the frying oil (or return the sauce to medium heat). Cover the pan with the lid and cook for four minutes, until hot.
    6. Remove the lid and scatter the herbs and the remaining fresh chilli over the top, then drizzle with the reserved garlic and chilli oil. Serve hot, with lime juice added to taste, or with lime wedges alongside.

      Tuesday, 12 November 2019

      The life of pie

      Britain’s greatest gift to the world - the pub.A Sunday lunch in the pub and there’s not a problem in the world that roast potatoes and gravy do not improve, aside from, perhaps, gout, though by that stage you may as well crack on. Its second greatest gift, the pie.I live abroad and when I get those expat cravings, I need a pie.THE PIE - whatever the filling might be - has only just begun,in our house,making its first outings of the year. It doesn't feel quite like pie time yet, and my body is certainly not yet in the "C" word mode. Seasonally I might find my own personal nirvana in a heavenly sweet potato and chestnut wellington: soft, sweet, nutty and perfectly seasoned, with glorious pastry,but as a rabid carnivore only coming second best to a pork pot pie.
      When you have leftover pork roast, reheats, stir-frys, and sandwiches are fine but pot pie turns a second-hand rose into a culinary masterpiece.
      This pork pot pie can be made with purchased pie dough, puff pastry, or your own favourite home made pie crust.I went for the first option because of its ease to work with and it bakes up beautifuly tender and flaky.I hope you like it.
      Pork Pot pie
        For the Filling:
        4 tablespoons butter (divided)
        1/4 onion/1/4 cup (yellow, cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
        1 rib celery/1/4 cup (cut into 1/4-inch rounds)
        1 carrot/1/4 cup (peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds)
        Pinch dried oregano
        Pinch dried thyme
        1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
        2 cubes  good quality bouillon cubes (
        2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (unbleached)
        Optional: 1 tablespoon dry white wine (or dry vermouth)
        1/2 pound cooked pork (cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
        1/2 cup snap peas (can be frozen, cut in half)
        Salt and black pepper (to taste)

        Heat oven to 375 F.
        Heat a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to melt.
        Add onion, celery, carrot, and herbs; sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until vegetables are fragrant. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Scoop veggies into a bowl.
        Heat 1 1/2 cups water in microwave on high for 1 minute. Completely dissolve bouillon cubes in water.
        Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking steadily, for 4 minutes.
        Increase heat to medium and whisk in bouillon. Continue whisking until sauce begins to bubble and is quite thick (juices released from the other ingredients will thin it while cooking). Stir in optional wine and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cooked vegetables, snap peas, and pork.
        Assemble the Dish and Bake
        Roll out pie crust. You'll have to use your own judgment here depending on your baking vessel(s), but the pastry should be just over 1/8-inch thick.
        Line  the bowls /ramekins with pastry.Spoon your filling into your chosen vessel/s.Cover the tops with a lid of pastry, pierce with a knife to vent and bake for about 40 minutes until crust is browned.Remove from oven. Cool slightly and serve.
        As always, when working with pastry, make sure your fats and liquids are cold.

        Friday, 8 November 2019

        Roast spiced belly pork with apples ginger and soy

        The flavours in this dish are inspired by Filipino pork adobo*.The Filipino adobo is a cooking process or technique where meat, seafood or indigenous vegetables are braised in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar, along with aromatics such as garlic, onions, Szechuan peppercorns,spices,curry powder and bay leaves.
        As many and as diverse are the islands and dialects in the Philippines as are the many ways adobo is prepared.I opted to use pork belly in my adobo as I like its melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, but you could easily substitute pork shoulder which, although a leaner cut, has enough ribbons of fat to bring equally delicious results.
        I used pineapple juice, apple vinegar and whole apples to cut through the richness.
        Some might prefer this with more sauce, while others would prefer it simmered dry. Others like it slightly tangy, while some prefer it on the salty side. This version is how I like mine, with beautifully seared pork, a rich and thick sauce to spoon over the meat, and enough grease to warrant a visit to a cardiologist.

        Roast spiced belly pork with apples ginger and soy
        Prep 15 min
        Cook 2 hr 30 min
        Serves 4

        1 whole pork belly joint (800-900g), boneless
        Flaked sea salt
        1½ tbsp olive oil
        1 large onion, peeled and cut into 6 wedges
        12 garlic cloves, peeled
        40g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
        tsp mild curry powder

        tsp ground cumin
        3 bay leaves
        90ml soy sauce
        250ml chicken stock
        250ml unsweetened pineapple juice
        70ml apple cider vinegar
        2 tbsp caster sugar
        1 tsp szechuan peppercorns, crushed
        3 medium Pink Lady apples (400g), cored and cut into quarters
        2 spring onions, thinly sliced

        Heat the oven to 185C (165C fan)/365F/gas 4½. Use a small, sharp knife to score the skin of the pork in a cross-hatch pattern spaced roughly 1½cm apart, then rub a teaspoon of flaked salt into the skin, push it down into the slashes.
        Put the oil in a large ovenproof saute pan on a medium-high heat, then fry the onion, stirring, for three minutes, just to soften. Add the garlic, ginger, star anise and bay leaves, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly coloured – another three minutes. Add the soy, stock, apple juice, vinegar, sugar and black peppercorns, and bring to a simmer.
        Take off the heat and lay in the pork, skin side up, taking care not to get the skin wet (it should not at any stage be submerged in liquid). Transfer to the oven, roast for 90 minutes, then remove and arrange the apples around the pork, stirring gently to coat them in the sauce and again taking care not to get any liquid on the skin. Return to the oven for 30 minutes, or until the apples have softened but still retain their shape, and the pork is deeply golden.
        Gently lift the pork on to a board, leave to rest for 10-15 minutes, then cut into 1½cm-thick slices. To serve, transfer the contents of the saute pan to a serving dish with a lip, lay the pork slices on top and sprinkle with the spring onions.

        Adobo*Adobo or Adobar is the immersion of raw food in a stock composed variously of paprika, oregano, salt, garlic, and vinegar to preserve and enhance its flavor. The Portuguese variant is known as Carne de vinha d'alhos. The practice is native to Iberia, namely Spanish cuisine and Portuguese cuisine.

        Sunday, 3 November 2019

        We do....We did.An October 2019 Portuguese swansong

        All photos:  Ellen Swandiak@hobnob magazine
        Dear diary: Life changed on the 12th October - The thespian and I got married: two years in the planning from August 2017 and what we brought out of the box on 12th October 2019 surprised even ourselves.This is what we do and hospitality is what we have done for the last 25 years.What we achieved that day put paid to all the lows of our worst year on record but heralded the reassurance of a bright new start and optimistic future. Our swansong,our own wedding, was the best thing we could have ever done.We went out on a high.Street food was our mission and micro Glastonbury was what we produced.Talking of which Dear diary,I recall that it looked like we would have no sound system at the point the first guests were arriving.Things can go horribly wrong behind the machinery of wedding planning, but front of house no one need ever know,that is the beauty of it. Worthy farm it was not but worthy salt pans it certainly was.Months of putting together the perfect day was conducted with the precision of a military operation.Weekly online conferences ensured optimum success.

        Planning and executing your own wedding sounds like a match made in heaven,Oh no Dear diary believe me it is ten times more stressful than being paid to put together a clients big day.The fact that the venue and ourselves were located in Portugal and the operations team were in the UK added to the stress factor. Well  in the words of the Divine Miss M "Yah got to have friends to make that day last long" and boy did we have the support of those friends, big time.These stalwarts rallied and when we floundered they rallied again.There was the added responsibilty of at least one third of our guest list having booked flights from far and wide, even New York and there had to be WOW factor to greet them on their arrival.But how wonderful is it,knowing that these friends you have not seen for many years are always there for you,no matter how near or how far,and in the same way you are always there for them.
        The concept was in the capable hands 
        of some of our favourite chefs and caterers.
        Observing it on the day was like witnessing an episode of Masterchef where the contestants have to set up a field kitchen to cater for 60 or more.Fabio pulled out all the stops out to bring our guest tuna hot dogs, oysters and mini foie gras ice cream cones, and that was just for starters.Chef Marco gave us our all time favourite, octopus carpaccio, with grilled tuna,roasted vegetable and popcorn.Taking to the stage, Algarve Caterers Ricardo and Duarte brought us spring rolls followed by some pad thai show cooking and sticky pork bao buns.There was something for everyone, the pad thai could be chicken,prawn,or tofu.Allo allo!! We refreshed our guest palates with the alvarinho grape in the form of a 2018 "ALLO" from Soalheiro and for those who wanted something a little more serious there was vinho tinto Linhas Tortas (tortuous, crooked lines )reserva 2017.Speaking from my own point of view there were most certainly some tortuous crooked lines appearing by nightfall.
        Later on our host Jorge (salmarim) entertained us all with his customary culinary theatre cooking berbigao ( small clams)from the Ria Formosa on a bed of hot salt. What a day it was,never to be forgotten, with all the best highlights captured from his drone in an amazing movie from Fergus.Thank you everyone for making our special day such an amazing one, from my hazy memory.I think sometimes the married couple need to revisit their wedding and see it from the guests perspective.

        Friday, 1 November 2019

        "Os Tavirenses comem dentro da gaveta" Tavirans eat from a drawer

        Piri piri prawns flambéed with maciera and lemon,
         my interpretation ( top ) Restaurant version ( below )
        There is a rare expression sometimes aired in the Algarve that "os tavirenses comem dentro da gaveta" ( Tavirians eat inside the drawer ).According to a one time Taviran town councillor the statement comes from the time when commerial businesses did not close at lunch time. The shopkeeper or trader would put his plate in the drawer of the counter and discreetly eat until a customer entered his establishment. When the occasion arose, he would close the drawer and attend to business, restarting his meal as soon as the customer  had left.Although this expression sounds a little derogatory, it should be noted that it has nothing to do with reality. In fact, Tavira, besides being a beautiful town, has a very hospitable population, quite the opposite of what the statement suggests.We had the good fortune the other night, of Eating in a drawer,so to speak.Opened on 21st March 2018 Come na Gaveta ( Eat in a drawer ) is in,for me, the most iconic municipality of  the Algarve, Tavira, a wonderful sleepy little historic town.Ranked Number 3 on tripadvisor of 238 restaurants in this small town.For this restaurant to be 3rd best  of 238 is something they should be proud of.Casa Rosada is number 57 of 469 bed and breakfasts in the Algarve and something we are proud of.On this occasion, eating at Come na Gaveta with friends, I would have been more than proud if it was myself cooking what they served us..We ordered this dish of flambéed garlic prawns with Maciera (Portuguese brandy)Well that clinched it for me.I would return home with the intention of emulating this dish.I turned to my well thumbed copy of Tessa Kiros book Piri piri Star Fish  and soon found a Taviran recipe for prawns with piri piri whisky and lemon.I thought by replacing the whisky with Maciera I would not be far off,but it was not to be.Memory of that night in Come na Gaveta had failed me,there was a distinct flavour missing.I had a second stab at it and this time put vanilla in the sauce.I was there,well not far off the same deliciousness.
        Piri piri prawns flambéed with maciera and lemon
        This makes the perfect tapas item or starter before a main course of grilled fish.Serve with some bread for the sauce and a lemon wedge
        400 g (14 oz) x raw prawns (shrimp) 
        1 x tablespoon olive oil 
        50 g x (13⁄4 oz) butter 
        2 x small bay leaves 
        2 x garlic cloves, chopped 
        1 x tablespoon chopped coriander leaves 
        ground piri piri (or other chilli powder) 
        1⁄2 teaspoon sweet paprika
        a dash of 100% pure vanilla extract 

        3–4 tablespoons Maciera 
        juice of 1 small lemon extra lemons, to serve
        Remove the heads from the prawns but leave the shells on the bodies. make a shallow cut down the back of each one so they take in the flavour of the sauce and devein them. Rinse and pat dry. 
        Heat the oil and half the butter in a large non-stick saucepan until very hot and sizzling. 
        Throw in the prawns and bay leaves gradually, trying not to lose the heat, so the prawns get crusty and golden. toss the pan and season with coarse salt and pepper. When the prawns are nicely golden on both sides, add the garlic, parsley, as much piri piri as you like, the paprika a dash of vanilla extract and the last of the butter. 
        Toss until you can smell the garlic, then add the Maciera. When it’s been absorbed, add the lemon juice and toss it all together.Let it bubble up for a moment, check the seasoning, then use a slotted spoon to lift the prawns onto a plate. Add about 4 tablespoons of water to the pan and let it bubble up to thicken the sauce. Remove from the heat, return the prawns to the pan and toss through the sauce. serve with some bread for the sauce and a lemon wedge or two.

        Well the experience did not end there.We ordered a wide enough variety of Tapas to satisfy all four of us:the best dishes being
        "Pica pau do lombo" with great home made pickles not from a jar,"Tempura de Polvo" Chouriço polenta  and the best sweet potato chips ever ever.Well I have to say i just had to pinch this last one for my home table too......

                     Chouriço polenta,my interpretation ( top ) Restaurant version ( below )

        Chouriço polenta,my interpretation.... 
        Chorizo and manchego croquetas
        You can judge a good restaurant by the way it makes its croquetas – this recipe will make yours equally good. Make the base mix a day ahead, then you can just cook the croquetas to order. Serve with a glass of sherry or an ice-cold beer.
        75 g butter
        75 g plain flour
        500 ml whole milk
        75 g manchego, finely grated
        150 g chorizo, chopped cut into small cubes
        3 eggs, beaten
        200 g fine polenta
        2 litres sunflower oil, for deep-frying, plus extra for greasing
        Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour to make a thick paste.
        Gradually stir in the milk until you have a smooth sauce. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted, then stir in the chorizo and season really well. Scoop into a tray or dish, cool, then chill completely in the fridge. (This can take 2-3 hours, or you could do it the day before.)
        Put the egg on one plate and breadcrumbs on another. Scoop out large teaspoonfuls of the mix and roll each into a ball about 3cm across. Roll the balls in the egg then the polenta. Repeat so you have a double layer of egg and breadcrumbs.
        Fill a pan ⅓ full with oil and heat to 180C (or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds), then deep fry the balls in batches for 2-3 minutes until golden. Scoop out and drain on kitchen paper. 

        Wednesday, 30 October 2019

        Squids in,black is back

        looking for something spooky to rustle up for halloween? Ask Nigella

        One of the most well-known foodie trends of last year was black food. There are numerous ways to accomplish introducing your dishes to the dark side, but the most popular way is squid ink. It's surprisingly simple to add it into a dish's creation process, and the outcome is usually an elegant, aesthetically-pleasing dish.Here are some recipes I have collated for a ghoulish evening.

                                                                                    Photo by Christine Willmsen
        Pasta is one of the most popular squid ink-infused creations, and it's easy to see why. Whether you want to make it yourself by adding a bit of squid ink into your pasta recipe or purchase it already made, it's pretty easy to get your hands on some squid ink pasta. There are so many different varieties, including spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, and more! It's most commonly used in seafood pasta dishes - in fact, the noodles pictured above were part of a Squid Ink Pasta with Scallops recipe from The Solo Cook - but they can also be served with a simple sauce, since the noodles are a main part of the dish's flavour.
         Black battered fish and chips from https://www.therecipe.com/

        Classic fish and chips is an iconic part of British cuisine.The established reliability of it makes it a good candidate for experiments. Bringing this dish into the realms of halloween is as simple as adding a little bit of squid ink into the batter that the fish is dipped into before frying. The outcome is a uniquely jet black, richly flavoured twist on a classic.
        Pataniscas de peixe negros 
        com sriracha sauce
        makes 30
        250g Cod or Pollock fillets
        200g potatoes 
        60g finely chopped onion
        10g finely chopped parsley
        20g (5 x 4g sachets) squid ink
        4 eggs
        olive oil
        1 clove garlic
        Bread crumbs as required
        Flor de sal and pepper, nutmeg to taste
        Sunflower oil for frying

        Boil the unpeeled potatoes with a clove of garlic,salt and olive oil.Remove from the heat and when cool,mash.
        Steep the pollock in some hot milk with some peppercorns and a bay leaf.When it almost comes to the boil, remove from the heat and leave with a lid on for 5 minutes then flake it.Add the flaked fish to the mashed potato, chopped onion parsley and stir in the squid ink.Add the eggs one by one and stir them into the mix.Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.With the help of two dessert spoons make quenelles and fry them in a deep fryer at 180C.

              Finally for the more adventurous  

        Sunday, 27 October 2019

        Live a Lidl,Love a Lidl.A Lidl goes a long way with a Lidl less snobbery

        Beautifully photographed and styled;a recipe from the Lidl "mais" magazine
        You used to be able to tell a lot from a shopping bag, but it’s a little harder since plastic  recycling became de rigeur. Is yours a stout plastic number from Waitrose? Or an organic cotton thing, hand-knitted from a Gaelic-speaking vegan co-operative? The weekly shop it seems has become a pointless form of particularity; a concern with food that ignores real issues of sustainability and embraces bespoke snobbery.Class used to be about jobs, accents, fee-paying schools and the house you lived in. Now it appears to be about your lifestyle and whats in your shopping trolley.
        In one of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads dramas,I can´t remember which one, someone exposes themselves in a branch of Sainsbury's. "Tesco's you could understand," says an elderly woman tartly. It's a remark that neatly sums up both the British obsession with class and its almost tribal attachment to specific supermarket brands. Tesco, the implication goes, used to be for commoner people who were slightly more likely to drop their trousers in public than Sainsbury's shoppers. Waitrose, on the other hand, is for those more likely to have second homes in the Algarve than the first two.There can be no doubt that Rupert and Fliss or Flick as her Made in Chelsea friends know her, are lured there  by the smart house style and livery, Conran grey with aureolin accents; What about Asda then? Asda is for people who aspire to have a second home anywhere but probably never will; Ahh Iceland, I hear you say,who shops there? People who have never heard of Waitrose perhaps;Budgens is for Huw and Gwenda who affect to have never heard of Aldi and have opted for a more rural lifestyle in very flat Norfolk or sedentary Suffolk.
        As for who shops at Aldi or Lidl,that leaves us with a pretty broad demographic.You are just as likely to see as many Audis at Aldi as you are Land Rovers at Lidl.Four- by- Fours might look really dinky on the driveway and ab fab in front of the wine bar,but they will also pull in next to a beat up whatever or camper van outside Lidl.Oh yes, trailer trash even make a temporary home nowadays in a Lidl car park.The transient population is even offered designated camping areas at Lidl.
        Wayne and Leanne and Lee and Noreen would normally shop at Morrisons when they are at home in the UK, but when in Portugal escaping the weather and Brexit they can be seen shopping at Lidl a fair bit, as they would at Kwik Save,and Netto back home.They are not however the typical Lidl demographic either.Lidl is no longer about a quest to get your pennyworth, although bargains always abound.
        I have written before about the odd phenomenon that is LidlI.Is it just my local branch that’s always a hothouse of weirdness? The bizarre selection of random merchandise (sports bras one week, childrens wigwams /tents the next, and fishing tackle the next) all sitting alongside the food.I really dont feel comfortable doing my foodshop next to a packet of lady leggings or extra large mens pants .So at first glance, it’s possibly not the kind of place where you’d go to pick up the ingredients for a chic dinner.  But… surprisingly, you can find some rather good continental goodies there.Endamame beans, Wasabi peanuts John Dory fillets,Bresaola,Pecorino Romano,Amaretti cookies to name but a few of my favourites.
        Already a household name across Europe, from the United kingdom to Portugal to Sweden, Lidl, like Aldi, is not known for its charm—you go there because of the prices. Load up your cart and get out. Bags are an extra charge, you won't recognize a lot of the brands, and the only thing you can really be picky about, if you're going to shop there, is saving money.So what is the main reason for shopping at Lidl? The following is an abridged extract from a newsletter published by the Portugues jornal "Agricultura e mar" in 2016
        "Lidl focuses on fresh produce from local producers"
        Lidl is a food distribution chain of German origin, which dates back to the 1930s. It is active in more than 29 countries and currently has about 10,000 stores in 26 countries with more than 200,000 employees. For more than 20 years in Portugal, Lidl currently has 241 points of sale and 4 warehouses.Lidl Portugal "increasingly focuses on the quality and freshness of fresh produce with an exclusive distribution system, choice of fruit of the season using local producers.
        "The commitment to the freshness and quality of Lidl products and the principle of maximum quality at the lowest price are part of the company's DNA", adds the same source, saying that the company "supports its position in the market through a systematic work, where quality, a fundamental requirement, is worked from the source, from partnerships with suppliers and trading partners, through the distribution system, to the store. ""At all stages of the process are guaranteed maximum quality and freshness that meet the criteria and standards of demand of Lidl customers.Lidl guarantees that it has the daily delivery of fruit and vegetables in all its 241 stores, its distribution seeks to reduce the time from picking to the customer's home to the minimum, and that Lidl Portugal's suppliers "meet strict criteria of certification, as is the case of Global GAP which ensures safe and sustainable production. "The supermarket chain also ensures that it has a purchasing policy that favours the local purchase and whenever possible the local producers. Currently about 70% of the available supply of fruits and vegetables is bought locally. "The use of local producers allows shorter delivery times, causing several products to have a producer / store circuit less than 24 hours after harvesting in the field," the company says.On the other hand, Lidl highlights the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Products, "which guarantees quality and promotes local development. As an example, Lidl Portugal is the distribution chain that most packaged apples from Alcobaça bought and sold during the 2014/2015 marketing year for the fifth consecutive year, according to the Association of Producers of Apple of Alcobaça (APMA) . This year's campaign reached 2.5 million kg of Apple of Alcobaça, equivalent to 20,000,000 apples, almost double the sales of the previous campaign, says Lidl.there is a spirit of partnership and innovation with our commercial partners, where we highlight the specific product lines, such as the apple of Alcobaça and Pêra Rocha in mini format for the youngest. Or the export support of Pêra Rocha do Oeste to Germany, which in less than two years of partnership with Portugal Fresh saw the volume of exports double (2,500 tons in the first year and 5,000 tons in the second), reaching 7 , 5 thousand tons. This volume is equivalent to 54 million units of Pêra Rocha, and makes an average Pêra Rocha to each German home (40 million households in 2014), "adds Lidl.

        Muffins de salgados from the Lidl lifestyle magazine "mais"
        Makes 18 or 36 mini muffins
        2 large eggs
        100ml cold milk
        125g pot of yoghurt
        25ml olive oil
        1 teaspoon Flor de sal Salmarim
        1Tablespoon piri piri chilli flakes
        1 small onion finely chopped
        1 handful flat-leaf parsley chopped
        150g chouriço corrente ( cooking chouriço)
        150g smoked ham, paio de lombo or smoked bacon
        275g mixture of grated mozzarella and grated cheddar or flamengo
        275g grated courgette
        275g plain flour
        3 teaspoons baking powder.
        Pre-heat the oven to180ºC /390F / Gas mark 6. Lightly grease each mould of your muffin tray with vegetable oil.Chop the meats into small cubes and set aside in a bowl.In a large bowl, beat the eggs well with the olive oil, then stir in the milk and yoghurt and beat a little more to combine.Stir in the rest of the ingredients except the flour and baking powder. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and fold through gently, then spoon
        the mixture into the prepared muffin trays almost to the top.bake for about 25 minutes until puffed and golden.

        Saturday, 19 October 2019

        Espresso bolo.Afternoon tea with history

        More homely than sophisticated and dainty; If push came to shove, most of us would admit to preferring the sort of cakes our grannies might have made (if they had lived in Ambridge), those ones sold on paper plates made from a WI recipe and wrapped messily in clingfilm at the village fete, bring and buy sale or the all new event The Worlds biggest coffee morning; in short, the cakes you imagine the pious Mary Berry probably feasts on for breakfast.
        If I had to pick one cake to represent England, it would have to be a Coffee and Walnut Cake. The Fullers Tea Room*  version is mentioned in both Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited and Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate. That's a good enough pedigree for me! As it turns out the original Fuller's Walnut Cake had two layers with buttercream between them, as did my mothers coffee and walnut cake of my childhood, but having lost my mothers transcript, the recipe I found was for a single layer cake. I'll definitely have to try it again. However, if you want something smaller and simpler than a layer cake, this recipe will work out just fine. It's subtly walnutty,utterly butterly and not too sweet.Delicious with a cup of tea.This is a classic tea room cake as would have been served in the aforementioned Fullers who ran the tearoom for the London Coliseum,
         The London Coliseum Tea Room - From a Postcard in 1904
        staffed by ladies in black and white uniform.Another celebrated tea room, Betty´s in Harrogate, the Yorkshire institution, turned 100 this year.

        Growing up, this cake was a constant on our kitchen counter. My mum made it practically every week, and I would have a giant slice with a big glass of milk. It was one of the most well worn pages from her cookbook, and it wasn´t till recently that it suddenly came back to light in my head.
        Coffee and walnut cake
        This is a revised, more contemporary, version of one of the original sponge cakes I remember from my childhood. Now, though, since the advent of mascarpone, the icing is a great improvement. finely chopped walnuts give it amazing texture. A little cream cheese makes it especially smooth and delicious. My version however is topped with an easy espresso-infused buttercream icing. Fie on Nigel Slater or anyone else who advocates the use of instant coffee granules. I have flavoured both cake and frosting with strong homemade espresso
        •  Cake:
        • 3/4 cup walnuts (divided)
        • 1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) all-purpose flour 
        • 1 teaspoon baking powder
        • 1/4 teaspoon salt
        • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter (softened)
        • 1 cup sugar (granulated)
        • 2 large eggs
        • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
        • 1/3 cup milk
        • 3 tablespoons strong espresso or very strong black coffee
        • Frosting:
        • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
        • 2 tablespoons butter (softened)
        • 3 tablespoons cream cheese (softened)
        • 2 to 3 teaspoons strong espresso or very strong black coffee
        Heat the oven to 350 F/180 C/Gas 4. Grease and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.With a food processor or food chopper, finely chop 1/2 cup of the walnuts. Set aside.Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; blend thoroughly and set aside.In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat the 1/2 cup of softened butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Blend in the vanilla.In a measuring cup, combine the milk with the 3 tablespoons of espresso or coffee.With the mixer on low speed, blend in the flour mixture into the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk and espresso mixture. Blend well.Fold in the finely chopped walnuts.Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan.Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched with a finger. A toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and cool completely

        In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, blend the confectioners' sugar with the 2 tablespoons of butter and the cream cheese. Beat in the strong espresso or coffee, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the frosting is fluffy and spreadable. Add more confectioners' sugar if it becomes too thin.
        Coarsely chop the remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts.
        Spread frosting over the top and sides of the cooled cake.
        Sprinkle the coarsely chopped walnuts over the top of the cake.
        * Years ago, Fullers Tea Rooms were a familiar sight in many English towns and Fullers cakes, which came surrounded with paper straw and packed in shiny, white boxes, were a nice reminder that bought cakes could be good. Fullers Walnut Cake with its crunchy white icing was legendary. 

        Thursday, 3 October 2019


        Signature pan seared cajun pork with turmeric and Singapore slaw,recipe below
        The question “what’s your signature dish?” is one that all us cooks and chefs will face at some point in a culinary career. The older you get,and more people get to recognise your style, the more frequently you will hear this. It’s always a good idea to have a fluid menu that you can adapt and change, but a signature dish provides an essential anchor,and something people will remember you by.
        A signature dish can even play a part in helping you to build a brand as it has done here at Casa Rosada.
        What makes a signature dish? there seem to be differing views on what a signature dish really is. There’s general agreement that it’s the one dish that is really “you.” Some  feel that a signature dish is the one that you are the most confident in making and displays a balance of impact and ease. Others might say that a signature dish is one that sums up your passions and cooking style – or it’s the most technically difficult dish you do.Food for thought and room for interpretation when developing one.
        What makes a signature dish significant? For me its simplicity – The ideal signature dish should be innovative or one´s own interpretation of something classic that you have put your own stamp on,it can be both adventurous and creative – but simple. You know you can prepare it and you know what it’s trying to say.The personal touch is all important – Eggs Benedict is a classic brunch dish but if you add a twist of your own to it then it can become your signature dish. I mutated Eggs Benedict into Eggs Benedict Cumberbatch by adding smoked salmon, avocado and trading the muffin for grilled polenta.  
        Perhaps it can be about adding an unexpected flavour to something or an unusual glaze to a pastry.This is innovating the construction of the dish.It is all about showcasing something that others might not otherwise have thought about.I applied this to both a traditional and a savoury version of pannacotta.To the traditional recipe I infused the cream with lemon geranium and for a savoury version I added slow roasted tomatoes and angostura bitters. Another unexpected combination I put together was  Panna cotta de trufa boletus or Porcini mushrooms with bacon marmalade.
        That astonishing pair of culinary geniuses The Clarks of Restaurant Moro in London put a very simple twist on something I have always loved,that age old classic rum and raisin ice cream.By soaking the raisins in sherry and pouring some more sherry over the top before serving gave this retro dessert a more modern context.Helado de pasas de Málaga Malaga raisin ice cream with Pedro Ximenez.
        Many a signature dish has been built upon fantastic flavour combinations, which makes this a great place to start when your are in the development process. Make a list of the ingredients you love to use and go through a tasting process. Which combinations make sense classically and where could you add a different taste to produce something completely new? My signature pesto for instance is Ginger, mint, basil and coriander ,which when combined with dry roasted peanuts as opposed to pine nuts gives the pesto an excitingly fresh twist. and opens up an avenue of new serving options.
        Presentation – if this is the dish that says everything about you as a cook then it should be presented with pride. Great signature dishes usually arrive to an awed intake of breath from the diner.It´s always worth taking the time to factor in plate design and the best way to present the ingredients you’re using so they make the most impact.I recently drew breath when I served a Caesar salad in a giant crouton box.
        As a child, I was absolutely revulsed by bread and butter pudding.I even balk at modern interpretations using brioche and fresh grapes or adding citrus tones,but by making it with anchovies, ricotta and parmesan and by substituting olives and capers for the sultanas and raisins, it suddenly transformed into something more than acceptable to a more matured and sophisticated palate.
        Anchovy bread and butter pudding

        Signature pan seared cajun pork 
        with turmeric and Singapore slaw (above)

        Cajun seasoning is essential for creating many of the best-known dishes from Louisiana’s legendary food culture. Its blend of familiar, savoury flavours can be used to enhance a variety of dishes from elsewhere as well.
        Cajun seasoning blends typically contain onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt
        These are not exactly the most exotic ingredients. In other words, it is a relatively simple task to find them and then to blend them all yourself.Its not that difficult either to amp up the formula and arouse the senses a bit more. I omit oregano, paprika,and salt but introduce turmeric and thyme, in addition to the other spices.
        I have fine tuned the spices in this rub to make it one of my signature rubs, It works best with pork or any other white meat
        to start 1 heaped tsp.good quality cajun spice mix
        1 tsp. ground turmeric
        1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
        1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
        2 1/2 tsp. light brown sugar, divided
        2 large boneless pork loin chops (about 600g total)
        Working one at a time, place pork chop flat on a work surface. First, butterfly the pork chop so that it’s thinner, which will reduce cooking time and create more surface area for seasoning. Using a sharp knife and starting from an outside edge, slice three-quarters of the way through the centre of chop, as though you’re slicing a bagel in half, then open it up like a book. Place butterflied chop between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or inside a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag and pound to 1/4" thin. Repeat with remaining chop. Rub chops with turmeric mixture and let sit 10 minutes.Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over high until shimmering. Cook chops one at a time until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Slice into 1/2"-thick strips.  
        Singapore slaw
        2 cups chinese leaf,green cabbage or 1 small pack of pre-shredded coleslaw mix
        1 cup turnip or radish peeled and cut into thin strips
        1 sweet orange sectioned (optional)
        1 cup green,red and yellow pepper cut into thin strips
        1 shallot,thinly sliced into rings
        1/4 cup fresh coriander 
        1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

        1/4 cup peanut oil
        2 tbsp rice vinegar
        tsp golden caster sugar
        tbsp sesame oil
        tsp soya sauce
        1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
        Combine the cabbage,turnip/radish,orange sections if using,peppers,shallot and coriander in a large salad bowl.Cover and chill till ready to serve or up to 4 hours.
        For the dressing,combine peanut oil,vinegar,sugar,sesame oil,soy sauce, and dry mustard in a screw-top jar.cover and shake vigorously.(This dressing can be made up to 1 week ahead and kept chilled in the jar.
        To serve, toss the slaw with dressing and sprinkle with peanuts.