Sunday, 31 August 2014

Sorvete de canela com uma compota de cenoura e frutas cítricas

Soon,it´s back to school,back to work,all the carnivals and partying will be over.Summer has always ended for me unofficially on the last weekend in August.When I lived in London it was the Notting Hill Carnival that bade adieu to balmy evenings, and since I moved to Portugal It is Dias Medievais - the last big event of the Algarvian summer calendar.When the festival is over, strangely, even though the weather is still hot I feel ready to move into another mode.But before I do that sampling this refreshing dessert is a perfect way to say goodbye to summer and help me bookmark the memory of sunny days and happy nights. It has to be served in the evening, ideally after a tagine has tantalized the taste buds and the palate is in need of coolness. What could be a more perfect combination than the sweetness of vegetables and ice cream.In my dreams it transported me to the fragrance of beautiful nights in Marrakech.I have never actually been to Morocco so I hope they do have fragrant nights otherwise my allusion is somewhat prosaic.
Carrots are the stars here.Presented like this in a dessert,their best qualities are highlighted.Sweetness, colour and freshness.Lemon  further brings out their sweetness with its sharp acidity, which is always welcome after a dinner laced with warm spices.
Cinnamon too plays an important role in this recipe because it is the only spice. Cinnamon should be carefully measured because it is very strong and slighly spicy when too much of it is used.Its flavour should come through subtly in desserts to the same extent as in main dishes.You can have great fun accenting the dish with fresh sprigs of mint leaves and I haven´t tried it,but you could really rock the Berber boat with a bisteeya  fillled with this compote and cool ice cream.Roll the pastry quickly fry it in hot oil,dust it with icing sugar and cinnamon and whoa hey you have an irreverant stab at that old fashioned classic Baked Alaska.If the pudding won't come to Muhammad.....

ICE CREAM
4 egg yolks
120g/ sugar
500ml/2 cups milk
4 small cinnamon sticks
60ml orange juice

CARROT 
500g/1lb carrots
1 lemon
1 orange
3 tbsp confectioners sugar
2 tsp orange juice
mint leaves for garnish


Beat the egg yolks and sugar till light.Bring the milk and cinnamon sticks almost to a boil,then set aside with a lid on to infuse for 10 minutes.Remove the cinnamon.Beat the milk into the egg and make a custard over a low heat for about 10 minutes,stirring constantly.Add the orange juice and beat again.allow to cool before freezing.


Meanwhile grate the carrots very finely.Squeeze the juice from the orange and lemon and pour it over the carrots.Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar and blend well.In a pot make a syrup from a little water and the rest of the sugar.Boil for 3 minutes.Remove the syrup from the heat and stir it into the carrot mix.Add the extra orange juice and blend.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Whyte leach


As part of my Medieval themed food posts I promised Marmaduke Scarlet that I would make and feature this recipe that she posted on her "live better challenge"column in the Guardian.I did not have space to include it in my post on Blancmange,and felt it warranted a post all of its own, so here it is.As Rachel explained to us, this rather unappetisingly named pudding, "leach", was  a medieval milk pudding that would have originally used isinglass to set it and was a precursor to blancmange.
The pudding is a little like a blancmange.The recipe she cited used milk and was adapted from Robin Weir and Caroline Liddell's wonderful Recipes from the Dairy,
but there was also one  for Lent when the Tudors would not use milk. Almond milk was always used as a replacement. 
 A gilded leche or leach.
 Take a quart of new milke, and three ounces weight of Isinglasse, halfe a pound of beaten suger, and stirre them together, and let boile halfe a quarter of an hower till it be thicke, stirring them all the while: then straine it with three spoonfuls of Rosewater, then put it into a platter and let it coole, and cut it into squares. Lay it fair in dishes, and lay golde upon it.
From Thomas Dawson The Good Huswives Jewell (London: 1596)

Leach means "slice"and the top of the leach is coloured with red wine.When the leach is set it is turned out and cut into pieces which are decorated with edible gold leaf. I was devoid of gold leaf so used some fresh mint leaves.


This is a high table dish for a gentry family and is served attractively. It is time consuming to make, requiring setting time and a swift hand when turning out.Something for nimble fingers, not for the clumsy, gawky or cloddish amongst us.Having said that, it would make a great contribution to a medieval themed childrens party.

Whyte leach (milk version) cold water
5 sheets of leaf gelatine
500ml milk
75g sugar
1 tbsp orange blossom water
poached strawberries, to serve

Cut the gelatine leaves into pieces and soak in cold water according to the packet instructions.
Heat the milk to just about boiling. Stir in the sugar until it has dissolved. Add the orange blossom water. Set aside.
Squeeze out the gelatine leaves. Add to the milk mixture and stir until dissolved.
Sieve and pour into a lightly-greased baking dish or cake tin.
Leave in a cool place to set overnight.
Turn out the set leach onto a plate or chopping board. Traditionally it would have been cut into squares and perhaps gilded with edible gold.
Tips: Rachel served hers with strawberries that had been poached in red wine with a little sugar, a bay leaf, a quarter teaspoon of ground cardamom, black peppercorns and a splash of orange blossom water. You can also replace the orange blossom water with rosewater.

Almond leach
This is much more fiddly and requires the pudding to be made in two parts then brought together when they are set.

  • almond milk ( if made during Lent)
  • gelatine
  • optional: rosewater, sugar 
  • red wine
  • rose petals
  • red berries, red currants for example
  • cream
    Make the almond milk by pouring warmed white wine through the ground almonds in a cloth Mix the almond milk with gelatine to make a white pudding. Pour into a dish.
    Leave to set hard. Warm wine by the fire, add the gelatine. You can also add chopped rose petals. Pour into a smaller dish and leave until set
    When both halves are set, turn the white pudding out first onto a serving platter. Turn the red one out on top of the white one. You can warm a few red berries in wine by the fire and spoon this over the top. Add a little cream onto the platter and perhaps a few berries on the top of the leech to decorate and serve

      Friday, 29 August 2014

      Agora!!!!-Sal nas livrarias

      "What a month its been"!!!!! The thespian being asked by The Times newspaper to write a thousand words on what life was like with Betty Bacall. We had the challenge of having our first vegan guests in the house,more on that story later.We put another cookery workshop behind us,our boiler blew up, and now the heat is on again,Arabian nights are upon us.After an abnormally cool summer, the hot sultry August temperatures we are normally accustomed to have finally hit us. Now its Dias Medievais and the house is completo.I can hear the sound of distant drums Fernado, heralding the opening procession  about to pass the house, and we have pitchers of mead(honeyed sangria) to serve our guests on the balconies.At the beginning of the month we played host to journalist João Miguel Simões and photographer Jorge Simão who were on a commission to produce an article on the Algarve to be included in the September "Sal" issue of Evasoes.In this issue you can read about everything salt from all over Portugal,gorgeous recipes,spa guides and discover how Portugal´s star chefs are using salt.Oo la la meringue! In my dreams who knew that one day I would be sharing a double page spread with Jaime Perez.Well there I am taking German disciples Philippe and Sonia through the process of making "o já famoso brownie com flor de sal."Thank you Miguel, Jorge and, as always, the other Jorge - Senor Raiado.Finally thank you Global Noticias Publicaçoes for your beautiful magazine.

      Thursday, 28 August 2014

      Manjar branco,menjar blanc, blancmange - a whole lot of flummery

      My typical 17th century bancmange served with a modern brazilian
      interpretation of plums and syrup

      There is a lot of flummery floating around the Twitterverse regarding milk puddings.Well, its Dias Medievais in Castro Marim and what better time to talk about one of the oldest puddings in the world. For a food blogger like myself it is hard to avoid including a post about blancmage. The history of blancmange is long and quite old,so bear with while I unfurl  the true origins of a dish that at times is shrouded in mystery.
      Some say the story began in sixteenth century Portugal, when a Portuguese princess called Maria took with her dowry from Lisbon to Southern Italy, a recipe for a flan - Manjar Branco, made with boiled and shredded chicken breast, milk, sugar, rose water and rice flour. It was part of her four manuscripts of recipes that she took with her when she married Alessandro di Farnese, the Third Duke of Parma.Disappointingly for the Portuguese, its provenance however is much earlier than this.Blancmange has been made in Europe for centuries.
      The history of blancmange is exceptional for understanding the changes in Western cuisine. Although this is a sweet that nowadays not everyone likes, its presence in the Portuguese and Brazilian gastronomy is a tradition.By adding coconut and serving it with plums and syrup it has become for them a national treasure.
      When the word first entered the English language in the fourteenth century,it was used for a savoury dish.As its name implies (French blanc,´white´manger, `eat´ -the final r did not disappear until the nineteenth century) it was made from pale ingredients.
      It is also believed that the origins of blancmange can be found in the Arab introduction of almonds to Europe, since the dish traditionally contains almonds,for example the Catalan Menjar blanc.
      In the early days also, blancmange may have been heavily spiced on occasion, since access to spices was a status symbol.
       At some point during the 1600s, blancmange became the snowy white, wibbly wobbly pudding which most consumers know today.By the Eighteenth century it had become a sort of almond jelly,made with milk or cream.In the nineteenth century arrowroot was introduced into the recipe as a thickener,with flavourings such as lemon peel and cinnamon making it an appropriate dessert dish.This paved the way for the modern commercial, cornflour based version.The dish has also,not surprisingly, been known as “shape,” a reference to the fact that it was usually set in elaborate moulds,which in guises such as pink rabbits and chocolate covered castles remained a mainstay among British puddings until the 1960´s,when instant pre-prepared desserts started its demise.The flavour of traditional blancmange is mild, and because of its neutral colour the dish is popularly dressed with wine sauces or fresh fruit. Monty Python fans may be familiar with blancmange in the form of alien sentient beings which invade the planet Earth.

       a second attempt showing the porcelain mould I used
      Nowadays there is no earthly reason why anyone would want to make savoury blancmange with chicken so I opted for a seventeenth century transition made with almonds, milk, cream and gelatine,and garnished it with the modern Brazilian interpretation of plums and syrup.I rooted out my grandmother´s Porcelain jelly mould (see above) and had a slightly less than successful take on how they would have made blancmange in the 17th century.This is how I made it…..

      Start by toasting two cups of almonds. While the almonds are toasting, gently heat one cup of milk and one cup of cream and mix this with one quarter cup of sugar until the sugar dissolves. Grind the almonds with the milk until the mixture is smooth, and force it through a small grained sieve or cheesecloth into a bowl. You will end up with approximately one and one half cups of liquid, to which you should add four drops of almond extract or essence.
      Next, dissolve 5 leaves of gelatin in cold water, and allow it to sit for approximately 5 minutes.Squeeze as much water out of the softened gelatine before stirring it into the almond mixture, and stir the bowl over a bath of ice so that the blancmange begins to firm. Next, whip one cup of cream, and fold it into the blancmange. Pour the pudding into molds to set under refrigeration for several hours, and turn it out onto plates to serve, garnished with fruit or a sauce of your choice.

      For how to make Whyte leach the precursor of blancmange look out for my next post......

      Sunday, 24 August 2014

      Pan-Asian style pickled Portuguese pears

      What's the difference between a Bartlett and a Bosc? an Anjou or an Asian, a Comice or a Concorde.If you don´t know, don´t worry.There are over 3,000 known pear varieties grown around the world, but only in Portugal can one find these tasty baby Rocha pears, easily recognized by their small size and golden yellow skin with a maroon blush. When they are not being bastards they have a crunchy flesh, and considering their size an extremely sweet flavour.These have to be the smallest pears in the world.You only get four or five bites out of one pear, so they make a great, quick snack and an excellent choice for children,pop it in their lunch box and they are on their way to getting their five a day.
      Not dissimilar to the North American Seckels, these tiny pears have a chubby, round body, small neck, and short stem. Paul Cezanne had an obsession with painting pears.if only he had visited Portugal in his search for the perfect pear he would have found it before it was discovered by one António Rocha.This variety was casually obtained from a seed on Pedro António Rocha's farm. The variety derives its name from his family name.
      Don't try to eat them before they are perfectly ripe. If they still feel hard and don't have any give when you press them, they'll taste tart and woody.
      But their size also makes them perfect as an appetizer (slice in half, trim out the core and seed, put a slice of parmesan or a dollop of ricotta on top, serve). They poach perfectly and quickly so dessert is another option.My interest was elsewhere in something I had recently witnessed but never tried before....pickled pears

      Rocha pears,nestling like eggs in a tray,ripe and ready for Cezanne



      What I wanted to emulate was the amazing flavours achieved by Ferrugem´s chef Renato Cunha when he cooked pickled Nabo (turnip) in our kitchen back in June this year.Just like I used to observe my mother at her stove, I stood over him with watchful eye,recording what he did and keeping it in my "back head"  in the hope that I could repeat what he did at a later date.
      Unlike European pickles, which tend to be really vinegary, this Asian style pickle is mild, tender, and slightly sweet.What I love most about this pickling method is that it is less about hard-set measurements and more about the flavour combinations (right up my rua). Basic ratios and ingredients went out of the window. 
      I started to make a basic brine with a simple syrup made from about one part water to one part sugar, boiled over the stove top until the sugar dissolved. I then, stirrred in some cider vinegar, and salted it to taste.To this I added sprigs of thyme,one red chilli chopped up,some small basil leaves,chunks of fresh ginger and whole garlic cloves peeled but kept whole.Once the brine has cooled to room temperature, halve and core the pears and tuck them into a sterilised Kilner jar. (I made enough brine to fill a 75cl jar ) Tuck the pears into the jar randomly and then pour the brine over them making sure they are completely covered.Store in a cool place until ready to serve.I have got my eyes set on using them as an accompaniment to my cheeseboard at Christmas.Now there´s something to think about.
      The more adventurous cooks among you can venture out to Asian supermarkets for kaffir lime leaves.The pears are naturally sweet,and the Kaffir lime leaves would add a zingy subtle pepperiness.
      This would work equally well with sweet vegetables like carrots.This is a great way to take advantage of a glut of slightly underripe pears. They retain their crunchiness while soaking up the brine's sweet vinegary flavour. Even though it sounds unusual, the sweetness of the fruit works remarkably well with the vinegar. Also try using coriander and white pepper in a brine as yet another variation of flavour

      Wednesday, 20 August 2014

      Dias medievais 2014


      There's always something going on in Castro Marim to keep you entertained!- you may be recumbent and relaxez-vous on a sun lounger in the Casa Rosada garden, nodding off on your CJ Sansom...but only a stones throw away there will be hunchbacks for real and you might find something close to Dark Fire within the confines of the castle.It is hard to escape the lepers,soothsayers and mountebanks purveying strange medicinal compounds,purges and herbal teas, trying to convince you of their curative powers.

       Yes, with just under ten days to go, its all going to be  kicking off in the streets and travessas of Castro Marim.Its Medieval myth and mystery -Dias Medievais."The skies are clear, happy times, happy nights and happy days are here again"!
      There are silky pink and orange banners-the colours of a desert sunset-streamed from poles around the castle.It makes it feel medieval, but not in the granite-dark,ominous medieval Game of Thrones way-a more ethereal and misty like faerie scene more reminiscent of The Hobbit when Celeborn and Galadriel are courting.On the streets the women love their tight hold- me- up push-me-out corsets, mandarin collars and leather embellished frocks belted in tightly
      with a girdle or two.It is a picture of medieval haute couture and femininity.Balmainesque tunics,and Oscar worthy beaded Lacroix gowns jostle you and fight for your attention against more modern hoodies and Henleys.The luxurious fur trims and chandelier earrings, crystal and pearl necklaces are enough to make any queen jealous.The catwalk is ready for hennins and wimples, creating a visual cacophony good enough for Gaultier or perfection for Philip Treacy.Looking down from above its like a sea of iced gems melding with Tiffany cream wafers and there is nothing gender specific about it all. Its time for the medieval queens to come out of their closets and sport their finery.

      Where´s the food and what will they be eating you say? Over the coming week I will be presenting some posts of opulent and exotic feasting,taking you back to the days of Runcible peas and Blawmanger.Food worthy of sultans and the richness of the Ottoman Empire.Soups of the kings and puddings of the princesses......what moor could you ask for?




      Monday, 18 August 2014

      Pudim Queijo com imprevisto Português

      Pudim Queijo de Ilha com alho frances, ervilhas

      I got my inspiration for this dish from a plate Chef Marco created at Cha com agua Salgada.The source of my recipe is a very old English dish and one of my all time favourites from my dear mother´s repertoire.It is similar to a soufflé but quicker to prepare, and if made correctly, better behaved. Precise timing is not important.Elizabeth David cites it as being devised in the days when coal burning kitchen ranges were so temperamental,and when hot dishes were subject to long journeys from basement country house kitchens to the lord and lady of the manor´s private parts.My oven is certainly temperamental and like a fallen soufflé this dish has never let me down.The ingredients are simple and so is the preparation.All in all this is a quick and appetising supper dish designed for modern living.The original recipe demands a strong flavoured English Cheese such as Cheddar, Cheshire,Double Gloucester,Leicester,Wensleydale or Lancashire.Dont even think about using processed cheese,it will simply have no flavour.I however replaced the English cheese with Queijo de Ilha from the Açores.In essence similar to cheddar.

      Eu tenho a minha inspiração para este prato de uma prato Chef Marco criado em Cha com Agua Salgada.A minha fonte de receita é um prato Inglês muito antiga e um da minha favorita de todos os tempo de reperetoire a minha querida mãe.É semelhante a um suflê, mas mais rápido de preparar e, se feito corretamente mais comportados.O tempo preciso não é importante.Elizabeth David cita-o como sendo elaborados nos dias em fogões de queima de carvão eram tão temperamental, e quando os pratos quentes estavam sujeitos a longas jornadas de porão cozinhas casa de campo para o senhor e senhora da mansão do privado peças.

      Meu forno é certamente temperamental e, como um suflê colapsado este prato nunca falhado-me.Os ingredientes são simples e por isso é a preparation.All em todos um prato da ceia puro projetado para living.The moderno receita original exige um forte sabor Queijo Inglês como como Cheddar, Cheshire, Double Gloucester, Leicester, Wensleydale ou Lancashire.Dont sequer pensar em usar queijo processado, ele simplesmente não terá flavour.I substituiu o queijo Inglês com queijo de Ilha da essência Açores.In semelhante ao cheddar.

      Pudim de Queijo Ingles tradiçional
      Eggs for dinner. Or lunch, or brunch. My cute, puffy little baked omelet soufflés are perfect any time of day.
      Although omelet soufflés sound fancy, I love that making them is as simple as cracking some eggs and adding a filling of some sort (for me, the filling is always a vegetable combination.) All you have to do is cook whatever you’ll be using for your filling first, and when done, add the eggs. Actually, you don’t even need to add any filling if you don’t want, but the filling just makes it taste much better and offers a veggie boost too.
      Here, for the filling, I use a gourmet mushroom blend, leeks and petite organic peas. Of course there are endless variations on fillings for baked omelet soufflés and you can get quite creative, but it is best to veer on the side of simple and not add more than three ingredients.
      I’m never in the mood to shell fresh peas and there is absolutely no advantage to buying fresh peas ready shelled so you might as well just get frozen peas, but do look for organic petite peas because they just taste so much better. Also, it is important when adding any filling to your baked omelet soufflés that you keep the concept of “teeny-tiny” in mind. You don’t want to add big chunks of vegetables or whatever into a delicate and elegant baked omelet soufflé.  You’ll see for the leeks I go so far as to shred them in the food processor, this is not an optional step. It really does make a difference because yes, I have tried to get away with just finely chopping the leeks and it doesn’t work.
      Most importantly, for the eggs, be sure to buy the absolute best. That means you want to look for pastured eggs from hens that lived outdoors and had access to fresh pasture.
      And finally, don’t fret over whether your baked omelet soufflé rises “just so”, just remember, no matter what happens to an egg dish you can always claim it was intentional.
      - See more at: http://www.cleancuisineandmore.com/baked-omelet-souffles/#sthash.Lu5Ln3FD.dpuf

      Pudim de Queijo
      Serves 3 or can be cut up when cool into picnic portions

      You will need a soufflé dish 900ml(1.5 pint) capacity
      180g (6oz) Queijo da Ilha,grated (don´t use processed cheese)
      2 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
      300ml(1/2 pint cold milk
      1/2 cup frozen peas defrosted
      1 small leek,finely sliced into rings
      2 large or 3 medium sized eggs
      1 teaspoon Dijon 
      plenty of freshly milled pepper, flor de sal and cayenne

      Put the breadcrumbs into the dish.There is no need to butter the dish.Pour the milk over the breadcrumbs.Stir in the grated cheese and the seasonings.Not too much salt but the amount depends on the saltiness of the cheese used so taste as you go.You can put this aside now while you sautée the leeks slowly in butter until soft.Stir in the peas.When cool add to the bread and cheese mixture.
      Separate the eggs,beat the yolks thoroughly and stir them into the cheese mixture.Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks.Stir a spoonful or two into the mixture,then tip in the rest,lifting and folding with a metal spatula or spoon,as lightly and quickly as possible.
      Put straight into the middle of an oven pre-heated to 180C /350F /Gas mark 4 and cook for 25-30 minutes.The top of the pudding should be well risen,golden and spongey.Leave it for 5 minutes or so before serving.By that time the inside should be rather like a creamy custard. 
      Pantry note
      The main ingredients of this dish-breadcrumbs,cheese,milk and seasonings can all be mixed in the dish well ahead of cooking time.Only the eggs need to be added before cooking time.

      Eggs for dinner. Or lunch, or brunch. My cute, puffy little baked omelet soufflés are perfect any time of day.
      Although omelet soufflés sound fancy, I love that making them is as simple as cracking some eggs and adding a filling of some sort (for me, the filling is always a vegetable combination.) All you have to do is cook whatever you’ll be using for your filling first, and when done, add the eggs. Actually, you don’t even need to add any filling if you don’t want, but the filling just makes it taste much better and offers a veggie boost too.
      Here, for the filling, I use a gourmet mushroom blend, leeks and petite organic peas. Of course there are endless variations on fillings for baked omelet soufflés and you can get quite creative, but it is best to veer on the side of simple and not add more than three ingredients.
      I’m never in the mood to shell fresh peas and there is absolutely no advantage to buying fresh peas ready shelled so you might as well just get frozen peas, but do look for organic petite peas because they just taste so much better. Also, it is important when adding any filling to your baked omelet soufflés that you keep the concept of “teeny-tiny” in mind. You don’t want to add big chunks of vegetables or whatever into a delicate and elegant baked omelet soufflé.  You’ll see for the leeks I go so far as to shred them in the food processor, this is not an optional step. It really does make a difference because yes, I have tried to get away with just finely chopping the leeks and it doesn’t work.
      Most importantly, for the eggs, be sure to buy the absolute best. That means you want to look for pastured eggs from hens that lived outdoors and had access to fresh pasture.
      And finally, don’t fret over whether your baked omelet soufflé rises “just so”, just remember, no matter what happens to an egg dish you can always claim it was intentional.
      - See more at: http://www.cleancuisineandmore.com/baked-omelet-souffles/#sthash.MwSujgb6.dpuf
      Eggs for dinner. Or lunch, or brunch. My cute, puffy little baked omelet soufflés are perfect any time of day.
      Although omelet soufflés sound fancy, I love that making them is as simple as cracking some eggs and adding a filling of some sort (for me, the filling is always a vegetable combination.) All you have to do is cook whatever you’ll be using for your filling first, and when done, add the eggs. Actually, you don’t even need to add any filling if you don’t want, but the filling just makes it taste much better and offers a veggie boost too.
      Here, for the filling, I use a gourmet mushroom blend, leeks and petite organic peas. Of course there are endless variations on fillings for baked omelet soufflés and you can get quite creative, but it is best to veer on the side of simple and not add more than three ingredients.
      I’m never in the mood to shell fresh peas and there is absolutely no advantage to buying fresh peas ready shelled so you might as well just get frozen peas, but do look for organic petite peas because they just taste so much better. Also, it is important when adding any filling to your baked omelet soufflés that you keep the concept of “teeny-tiny” in mind. You don’t want to add big chunks of vegetables or whatever into a delicate and elegant baked omelet soufflé.  You’ll see for the leeks I go so far as to shred them in the food processor, this is not an optional step. It really does make a difference because yes, I have tried to get away with just finely chopping the leeks and it doesn’t work.
      Most importantly, for the eggs, be sure to buy the absolute best. That means you want to look for pastured eggs from hens that lived outdoors and had access to fresh pasture.
      And finally, don’t fret over whether your baked omelet soufflé rises “just so”, just remember, no matter what happens to an egg dish you can always claim it was intentional.
      - See more at: http://www.cleancuisineandmore.com/baked-omelet-souffles/#sthash.MwSujgb6.dpuf

      Sunday, 17 August 2014

      Tarte esmigalhada,uma aventura amorosa com Reina Claudia


      Who said you can´t serve the British crumble (Brown Betty to you Americans) abroad in the summertime.The humble crumble lends itself to the vast range of soft summer fruits to be found here in the Algarve .Peaches, nectarines, pears,plums and how can I let August go by without having an amorous affair with Claudia, my favourite green plum, the Reina Claudia( greengage).The weather is hot but I can see nothing wrong in serving a cool summer crumble on a sultry summer evening in the garden.And obviously my first choice of fruit was soft poached greengages in an almond syrup.100% algarve,Almond liqueur,greengages and a crumbly topping of lightly toasted Algarvian almonds.
       Don´t tell me you have never crept to the fridge in the middle of the night and helped yourself to some delicious cold left over crumble and enjoyed it so much you returned for some more.Well there you go, served chilled or at room temperature, dolled up up with some lavender or thyme creme fraiche, here is a pudding that can take  time to improve its flavour by chilling and waiting, and meanwhile I will keep you waiting for a series of savoury crumbles that I intend to make in the colder months.

      Individual Greengage Crumbles
      Makes 4 servings
      400g firm but ripe greengages
      Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
      100g golden caster sugar
      75g unsalted butter
      175g plain flour
      1 tsp ginger syrup
      1 soup spoon Portuguese almond liqueur such as Amarguinha ( Amaretto could be an alternative)
      50g light muscavado sugar
      50g lightly roasted almonds,coarsely chopped
       Pre-heat the oven to 200Cfan/180C /gas 6
      Put the prepared greengages,lemon zest and caster sugar into a pan,cover and cook over amedium heat for 5- 6 minutes or until he fruit is just tender. Tip the fruit into a sieve set over a bowl and leave to drain and cool slightly.
      Rub the butter into the flour and then stir in the caster sugar.Place 4 lightly greased 10cm  metal pastry cutters onto a greased baking tray and spoon 2 tablespoons of the mixture into each.Press it down lightly with the back of a spoon to make a base,then divide the cooked fruit between the four pastry cutters.Sprinkle with the almond liqueur. Save the syrup for later.
      Stir the rest of the muscavado sugar and the almonds into the remaining crumble mixture.Spoon evenly over the top of the fruit,then bake the crumbles in the oven until golden and the juices from the fruit are bubbling through the topping.Allow to cool to room temperature or chill completely.
      When ready to serve carefully lift the crumbles onto serving plates and gently lift off the pastry cutters.Serve with creme fraiche and the reserved fruit syrup.

      Variation on a theme,
      Individual peach almond and nectarine Crumbles
      Almonds, nectarines and peaches are often grafted on the same tree in Portugal, (and this is where the fun starts) the label says one thing but what matures on the tree is something else. I thought I would play the game and pair almonds and nectarines for my second crumble. Beautiful fleshy nectarines and peaches reduced in a syrup of golden caster sugar and amarguinha (portuguese almond licore)
      Use the same ingredients as above minus the ginger syrup and repacing the greengages with sliced nectarines and peaches.Follow the same method.

      Wednesday, 13 August 2014

      Bife ganso completo temperado em especiarias aromaticos ( Cold spiced beef fillet)

      Roast beef is a classic favourite – but try it spiced and served cold with a Ginger and Noodle Salad. This semi-cured beef fillet is marinated in an aromatic spice mixture-ideal for invigorating jaded palates.The beef needs to be the same thickness throughout. If you have a tail-end piece of fillet, turn the tail end underneath to create an even thickness and tie to secure. Marinating the meat for 36 hours in this mixture is the secret.It draws out moisture from the beef and adds fragrant flavours. The final texture of the beef is very moist but dense. It is just what the doctor ordered at this time of year.Whether part of a  tapas or as a push the cow out starter for two, this is light refreshing summer food..... and if you have too much you can invite your friends round for a beef sandwich with some wasabi or horseradish.

      Cold spiced beef fillet
      125g light brown mascavado sugar
      85g coarse Flor de sal
      1 teaspoon ground star anise*
      1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger root
      2 cloves garlic finely chopped
      Zest of 1 lemon
      75ml good quality soya sauce (Kikkoman)
      75ml sesame oil
      1 red chilli finely sliced
      300g Bife ganso completo or Angus Fillet Beef
      2 tablespoons sunflower oil

      Mix the sugar,salt star anise, ginger,garlic,lemon zest,red chilli,soya sauce and sesame oil in a dish just large enough to fit the beef.Add the beef,thoroughly coating it in the marinade.Cover and place in the fridge.
      After 12 hours,turn the meat,rubbing it all over with the marinade.Leave to marinade for at least 24 hours and up to a maximum of 36.Then rinse under a cold tap and pat dry.
      heat the sunflower oil in a non-stick frying pan.As soon as it is hot, add the beef and colour on all sides.Continue to fry for about 5 minutes, turning regularly, then remove. Once cold, cover and chill until needed.
      *If you can´t find any ground star anise,grind some in a clean coffee blender.

      Serving suggestion: with ginger noodle,rocket, or oriental green bean salad



      Monday, 11 August 2014

      Sopa gelada com crouton quente (Chilled soup and a warm crouton)


      Oh dear, how terribly Elizabeth David I am becoming in my titles!!-Chilled soup and a warm crouton,"An omelette and a glass of wine" and all that.On my day of culinary experimentation I stumbled across an article on the internet entitled "31 Healthier Baked Versions Of Fried Foods"- "Once-baked is the new twice-fried" it continued.I recently ventured into the realm of baked versus fried with my oven baked doughnut and here they were again, along with some other exciting prospects.Oooh I sayy..... Gwyneth Paltrow´s baked fries and who would have thought of toasting ravioli.I liked the sound of  all this and combed all 31 recipes before deciding to try out "oven baked goats cheese." Well I dont know about "onced baked", but after my first attempt "twice shy" I decided to double dip.Having ended up with a non-stick silicone mat coated in cheesy goaty goo and breadcrumbs, resembling a tray of cheesy florentines, I learnt very quickly that these nourishing little nuggets needed a stronger seal of egg and breadcrumbs around them than them what wrote recipe suggested.
      Having perfected the method I have now served them up to guests in two different ways.Firstly as a warm canapé with a glass of wine and more recently as warm croutons on the side of a bowl of chilled beetroot gazpacho.These were both received with an acknowledgement of clean plates all round.My next variation is going to be to serve them as warm nuggets on top of a roasted beetroot salad.The permutations of how this recipe could be served are endless.

      Goats cheese croutons,nuggets or balls


      10 ounce goat cheese log, make sure this is very cold
      2 whole eggs, beaten
      2 cups home made breadcrumbs

      Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
      Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat, set aside.Slice the log into 24 pieces and using your hands roll each piece into a ball. Place on prepared baking sheet.
      Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl. Fill a plate or shallow bowl with the breadcrumbs. Dip the goat cheese ball in the egg wash first. Roll it around so it is completely covered. Then drop them into the  breadcrumbs. Toss the breadcrumbs onto the ball and gently roll to coat. Place back on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all 24 ball are coated.place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for an hour  and then repeat the process to ensure your balls are completely sealed.
      Place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and crisp. Allow the balls to set for 5-10 minutes before serving. They are very delicate and crumble easily, but the taste is fantastic!