Thursday, 29 July 2010
The scents of our Portuguese garden have encouraged me to observe, become more aware, enjoy and indulge in these scents and to discover how they can be applied in a culinary capacity as essential essences.
What started this off was Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall´s strawberry jam with sweet scented geranium leaves which featured in Episode 4 of the River Cottage 2009 season in June. - "The River Cottage Strawberry Fair". He added geranium leaves to his strawberries in the preserving pan and then added lemon juice. This idea inspired me to infuse lemon scented geranium leaves in a pannacotta mix. The result was heady and phenomenal. The infusion of the leaves without adding any extra lemon juice was sufficient and kept a mysterious subtlety. So here follows some recipes inspired by other scents in our garden.
Try crumbling lavender flowers into a bowl of mascarpone
and serve with fresh strawberries
Almondegas com Limao
These bite sized meat balls are wrapped in lemon leaves from the garden, which share their fragrance with the flavours in the meatballs. We had them, the other day, as part of a cool summer lunch in the garden.
100g day old rustic bread, torn
25o ml milk
500g minced meat of your choice
100g freshly grated parmesan
sea salt and black pepper
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 tablespoons chopped flatleaf parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
grated zest of 1 lemon
24 lemon leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
24 strong toothpicks
Heat the oven to 180C /gas 4. soak the bread in the milk for 5 minutes then squeeze it dry with your hands. Mix together with the meat, cheese, seasoning, garlic, parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest. If the mixture seems heavy, add a little more milk, then roll into 24 walnut sized balls. Lightly oil both sides of each leaf, bend a leaf around each meatball and fasten with a tooth pick. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until firm and lightly browned. Serve warm in the leaves, but don´t eat the leaves!!!
Lemon scented geranium panna cotta
This is a very simple dessert to make, and it should be made in advance to allow it sufficient time to set. It sets best if made the night before. It will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
3 gelatine leaves
250ml double cream
250ml whole milk
25g caster sugar
couple of drops of vanilla extract
12 lemon geranium leaves
Place the gelatine leaves in bowl of cold water and leave to soften for about five minutes. Put the cream, milk, sugar, geranium leaves and vanilla in a small pan and bring gently to the boil. As soon as it begins to bubble, remove from the heat, cover with alid and leave to rest for 5 minutes. This allows the geranium to infuse. Strain the cream through a fine sieve and discard the geranium leaves. Drain the gelatine leaves and squeeze out any excess water with your hands. Add the soaked gelatine to the cream mixture and stir well, making sure that the gelatine melts completely. Pour the mixture into4 ramekins and place immediately in the fridge. Leave for aminimum of 4 hours but preferably overnight until set. To serve run a wet knife carefully round the edge of each panna cotta and then turn the ramekin upside down on to a serving plate to tip it out.
You can experiment with all sorts of different flavourings and essences.
Substitute the following for the geranium leaves:
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Once in a while we lust after a piece of juicy red meat. As expats living in Portugal we´ve weaned ourselves off the red meat habit. We seemed to have replaced beef in our diet with pork, chicken and fish. Every once in a while, however we are overwhelmed by the desire for a succulent steak. One of these rare occasions was my birthday two weeks ago when invited to spend the day with friends. They buy the most beautiful filet mignon steaks from their butcher, and suddenly I was consumed by steak lust - sizzling steak simply seasoned and grilled over hot flames of a barbecue,
backed up by new potato chips and salad.
This kind of meat is a luxury commodity in Portugal and does not come cheap- maybe one reason that contributed to our weaning!!- This brings me to how I started this story in the first place.
I am constantly being put on the spot at parties, over dinner,or with friends. I am posed with the question. What is your favourite dish? up until recently I haven´t been able to give them a satisfactory answer. I now however have decided that wherever one is located globally, a perfectly cooked steak with chips, and I am in hog heaven. I have to say that France takes the lead here, but as long as I have my steak mal passado ( the Portuguese term for rare, literally badly passed through the grill ), and the chips are up to scratch I have my perfect dish in front of me. Today we lunched with friends at "Vela 2", a typical Portuguese restaurant without a menu
( there are many of these) that serve you platters of grilled fish until you say chega ( enough). This is result of our weaning off red meat, and maybe acquiring a preference for fish, but when we passed by our lunch companions home for an "afternoon glass" they proffered us with a Fray Bentos Steak and kidney pie they had brought back from a recent visit to England. My eyes lit up. I haven´t had one of these for 4 years, and I look forward to cooking some mash to soak up its gravy- yum. not at the moment its far too hot for this kind of food, but something to look forward to, the next time the expat stomach craves!!
Monday, 26 July 2010
What is on the shelves of the O cozinheiro bookcase
The Silver Spoon, first published in italian by Editoriale domus as Il Cucchiaio dárgento 1950
The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia, Carla Capalbo, Kate Whiteman, Jeni Wright, Angela Boggiano
Essentials of Italian Cookery, Marcella Hazan
The Second Classic Italian Cookbook, Marcella Hazan
Italian food, Elizabeth david
The gastronomy of Italy,Anna del Conte
Toscana in bocca Grazietta Butazzi
(collectors item printed on recycled paper with printed corrugated cardboard cover 1978 )
Leaves from our Tuscan kitchen, or how to cook vegetables
Janet Ross /Michael Waterfield 1899
Italy in Small bites, Carol Field
The best of Northern Italian Cooking Giusti Lanham and Dodi
An invitation to Italian cooking, Antonio Carluccio
Antonio Carluccio goes wild
Alastair Little´s Italian kitchen
The Villa Table, Lorenza de Medici
Antipasti, Anna della Croce
Verdura, Viana La Place
Panini Bruschetta ,Crostini, Viana La place
Italian Regional Cooking, Valentina Harris
Italia Italia!!!- Valentina Harris
The 4 seasons cookbook, Valentina Harris
Italian vegetaran Cooking, Emanuela Stucchi
Enoteca , Joyce Goldstein
Polenta, Brigit Legere Binns
The River Cafe Cookbook, Ruth Rogers, Rose Gray
The River Cafe Cookbook 2 Ruth Rogers, Rose Gray
The River Cafe Italian Kitchen Ruth Rogers, Rose Gray
The River Cafe Cookbook Green Ruth Rogers, Rose Gray
Truly Italian, Ursula Ferrigno
Trattoria, Ursula Ferrigno
Passione, Gennaro Contaldo
Gennaro´s Italian Year, Gennaro Contaldo
Claudia Roden´s Food of Italy
Foolproof Italian cooking, Aldo Zilli
Cucina Essenziale, Stefano Cavallini
Harry´s Bar cookbook, Arrigo Cipriani
A good read with recipes thrown in:
Honey from a weed,Patience Gray
Pleasures of the Italian table,Italy´s celebrated foods and the artisan´s who make them Burton Anderson
Recipes from From Paradise,life and food on the Italian riviera, Fred Piotkin
Eating up Italy, Matthew Fort
Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons, travels in Sicily on a vespa, Matthew Fort
A Table in Tuscany, Leslie Forbes
Dear Francesca, Mary Contini
Sunday, 25 July 2010
It all began two and half months ago. I got a call from Andrew and Else, friends who manage villas.They had a proposition. An outside catering job in one of their villas.
Friday May 7th
We meet them for a drink at Porto Seguro, Joao´s bar in the Praia Verde resort. Joao , a native Braz ilian makes a mean caipirinha. This national cocktail of Brazil contains fruit, sugar and cachaca, also known here in Portugal as aguardente.Unbeknown to us Else went to the bar and ordered a second round. It was 8.pm low season and poor old Joao and Carole his wife had their coats on ready to close up. I found myself unsteady on my feet and wasn´t going to attempt driving the car even a short distance without some sustenance. Joao and Carole bless them proceeded to rustle up a familial dinner of prawns and garlic. I passed on the bottle of wine that was put on the table to accompany it....
To cater a set dinner for ten women as part of a hen night celebration. Andrew assured us they were sophisticated clients, and not any old Club 18-30 malarkey. We agreed on a budget of €30 a head to include 1 bottle of wine per person.
Tuesday 11th May
Two menus composed and sent to Andrew for him to forward to the client.No vegetarians and no dietary requirements.
I had an inkling...." There may be trouble ahead".......
Tuesday 22nd June
Menus returned through Andrew. The client had ignored the request to choose one of the two menus, table d'hote style and decided to read it as an a la carte menu. Her order -
10 tapas starters
3 Roasted quail with ras al hanout cous cous and Moroccan carrot puree
3 Grilled lemongrass tenderloin of pork with ginger noodles
4 poached salmon and 3 bean salad with tomato basil and anchovy dressing
1o chocolate and brandy Bolo de bolacha maria ( portuguese cookie cake )
Thursday 24th June
Meet again with Andrew and Else at a networking menu tasting evening. They said they themselves had understood my table d´hote option quite clearly. I decide that I will proceed and cook three different main courses , in the light of the salmon being ordered by four people and the fact that the dish was cold, so could be prepared in advance and assembled at the villa. I took a bet with Andrew that they hadn´t realised the poached salmon would be a cold dish.
Friday July 9th
Site visit to the villa. Make notes. Everything in order.
It´ll be alright on the night!!!!
Monday July 19th
Return home (with stonking hangover after staying overnight at friends house,
as a result of a marathon celebration of my birthday the day before) to find email and phone message from Andrew informing us of client having asked him if we could cater breakfast and a barbecue lunch as well as dinner on Saturday!! The answer was NO. How could I shop, prepare and cook three course dinner for 10 if I was otherwise occupied in the villa all day?- However we said we would do a simple breakfast of fruit and yoghurt, coffe and juice,but absoutely not lunch.
Thursday July 22nd
client changes their mind again. Doesn't want breakfast or lunch now.
Saturday July 24th
8.00am - shopping in the market, butcher and fish stall. Home and relieved that we were not catering until the evening, so whole day ahead for prepping at ones own pace. What else could go wrong?!!!! - The arranged time for us to pitch up at the villa was 5.30, to set the table, organise the kitchen and get ready for the clients to sit down at 7.30.
Receive a call from Andrew at 1.30 to say the client now wanted to have dinner at 10.00 pm so would it be alright if we arrived at 8.00. No problem. Allowed time in the schedule for afternoon nap!!!
7.00pm - Showered, changed and packed the car up.
7.40pm - Set off a little hesitantly. No conversation between us on the ten minute journey!!!!
7.50pm -Arrive at the villa, Andrew and Else waiting outside for us. Unpack the car and install ouselves in kitchen amidst flurry of hens introducing themselves in Kaftans, beach towels and bikinis. Rap music blasting so loud it was making even the hen nite banners on the wall swing. Hens continue drinking. This is going to be no "dinner with gershwin." Set about cleaning kitchen , while Andrew transforms the back terrace from nothing to romantically lit dinner area.
9.00pm- two hens, dressed for more than dinner, plonk themselves on sofas in the open plan kitchen living area.
They inform us they are hungry and is the food ready. Our answer - Ready when you are. They become impatient with the rest of their party, who are still showering and doing beauty playground. Meanwhile I´m having kittens as every 10 minutes the power keeps blowing and plunging us into darkness, Not only that but the oven I´m trying to get to 180º
keeps zeroing itself every time the power fuses!!!- It was due to the air conditioning overloading the system when it was competing with the oven and extremely powerful extractor fan. Andrew finally turns it off, only for a hen to switch it on again.
10.00pm- I put the quail in the oven regardless. The high decibels of Whitney Houston, are now seriously testing my concentration.
10.10pm- 9 glamorous hens (They failed to tell us that one member of the party had dropped out) finally fall into their seats at the dinner table and start on the tapas. We have now decided we quite like them!!!While i´m cooking the main course one of the hens comes into the kitchen to get a bottle of hot sauce from the cupboard. - I am speechless.
10.30pm- we serve the main course- They ask Andrew why the salmon is cold. Andrew explains to them that poached salmon is normally served that way. - What did I say earlier? None of them can remember what dish they had ordered. The majority of the main courses were not eaten, so they were packed up in tupperware containers and put in the fridge. It materialised they had gone to the open air night club on Friday night and not returned home till 7am. If we had turned up with breakfast, as was once on the cards nobody would have been home. They had decided at 3.00pm to have a barbecue. So when it came to dinner and with 24 hours of high alcohol consumption behind them, all these lovely hens wanted was a few grains of corn perhaps. I should of made a bowl popcorn for the main course.
11.15pm - Even though they couldn´t eat their main courses, they were eager to be served the chocolate dessert. That´s girls for you!!!- not a morsel left, they had even devoured the orange garnish
12.10am- our job is done, order is restored in the kitchen and we bade the hens good night and a fond farewell!!!
Friday, 23 July 2010
Understanding proportion and balance in cooking is the key to successful seasoning......
When you read a recipe, it invariably says "salt and pepper to taste", this sounds simple. No not simple at all - just exactly how much does this mean? Cooking is about proportion and balance, and seasoning plays an important part. Some recipes indicate a pinch of salt. What is a pinch? Two fingers go into my bowl of sea salt beside my cooker and scoop up some grains, but we are not all given the same size fingers. My fingers are slightly smaller than Clarissa Dickson Wright´s and may be half the size of Chef Ramsay, who knows? By the way never do this with wet fingers or you will scoop up much more than you intended!! Seasoning advice in recipes is only a guide. Proper seasoning comes with practice. I never measure seasoning, I add it instinctively . Everyone has a different palate, I dont hold with the idea that if a dish comes to the table perfectly seasoned in chef´s opinion, it is bad manners to add salt and pepper. You must do what you like according to your taste.I cant imagine eating savoury foods without salt and pepper.
Even Strawberries get some help from a little black pepper. Tomatoes can often do with a good kick start to encourage them, and salting sliced tomatoes in a colander can do no harm either.
Seasoning gives balance to a dish - even if something is overcooked, if it is seasoned correctly you can often get away with it. However if something is over salted, it can ruin the flavours. Seasoning should enhance the flavours of the food, not dominate the taste. Meat and fish should be salted before cooking otherwise as it seals during the cooking, it builds up a barrier against whatever you are adding to it. Adding a sprinkling of fresh herbs over a dish just before serving allows their flavour to come through strongly, whereas herbs added during cooking can get lost in a melee of flavours. When you are making a sauce, you season at the beginning and then taste it at the end and adjust it accordingly. There are some foods that require great care with salting, hams, some other cured meats and parmesan already have a salty taste. Mozzarella on the other hand needs coaxing in order to counteract its blandness. Salt is imperative when cooking polenta - it slows down the swelling process of the starch so that the flavour has time to develop and the liquid can be evenly absorbed. I always use coarse sea salt, but any salt is acceptable.The correct ratio is one teaspoon of coarse sea salt per cup measure of polenta, unless the recipe is for sweet polenta,in which case less is fine.If you use a processed table salt, add half a teaspoon in place of the one teaspoon of coarse sea salt
Always use good quality, natural unrefined rock or sea salt,( flor de sal ) because it caramelises and melts during cooking but does not add too much salty flavour.
Chilli salt and pepper squid with chorizo, tomatoes and new potatoes
This is an amalgam of recipes. Its roots are in Spanish cooking, but I have adapted
a recipe of Peter Gordons and combined it with a classic Rick Stein, and a bit of Donna Hay!!!
8 large squid, cleaned and separated into body and tentacles
150ml olive oil
8 large mild red chillies, seeded and sliced
1 Tablespoon flor de sal
1 teaspoon roughly cracked black pepper
200g cooking chourico sliced at an angle into 8 pieces
2 ripe tomatoes cut in half
16 new potatoes scrubbed boiled and cut into halves
handful fresh parsley leaves
juice of one lemon
For this dish have your grill griddle or frying pan very hot.
Cut the squid in half lengthways from the pointed tail to the body cavity,
and then cut into eighths.
Combine the oil Chillies, salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan over high heat.
Add half the chilli mixture and cook for 1 minute. Add half the squid
pieces and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the squid turns opaque and just cooked through.
Remove from the pan and continue cooking with the same ingredients.The heat will make the body curl up, but don´t worry. Remove to a large warm plate and do the tentacles, which need about 30 seconds longer. Next fry the Chourico pieces for about 30 seconds on each side.
set aside on the warm plate with the squid. Fry the tomatoes for about a minute each side. Mix the potato with the parsley and divide between 4 plates. assemble the squid and tomatoes on top drizzling with some of the lemon juice and the remaining olive oil, Serve immediately garnished with rocket leaves
Strawberries with black pepper and balsamic
Serves 4 to 6.
Balsamic vinegar and black pepper intensify the flavor of strawberries and bring out their sweetness.. Only use the best balsamic vinegar
500g ripe strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
3 tablespoons sugar
1.5 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground coarse black pepper
Place the sliced berries in a medium non-reactive bowl (such as glass).
Add 4 to 5 grinds of coarse black pepper to the berries, and toss to coat. Allow the flavors to blend about 5 minutes more before serving.
Serve with home made ice cream, lavender creme fraiche or honeyed mascarpone
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
K, so there's this girl at my school right, and we discussing the pronunciation of salmon right. Then, she made a bet with us that the correct way of saying salmon is -saL mon-, not -sa men-, as you would normally say it. but...no but yes but its cos its samen right...
Poached samon and three bean salad with tomato basil and anchovy dressing
This recipe is a development of what I came up with for my masterchef qualifying round back in 1996. I am serving it this weekend as one of three dishes for the prato principal ( main course ) of a hen party at a local villa rental
4 x 175g salmon
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 teaspoon of Wynad peppercorns
FOR THE SALAD
3 cups cannelini or butter beans, drained and rinsed
250g broad beans
250g french beans or runner beans
6 samll pequillo peppers julienned
Fresh oregano , basil, parsley and thyme
FOR THE DRESSING - mix together
3 vine ripened tomatoes skinned deseeded and finely chopped
3 Anchovies finely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice ( approx. 2 limes)
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
Place the salt, peppercorns and bay leaves in alarge deep frying pan with 5 cups( 40 fl oz )
of water and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes then remove from the heat. add the salmon, cover and leave for 15 minutes. Remove he fish from the stock, carefully skin and break into strips or large chunks. Toss all the salad ingredients together in half the dressing. Plate up the salmon on a bed of the salad with the rest of the dressing poured over the top.
Monday, 19 July 2010
There is more to a tomato than being red. Grown in a good soil and fully ripened by the sun to a deep red on the vine, before picking, the tomato is an integral part of our daily cooking.
Today I picked the first salad tomatoes of the season.One of my strongest culinary memories was having a vine ripened tomato from my father´s modest little green house pressed to my nose, leaving an indelible impression on me of what real freshness was about.This was a time when seasons still dictated what we ate. When you pick a tomato, try this same test, twist and sniff as you remove it from the vine. This will give you an indication of how this tomato is going to perform for you.
There is nothing better than a salad of sweet vine ripened tomatoes, skinned, sliced and drizzled with virgin olive oil and a dash of lemon juice, sprinkled with sea salt and left for half an hour to marinate in the fridge. Serve with freshly torn basil leaves.Tonight on offer here was a light salad of tomatoes concasse ( diced tomato) new potatoes, broad beans, peas and feta cheese dressed with a mint and basil pesto.
In its raw state the tomato contains lycopenes anti carcenogenics that can inhibit or reverse the growth of cancerous tumours. Raw juicing is the optimum way to extract and obtain this life saving goodness, or so say the "food police" Try not to let boosting your Lycopene levels become an obsession. Getting yourself stressed over your food intake will become counter productive!!!!!!
Why not just enjoy the multitude of recipes you can concoct with raw tomatoes. Bruschetta, salsa,tricolore salad, and for a quick shot to the blood levels, Bloody Mary or Virgin Mary, or as a close friend once renamed it `The Portuguese Mary.`
8 slices of rustic country bread
4 garlic cloves
6-8 ripe tomatoes,diced
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling*
salt and pepper
Toast the slices of bread on both sides on the barbecue or under the grill.
rub them with garlic while they are still hot and put back on the barbecue for amoment.
Arrange the tomatoes on the bread. season with salt and pepper and "drizzle"* with olive oil.
Simple salsa of tomatoes, red onion and coriander
10 tomatoes topped and tailed, finely chopped
2 large or 3 small red onions
3 small dried chillis crushed
2 cloves of garlic
Handful of chopped fresh coriander
salt and pepper
a good drizzle* of olive oil
drizzle* of balsamic
* somebody come up with a new expression , please
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon and leave to marinate overnight
Add another handful of chopped fresh coriander before serving
This makes a great accompaniment to a dish of grilled squid or served with sliced avocado as a refreshing starter.
So why not put your feet up and knock up a Bloody Mary.The secret to a top notch Bloody Mary
is balancing the flavours of Tabasco sauce, Worcester sauce, celery salt and black pepper with the vodka and tomato juice. I think it is a very personal thing. You may prefer more or less Tabasco, or you may want to omit the celery salt altogether. The drink was invented at Harry´s New York Bar in Paris in 1921, by Fernand `Pete´Petiot, who was inspired by the Hollywood star Mary Pickford. Like most cocktails made with tomato juice, Bloody Mary is a reviver or pick me up. My personal feeling is that it is more of a restorative. I like to drink it with Eggs benedict on an American muffin, mid-morning after having over indulged the night before - So Hollywood!!!! " Blood Mary is the girl I love, now ain´t that too damn bad "
My recipe for the perfect Mary
2 dashes Worcester Sauce
Juice of half a lemon
2-3 dashes of Tabasco
150ml fresh or very good quality canned tomato juice
pinch of celery salt
One third fill a glass with ice. Add the vodka, Worcester sauce, lemon juice, celery salt and Tabasco. Pour on the tomato juice, Stir vigorously then season with black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
The San Marzano´tomatoes, the cooking variety are a few weeks behind. Something to look forward to, and when they flourish the kitchen will be busy cooking sauces for the freezer, making tomato tarte tatins and later in the season sundrying and dry roasting. Finally at the end of the summer when the last few stragglers are failing to redden, jams and chutneys will be the order of the day.
Saturday, 17 July 2010
When carefully dried, they become raisins. Grapes can be crushed as a dessert topping. They can also be juiced for a luxurious and refreshing treat.Use them as attractive additions or centres of attention in fruit salads,tarts or as an accompaniment to a dessert.
Store grapes refrigerated as they are ripe when they are picked, and the high temperatures we are experiencing at the moment will cause them to wither or ferment. Under refrigeration, these grapes keep for up to two weeks
4 Quick ideas with CARDINAL GRAPES
- For a fresh summer treat, freeze cardinal grapes until firm.
- Great as an alternative to iceblocks on a hot day,
- Serve them with thick natural yoghurt for breakfast or dessert.
- For a fresh summer salad, combine watermelon cubes, cardinal grapes, sliced plums and nectarines and peaches. Drizzle with a little honey just before serving.
Friday, 16 July 2010
An emerald forest in terracotta pots. Grown from seed our basil has flourished this year, giving us a bumper crop that if cut constantly and in the right way will keep the kitchen busy for the next couple of months. The basil will season much of our summer food here at Casa Rosada. It will accompany home grown tomatoes, home cured anchovies, sardine fillets and grilled fish spattered with fresh basil oil. Pestos every which way, fresh goats cheese and some scentsational salads.
It is the heart and soul of pesto. Its deep emerald leaves infuse olive oil to finish off a bowl of samarejo( Cordoban gazpacho) and a robust white fish steak such as Corvina comes alive when drizzled with this vibrant green emulsion.
In Portugal we have manjericos,a smaller leafed variety and a taste a little more towards aniseed.
The manjerico is strongly associated with the feast of St. Anthony, held on June 13. It is known as Saint Anthony´s manjerico: the lovers flower.The streets are decorated in bright colours and are full of people partying and dancing into the night.Bush basils (manjericos ) are found for sale on every corner. The tradition is that boyfriends should offer a Manjerico to their girlfriends. These bring a little flag with a verse on it, a little like fortune cookies or in Italy Baci chocolates. These potted bushes smell like basil but you should first touch it and then smell your hand, otherwise it may die!!!!
How to cope with a bounty full of basil.
100g basil leaves
250ml best quality extra virgin olive oil
a few extra basil leaves
Blanch the basil leaves in boiling water for five seconds, then drain and refresh with cold water. Squeeze it dry, then liqidise with the olive oil, Decant, add the few extra basil leaves and refrigerate until ready to use.
Pound basil leaves with half the quantity of mint and parsley, some anchovies and capers, then blend to a verdant sauce with lemon juice and olive oil. Eh voila, in minutes a perfect accompaniment to cold pork or chicken.
FOR A SIMPLE SUMMER SUPPER
Coarsely tear up some cooked chicken breasts, put them in a bowl and add plentiful torn basil, ( torn because the meeting of knife and basil leaf ends in bruising, and god forbid you dont want a little bruiser ruining your salad) chopped mint and rocket. Mix together well with lemon juice. Tip the resulting mixture into a salad bowl of pre-cooked cous cous. Stir in extra virgin olive oil, more lemon juice , salt and pepper. Serve immediately
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
These gorgeous little confection like fruits get my vote every summer.
They are marketed under different names. Here in Portugal and Spain, they are known as Paraguayos. Their most common labelling is the Doughnut peach, because of their shape.
I have even heard that Tesco in the UK are marketing them in long flat boxes like those used for doughnuts!!! ( Well if it becomes a fun new way to encourage children to eat their five a day, I´m all for it).
They are also known as `bagel peaches´, `saucer peaches´ and `saturn peaches´, all relating to to the resemblance they give. Flat peaches were first grown in China in the 19th century and called Pan Tao peaches.
TEN REASONS THAT GOT ME MY FLAT PEACH ADDICTION
1. They are sweeter than other peaches
2. They have a delicious hint of almond about them.
3. They taste more delicious than any other peach variety I know.
4.They have less acid.
5.The flesh comes away from the stone easily.
6.Because of their size they can be eaten in your hand,
7.Their thin skin is less furry than other peaches so they can be eaten with the skin on,
thats if you want to spill juice all down your front!!!
8. If you prefer to peel them the skin comes away easily.
9. Because of their shape they are easily segmented into quarters.
10. They make my life so easy when preparing the breakfast at Casa Rosada
When its 34º you need a light supper or tapas starter that is cool and refreshing.This pesto has to be the easiest and quickest no nonsense component of a simple weekday supper.
I have used dry roasted peanuts instead of the traditional pine nuts normally used in pesto
Once you´ve made this its up to you to decide what to serve it with.
This is what we did with it at Casa Rosada.
Squid pota or octopus salad
with coriander ginger mint and basil pesto
500g cooked pota ,squid or octopus
rocket leaves to serve
FOR THE PESTO
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup coriander
1 cup basil leaves
2" cube of ginger peeled and chopped
half a cup of dry roasted peanuts
half a cup of freshly squeezed lime juice ( approx. 2 limes )
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste
Blend all together in a processor. Adjust the texture to make it thinner by adding more olive oil and lime juice until you reach a desired consistency. The fresh kick you get out of this is truly amazing.Toss your choice of fish in the pesto and serve on a mound of rocket leaves.
Variation on the theme
Cannelini bean salad
Prawn salad with beans
Chicken rocket and chinese leaf salad
Sunday, 11 July 2010
I need a refreshing drink on hand in this weather so today I have bottled some home made
lemonade. This is a recipe handed down to me by my dear mother. The only thing I have changed is the sugar content. My mother was hooked on war time rations and economy so used saccharin tablets. I have converted this to sugar, but left her original version in brackets for you to see.
Mum´s home made lemonade
( Makes 1.75 litres ) 3 pints
6 Large Lemons
150g ( 5oz ) granulated sugar ( 30mg saccharin 2x 15mg tablets )
Thinly pare the outer zest of 3 of the lemons
Using a zester or potato peeler.
Make sure you have no white pith as this will
make the lemonade taste bitter.
Put the zest in a large bowl and add the squeezed juice
Of all the lemons and the sugar.
Pour in 1.5 litres of boiling water ( I use bottled )
Stir well, cover and leave overnight in a cool place.
Next day stir again then strain through a sieve.
Pour into bottles and chill thoroughly
Pull up a sun lounger in the shade of the garden, and nod off on your Dick Francis
There are a heck of a lot of cephalopods in the local fish market at the moment!!! - and at extremely good prices. Squid in particular is becoming harder to get due to overfishing. So when one sees Squid, Octopus and my latest discovery Potas, one snaps it up.
Pota is of the squid family, a larger squid, but commanding a much more
affordable place on the fish stall.It has a high protein content and huge versatility when cooking, from ceviche to pota ragout with chili to name but two ways with Pota.
I always get the peixeiro ( fishmonger) to clean the octopus for me, but the squid I always clean myself and then freeze it before cooking, to tenderize it. This replaces the old practice of beating it against the rocks. As Freda said to Barry "Not bleakly, not meekly beat me on the bottom with a womans weekly." Sardines are another victim of over fishing. In the winter months small sardinhas are found in the market. They are being caught faster than they can reproduce.They are being fattened for spawning between May and October and should not be fished for outside of these months. Enough of the sustainable fishing rant, I feel a recipe coming on.
Squid, pota or octopus salad
500g squid, pota or octopus, cooked
1 stick of lemongrass
3 spring onions
2 small piri piri peppers
4 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon muscovado sugar
Juice of 2 limes
handful of rocket per portion
Peel the outer leaves of your lemongrass and discard. Chop the lemongrass very finely and put in a mixing bowl.
Chop the spring onions and the chillies, getting rid of the seeds. Mix in the coriander leaves, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. chop the fish into rough chunks then toss it in the dressing. Season with salt and pepper and serve on a pile of rocket.
comide com gosto fresco!!!
Saturday, 10 July 2010
It was the second saturday of July in Castro Marim and it was HOT.
( If I had been in England, I would have been advised to call NHS Direct helpline on 0845 46 47!!!!!!)
The monthly market came to town yesterday.Not the busiest we`ve seen it, but plenty of good home grown grub to buy. It is a showcase for local growers and mercearias ( grocers and specialist food suppliers ). One of my favourite stops is casa da serra, sabor e tradicao, literally the house of the mountains. The best cured meats and cheeses come from the serra,a romantic notion of a rural environment where time is still measured by sunrise noon and sunset, and the by line means `taste´and `tradition.´ All the stallholders are very forthcoming with samples of their produce and keen to tell you about how it was cured, grown or otherwise. I have one pet stallholder, whose stall was absent yesterday. She takes her van in July and August and parks it beside the approach road to the beach where she sets up a produce stall in the cool shade of the pine forest. Apparently in these two months she makes more money than if she was in the market.I always look forward to stopping off on the way back from the beach for a rather muddled anglo/ portuguese chat, and buy some fresh fruit and veg to take home. She is also an artisan baker and she will greet you with charming familiarity. She takes a stall at the many summer festivals up and down the east Algarve, and is always quick to inform you of which festival she will be attending that week. Her range of cakes is extensive and oh so tempting!! All her produce is ´propria`( home grown) and she flags up on her stall what is Bio and what is not. This means that she is not a totally organic grower but what she terms biologic is that she has not used any kind of pesticide or spray on these particular plants. At the ´Festa de gastronomia outono`( Autumn food fair ) in October she presents her first biologic clementinas and tangerinas and the best and most succulent dried apricots I have ever tasted. No doubt you will be hearing more about her in later blogs.
So what was in my shopping basket:
Chourico de porco preto sausage of the black pig
Chourico para cozido a chourico for cooking My suggestion: saute with new potatoes and sherry vinegar
Salsiccia paio smoked pork tenderloin sausage.
Paio are thicker than chourico. better cuts of the pig are usually used to make them, and the flavour may vary according to what spices have been used. Thin slices make a good tapas.Paio sometimes have more meat than fat, But lets face it the fat is what makes it taste so good!!!!!
Queijos various regional cheeses
Paraguayos Donut shaped peaches, a whole blog on this one later
Pessegos brancos white fleshed peaches
Uvas cardinal a variety of small black grapes
Thursday, 8 July 2010
Today we have just finalised a flyer promoting our cookery day add-on.
It can be viewed in full @ issuu.com/ocozinheiro. A cool new publishing tool we have just stumbled on.
The idea is not to create a cookery school, but instead
an informal day out in a guests holiday where they can acquire a background to Portuguese cuisine, its heritage, and its ingredients.
An insight into the different styles of Portuguese food, in particular
the culinary heritage of the local area of Castro Marim and the East Algarve,
and hopefully gain some culinary pearls along the line.
PEARL OF THE DAY
When using tinned tomatoes ( Cirio only please )
and the recipe requires chopped tomatoes, but you only have the whole peeled variety on your larder shelf.. Don´t despair. Open the tin, insert a pair of long culinary scissors into the tin and cut the tomatoes vigorously.
Turn the contents out into your cooking vessel and Pronto - chopped tomatoes!!!
and you´ve saved money too. Tinned chopped tomatoes are dearer.
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Grated zest of two oranges
1/2 cup of squeezed orange juice
1 cup of granulated sugar
4 large organic eggs
1 large egg yolk
250g (8oz) Unsalted butter
Put the sugar in a medium bowl and grate the orange zest into it. Rub the zest into the sugar vigorously with your hands. Strain the orange juice into a medium sized pan. Add the eggs, extra egg yolk, butter and zested sugar mix. Set the pan over a medium to low flame and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. Be sure to keep whisking all over the pan especially at the edges. At the first sign of a boil remove from the heat but keep whisking. Pour into a suitable container Put in the fridge to set and chill.For the ice cream
300 ml (10fl oz ) whipping cream
Having made the curd. (The curd has to be home- made since only home-made has the right flavour, strong and perfect enough to carry the ice cream. Don’t think you can cheat by chucking a jar of commercial curd in with a tub of cream).
Whip the cream lightly, so that it is still floppy, but has some substance to it. Fold into the cold curd. Either freeze in an ice cream machine or if you don’t have one, pour the mixture into a shallow container and place in the freezer, set to its lowest setting. Leave until the sides are beginning to set, then break them up and push to the centre. Leave for another half hour and repeat. Leave until the ice cream has just about set but is not rock hard. Process until smooth. Or beat hard with a spoon to break up the crystals. Return to the freezer to finish freezing.
Transfer the ice cream to the fridge about 45 minutes before serving so it has time to softenNext off the mascarpone ice cream, but first a walk down memory lane. Every time I make this ice cream it rekindles memories of growing up in border country Scotland.
We lived near Eyemouth, a small but important fishing town. I remember often being taken by my sister to see the fishing boats docking and unloading their laden cargos of fresh fish onto the quayside. Afterwards we would always stop and have an Italian ice cream at Giaccopazzi’s, the towns Italian run ice cream parlour. The unique taste of these ice creams I have never forgotten and bear an uncanny resemblance in flavour and colour to my own home made mascarpone ice cream.
The coastal town of Eyemouth, seven miles north of Berwick has long been spoilt for Italian Ice cream. a century ago. Peter Giacopazzi´s great grandfather used to sell it from an ice-box on his bicycle. “It was a classic Italian story” he says. “My family set out for America, but hit Scotland first, and stayed.” And the family tradition is still alive and well today at Giacopazzi´s, Peter´s award winning chip shop, which sells fish suppers and pizzas alongside a wide selection of artisan ice creams.
Scotland on Sunday
EatScotland's independent assessor said:
"It is the ice cream that would make me return again and again. The quality is evident and the awards that they have received are well deserved."
Mascarpone ice cream
Makes about 1 litre
450 ml whole milk
1 Vanilla pod, slit open length ways
Yolks of 5 large free range eggs
125g caster sugar
250 ml double cream
250 g mascarpone
Heat the milk with the vanilla pod until almost boiling, remove from the heat, stir well and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and creamy in a roomy bowl. Slowly pour on the milk, stirring constantly. Lift out the vanilla pod and return the mixture to the pan. Stir constantly over a low heat until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. It must not boil or it will curdle.
Remove from the heat, stir in the cream and leave to cool completely. When cold, using an electric whisk, whisk the custard into the mascarpone then chill. Freeze in a freezer box and freeze firm, stirring once after 2 hours and twice more at hourly intervals. Transfer the ice cream to the fridge at least half an hour before serving.
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Grilled fresh sardines are as popular in Portugal as hot dogs and hamburgers are in North America.
The characteristic smell of grilled sardines permeates everywhere, during the summer months, when literally tonnes of them are consumed. Natives and tourist alike devour them by the dozen from street vendors, in local seaside tascas, restaurants and in the backyards and terraces of private homes. Apart from the ubiquitous salt cod, fresh sardines are, of course one of Portugal´s national dishes, especially char-grilled.
If your experience of sardines is limited to the canned variety, here´s your wake up call.
The season to eat sardines is between May and October, when the fish fatten for spawning
Portuguese grilled sardines
the salting that´s done here gives the sardines extra flavour, akin to cured fish.
Prep time: 30-60 minutes for salting the sardines
Serves 4 people
24 sardines, fresh , cleaned, heads and tails left on 1 cup sea salt 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil lemon wedges for serving
Rinse the sardines under cold running water, then drain them and blot dry with paper towel. Sprinkle one third of the salt on the bottom of a ceramic dish. Arrange half the sardines on top and sprinkle with half the remaining salt. add another layer of sardines and sprinkle the remaining salt all over. Cover and cure in the salt in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes.
When ready to cook, rinse the salt off the sardines and dry off with paper towel. brush the sardines with the oil.If you are worried about the fish sticking, use afish grilling basket; otherwise oil the grate and arrange the fish directly on it. Grill the sardines until their skins are lightly charred and the flesh is cooked to flakiness. 5 minutes per side max.serve immediately with lemon wedges and a fresh salad
Fresh cured sardines
This makes a great tapas that can be prepared in advance
Serves 12 people
500g fresh sardine fillets
100ml white wine vinegar
6-8 fresh bay leaves
4 cloves garlic peeled and thinly sliced
2 taespoons sea salt
4-5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
cracked black pepper
Rinse and drain the sardine fillets and cut into strips. Place on a shallow platter. mix together the vinegar, bay leaves, garlic and salt and pour over the sardines. Let stand, for 3-4 hours in acool place or refrigerator. Drain off the vinegar mixture, pour on the olive oil, mix through and and add pepper to taste. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley or coriander and fresh artesanal crusty bread.
Filetes de sardinha panados
( breaded sardine fillets)
This is a staple of the portuguese table and one of my all time favourites
serve it as a supper dish or as part of a tapas platter
Serves 4 people
8 Sardine fillets
4 soup soons bread crumbs
1 soupspoon chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 egg, beaten
Season the sardine fillets with sea salt
garlic and a little lemon juice. drag the sardine fillets through some flour, and then through the beaten egg, and finally coat
them with a mixture of the breadcrumbs, parsley and oregano.
Heat a little olive oil in a deep frying pan and fry the fillets until they are golden. lift from the pan and dry on kitchen paper.
Serve hot or cold
Serve with thin slices of home made bread and a salad of lettuce, tomato, roasted pepprs and cucumber
Garnish with fresh coriander and oregano
Sardines and chickpea salad, escalivada
Escalivada, the mixture used to stuff the sardines,is a typical preparation of catalan cuisine.
Escalivar means to cook in hot ashes. Typically the vegetables in an escalivada are grilled, and the dish is served with grilled meats or fish. Mountain shepherds were adept at packing their rucksacks with some cheese and wine and building a hardwood fire near their sheep's pasture where they could grill a medley of vegetables. The sardines are marinated in orange juice and served on a salad of chickpeas, croutons and bacon
30 minutes prep time plus 6 hours marinating
18 small sardines rinsed and cleaned mint leaves to garnish
FOR THE MARINADE
4 oranges juiced
30 ml sherry vinegar sea salt
FOR THE STUFFING
1 red pepper 1 onion, peeled 1 aubergine 2 tablespoons olive oil
FOR THE SALAD
25g bacon chopped in cubes
125 g chicpeas, cooked or tinned
2 spring onions, chopped
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE
100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 orange, juiced
15 ml sherry vinegar
salt and pepper
Mix together the orange juice, sherry vinegar and salt for the marinade
Toss the sardines with the marinade in a large dish and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the oven to 190c / gas 5
Toss the red pepper, onion and aubergine in the olive oil in a roasting tin.
Roast for 30 minutes until tender
Cut the roasted red pepper, onion and aubergine into short thin strips and toss together.
Fry the bacon in a small heavy based frying pan.
In abowl mix together the fried bacon, croutons spring onions and chick peas
make the vinaigrette by whisking together the olive oil, orange juice and sherry vinegar.
Season with salt and pepper
Toss the chick pea mixture with the vinaigrette
Drain the marinated sardines. Stuff each sardine with the roasted vegetables.
To serve. - Spoon the chick pea salad onto a serving plate.
Top with the stuffed sardines, garnish with the mint leaves.
Monday, 5 July 2010
Saturday, 3 July 2010
The lunch dish or bar snack of my dreams.
So delicious and worth the faff for sure.
Cheap to make. Delicious hot, warm or cold.There is nothing better on a hot summers day than a slice of fresh tortilla and a bottle of Cold Sagres
I think this is the definitive recipe for spanish tortilla. I have tried and tested many versions but have stuck with this one as the most delicious and authentic.
Tortilla connoisseur Kerry Rankine, mastermind of Growing Communities and the Stoke Newington farmers market in London,
endorses it as her favourite.
2 large spanish onions
750g firm waxy potatoes
10 tablespoons olive oil( dont stint here )
750ml sunflower oil
6 organic or free range eggs
sea salt and black pepper
Cut the onions in half, peel and thinly slice. Peel the potatoes, cut them in half lengthways, and then across in slices 5mm thick. Toss with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and leave to stand in a colander. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based pan and when hot but not smoking add the onions with a pinch of salt. Give them a good stir, reduce the heat to low, and cook very slowly for 30-45 minutes until golden and sweet smelling. Stir the onions every few minutes so they cook evenly and do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat, drain and reserve the oil. Meanwhile cook the potatoes. A deep fat fryer is just the ticket but if you do not have one, pour the sunflower oil into a similar sized saucepan ( never fill it more than half full) and set it over a medium heat.The temperature is crucial as the potatoes should cook until tender but not colour. A gentle simmer is the secret to success here. Drain in a colander. Strain the oil, let it cool and keep it for later use. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk briefly. add the onions and potatoes and mix well. Taste for seasoning. Pour the oil you previously reserved from frying the onions back into a 20cm non-stick frying pan approximately 3mm deep.
Set over a high heat. When the oil starts to smoke pour the mixture in with one hand while shaking the pan with the other. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the underside is is golden brown.
THE CRUCIAL STAGE - take care here!!!!
Take two tea towels and a plate of a similar size to the pan and rest it over the pan.
With both hands and two tea towels ( I do this over the sink!!!)
Carefully invert the the tortilla onto the plate. The uncooked side will still be fairly runny so watch out!!!!
Turning the tortilla gives it its distinctive rounded cake like shape.
Turn the heat to high again, and pouring a little more olive oil into the pan,
carefully slide the the tortilla back into the pan,uncooked side down,
tucking in the edges as you go. Cook for another 3 minutes.
Both sides should now be golden brown. If not repeat the process once more.
The tortilla will be cooked if the middle feels solid.
Remove from the pan and slide onto a serving plate allow to cool before cutting it into wedges.
Enjoy!!! - keeps up to three days in the fridge
Today I decided Casa Rosada needed more Home brew!!!
3 years ago I was handed down an old french recipe for Vin d´orange which I developed and rewrote, but it remains a secret. Like my mother´s recipe for Creme de menthe, ( the confectionary treat Lokum* not the licore,) I play the card close to my chest. Many guests here have asked for the recipe and been politely refused.For those of you with nouse the secrets are in the two pictures.
How many of you can create this recipe from what they see?
* Lokum has travelled from a small candy factory in Turkey to countries all around the world. Whether imported or made at home, the unique treat has left an impact that stretches far beyond its founding country).I love uncovering recipes that have travelled beyond their original boundaries and seeing how they have become subject to change.
I love Andrews photo here Its like a picture painting!!!!
Friday, 2 July 2010
Ooh all that foam!!!!
With everyone banging on about terrines and pate this week, I thought this quite appropriate. A proper use of a terrine. I don´t normally attempt this sort of pudding but I made it for a garden lunch earlier this year and was amazed by the result. Classic Delia at her best, and the recipe worked too!!! Strawberries are plentiful here from late March but nearly over now. However Portugal is not the greatest producer of summer berries, at least here in the south, so I had to substitute with a bag of frozen fruits of the forest. I will give Delias original specification for those of you lucky enough to have berries abounding.
A Summer fruit Terrine
You will need 2 x 900g loaf tins 19 x 12 x 9 cms deep
425 ml sparkling rose wine
( if you cant find this, I successfully substituted 125ml sparkling mineral water to 300ml of rose wine)
22g gelatine granules or leaf equivalent
50g caster sugar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
FOR THE FRUIT
110g each of blackcurrants,redcurrants and blue berries, or a combination of your own choice
Remove the stalks from the fruit and halve any strawberry that is larger than a quail s egg.
carefully mix all the fruit together in a large bowl. In a small saucepan heat half the wine till it begins to simmer, then whisk the sugar and gelatine into it. Make sure that everything has dissolved completely before adding the remaining wine and lime juice.
Pour the liquid into a jug and allow to cool. Lay the fruit in the loaf tin with the smallest prettiest fruit first as this will be the top of the pudding when the terrine is turned out. Pour in all but 150ml of the liquid over the fruit. Lay a sheet of clingfilm over the tin. Place the other terrine on top then put two unopened tins as weights into the terrine and put in the fridge for one hour or until it has set. warm up the remaining 150ml wine mixture and pour it over the surface of the terrine. Re-cover with clingfilm and return to the fridge overnight to set firm.
Turn out the terrine by dipping it very briefly in hot water and inverting it on to a plate.
Use a very sharp knife (also dipped in hot water ) to cut it into slices.
This recipe can also be made in small individual ramekins if you are catering for large numbers.
Quantities can be doubled in the same proportions.