Sunday, 27 February 2011

A yearly challenge

A yearly challenge faces me every February - When I was working for Conde Nast the challenge was how to sex up the mise en page of the rainwear story for a third year running, and still make it look fresh and exciting. Now the challenge is more mundane- what to do with a glut of Seville oranges? How can I find yet another new and innovative way with them? There is only a certain amount of marmalade that even a guest house can store and consume. I have already posted 3 recipes using Seville oranges in the bitter sweet post at the end of January.Since then I have been researching and planning Casa Rosada´s new 2011 dinner menus. Among menu items, new takes on Tapas and spiced up sushi with an Algarvian twist are featuring in the starter section.One of the tapas items is going to be Manchego cheese with a Madeira and Seville orange chutney.Yes you may say, I have already done a Seville orange chutney in the previous post, but this is totally different. More Jamie Oliver, less Ruth Watson, a less structured chutney and delicious to boot.

Manchego cheese with a Madeira and orange Seville chutney
Serves 6 

12 pickling onions peeled
butter and olive oil for sautéing
3 tablespoons dry Madeira
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon diced red onon
1/2 tablespoon muscatel raisins
2 tablespoons coarse-cut Seville orange marmalade
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds lightly bruised
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Manchego cheese
Sauté the pickling onions in a little butter and oil. add the Madeira and sherry vinegar and gently sweat the onions for 5 minutes. add the remaining ingredients and gently cook together, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced enough to make a thick chutney. Leave to cool and serve with thin slices of a good quality Manchego cheese.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Cry me a sliver

My favourite sandwich - a mature cheese with Onion Marmalade
The more you cry, the better the taste. We´re talking onions.They have the potential to lower bad cholesterol, relieve hypertension and minimize blood clotting, but they can reduce you to tears. I was lucky enough, when we lived in London, to buy the best organic onions from Ripple farm organics at The Stoke Newington Farmers Market. These onions made my eyes water as opposed to supermarket produce that failed to raise any tear.
Take every onion whose skin you slice through in Portugal, and within a few moments the tangy scent wafts up to your nose and your eyes begin to water.These Portuguese onions are real tear jerkers, all locally grown without pesticides or fertilizers and have just absorbed the natural sulphurs in the soil, which at the end of the day, when you slice through an onion, brings a tear to your eye. Sometimes the onion reaction is just a mild ocular irritant; other times, it's a full-on cry fest.Unless you´re a cook with a freshly broken heart the tears you shed when chopping onions aren't emotional ones.Sigh!!! to cheer you up let me introduce you to Onion Marmalade- The pickle of all pickles.This is the "must always have a jar in the fridge" pickle.I hear my fridge sighing that phrase again "not another jar of pickle, condiment queen is back  again."This is a  real tear jerker too, caused by the amount of onions you have to slice and the strong aroma given off by the vinegar in the cooking process. WARNING: Don´t attempt this on a day when you are expecting guests in your house.But having said that, make it anyway, It´s oh so awesome.

8 brown onions sliced 
1tablespoon cumin seeds
1tablespoon coriander seeds
3 cups (24fl oz 9 white wine vinegar
21/2 cups (20floz) light brown sugar or demerara

Place the onions, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and vinegar in a saucepan over a medium-high heat. Cover and allow to simmer rapidly for 15 minutes. Add the brown sugar to the pan and cook uncovered , for 1 hour or until the onions are soft and the syrup is thick. Pour into sterilised jars* and seal immediately.
Serve the onion marmalade on sandwiches with cheese or meat.Makes 5 cups.
The marmalade can be kept sealed for up to 1 year. After opening, store in the refrigerator for up to 8 weeks.
*Sterilised jars- Before putting foods into jars to be sealed and stored, the jars need to be sterilised. Sterilise the jars by by thoroughly washing in hot water. Let them dry naturally. Do not dry them with a tea towel. Place the jars on a baking tray in a preheated oven 100C (200F) for thirty minutes. Remove the jars from the oven, allow to cool, then fill as the recipe requires and seal.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Five go mad in the campo

‘who’d ‘a’ thought it.’ five proprietors go foraging in the Algarve. Hurrah! I Today found myself a privileged participant of a brainstorming workshop chaired by Maria Manuel Valagao, author of two books "Natureza Gastronomia e Lazer" and "Tradição e Inovação Alimentar".

The setting and days intentions were vaguely reminiscent of an Enid Blyton childhood,rural,remote and with the ability for second childhood to discover the simple joys of casas de campo (cottages),fazendas ( farms ) aldeias (villages), the Algarvian countryside and sea shores, as well as the adventures,picnics, lemonade,bicycle rides, home-made food, and lashings of ginger beer.Hurrah! A time of innocence, lost but not forgotten.

Maria Manuel´s book NATURE, FOOD & LEISURE defines the role of flora in terms of a culinary culture of Mediterranean gastronomic heritage. The book introduces the reader to wild food, plants and herbs,their uses as condiments and as a major contribution to the new dining table. Some are the most common and some lesser known,some big surprises( until today I did not know that parsnips (pastinacas) can grow in the wild uncultivated).Some are part of a traditional gastronomy being rediscovered or reinvented by the current generation of chefs, to create new culinary trends. Her thesis is how "new arrives from the old man's hand,"( sic),ensuring the conservation of species and securing continuity and innovation of some of the signature food traditions of the Alentejo. 
The workshop set out to establish a new way forward for "Agro  Turismo". Maria Manuel prefers to describe her work in a wider and more romantic context as "Itinerarios, Turisticos, Integrados".The five participants consisted, apart from us, of two other Turismo Rurais,and a modern innovative restaurant.Following a presentation and brainstorming with Maria Manuel we set off with cloth bags and baskets, hats on heads, to explore the nearby undergrowth and gather a natural harvest of Ortigas (nettles) Acelga ( wild spinach )Dentes de leao (dandelion) carrasquinha (thistle) and alabaça ( dock leaves ). Eglantinas husband Francisco was meanwhile preparing a Consomé de ortigas for our potluck picnic lunch.We  had not got the message and therefore shamefully came without. The consomé was delicious, followed by offerings of traditional fresh cheese and bread, shrimps cozidos, caldeirada,nut bread, and for desert tangerines and fresh goats cheese tart with cinnamon. A totally inspiring day. I have come home with newly acquired culinary knowledge of the wild gastronomy, and armed with bundles of herbs and leaves previously unknown to me, from which I will be experimenting and producing trial recipes to fuel this blog and report back to the next meeting of our newly formed union for the promotion  of "wild gastronomic tourism".Lets put our best foot forward to see what further fruits nature can offer us.Watch this space..... 

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Currry lurrrrrve

A typical Casa Rosada fusion curry
Real men like a curry, and no less than here at Casa Rosada. I cook a wide variety of curries, both for guests and in their absence, ourselves. When it comes to ourselves much depends on leftovers. A Sunday roast or meat dish becomes a Monday supper.I draw from three main influences Goan, Indian and Thai, but for the most part my curries are personalized fusions of this, that and the other.Lets face it, we all like a bit of the other. Curry's popularity in recent decades has spread outward from the Indian subcontinent to figure prominently in international cuisine. Consequently, each culture has adopted spices in its indigenous cooking to suit its own unique tastes and cultural sensibilities. Curry can therefore be called a pan-asian or global  phenomenon, with immense popularity in Thai, British, and Japanese cuisines.
Casa Rosada grows its own piri piri peppers. I use these when they are fresh from the bushes but also dry them and use them where a recipe calls for dried chilli and I also make my own blend of curry powder of which Piri piri peppers are a key component. Piri-piri is the Swahili word for the incendiary red peppers of Africa — primarily those of Angola and Mozambique, former Portuguese colonies. Because of the seafaring nature of the Portuguese, it didn't take long for these bite-size pods of fire to make their way to Lisbon aboard spice ships returning from the East...... And the ship sailed on for Portugal to leave its mark on foreign shores.
The Portuguese introduced a new spice to Thai cooking. It was readily absorbed into their cuisine, to such a degree that Thai food today is inconcievable without the chilli The chilli arrived in Thailand some time after 1511, the year the first Portuguese envoy came to Siam.

O meu po de caril ( my curry powder )

1 tablespoon cominho (cumin seeds )
2 tablespoons coentro (coriander seeds)
18 dried piri piri chillies (pictured)
1 Tablespoon pimenton dulce ( sweet pimento powder)
pinch of açafrao (saffron threads)

Blitz all the above in a food processor or coffee grinder,store in a glass jar or sealed plastic bag within an airtight container. The powder will keep for a couple of months. 

To prepare a typical Curry
Follow the normal process for preparing a curry,
frying onions ginger and garlic. After that adapt the curry to your own personal taste. 
Chicken or any other meat, fish prawns or vegetables.
Curry powder, or individual spices,curry leaves, Lemon grass,kaffir lime leaves, cardamom, fish sauce, soya sauce, the final choice of flavours is yours. Have fun and make your own fusion curry.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Food addiction alert

Mangoes originated in South east Asia about 4,000 years ago, and India is still the major producer, growing more mangoes than all other fruits combined. In the 10th century, Persian sailors are said to have taken the mango to East Africa and, some 600 years later, travelers from Portugal took them to West Africa and South America.It seems nowadays that Portuguese travellers are  bringing back the dried incarnation of this fruit from the Americas I was recently given a bag of fair trade chilli spiced mango. It is an acquired taste, but once that taste has been acquired it is positively addictive, so rather than snacking on it I  put it to the test in a fantastic sounding chutney recipe from Hugh Fearnley - Whittingstall. Please, beg borrow or steal a packet of this addictive eating sensation if you possibly can.These little gems have so much going on that some people can't handle it. They are hot, sweet, sour, and salty. If you're a fan of Korean or Thai food you'll probably love them. you'll either love them or hate them.The mango is sweet and chewy but the twist is, is that is dusted with a chili powder mixture. This product may be too hot for some but if you enjoy sweet and spicy this is a nice alternative.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall´s dried mango chutney   
I make a Goan style mango chutney using fresh mango. This interpretation however is delicious and some other interesting differences are in the addition of onions, the orange zest and juice. There are further additions in the extra spices he uses- Ginger, black pepper, coriander and cumin. Because I was using chilli spiced mango I adjusted the chilli content in the recipe.
Makes five 240ml jars.

500g dried mango slices 
(roughly chopped, if on the large side)
4 onions, peeled and finely diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
250g raisins
350g light muscovado sugar
1 tbsp mustard seeds
2 small red chillies, halved, 

membranes removed, finely diced
500ml cider vinegar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 small orange
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin

Put the mango slices in a bowl, pour over 1.5 litres of water, cover and leave to soak overnight.

Tip the mangoes and their soaking water into a large, stainless-steel saucepan or preserving pan. Add all the other ingredients and, over a low heat, stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring up to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for about an hour and a half. You should stir the mixture frequently, particularly towards the end of the cooking time, to ensure it doesn't stick – it's done when a spoon drawn through the centre of the chutney leaves a clear line for a second or two before the chutney comes back together.
Pour into hot, sterilised jars and seal with vinegar-proof lids. Store in a cool, dry place and leave to mature for eight weeks before using. Use within two years.

In researching this post I stumbled across this interesting sounding recipe from Portuguese Mozambique.

Peixe assado com manga seca (baked fish with dried mango slices)

This recipe can be prepared with either fresh or dried fish. Although the dish has long been a part of traditional Mozambican cuisine, the mango was introduced to Africa from India. The dried mango slices can be found in many health food stores.

2 pounds fresh or dried fish fillets
3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 large onions, chopped
2 teaspoons crushed hot red peppers
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces dried mango slices

Heat oven to 350°F.
Butter a 2-quart casserole and layer the fish fillets on the bottom. Top with the chopped tomatoes, onions, red peppers, salt, and dried mango. Add 1 cup water, cover, and bake for 30 minutes.
Serve with white rice, black beans, collard greens, or Rice with Split Peas.

Source : Cuisines of Portuguese Encounters : Recipes from Portugal, Madeira/Azores, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Angola, Mozambique, Goa, Brazil, Malacca, East Timor, and Macao / Cherie Y. Hamilton 
 This book alas is now out of print and commanding a high price second hand on Amazon.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

An evangelical awakening

" Woke up this morning feeling fine, I had something special on my mind, 
something told me I was into something good"

This morning for the first time I woke up and felt full of energy and as if I have had a good nights sleep. Good day sunshine, today was to be the day, February 20th- its taken all this time but the time has got to be right and it was.Bye bye procrastination Hello Mental, physical and nutritional conditioning.

"I need to laugh, and when the sun is out
I've got something I can laugh about
I feel good, in a special way
I'm going to run and it's a sunny day "

8.30a.m We take a walk, the sun is shining down
running along the beach, got to be sound.
This must be done full of religious fervour and through a progression of seemingly minor actions taken one day at a time over an extended period I am going to improve the quality of my health with small daily acts that will add up to a well-rounded lifestyle based on health and vigour.
Time to take stock and make an action calendar

Mental conditioning: Get up take the dog for a walk. I already do that everyday, so I should take care of some other daily task that I habitually shirk. Sweep or mop the kitchen floor.Today when I get home I am going to concentrate my energies on the preserving pan and make some chutneys. 

Physical conditioning: Sit down and consider what I want to achieve in this area. Over the next few months I can gain a lot: improved endurance, more stamina, fat loss, maybe even minor weight loss, although this is not my problem. Faster running time, gain a new skill.
improve my performance. I have set my goals.Alternating.....

       ( beach ) sprinting /triple station aerobic fat buster
       ( urban circuit ) Walking, cycling, step striding

This is not a picture of the author, but re-creates the up-hill boardwalk that I tackled this morning

This was the dog´s favourite part of the mornings
strenuous activity. I strode up the steps attached to the dog on a leash so she helped ensure I made proper fast strides in rhythm up the steps. Return home- mug of tea followed by power breakfast of banana,strawberries, cherries( imported ) but what the heck, granola,home made yoghurt and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Nutritional conditioning: Starting today I am going to eat breakfast within 90 minutes of waking every morning for the forseeable future. I think this is one of the simplest yet most powerful things I can do for my health and energy levels.I am going to ensure my water intake is eight to ten glasses a day.Water will be vital to my recovery(operative word) from exercise, efficient digestion and ideal weight maintenance.When and how often to get my calories.Studies have shown that the body metabolizes food at different speeds at different times of the day so If I eat more calories earlier in the day and fewer later this should produce positive results? Here´s hoping!!! 2 chutnies made,bottled, and photographed for this coming week´s blog. Light lunch break - a slipper of a sandwich. Pao  de Agua, a light Portuguese bread. not disismilar to Ciabatta and similarly shaped,made with flour walter salt and yeast, not gluten free. I spread a layer of Dolcelatte on the bottom to replace the butter I would normally use and then topped it with little gem lettuce leaves and cherry tomatoes.
A nostalgic flash back to a favourite office lunch item I used to enjoy when working in London. Healthy dinner scheduled. ( thespian cooking)
Simple roast chicken, stuffed with coriander and lemon, new potatoes and carrots or broccoli.Evangelical conscience satisfied. Tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Peixinhos da horta - Little fish from the kitchen garden

Peixinhos da horta - Little fish from the kitchen garden
This is a curious name for a humble but very tasty accompaniment to a meat dish or part of a vegetarian platter.It does not contain any fish. It is prepared with green beans in a batter, and so resembles small fish.
In the middle of the sixteenth century, the Portuguese landed on Japanese shores. In addition to establishing trade and trying to convert the Japanese to Catholicism, the Portuguese introduced tempura, the technique of dipping fish and vegetables into a batter and frying them. This is one example of Japanese food evolution by incorporating foreign influences.
The secret of good tempura is in its lightness.Some people use carbonated water for the batter.For my tempura batter I use Sagres beer. My reasoning is that while the batter is Japanese, the tempura is being eaten in Portugal, and without the Portuguese we would not have tempura. And it gives a great flavour too.
substitute asparagus spears or purple sprouting broccoli for the green beans.

Purple sprouting broccoli tempura
For the tempura
400g purple sprouting broccoli
sunflower oil for deep frying
180g rice flour plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of sugar
1 egg white
180ml sagres beer or light lager

In a pan of boiling water, blanch the runner beans and or broccoli, if using for about two minutes or until tender to the point of a knife.Drain in a colander and refresh under cold water to halt the cooking process and keep the colour.Tip onto paper towel and carefully pat dry.Heat enough oil in a deep fat fryer, or a large wok, just less than half full,to 190C/375F. Put the rice flour in a bowl and mix in the salt and sugar.Whisk the egg white until soft peaks form. Mix the beer into the flour mixture a little at a time; don´t worry if it stays lumpy. stop adding the beer before the mixture becomes too runny. Fold through the whisked egg white. Finely sift the extra flour over both sides of the vegetables, tapping off any excess. Dip the vegetables, a few at a time into the tempura batter, letting any excess drip off( but not too much).Place straight into the hot oil and fry for about two minutes until pale golden and crispy, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.Only fry four pieces at a time, otherwise the batter will become soggy. Always bring the temperature of the oil back up before frying the next batch. Serve immediately with Wasabi mayonnaise, chilli dipping sauce or yuzu dipping sauce.

"Arigatou gozaimasu"- itadakimasu

 Obrigado- bom proveito

Thank you - enjoy your meal

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Persian pearls pickled in Portugal

What to do on a wet February morning in the Algarve, when the rain is beating down outside and the quality of natural light is not good enough for practical maintenance tasks.  Pickle some garlic.When we were in London recently I found myself one evening in our hosts' kitchen, glass of wine in one hand while my other hand picked at a bowl of pickled garlic on the table. This pickled garlic is obtainable in all the local Turkish, Asian and Iranian stores along Stoke Newington High Street.I vowed I would try pickling my own when I returned home.
Have you ever wanted to learn how to pickle garlic? Maybe you've never really thought about it before, but pickled garlic is a great addition to many dishes including salads and cold pastas. If you are already au fait with the great taste of pickled garlic, then you know from buying it at the store that it can be a pretty expensive item. But you can pickle garlic on your own for a relatively low cost. And when you pickle garlic it lasts for quite a long time, so it's something you can try once. See how it goes, and reap the rewards from many meals later.
  •  When buying your garlic, you should select whole bulbs of garlic that are fresh and ready to be used. Buy organic garlic straight from the farmer's market or simply buy the garlic from your local store. You'll also need vinegar and Flor de sal. Other ingredients that you might want to think about for the recipe are red bell peppers, carrots, onion, celery, spices, and possibly sugar if you want to to sweeten it up a bit. Pickled garlic originated In Persia.It is either served on its own to accompany "a pair of teef" or used in cooking instead of fresh garlic.The pickling mellows and changes the flavour of the garlic, enriching it with a delicate, elusive perfume. 
  • 250ml (1.7 fl oz) white wine vinegar
  • Tablespoon sea salt
  • 500g (1lb) fresh garlic                           
  • Put the Vinegar and salt in a non-corrosive pan. Bring to the boil and boil for 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  • Separate the garlic cloves and blanch for 30 seconds to ease the removing of the skin.
  • Blanch the garlic again in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain and put into sterilized jars. Pour in the vinegar, weight down the garlic, then seal.
Be patient, the pickling process isn't a quick one. It takes anywhere from 2-4 weeks to pickle garlic so that it has a good rich spicy taste. When you think it's ready, take it out and test it. If it tastes the way that you want it to taste, you can start using the pickled garlic in pastas, salads and even as relish on sandwiches. You can even eat it by itself!- Gout sufferers ,its great for the gout.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A Real Goa

The sour and fruity taste of tamarind merges well with the heat of chillies and gives many South Indian dishes their hot and sour character, and their dark colour.In India,tamarind is mostly combined with meat, legumes, lentils,chick peas or beans.The pulp is sold dry and must be soaked before using. Only the water is then  added to the food.Alternatively(and more comfortably), tamarind extract may be used with the same effect.A well-known example of a Southern Indian dish employing tamarind is vindaloo,a pork stew from Goa.Goa was a Portuguese colony until the 1960´s; as a Portuguese heritage,pork is very popular in Goan cooking.Basically,vindaloo is a spicy,tropical version of the Portuguese porco vinho e alho.Pork is marinated with a paste made from vinegar (instead of the original wine), spring onions, garlic, ginger and a host of spices (chilli,cloves,cinnamon,pepper,cumin)  for several hours and then, together with the marinade and tamarind water, stewed until tender.I have applied these basics to the dish but have modified some elements to personalize it.I have used Medronho the local Algarvian fire water made from the arbutus berry, but a good alternative would be Sake.
Slow cooked Pork belly with Medronho, 
black eyed peas and tamarind

100g soya beans
1kg belly pork in one piece
45ml Medronho
80 ml rice wine vinegar
1tablespoon peanut oil
2tablespoons sesame oil
3 garlic cloves,roughly chopped
4spring onions, white parts only,chopped
5thin slices fresh ginger
250mlchicken or vegetable stock
2tablespoonslight soya sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon flor de sal 

Soak the beans overnight in 750ml cold water. Drain and transfer to a large saucepan. add plenty of boiling  and set the  pan over a medium heat. Cook for 45-50 minutes, until the beans are tender.
Drain and set aside.Cut the belly pork into 8 pieces. Put them in a dish and pour over the Medronho. cover with cling film and set aside for 1 hour, turning often. Remove the pork from the Medronho reserving the Medronho.Put the Peanut oil in a large flameproof casserole and set over a high heat. Cook the pork in batches( so as not to overcrowd the pan), for 4-5 minutes, turning often until golden all over. Put the browned pork in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3.
Add the sesame oil to the casserole. Add the garlic, spring onions and ginger. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes,until aromatic and softened. Add the reserved Medronho, allowing it to boil and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, stirring to remove any pork residues from the bottom and sides of the casserole. add the stock, soya sauce, tamarind, sugar and salt and return the pork to the pan, stirring until the tamarind has melded in. Bring to the boil,cover with a tight fitting lid,transfer to the preheated oven and cook for 2 hours, turning the pork after 1 hour. Stir in the soya beans,cover and cook for 30 minutes more. Serve hot.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Preservation order

I was ordered by the thespian this morning to use up the glut of Piri piri peppers. His suggestion was to make chilli oil. Fine, I said, and then immediately stumbled like Alice in Wonderland into a hot mineshaft of different recipes. Australian Womans weekly usually comes up trumps when anything needs bottling, but alas I only found a recipe for "pickled chillies."Thats pickled chillies said the thespian,vehemently its something completely different". I went down all the Portuguese Piri piri avenues and could not find anything that said OIL. My requirement was something that looked stunning as well as playing an active role in the Casa Rosada cupboard. The final result was a marriage of Peter Gordon, Europes father of fusion cuisine, and food writer/ television presenter Tom Parker-Bowles. Goodness me, how bizarre is that partnership? Think about it.Returning to underland "curiouser and curiouser."
Prep time:  5 min, plus several weeks to infuse
Cook time: 5 min 
Makes:       450 ml
  • 450 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 g whole dried chillies 
1. Gently warm the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the chilli flakes and whole chillies to the oil, and heat for 3-4 minutes. 

2. Using a funnel, decant the oil into a sterilised glass bottle. Seal and shake well.

3. Store the bottle in a cool, dry and dark place. Once a week give the bottle a shake and after a few weeks, the oil will change to slightly reddish colour. It could take two or three months to achieve the desired hotness

Monday, 14 February 2011

Sex and the kitchen- Beef encounter

Would you buy a kitchen from this man?
I loved Matthew Fort's "Induction seduction" post last September in the Guardian about his all- consuming love affair with a new Falcon Continental Induction Range Cooker, which brings a 1.5litre pan of water to a raging boil in 3 minutes 32 seconds. It made me mindful of one of those notorous car adverts claiming a car to go from 0-60 Mph in a balistic 3.6 seconds.The British motor industry has long been synonymous with centrefold adverts of bikini-clad women draped over shiny bonnets in the hope of seducing the wallets of potential testosteroned males with their flash product. Casa Rosada recently found itself in a kitchen showroom looking at possible contenders for an upgrade of worktops.One hot option was Silestone and my eye was drawn to the publicity attached.There was Kylie Minogue´s boyfriend, Spanish model, hunk Andres Velencoso in full kitchen action.Would you buy a kitchen from this man? To sell clothing, yogurt,and even breakfast cereal, women are featured in commercials and TV spots advertising the product. Okay, fine, that makes sense. Women wear, buy, and use those items. But car mufflers, plumbing parts, heavy duty tools? What's the relationship there between the woman and the product in question? We may laugh about how ridiculous it is, but we've been exposed to the use of women's bodies to sell products for so long that we don't give it much thought.But now the table has turned, previously female sexuality was used to sell almost every product.Advertisements placed in fashion magazines communicate to women that they exist only for male gratification. Is this now an example of men existing for female gratification.Who buys the kitchen and who pays for it?

Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson on the kitchen table 1981
I could not but help casting my thoughts back to the raw sexiness of the steamy, sexually charged performance of Jack Nicholson and Jesica Lange  in the 1981 re-make of The Postman Always Rings Twice. The 1946 drama film-noir based on James M.Cain´s novel was one of the earliest prototypes of today's 'erotic thrillers. A real pot-boiler. Is this what sells kitchens in Portugal? And are our kitchen accessories becoming the new fast cars. They're beautifully made and will give years of pleasure, for one thing - but in the age of so-called luxury kitchens, it's good to remember that it is possible to turn excellent food out of a basic stove. Elizabeth David wrote in a magazine article about her ideal kitchen `that she would be perfectly happy with the very ordinary Cannon gas cooker´ from her actual kitchen in London.
At the end of the day I think we´ll settle for wood, It´s more durable.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Strawberry fields for ever

Fresh from just across the border, in Huelva province

"Let me take you down, ´cause I´m going to" ......The  monthly market yesterday heralded the arrival of the first strawberries, admittedly from Spain,( " living is easy with eyes closed" ) but the Portuguese cousins and Casa Rosada´s own crop won´t be too far behind. The mild and moderately dry winter boded well for some tastier fruits than ever before.  These Spanish strawberries are from Huelva, 45 kilometres from Castro Marim, so my food miles conscience is adequately satisfied.The favourable climate of Andalucia helps to produce full flavoured succulent berries.Encouraged by Huelva´s light sandy soil and warm Spanish climate, strawberries  can be grown high up on ridges. Their roots are then warmed by the sun to produce healthy and delicious fresh fruit. The Spanish growers work to high standards to ensure the berries are bursting with flavour and goodness and now, with new means of production, the fruit is the best it has ever been.The mother plants come from meristems which are multiplied in highlands approximately 1000 metres up. This is done in order to ripen the plant to transplant them to the South (Andulucia ) during the months of October or November and start their fruiting from January on.The season runs until May."Nothing to get hung about"

1 handful of strawberries (around 9 strawberries) gives you (approximate value): 
  • Less than 30 calories
  • They have only 0.1g of fat and no cholesterol
  • Less than 10g of carbohydrates
  • Good source of vitamin C
  • 20% of the recommended daily intake of folic acid
  • High in fibre
Anyone for a Casa Rosada strawberry and yoghurt smoothie?

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Merluza en horno com patatas a lo podre

A truly Andalucian still life, fish and two veg
Patatas a lo pobre roughly translates as 'poor man's potatoes', and it's very simple: potatoes cooked slowly in oil, with green capsicum (peppers),I have added red peppers too, onions and bay leaves. It's one of those alchemical dishes in which the simplest of ingredients become complex and surprising in the finished product. It's Andalusian through and through, although it's cooked all over Spain (along with that other incredibly good potato dish, patatas bravas), and it's wonderful with fish or roast meats.I chose to partner it with enormously thick hake steaks on the bone ( Pescada posta ), which I roasted in the oven and then married them at the end to the patatas.For a light  lunch or dinner,the potatoes can be cooked as a tapas item if you don´t want to involve fish or meat.

Roast Hake with poor man´s potatoes
serves 4
preheat oven to 220 C / 450F/ gas 7

4 extra-thick hake steaks, I got my fishmonger to cut them about 5cm / 2in thick.
sea salt, black pepper, best extra virgin olive oil 

For the patatas
about 15 tablespoons best extra virgin olive oil
3 large onions, sliced thinly
5-6 cloves of garlicliced thickly
3 peppers,(2 red one green), roughly chopped
3- 4 fresh bay leaves
1kg / 21/4lb waxy fleshed potatoes
a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes (optional)
sea salt and black pepper
In a large heavy-bottomed pan, heat 5 tablespoons of the olive oil, then add the finely sliced onion and some salt to help release the juices. Cook gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent. add the sliced garlic, roughly chopped peppers and the bay leaves, which you can break a bit to release their flavour, and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Cut the potatoes lengthwise, then cut each slice into two or three chunks and lightly salt them. Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and when it has heated up, chuck in the potatoes and the tomatoes, if you are using them.Leave everything to simmer for 40- 50 minutes, by which time the potatoes will have cooked through completely when you pierce them with a skewer.Drain the oil through a sieve into a jug. enough will have adhered to coat the vegetables without them swimming in it, and all the flavours will have married  harmoniously.Save this flavoursome oil for a later date.
About 15- 20 minutes before the potatoes are ready, brush the hake steaks on both sides with olive oil.Put them in an ovenproof dish and season.Put the fish in the oven, and test it after 15 minutes with the point of a skewer through its thickest part. The flesh should not resist the skewer at all and be flaky, translucent and juicy without having softened to pulp. 
The potatoes will keep warm in the oven if there is any discrepancy in timing.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Paella and procrastination

My all new exercise programme is not happening.Auld anxiety, no can do - I´m not kidding you, the promises I make to myself. This time I´m really going to make a plan. This time I´m really going to stick to it. This time there will be a commitment to a new and improved me. and I will not fail.... and I can´t even get started. My excuse- the weather´s been lousy, wet and cold and damp. I have at least pumped some air into the bicycle´s tyres but have I got on it, have I heck. Meanwhile, at least, I  have become very diet conscious, snacking has all but gone. Lesser amounts of nourishment more often and a lot of running up and down the stairs and intentionally leaving things upstairs so I have to make an extra trip. A gentle introduction into cardio -vascular burn I say- NOT.I´ve been away and now returned to improving weather so no more excuses. My second procrastination is even further behind. For four years I have had a Paella pan but never christened it. Last night I decided to take the plunge. I found a paella recipe in its simplest form, all meat and no fish, with some spinach for the conscience. It is a fabulous Moro recipe.The result is an epiphany. A full frontal flash of paella deliciousness.  One of those all time make it again sam recipes.

Paella de cerdo con Chouriço y espinaca
Rice with pork Chouriço and spinach
serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a main course

7 tablespoons olive oil
350g pork fillet cut into strips
120g mild cooking chouriço, cut into small pieces
2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
1 large green pepper, halved seeded and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250g calasparra(paella) rice
1 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika
2 ñoras peppers, torn into small pieces and infused in boiling water
900ml hot chicken stock or water
500g spinach, washed and drained
1 lemon cut into wedges
Flor de sal and black pepper

In a 30-40cm paella pan or frying pan, heat the olive oil over a high heat, then stir-fry the pork for a few seconds so it is still a little undercooked. season with salt and pepper.remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and put to one side. Turn down the heat to a low to medium temperature and fry the chouriço for a minute. Add the onion and green pepper and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for a further 5-10 minutes. At this point the mixture ( recheado) should have caramelised and taste sweet. stir the rice into the pan to coat in the flavoursome mixture for a minute.
( up to this point everything can be cooked in advance. The next stage requires about 20 minutes more cooking time).
Now season with salt and a little pepper, for this is the time to season the rice perfectly. add your paprika and Nõras peppers, drained of their water, followed by the hot stock, and simmer for 15 minutes or until there is just a thin layer of liquid around the rice.
Meanwhile in a large saucepan or wok, briefly wilt the spinach with a little salt, either by braising or steaming, and put to one side with the pork fillet.Evenly scatter the pork over the rice followed by the spinach. With the back of a wooden spoon gently push the pork and spinach partially into the oily liquid that remains at the bottom of the pan. Cover the paella tightly with foil and let it sit for 3-5 minutes.


Thursday, 10 February 2011

O invasao Iberico de Londres

One of the Tapas temptations at number 22
The Iberian peninsular is alive and kicking in the heart of Englands metropolis.The streets are aromatised with the smell of finger grillin´ good chicken. As of February 2011 the Portuguese / Mozambican themed peri-peri chicken chain, Nandos now has 233 restaurants located across the UK, with over 65 of those in London. David Beckham has eaten there, so has Tinchy Stryder. I dont condone Nando´s bad practices but confess to, in the past having bought Nando off the shelf products in the supermarket.This is now the restaurant of choice for a new breed of confident young multicultural Britons.
On Monday afternoon our cabbie from the station engaged us in true East End style banter about another Portuguese food invasion of London - Stockwell's South Lambeth Road,has now been dubbed 'Little Portugal', due to the numerous cafes, bars and other businesses owned by Portuguese members of the community. There are 27,000 Portuguese people living in Lambeth. It´s a Lambeth you´ve never seen. 

Any time you´re Lambeth way, any evening any day, you´ll find them all
doing the Lambeth walk along the South Lambeth Road between Vauxhall and Stockwell.  
Nothing´s free but easy, Do as you darn well pleasey, Why don't you make your way there, Go there, stay there.... The atmosphere is almost as much Lisbon as London. It’s no wonder the area, a thriving barrio with many bars, cafés, restaurants and delicatessens, has been labelled ‘Little Portugal’. The Iberian theme continued into the evening. By coincidence our dear friend and host David who we were staying with overnight in Dulwich, suggested we dine at a new arrival in Herne Hill, Number 22, a Spanish tapas bar.En route to the restaurant we happened to pass Ocean fish, a traditional fishmongers but wait for this, it was owned and run hands on by a native Portuguese from Madeira.We arrived at the restaurant and settled on a glass  of Pedro Ximenez, while we perused the menu.I immediately felt an air of authenticity about this place. For appetisers we selected croquetas with goats cheese spinach and pine nuts and Spanish charcuterie including Chouriço. lomo, salchichon and jamòn serrano. For our main course we chose to share Chouriço a la sidra with patatas con mojos, a delicious chouriço sausage flamed with cider. Pork fillet with balsamic and honey glazed baby onions, and to complete the troika pan fried king prawns, chouriço and squid. David selected a superb Txomin Etxaniz,a vibrantly tart white that gets the appetite in gear for some truly great food that is on offer from its homeland, Spanish Basque country.Okay, okay, the name of this wine doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, but it does wonderful things to said mouth furniture.We finished with a cheese platter of manchego and quince jelly,a little too perfumed for me personally but something my companions tucked into. Picos de Europa with dried figs and a dark chocolate mousse with an orange coulis.
Our meal was magnificent, what a splendid finish to our UK visit,bringing a bright and light Iberican delight to a bitterly cold south London winter night.For those of you lucky enough to visit this truly Iberican oasis in South London, they also offer a range of Paellas on Sundays. Our delightful and knowledgeable waitress informed us it is essential to book.
Casa Rosada is now back home in the Algarve listening to our London purchase of Boy Georges latest offering featuring a guest performance by modern fadista Ana Lains, who was born in Tomar, Portugal and won the Grande Noite do Fado of Lisbon in 1999.What better accompaniment to a tapas evening. Enjoy.

A small selection of what´s on offer and what the critics have said about Little Portugal, London

Grelha D´ouro, 
151-153 South Lambeth Road London SW8
A home from home to the local Portuguese, Grelha D'Ouro has become even more welcoming since a recent refurbishment. It's just like a living room, with the furniture facing a television that provides a steady stream of footie and homeland soaps. Daytime sees men sinking bowls of steamed clams and Sagres beer, while young families snack on tosta mista (toasted ham and cheese sandwiches) and petiscos. We chose stewed chicken gizzards, substantial pastéis de bacalhau (salt-cod fish cakes) and plump olives. The gizzards, cooked in a rich tomato sauce, were incredibly moreish, despite their thoroughly unattractive appearance; the pastéis de bacalhau were so nicely balanced we bought an extra four to bolster office packed lunches. Coffee and the sugary pastéis de nata (custard tarts) were also of a delectably high standard. Evenings and weekends see customers take over the basement games room and back room dining area. Stop by on a Sunday afternoon to see parties of four generations of Portuguese families sharing pots of soupy seafood rice and slow-cooked feijoada.
Bar Estrela
111-115, South Lambeth Road, London SW8
Cold Super Bocks, custard tarts and portions of stew and sundry pork dishes served in half- or full measures add to the Iberian atmosphere.You can stand at the bar, but it's more of a sit-down-and-be-served kind of place, with the uniformed waiters gradually getting used to a pace of life a few notches faster than Portugal's.Considered by many to be the best drinking option in Little Portugal, the Star Bar is certainly the finest spot at which to watch European football, beamed in on Portuguese TV.                                                                                 TIME  OUT

Cafe Portugal
5A-6A Victoria House, South Lambeth Road, London SW8
Reservations are advisable at this charming, family run restaurant, which is situated in increasingly fashionable Lambeth,offering mainly Portuguese dishes, but Spanish ones get a look in too, with different paellas, from meat to fish.various spices are employed here with well-reheased skill, and the house wine is excellent value. The atmosphere is cafe style and airy with the emphasis on casual. CUISINE: Portuguese

Ilha Dourada ( Spanish)63 Stockwell Road, London SW8
Very good food good atmosfere lovely barbecue and a very variety of portuguese products go and hask for a beer and a nice chiken piri-piri and you will go there more offen (sic).

Rebatos ( Spanish)
169 South Lambeth Road London SW8 
The most authentic Spanish tapas bar in town, with a restaurant that is always full. The long oak bar is populated by Spanish waiters at lunchtime. They must work nights. In the evening there is a splendid mix of locals, visitors from as far away as Chelsea or Fitzrovia plus many Spanish revellers. As it would in Spain, the menu changes daily; some favourites include the kidneys in sherry, calamares, chirizo, and squid. Drink the fresh Manzanilla and Finos or the beers from Spain. The wine list is superbly Spanish. £35—£45 for two—wine £10.

A little bit of Portugal on Golborne Road
Portuguese cafe culture has an extablished - and very welcome - place in the life of Golborne. In Portugal itself, cafes are the hub of social life, rather like the traditional British pub. They're the place you go to meet friends, discuss weighty issues and hear the local gossip. And that is very much the atmosphere you'll find at the Lisboa and Oporto, respectively named after the first and second cities of Portugal.

Sitting almost opposite each other on Golborne Road, these two cafes provide the centrepiece of this scene. Both of them have thriving outdoor areas and an authentically Portuguese feel, complete with the ceramic tiles that are such a feature of Portuguese interiors. If you've ever been to Portugal you'll know that the delicious coffee, the irresistible cakes and the tasty snacks are entirely as you'd find them in Lisbon or Porto.

At the Lisboa try one of their custard tarts - surely the best in London. Other cakes are also scrumptious, but it's the custard tarts (pastéis de nata) that lure the sweet-toothed from far and wide. At Oporto, my personal favourite is the toasted croissant with cheese and ham, perhaps a slightly unusual snack but let me assure you, one that is absolutely delicious.

Lisboa Delicatessen
54 Golborne Road

Lisboa Cafe 57 Golborne Road
Experiencing this place is like having a "slice" of Lisbon itself. Once you are inside you actually forget you are in London, it seems as if you are in the Lisbon city. If you have ever been in a Cafe in Lisbon Portugal you know exactly what I mean. Thoroughly recommended it, have fun and Enjoy. 

Cafe Oporto
62 Golborne Road

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Dé Ferias

Estimado leitores,com a sua licença
O pessoal está mesmo necessitado de descanso.
Casa Rosada tomamos uma semana em Reino Unido 
                                   Regresso na segunda semana de Fevreiro. Até lá.

Dear readers, asking for your forgiveness?
The staff need are in need of a break
Casa Rosada is going to England for one week
  returning on the 8th February
see you then