Saturday, 30 April 2011

The hottest date in town

A melting Moroccan moment
If you are looking for a hot date this weekend. Look no further,here is the answer.Divorce a tired old canape and marry some new flavour combos. Your parties will start to swing again. The devil rides out. This is the new devil on horseback, reinvented and flying off tapas platters at smart parties all across the Iberian peninsular.

Manchego stuffed dates wrapped in bacon
These are very rich, so plan on 2 per person.
They can  be made without bacon if you have a vegetarian in your midst.
24 pitted dates
130 g (5oz) manchego cheese at room temperature
12 pieces of bacon, rind removed cut in half
Pre-heat the oven to high setting. 
Cut the Manchego into rectangles just large enough to fill the cavity of the pitted date.
Stuff 1 piece of cheese into each date
Press the date around the cheese so the cheese is completely enclosed within the date.
Wrap each date with a piece of bacon
Place on a baking tray and bake for 4 minutes
Turn dates over and cook another 4 minutes
Serve HOT

Thursday, 28 April 2011

All because the lady loves tapas

Between the devil and the deep green sea

The Lady loves tapas. Who knew? Lady Gaga spent part of last New Year's Eve partying on small Spanish bites at Caliu the then newish New York West Village tapas restaurant.
She sampled traditional tapas-bar standards such as sliced morcilla, chouriço and, patatas bravas  (fried potatoes crusted with spicy paprika and drowned in alioli) and dates wrapped in bacon( more of that story later Kirsty). Is this a bad romance? I dont think so. It got my mojo workin´and my latest addition to the Casa Rosada tapas menu is Patatas con Mojo.

1/2 Kg of small potatoes
100 gr of sea salt (rock salt)

Mojo Picante (Red)
1 garlic clove
2 Nõra or cayenne peppers (soaked if they are dry and seeds removed)
1/3 of a medium red pepper
1/2 tsp rock salt
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp water
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp soaked bread, optional (for consistency)

Mojo Cilantro (Green)
1 garlic clove
3 sprigs of coriander
2 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp Rock salt
2 tbsp water
6 tbsp olive oil
Wash the potatoes throughly and leave the skin on. Put them in a saucepan with water that just covers the potatoes and the sea salt – lots of salt is needed to help the potato skins to get wrinkled in the final stage of cooking.Traditionally they were cooked in sea water. Boil them until they are tender – 15 mins approx. (check if the point of a sharp knife passes easily into them). Drain, put the saucepan back on the hob at very low heat and shake it every now and again till the potatoes dry and the skin becomes wrinkled.

Mojo Picon: Peel the garlic clove and puree it in a blender together with the cayenne peppers, the red pepper, salt, vinegar, cumin seeds (grind them in the pestle and mortar beforehand to release the aromas), and sweet paprika. Then add the water and mix and check the salt and garlic point in case you need to add some more. Finally add the olive oil and mix it with the machine at a lower speed. If you want to give it more consistency/thickness add a spoon of soaked bread and mix again.

Mojo Cilantro: Peel the garlic clove and puree it with a hand mixer together with the coriander sprigs, the salt, vinegar and water. Finally add the olive oil and mix it at a lower speed.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Things that make you go hmmm

Melon without port is like dressing Audrey Hepburn in a cheap frock.The recent hot weather has ripened  a type of melon we call "Meloa Gália".These melons are small, sweet, juicy and they´re very common in Portugal, especially in the Algarve where they are produced. When they are really small they are eaten in halves, with the seeds scooped out and replaced with a good quality port. This isn’t about anything as pedestrian as watermelon and vodka, the "Meloa Gália"deserves something more refined."Meloa Gália"and Port were meant for each other and because the Port is sweeter than the melon, it accentuates the melon´s fruit acid and gives you a dessert wth a delicate flavour.

Meloa Gália o Porto
Cut the bottom off the melon so it stands firm on the plate.Remove the seeds and excess fibre from the centre of the melon and fill the cavity with a good quality Port. Cut the other half of the melon into chunks and drop them into the pool of port. Eagerly devour them up, and  scoop the remaining flesh from the sides of the melon bowl until there is nothing left except an empty rind.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Via Oloroso

It is Holy Thursday of Santa Semana and my recipe for today incorporates the Oloroso into a dessert that is the perfect finale to any last supper.
The growing popularity of tapas in the last two decades has brought a revival in fino sherry, but Oloroso, its richer, darker, more highly fortified sibling, remains seriously underappreciated. That's a shame, because these can be magnificent wines and are far more accessible than most wine drinkers think.
Olorosos are rather dry wines when they come from the bodega (producer), but their rich, nutty tones can give them an almost deceptive sweetness on the palate. Dry Olorosos such as Gonzalez Byass Matusalem, Barbadillo´s Cuco (VORS) or Pedro Romero´s Viña El Alamo(VORS) are ideal as cool-season aperitifs and are a traditional accompaniment to soup courses. Spanish sportsmen drink dry Olorosos before hunting or fishing.

Oloroso pear with Pecorino Shortbread
Supermarket pears can be difficult customers, promising so much, but delivering so little.Hand picked pears on the other hand are difficult to ripen to perfect eating condition, so with a bit of cooking and aromatic addition to help them on their way, their fugitive flavour can be given a little more exposure.Cheese in cookies? It may sound a bit weird but why not. Pears and Pecorino are a perfect foil for each other so I decided on Pecorino shortbread as an accompaniment to this pear pudding, and the finishing touch had to be a glass of chilled Oloroso.

Allow 1 pear per person. peeled, stemmed, 
cored and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4 tablespoons Oloroso sherry
Freshly grated nutmeg ( or ground cinnamon ) for dusting

I suggest you use a fairly shallow tupperware container that you can put in the freezer beforehand – this speeds up the freezing process for the sorbet. 

Put the pears, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon in a pan with 125ml water, and cook over a low flame until the pears collapses ( 10 mins approx depending on how ripe the pears are).
remove from the heat, remove the cinnamon and when cool, blitz the pears in the processor.Add the sherry,give it a good stir and taste.The Oloroso shouldn’t be overbearing or too powerful – it should be subtle and should work well with the pears. However, different brands do vary in strength and flavour, so add to taste.One word of warning if you use too much alcohol the Sorbet won´t freeze. Transfer the purée to the tupperware container and put it into the freezer. Whisk it up with afork every half-hour. You will notice it becoming paler in colour as it freezes. After a couple of hours it should be ready. The texture should be nice and scoopable. Serve topped with mint leaves and a wedge of Pecorino shortbread on the side.

Makes 12
250g  (8oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups finely shredded pecorino romano cheese
2 tsp black peppercorns, crushed into small pieces

1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cups all purpose flour
Golden granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF/180º C , with the rack set in the center. Cream together butter, and sugar in a large bowl.  Add cheese, pepper and salt, and mix together until well blended, then add flour and mix until well combined.  Press the dough into an 8 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Score the shortbread into 12 wedges, and prick each wedge a couple times with a fork if desired.   Sprinke the top of the shortbread with granulated sugar, and place in the freezer to chill for 15-30 minutes until cold. Remove from the freezer and bake for about 20 minutes until set and lightly brown. Go over the score marks again with the knife when removed from the oven. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

PS This sorbet will last in the freezer for a couple of days – after that it will crystallize.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Par eggcellence

Last August, early in my blogging history I wrote a post about how recipe translations can be misleading. 
I stumbled on this one while researching Easter and as a result felt it was time for a bit of light relief from egg recipes.
Portugal Eggs
Old Elizabethan Dessert Recipe

Take a very large dish with a broad brim, lay in itsome Naples Bisket in the form of a star, then put so much sack into the dish as you do think the biskets will drink up; then stick them full with thin little pieces of preserved Orange, and green citron pill, and strew store of French Comfits over them, of divers colours, then buttersome eggs, and lay them here and there on the biskets, then fill up the hollow places in the dish, with several coloured jellies, and round about the brim thereof lay Lawrel Leaves guilded with leaf-gold; lay them flaunting, and between the Leaves several coloured jellies.

The above old dessert recipe for Portugal Eggs is written in a totally different way to today´s recipe books! It is almost set out as a challenge, leaving it for the most part to the cook´s ingenuity.This is right up Heston Street.I wonder whether we might shortly be seeing this on his menu at `Dinner.´

  • There were no lists of ingredients - these were included as part of the text
  • Food and ingredient measurements were extremely basic - quantities were not often specified!
  • Temperature control was difficult and therefore not specified!
  • Cooking times were vague - and left to the cook to decide!
  • It was assumed that the reader would already have some knowledge of cooking
A potted history of the Elizabethan recipe book
  • Some of the language might be referred to as 'Olde English'
  • The art of cooking and the recipe was passed verbally from one generation to the next
  • The first printed book ever to be published in English was in 1474!
  • Most Elizabethan women were unable to read!
  • The idea of a Recipe Book was an entirely new concept 
    The above Old recipe is taken from the book by Hannah Woolley (1622-1675) printed at the White Lion in Duck-Lane, near West-Smithfield, London in 1672 and entitled: "The Queen-like Closet or Rich cabinet scored with all manner of rare receipts for preserving, candying and cooking"

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Pod peas, live longer

The first crop of fava beans
Don´t be afraid of the time it takes to pod peas or beans, or dread the prospect. Look forward to it as a relaxing meditative pause in your day.If you are tired and stressed, start podding, and after a while you´ll feel much calmer and you won´t have to put on that sad old meditation tape to unwind! If the dish you are preparing is a simple one, such as pasta with fresh broad beans, you´ll actually be relaxed enough to enjoy the meal.
Well it worked for me. Yesterday I was getting my knickers in a twist over trying to translate into English the Portuguese copy for our next newsletter.I just wasn´t getting anywhere with it, it was all too literal and I started getting very crabby,perhaps I needed a Crabbies or something spiffingly refreshing and tickety boo tasty.Solution - I popped up to the  kitchen garden and gathered a kilo of Favas. Yes my prayers had been answered. The Our Favas I said on the 28th November last year had made the garden full of beans.So with trug upon arm I returned to the kitchen table and started my therapeutic podding.Twenty minutes later with a bowl of vibrant green pulses I started to prepare dinner -Risotto primavera, an easy choice as I always enjoy cooking a risotto.Some may say its time intensive but the benefits that are gained from stirring your stress away outweigh everything.....and the combination of fava beans and freshly grated or shaved pecorino -say no more.

Risotto primavera

750g ( 300g after podding) broad beans
6 shallots peeled and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
55g(2oz) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
150g pancetta, Toucino or cooked ham diced into small pieces
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 litre(13/4 pints)hot home-made vegetable stock or Marigold Bouillon
350 g (12 oz) vialone nano risotto rice
125ml (41/2 fl oz) dry white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful of fresh mint, chopped
55g ( 2oz ) freshly grated pecorino

Shell and rinse the beans. Fry the pancetta shallots and garlic in the butter and oil until lightly colored, then stir in the parsley, beans and just enough hot stock to barely cover the ingredients. Simmer gently for two minutes.Add the rice, wine and some pepper, and stir to coat the rice with this mixture, using a wooden spoon.Now add the stock ladleful by ladleful, stirring well between each addition, until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is creamy. This should take about 20 minutes. Stir in some salt, then the mint and pecorino. Serve on warm plates topped with extra shavings of pecorino.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Which came first the chicken or the egg?

Chouriço scotch eggs, the perfect picnic partner
Last week I posted a recipe for Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall´s home made Chouriço: It proved to be a huge success ( pictured above), so I got my Chef Holmes head on and decided to investigate the development of this perfect mini fry-up and then as a result of my research decided to make an Easter 2011 take on the ubiquitous pub classic that has now raised its game to gastro pub standard.
I am always drawn to recipes that have a historical reference, have travelled, suffered a transition through cultural compromise but survived the journey and kept their true identity. The Scotch egg started its journey in India. The Nargisi Kofta is the classic North Indian Scotch egg and dates back centuries. The Nargisi Kofta is a variation of the more coomon lamb kofta and is made from a combination of game meats -  venison, hare and wild boar. Boiled eggs are encased in a keema mixture and the kofta/kebab which  results is  either deep-fried or put into a gravy and cooked as part of a curry. The combination of keema and egg should not necessarily work but it always does, whether in Scotch eggs or in Indian cooking.Over the years and continents nations have combined a variety of meats to make their own version, depending on what meat they had at their disposal.I am now so happy now to have re-discovered ovos à escocesa here in Portugal.
The mystery has been cracked and the evidence unscrambled so now lets cook shall we....The majority of Portuguese recipes for Scotch eggs, Bolinhos de Carne Moída com Ovo de Codorna,use Quails eggs.Interestingly enough the range of Portuguese recipes I have researched use a wide variety of meats for the shell,beef pork and even minced chicken.I loved Scotch eggs from the first time my mother made me eat one. I was very young and not ready for the surprise of finding an egg inside a meatball.It was like some kind of Kinder experience, the only difference was the surprise was encased in meat not plastic, and there was no chocolate - boo hoo.

These eggs are great to take to a picnic or a buffet and are economic.And now in true new style Nigel Slater- I give you the recipe, the trick and the twist

THE ( Traditional )RECIPE
Makes 12
12 large free range eggs 
5 slices white bread, crusts removed
200ml milk
1kg minced meat of your choice ( 1/2 and 1/2 veal and pork?)
1 free range egg beaten
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Flor de sal
freshly ground black pepper
 Put the eggs in a large pan of hot water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes from the moment the water starts boiling.Immediately drain and plunge the eggs into ice cold water to stop further cooking and a grey line forming round the yolk. Cool and peel.Soak the bread in the milk for a minute. Drain and squeeze dry. combine the bread and sausage meat in a bowl, using your hands. Add the beaten egg, parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix well.Mix together until well combined. Put the mix in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up. Take it out and divide it onto 4 equal pieces, then divide each piece into 3. Hold one portion in the palm of your hand, flatten it out with the heel of your other hand and sit an egg in the centre. Fold the mince over the egg and squeeze it into a larger egg shape. Repeat with the remaining eggs. If the mince sticks to your hands, moisten them with a little cold water. Roll each scotch egg in a little flour, then in the beaten egg, and finally in the breadcrumbs. Squeeze the eggs gently to ensure the crumbs stick.Heat a deep fryer or saucepan with at least 10cm of cooking oil.When it reaches 170ºC, put in the eggs, a few at a time, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. repeat with the remaining eggs. Cool them completely, then store in the fridge for up to two days.

If you dislike or just don´t deep fry, and lets face it it´s had some bad press of late, there is another way to do it. Bake the Scotch eggs in a muffin tray. No crumbing, no deep- frying, no complications. real simple really.Heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 5. Lightly oil a 12 hole muffin tray.Press some meat mix into the bottom of each muffin mould. Add the egg pointed end up, and pack the meat around and over the egg so that it is completely covered.Omit the Flour egg and breadcrumb stage then bake for 20 minutes until nicely browned. leave in the moulds for 10 minutes. Drain off any juices, run a knife carefully around to loosen and serve hot, warm or cold.

I have added a different twist by introducing some pan-asian flavouring.
Ginger and spring onions, and lemongrass.
Scotch quails eggs with a Thai twist
12 quail´s eggs

600g Pork mince

1 thumb of ginger peeled and finely grated
1 tablespoon of soya sauce
1 tablespoon of Nam Pla ( Thai fish sauce )
1 teaspoon Flor de sal
2 small hot chillies, piri piri or birds eye, de-seeded
large handful fresh coriander
1stick of lemongrass, trimmed of its tough outer stalks and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped
a little flour (100g )
1 egg lightly beaten
200g fresh breadcrumbs

Place the quail´s eggs in a small saucepan and cover them with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 4 minutes, then drain and refresh in a bowl of iced water. This stops the tell tale grey line forming around the yolk. Peel them carefully using your nails or a fine pointed sharp knife to dislodge the membrane. One word of warning this is labour intensive and can be frustrating.Put the pork mince in a bowl with the first 8 ingredients.Mix together until well combined. put the mix in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up. Take it out and divide it onto 4 equal pieces, then divide each piece into 3. Hold one portion in the palm of your hand, flatten it out with the heel of your other hand and sit a quail´s egg in the centre. Fold the mince over the egg and squeeze it into a larger egg shape. Repeat with the remaining eggs. If the mince sticks to your hands, moisten them with a little cold water. Roll each scotch egg in a little flour, then in the beaten egg, and finally in the breadcrumbs. Squeeze the eggs gently to ensure the crumbs stick. Heat a deep fryer or saucepan with at least 10cm of cooking oil.When it reaches 170ºC, put in the eggs, a few at a time, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. repeat with the remaining eggs. Cool them completely, then store in the fridge for up to two days.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The malignant mollusc

No pushing the prawn out, because nobody´s  pushing the boat out.We are currently deprived of our shellfish here in the East Algarve. No Molly Malone, "crying cockles and mussels alive alive-oh." - Oh no.The market is devoid of any type of locally harvested shellfish.The beaches are without the hardy all year round mariscadores.The restaurants of the East Algarve are not selling the most characteristic dishes of the Ria Formosa due to a ban on the harvesting of the bivalves that since March 28, has affected part of the south coast. Much sought after clams and mussels, are absent from menus, and the restaurants are losing valuable customers and revenue.
The presence of DSP biotoxins, which cause vomiting and diarrhoea, initially led to the ban on harvesting between Vila Real de Santo Antonio and Tavira,but last Friday, was extended to the entire coastline between the mouth of the Guadiana and Faro, including the Ria Formosa. The collection of samples by the IRNB-IPIMAR has been stepped up, and were again sent for analysis samples. The results are still not yet known.
The fisherman are also being strongly affected by the ban. Os barcos estão em terra e começa a escassear o dinheiro para pagar as contas. The boats are grounded, many of which are rented and the fisherman now have no income with which to pay their bills.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has promised that it has in place measures to ensure financial support to fishermen,businesses and and market traders',in the days after stopping the activity.
The president and association of shellfish nurseries of Ria Formosa (Vivmar) says that "professionals' will wait quietly for the lifting of the ban", "but warns that" the aid has not come quickly ", not only for seafood professionals but also for amateurs.
  "With the economic crisis and unemployment running high, many people came to the Ria Formosa to try and earn a living only to find the ban was put in place and no shellfish were being collected. " I know the mariscadores and others alike are currently without an income to support their home outgoings and children. It is hoped Social Security will step in and help.Meanwhile we have to push the goat out instead.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Ovo abundance

Accept no substitute

The egg is the cook's secret weapon, the unsung hero in a thousand and one dishes. And if we don't celebrate it at Easter, when are we going to? Grippin´chickens and bunnies at the ready, Easter is just around the corner. Unfortunately no gold Lindt chocolate bunnies in the Algarve, and I won´t accept a Lidl facsimile. So for those of us older and wiser (and more careful of our cavities) our thoughts turn to home made culinary delights,Scotch eggs, Hot cross buns, and Folar de Pascoa,the traditional symbolic Easter bread which is almost mandatory when it comes to satisfying the insatiable Portuguese sweet tooth.

Easter is not Easter without  grippin´chickens

Tarte de Pascoa /Savoury Easter Pie
Tarte de Pascoa is the the Portuguese version of cheese and spinach pie. This sumptuous but simple to prepare  savoury pie is almost synonymous with Easter in most European countries. Layers of spinach, cheese and hard-boiled eggs are enclosed in phyllo pastry.I have simplified the recipe by substituting puff   pastry for the more traditional Phyllo.

6 eggs
200g spinach
100g Dente de leao ( dandelion leaves)
( if you don´t have dandelion leaves use 300g spinach)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
500g ricotta cheese
50g parmesan cheese grated
100g provolone cheese
cut into small cubes
salt and pepper
500g ready made puff pastry
28cm round pie dish

Pre-heat the oven to 200C /400F /gas mark 6
Grease the pie dish with butter then dust it with flour
Hard -boil 5 of the eggs for 10 minutes, plunge into iced water and leave to cool.
Shell and cut them in half.
In a tightly closed pan, cook the spinach and the dandelion leaves, if using, in the water that clings to their leaves after washing, for 5 minutes.
Drain the cooked spinach and dandelion leaves, squeezing out all the excess liquid.
Roughly chop and place in a bowl.
Heat the olive oil and sweat the onion until soft, then allow to cool. Add to the spinach and dandelion, stirring well. Add the Ricotta and Parmesan and mix well. Then add the provolone, salt and pepper and mix together till well combined.
Roll out about half of the puff pastry to about 1cm thick and use to line the prepared pie dish. Fill with half the spinach mixture, then place the egg halves, yolks down, evenly spaced and fill with the remaining spinach mixture. Brush the edge with a little of the remaining egg, beaten.
Roll out the remaining puff pastry to a thickness of about 1cm and place it over the filling, pressing down the edges well. Trim away any excess pastry and crimp the edges with your fingers, so that the pie is well sealed. Make a small incision in the shape of a cross in the centre of the pie to let the steam out. Brush over the top of the pastry with the remaining beaten egg.
Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until risen and golden.
remove from the oven, allow to cool, then slice.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Moorish skewers

Pinchitos morunos and a glass of Pedro Ximenez
Europe's first kebabs were brought by the Arabs from Africa. Pinchitos morunos are extremely popular as a tapa, particularly in Andalucia. Though nowadays they are made of pork, rather than lamb,they are still marinated in a Moorish spice mix and usually grilled outside and over charcoal or wood; however, they also cook beautifully on a griddle or on a heavy griddle type pan inside, during the cooler months.Great finger food for friends - or you can increase the quantities and make them a meal or part of a barbecue.
  • 500g lean pork fillets, lean lamb fillets or skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 pre-soaked wooden skewers, about 15cm long, OR
  • 4 metal skewers, about 25cm long
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, roughly ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, roughly ground
  • 1/2 teaspoonfennel seeds, roughly ground
  • 1 -2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika (Pimenton)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with
  • 1/2 teaspoon Flor de sal 
  • 1 pinch saffron threads,infused with
  • 2 tablespoonsboiling water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1bay leaf, crumbledor finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar 
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  1. Cut your choice of meat,chicken lamb or pork into cubes about 1" in size. Flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand.
  2. Place the meat in a large bowl and add the dried spices, garlic & salt, saffron infused water, oregano, bay leaf and vinegar - mix thoroughly.
  3. Add the olive oil - mix again thoroughly, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for between 2 & 12 hours, so the flavours mingle and marinade into the meat.
  4. Light the barbecue about half an hour before cooking and allow the charcoal or wood to flare and then glow.
  5. If cooking inside, turn the grill up to high, or use a smoking hot griddle or griddle pan.
  6. Thread the meat on to the skewers.
  7. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side, or until the outside is charred and the inside is still juicy but cooked. (NOT pink for pork and chicken - but pink for lamb).
  8. Season well with salt and pepper and sprinkle with chopped flat leaf parsley or fresh coriander (Cilantro), serve with a selection of salads, flat breads, pickles and of course a glass of sherry or Tempranillo.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Eggstra special

Rediscovering the boiled egg in Portugal
What better time to talk eggs than at Easter.Over the next ten days I am going to celebrate the joy of cooking with eggs and give you some unusual ways with eggs.
When I was  at boarding school, I used to dread the day they served boiled eggs for breakfast. They were cold, the yolks were congealed and we had to spend a long time shelling them. It seemed too much like uncooked food, as though the cooks just couldn’t be bothered to cook our eggs but had merely thrown a hundred or so of them into boiling water for a few minutes and pretended that breakfast was now cooked.
At school picnics, I would loathe the food because it nearly always consisted of an orange and an egg that had been boiled within an inch of its life several hours before.The grey line between the yolk and the white indicating it was well overcooked.
So why am I recommending boiled eggs to you now? Well, because first of all, they don’t have to be disgusting, and most of all this is perfect food for the crise económica.A soft-boiled egg eaten with toast soldiers can be delightful, and even hard-boiled eggs acquire a new dimension when you use them for cooking.But how about pickled eggs? 
Basically, the vinegar and water are boiled together with the spices, the liquid is reduced and cooled and then poured over the hard-boiled eggs. The eggs will be placed in an airtight jar with a lid and then stored in the refrigerator.Pickled eggs have been around for years, even before fridges were introduced.During those times,people found a way of preserving eggs, so that they remained fresher for longer. Nowadays, pickled eggs have become a picnic favourite, and offer yet another different way of eating and flavouring eggs.Pickled eggs, as with pickled onions are however an acquired taste and may take a bit of getting used to.
There are many recipes for pickled eggs, which means that you can choose one that will suit your taste in food. Some recipes may be very hot and spicy and will contain ingredients such as chilli peppers, Tabasco sauce and other "hot" spices whilst those who prefer a sweeter flavour should go for recipes that contain brown sugar, beetroot, onion and cinnamon.Pickled eggs are a great source of protein; they are low in fat and calories and contain very little carbohydrates, making them a healthy option for those on a diet. If you are going to pickle eggs at home, try using a simple recipe to start off with. Some recipes can be quite complicated and may put you off trying them out.Try this Portuguese take on the pickled egg for starters.

Piri piri pickled quails eggs 

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Flor de sal
1 teaspoon piri piri flakes
1teaspoon Oregano
1tablespoon chopped parsley
2 boxes of quails eggs

To prepare the eggs:Put the eggs in a small saucepan with enough cold water to cover them. Cook them for 4 minutes from the moment the water begins to boil.Plunge the eggs into a bowl of ice cold water( this stops the cooking process and prevents the egg yolks from getting a grey line around them Peel and set aside.

To prepare the dressing: In a small bowl mix together the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper flakes.
In a large serving bowl add the eggs and introduce the dressing and sprinkle with parsley and coriander for garnish. refrigerate and serve chilled.The best accompaniment to pickled eggs is ice cold beer.
Some other serving ideas:
- plain, as an appetizer with cocktails
- sliced into rounds, served on crackers/toasts
- crumbled over rice with cilantro or parsley
- crumbled and mixed with mayo and torn lettuce

Monday, 11 April 2011

Sausage seems to be the hardest work...

Home made Chouriço in its raw state

....It doesn´t have to be when you discover Tupperware chouriço.
I've long been wanting to make my own chouriço from scratch, but how? The answer came in the form of a man called Fearnley Whittingstall.So the time has come.
 "Cooking" chouriço, which is quite soft and lightly cured, is very different to the firm, dry, long-cured "slicing" sausage.They both have separate roles to play.The former contributes to rice dishes,perfectly partners shellfish and squid and is great with eggs, potatoes bread or chicken.The latter forms a perfect contribution to a tapas feast or platter of cold cuts.

For the chouriço
750g pork belly, coarsely minced
1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika (pimenton dulce)
2 tsp hot smoked paprika (pimenton picante)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp sea salt
1½ tsp fennel seeds, lightly toasted
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
50ml red wine
Freshly ground black pepper

Mix together all the ingredients for the chouriço, cover and refrigerate overnight. Divide the mixture into six, place a piece between two sheets of baking parchment and press with the bottom of a pan until it's about 5-7mm thick. Repeat with the rest of the mixture and chill for 30 minutes.

To make the chouriço, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands. Heat a little oil in a frying pan, make a small patty of the mixture and fry on each side for a few minutes, until cooked through. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly - the flavours develop as the mix matures, so go easy. Cover and store in a tupperware container in the fridge for at least 24 hours (and up to a week). You won't need more than a handful  to add that spicy, savoury bite to all manner of dishes.

"The whole sweet, salty, spicy pile, running with paprika- and garlic-flavoured oily juices from the highly spiced sausage, was attacked with fingers and bread".
          "It was, and is, unbelievably good".
"Eat with chunks of bread to mop up the juices"

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Wrapped / un-wrapped, a pizza simplicity

This simple idea has so many possibilities, do with it what you will!!
Serves 4 ( light lunch )
Start to finish 20 minutes
Personalize these simple pizzas after cooking by mix and matching your favourite toppings.

O Cozinheiro suggests these toppings:
Presunto, basil, rucola, provolone , mozzarella, spinach, goats cheese, linguica, chouriço, piquillo peppers,anchovies.

All you need( apart from your chosen toppings)
1 quantity home made pizza topping, tomato sauce 
or if needs must 1 x 250g (120z) shop bought pizza topping
1 Pack of 6 Tortilla wraps 

Toast the tortillas directly on burner ( gas or electric )over a low heat, turning once with tongs, until puffed slightly and browned in spots, about 30 seconds on each side.
Arrange tortillas in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and spoon over the tomato sauce onto each tortilla, leaving a 1/4 inch border around the edge. Sprinkle pizzas with cheese and bake in middle of oven until cheese is melted and the edges of the tortillas are browned, about 5 minutes. Season with black pepper.

Friday, 8 April 2011

I should cocoa

Chocolate´s European debut was in the 16th and 17th centuries.The Spanish conquered the Aztecs and brought back many of their treasures, including the cacao bean. But it took a while for Europeans to turn into full-fledged chocolate lovers.

A cup of hot cocoa may not do much to cool you down from the summer swelter, but an intake of 70% cocoa content can cool down your blood pressure.A good quality cocoa is an essential store cupboard ingredient for any cake baker. Less than 70% pure cocoa content and forget it.

The role of cocoa powder in cakes:
When used alone in cakes, cocoa powder imparts a full rich chocolate flavor and dark color.  Cocoa powder can also be used in recipes with other chocolates (unsweetened or dark) and this combination produces a cake with a more intense chocolate flavour than if the cocoa wasn't present. 

My quick Chocolate mousse cake
This really is the quickest chocolate hit ever ever.13 minutes and its done, aaahh but then 
you have to leave it overnight to set.

300g  (10oz) best quality bitter cooking chocolate
60 g (2oz) unsalted butter
10 eggs separated
4 tablespoons sugar
180g (6oz) plain flour
60g (2oz) best quality cocoa powder

Pre-heat oven to 180C/gas mark 5

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie. Add the butter. Cool then whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Whisk egg whites till stiff. Fold in the flour, sugar and cocoa. Fold in the melted chocolate. Pour into a greased 20 cm shallow round cake tin.Cook  for exactly 13 minutes in the middle of the oven. Leave overnight to set.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

A frugal Portuguese supper

With guests embarked on a day trip to Seville, a bag of ready podded fava beans from the market, and a fully cured chouriço hanging in the larder I felt it was the evening  to maximise on the short season when we can get fresh broad beans.Their outer jacket peeled away to provide a bright green contrast to the sherry soaked bacon and Chouriço pan of plenty.This is a very traditional Portuguese spring side dish, but with a bit of embellishment I made it into a more substantial main course. Our appetites were sated and there was still a portion left for the photograph.

Broad beans with Chouriço
500g (1lb 2 oz) shelled fresh (or frozen) broad beans ( about 3kg /6lb 12oz in pods)
2 tablespoons olive oil
100g toucinho / pancetta or thinly sliced bacon
160g chouriço sausage, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
finely chopped coriander stalks
8 new potatoes , halved
3 garlic cloves, chopped
125ml ( 4 fl oz) sherry vinegar
tablespoon honey
chopped mint leaves 
   Rinse the podded beans and put them in a pan of lightly salted boiling water and boil for about 5 minutes.Drain and run under the cold tap to stop them cooking the peel the jackets off them. Set aside. Boil the new potatoes in a pan with some fresh mint. drain and set aside. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan and sauté the bacon for a couple of minutes. Add the onion and coriander stalks and cook, stirring until it is sticky and melted add the chopped chouriço and garlic and stir until you can smell the garlic and the chouriço is starting to exude oil.Splash in the sherry vinegar followed by the honey and allow to reduce slightly till thick and sticky. Toss in the potatoes and broad beans and almagamate well. Heat through, stir in the mint and an extra splash of sherry vinegar. serve immediately with warm bread.

Reminds me must potter  up to the kitchen garden and check the progress of our own crop of Fava beans. A little bird tells me there might be pods a waitin.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Foraging in the algarve

"Foraging" - the acquisition of food by hunting, fishing, or the gathering of plant matter.
Have you ever been tempted to get round rising food prices by plundering nature’s larder? When did you last eat a weed - nettle or thistles are a good starting point - let alone turning them into a soufflé, a fritter or gnocchi? And how about telling your friends that you've become a wild food forager, capable of identifying and eating plants like wild asparagus, fennel, chard and pennyroyal, and that you know all about the skills of foraging food from the wild? If that's the sort of thing that rings a bell with your outlook on life then A gastronomia silvestre workshop in the nature reserve of Castro Marim, East Algarve, might capture your imagination...
But perhaps you're looking to cut down on your supermarket bills, as some folks are doing these days, or want a new imaginative flavour-texture twist, or are just plain curious to try a cup of nettle soup?....Anyone for nettle? Nettle anyone?

For further information contact Casa Rosada



Monday, 4 April 2011

A taste of sunshine on the tongue

The latest edition of Alastair Sawday´s Special Places to Stay Portugal recently landed on our doormat. The Casa Rosada entry refers to the Orange Olive Oil cake (Bolo de laranja) that I serve our guests for breakfast. The recipe came to me via David Leite´s "New Portuguese Table." When David lived in Lisbon, a few times a week he would trudge up the hill from his apartment and pop into Papas  for breakfast. It seats a mere 8 people and that includes two at the counter. This delicious cake is dense, moist and deeply flavoured. It "tastes like sunshine on the tongue" says Sawdays.
The recipe.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

One for all or all for one...

Not dissimilar to Provençal Ratatouille and Mallorcan Tumbet, this delicious Moroccan tomato and green pepper stew/salad is wonderfully versatile.Taktouka is a cooked salad made from vine-fresh tomatoes and roasted green peppers. If you have both vegetarian and meat eating guests at your table this dish could bail you out of a tight corner and save you lot of time and extra work. One dish serves all here..You'll need to roast and skin your green peppers before you use them in the recipe. If you've never done this, How to Roast and Skin Peppers will show you how.The finished dish is thick enough to spread on bread, so makes a fantastic choice for inclusion in a Mediterranean mezze starter, or as an innovative sandwich filling.It is perfect as part of a collection of small salads to accompany tagines or barbecues.
So here is how you keep everybody sweet. 

Serves 4
4 green peppers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 kilo (2lb) ripe vine tomatoes, skinned seeded and chopped
1tablespoon tomato purée
1 taespoon caster sugar
3 garlic cloves,chopped
1 teaspoon pimenton dulce ( sweet paprika)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
salt, cayenne pepper
fresh parsley sprigs to garnish
Grill the green peppers close under a pre-heated grill, turning frequently until blackened and blistered all over.Put them in a plastic bag and knot it. Leave to cool enough to handle, then peel off the skin. Remove the stem and seeds and cut the peppers into strips.
the strips should be about thirds of each pepper.Reserve.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the tomatoes, tomato purée, sugar and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring and mashing the tomatoes down, until they form a sauce. Now add the peppers, paprika, cumin,salt and a touch of cayenne pepper.Continue cooking, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until all the watery juices have evaporated and the mixture is starting to fry again in the oil - about 15 minutes, depending on the heat. taste and adjust the seasoning and then turn the mixture into a bowl or on to a shallow dish and leave to cool.This is the dish in its basic form that can be eaten by everyone and delicious it is too.
For the trick, while it is cooking, roast some chicken breasts in the oven. When ready to serve, remove half the pepper and tomato sauce to another pan and stir through the chicken roughly sliced and chopped up into large pieces.
And there you have it dinner for vegetarians and carnivores alike.If you have any left overs which I very much doubt, fill some foccacia or soft rustic bread and pack them into the kids lunch boxes. Those lunch boxes will be the talk of the school refectory.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Suffer fools gladly

Strawberry blueberry banana and apple smoothie
Whatever happened to fool, posset and syllabub. Three classic old English desserts. Hectic lifestyle and easy to prepare dinners have replaced them with the smoothie, an idea thought to have originated from Brazil in the 1930´s. So why hasn´t Portugal followed fashion.I have however noticed the odd smoothie creeping onto the sobremesa menus of smart Algarve restaurants. Bistro o Porto in Tavira for one.Casa Rosada creates its own smoothies, the perfect power breakfast in one glass, so quick and easy to prepare.
Try some of the following combos:

1/2 cup beetroot
1/2 cup cucumber
1 carrot
1/4 cup apple concentrate

1/2 apple
1/2 banana
30 red grapes de-seeded

also try  
banana/pineapple/lemon juice

And now for something more traditional.Fools rush in where smoothies fear to tread.

Casa Rosada´s Strawberry and Orange fool
Serves 4
Fools are traditionally prepared with pureed fruit mixed with whipped cream, or egg custard, or a combination of the two. (The term fool probably comes from the French foulé, meaning "pressed or crushed.") They seem to be especially successful when made with sharply flavored garden produce like rhubarb, gooseberries and black currants, which still have enough bite to be interesting when blended with cream,but most of which alas are not grown in The Algarve. But strawberries,and Portuguese mirtillos, which are much easier to find, also work quite nicely. Strawberry fool is best when the fruit is mashed rather than pureed, resulting in a more appealing texture. Serve it with home-made cookies.

  • 350g (12-oz) basket of fresh gathered strawberries, hulled, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup home made yogurt (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 dessert spoon Casa Rosada Licore de laranja sevillana or other orange liqueur (optional)
  • Additional strawberries halved
Place chopped strawberries in medium bowl. Mash coarsely with fork. Place in colander and let drain 15 minutes.
Beat cream in large bowl to stiff peaks. Gently fold in yogurt, sugar, orange juice and peel. Fold in Cointreau, if desired. Gently fold in strawberries. Divide among 4 wine glasses or coupes. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover; chill.)
Garnish fools with additional halved strawberries and serve.

“Who you callin’ a silly bub, and what’s that you’re offering me?” 
Diary of Samuel Pepys 1663