Thursday, 30 June 2011

Dress to thrill

I sometimes feel when I eat out in Portugal that I should carry a pochette of my own home made salad dressing in my man bag. The reason for this is the serious lack of dressings on offer in restaurants. A good quality olive oil and vinegar would be the norm.If you´re lucky.
Getting your greens can seem like a pious mealtime obligation. But drizzling a delicious homemade dressing over salad makes it something to savour.All it takes is as little as four ingredients and a jam jar.
Even a fairly basic green salad can be elevated to a higher level and take on a new dimension when anointed with a sweet dressing. Just by adding a little mustard and honey to a standard olive oil and lemon dressing can make it hit the spot. Perhaps a dash of fish sauce or soya or even a little Wasabi can tickle the erogenous zone of your salad.Bring out the detective in yourself and track down that elusive ingredient that will dress your summer salads to thrill.

O cozinheiro´s Classic Vinaigrette

Clove of garlic
1 dessertspoon Dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
125ml white wine vinegar
300ml extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
generous sprinkling of Herbes de provence or dried oregano
generous salt and a little pepper

Blend all the ingredients in a processor until smooth and creamy

A simple Asian dressing

2 tbsp of lime juice
a pinch of caster sugar
1 tsp of dark soy
2 tbsp fish sauce
a small clove of garlic

In a small bowl mix the lime juice, sugar, soy and fish sauce. 
Peel and finely crush the garlic, then stir it into the dressing.

Vietnamese dressing

2 fresh chillies, seeded and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 spring onions, finely sliced

Combine all the ingredients in a jam jar. Shake well and leave for 30 minutes.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Calling Currimbhoy

Who is Currimbhoy?, a man who lent his name to the salad of boiled eggs, garden fresh lettuce and coriander, tossed in a lime and garlic mayo dressing. If the gentleman can be identified, please let me know. There appear to be as many Currimbhoys as there are currimbhoy salad stories. One story traces the salad’s origin all the way back to the Second World War. Ali Currimbhoy, a prominent businessman of the time and an avowed foodie, and Yvonne, his French wife, are said to have put together the salad in Paris during the war years. They are believed to have recreated the dish in India, which is why it was so named.
Another story claims that Currimbhoy was a member of the Turf Club, in Mumbai.My preferred version, and recipe that I serve up at Casa Rosada here in the Algarve, is from Bombay. This was one of the most famous salads served at The Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay.
It is simple and easy to prepare. The end result for all those liking a little Zing in their salad is absolutely fabulous.I was extremely excited when I found this Little Gem( excuse the pun!!!) and immediately saw its affinity with the Caesar salad. Indian Caesar salad in the Algarve now there´s a thought.Have lettuce and eggs will travel.It makes an excellent accompaniment to crumb-fried food or seafood fried in cornmeal, so all you fans of Portuguese panados, here is your ultimate bit on the side.My innovation here is the cumin croutons, which is an idea I borrowed from Allegra McEvedy´s recipe for chicken liver salad.
I think they lift this salad beautifully.

Currimbhoy salad
250g Little gem / Cos lettuce
2-3 cloves garlic finely minced
2 medium green chilli, very finely minced
2 heaped tablespoons fresh coriander
4 boiled eggs
200g mayonnaise
1/2 lime ( juice only)
salt to taste after blending the mayonnaise

1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon whole cumin
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
100g white bread cut into 3cm cubes

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/390F/ gas mark 5. Toss the bread cubes around in a bowl with the cumin, a bit of salt and half the olive oil.Spread over a baking tray  and bake in the oven, turning occasionally for 20 minutes until golden brown.
Break the lettuce leaves into 2.5cm pieces or smaller, wash and drain well. Take the garlic, green chilli and coriander and put in a bowl large enough to take in all the combined ingredients.Peel the boiled eggs and dice them up coarsely. The size of the dice should be approximately 1/2cm. Set aside. Now add the mayonnaise to the bowl with the garlic, chilli and coriander, and blend well.Season with the salt and lime juice and taste again.
Add the diced eggs and lettuce leaves and mix well. Do not over mix as the lettuce will go limp very rapidly. Only start the process when you are ready to serve.Add half the croutons while mixing, and reserve the remaining for the final service.Serve in a bowl or on a platter and sprinkle with the remaining croutons on the top with some fresh chopped coriander. This salad does not keep well once mixed and therefore all the preparation should be complete prior to blending.

Will the real Slim Currimbhoy please stand up?


Sunday, 26 June 2011

All hail Caesar

Friends, touristas, countrymen, lend me your ears... With a full, unobstructed view of the beach and Ria Formosa natural reserve,and a glass of Algarvian Rose at hand, yesterday I had the most delicious Chicken Caesar salad at Cha com Agua Salgada in Manta Rota. Refined but not overly fiddled with, Chef Marco´s kitchen served up classic perfection.I am constant as the Northern star and six years of living in the Algarve has not brought me a Caesar salad that was dressed correctly. Today I came I saw and I conquered.I have always said that the best practical interview test for a potential chef position is to get the recruit to make a Caesar salad dressing. There are  certain classics that can not be messed with and this is one of them. Accept no substitute, being palmed off with a flavoured mayonnaise is just not good enough.It all changed today. How could a mere salad cause such emotion?
Classic Caesar dressing

2 cloves garlic
4 anchovy fillets
1Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 eggs plus two egg yolks
Juice of 1 lemon
125ml white wine vinegar
250ml extra virgin olive oil
300ml sunflower oil

Blend all the ingredients in a processor until smooth and creamy.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Viva São João Baptista

Hoje celebramos a Solenidade de São João Batista, ou como é popularmente conhecida, a festa de São João ou festa junina, com fogueira, fogos de artifícios, comidas típicas, quadrilha, arraial e muita alegria.

PHEW-What a scorcher

Summertime and the easy living is outdoors.Its the time to OUT the kitchen. The tradition of Portuguese grilling, churrasco, dates back hundreds of years. Introduced to Portugal through Brazil, wood from old cork trees was used to create a fragrant charcoal that gave a great flavour to the meat or fish cooking on the rack above. 

Churrasco started in the 16th and 17th centuries with the introduction of cattle ranching in South America. Cowboys, or Gauchos as they are called in Brazil, created a new style of cooking. This established national tradition is even more prolific today, especially here in the Algarve, where the distinctive smell permeates everywhere; from street vendors in markets through seaside tascas, to the terraces and backyards of private houses. Tourists and residents alike can not escape this characteristic smoky aroma.Churrasco (shoo-RAS-koo ) is a Portuguese term meaning meat grilled or barbecued  over hot coals. A "churrasqueira" is the type of restaurant or steakhouse where it is eaten. The most popular and well known churrasco dish is frango no churrasco com piri piri.This is a salty spatchcocked chicken grilled on the churrasco and served with a hot spiced red chilli sauce or oil.The butcher even spatchcocks the chicken for the purpose when you buy it.
There is no reference as to the exact origin of the barbecue but it is presumed that from the fields of fire in pre-historic times man, started to cook game meat and soon realized that the process rendered it more tender. Over time techniques were improved.From one man´s means of survival using just a wooden stake, a succulent steak, a sharp knife, a good fire and salt the original concept spread.From the South American pampas it found no boundaries, crossing countries and continents, generating heated debates about what is the real barbecue. Firewood, charcoal or spit roast, seasoned or not, with coarse salt or refined sugar. Cattle, swine, poultry or seafood. The right thing to say is there is no formula since each region has developed its own type of grill.
The corona,the etymological dictionary of Spanish, states that the barbecue originated from a very old word, before the presence of the Romans in the Iberian peninsula,  "sukarra" (flames of fire, fire), composed of "su" (fire) and "Karra" (flame).
This word first appeared in Castilian  in the form "socarrar" to char and over the centuries derived from different dialectal variants in Spain.In the seventeenth century Spanish explorers to the New World visited the West Indian island of Hispaniola and borrowed the native word barbacòa  (Bar-bah-COH-ah ) which has become "barbecue" as we know it today. Etymological Catalan also cites the Brazilian coxinha or "churrrasca" sheet (fried dough) with a chicken filling.One thing for sure, it brings a flare to your barbecue
by way of a red herring, many people believe that barbeque actually derives from the French barbe à queue, that is, “from beard to tail”, signifying the whole of the pig being roasted (leitao - suckling pig ). Leaving aside the question that pigs don’t have beards (though the allusion would work for goats), the true origin is well authenticated but the story is just another example of folk etymology.
A barbecue is more than a meal. It is an event. People gather for a good barbecue, and as an event, the barbecue gathers people whether invited or not,to watch, smell and eat. Like the fires of prehistory this is the place to eat, drink and tell stories.

A range of traditional Portuguese barbecues 

The art of mastering top whack barbecuing is not easy and needs practice and experience to get the results.How often do you get burnt by your barbecue. Trial by fire - chicken that´s singed beyond recognition,well done steaks when what you really wanted was medium rare?
On the other hand it it is not Everest, it can be conquered without massive research,without over preparation or over dressing. With the correct marinade, rub or paste what comes off your barbecue can be a seriously sizzling sensation.Why not do what I do, chuck the meat on,turn when necessary and serve with some simple salads.What is so difficult about that? The barbecue is just an outdoor kitchen for when its too sunny to be inside.Its laid back quality should easily grab the spirit of eating alfresco.
Whether you decide on piri piri or chimichurri the choice is yours.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Ouro Preto

"This little fishy may well end up on your dishy"

Once an  adornment of Monica Belluci but will Gaga will follow "suit". More respectably however Portugal, and more specifically, the Algarve will by the end of this year have its first sturgeon fish farm( the roe of which is used to produce the delicacy that is caviar).
The project is the brainchild of biologist Paulo Pedro, Ukrainian aquaculturist, Valery Afilov and Castro Marim´s very own star, salt producer Jorge Raiado. These three have together won the Special Sea Trade Prize at the Ideias em Caixa competition organised by the Caixa Geral de depositos bank and the Regional Centre for Innovation of the Algarve.The award brought them media attention allowing them to go ahead and bring in investors. Caviar Portugal will need €1.5million of investment in the first seven years. To make the activity profitable, the promoters will breed four different species of sturgeon: Top of the range Beluga, Russian, Siberian and Sterlet. Portugal has a history with sturgeon which was once consumed here. This delicacy will be farmed by aquaculture, as the more traditional species of sturgeon used to produce caviar are endangered Portugal has an added advantage. Because the weather is milder during most of the year the water need not be heated and the fish will reach sexual maturity much faster. In the wild this can take up to 20 years. Facilities should be ready to import the species by November. The fish will be sent from other aquaculture farms in Northern Europe, and the first batch of caviar should be produced in four year´s time.The promoters hope to reach 600 to 700kg of caviar every year.-
In the future, the promoters also hope to work alongside the Institute for Nature Conservation to repopulate the Douro, Arade and Guadiana rivers with the Atlantic Sturgeon, a species that became extinct in Portugal in the 1980´s.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

It was all down to Paz

"A temporary animal rescue centre in Tavira could soon have to close down if new premises are not found".
 Algarve resident

The happening place to be this weekend was Quinta de Paz in Asseca. The occasion, a fundraising lunch party and afternoon´s entertainment  for the benefit of the Association of Friends of the Animals of Tavira – 3AT. Aline Bernardo and other musicians provided musical accompaniment and food was catered by The Sunshine Bar, Ilha Tavira and Casa Rosada. By 6.00pm €1,300 had been raised and Casa Rosada had won a prize specimen orange trumpet vine in the raffle.What a swell party it was and this was just the beginning.On Sunday it as all down to Paz, now it´s all down to you........

The heat proved too much for some
To make a donation or monthly pledge or 
for more information about 3AT  -  Associação de Amigos dos Animais de Tavira please call 960 247511

Please visit their Facebook page - 3AT - Associação Amigos dos Animais de Tavira to check all news about the centre and all animals for adoption.                          
And watch this space for further related events.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Suck it and see

It’s only a day away.The official start of summertime in Portugal, and as the tourists start to move in,on a barmy evening the Portuguese retreat to their local restaurants and bars to enjoy the gastronomic tradition of the season: Caracois- snails! Yes, that’s right, Caracois  are to the Portuguese what a plate of tacos would be to an English wine bar.They’re both cheap snacks, or as we call them here petiscos. Well, they may not be a delicacy here, but they’re definitely something the Portuguese like to eat a lot of, having anxiously awaited the moment in mid-June when they see the signs go up outside the restaurants saying “Há Caracóis!”(We have Snails).
But I never thought I’d see people get so excited over something most English won’t even touch. Walking into a local bar or cafe in the Algarve, between the hours of 5 and 7pm, the whole place is packed with everyone chomping on heaped plates of Caracois. It may look like an enormous amount but these Portuguese snails are much smaller than their known French cousins. There’s a lot of lip-smacking and finger-licking,( napkin dispensers an absolute requirement) as the Caracois are cooked in a very flavourful broth and its custom to just suck them right out of their shells! They do give you toothpicks if you’re not courageous enough, so you can pull them out instead (like I did once when no one was looking).
The tradition of eating Caracois in the summer originated in the southerly Portuguese region of Alentejo, with influence from the neighbouring  Spanish province of Andalucia. Both of these regions get extremely hot in the summer but also have the humidity that promotes snail growth, and these snails are harvested throughout the season until their supplies dry out. The cooking broth is also very traditional with the predominant ingredient being oregano, which is a must (your hands stink of it after eating them!). The other ingredients include laurel, thyme, garlic, onion, olive oil, salt and pepper and the inimitable Portuguese hot sauce that is  piri-piri.  The leftover broth is excellent for mopping up with pieces of crusty bread that’s served with them. When you cook the Caracois, they have to be alive of course, just like shellfish, and rinsed several times to make sure you’ve got all of their glue out.
What is the typical drink then with Caracois? A cold glass of Portuguese beer, (Sagres or Superbock) 
If you can get over the squeamishness of knowing what you’re eating then they are quite delicious. The texture is exactly like cooked mushrooms, which I love. 
It also has to be the best way of getting to know the locals!
If you are interested in cooking up some caracois for yourself, here is a recipe from Algarvebuzz

Friday, 17 June 2011

Bataque o eu escrivou por um ano!!!!

 Doesn´t time fly when you are enjoying yourself. 
"I doaaan´t belieeeeeeve it", 
I have been banging away at this blog for exactly a year now. 
Today is the anniversary of my very first post
It has been great sharing my ideas discoveries accidents and reading your comments.
For this I Thank you.
Please keep posting your comments. 
Stick around there´s lots more coming up.
Become a follower and get automatic updates of all my new posts

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Meagre by name but not by nature

A plate of simple char-griled corvina and salad
 Corvina (meagre) Argyrosomus regius.

Meagre by name maybe, but definitely not meager by nature; these fish can weigh in at up to 45kilos (100lbs).
Today we took a break for lunch at Restaurante Dom Petisco, on the Guadiana river estuary at Vila Real.I had the chance to sample yet again my favourite fish.Corvina has a mild, sweet taste with firm, large flaked flesh which is pinkish when raw but cooks up white.The flesh resembles Snapper. Corvina is regarded as a prime table fish and is very popular choice for ceviche. Served as a steak it is absolutely the most diner friendly fish. With a central bone that can be easily removed and some larger side bones very visible to the eye it always makes for an enjoyable meal. Served with a simple salad of crisp lettuce,wild rocket, grated carrot, slices of fresh tomato and finished with a choice of batatas fritas or the best cooked boiled potatoes this side of kingdom come, I opted for the latter.Chef Pedro cooks this to such perfection that I haven´t yet dared to try and repeat the experience, buying from the market and cooking it at home.

Restaurante Dom Petisco Ponta do Areia Vila Real de Santo Antonio

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Two rolls short of a Portuguese picnic

Pão com Chouriço. Originally from the central region of Ribatejo, this bread is made all over the country. The texture of this wheat bread has a smoother consistency, from the dough being whipped in a machine and later formed into rolls and filled with Portuguese sausage. Pão com Chouriço is the Portuguese substitute for  hot dogs, as they are sold at sports events, at markets, on the beach, carnivals, festivals and is great as a late night snack.Best of all if you can´t be arsed to bake them yourself  "why not do what I do" - just pop by the bakers on the way to the beach and that´s your lunch sorted.YUM!!!!!

  • 5 1/2 cups of flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons of dry yeast
  • 1 chourico corrente cut into slices with casing removed
  • Warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt (table salt)
  1. Dissolve the yeast in 4 tablespoons of warm water. Add about 1/2 tbsp. of flour and mix well. Set aside.
  2. In a big bowl, mix the flour, salt and the yeast mixture, add warm water a bit at a time until you have a smooth dough that doesn't stick to your hands.
  3. Let rise for 30 minutes.
  4. Divide into 4 portions.
  5. Using a rolling pin roll out the dough into a rectangle, not too big, you want to have a sort of thick dough.
  6. Layer the chourico on the dough. Roll the dough up, pinch the seams to close and set seam side down on a baking sheet.
  7. Let rise again until you can see that it won't rise anymore.
  8. Bake in a 375 oven for about 20 minutes.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Further adventures in Sushi

Biqueirao, espinafres enrolado
Portugal, like Japan, has a strong tradition of raw and cured fish.Anchovies, tuna, mackerel. There are underlying similarities in the two cuisines, but to introduce some elements from one cuisine to another to create a new fusion of a national treasure, I find exciting. Take 3 little pearls, bread, marinated anchovy and fresh spinach, and with the addition of some parmesan, garlic, capers  and fresh herbs you find the Japanese geisha sharing knowledge with the Portuguese cortesa. All wrapped up in a meal that makes for a new fusion of fish and vegetarian wonderment.For my third step out of the closet of what I know is safe, I have gone for an attempt to emulate simple rolled sushi or norimaki. I used spinach to replace the traditional seaweed and before long I had rolled a Portuguese cylinder full of marinated anchovy and a seasoned breadcrumb mix, which I cut into sections to create wonderful party food.

Biqueirao, espinafres enrolado
sushi of marinated spinach and anchovies
serves 4
20 large fresh anchovies
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil
plentiful lemon juice
robust large fresh spinach leaves
100g toasted breadcrumbs
50g parmesan, grated
50g chopped capers
chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves chopped
Wash and gut the fresh anchovies*, remove the heads, tails and back bones. Lay the fillets in a shallow dish, season with salt and pepper. Pour over the lemon juice and completely immerse them in olive oil.Leave to marinate for 24 hours. Blanch the spinach leaves in a shallow dish of salted boiling water. Drain and refresh in another bowl of ice cold water. Drain again and completely dry on paper towel.Mix together in a bowl the toasted breadcrumbs, grated parmesan,chopped capers,parsley and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.Lay the blanched spinach leaves out flat on the worktop, place the marinated anchovy fillets on top skin side down. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Roll the spinach leaf into a tight cylinder,so you have laers of alternating green white and brown.
Cut the cylinder in 3cm thick slices, Place cut side up and serve.

* Ready prepared marinated white anchovies from a good quality deli can be substituted if you are short on time.

Friday, 10 June 2011

It´s snails place

Mark my word,there's always something going on in Castro Marim to keep you entertained! ...snails galore in Castro Marim? Skip a beat and move with my body SLOW.
Tonight marks the opening of the 3 day Festa do Caracol (Festival of the Snail): Unfortunately for the snails it doesn´t celebrate their life, but their taste! Evidently they taste better in May, but this year we´ve run over into June. It doesn't matter whether they are big or small, but for me unfortunately size is the issue, they can not compete with their big French brother Les Cargot. In Portugal,as long as they are cooked to the traditional recipe and accompanied with bread, butter and beer,that´s all that matters. It is a long standing tradition of the region and restaurants throughout the municipality will be taking part.The venue for this event is the Colina Revelim San Antonio, just on the outskirts of the village. It is like a miniature Portuguese theme park; for English readers it reminds me of  Bekonscot model village.  Hmmmm?
Over the three days thousands of visitors will storm the hill to taste the best snails cooked not only in the Algarve, but the whole of Portugal.But also Spanish, French, Moroccan and Italian chefs will be presenting surprising takes on this popular traditional bar snack.
Sit under the stars, have a fun evening with bevvies and enjoy the variety of snails, while being serenaded with the diversified sounds and rhythms of Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and Moroccan music

 What more could a local ask for?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Love and marriage

Tapas for starters

"Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage, go together like a horse and carriage. This, I tell ya, brother, you can't have one without the other" ... Bonnie and Clyde they were made for each other. Casa Rosada catered its second venture into Portuguese wedding wonderland this weekend.
When it comes to entertaining on a large scale, it’s all about reliability. And, let’s face it, keeping up appearance - the hyacinth bucket, the food, the flowers, the frippery, all with a flourish, are what make the day go, and hopefully, all seemingly with a little ease. It should be  the closest you will get to a snog on a plate.

Through the keyhole Andrew and Rupert cooking

"Bless this day
pinnacle of life
husband joined to wife
leaps up to behold
this golden day"

The bar by moonlight

For serial wedding guests it´s often not the couple that got hitched, but another element of the occasion that they remember. Maybe a particular floral festoon, the quirky standard lamp by the open air bar, the metres and metres of unbleached muslin swagging and shading the celebrant´s tent, but more often than not at the end of the day it comes down to the food. What sticks in the memory is whether the food was good or bad. The day will be remembered either way.

Preparing the late night buffet
Bless the brides..and grooms.
This is dedicated to the one´s Casa Rosada has loved,and fed
Karen and Brian
Karen and Christopher
Thank you.

Team Casa Rosada
( Apologies Helena we didn´t realise you were doing the washing up!!!! )

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Everything´s coming up Rosé

"Cracklin' Rosie, get on board"- It seems good old rosé is back in fashion. Casa Rosada seems to be getting an increasing number of requests from guests who want to drink a rosé wine, either as an aperitif,with their meal,or even some who don´t drink anything else,and its not even summer yet. Casa Rosada´s choice is for the two rosé wines produced by Quinta do Barranco Longo in the southernmost wine region of Portugal- Algarve.The Quinta is operated and owned by Rui Virgínia, a young and modern winemaker who has established an art for recreating wines and started his production of quality wines in 2001. Since then, Rui has won great recognition nationally and internationaly. Quinta do  Barranco Longo Rosé has been awarded Portugal's best rosé!

Barranco Longo  rosé
Barranco Longo oaked rosé
Barranco Longo Rosé 2006, Algarve, Portugal
Deeply colored,a serious rosé appealing to my inner heart with a modernist typography on the label. An extremely approachable wine big and bold with a fruity goodness and all in all an extremely well composed rosé.

Casa Rosada´s Choice -Barranco Longo Oaked Rosé 2008.   Big ruby red reindeer nose,a fuller body than its softer sister, rich and alive with warm fruity buckets of strawberries and currants, but nevertheless beware, it´s quaffable in quantities. Persistent and complex, something that differs from what is expected in a rosé. A drink your heart out wine. Enjoy it as an accompaniment to salads, white meats, seafood or as an aperitif.