Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Apple snow, a dessert of the 70´s

Apple snow made with Portuguese Reineta apples
It's bound to happen, the inevitable leftover egg white syndrome.What can you do with 8 egg whites? I have just made a batch of ice cream involving yolks and cant bring myself to throw the whites away.I am not very meringue-minded so that is not an option, and have to say I am not partial to a coconut macaroon.So put in this situation, what would my mother have done? She would, I am sure, have made a dessert called Apple Snow.
A recent Word of Mouth post in the  Guardian newspaper rekindled some of the strange names accredited to English recipes including "Apple snow" "Spotted dick" "Eton Mess"and "Jam roly-poly."
The very name takes me back to the late 1970s as it was a pudding I had regularly, when in my teens. I was not sure if that was a general thing or just our family. If anyone else had Apple Snow in the 1970s I would love to hear from them. As soon as anyone says ‘Apple Snow’ it conjures up memories and images for me of David Bowie, Marc Bolan and platform shoes!Apple Snow makes me think of flares and the sounds of the 70s – and that is why I still love it. Its an easy and fun dessert and one that is well worthy of a revival.Its a way of using up all those windfalls, if you have them.
Apple Snow is made up of cooked, pureed apples mixed in with whipped cream(optional), egg whites and then sweetened to taste. You can adjust the amount of cream according to your taste. I actually think it is best to be fairly light on the cream as that allows the texture of the whipped egg whites to come through. The grated zest and juice of a lemon gives it that extra zing.So come on chaps, purée those apples and get beating those egg whites to show your support for the return of Apple Snow.
A traditional apple snow
I used Portuguese apples, Reinetas,because they cook beautifully.If you use Granny Smith apples your apple snow will have slightly greener colour to it.
700g (1.5lbs) cooking apples, Reinetas or Granny Smith
200g (6oz) caster sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 egg whites
Whipped cream (optional) trust me you don´t need it
Slivers of toasted almonds

Core the apples, cut them into thick slices and put them with a very little water in a covered pan. Cook until soft;sieve and measure off 300ml (10 fl oz / 1/2 pint ) of purée.Add sugar and lemon juice.Cool completely.Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fluffy.Pile into tall glasses and decorate with toasted almond slivers or amaretti biscuits.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Variations on a theme of herbes de provence

After a long dry summer the thespian has been brutally pruning back our rather large bushes giving me the chance to dry and preserve a wide range of herbs for culinary usage and herbal infusions. Now the rains have finally come and its time for the "great indoors." Autumnal jobs are us and its all down to me to get busy with this harvest of herbage that has been gathered.Having prepared the herbs for drying todays job found me in the larder - "dried fruit management." Its like cleaning out your filing cabinet but a lot more tasty and  a heck of a lot more satisfying.
As the name "Herbes de Provence" is generic, and not a Protected Geographical Status, there is no guarantee that Herbes de Provence in fact come from Provence; indeed, the vast majority of these blends come from central and eastern Europe, North Africa, and China.The denominação de origem controlada (or DOC) is the system of protected designation of origin for wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products from Portugal.This does not "affect" ( had to consult grammar girl´s  take on effect versus affect, apparently her "quick and dirty tips help you do things better") us as we are lucky enough therefore to be able to make our own "Herbes de Provence" rather than paying for someone else to do it, but I will label my Herbes de Provence as ( DOC Casa Rosada) agr.biol. sem aditivos.
just for my own amusement.

Every experienced cook has a different recipe for "Herbes de Provence". I think mine is a good basic recipe to start with. Experiment with the proportions and find the balance of flavours that suits your palate best. All herbs should be fully dried and then coarsely crumbled.  
"Herbes de Provence"  are usually a mixture of dried thyme, marjoram, savory and various other herbs, but it's the dried lavender I think that gives this blend of summer herbs its unexpected magic.

Basic Herbes de Provence Recipe

Dried thyme (tomilho)
Dried oregano (oregao)
Dried summer savory  (segurelha)
Dried rosemary (alecrim)
Dried manjerico or basil (manjerico)
Dried bay leaf  (louro)
Dried lavender  lavando
    Variations on the theme

    Variation I

    1 part marjoram
    1 part basil
    2 parts thyme
    1 part summer savory
    1/2 part lavender
    1 part rosemary
    1/2 part fennel (cracked)
    1 part oregano
    Variation 2

    1 part thyme
    1 part summer savory
    1/2 part lavender
    1/4 part rosemary
    1/2 part oregano or basil
    1/4 part sage
    Variation 3

    2 parts thyme
    1 part basil
    1 part marjoram
    1 part tarragon
    1 part rosemary
    2 parts summer savory
    1 part fennel seeds (cracked)
    1 part lavender
    Variation 4

    Use equal amounts of each:
    fennel seed

    The method for each of these mixes is the same. Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl and store in an airtight container.
    If you prefer, you may process the herbs to a finer ground in a coffee grinder or food processor.

    Thursday, 25 October 2012

    A terrina do trapaceiro - A cheats terrine

    Essentially a terrine is any dish made in a small, deep earthenware container with a tightly fitting lid ( the french word means literally `made of earthenware´and comes from the latin terra, `earth.´) The English then borrowed it in the Eighteenth century and called it a tureen.
     A quintessential terrine is made from finely chopped or minced meat-typically with a base of lean and fat pork,and often with other meats, such as game, duck or veal added to it.It was then cooked in a terrine, in the oven, in a Bain Marie.The full French term for this type of terrine is pâté en terrine,which is abbreviated to pâté as well as terrine.This seems to have led to pâté and terrine becoming virtually synonymous,in both French and English.However in the 1970´s all was not well and things went astray in camp pâté.A foodie fashion foray into the realms of vegetable terrines was upon us.

    Vegetables of contrasting shapes and colours were layered in a mousse or sauce set in aspic, so as to produce a marbled effect.Having recently read Fabulous Fanny, whenever aspic is mentioned the fabulous Fanny Cradock,with her over the top creations now always come to mind.( a brief note here: aspic is a transparent jelly in which cold fish, poultry meat and or vegetables are sometimes served. It's used as a garnish to glaze and protect fish and other food from drying out (the clear aspic allows any decoration to be seen), and to set savoury foods in a mould).My dear mother committed numerous food faux pas in the name of aspic.She was one of Fanny´s followers and was ever at the ready with lunch dishes in which she used a heck of a lot of aspic.She drowned eggs and all manner of vegetables including frozen peas  in tureens deep in this savoury gelling agent.Eggs in Aspic (Oeufs en Gelée)was one of the quirky wonders of old-school French cooking that she resorted to time after time.This classic French dish was typically served as a first course, aspic being used to encase poached eggs in a delicate consommé.Ne pas moi mother, but one of your, shall I call it triumphs, was hailed by those others who were party to your lunch table.
    The only explanation I can find for this strange food phenomenom is that these foods looked curious and intriguing when displayed in aspic.Have you ever been served anything in aspic? It's often the colour and texture of a Whiskas cat food pouch pack, and an unpleasant reminder that you're eating something made from horse knuckles.Like the great American adventures in space travel at the time, they hovered weightlessly in the clear brown gel, perhaps seeming to mimic Neil Armstrong, who I remember watching on our modest black and white Ferguson TV as he took one small step for mankind.He was seen hovering in zero gravity on the moon like these poor  unsuspecting vegetables suspended in setting gel. Then Julie and Julia saw us marveling at the latter day blog author plowing through the dozens of aspic recipes contained in The Art of French Cooking? Aspic was  important enough for Julia Child to devote much of her writing to the stuff, as despicable as we may find it today. Thankfully, by the 1980s, nearly everyone had admitted that, while visually interesting, anything suspended in aspic tasted vomitous and moved on to concocting new and more heinous modern creations.For those Portuguese readers out there I have found for you one classic  dish adapted from Alan Davidson´s classic book North Atlantic SeafoodPortuguese Hake in Aspic (Pescada en Gelia).For those brave enough to dabble with this retro malarky let me know how you get on.Meanwhile back in Portugal 2012, yesterday I needed a fast recipe for a light lunch.I had in the fridge, left over from Sunday night´s dinner, a tupperware container of cooked rabbit and another bowl of the discarded uncooked rabbit livers.While walking on the beach in early morning autumn fog my first thought was rabbit liver pâté and toast.My befuddled mind was a little misty too and I needed to return to base and think in slighly more substantial terms.My solution turned out to be not so much a pâté more a terrine, but I did not have enough time,in fact only a couple of hours.So sem Aspic,sem gelatina,sem text and no time for ovens or bain marie, I decided to make a cheat´s terrine.I gently sautéed some celery, carrot, onion and parsley in a mixture of butter and olive oil throwing in some thyme and crushed juniper berries for good measure.I added the rabbit livers stirred it all about and then tossed in some white wine from the fridge door,put a lid on it and, reducing the heat, simmered it for 20 minutes.After 20 minutes I removed the pan from the heat and let the concoction cool.I then removed the meat from the cooked rabbit and chopped it coarsely.When my cooked mixture was cool I stirred in the chopped rabbit meat and some halved pistachios.Lining a "tureen" with foil I fried off some thin rashers of bacon and lined the terrine with overlapping rashers.I tipped in the pan mixture pressed it down well,wrapped the excess foil over the top of the mixture and put it in the fridge pressing it down again with some heavy weights. One and half hours later lunch was ready and I had just created this year´s culinary swindle,ready for slicing.Eh Voila.I hope yours turns out like mine.
    Jul 13, 2010

    Tuesday, 23 October 2012

    Couvert- "Bom apetite"

    Soft crumbling cheese peppered and oiled on soft bread
    My current restaurant fad is assembling torn pieces of fresh rustic bread with fresh goats cheese, and then topping them with extra virgin olive oil and ground pepper ( a near impossible find and a specal request required in local Portuguse tascas).This is part of what is called "couvert" (cover charge) and you are by no means obliged to eat it in which case you wont be charged.It applies in all places, from greasy spoons to the posh end restaurants.
    When you sit down you are immediately given a basket full of bread, butter and cheese (usually a small whole soft sheep's cheese),sardine paste and olives.  
    Sometimes in more upmarket establishments you are served salami, cheese spread in individual portions and pates (also in individual portions). You are then charged for this - it comes under 'couvert' in the bill.
    Anything between 5 and 10 euros per head. Overall I have no complaints, as it is usually excellent; what better way to start the meal than with some chunks of wodgy fresh bread and fresh goats cheese or a cured sheeps cheese to toy with while you are perusing the menu and deciding what to order.
    "Bom apetite" 
    How we create a couvert at Casa Rosada
    Fresh goats cheese or Azeitao
    Moroccan Carrot salad
    Marinated Anchovies
    Couvert at Casa Rosada

    Posh Couvert at Cha com agua salgada

    Monday, 22 October 2012

    Torresmos - a “crackling” success?

    Torresmos ( Crackling )
    I have always had an interest in fashion forecasting and predictions of trends to come.In particular, what the journos think we will be eating in months to come is of particular importance to me.
    This time last year I noticed  The Huffington post listed among their food predictions for 2012, 'Posh' Pork Scratchings made from British pigs with no MSG (Monosodium glutamate - a common food additive), created by Tom Parker Bowles (Right royal relative)  Matthew Fort (imagined offspring of Elizabeth David and Jack Kerouac ) and posh pig farmer Rupert Ponsonby.
    Well fashions come and go but my initial thought was, could pork become as popular as this summer´s peplum was going to be.A summer of pork and peplum, my darlings what heaven that could be. Pork scratchings, the humble and beloved British bar snack,originated in the early 19th century, when the production of meat began to be industrialised. The term literally denotes the scraps from the slaughterhouse floor.The origin of the peplum is more recent and goes back to the 1920's when it rocked frocks in different forms and then had a huge high street revival in the summer of 2012. Two parallel trends were running alongside each other.A  posh version of a food supposedly originated from scrapings off the factory floor that needed to tickle the exacting tastebuds of the average British pub-goer, and a fun jolly pretty dress, of which many I expect, were rescued at the end of the day from the floors of Primark stores. Peplums are most certainly not a look that only string beans can wear.They accentuate the waist to-hip-curve and many big porky bootylicious bottoms sported them this summer. Beyoncé and Liv Tyler were both peplummed out this summer, but would the re-invented pork scratching renamed "crackling" by its modern marketeers get noticed at a red carpet party? The competition was in full swing.The Three marketeers,Parker-Bowles, Ponsonby and Fort aimed to transform the fortunes of these time-honoured little strips of salted "crackling", as rich in lore (the shattered tooth, the scorched pig hair, the rumoured possibility of encountering a nipple) as they are in saturated fat. This was an upmarket revolution based on high-quality ingredients and careful cooking.On the other hand Michelle Williams in Luis Vuitton peplum was not so successful,there was insufficient pork to carry it off.
    Traditionally, scratchings are fried and made with the softer, relatively hairless skin with attached fat, behind the hock (back foot) of the pig; crackling is roasted or baked, and can be made from a wider portion of the pig.Every culture has them: foods that only a local could love. In case you’re brave and curious enough to try new things like me, or prefer to be informed of what can be avoided,just try making your own home made version of pork scratchings. International versions include pork rinds and cracklings in the USA, grillons or grattons in France, chicharrones in Central America and the Spanish Caribbean,but no Danish bacon here in Portugal mother,just pure nationally reared belly pork,boiled then fried and called Torresmos("crackling").
    Its now Autumn and Lana del Rey is singing her modern cover version of Bobby Vinton´s Blue Velvet and sporting a peplum blouse by H & M Hennes. Peplums are now the new normal,but no good when travelling on a bus.Pork scratchings or crackling might be the new gastro pub grub but whether or not this ethical pub snack,suitable only for people with strong healthy teeth, will take off remains to be seen.My gut feeling is more peplums than packets of pork scratchings have been sold in 2012.Are you a peplum sporter, a crackling cruncher or both? Whichever; if you want to set the pig among the pigeons with your guests here is the pattern, sorry recipe. When I put these on the table to accompany aperitivs at the Thespian´s  father´s recent 80th birthday bash they ran like pigs in a pen off the table and there wasn´t a rustle of peplum in the room.
    A Portuguese street vendor selling Couratos a variation of Torresmo

    • 1 kg entremeada em cubos                          1kg belly pork in Cubes
    • 1 colher (chá) de bircarbonato de sódio       1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 dente de alho amassado                            1 clove of garlic,crushed
    • Sal e pimenta-do-reino a gosto                     salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 folha de louro                                           1 large bay leaf
    • 1 colher (sopa) de álcool                              1 soup spoon of brandy
    • 1 xícara (chá) de água fervente                   1 tea cup of boiling water
    Coloque em uma panela grande o entremeada com o alho, o sal, o bicarbonato, a pimenta, o louro e o álcool. Misture tudo. Acrescente a água fervente. 
     Place the pork, garlic,salt,baking soda,pepper,bay leaf and brandy.mix everything together well and add the boiling water

    Cozinhe em fogo baixo por 20 minutos, mexendo de vez em quando ou até secar toda a água e amarelar. Escorra e deixe secar.
    Cook over alow heat for 20 minutes,stirring occasionally until all the water has turned yellow and almost all evaporated.Discard the bay leaf.Drain and let dry

    Retire e despreze o louro. Frite os torresmos em óleo caldo, em fogo alto, mexendo até dourar. Retire com escumadeira e coloque sobre papel toalha.
    Commercial takes on crackling
    Heat some oil in a pan or deep fat fryer and when extremely hot  deep fry in batches until golden removing with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to dry.Serve while still warm
    Dicas do Cozinheiro
    Rendimento aproximado de 8 porções.
    Sirva acompanhado de vinho ou bebida de sua preferência.
    O cozinheiro says
    Yields approximately 12 servings as a nibble.
    Serve with a glass of wine or drink of  your choice

    Thursday, 18 October 2012

    A gastronomia da rua- Portugals street food

    Leitão assado - suckling pig on a spit
    Autumn is here and the evenings are drawing in.Nights are fresher and cooler but we cant help turning our memories back to a hot sultry summer of street food when we wandered the streets of an evening and enjoyed a street snack or two.In summer all over Portugal from beach to inland town festival we find food we can eat "on the hoof".
    It might be the bolinhas man peddling his doughnuts from a basket on the beach "Bolinhaaaaaaaas,con crema, sem crema." Sunning yourself on a beach towel, this is the sound that  might have raised you from nodding off on your Maeve Binchy to join the queue for a fresh doughnut.
    Trolling the Streets of Castro Marim during the four day Dias Medievais festival in August the smoky smell of Chocos assados na brassa (Barbecued Cuttlefish) or Polvo seco assado (dry roasted octopus tentacles) might have tickled your taste buds. Torresmos and couratos, the latter normally on sale at large popular gatherings, such as football matches,are not particularly summer fare. Usually served on a sandwich,and accompanied by a beer. I am saving more on that story for later Kirsty.

    No market is complete without the Farturas and churros wagons selling curly whirly doughnut type caky things.
    And last, and most certainly not least, throughout summer the sardine season heralds the smell of fresh sardines being grilled on charcoal in the streets of Portugal.The many festivals of Santos populares throughout June are accompanied by stalls selling grilled sardines. 
    The characteristic smell of grilled sardines permeates everywhere, during the summer months, when literally tonnes of them are consumed. Natives and tourists alike devour them by the dozen from street vendors, like this one in Lisbon.Put one on a slice of bread and eat it with your fingers while the fat of the fish drips into the bread.You´ll only regret it if you don´t.

    Tuesday, 16 October 2012

    "Dont say cheese say Azeitão"

    Simply the best,better than all the rest
    When you are in Portugal either as a resident or visitor one of your missions must be to try the utterly scrumptious Queijo de Azeitão,this is simply the best, better than all the rest, a concentrated round of sheep's milk cheese that is coagulated with cardoon thistle instead of traditional animal rennet.
     Azeitão is named after the village where it was created in the foothills of the Arribida mountain range just a 40 minute drive south of Lisbon. The pastures where the sheep of Azeitão graze are lush and covered in herbaceous scrub, giving the milk its characteristically rich flavor.It comes wrapped in vegetable parchment or cloth and weighs in with rounds of 100g to 250g sizes.It is cured for either 20 days if produced in the summer, or 40 days if in winter, and has a to die for buttery,semi soft texture with a good dash of piquancy,depending on the age.In my mind one of Portugal´s finest cheeses,this one is so good that unscrupulous producers try to get away with fakes.So be sure to check the label for DOP certification(DOP Azeitão (Estramadura) and be sure you are buying the  real Mccoy from the concelho´s de Setubal,Sesimbra and Palmela. Azeitão has a rustic appearance that adds to its romance. Its texture ranges from soft and unctuous to firm and chewy; you can cut open the top and scoop its yellow cream onto slabs of nutty bread. Azeitão was awarded name-protection (Denominação de Origem Protegida certification, DOP), elevating its stature in both Portugal and abroad.
    And most of all, avoid becoming a social outcast by remembering that Azeitão is eaten with a spoon,not cut, and try it with marmelada,a stiff quince paste.
    The flavour is strong but tends to be the most palatable of Portugal´s “stinky cheeses".If you have never tasted Portuguese cheese before, this is a great starting place! Pair Azeitão with a Tempranillo or Albariño. 

    Monday, 15 October 2012

    Feira de Praia Vila Real de Santo Antonio

    Every year around this time in October the town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio sees a fair dating back to 1774, the founding date of the town. It always coincides with Hispanic Day (Día de la Hispanidad) or Spanish National Day (Fiesta Nacional de España) which is an annual national public holiday in Spain on October 12,commemorating Christopher Columbus first setting foot in the Americas in 1492.Taking into account this date, the fair not only relies on  but sees many Spanish visitors from neighbouring Ayamonte and beyond.
    The festival gives Portuguese and Spanish traders an opportunity to "do business"  and many more visitors the chance to pick up some household, may I call it tat or should I call it tut, alongside the opportunity to perhaps purchase some more useful bargains.Stalls stretch the length of the Avenida Republica and in the Marques de Pombal Square.
    The Feira da Praia is the name by which this event has been known since its incarnation and relates to its location, on what were once the sands of the beach of the River Guadiana.The festival was originally created as a means of broadening the social and economic status of what was once a village, and with the aim of promoting its fisheries.

    If you have found no joy in unnecesary purchasing along the Avenida Republica,turn your direction towards the town square (Marques de Pombal)where as a foodie you will soon  find all one needs for recipes incorporating the most of Portugal´s autumn flavour cornucopia.

    The square is "reserved" exclusively for food products.From a dried butterbean to a salted cod piece or a smoky sausage, to dried fruits for the christmas cake and stalls proffering artesan cheese and pickles from across the country, you are hard pressed not to go home carrying a basket laden with Algarvian and Alentejan goodies.And this is not taking into account the temporary "taverns" where you can coiff a glass of red wine and take a bite on a previously unknown cheese and a chunk of artesan bread.
    Hurry now and catch the last two days of this annual showcase of the best of traditional Portuguese foods.

    Wednesday, 10 October 2012

    I´m just mad about saffron

    Worth its weight in gold
    Spanish food lovers argue that their azafran (saffron from the plains of Castilla-La-Mancha) is unrivalled across the world. They have even nicknamed it ‘oro’, gold.I would tend to agree.
    Saffron was introduced to Spain by the Moors in the tenth century. (Its name derives from an Arabic word of unknown origin, za'faran.)and Spain is now the second largest saffron producer in the world, after Iran.
    For two to three weeks each October, Spanish growers and their families will be pushed busywise.The reason being - the saffron harvest.With the searing summer heat now passed, villagers will flock to nearby fields and begin the arduous task of plucking purple crocus heads.The source of this complexity is the crocus flower´s style,which carries tiny trumpet-like,orange-red stigmas.The flowers grow close to the ground, must be hand picked and the yellow staining stigmas then carefully removed and dried.
    These blooms containing these strikingly coloured stigmas are, when dried,  the much sought after saffron – the world’s most expensive spice.
    There is no machine that can strip the saffron flowers, just as there is no mechanical way to speed up their harvest. Hardworking hands must process about 250,000 flowers to produce just one kilo of dry saffron. Hence the spice's astronomical price. Only after having gathered about 14,000 stigmas will there be enough to make just 28g of the spice. Like freshly roasted coffee beans and vanilla pods,saffron has one of those almost indescribable yet addictive aromas.Descriptions include honeyed,floral,spicy,pungent,bitter,woody and earthy.Saffron´s affinity with foods common to the countries of its cultivation has continued through the centuries.During the Middle Ages, the use of saffron in cooking spread throughout Europe. Today it still perfumes rice in Persian polos, it is the defining ingredient in Kashmiri biryanis, Italy´s risotto alla milanese, Spain´s paella, the bouillabaisse of Provence and Portugal´s caldeirada de peixe and is essential to the cuisines of India, Morocco, and Iran. It has also been coveted throughout history as a dye, a perfume, and a medicine. Alongside Don Quixote, Manchego cheese and the Man of la Mancha, the hit of the 1965 Broadway season,  the show that introduced "The Impossible Dream" to the world (and lounge singers everywhere!!!), Castilla-La-Mancha can rightfully hail its saffron to be one of its most famous exports.
    Saffron, the lady of La Mancha and most exotic of spices, is a perfect partner for infusing with alcohol.Only a pinch of saffron is needed for most dishes.A large pinch equals about one teaspoon (100mg) and a small pinch,1/4 to1/2 teaspoon (25-50mg).Amounts can be adjusted according to taste,however too much will make a dish taste bitter and medicinal.Before being added to a dish saffron threads should be crushed to a powder with the back of a spoon and then infused in a hot fat-free liquid such as water, white wine or citrus juices.Try one of two versions of the Alchemists pudding, my tart based recipe and Adrian Henry´s inspired take on this same dessert in his new book Cuoco.

    Tuesday, 9 October 2012

    Lassi comes home

    Salt, yoghurt and water -how simple is that?  Its been a while since I last saw lassi, but with the best Flor de sal in the world to hand I decided to tame my very own domesticated Algarvian Lassi.All you have to do is make the basic salt lassi and then choose from hundreds of flavours that might appeal to your palate.My choice was Portuguese mangoes which are at their best right now-their sticky syrup seeping from the core.

    Salty Lassi is good for digestion and is very cooling to your body on a hot summer´s afternoon. It is also not fattening as  it does not require any sweetener such as sugar.
    You can use full fat milk if you are not particular about watching your calorie intake.
    You only need plain yogurt and water to make basic lassi. Add salt to make it a salt lassi.
    You can use an electric blender, hand blender or a wooden or metal beater to make lassi.

    Ingredients to make 2 glasses of lassi:

    • 1 cup chilled plain fresh yoghurt).
    • 1 cup cold water.
    • Flor de sal to taste.
    • Ice cubes.
    Making Salt Lassi:
    1. Add yogurt, water and salt to the blender.
    2. Blend well till frothy.
    3. Pour in glasses and top with ice cubes.
    Tips:You can add different flavourings to make the salty lassi spicy according to your taste. 
    You can add any one or a mix of the following spices and herbs. You can add them one at a time to get a variety of salt lassi each time or you can add them together in the combination you like.
    For example: I tried making it with salt ginger and cardamom powder. At other times I use rock salt only. You can make your own combinations.Curry leaves, Kaffir lime leaves,cumin, pepper.

    Mango lassi with optional salt and cardamom
    1 quantity(as above) basic lassi
    I fresh mango pulped
    1 teaspoon ground cardamom
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    Put all the ingredients in a 1 litre blender jug and blitz with a stick blender until frothy.Serve with ice cubes.

    Other options:
    Banana lassi
    Cumin and mint lassi
    Chocolate mint
    Fresh ginger /ground ginger

    Monday, 8 October 2012

    Um jantar simples - Arroz com erva limao

    a simple supper of lemongrass fried rice
    We eat and serve rice fairly frequently at Casa Rosada. Most of the time I cook plain boiled rice or herb rice. Today I added a twist and tried rice cooked and flavoured from from our garden, with fresh lemongrass which has now grown to ornamental proportions. I made the rice as a side dish to grilled chicken.Much to my amazement I was left with a massive amount of leftover rice.I had misjudged all my proportions and cooked for six instead of two (as one does Huh).
    So, if you were wondering what would be a great make-ahead item that you could leave in the refrigerator, and still retain its incredible flavour when re-heated, well this is it. Make a big bowl of this fried rice and enjoy it as a side dish. The left over recipe is then very quick and simple,and if you have some leftover chicken it’s even tastier. I used leftover grilled chicken, but any cooked and shredded chicken would work.The basic rice is cooked in advance and the cooked chicken added with the egg at the last minute.The twist here is that in a normal scenario you make leftovers from the remains of a main course here you are making a main course supper dish from the leftovers of a side dish.

    For the lemongrass fried rice 
    Vegetable oil
    1 onion diced
    1/2 tbsp minced garlic
    1/2 tbsp fresh minced ginger
    3 stalks lemongrass, minced white part only
    2 cups cooked rice
    juice of 1 lemon
    In a large non-stick pan,heat alittle bit of oil.Sauté the onions,garlic,ginger and lemongrass until they soften but not brown.Add the cooked rice and continue to cook for about 5 minutes until heated through.Add the lemon juice and salt (optional).Serve with chicken or seafood,

    For the egg fried twist
    2 eggs
    2tsp sesame oil
    2 tbsp vegetable oil
    200g (7oz ) long grain rice (uncooked weight), cooked and left to go cold
    100g(4oz) frozen peas, defrosted(rinse under the tap to do this quickly
    4 spring onions finely chopped
    1-2 tsp soya sauce
    freshly ground pepper

    Beat together the eggs and sesame oil and put to one side.
    Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan.When its shimmering and almost smoking,add the lemongrass rice and stir-fry for about 3 minutes until completely heated through.Add the peas and spring onions.Continue stir frying,turning the rice constantly around the pan for about 3 minutes.Season well to taste with the soya sauce and pepper,then scoop to one side of the pan.Pour the beaten egg mixture into the other side and leave for about 10 seconds so it begins to set.Using a chopstick,briskly swirl around the egg to break it up and then toss it around with the rice.Stir fry for a further minute and then serve immediately

    Wednesday, 3 October 2012

    Tão felizes juntos,uma trindade

    So happy together autumn fruits and pork bring about a menage a trois
    So happy together, nudged up,like jitterbug jiving GI´s or lindyhopping wartime couples on a crowded and hot dance floor, sweetly basting the pair on the hop next to them.So too the close proximity of succulent, juicy, late summer or early autumn fruits and chunks of pork skewered up tightly together, creates a marriage of flavours when their juices start to perspire, mixing and mingling.
    I have taken my inspiration here from a recent recipe in the Observer by Mr Nigel Slater.I had an idea in my back head to combine pork and mango on a skewer and then grill it.This has been on my “To Do” list longer than clean out, paint and insulate the garden shed and wire up the lights in the gazebo.All these were on my top ten of things to do before I turned sixty.Alas that day has long since passed. Oh well,Fruit with meat a do or a don´t? I have never been a great fan of the fruit and main course combo, but this works wonderfully. My original idea was to grill the pork and mango skewers quite simply but serve them up with a satay sauce.Mr S´s idea is far simpler, more sophisticated and modern.I opted out of his mustard and olive oil marinade and went for something that introduced a few more flavours and ones that would intensify the juiciness and sweetness of the fruits.
    Pork plum and mango skewers
    A fruity exuberant dish that comes flying off the grill like Lindbergh´s pioneering aeroplane flight across the Atlantic in 1927

    Serves 4

    800g pork loin cut into cubes
    4 plums red or yellow,halved or quartered depending on size of the plums
    1 large  ripe mango cut into cubes the same size as the pork

    1/4 cup honey
    2 tbsps soy sauce
    2 tbsps dijon mustard
    1 1/2 tsps olive oil
    2 tsps rosemary

    Bring together all the ingredients for your marinade and toss in the pork cubes,mixing them well to coat in the marinade.Leave aside for a couple of hours.Meanwhile soak 8 bamboo skewers in cold water.When ready to go thread the pork on to the skewers alternately with the pieces of fruit.Heat a griddle pan to a smoky hightemperature and then rest the skewers on the grill turning each one frequently to avoid any hint of a "black bottom stomp".Keep turning until the meat is cooked through and the fruit juices are sizzling over the meat.
    Serve with piri piri potato wedges

    Tuesday, 2 October 2012

    Salata de presunto Serrano e rucula com Requeijao e molho de Roma

    There´s no such thing as a free lunch? Well it was as good as.This weekend I popped out to the shop to pick up some milk and on the way back passed a hedgerow laden with ripe pomegranates.Branches were bending under the weight of  abundant fruit and many of the fruits themselves had split open,a sure fire sign that a pomegranate is ripe and ready for the picking.So pick them I did,well I made a bold start as this hedgerow ran for several hundred metres so I shall have to return to finish my plundering, as nobody else appeared to show any interest or want them.What a scoop, they are not even in the market place yet.Their loss my gain.

    Serrano Ham and Rocket Salad 
    with Requeijao and Pomegranate Salsa                          This is very much an autumn salad – walnuts and pomegranates are perfect right now. Simple in its execution and not too heavy, it is a lovely way to begin a meal.This vibrant dish, layered with wild rocket leaves, soft dollops of fresh Portuguese curd cheese and fine slivers of salty serrano ham,dressed with a pomegranate salsa and topped with chopped walnuts is the sort of composed salad that showcases seasonal ingredients.
    1 large shallot,finely chopped
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon Flor de sal
    1/2 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
    seeds of 1 small pomegranate
    freshly ground pepper
    1 handful per portion of wild rocket leaves
    2 tablespoons of flat leaf parsley chopped
    100g very finely sliced Serrano ham
    crumbled requeijao ( or other fresh moist curd cheese)
    handful of chopped walnuts
    In a medium bowl mix the chopped shallot with the lemon juice and Flor de sal and leave to rest for 5 minutes.Stir in the pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses, parsley, olive oil and season with salt and pepper.(You can make this ahead and refrigerate overnight).Toss all the rocket leaves in a small salad bowl with the pomegaranate salsa and then arrange a handful of dressed leaves on each plate.top with shreds of the Serrano ham followed by the dollops of crumble curd cheese finish with a scattering of chopped walnuts and a further soonful of the pomegarante dresing over and around the salad.

    Monday, 1 October 2012

    figs in a blanket

    Everyone loves pigs in a blanket – tiny sausages wrapped in bacon – it suddenly makes me feel a lot like Christmas, but it is only the beginning of October and the sensuous, succulent Figos pretos are abundant, so lets put Christmas on the back burner and enjoy these fruits of early autumn in all their gorgeousness.
    Have you ever tried this spin-off?  Prosciutto wrapped around fresh figs? I have made a mix of mascarpone cheese and Dijon mustard and then stuffed the figs,wrapped each one in an extremely thin slice of presunto serrano and then finished with a topping of coarsely chopped pistachio
    Pairing the fresh, savoury flavour of prosciutto with sweet rich figs and then stuffing them with this Dijon mustard-based cream creates a contrast of the lightly vinegared mustard and naturally sweet mascarpone.Topping the figs with coarsely chopped pistachios gives the dish a nutty salty finish.A decadent appetizer or hors d'oeuvre to boot.Bom apetite