Thursday, 29 November 2012

Mercadinho de natal em London Uma excelente representação portuguesa!

Saturday 1 December and Sunday 2nd December
Open 11.00 - 17.00
Midori House,1 Dorset Street Marylebone London W1U 4EG
If you are down in the Marylebone neck of the woods this weekend you´re sure of a big surprise. Monocle has invited 15 of its favourite shops(“each unique and chosen specifically to suit Monocle’s exclusive audience and clientele”) from across the globe to be represented at it´s first Christmas market in London. Christina Portas´s A Vida Portuguesa Shop from Lisbon and Porto is one of the chosen few, she duly accepted and will be there.A VIDA PORTUGUESA was selected as one of the 10 most original shops in town by Time Out Lisbon.

Some traditional gift ideas from A Vida Portuguesa
Give that special someone a hand made traditional gift from Portugal this Christmas
Musgo Real Soaps have been made since 1887, and have primarily served the Portuguese aristocracy and upper classes since then. Now, more than a century later, Musgo Real is still a world acknowledged preference, being used daily by famous people - it's even Johnny Depp's favorite!
It's ancient formula is enriched with natural Coconut Oil and Glycerin which makes this soap even more creamy and smooth, especially useful for maintaining healthy skin daily. A unique aroma, combines the herbal essences of vetyver and eucalyptus with the vigorous accent of patchouli.

Wrap up warm this christmas with traditional blankets 
throws and rugs from the Alentejo
Flying high from portugal to London this Christmas - Ceramic swallows, reproduced from the original moulds of historic Portuguese ceramicists Bordalo Pinheiro

The perfect gift for any Choc-o-holic.Tangerine, Lemon grass or green tea chocolate in wrappers re-created with designs from yesteryear.

Handmade notebooks with strong cardboard covers (the style of an album),  recycled paper plain sheets  and a cotton thread knot. All with charming retro feel.
and if you don´t see it ask for artesan Castro Marim Flor de sal

 Uma excelente representação portuguesa!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Pastitsio and bechamel born again out of wedlock

The Greek word pastitsio (pa-STEE-tsee-oh) derives from the Italian pasticcio, and means "pie", and has developed into figurative meanings of "a mess", "a tough situation", or a pastiche.Loosely translated it´s a hodgepodge.My version that I cooked up this week might be a little cuckoo ( one who lays their eggs in another one´s nest,meddling I would say).I meddled and I mixed and made a delicious midweek mish mash of a meal.If you are a proud Greek please forgive me for tampering with one of your classic dishes.
 There are 3 essential components which make up this dish - pasta, meat filling, and a creamy bechamel sauce. These are layered in a pan and baked to a golden brown.
The typical Greek version has a bottom layer that is bucatini or other tubular pasta, with cheese and egg as a binder; a middle layer of ground beef, veal or lamb with tomato and cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice; another layer of pasta; and finally a top layer of sauce, varying from an egg-based custard to a flour-based Béchamel. Grated cheese is also often sprinkled on top. Pastitsio is a common dish, and is often served as a main course, with a salad.Bearing all this in mind,while cooking this up as a midweek supper dish,through a combination of lazyness and a measure of austerity I accidentally created a new form of bechamel.I couldn´t be a***d to go through all the kerfuffle that is the making of a beautiful bechamel and instead found a large tub of ricotta in the fridge that needed using up.A sudden flash of savoury ricotta inspiration came to me.As unassuming as ricotta is, it really has a lot of tricks up its sleeve.I thought I would put this versatility to the test.
In my blender, I blended 2 cups of the ricotta with 2 egg yolks, nutmeg and 1/2 cup of  Parmigiano Reggiano until smooth. Seasoned it all with salt and pepper. I pulsed in the remaining ricotta and before I could say hey pastitsio I had the makings of a cheats bechamel (a substitute sauce replicating butter, flour and milk).
  • 2 tablespoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pound(s) lean ground beef mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano,chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon(s) cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups tomato sauce or diluted tomato concentrate( see below)
  • 500g macaronibucatini or other tubular pasta
  • 3 cups fresh ricotta
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the beef, onion,both types of oregano, cinnamon, cloves and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the beef is no longer pink and any liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add some tomato sauce (a small tin of concentrated tomato purée diluted with water would be fine)  and bring to a boil. Boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.

Cook the pasta until barely al dente; drain and return to the pot. Meanwhile, in a blender, blend 2 cups of the ricotta with the yolks, nutmeg and 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse in the remaining ricotta.

Add your beef ragù to the pasta and toss. Transfer this mix to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour the ricotta mixture on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 20 minutes, until heated through. Heat the grill  and grill until the top is golden brown. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

So out of austerity comes something simple but delicious.
Each stage requires dirtying several pots and pans, but I hope you will agree that after all the work the end result is well worth the washing up!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Porco Porto e Pimentão

This recipe is a wonderful melding of great Iberian ingredients, and with Catalonia on the brink  of possible independence from Spain what better time to remember long ago, in days of yore, when it was one big Iberian peninsula. It was only in 1980 under King Juan Carlos that  Andalucia became an autonomous community.
Iberian acorn fed pork, incomparable Portuguese port wine and smoky Spanish paprika (pimenton de la vera),all come together to make this amalgam of a region´s finest ingredients. Coriander (coentros), and olive oil bring the essential flavouring to this tapas-style dish.The coriander adds more of a Portuguese flair than a Spanish one, while the pimenton dulce gives it its Andalucian bite.I think you can have quite a bit of leeway with the type of alcohol used,as long as it is fairly sweet,to balance out the vinegar in the marinade.For instance you could use pink port or  Marsala wine.

When I serve this as a tapas plate, I’ll probably do it the Middle Eastern or Indian style: with pita or naan on the side. Grab a piece of chicken with a torn piece of flatbread instead of using toothpicks

Get more deliciousness at Port and Paprika Chicken Bites Recipe | Leite's Culinaria
I think you could have quite a bit of leeway with the type of alcohol used, as long as it is fairly sweet, to balance out the vinegar in the marinade.

Get more deliciousness at Port and Paprika Chicken Bites Recipe | Leite's Culinaria
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons port (ruby or tawny)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size chunks (about 1-inch dice)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion


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  • 1. Grind the garlic and bay leaves together in the work bowl of a hand blender or mini chopper. (Alternatively, chop the garlic by hand and finely crumble the bay leaves and combine.) Add the port, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the vinegar, paprika, and salt and pulse until well combined.
  • 2. Pour the mixture over the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  • 3. Just before cooking, chop enough cilantro to make 1/2 cup. Scatter the cilantro on a serving plate.
  • 4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat in a wok or large skillet. With a slotted spoon, scoop the chicken pieces out of the marinade and into the hot oil, arranging the chicken in a single layer and discarding the marinade. Cook until browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes, then stir-fry until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Scoop the chicken out of the pan, leaving any excess oil behind, and place the chicken on the cilantro.
  • 5. Add the onion to the oil in the hot pan, return it to medium-high heat, and cook, stirring, until the onion is browned at the edges, about 2 minutes. Scoop the onion out of the oil and strew it over the chicken.
  • 6. Serve the plate of chicken bites hot or at room temperature, sprinkled with a touch of salt and with cocktail picks or toothpicks for handling.

Get more deliciousness at Port and Paprika Chicken Bites Recipe | Leite's Culinaria2 garlic clove2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons white port
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sweet paprika pimenton de la vera
1/2 teaspoon Flor de sal,plus more to taste
1 pound(500g) tenderloin of pork cut into bite sized chunks About 1in dice
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/2 cup finely diced onion

Grind the garlic and bay leaves together in the blender I used a mini processor. Alternatively chop the garlic by hand, finely crumble the bay leaves and combine.Add the port,1 tablespoon of the olive oil,vinegar,paprika and Flor de sal and pulse well till combined.
Pour the mixture over the pork.Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Just before cooking,chop enough coriander to make a bed  on a serving bowl.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil on a medium high heat in a wok or large skillet.With a slotted spoon scoop the pork pieces out of the marinade and into the hot oil, arranging the pork in a single layer and discarding the marinade. Stir fry until cooked through,about 5 minutes.Remove the pork from the pan,and transfer to the bowl of coriander leaves.
Serve the plate of pork pieces hot or at room temperature,sprinkled with a touch of Flor de sal and cocktail sticks for handling.

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons port (ruby or tawny)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size chunks (about 1-inch dice)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion

  • Get more deliciousness at Port and Paprika Chicken Bites Recipe | Leite's Culinaria
    As an alternative to cocktail sticks or bamboo skewers for nibbling on these delicious little bites, and for a more middle eastern or Indian style tapas, try serving this with pitta or naan on the side.Grab a piece of pork with a torn piece of flatbread instead of using tooth picks.

    Monday, 26 November 2012

    Casca de toranja cristalizada

    If we hurry we will be late.When it comes to preparing for Christmas I always like to be ahead of the game.As much preparation of those fiddly little extras that can be done in advance of the main event will put you in good stead.
    I have already given you recipes for plum chutney and mincemeat so that it can mature for a few weeks and be just ready when you need it over the festive period.This week I was given some gorgeous Portuguese pink grapefruits from a friends tree.These are now in season through into the New Year, so if she can spare me some more we can share more recipes using grapefruit.Grapefruit trees thrive in a subtropical climate, however still do well in Portugal, though grow with a slightly thicker skin,which is perfect for what I wanted to do, make candied peel.
    These candied peels are not too difficult to make at home and would be perfect as a garnish on top of a dark chocolate cake. Or just dipped into a vat of ganache. Chocolate can fix almost anything, well almost.Many Portuguese households like to keep some homemade candied peel always at hand to use both in cakes and to eat as a snack.The most rewarding thing about this recipe is the heady aroma that fills the room.Who needs to fork out top dollar for a Jo Malone candle when you can boil a bit of old grapefruit pith and get the same sensation for less than a Euro.

    Portuguese Candied Grapefruit Peels                                                                   
    Ruby red grapefruit peel- any amount
    the same weight of granulated sugar
    1 cup of superfine sugar (optional)

    When eating citrus fruits (oranges, lemons,limes and grapefruit) save the peel and ask your family to do the same.Most of the pith must be left when peeling the fruits,otherwise the peel is too bitter.It will keeep in the fridge for a couple of days.Then when you have enough soak it for 24 hours,changing the water several times to get rid of the bitterness.Cut the peel into strips 1/2inch (12mm) wide and place them in a pan containing boiling water.Bring back to the boil and remove at once.Drain and put the parboiled peel in a clean cloth to absorb all the moisture.When it is as dry as you can get it,weigh it.Using the same weight of sugar,make a syrup with just the minimum of water,boiling until thick (the syrup will present pearl-like bubbles on its surface.)
    Add the peel and stir it around to get it well coated in the syrup.Do this over a very low heat,being careful not to break the peel.Allow the mixture to become quite dry,but without burning it.Pour on to a tray and separate the strips immediately with a knife. Allow to cool overnight. 
    If the peel is not perfectly dry at this stage it may go mouldy very quickly,so either boil it again with great care in order to finish drying,or leave it spread out over a tray or board for a day or so,turning now and then.
    Keep candied peels at room temperature in an airtight container.

    Sunday, 25 November 2012


    Our ever watchful gastronomic blogging barometer Marmaduke Scarlet has reminded us that this Sunday (25th November) is Stir-up Sunday.According to tradition this is the last day to make mincemeat, puddings and cakes to allow them enough time to come to maturity."And what a day its been", the pressure was rising in the kitchen this morning as I decided an austerity Christmas should not be party to shop bought mince pies but my own home made ones.First problem - suet.Where could I get suet in Portugal? Suet is a very English fat and not always appreciated by other cultures. Suet is a key ingredient of traditional mincemeat (fruit mince) and also in traditional puddings, such as British Christmas Pudding
    Gone are the days when you could buy a block of suet in the butchers.Not so in Portugal, where one can still buy a block of suet from some butchers, well pork suet mind.Pork suet is known as leaf lard. As it is from deep inside the body it is a very firm fat with a high melting point.So guided by the fact that traditionally the Portuguese have always used pork fat a lot in both their savoury dishes puddings and cakes, I put my best foot forward for my butchers and found what I was looking for.So what would happen If I substituted Pork for beef. The melting point of lard is just a little lower than the melting point for suet (95F to 113F  compared to 115F to 122F so I think the substitution will work fine.I could also simply leave out the fat, but it would not be the same.One of the best things about a mince pie is how the small amount of suet in the mincemeat absorbs into the butter-based pastry to create a wonderfully flakey crust.I’m trusting that my pork fat will have the same effect.From following this blog, you are now  probably well aware of my love affair with the quince and everything that you can do with it,so for my mincemeat I decided to replace the traditional apple with quince and my favourite Portuguese brandy.
    1 kg quinces
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter,melted
    250g sultanas,chopped
    250g raisins,chopped
    250g dried apricots,chopped
    250g light muscovado sugar
    250g shredded beef,vegetable suet or leaf lard grated
    1 teaspoon ground cardamom
    1 teaspoon ground cloves
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    100g crystallised peel
    100 ml Portuguese Maciera brandy (substitute with calvados)

    Pre-heat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2
    Peel and quarter the quinces and cut them into wedges.Melt the butter and toss the quinces in it, coating them well.Put them on a baking tray and roast them gently in the oven until tender ( about 45 minutes).
    Remove the quinces and set aside to cool.Chop them finely but be careful not to mash them.When they are cool put them in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with all the other ingredients.Bottle in Sterilised jars.

    Any kind of  meat fat grates better when cold.I put my pork suet (leaf lard) in the freezer for an hour before I needed it.
    Suet that is not pre-packed requires refrigeration in order to be stored for extended periods.
    Replace the suet quantity with banana but the shelf life will be reduced to 3 - 4 days, so cant be made too far in advance, therefore not a Stir-in Sunday option.

    Friday, 23 November 2012

    Portuguese Key Lime Pie

    The perfect setting for Key LIme Pie
    I first tasted Key Lime pie at The Plantation House Restaurant, Spring, Bequia.It has stuck in my memory ever since. Seven years on and settled in The Algarve I have made my first Key Lime pie. Much to my surprise Key Limes grow in Portugal. This week,never looking a gift horse in the mouth, I dutifully accepted half a dozen windfall limes. Having been a doubting Thomas  as to their authenticity, I have to admit that at every stage of making my pie I was proved wrong.

    Portuguese Key Limes
    Key Lime juice, unlike regular lime juice, is a pale yellow, correct.Key Limes are smaller, more yellow and contain more seeds than their green skinned Persian relatives,correct.Everything was proving right about my specimens so far. Finally Key Limes stay yellow when ripe, not green,correct on all counts.My limes were Key Limes.
    Strict Key Lime Adherents will tell you if you want a recipe for a lime green coloured pie stop reading now. A green pie would have to be a dyed pie.The filling in Key Lime pie is also yellow, largely due to the egg yolks and the condensed milk.
    During mixing, a reaction between the condensed milk and the acidic lime juice occurs which causes the filling to thicken on its own without requiring baking. Many early recipes for Key Lime pie did not require the cook to bake the pie, relying on this chemical reaction (called souring) to produce the proper consistency of the filling. Today, in the interest of safety due to discouraging consumption of raw eggs, pies of this nature are usually baked for a short time. The baking also thickens the texture more than the reaction alone.
    Key Lime pie  filling is made up of only three simple ingredients, but when properly combined produces a wonderful pungent flavour. Poured into a buttery digestive biscuit crust Eh voila, you have a dessert that even the wicked stepmother couldn't resist.So, gift laden with a handful of free limes and a sexy pointer from Nigella( nudge nudge wink wink) I set to the task in hand.
    Strict Key Lime pie Adherents: Please look away now.The traditional Conch version uses the egg whites to make a meringue topping.The Household deity however whips up her whites to soft sexy peaks and folds them gingerly into the mix.

    Portuguese (Key) Lime Pie
    23cm loose bottomed or spring form tin serves 6-8

    200g Digestive biscuits
    50g unsalted butter at room temperature

    5 large egg yolks
    390g can good quality condensed milk
    zest of 3 key limes
    150ml Key lime juice, (approx.4-5 limes)
    3 large egg whites

    Pre-heat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3.
    Put the biscuits and butter into the processor and blitz until reduced to moist crumbs.
    Press these into the tin,lining the bottom and going a little way up the sides,and chill in the fridge.While the base is chilling, beat the egg yolks until thick,add the can of condensed milk,grated zest and lime juice, incorporating thoroughly.Whisk the egg whites separately until soft peaks form,then fold gently into the yolk mixture.Pour into the lined tin and cook for 25 minutes,when filling should be firm.It puffs up then on cooling fall.
    Transfer to a wire rack cool before unmoulding,and then chill well before serving.

    The musts of using Key Limes
    While their thorns make them less tractable, and their thin, yellow rinds more perishable, key limes are more tart and aromatic than the common Persian limes seen year round in most supermarkets.
    The bad news is they're impossible to find fresh at one´s local supermarket but the good news is ( Strict Key Lime Pie Adherents: Please look away again) apparently Persian limes work just as well in this recipe( or so it´s claimed).It is also claimed that you can make a very good pie using key lime juice available at some supermarkets. Although it will definitely not be  as tasty as using real lime juice, it is therefore not a perfectly adequate substitution.Lets face it you can not call it Key Lime pie if its not made with Key Limes

    Thursday, 22 November 2012

    Peixe São Pedro Piri piri,batatas de milho e purê de ervilhas

    The uncouth appearance of this fish gave it the name of L´enfant terrible in some parts of France where it has also been known as poulet de mer.Its compressed body with tell-tale stigmata on its sides attribute it to Saint Peter (São Pedro).
    Unfortunately its grim image has deterred some from eating it, which is a great pity.There is no l´horrible about it. If treated like fillets of sole or flounder this fish yields fantastic bone-free fillets of succulent white flesh.The only thing you must take into account is that the proportion of fillets to the whole fish is unusually low.If you are offered "Half Saint Peter with chips", it is probably a fillet of John Dory.
    I have taken the classic British "Fish and chips" with mushy peas and ketchup and imagined what the Portuguese interpretation might be.

    Piri piri John Dory 
    with papas de milho ( polenta) chips
    and minty mushy peas
    Serves 4 
    4 x 140g Peixe São Pedro/John Dory fillets
    2 tsp piri piri flakes
    1 tbsp sunflower oil
    Flor de sal
    2 limes cut into 4 wedges 

    For the Tomato Ketchup
    6 tomatoes halved and seeded
    1 garlic clove peeled and sliced
    40g sugar
    Pinch each of ground cumin,dried thyme and mixed spice
    3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    1tsp tomato purée
    1tsp Dijon mustard 

    For the Chips 
    1tsp dried oregano
    1tsp fresh rosemary (alecrim)
    200g polenta ( papas de milho)
    Sunflower oil
    1 tsp piri piri 

    For the Minty Mushy Peas
    250g frozen peas
    100ml chicken stock,fresh cube or concentrate
    large handful of mint leaves coarsely chopped
    For the tomato ketchup
    Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.Put the tomatoes, cut side up, in a roasting pan and sprinkle over the garlic,sugar,cumin,thyme,spice and vinegar.Roast for 30-45 minutes until soft.Put the roasted tomatoes into the processor with the tomato purée and mustard.Blend until smooth and then pass through a sieve and adjust the seasoning.

    To make the Papas de milho chips
    Bring 800ml water to the boil in a saucepan, season generously with salt, pepper, dried oregano and fresh rosemary.Gently whisk in the papas de milho, bring back to the boil and cook over a low heat,stirring constantly for 5 minutes.Pour the hot papas de milho onto a previously greased baking tray in a 5mm thick layer and leave to cool completely.
    Re-heat the oven to 220C/400F/ Gas 6.Turn the cooled papas de milho onto a flat board and cut into 4cm x 5mm chips.Toss lightly in a little sunflower oil and return to the baking tray.Bake for 45 minutes, turning them from time to time until crisp and golden brown.

    For the Minty mushy peas                      
    Put the peas, 25g butter and stock in a pan and season well. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes (you want the peas to stay bright green) then put in a food processor or blender with the mint and whizz to a purée. Put back in the pan and keep warm

    Lightly dust the fish with piri piri and Flor de sal.In a non-stick frying pan heat the oil until smoking, and fry the fish for 3-4 minutes,turning once until cooked.

    To Serve
    Stack the chips on 4 serving plates and lay the fish carefully on top.Squeeze a little lime juice over the fish and serve with the ketchup, mushy peas and a lime wedge.

    Wednesday, 21 November 2012

    The Chipping news... ultimate chips

    Well I knew the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris was famous for many things,in particular being wrapped up by Christo and Jeanne Claude in 1985, (It took the artists 10 years to gain proper permits and support from the city of Paris to wrap the Pont Neuf. Even after that the people of Paris argued over whether this project was art or not) but when Chef Marco at Cha com Agua Salgada recently served us up a veal fillet mignon with Pont Neuf potatoes, that was a first for me. Big fat chips uttered the Thespian, as he tucked into these delicious chunks of crispy encased fondant potato.Bridge potatoes I said,putting it quickly in my back head for later.I knew right away that this was something that I needed to research further as a potential dish for Casa Rosada; something by way of an interesting side to the main game or perhaps fish dish that we would serve our guests.
    Have you ever thought that by renaming a dish it suddenly acquires a new dimension. I had the new name and was immediately thinking in terms of how I would present the dish.Jenga potatoes it was to be. Just as Christo had played a game with the Pont Neuf I was going to play a game with potatoes.Jenga is a game of  physical and mental skill. During the game, players take turns to remove a block from a tower and balance it on top, creating a taller and increasingly unstable structure as the game progresses.What fun, and could this new presentation get children to eat their food. It becomes fun to eat-like playing with a puzzle on your plate, and replaces the old fashioned parental hoax of trying to encourage the child that if he ate his food  he would be able to see the nursery rhyme picture on the bottom of the plate.
    Pont Neuf Potatoes are basically squat, somewhat thick-cut French Fries.

    They should be soft, fluffy and hot inside, and never so crispy that they shatter in all directions when you try to stick your fork in them.

    You want to use very floury potatoes, and preferably ones that have been in storage for a while to develop even more starch and get more floury.

    In general, the size of each Pont Neuf French Fry is 1/3 inch thick x 2 1/2 to 3 inches long (1 cm thick x 7 to 8 cm long.)

    Read more:
    Pont Neuf Potatoes are basically squat, somewhat thick-cut French Fries.

    Read more:
    Pommes Pont Neuf are basically squat chips, thick-cut french fries cooked twice.They should be soft,fluffy and hot inside, and never so crispy that they shatter in all directions when you try to stick your fork in them.You need to use very floury potatoes.

    How to cook Pont Neuf Potatoes
    Serves 4
    This recipe may seem a little long-winded but it really is worth it and on the other side, the majority of the work can be done in advance,one reason I like it.The potatoes can be cooked twice,then kept in the fridge for at least a week, before the final cooking.I used ground nut (peanut)oil as it is very pure and odourless.You could try goose or duck fat and they would be equally delicious.
    1.5 kg potatoes,washed and peeled
    1 litre groundnut (peanut) oil
    Using a sharp kitchen knife,square off the potatoes into rectangular logs.Then cut them into chips about 1 cm thick.The length of the  pieces is not so crucial, but you do want to keep them the same thickness,so that they cook at the same rate.Place them straight into a bowl of cold water and keep them there for about 10 minutes to rinse off some of the starch.Rinse again and drain.

    STAGE 1 Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and plunge in the drained potatoes Bring back to the boil and simmer gently for about 10 minutes,or until the point of a knife easily penetrates the chips.Make sure the water is only just simmering;if it boils too agressively the potatoes will begin to break up before they are sufficiently cooked.
    Using a slotted spoon,lift the potatoes carefully out of the and place them on some paper towel on a flat plate.Allow them to cool,then put them in the fridge until cold.The chips will harden as they cool.

    STAGE 2 Heat the groundnut oil in a deep fat fryer or deep pan and heat to 130C/250F.Plunge in the chips.You may have to do this in batches.After about 5 minutes the chips will take on a dryer appearance before colouring( do not let them colour) they have now finished their second cooking.Drain,let them cool to room temperature and then put them back in the fridge.

    STAGE 3 When cold,they are ready for their final cooking.Re-heat the oil to 180C/ 350F.Plunge in the chips and cook until golden brown( about 10-12 minutes)To get a crisp outside you need to patient.Drain and season with plentiful Flor de sal.Eat on their own with garlic aioli, mayonnaise, or any kind of ketchup or tomato relish.Alternatively serve as a side dish to fish or chicken.

    Monday, 19 November 2012

    Quince crumble with a little apple

    Quince crumble with a little apple
    Serves 4-6, depending on how hungry/greedy you are

    For a delicious,unusual and Portuguese tasting version of a traditional British pudding, try making it using fragrant quinces.
    If you have a favourite crumble topping recipe use yours, I like mine ( my mum´s) but am no granny-like authority on the matter.I have given four alternatives of classic toppings for you to choose from below.
    When making a crumble topping it helps to understand the difference between normal pastry and a crumble mix. First and foremost, a crumble mix has sugar in it, standard pastry does not. Amongst other factors, the sugar has the effect of forming tiny crumbs of pastry around it.
    The second key difference is that the standard pastry mix has a small amount of water added to it. This helps the pastry mix to form a single ball which can then be rolled into shape. A crumble mix has no water added to it.

    300g plain flour
    200g good butter
    150g brown sugar
    a good handful of oats if you have them

    3 cooking apples
    3 large quince
    200g sugar
    a few bay leaves

    Peel the quince and cut them into six. Remove the core and put wedges in an oven tray that fits them well, a nice ceramic one you wouldn't mind seeing your crumble in would be good. Add the 200g of sugar, the bay leaves and enough water to just cover. Bake the quince in a moderate oven (about 160C) for a couple of hours. You can bake them for less but you'll never get the beautiful orange colour. When orange, remove from the oven, drain a little of the liquid if there's loads (you can use this syrup as a cordial). Check the sweetness – add more sugar if you like.
    To make the topping, rub the butter and sugar together between your hands, until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Don't make it too fine. I'm sure the trick is to do it pretty quickly. Chuck in some sugar, to taste, depending on preference and how sweet the quince has ended up.Chop the apples,keeping them raw, into chunks and add to the quince.
    Sprinkle the crumble on the fruit and bake in a hottish oven (190C) for about 20 minutes until the top is browned and the mixture cooked. Eat with a big dollop of very thick cream.

    280g / 10oz self-raising flour
    140g / 5oz brown or white sugar
    140g / 5oz butter                                          
    A traditional crumble mix the way my mum made it. Well defined crumbs and looks good.
    230g / 8oz flour self-raising flour
    150g / 5½oz caster sugar
    150g / 5½oz butter
    A smoother mix with a rich buttery taste. The crumbs are not as well defined. Browns well on the top for that attractive golden colour.
                                                           OATY CRUMBLE RECIPE
    140g / 5oz self-raising flour
    140g / 5oz brown sugar
    100g /3½oz butter
    55g / 2oz rolled oats
    A rougher crumble mixture with the oats giving it a real bite. Give this one a try. Use the remaining oats for porridge!
                                                      ALMOND CRUMBLE RECIPE
    50g / 2oz chopped almonds
    200g / 7oz self-raising flour
    140g / 5oz brown or white sugar
    125g / 4½oz butter
    For this crumble recipe the fruit (apple or pears only) and crumble are cooked separately. Delightfully simple and easy to make.

    Quintessential tip
    Quince has the firmness of a hard winter squash, so be sure to use a large, firm chef's knife to cut it into halves, quarters, or slices. Peeling works well with a vegetable peeler or a small paring knife. Remove the core and you may well have to chisel it.Be careful.

    A quintessential alternative
    Quince makes an excellent fruit sauce similar to apple sauce. Peel a few quinces, slice them with a very firm knife, and remove the seeds. Cook them in a small amount of water with plenty of sweetener of choice until they reach a pulpy consistency like apple sauce. Mash or puree in a food processor, and serve as a dessert or accompaniment to savoury dishes.

    Thursday, 15 November 2012

    Chutney chaat

    "A pungent relish made of fruits,and or vegetables with vinegar, spices, and sugar, 
    originating in India".

    With the season of mellow fruitfulness upon us,and in my Beatrix Potter world of Squirrel Nutkin it is time to get thrifty and wise to whats around the corner.With the nights drawing in and winter drawers on, our houses become overwhelmed with the smells of spicy chutneys and other preserves bubbling away on our stove tops.If not, something is wrong.
    There are few things in life more enjoyable than producing our own pickles, relishes and chutneys from a bountiful autumn, and even more to consume and enjoy the fruits of this labour, together with family and friends around an appreciative seasonal table.
    During late summer and autumn your kitchen should exude delicious sweet aromas of luscious fruit, and and the heady scent of spices and drying herbs.November is the time to make preserves and practice cupboard maintenance and start planning your larder for the year ahead.

    A good old -fashioned plum chutney
    Come the deluge of fruit,a good chutney will make a condsiderable dent in any orchard of plenty.If there hadn´t been such a plethora of Portuguese plums this year I would not have brought myself to making this.At the end of the season, about a week ago, I over purchased plums and then forgot about them. They were now plump and ripe and ready for the preserving pan.I ain´t no "Chutney Mary" but here goes.
    "Chutney Mary" is a somewhat derogatory term used to describe a "lass" in Bombay, India, typically someone from a lower social background who wears flashy clothes and puts on a fake 'accent' to try and appear as being from a higher social class (yes, the caste system is well and alive). It is the fake accent that usually gives her away.So here is my very own "Chutney Mary", a plummed up lass some pittlers might call mutton dressed as lamb, but put to the test this is a damn fine plum chutney.
    1.5kg stoned plums
    250g sliced onion
    50g raisins
    250g muscovado sugar 
    1 level tsp salt
    2 cloves
    1 big thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger,peeled and grated
    1 level tsp ground allspice
    600ml good quality red wine vinegar
    Place al the ingredients in a large stainless steel pot or preserving pan and mix well.Place the pan over a gentle heat and bring slowly to the boil.Let the brew simmer until it thickens and takes on the consistency of achutney.(about 45 minutes).Clean and sterilise some jars,ladle in the chutney and seal.
    Don´t use metal lids,because these will react with the vinegar.While it is understandable that everyone will be itching  for a large spoonful,ideally the chutney should be allowed to mature for four to six weeks.You must be patient.


    Tuesday, 13 November 2012

    Uma torta de laranja feito de maçãs

    "Orange tart" made out of apples
    An"orange tart" made out of apples? Curious? I think you will be.I think I have  been watching too much Heston´s fantastical food, but anyone who has been brought to tears by his eight-page recipe for trifle will attest to the fact that  this man is an acquired taste. Despite the difficulty of some of his dishes, on the whole I am fascinated by him – regardless of the fact that what he does is in no way either useful or practical. He has extolled the pleasures and virtues of crossing the boundaries between savoury and sweet.Egg and bacon ice cream was created out of intentionally overcooked custard.Parsnips and milk were used to emulate breakfast cereal."Why oh why" his critics repeatedly say. Get a life, I say- IT´S FUN.It is just Heston having a bit of a culinary canoodle and trying his hand at some things that perhaps not even he will bother to do again.Giving over prime time TV to researching why the English as a nation dunk their biscuits into cups of tea is fine for me.Its entertaining and makes good television.And you can´t knock the fact that he is one of the UK's very few holders of so many étoiles.So, inspired by Heston and  the extraordinary Fat Duck cookbook that my perceptive friend Mo gave me for my birthday,and with some class Portuguese apples and oranges I began a bit of self dabbling in culinary science.And what happened? I was amazed.I think you will be too.
    A bit of quince syrup or juice, or a slice or two of peeled quince added to apples or pears while they cook will add an appealing flavour and aroma to a dish, giving them that little je ne sais quoi.So, following the same principal of flavour pairing, what happens if orange zest is infused into a cream and sugar base, used as a coating for sliced apples and then the remainder incorporated into filling for a tart.As the tart bakes,the apples absorb the cream coating and they come out of the oven tasting like oranges.Trust me -just try it.

    An "Orange tart" made out of apples
    serves 6
    Pre-heat the oven to 375F/185F

    You will need: 
    1 quantity of sweet pastry to line
    Six 10cm ( 4inch) tart rings or same sized fluted tart pans
    or six same size pre-baked tart shells. 

    1/2 cup granulated sugar 
    1 large orange
    1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
    3 medium sizd granny smith or golden delicious apples
    peeled cored and cut into 12 slices each

    Line your tart rings or fluted pans with sweet pastry.Place them on a baking tray lined with parchment
    Set aside in the freezer for 30 minutes.Blind bake them in the oven until they are part baked, golden and the bases are dry (10-12 minutes).Remove from the oven keeping them in their rings or pans, allowing them to cool.
    Place the sugar in a medium bowl and grate the zest of the orange into it.Rub the zest vigorously into the sugar with your fingers.
    Place the orange sugar into a small saucepan and add the cream.Heat over a medium heat,stirring gently, until the sugar has dissolved.
    Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 -15 minutes to infuse.
    Put the apples into a bowl,add half of the orange cream and toss well to coat them.
    Arrange 3 apple slices round the the sides of each tart shell and stack 3 slices in the centre.
    Spoon the remaining cream over the tarts.
    Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the apples are golden and the cream is bubbling gently round the edges.Remove from the oven and let sit for 30 seconds before removing the tart rings with tongs.Allow the baked tarts to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

    Sunday, 11 November 2012

    Magusto 2012 -Dia de São Martinho

    É dia de São Martinho;
    comem-se castanhas, prova-se o vinho.

    It is St. Martin's Day,
    we'll eat chestnuts, we'll taste the wine.
    A typical Portuguese saying related to Saint Martin's Day

    It was even better with the band
    If you’re in Portugal on November 11, you’ll want to be at a Magusto.
    Oh how we quaffed
    Today Casa Rosada was invited by Quinta do Barranco Longo to Magusto 2012 in the castle of the medieval town of Silves.
    "Magusto" is believed to come from the Latin magnus ustus or “great fire”.
    Traditionally November 11th is Dia de São Martinho.It is not only Portugal but many parts of the world that celebrate St. Martin’s Day,  but all over Portugal, in many communities, a large party is held.
    For those not attending one of these organized parties,many Portuguese restaurants offer special menus and events.It is the first day the new wine can be tasted.

    The day also celebrates the debut of the castanhas(chestnuts),which this year, due to the lack of rain, will be fewer but I am informed, significantly better.Bonfires are lit and the chestnuts are roasted. 
    Roast chestnuts and good conversation
    Supposedly the peak of three days, often with very good weather, it is known as Verão de São Martinho ("Saint Martin´s Summer"). It is a holiday honouring Martin of Tourinho, a 4th century Roman soldier who is known for a certain miracle. Riding on horseback in a snowstorm, Martin came upon a nearly naked beggar. Not having any money or food, Martin took his sword, cut his cloak in half and gave the cloth to the beggar. Legend has it that clouds dispersed, the sun came out, and Jesus said to the angels, “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clothed me.”( chance would be a fine thing the last 10 days have seen a constant deluge of much needed wind and rain).Beggar or no beggar, passing soldier or not, I think anybody´s dream last week would have been a valiant rescue from the downpour with a torn mac from a moist Mr Darcy on horseback.

    Oh how they danced
    Today the weather could not have better suited the occasion. During the course of this lovely sunny afternoon in the confines of a Moorish Algarvian castle we had the chance to sample a glass or two from the ever expanding range of Barranco Longo wines.These were soaked up by Feijoadas,the best pork Bifanas I have ever tasted,roasted chestnuts and, when the sun went down, jackets and coats came back on and it was time for a bowl of piping hot  pumpkin soup and an assortment of Portuguese cakes and pastries.

    Oh How we quaffed,oh how they danced and it was even better with the band. Oh how much we enjoyed the ambience of this annual celebration.Thank you very much Rui Virginia for a lovely day.