Thursday, 29 August 2013

The last supper - Saltimbocca de porco ás avezzas

Medieval days are over and the Castro Marim time machine is put to rest for another year.The costumes are put away,the stalls have gone, the revellers have left town and the travelling players have moved on to their next festival.The town is now officially de-medievalised.Back to normal but with culinary moments to savour.One of my favourites this year was the main plate I cooked for the final dinner on Sunday night.I made a variation on a theme of saltimbocca and called it inside out saltimbocca.One normally takes one veal, pork, or chicken fillet and having beaten it flat, lays a slice of prosciutto on top followed by a large sage leaf and then rolls it up and secures it with a cocktail stick.I took a whole loin of pork and then rolled presunto and sage around the outside.I then roasted it having first seared it and what I ended up with was a juicy piece of pork in a parcel of pork crackling.I served it with a compota de maças reinetas (compote of russet apples),celeriac and pudim ervilhas( green pea potage).The dish quite easily serves 4 but its better with the band when you can juggle the quantities and serve more portions.

Presunto wrapped porco-inside out saltimbocca
Serves 4

1 tenderloin of pork
5-8 slices of presunto (depending on how big your tenderloin is)
handful of sage leaves
a few cherry tomatoes
clove of garlic
a few Tablespoons of white wine
salt & pepper
1. Remove the "silver skin" from the pork tenderloin and season generously with salt and pepper.
2. Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap about 6 inches longer than the tenderloin.  Lay slices of presunto down the middle vertically, slightly overlapping the edges to fit the length of the tenderloin.
3. Lay sage leaves down the center of the prosciutto, slightly overlapping.
4. Place the pork on top of the sage.
5. Now roll it up! Using the plastic wrap, roll the prosciutto tightly around the pork tenderloin - just like sushi. It is very important to roll tightly. If there is slack it will open as it cooks.
6. Tuck the bottom piece of plastic under the top. Turn both ends to tighten even more so and secure.

Preheat oven to 205 C/ 400 F
Remove the tenderloin from the plastic. 
With a little olive oil in the pan, heat until nice and hot. Sear on all sides  starting with the seam side DOWN being  gentle and careful not to break/tear the prosciutto as you sear it.
Once seared on all sides, toss a handful of cherry tomatoes into the pan with a clove of garlic and the white wine. 
Finish cooking in the oven 18-30 minutes depending on the size of your pork tenderloin.
Remove and allow to rest at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Pêras Bêbedas Medieval - DrunkenMedieval Pears

Last week, in perfect timing for the Medieval festival,I was given a bag of home grown Portuguese pears from a friends garden.They were baby dessert pears and too small to peel, so I decided to adapt an old Medieval recipe and the result above was a perfect sobremesa (pudding) to finish off the Casa Rosada banquet under a sky of colourful cascading fireworks.
Pêras Bêbedas-Drunken Pears
( adaptado de Receitas da Idade Média )
(4 pessoas)

8-10  pêras imaculado
300g açucar
1 pau de canela
6 Grãos de cravo
1 anis estrelado
20g raiz de gengibre descascado
Uma Garrafa de vinho tinto de boa qualidade
zesto de laranja inteiro
zesto de limao inteiro

Escolha pêras rijas e de uma espécie perfumada.
Retire-ilhes  as sementes ficado-ilhes enteiro e caule intacto.Coloque as numa panela suficientemente grande onde possam ser cobertas pelo xarope constituido pelo vinho,agua,açucar e todos especiarias.Deixe ferver e cozer entre 20-40 minutos dependendo os tamanhos de as pêras. Pique-as para verificar se estão cozidas e,neste caso,retire-as do lume.Deixe-as no frigorifico  ao momento de servir.A sua saúde.

Pick firm pears with a strong perfume.Remove the core but keep the pears intact.In a pan large enough to cover the pears with all the syrup place the pears and cover with all the other ingredients.Cook on a low flame for 20-40 minutes depending on the size of the pears.Test them with the point of a knife and if it goes in with some resistance they are ready. If not cooked return to the flame.remove from the pan and reduce the liquid on a high heat till reduced to a thick syrup.pour over the fruit and leave in the fridge till ready to serve.

Your health!!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Maid of honour tartlets

The Casa Rosada medieval breakfast table featuring maid of honour tartlets

It is said that these were the favourite tarts of Anne Boleyn when she was maid of honour in the court of Catherine of Aragon.Unlike in medieval times when cooking the fillings had to be started the day before,today we have at our disposal well drained curd cheeses and cream cheeses, making this quite a simple and easy tart to make and one that I had the foresight to see was going to be popular as a novelty breakfast item on the Medieval breakfast table at Casa Rosada this medieval morning after.So "See this dispatch'd with all the haste thou canst:" and bake off some these tartlets so you can hold court too.I think they would be equally well suited to being seved with a pot of Earl Grey of a medieval afternoon.
Maid of honour tartlets
makes 6x 8cm tartlets

225g (8oz) sweet shortcrust pastry

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon for rolling out the pastry

2 egg yolks lightly beaten

225g(8oz) Portuguese requeijao or ricotta cheese

115g(4oz) unsalted butter,softened

2 tablespoons brandy

good pinch of Flor de sal

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

175g (6oz9 ground almonds

finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

8 sliced or flaked almonds,cinnamon and icing sugar to decorate

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface sprinkled with the cinnamon and use to line 6 8cm tartlet tins.Prick the base of each tartlet and place in the fridge,while you make the filling.The tart shells do not need to be blind baked.Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.Place a baking sheet in the oven so it is hot and at the correct oven temperature when the tartlets arrive.

Put the cheese into a mixing bowl,add the butter,remaining egg yolks and brandy.beat until pale and well mixed.Stir in the salt,sugar,numeg,ground almonds,lemon zest and juice,mixing well.

Fill the tartlet cases with the cheeese mixture and smooth over the surface,before adding a sliced or flaked almond to each tartlet as decoration.Put the filled tartlet cases onto the hot baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until risen and golden brown.sprinkle with the icing sugar and cinnamon.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Medieval days are here again

Its back to the Middle Ages again.The town of Castro Marim is preparing itself for this weeks XV Edicao Dias Medievais, ( the fifteenth year of The Medieval Festival ) . Daily life in the Middle Ages in Castro Marim is once again going to be recreated with rigour and passion.Dias Medievais is a festival and event the like of which  you have never seen, consuming us with its energy and unveiling medieval life in all its glory and colour.Aside from all the delicious smells and tastes of medieval fare,(all of which I will be posting later in the week)we also have something new this year. 
Very much the spirit of the festival, Guias (Re)Descobrir.( (RE) Discovery guides ) is a new fun project with something for all ages.Its focus is in providing information to accompany a suggested tour that takes in the historic and architectural heritage of the Algarve.From Alcoutim to Aljezur,it will be possible to follow a trail of Islamic and Christian history by visiting castles,churches and other buildings of historical significance.To launch the project first up of the eleven packs is Castro Marim.The collection of guides can be built up as they are produced.Inside each guide the text is in short bi-lingual paragraphs which refer to each suggested"stop"explaining to the reader what is significant around them.The packs include, in addition to the guide,  a T-shirt and a pin badge.The packs are currently on sale in the ticket office and shop in the castle and also here at Casa Rosada. During the four days of the festival the packs will continue to be sold in these two locations.
As a novelty promotion for the duration of the festival, childrens T-shirts in 4 designs with labels attached carrying pedagogical questions and answers about The Middle Ages in the Algarve will be available.These T-shirts come in two sizes (3-4 year olds and 7-8 year olds). 2 designs of fridge magnets will also be on sale.Further information and all these products can be purchased online at (see online store).

Currently showing in the church of the castle of Castro Marim until 31 August is an exhibition about the project "Castro Marim in Algarve Route Medieval".

Finally look out for Casa Rosada, its friends and guests sporting promotional T-shirts in the streets of Castro Marim throughout the festival

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

.....Part 2 Born again bread

If you remember in my previous post I re-invented  Panzanella,maybe not re-invented but introduced its elements into another time and another place - Portugal.
In this second instalment I am taking you to the Middle East where Fattoush, the Lebanese bread salad, is an essential.Have you ever made it?  If not, I recommend making some immediately - it's a simple,toasted bread salad, and a brilliant way to get to know the gorgeous Middle Eastern flavouring of Sumac. Begin by toasting split-open pitta bread in the oven until crisp, then break into shards. Mix chopped cucumber, tomato, spring onion and radish, and toss with a few salad leaves some torn mint and flat-leaf parsley. Scatter the crisp bread pieces over the top, then sprinkle over a dressing made with equal quantities of lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil mixed with one to two tablespoons of crushed sumac. "Serve with mezze dishes, or at a barbecue" the recipes always say. So why hasn´t Portugal (nation of chefes churrasqueiros  and serious bread eaters) not adopted their own version of this stunning salad? In Portugal bread is served with, but never in, salad.Well, since I had this on my up-coming list of blog posts along came an episode of Nadia G´s Bitchin´Kitchen that gave me an idea of how I could put a new spin on Fattoush.
She has been hailed  “Julia Child of the Net generation.” cooking with chutzpah while talking Broccolinese (Little Italy slang language)."Cah-peesh?"- I think you will when you read on.Well, I have become an ardent follower.Giosia is her family name and an unmitigated effrontery of food is her game.Have you no respect woman? no of course you haven´t -You nerrrrrrrdddd- I love it.
Hilarious, edutaining and deliciously demented,the Chef-comedienne Nadia G. looks at the funny side of everyday situations and turns them into occasions worth celebrating — with food! From 'Recession Recipes' and 'Impressing the In-laws' to 'Break-up Brunches,' Nadia G. rocks the kitchen with her tasty techniques and stiletto-sharp wit.Her 30 minute slots put a deliciously demented spin on cooking and give you pure theatre and great edutainment, shkoffing and cooking with chutzpah.
Back to bread salad and with a litle bit of me and little bit of G I came up with a kind of Portuguese / Lebanese riff on Panzanella.I watched her prepare a Mshalale salad with blueberries and shards of toasted pitta bread. I had no chance of sourcing Mshalale cheese so I popped to Lidl and picked up some Feta.I was recently given some dried cherries and thought this was a good chance to introduce them,so I brined them ( Middle Eastern influence being included, like it) and  replaced Nadia´s blueberries with my cherries.My salad was now becoming delightfully cosmopolitan.I couldn´t source Pitta bread so I made some thin Melba toast with some left over bread,after all bread salads are all about yesterday´s bread.Finally I made Nadia´s zippy lemon dressing to finish it all off.Thats a modern Vinaigrette you nerrrrddd. At this point I had probably also given Claudia Roden  conniptions.“Now that we’ve got all our ingredients lined up, Tsaketa! Let’s get cooking....

A Middle Eastern salad with Feta cheese melba shards and salted cherries

The salad

1/2 lebanese cucumber peeled quartered lengthways and then cut into chunks
2 vine tomatoes cut into chunks
1/2 red onion
Handful fresh mint leaves,torn
Handful fresh parsley leaves,torn
Handful fresh coriander leaves (optional)

1/2 cup dried cherries reconstituted in salty water
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled
Sumac for generous dusting
To make the salad:.Place all the  leaves in a bowl with the cucumber, tomatoes and crumbled cheese. Crumble tshards of the bread over the salad and drizzle with the lemon dressing. Sprinkle with a handful of sumac and the re-hydrated cherries.

The bread element

Split open Pitta or a few slices of yesterdays bread sliced thinly
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Flor de sal and freshly ground pepper
pinch hot piri piri flakes
To make : Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the pita bread or bread slices with extra-virgin olive oil and the lemon juice. Sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and piri piri flakes. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and crispy.
i put mine in the oven after cooking dinner turned the oven off and left overnight.

ZippyLemon Dressing

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Small pinch brown sugar
heapedteaspoon sumac
pinch piri piri flakes
Flor de sal and freshly ground pepper

To make the lemon dressing: In a jar combine all the ingredients. Shake to emulsify.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A bumper crop,a flaky recipe and yet another tomato tart

Summer cherry tomato 3 cheese basil tart

How annoying is it when you find a recipe on line with an irresistible photo that entices you to make it, and then you read the ingredients listing and just one ingredient can turn you off as fast as the picture that had turned you on.I was trolling the internet trying to find an unusual recipe using cherry tomatoes for my fourth tomato tart ( we have such a glut this year my salad box just cant cope).Foodista´s August newsletter "Five ways to enjoy a tomato" was flashing up a recipe for a flaky fresh tomato tart. Flaky indeed it was, the instructions had not been subbed and there was no mention of at what point to introduce the 6 tablespoons of butter.Readers comments were quick to address this too, and ohhh the frustration of that reader who has not had a pertinent question responded to by  Foodista 5 days later.
I soon abandoned the idea when I found mayonnaise in the ingredients listing. "Cooked and mayonnaise,you dirty tart". However I am always game for trying out a new pastry and the use of corn starch in the dough of this recipe fascinated me.
Well my task had suffered a setback but my focus was still to use up my excess cherry tomatoes.I put my tarts hat on and here we go.First I made the pastry, lined the tart pan and put it in the fridge to chill.Everything fine - the dough performed exactly as the recipe promised.Now to rewrite the recipe without the mayonnaise.I opted for a more soft textured,souffléesque egg and cream based tart.Elizabeth David´s cheese pudding came to mind, hence my decision to use breadcrumbs.For me successful tomato recipes are those where the distinctive taste of the fruit surmounts the other flavours.I think I succeeded, see what you think. That´s if the picture has enticed you.

Summer cherry tomato 3 cheese basil tart
Serves 6-8  
1 x 25cm (10") deep tart pan or pie dish

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, diced
1 egg
2 pints ( this does not mean canned) fresh cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup basil leaves, divided into two
2 red onions,finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
55g (2oz) fresh breadcrumbs
115g(4oz) Queijo São Jorge, grated (or mature cheddar)
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup (125ml) double cream whipped to a mayonnaise type dropping texture
85g (3oz) chevre crumbled into small pieces
Flor de sal and generous freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200C/400F/gas 6

In a food processor, combine the flour, cornstarch,butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse the mixture until it is in very tiny bits.
Add one egg and pulse until a dough forms. This dough is rather tough but, it does come together nicely.
Gather the dough into a ball. Then press the dough in to the tart pan, covering every bit. (You could, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle, if you want.) Crimp the edges, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Gently heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan and sweat the onions covered for 10 -15 minutes,or until just soft, stirring occasionally.
Roughly chop 1/4 cup of the basil leaves and add them with the breadcrumbs to the onions.Stir to mix and turn off the heat.In a mixing bowl beat the cream to the desired consistency then beat in the eggs,cheddar,parmesan, salt and pepper.Spread the onion basil and breadcrumb mix over the bottom of the tart shell.Pour over the cream/egg mixture and then press the crumbled chevre into the cream.Cover the top with the cherry tomatoes and bake for 35 minutes until golden brown in patches and the cheese is bubbling up.
Cool for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with the other 1/4 cup basil stacked rolled up and sliced into ribbons.Cool for a further 35 minutes to allow the tart filling to firm up.It will keep warm in the tart pan for an hour.Serve as a main course with courgettes or runner beans and some small minted new potatoes with their skins on or as a starter with a rocket salad.It is equally delicious served cold.
This is what the Foodista tart looked like but what did it taste like?
I think they cheated for the picture the pastry looks uncooked and there does not appear to be five and a half cups of melting cheese?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Massa de pimentao classico

The colour as you can see is just outrageous,like ketchup only sexier
A profusion of red peppers in summer paves the way for a larder shelf of pastes and pestos in winter. By preserving your harvest of summer fruit and vegetables you can then enjoy it through the winter months and beyond.Storing your harvest is a great way to deal with a surplus of one particular vegetable and provide fuel for the lean months when little is growing.
Roasted pastes are a great way to use summer's bounty.In Portugal, we have Massa de pimentão, a paste made by salt curing red peppers.This classic Portuguese staple in the family of romescos and harissas  is traditionally made by dry-brining strips of pepper in salt for several days, then mashing them up with garlic and sometimes other spices.The massed produced bottled variety of this paste, made from peppers grown in the fields of the Ribatejo and Alentejo, can be found on supermarket shelves, but this pales in comparison to the vibrant colour and flavour of a home made version and the labours of love that have been bestowed upon its production.Every Portuguese cook has his or her own version,some made from fresh red peppers,others from roasted peppers and still others from paprika.The difference between this and the classic Romesco sauce which originates from Tarragona in North Eastern Spain is that the Portuguese paste does not include the combination with ground almonds and bread.
In Portugal, the sauce is strictly used as a marinade,so bathe chicken, a pork shoulder or some robust fish like octopus or squid in it overnight, then grill or roast it up. But others like me might have different ideas. Use it as a dip for crudités or a spread for bruschetta, a sauce for grilled fish, a topping for pizza or as an alternative emusion to mayo in sandwiches.
My desire as always was to follow the traditional route of the Portuguese avô (grandmother).The process would not allow me to see what I had produced for six days.My impatience to see the result got the better of me and caused me to default on the process.I took a leaf out of the book "The food of Portugal" by Jean Anderson.Her shortcut involves an especially exciting riff on the slow-roasted pepper.
She coaxes the riches out of red peppers by stepping aside from the griddle and burner and allows the oven do its magic. When a recipes tells us to roast and peel a pepper,the caveman comes out in us and the poor wretched legume doesn´t stand a chance.We char it directly on a stove top griddle pan.It's fast and furious and vaguely dangerous, and when else in our modern lives do we get such a thrill from sticking food directly in fire and watch it burn?
But while it may be the more thrilling method, it is not the most delicious. The pepper lingers in the flames just long enough for the skin to burn and flake off, but stays close to raw inside. So it holds its shape well but when you seal it in a bag to sweat the skin off you end up with a bag of red water which literally drowns the peppers flavour.
A salt-cure followed by slow comfortable roast cooks the pepper until it collapses into a soft heap and the skin turns to paper.First you carve peppers into chubby strips, then layer them with salt and leave them out overnight. When you wake up, you'll come back to find them lying in a pool of salty water, looking dewy and relaxed. Through the wonders of osmosis, the salt has slowly but surely pulled a healthy amount of water out of the peppers, like a mini veggie spa treatment. 
After the roasting the flesh is intense and sweet much like what aged balsamic is to bog standard old vinegar.So bearing all this in mind I applied this bit of modern ingenuity to the traditional massa de pimentão.
Massa de pimentao
Makes about 11/4 cups
This is salty so use a judicious hand in its application

8 medium sweet red peppers, washed, cored, seeded and cut lengthwise into  chubby strips about 1" wide
2 tablespoons Flor de sal
4 large garlic cloves,unpeeled and kept whole
1/3 cup olive oil (about)

Arrange a layer of pepper strips in the bottom of a shallow bowl no more than 23cm (9n inches) in diameter; sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon of the salt; now add  the rest of the pepper strips in layers, sprinkling each with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for at least 12 hours. Drain off excess liquid.
Turn on the oven to its keep warm-setting (250º to 275º F.). Place the bowl of peppers, still uncoveredwith the garlic in the oven and roast 3 to 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until all juices have been absorbed, the peppers are soft, and the skin pulls away easily from the flesh. If you start to notice them drying out, cover them with foil for the remainder of the time. Remove and cool to room temperature. Now peel the skin from each pepper strip and discard. Squeeze the flesh from the garlic and discard the skin.Put the garlic and the pepper strips in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, or in an electric blender cup, and add about half of the oil; buzz nonstop about 30 seconds, scrape down the sides, and buzz 30 seconds more. With the motor running, drizzle in enough of the remaining oil to make a paste slightly softer than whipped butter. Churn 60 seconds until absolutely smooth.

Note: If you have neither food processor nor blender, you'll have to grind the garlic and peppers to paste as the Portuguese avôs would do do--with a mortar and pestle. You must then add the olive oil very slowly, drop by drop at first, beating hard to incorporate.

Transfer to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature before serving

Don't get impatient and haul them out of the oven too soon.(there are other exciting things to crank the heat up for  just you wait!). Cook them through and through, or you'll have teeny but perceptible shreds of pepper marring your puree. The bits don't really cause any trouble, but this sauce is best when it's ketchup smooth.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Green Sardine

How often have I received comments on my posts such as this....

"This sounds sublime! Now, where can I buy some lemon flor de sel . . . or can I just add lemon zest to some good quality sea salt and leave it for a few days to infuse I wonder?"

-well good news for folks reading in the UK -not even coming to a website near you,it is already there, Salmarim´s Flor de Sal is finally available online.the green sardine is an online shop where you can not only fill your cesta (basket) with salt  but also with the most stylish and original of Portuguese design oriented products, both old and new.Coming from creative backgrounds in photography and art Susana and Nick have an eye for good design and flair for sourcing both functional and beautiful products while at the same time supporting and promoting more artisan Portuguese products.Having lived in Lisbon,they realised the potential of what was literally "Proudly made in Portugal"and as Susana´s  family is Portuguese there certainly won´t be a problem with the supply chain. Catch the green sardine now and fill your basket with some of the best Portuguese products.

For more information about Salmarim products and recipes using Flor De Sal from Castro Marim look no further than here at O cozinheiro Este Algarve

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The third tomato tart and the face that launched a thousand chefs

Joan Campbell, 1913-2008
Sometimes big names go unsung.I wonder how many out there would know of the culinary legacy bequeathed to the world by one Joan Campbell.In my own particular case I owe a huge debt to her for the publications which played such a formative role in my early culinary career of sourcing and creating diverse dishes for discerning diners. It is unusual for a woman to embark on a new career at the age of 66 but this is exactly what this woman did when she was persuaded, in 1979, to move to Vogue. Surrounded by pretty young Voguettes, Campbell "hit her straps" (as they say down under) and was launched into a glorious career under an umbrella of huge publishing proportions.Initially food editor of Vogue, Campbell soon became food director of all Vogue publications, including cookbooks. Campbell could spot trends early and consolidate them, her influence reaching well beyond the readers of glossy magazines. Those magazines had international currency and were widely admired and emulated. Chefs in Britain and the United States cited Vogue Entertaining as the finest food publication in the world at that time.She was a gastronomic Helen of Troy launching thousands of chefs on the slipway to success.
"Feisty", "fearless", "irascible", "eccentric", "sometimes domineering" (she was affectionately known as the Iron Chancellor, the Margaret Thatcher of the stove perhaps), Campbell was never afraid to speak her mind. Dishes she disapproved of were described as "filth" or "muck". Wet dishes were dismissed as "chicken sick", "fish sick" or "beef sick". I have only heard such expressions from one other source, my multi tasking, multi talented friend and extraordinary cook Leslie Forbes.When she and I decided to flat share while working at English Vogue she warned me she could only cook three types of food all called "muck".Red muck, brown muck and white muck.Well, with 4 cook books under her Armani belt this was modesty I tell you.Such frankness can be alienating, but it seemed in the case of both Campbell and Forbes honesty won them ever-increasing admirers.
When the more-plate-than-food nouvelle cuisine movement was sweeping us off our dining chairs, Campbell was ahead of the game. Soon this gruff cookery writer was putting Australia firmly on the food map."I don't think I have a style," she had said. "I move with the times or do what my editor asks me to do." But that was only half true. She had a style of her own, embodied in her frequent comment that "if we accept ordinary food, ordinary service and ordinary atmosphere, then that's what we'll get". "Joan knew precisely how to put food on a plate. That was her greatest talent."Through her three Vogue titles she dished up encouragement to cooks like myself, peppered with writing that stirred ambition and enthusiasm, and seasoned at times with a dash of humour.
To those who knew her she swore robustly, like everybody's idea of an Australian matriarch.When it came to the aesthetics and refined good taste of food photography and editorial however it was a completely different matter. This gruff, brassy woman was at least partly responsible for the new look Australian cooks brought to their food and to the world. As  food editor and later food director for Australia's three Vogue titles,  it was quite clear that the food in her pictures should appear to be freshly cooked, unfussy and photographed by natural (usually summery) light.This paved the visual way for Australian cooks such as Donna Hay, but also, coincidentally, modern pioneers like Yotam Ottolenghi. There is an uncanny similarity between this roasted tomato tart and Ottolenghi´s "Surprise Tatin"
For my third Tomato tart of the season I thought as a  gesture of gratitude that I would do La Cambell posthumously proud by preparing one of my favourite recipes from The Vogue Australia  "Food and Wine Cookbook."-Roasted Tomato Tart.This is not one for the faint hearted cook. It requires experience  and patience and some strong rubber gloves to tackle the volume of washing up that the prep creates.There are four stages to the recipe and if you are methodical, allow yourself enough time and follow the recipe to the letter you should end up with a stunning tart with meltingly gorgeous level of flavours.This is far from a simple mid week supper dish,more a unique starter for a smart dinner

My tips having made it
The thickness of the pastry is crucial- I used thinner pastry- WRONG,follow recipe
Watch the caramel carefully- undercook if anything once it starts to turn golden

Watch the shallots carefully-they should be tender but you dont want a burnt taste.

When you are arranging the halved tomatoes in the pie tins you will find it is easy to remove the skins with your fingers, this definitely enhances the recipe.

I lined each pie tin with baking parchment before I applied the caramel,this also helped lessen the amount of hot juices that come out when you invert the tarts.

I would recommend cooking the pastry discs on top of the tarts from the outside not alongside as the recipe suggests.My pastry discs shrunk and contracted, making them smaller than the circumference of the tarts.

Roasted Tomato Tart
serves 4
12 Roma tomatoes or tomate chucha
olive oil
freshly ground pepper
60g butter
6 tablespoons sugar
20 shallots,peeled
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup port

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 discs of puff pastry,cut 5mm thick
Rocket leaves
fresh goats cheese
sundried tomatoes
freshly ground pepper
Flor de sal

To cook the tomatoes: halve the tomatoes,place in  an oiled baking dish and grind the pepper over. Roast in a preheated 220C oven for 10 minutes.transfer the tomatoes to a plate lined with kitchen paper and set side to cool.

To cook the shallots: melt the butter and sugar together in a saucepan.Add the shallots and roll in the butter mixture until coated.add the red wine and port and cook until the shallots are tender and the liquid has completely reduced.(see note above).

To make the caramel: place the sugar and water in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil ,stirring until the sugar has dissolved.Boil steadily until the syrup becomes adeep gold.pour on the vinegar,being careful to stand back from the pan,then stir until smooth.Line the individual pie tins with the caramel,(see note above).

To cook the tarts: arrange 6 tomato halves,cut side up in each pie tin,pressing in well.Fill the gaps with the the tart tins on abaking tray with the puff pastry discs alongside (see note above).bake in a preheated 220C oven for 15 minutes.carefully place the pastry discs on each tart and leave for 3 minutes.Remove from the oven.Allow the pastry to settle on the tarts for several minutes then invert the tarts onto serving plates.
( Handle the tarts carefully as the hot juices will run out (see note above). 

To serve: arrange rocket leaves,slices of fresh goats cheese or Feta cheese and olives around the tarts


Friday, 2 August 2013

The roll of bread in salads Panzanella, Caesar - Part one......

Cheap as chips but as fashionable as Foie Gras
The Portuguese word for meal is refeição.At a Portuguese table, food and bread are inseparable.You will notice people begin to nibble on bread the moment they sit down to eat,just bread alone,no butter,a drizzle of olive oil perhaps. My observations are that no further bread is eaten until the main course has been eaten,then and only then morsels of bread are applied to sop up the juices of  the "sopa" (stock or gravy) in which the stew has been cooked.This is in the event that the main course has not had fried bread already included as an integral part of the dish with that very function in mind.The bread is only removed from the table  after you have finished the salad, whose most delectable part many claim is the tiny puddles of lightly salted and vinegary oil that,at the end,you soak up with bread.But what if you combine the bread with the salad,the Portuguese just don´t seem to do it.The range and variety of Portuguese breads is extensive and here in Portugal there is a very high bread consumption (bread being always present at every meal)which explains why it gets to be  left over in sufficient quantities to justify cooking it.There are a thousand and one recipes using left over bread,Migas being the most emulated,followed by the many varieties of Açordas( bread pap),close cousins of the Italian pappa al pomodoro. These recipes have the obvious advantage of using up stale bread lying about the house,but not one involving salad.
My leftover bread from just one day at Casa Rosada
But forget red herrings. My goal here is to see whether we can find a hybrid "bread salad" for the Portuguese table.The Italians, immigrant or otherwise, have two classic bread salads Caesar and Panzanella.In the former Romaine lettuce leaves are mixed with crispy homemade croutons and tossed with a yummy, creamy dressing of anchovies, eggs, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil and then carpeted with parmesan cheese or topped with parmesan shavings.The salad's creation is generally attributed to restaurateur Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant to America.He supposedly tossed the first Caesar tableside in the early 20th century. This evidence is supported by Julia Child  claiming ( “Bon appetite" ) that she had eaten a Caesar salad at Cardini's restaurant when she was a child in the 1920s.The latter is a traditional peasant dish from Tuscany which was created to use up bread that was several days old. It has been copied and reinterpreted world over.I thought Id try my hand at making a new Portuguese riff on panzanella. I´ve called it  "paozaninho." I have taken some of the best of Portugal´s summer produce and created a bread salad with tomatoes, peppers,courgette,aubergine, anchovies, olives and of course  not forgetting the most important ingredient, day old bread.I have introduced a cooked element into my version using roasted vegetables which exude some wonderful juices into the salad giving  another level to its depth.I roasted some cherry tomatoes and garlic to give the dressing an edge and a lift.There are so many variations on a theme of the original Tuscan panzanella (Gennaro Contaldo even puts tuna in his), so I dont feel quite so bad.Panzanella is a peasant salad that has transcended  its origins and become fashionable.Long ago, recipes called for dipping the bread in well water.If you should so happen to have a well handy,all well and good and by all means do so!Lacking that I suppose the modern equivalent would be bottled spring water but this seems a little all my eye and Betty Martin.
The idea is that the bread mops up all the oil, vinegar and delicious juices from the vegetables.It becomes especially useful when you have a number of mouths to feed. 

What I think a Portuguese bread salad would be were a recipe to exist

Substantial enough to be a summer main course.A coarse open textured bread made with olive oil or a ciabatta is best as it holds its shape and does not disintegrate. 
serves 4-6
225g/8oz coarse open textured day old bread
5 ripe tomatoes on the vine
a handful of cherry tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
3 red peppers
1 small courgette
1 small aubergine
2 tbsp wine vingar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
50g/2oz can anchovy fillets
1/2 cucumber peeled and cut into cubes
1 medium red onion halved then finely sliced
2 sticks of celery plus torn celery leaves                                                             handful fresh torn basil
handful fresh mint coarsely chopped
handful parsley chopped
home made celery salt
and pepper to season
Lightly rub the peppers all over with some extra virgin olive oil
chop the aubergine and courgette into chunks put them all on a foil lined roasting tray with the garlic cloves and cherry tomatoes.

Roast for about 45 minutes at 200C/400F/gas 6 until the skin on the peppers begins to char and the other vegetables have taken on some colour.Set the aubergine and courgette aside to cool.

Put the roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic in a sieve over a bowl and press the pulp through the sieve to create a thick passata type juice.Discard the seeds and remaining pulp.

Remove the peppers to a bowl and cover with cling film.leave until cool enough to handle then peel off the skins.

Tear the bread into chunky pieces and put in a salad bowl.Sprinkle with a tablespoon of water and 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

Peel and halve the the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and inners into a sieve and repeat the process into the same bowl that you pulped the cherry tomatoes and garlic.Add the vinegar and olive oil and mix well to combine.
Now add the roasted vegetables, chopped tomatoes, anchovies,celery,onion and cucumber to the bread.Toss well to mix.Pour the dressing over and leave to stand for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to blend.Then serve garnished with the basil mint and parsley.
Cut the bread into 2cm/1/4 inch chunks and drizzle with 50ml (2 fl oz/ 1/4 cup) of oil.Put the bread on a roasting tray and bake in the oven unti slightly toasted on the outside but still softish in the middle.

Coming up on O Cozinheiro: In Part 2 O cozinheiro creates a new Lebanese riff on panzanella and casts an eye over some other bread salads including some inspiration from Nadia G´s Mshalale Salad with a zippy zesty lemon vinaigrette.