Monday, 27 July 2015

Tortellini en brodo Sinatra (my way)

"tortellini, small pasta shapes stuffed with minced (ground) chicken, pork,prosciutto,mortadella,parmesan  
and all the other usual flavourings such as nutmeg".

Although tortellini are always to be had in restaurants,the homemade version is for festive occasions and, in particular, a dish for Christmas Eve only. The reason being their confection is a rather tricky job and entails hours of dedicated hard graft requiring some practice.From my own point of view I love them but I feel life is too short to curl a bit of stuffed pasta dough round my pinkie. I would rather leave that task to an accomplished commis chef.From time to time I have a commercially packed version in the fridge for a midweek supper and on my last visit to the supemercado I found a particularly good quality brand that was on offer." en brodo" is my favoured way of eating Tortellini and last night I thought that having been saved the bother of making my own version of these little "navel shaped" parcels I would try my hand at putting all my energies into making a "brodo" that would do justice to my pre-packed pasta. I remembered seeing two containers of home made chicken stock in one of the freezer drawers.( Sometimes lurking freezer gremlins can earn their keep and come in handy just at the right time) I trolled tinternet for an authentic recipe but whose would I use,influenced by the fact that I already had the core stock?
Many cooks and chefs receive their first culinary experience from their mother,as was my case.I settled on making my own version of how chef Emeril Lagasse whose Portuguese mother Hilda gave him his first experience,working in a Portuguese bakery, where he mastered the art of bread and pastry baking.
Tortellini en Brodo Sinatra (my way)
It was like the old trick of trying to palm off a Marks and Spencer´s ready meal as your own.Emeril´s version of brodo retained all the constituents of the stock without straining them.My version was to be a clearer version ( the more traditional way).Slightly cloudy it may have been but delicious it turned out to be.Thank you Emeril for the starting point.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • a few sprigs of fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 4 cups (1 litre) home made chicken broth
  • 1 packet (250g) fresh artesan tortellini
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • Salt, to taste if necessary
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add the olive oil and, when hot, add the onion, celery, and carrots. Sauté until soft, about 4 minutes.
Add the garlic, basil, and crushed red pepper and sauté for 2 more minutes.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Strain the stock through a conical sieve and then again through a sieve lined with muslin
return to the pan and cool.Skim the service for any fat or scum and reheat
Add the tortellini and cook for 5 minutes if using fresh; 15 minutes if using dried. The pasta should be al dente
Stir in the parsley, taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Remove from heat and ladle into soup bowls.
Garnish each bowl with one tablespoon of the cheese. Serve immediately.

    Saturday, 25 July 2015

    Carne de vinha d'alhos, o anagrama torna-se Vindaloo

    It's a shame most British people don't know what a vindaloo really should be like. Thanks to the UK this curry has become the most abused, misinterpreted and misrepresented curry.Most people´s idea of a vindaloo is not the correct one.
    Its reputation has sunk to rock bottom. Most British curry house versions of a vindaloo do the recipe no favours. What it has become is nothing more than a macho challenge after twelve pints of lager and a packet of crisps.More commonly remembered by Keith Allen's 1998 football world cup song performed by Fat Les.The name says it all.
    A vindaloo that may have started off as a simple Portuguese stew, acquired over a period of time more and more Indian flavourings.Today even the name vindaloo conjures up  'hot, hot, hot' the world over. In Goa, however, the heat is hardly its chief characteristic. It is the combination of spices ( apparently you can buy a mixed vindaloo masala in the bazaars) - and the use of vinegar, which acts as a preservative, that makes vindaloos different from other Goan foods. In one of my posts earlier this year I told you I had found an authentic recipe for Bhajias.For this same occasion, a Goan wedding banquet I am now trying to perfect a recipe for an authentic Vindaloo.
    Because of the preserving qualities of vinegar, vindaloos are considered a perfect wedding dish that, once made, may be served again and again over several days.
    All along the tropical southwestern coast of India they have wedding and other banquet dishes that use souring agents - tamarinds, the kokum fruit and, of course, vinegar. These wedding foods (which can also include fish curries) are heated up daily to control the bacteria, but never see the inside of a refrigerator.
    The word vindaloo is a garbled pronunciation of the popular Portuguese dish carne de vinha d'alhos (meat marinated in wine-vinegar and garlic), which made its way to India in the 15th century along with Portuguese explorers. In Goa the dish was tweaked, incorporating chiles, tamarind, black pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom. When it was exported to England, it became yet another hot curry, losing its vinegar tang and spice complexity and subtlety.
    I intend to bring the recipe back to Portugal and tweak it again, sticking more to the Indian spices it acquired in Goa,and nodding to its origins in Goa’s Portuguese Christian communities.
    A vindaloo can be made with any type of meat, but it should really be pork, which again nods to it’s fascinating cultural history.It is an excellent example of how food transcends cultures and grows because of that.Yes, it’s a hot dish, it’s fiery, but it should be quite an unusual curry, with an interesting provenance.
    The vindaloo represents the collision of Portugal’s culinary heritage with that of India.The original Portuguese  dish was meat cooked with red wine and garlic,but along the way as you have seen, the wine gave way to vinegar,(usually rice, because thats what they have plenty of in Goa) and along with the spices it caused an international pile up.

    A Goan Wedding Vindaloo
    Having established I was not making a curry for the lager lout/football hooligan fight club, I set out to establish what a real vindaloo should taste like.The version of the vindaloo that I used as my building blocks is inspired by a Madhur Jaffrey recipe but more refined than the usual Indian restaurant version.  It isn’t ridiculously hot, because the heat isn’t the point of a proper vindaloo –as I´ve already said it’s about the vinegar, the sharp and sour notes subtly reiterating the rich and spicy flavours. The chilli is important, and of course you can up the ante should your tastebuds need more heat, but it’s the shock of the vinegar and the pork, that’s takes centre stage in the true vindaloo.This vindaloo is quite straightforward if a little labour intensive.The pork,garlic and chillies  are the core ingredients of any vindaloo, but you must practice restraint and keep them in gentle proportions.As a nod to the Konkani speaking christians of Goa ,of whom this dish is one of their specialities, I have included tamarind in the recipe.I wonder if there is a recipe for chilli konkani? As a nod to Portugal I have replaced the water content in the wet masala with Medronho,the Algarvian fire water distilled with the Arbutus berry.

    500g boneless pork shoulder ( rojoes) cut into cubes
    500g bely pork(entremeada) cut into cubes

    for the dry masala
    • 4 cinnamon sticks (1 inch each)
    • 4 lightly crushed cardamom pods
    • 6 dried bay leaves
    for the wet masala

    2 teaspoons whole brown mustard seeds
    1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
    2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
    3 whole cloves

    1 cup chopped onion
    5 cloves garlic, chopped
    1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
    2 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
    1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2 teaspoons bright red paprika (colorau) 

    1teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    3 tablespoons medronho, substitute with water if you dont have this 

    3 tablespoons peanut oil
    1 heaped tablespoon tamarind paste

    5 medium tomatoes (finely sliced - the tasteless run of the mill supermarket ones work well for this 
    1/2 teaspoon sugar

    Put 1 teaspoon of the mustard seeds and the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and cloves in a clean coffee or spice grinder and grind as finely as possible.

    Put this spice mixture, as well as the onion, garlic, ginger, vinegar, cayenne pepper, paprika, and 3 tablespoons of water into a blender. Blend until smooth.
    Cover the pork pieces with 2 tablespoons of the wet masala from the blender and stir well so all the pieces are covered Put in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes,or overnight if possible .
    Pour the oil into a large, heavy, nonstick, lidded pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the remaining teaspoon of mustard seeds. As soon as they pop, which will be in a matter of seconds,stir in the tamarind paste and all the three dry masala ingredients,cinnamon,cardamom and bay leaves. Stir in the remaining spice paste. Fry, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the paste is lightly browned. Put in the pork, together with its marinade. Stir for a minute. Cover and reduce the heat to medium. Let the meat cook for about 10 minutes, lifting the lid now and then to stir. The meat should get lightly browned. Add 3 cups of water, and the sugar. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and cook very gently for 11/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.

    Sunday, 19 July 2015

    Pudim de peixe,pão renascido e críticos acerbos

    salmão em um domingo de verão

    Fish puddings used to be popular in Portugal, and the country has a history of bread puddings. England too. My grandmother and mother alike used to make wonderful fish puddings.
    I can already imagine what you are thinking and see your  expressions of doubt, and disbelief ... "This" is edible? Fish, pudding, gelatin maybe? perhaps,perhaps,perhaps.
    Scout's honour: it's wonderful! Apart from that it´s so easy, and a great way to use up all that left over bread that one accumulates on a daily base in Portugal.Well as you know I am one for delving deep into the Portuguese archives and retrieving some forgotten gems to reinvent.
    This is what Algarvian restaurants should be doing too.There is a whole wealth of recipes hidden away from Portugal´s culinary past and if more chefs brought these back to life there would be less fuel for the halitosis tongues of  critics like Giles Coren and AA Gill.

    ‘The food in Portuguese hotels is never Portuguese. People are on holiday. It just wouldn’t be fair’
    Portuguese cooking is the worst on earth. Or, at least, the worst of any warm nation on earth. Obviously, Irish cooking could give it a run. Or Polish. But in its leaden, oversalted blandness, the cuisine of Portugal is, at best, what English cooking would be if we had better weather. 
    Giles Coren

    I'm sure if you're born to it, it reminds you of your grandmother's beard and your mother's mop bucket. Portuguese food is heaven if you're Portuguese. 
    AA Gill

    I've never been to Portugal, so my prejudices about the salty Iberian appendix are unsullied and uncorrupted by acquaintance. It is with a disinterested authority, therefore, that I can say Portugal is Belgium for golfers, a place so forgettable that the rest of us haven't even bothered to think up a rude nickname for it.
    AA Gill

    In gallant little Portugal, the food is well meaning and pretty dreadful. And before you say anything, no, I've never had it well made, because I've never found anyone who can be bothered to make it. Salt cod, of course, can be fantastic, but one swallow doesn't make a cuisine. Then there are all those things made with chickpeas. 
    The Portuguese are very fond of pulses, bobbing like buoys in soups of old fatty fat. 
    AA Gill

    These harsh and misdirected words bring to mind Portugal´s very own controversial and outspoken journalist Henrique Raposo,never one to miss a chance for criticising his own people.Well lets forget about these literary renegades and get back to showing them what quality meals can come out of Portugal when one puts ones mind to it.The original recipe I unearthed is from an old family recipe of one Maria Isabel Raposo of the Ribatejo.What a jewel I had found.This is the perfect dish for a summer Sunday lunch or dinner.Its light and yet beautifully textured.You can prepare it in advance ( up to two days).You can embelish it with vegetables, various types of fish and different seasonings.What´s more, you have born again bread.
    Pudim de peixe com tres Molhos
    Portuguese Fish Pudding with 3 sauces 
    Recipe adapted from the book North Atlantic seafood by Alan Davidson 
    and  an Algarvian version of the recipe recipe in Cozinha Algarvia  by Alfredo Saramago.There was no indication of what the three sauces were, apart from the fact that they were red, green and mayonnaise.Plenty of room there then for my modern interpretation of the three sauces, which was to serve wasabi mayonnaise, a tomato sauce with anchovy, and an avocado salsa.

    350g, cooked flaked salmon
    2 fresh bay leaves
    12 peppercorns
    3 tablespoons oil
    1 medium onion chopped
    a few sprigs of parsley,chopped
    1/4 pint (150ml) white wine
    150g day old bread,crust removed and torn into pieces
    2 cups of milk and water mixed 50/50
    2 eggs separated
    a little butter
    Flor de sal and cracked black pepper
    Put the 2 cups of milk and water, the wine,bay leaves and peppercorns into a shallow frying pan and bring to the boil.Simmer for 5 minutes then remove from the heat.Place the fish in the stock and cover with a lid for 20 minutes.When cooked and cool,remove the fish and flake it removing any bones there may be.Set aside.Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve and retain in a jug.Put the torn up bread into a bowl and pour the strained stock over it.Leave to soak.In the same pan heat the oil and gently fry the onion until golden and soft.Add the parsley, fish, salt and pepper stir well to mix and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat, stirring all the time.Now add the egg yolks to the bread mixture and mix in well,add the fish mixture and beat all together to a smooth consistency (this can be achieved in a food processor)Fold in the egg whites,beaten to stiff peaks.Pour the mixture into a buttered loaf pan lined with greaseproof parchment and smooth it with a spatula.Fold the excess parchment over the top of the mixture and bake in a moderate oven 180C for about 1 hour.
    Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.When cold,move it to the refrigerator and store until ready to use.When ready to serve.Carefully turn the pudding out onto arectngular seving dish or board and cut into thick slices.Serve with a salad of your choice and the three sauces on the side.


    WASABI MAYO - mix together
     4 teaspoons powdered wasabi mixed with 1 teaspoon water
    1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 

    1 cup home made mayonnaise

    RED SAUCE - mix together 
    3 vine ripened tomatoes skinned deseeded and finely chopped
    3 Anchovies finely chopped
    2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice ( approx. 2 limes)
    1/4 cup virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

    GREEN SAUCE - mix together
    1 ripe avocado
    1 cup fresh mint leaves
    1 cup coriander
    1 cup basil leaves
    2" cube of ginger peeled and chopped
    half a cup of dry roasted peanuts
    half a cup of freshly squeezed lime juice ( approx. 2 limes )
    4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    sea salt to taste

    For another take on fish pudding try this one


    Saturday, 11 July 2015

    Atalho - Lisboa, a "Real" meating place."A melhor carne em Lisboa"

    Os melhores bifes de Lisboa

    If you are a meat maven like myself you will travel far and wide to find good cuts of meat.When dining out I more often than not choose meat for my main course.This obsession with meat began for me back in 1978 while wandering in the bohemian quarter of St Germain in Paris. At Number 9 Rue des Canettes ( a narrow little  back street),by chance we stumbled upon La Mercerie.Here I had one of the most memorable dinners of my life.Each course was exceptional - the flavours and combinations of ingredients were outstanding. This was one of the tiniest restaurants I had ever seen.I can still visualise the cramped rustic dark wooden tables, the exposed stone walls and the smoky haze wafting off the "grillade au charbon de bois", the wood burning cooker.Whether you chose Côte de boeuf pour 2, côte d'agneau,or the entrecôte you were guaranteed a meat feast.Since that day I have built up a collection of carveries,burger bars and brasseries that I would happily return to if perchance they were still open.London provided me with many a meat feast.The original Cafe des Amis du Vin I remember for its sublime assiette de charcuterie. Le Garrick Brasserie, also in Covent Garden, was as close to Parisian dining in London as it was possible to get.In the same street, by coincidence, was the short lived Prospect Bar and Grill, a kind of homage to the uptown American diner.To round up the meat scene in London where I spent the best part of my life. I am going to mention the Quality Chop House on Farringdon Road, just around the corner from Exmouth Market.I have chosen this not only because of its uniqueness and quality but also because it is the link to the main point of this post,which is to sing the praises of my most recent discovery.I am in danger of waffling like AA Gill so I will get right to the point.The Quality Chop House is a dining room which opened in 1869, and has been the Quality Chop House ever since.More recently, and this is the link, they have opened a butchers shop next door.It sells a range of British meats and produce from daily provisions to fresh produce, homemade condiments and pies.The connection is that both these establishments have their own butchers shop. Atalho Real, (The Butchers Shop) in Principe Real, Lisboa also has its own butchers shop.
    The Atalho shop is not attached to the restaurant but in the new Mercado de Campo in Campo Ourique where you can not only buy the meat to take home but also have lunch or dinner.
    In the same location they have now opened Atalho Burger House, a space dedicated exclusively to hamburgers.
    Atalho is most definitely a place for those who appreciate meat. Good meat at an affordable price is not easy to find and here you find both, and friendly service to boot. Having dined at Atalho Real I am now more than ready to sample the experience of Atalho de Mercado.
    What I loved about this restaurant was not only the superlative quality of the meat,but their undertaking to make you a custom made burger from a choice of 5 different cuts of meat. They also serve the best ever  Chimi Churri sauce  as a side to all the dishes.We all opted for the "entrecôte maturada" a dry aged rib eye which was particularly amazing.Obviously this restaurant, like any other, will got give away the secret to a recipe, so what they posted on their Facebook page as the ingredients for the Chimi Churri sauce was all I had to go by when I tried to replicate it at home.I think I made a pretty good job on matching the taste but maybe they put in more parsley to achieve a deeper green colour.

    Chimi churri sauce inspired by Atalho Real
    2 fresh jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
    6 pimentos padrão, finely chopped
    2 habañero peppers, finely chopped
    2 cups salsa (flat leaf parsley), finely chopped
    1 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
    6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    2 tbsp golder cane sugar
    1 cup apple cider vinegar
    1 cup olive oil
    Juice of 1 lime
    Put all the ingredients into a processor and blitz

    If you like steaks as much as I do, Atalho Real is my strongly recommended meat destination. Absolutely delicious meat!! And not just that, the prices are really good considering the high quality meat cuts they serve.This is the best and worth every penny.Where else in Lisbon can you find the best Chuleton Galego?
    So around the world in eighty plates,whether my choice is onglet, entrecote, chargrilled Chuleton Galego, rare breed rib eye steak served with  peppercorn or béarnaise sauce or just a plain simple burger or Barnsley chop I am always in heffer heaven when there´s meat to be had.

    Wednesday, 1 July 2015

    A Masterchef recipe becomes a signature dish

    Pan fried sea bass with chermoula and spiced chickpeas
    For one who fell at the first hurdle of Masterchef back in 1986, I found this years series possibly the best ever.Cooking doesn’t get more emotive than this.For starters there was a lesser degree of of edible pansies being brought to the plate.Far less capering about with nasturtium flowers, sprawling and climbing in an effort to escape being garnished next to a daube of boeuf.But no seriously, the three finalists who intensely battled through seven weeks of challenges all deserved to win in their own special ways.This year’s competition put together the most evenly matched, nicest group of people in recent years. They were so nice, in fact, that if I remember correctly none of them would admit to wanting to trounce their opponents.
    Oldham heartthrob and father of four, Simon’s cooking sent the judges into slightly frightening raptures. "Do you know why I love you?" spluttered John Torode. It was all a bit oh my Giddy aunt when Simon´s  "tarted up posset"  sent John and Gregg a -reeling in the final.
    "What this guy has learnt is lunacy" proclaimed Gregg Wallace.The comment could only leave one assuming that this was a positive thing.Coming back down to earth my heart was always with "Someone’s lovely mum" Emma, so much so throughout the entire competition I constantly wanted to recreate her dishes in my own kitchen,and that is exactly what I did.More on that story later...
    To me she was one of the most consistent cooks on the show always staying true to herself right up to and including, can you believe it, the making of her own home made cous cous in the final.
    Having been privileged enough to have travelled around the middle east as a child, she kept this extraordinary culinary inspiration in her back head.These middle eastern flavours brought punch and homely soul to the competition.Yes she did falter occasionally under pressure, but then wouldn´t we all. The judges were right when they said "the benchmark has been raised"
    Her presentation at times lacked the refinement required to lift the lid off the trophy,but a tagine does not require namby pamby arranging, or decorating to enhance its aesthetic appeal.This is big-flavoured homely fare but of the highest level. Emma was so into the whole MasterChef process that she had lost all semblance of normal patterns of speech and could only talk in Wallace/Torode-isms. "I’m excited with a hint of nerves" she said. 
    They tried to inject an essence of drama into Emma’s story as she told the camera that she’d "been to breaking point" during the whole process. (cut to footage of Emma dropping a tray of sausages on a tarmac runway ).
    However poor Emma was doomed from the start, in editing terms at least, as from the word go Gregg was damning her with the faintest of praise, describing her cooking as "brave" and "heartfelt". This I assume is MasterChef code for "not gonna win any Michelin stars,love".
    After weeks of deliberating, cogitating and digesting this pair of  comical  judges finally crowned their MasterChef 2015 champion, in a frenzy of herbs and hyperbole.Sadly it was not Emma.However I wanted her achievement to live on and the dish that she cooked on the show that shone through for me was a pan fried sea bass with  chermoula sauce,roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine and spiced chickpeas.I loved it so much that I have tweaked it and adapted it as a Casa Rosada signature dish.

    Pan fried fillet of sea bass with chermoula sauce,a chickpea and spinach casserole and oven roasted cherry Kumatoes
    The chermoula can be prepared well in  advance and kept in the fridge over night.The Chickpea casserole actually improves with standing so can also be cooked the day before,just adding the spinach when you re-heat it.
    1 sea bass fillet (approx. 1lb/ 500g) per serving.
    Ask your fishmonger to clean de-scale and fillet the fish or alternately if you feel confident enough, fillet and de-bone it yourself.
    Butter and oil for frying

    serves 4-6 as a side dish
    350g /12 oz chickpeas,picked clean and soaked overnight in cold water
    450g / 1lb fresh baby spinach
    2 large onions,chopped
    4 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons ground cumin
    4-5 garlic cloves,chopped
    1 lemon
    salt and freshly ground pepper
    Drain and rinse the chickpeas.In a large pan,cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil.Skim,cover and cook until they are soft.This could take about an hour or more (if using a pressure cooker,about 20 minutes).Strain,but keep the liquid.
    Using the same saucepan,sauté the onions in the hot oil until glistening and add the cumin and garlic.when they become aromatic,add the chick peas and enough of their reserved cooking liquid to barely cover them.Add the lemon juice,cover and simmer for about 1 hour.Towards the end of that time,or if re-heating, rinse the spinach leaves and drain them.Add the spinach,salt and a generous amount of pepper to the chickpeas.Mix well and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ! medium red chilli,finely chopped
    1 clove garlic,finely chopped
    zest and juice of 1 lime
    1 tablespoon coriander leaves,chopped
    1 tablespoon parsley chopped
    freshly ground black pepper
     Mix all the ingredients together in a large shallow bowl.Set aside in the refrigerator.When ready to serve warm the chermoula through gently in a small pan and pour over the top of the fish.
    Take about 5 or six tomatoes per portion and coat them in some extra virgin olive oil.
    Put them in a shallow roasting tray and cook for about 45 minutes at 200C.

    When ready to serve heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat until hot then add the butter and olive oil. Place the sea bass in the pan, skin-side down, and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until the skin is crisp. Carefully turn the fish over and cook for a further minute or two, or until cooked through.
    To present the a mound of the chickpea and spinach in the centre of each plate carefully lay the sea bass fillet over the top and Spoon over a coating of Chermoula.
    Take the roasted tomatoes and place them alongside the fish.