Friday, 26 May 2017

Chouriço May

It´s always good to know that come what May, the arrival of favas (broad beans)and ervilhas ( peas) is always eagerly awaited, for they are the first produce of the season and a sign of more abundant produce to come.They hold high ranking in the Algarve´s culinary heritage and are used subtly and creatively with cooking methods varying from place to place and from family to family.The finest example of their application is "Favas à Algarvia." This is lovely to make in the short season when broad beans are young and fresh.It can be a little laborious on account of podding and peeling the beans,but alternatively in my mind rather therapeutic. I like to peel away the outer skin of each par-boiled bean, even if it means extra work.The beautiful intense green of the beans keep their colour if added to the pan towards the end of the cooking.The way they are combined with some of the regions cured meat, Toucinho ( pancetta ) and Chouriço de porco preto (chouriço sausage from the acorn fed black pig), is like strawberries and cream, a marriage made in heaven.
"Favas à Algarvia"
500g (1lb) shelled fresh (or frozen) favas (broad beans)
(about 3kg/6lb12oz in their pods) 
2 tbsp olive oil
160g (53/4 oz) Chouriço sausage,chopped
1 small red onion,chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
125ml(4 fl oz /1/2 cup ) white wine
handful of mint and coriander leaves torn
splash of red wine vinegar
Rinse the shelled beans and put them(or the frozen beans if using) in a pan of lightly salted boiling water and boil for about 5 minutes.Drain and peel off the outer skins.many of them will split in half but that´s fine.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and sautée the sausage chunks for a couple of minutes.Add the onion and cook,stirring,for a few more minutes until the mixture is sticky and the sausage is brown.
Add the garlic and stir until you start to smell it,then add the white wine and a couple of twists of pepper.Cook until the wine has evaporated a bit,then stir in the broad beans and cook for acouple of minutes over a high heat so the flavours mingle.There should be just a bit of sauce in the bottom of the pan.Stir in the mint and coriander at the end with a splash of red wine vinegar.Check for seasoning and serve warm as side dish.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

`Hake with Everything´ Pescada com todos

Hake with everything, everything with Hake,well almost everything it sometimes seems.Hake is one of the most popular fish in Portugal and even more so in Spain where they go mad for it.It is a fine sustainable sea fish with mild white, delicate flesh.Its versatility makes it suitable for poaching, frying and filleting.
There is even a famous Portuguese dish called "Hake with everything".It is the simplest fish dish there is, and it makes an excellent and nourishing lunch( somehow it does not seem right in the evening,funny that? Practically every restaurant in Portugal serves it as well as every household.The "everything" is made up of hard - boiled eggs, onions, boiled potatoes and seasonal greens.A bit bland to my mind but incredibly popular to others.

Hake is a genus term for 13 species of fish, although the most commonly marketed is European hake. Hake tends to be considered as a similar fish to cod, but it distinguishes itself by its long and sleek body and firmer, meatier flesh with a touch of the eel about it.It has a dull bluish or slate grey back and a large head with a rather menacing mouth displaying sharp teeth that give it a rather threatening appearance.
Hake, like most other white fish, can be matched with flavours as diverse as bacon, horseradish and coconut and this versatility, along with its subtle, sweet flavour, means it is a popular fish the world over. It is perhaps more commonly eaten here in the Iberian peninsular, with Spain in particular incorporating hake into many of their regional dishes. Try drawing on Spanish flavours, pairing it  with chorizo and chickpeas.
Inspired by the title "Hake with everything" I thought what the hake, I am going to throw everything at it and make an extremely tasty fish cake.With the help of some smoky bacon, some contrasting texture and flavour of a chimichurri sauce and a poached egg atop, it was a supper fit for a prince.
Pataniscas de pescada com bacon, ovo escalfado e molho chimichurri
serves 4,makes 12 cakes
600g of good quality cooking potatoes,peeled and chopped
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion finely chopped
125g smoked streaky bacon,finely chopped
500g hake fillet,skin removed
1 egg
5g fennel fronds
vegetable oil for shallow frying
2tsp apple cider vinegar
4 small eggs

For the Chimichurri sauce

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

Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for about 15minutes,drain then mash.Meanwhile in a frying pan,heat the oil and sweat the chopped onion until soft.Add to the mashed potato,mix well,then set aside to cool.
Wipe out the pan used to cook the onion.Add the bacon and cook until pale golden but not crisp,then drain on kitchen paper.
Finely chop the hake and add it to the cold potato.mash it with a fork to break up any chunks then beat  in the egg.season with Flor de sal and black pepper and fold in the bacon and fennel fronds.Flouring your hands form the mixture into 12 patties and set aside on a floured board or dish until ready to cook. Meanwhile make the chimichurri sauce if you have not done so already.It can be made in advance and kept in ajar in the fridge.
Heat some of the oil in a large frying pan over a low heat and cook in batches for 3-4 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through.Keep warm in the oven while you poach the eggs
Poach the eggs by adding the apple cider vinegar to a saucepan of boiling water.Swirl the water with a spoon and crack in one egg followed by a second and cook for about 3 minutes.remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into abowl of cold water to stop them cooking any further.Skim off the froth in the pan and poach the remaining 2 eggs.To re-heat,place them in barely simmering water for 1 minute.Drain on kitchen paper then place them on top of the warm fish cakes.Serve the chimichurri sauce alongside or in a small dish.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Garnalenkroketten - the most delicious croquettes that one could ever dream of

 Not far different in taste from the Portuguese Rissois de camarao
However you care to spell it croquette,croqueta, croquetes, kroketten and whether you replace the "c" and "q" with the "k" ,the croquette (from the French croquer, "to crunch") gained worldwide popularity, both as a delicacy and as a fast food. It started life humbly as a great way to use up leftovers. Sunday roast ended up in the mincer and was then folded into a creamy thick gravy,after which it was refrigerated rolled into logs,breaded and deep fried to produce beautiful golden crispy cylinders.These type of croquette are the more traditional Dutch kroketten crammed with beef or veal ragout – however Garnalenkroketten (prawn croquettes) are something else. My passion for croquettes started at a very early age when my mother used to make the Eastern European variant, the Kromeski, minced poultry, game, or meat, bound to a stiff paste with sauce, wrapped in bacon, coated in batter, and fried.There was no turning back and I used to ask my mother incessantly to make them for me.
Being fried, starchy and assertively salty they're pretty damn perfect in tapas terms. Its hardly surprising therefore that the Spanish adopted them.Made with a stiff béchamel rather than mashed potato, they need to be eaten hot – so hot you burn your fingers on the crisp breadcrumb exterior as you rush to bite into the molten centre.They are not easy to make, so the bar or restaurant that achieves the perfect croqueta will have a loyal following.It is the same in Holland where Patisserie Holtkamp in Amsterdam is one of the more sophisticated croquette producers and has embraced a more varied range of fillings than its competitors.It is most famous for its best selling  Garnalenkroketten (prawn croquettes)When I discovered this recipe from Ottolenghi´s column in the Guardian I had to make them immediately.Oh how I love a croquette but a prawn croquette? The temptation was too great. It was irresistible.And what a treat was in store,they were the most delicious croquettes that one could ever dream of and they left us wanting more.Its a good thing they freeze well, so now I will always have some to hand either for a TV snack,tapas,luxurious dinner starter or an item for my tasting menu.

Ottolenghi´s version of Garnalenkroketten
(prawn croquettes)
Makes 24 croquettes, enough to serve twelve as a starter. 

This recipe, which is based on Holtkamp’s, is quite long, and it makes a lot, but croquettes freeze really well: make them up to the point when you coat them in breadcrumbs, then freeze, ready to thaw and fry as required.Ottolenghi suggests serving them with a simple green salad and a sharp, lemony dressing.His other serving suggestion as a snack with some lemony mayo or mustard,we found too rich and we felt it needed something to contrast the rich bechamel rather than accentuating it.I would suggest there fore serving them with a chilli jam,sriracha sambal oelek or a coriander dipping sauce.

110g unsalted butter
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
700g raw tiger prawns, shell on
120g plain flour
250ml whole milk
4 sheets (or 6g) fine-leaf gelatine, soaked in cold water
4 eggs, separated: you need all 4 whites and 2 of the yolks; use the remaining yolks in a mayo, custard or pasta
50ml double cream
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
2 drops Tabasco
10g parsley leaves, finely chopped
10g tarragon leaves, finely chopped
Salt and ground white pepper
200g panko breadcrumbs, half of them finely blitzed in a food processor
About 400ml sunflower oil, for frying
2 lemons, cut into wedges, to serve

On a medium-high heat, melt 30g butter in a large saucepan for which you have a lid, then fry the shallots for two to three minutes, until golden brown. Add the prawns, fry for a minute, then pour over 300ml just-boiled water. Cover and cook for two minutes, until the prawns are just cooked, then strain the liquid into a bowl, pressing down on the prawns with a back of a spoon or ladle to extract as much flavour as possible: you should end up with about 340ml of prawn stock.
Leave the cooked prawns to cool a little, then peel and devein them. Discard the prawn skins and the shallots, and chop the flesh into roughly 0.5cm pieces.
Put the remaining 80g butter in a medium saucepan on a medium heat and, once it starts to foam, stir in 110g flour and cook for three minutes, stirring constantly. Add the prawn stock bit by bit, until combined, then add the milk, also in instalments. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook the sauce for eight minutes, stirring, until it’s thick and shiny.
Squeeze the water out of the soaking gelatine leaves, add them to the bechamel, then take the pan off the heat and stir to dissolve. Stir in the egg yolks, cream, cayenne, Tabasco, herbs and chopped prawns, and add an eighth of a teaspoon of white pepper and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt, then leave to cool.
Using two dessert spoons, divide the bechamel mix into 60g portions, and place on two plates lined with greaseproof paper. Refrigerate for at least an hour, to firm up, then wet your hands (this stops the mix sticking to them) and roll each portion into a 3cm-wide x 7cm-long sausage. Refrigerate again while you prepare the coating.
In a small bowl, gently whisk the remaining flour into the egg whites. Put the fine panko in a second bowl and the unblitzed panko in a third. Roll one prawn sausage first in the fine panko, then in the egg white and then in the coarse panko, making sure it’s properly coated with each layer, and put on a tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with the remaining sausages.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on a medium flame. To check it’s at the right temperature, drop a pinch of panko into the pan: the oil is ready if it turns golden-brown within 10 seconds (if you have a thermometer, you’re looking to get the oil to 180C). Fry a few croquettes at a time – don’t overcrowd the pan – for a total of three minutes, turning them once halfway (be gentle), until crisp and golden brown all over. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a wire rack lined with kitchen paper, to absorb any excess oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and repeat with the remaining croquettes. Serve hot with lemon wedges alongside.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Sunshine on a rainy day

Today is windy and wet with scattered thunderstorms forecast.On days like this what one needs is to bring some sunshine to the breakfast table and this is the perfect way to do it - a cake that is more suited to breakfast than afternoon tea.A few days ago we found a harvest of nesperas sitting on the old chair by the garden gate.Our only thought of how they might of got there was that the neighbour had leaned through the gate and put them there by way of a gift from his kitchen garden.Eaten as a fresh fruit they also mix well  with other fruits in fresh fruit salads,so I have been including them on the recent guests breakfast plate, and yesterday when the guests checked out I bade them a farewell with a gift of a packed fruit salad for their journey up to Lisbon.I still had a fruit bowl full of them so to use them up I made this simple sumptuous cake.The only real work involved in this recipe is the removal of the stones and membrane and I always prefer to peel the tough skin before eating or cooking them.By removing the skin it allows the fruit to soften as it cooks and infuse the entire cake with a fruity perfume.The combination of the olive oil and milk in the batter is also the secret to a moist, tender cake with lots of character.
Bolo de Nesperas  
500 gr deseeded nesperas in halves,(peeled optional but not necessary)

4 large eggs
200 gr sugar
200 gr flour
1 bsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
5 tbsp olive oil (extra virgem)

Preheat oven to 180 º C. Grease a loaf pan with a little oil. Sprinkle with flour. Wash and dry the Nesperas. Cut them in halves lengthwise and remove the stones. Peel the fruit. Beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is fluffy and pale. Add flour, baking powder, milk and oil. Beat well.
Fold in the Nesperas.Transfer the dough to the loaf pan.Put on the middle shelf of the oven and bake at 180 °C - for about 40-45 minutes. Check with a skewer for doneness.Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Garum,an age old recipe, a futuristic vision and guitar string pasta

"Pastasciutta, 40%  less nutritious than meat,fish or pulses ties todays Italians with its tangled threads... ...The defenders of pasta are shackled by its ball and chain like convicted lifers or carry its ruins in their stomachs like archaeologists.And remember too that the abolition of pasta will free italy from expensive foreign grain and promote the Italian rice industry".

La cucina futurista, Marinetti 1932

Since living in Portugal I have been learning its history and of what a powerful nation it once was.I have also been tracing the development of its culinary heritage.My most recent discovery goes back to the period when Portugal or Lusitania was part of the Roman Empire.Lisbon was then called Ollisipo.Between 1991 and 1995, during renovation works which were being carried out at the Millenium bcp building in the downtown historical Pombaline centre of Lisbon, now called Baixa, excavations uncovered archaeological structures left by previous civilisations. Stretching almost an entire block, up from the Triumphal Arch in Rua Augusta, underneath the foundations of the current Millenium bcp head office the remains of Roman Garum producing tanks were found. Garum,its ancient name, or colatura di alici as it is now branded, is probably the best thing many of you have never heard of.It is the 'ketchup' of ancient Rome that has now become the must have modern day secret culinary ingredient.No more Nam pla*. I loosely call it 'ketchup' as the word might have come from the Chinese koechiap "brine of fish,"which is exactly what this is.You can also still see the biggest ruins of Garum-producing tanks in Tróia, Portugal. Apparently, Olissipo (Lisbon) got pretty wealthy by exporting it to the rest of the Empire.The garum of Lusitania ( present-day Portugal) was also highly prized in Rome, and was shipped directly from the harbour of Lacobriga (present day Lagos in the west Algarve). In Almunecar, on the Spanish Costa, are the ruins of more Roman garum 'factories' - big rock beds for drying and fermenting the fish, on the shore. There may be others in other towns, I just know Almunecar is very proud of theirs. The Antiquarium de Sevilla below the Metropol Parasol has a remains of a Roman garum factory and some houses preserved in situ.
There is very often a very good reason why a recipe is called forgotten. Before you go any further let me advise you that making authentic Roman Garum is not for everyone; anyone can make it but does everyone want to?I have not been brave enough to try making my own Garum,which can be achievable if you have the time,patience,resources and access to the right fish to brine.Living in the right climate and right conditions I may well try it,but in my own time and when there are no cats or paying guests around.
If you want to cook an authentic Roman dish you'll need this sauce, especially when you are using recipes from De Re Coquinaria,a collection of Roman cookery recipes.
Meanwhile I thought I would use the modern day equivalent, colatura di alici ,and cook a very multi-sensory Roman inspired dish.Sympathetic to the Futuristic movement and Marinetti´s pasta free vision? - maybe not, but the dish in question comes from Osteria Francesana,Chef  Massimo Bottura´s Michelin starred restaurant in Modena.Like Bottura I dont serve spaghetti regularly here at casa rosada as I believe our guests would feel cheated by something so commonplace.This recipe I have to say is the exception to the rule.
On one occasion however, some guests returned home from a day trip and presented me with a pasta  that I had never before set eyes on.Spaghetti alla chitarra.
The name of this spaghetti comes from the tool (the so-called chitarra, literally "guitar") this pasta is produced with, a tool which gives spaghetti its name, shape and a porous texture that allows pasta sauce to adhere well. The chitarra is a frame with a series of parallel wires crossing it. They asked me if I would prepare spaghetti al aglio, olio e peperoncino.I was flattered.I cook this late night Roman staple on quite a regular basis, not only for its astonishingly full flavour but because of its speed in preparation.10 minutes from start to finish.With the knowledge that this dish proved to be more widely popular than I had previously thought I upped my game and took this dish to another level using the colatura di alici fish oil.The dish is called Spaghetti alla chitarra cetarese.The pesto for this spaghetti is made with hand chopped anchovies,capers and pine nuts,garlic and colatura di alici.The type of spaghetti used is quintessential to this dish as the pasta must be able to absorb the sauce without losing its bite.The secret is to boil it in salted water until half cooked,then drain it and return it to the warm pan with the fish oil,pesto and a garlic cream.The spaghetti is finished off in the style of a risotto adding more fish stock as needed.The spaghetti is served with a topping of crunchy bread crumbs,as you would grated parmesan.

Spaghetti alla chitarra cetarese
Serves 2 as a main course or 6 as a starter or degustation

30g salted anchovies
100g pine nuts
65g salted capers
1 garlic clove,grated
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Chop the pine nuts, capers and anchovies to make a pesto-like mixture.Use a sharp knife,not a blender.It is very important not to crush the ingredients.Add the garlic and olive oil.

100g parsley
250 ml extra-virgin olive oil
5g Flor de sal
Blanch the parsley leaves in salted boiling water for 20 seconds.Chill them immediately in iced water, then pat dry.put them in a blender with the oil and salt and process to a velvety texture.Add more oil if required.

1 head of garlic,cloves halved
500ml whole milk
a pinch of Flor de sal
a pinch of sugar Remove the heart from each garlic clove.Marinate in half the milk overnight,covered with cling film (plastic wrap).Discard the milk and reserve the garlic.Bring the remaining milk to the boil with the salt and sugar.Blanch the garlic for 1 minute in the milk,then remove it. Repeat this twice more.Put the garlic in a separate container and use just enough of the milk to blend it to a creamy paste.
250g spaghetti all Chitarra
extra-virgin olive oil
pesto cetarese
800ml fish stock
colatura di alici (anchovy extract)
200g toasted breadcrumbs
Put the spaghetti in a large pan of salted boiling water and cook it until it is half cooked.Drain the spaghetti and return it to the warm pan with 20 drops of colatura di alici,1 tablespoon of oil,the garlic cream and 1 tablespoon of pesto.Finish cooking it as if it were a risotto,adding more fish stock and pesto as required.At the very end,stir in some parsley oil.Serve in a neat mound in the centre of a large soup dish and top with a carpet of toasted breadcrumbs as if they were grated parmesan.Change into a clean toga, call Bacchus and savour the experience.

                                                      OUR VERDICT / O NOSSO VEREDICTO
Nós gostavamos este prato imensamente e provei ainda melhor com o conhecimento recém-adquirido que este condimento antigo tinha originado em Portugal.

We liked this dish immensely and it tasted even better in the light of the newly acquired knowledge that this ancient condiment had originated in Portugal.Along the line we learnt about how Marinetti ranted against Spaghetti.Having run Cafe Panini at the Estorick collection, the first museum of Futurist art to open in London, also gave meaning to what we were eating.

* Technically, Nam Pla is much, much saltier than garum. This is because of the manufacturing methods. Thai fish sauces can be fermented for up to 18 months, whereas garum would take about half that. They are also made with a much higher ratio of salt to fish than is indicated for Roman sauces. An ancient sauce was made with one part salt to seven parts fish, while the ratio in Thai sauces can be 1:3 or even 1:1. Now this is not to say Nam Pla cannot be utterly delicious in the context of Thai cuisine. But Garum it ain't.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Need cheese must travel-Burrata,go to it

 Forget babies, storks should deliver Burrata
If you're searching for the perfect cheese, stop right here because the answer is Burrata.Move over buffala, Burrata is here. Burrata is simply a dream.
As much as you want your Mozzarella di Bufala to be fresh, you want your Burrata to be newborn.It's creamy, luscious, and the kind of thing we lie awake thinking about at night.If I had to pick one food to eat for an entire day, it would probably be burrata. Just leave me alone with it and a spoon and I’d be more than happy.
 Chef Fabio Zerbo´s modern take on Burrata
with smoked ham and home made pesto
at LPA Ayamonte

In fact, Burrata is Italian for butter, if that gives you any clues on how rich it can be. If you’ve never had Burrata, stop reading immediately and run to your nearest Italian restaurant. Then rush home because you’re going to want to understand exactly what you just ate. You’ll know for certain that it was the most sublime thing you’ve ever consumed: a creamy, salty pillow that melted your heart as quickly as it melted in your mouth. But you’ll need to get to bottom of this celestial experience, because burrata just became an integral part of your life.The brave guys at Food Republic assure us that you can totally do this yourself. Cheesemaking -I´m not so sure?
This soft Italian cheese, made from full-fat whole cows milk, is one of the best specialities of Puglia.This delicate cheese has no equal and merits travelling a long way for. Burrata is not a good traveller,so you must go to it.
Burrata is basically mozzarella with a surprise inside. It starts out just like mozzarella; milk curds are dipped in hot water and kneaded into a ball of cheese. Then -- this is the important part -- that ball of cheese is stuffed with mozzarella curd bits and milky cream and tied up into a knot of deliciousness.
Cutting into a fresh ball of this stuff is undoubtedly one of the most glorious cheese experiences you can ever have. Not to mention, this cheese tastes amazing with every kind of summer produce you have lying around. Tear the outside of your burrata into pieces and add it to pastas or salads. Drizzle the creamy inside with olive oil, sprinkle with flakey salt, and serve alongside tomatoes, grilled bread, or roasted vegetables. The possibilities are endless. and when you are dealing with a cheese this ethereal, you really can't go wrong.The cheese’s exquisiteness means that, for the most part, you want to keep your burrata recipes pretty simple. It is an incredible ingredient that can shine mostly on its own.You want the exterior to be delicate and tender as possible while the inside is creamy, oozy heaven.  Heaven in this case being small, elastic bits of the torn mozzarella (stracciatella) mixed with rich cream.  It should be utterly butterly, sweet and fresh in flavour.  It should make you weep, well just a little bit.

Presunto Rúcula Burrata Pizza
How could you go wrong, presunto, arugula, burrata anything? You can’t. It’s one of those combinations of ingredients that go together perfectly no matter what, and especially when pizza is involved. There aren’t many ingredients involved in the making of this, which is probably why it’s so good – you can really taste each component with every bite, nothing gets lost or overpowered
For the pizza dough:

  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
  • 1⅛ cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the pizza:

  • 1 pizza dough
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 125g fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 250g buratta
  • 200g sliced presunto
  • Piri piri flakes
For the pizza dough:
In a large bowl, combine yeast, warm water, olive oil. Mix with a spoon, then let sit for 10 minutes, until foamy. Add in 2½ cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt, stir well until the dough starts to come together, but is still a little sticky. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and add in the remaining ½ cup of flour. Knead the dough on a floured surface for a few minutes.
Rub the same bowl with a little bit of olive oil and place the dough inside the bowl, turning to coat all sides with the oil. Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit in a warm place for 1- 1½ hours to rise.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, or if you're using a pizza stone, preheat to 500 degrees F.
Once the dough has risen, lightly flour a flat surface. Use your hands or a rolling pin to roll out the pizza dough until it reaches your desired shape.
To assemble the pizza:
Brush the pizza dough with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place dough onto the pizza stone, or onto a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes, until crust is cooked through and lightly golden brown.
Remove crust from the oven and brush with the remaining olive oil. Add minced garlic and dried oregano to the crust. Top with the mozzarella slices and break the burrata into crumbles onto the crust as well. Put the crust back into the oven and bake for 5-6 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbling.
Take the pizza out of the oven and top with the sliced prosciutto. Place the pizza back into the oven and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes until prosciutto is slightly crispy and the crust is entirely cooked through and golden brown.
Top pizza with rúcula, piri piri flakes.

Friday, 28 April 2017

The canned fish Renaissance

In recent years canned fish has gone gourmet in Portugal. Specifically in the major cities of Lisbon and Porto, several  gourmet shops (conservarias) have been popping up all over the city, not just selling your typical gastronomic souvenirs, but also revamped, quality brand canned fish, wrapped in delightfully artistic packaging and boxes. Who could resist?!
Both the Portuguese and Spanish have had a long tradition of canning and preserving fish, but the way that they feel about it can vary. In general, both agree that canned fish is an easy and inexpensive meal, especially due to its high quality. And in general, both the Portuguese and the Spanish like to consume canned tuna on a regular basis, often used in appetizers, salads, Spanish tapas and even on pizzas. Since canned fish tends to be more expensive in Spain (due to logistics, transport etc.), the Spanish tend to view it with higher regard, many considering the most expensive brands such as ORTIZ as a delicacy.  However, for the Portuguese, despite the recent canned fish renaissance on the gourmet market,most people view it as a “poor man’s food”
So it will be a sorry day when Old Mother Hubbard, alias me myself and I, goes to the larder and discovers that there is not a single tin of fish to be found therein.The cupboard is bare, but if the fishing industry continues to empty the seas at the current rate ,that may well be the case. The thing is, the kind of small, oily fish,sardines, anchovies, mackerel, that fit so willingly in tins and jars are the very species that, if managed properly and fished more responsibly, could continue to feed us sustainably well into the future. If however, we continue to hoover them up by the millions of tonnes, catch them out of season, and process more than half of them into animal feed and fertilisers, then stocks will run out.There is no taboo about tinned fish.The history of canned food is the story of civilisation itself.The development of preserved food enabled explorers to map unknown territories,facilitated the conquering of new lands and created routes for the expansion of trade and the exchange of knowledge and culture which opened up our world.
Something worth thinking about next time you are navigating the waters of the canned fish aisle, the 'ultimate' canned fish in terms of health value is the sardine.Eating tinned sardines in tomato sauce provides plentiful nutrition and protein.There are also lots of small bones so you are also getting added calcium in your meal. If it is tinned in tomato sauce, you are also getting the benefits of lycopene - another cancer fighting nutrient.'A simple spring store cupboard supper can be achieved with just one tin of mackerel, new potatoes, watercress, radishes and an array of seasonal herbs.This is a good way of getting your omega-3 oils!

    A simple spring salad of canned mackerel 
    and new potatoes and watercress

    700g baby new potatoes
    2 shallots, finely chopped
    200g finely sliced radishes
    1 small cucumber peeled and diced
    6 baby gherkins, sliced
    1tbsp chopped fennel fronds, plus extra for garnish
    1 tbsp flat leaf parsley
    2 x 125g cans  Mackerel Fillets in Olive Oil, drained and flaked
    Watercress, to serve

    1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1/3 cup red wine vinegar
    2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
      Halve or quarter the potatoes, depending on size (the pieces should be bite-sized). Add to a pan of lightly salted boiling water and simmer until tender. Drain and put in a large bowl.stir in the shallots,radishes,cucumber and gherkins.In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over potato mixture, tossing gently to coat. 
       Cover and refrigerate.When ready to serve, season, then add to the herbs and watercress
       Gently stir in the mackerel. Garnish with the extra fennel. 

      A good read........
      "We may not give much thought to the boxes in our freezers and the dried goods on our shelves. Yet behind the story of food preservation is the history of civilisation itself - a fascinating blend of social history, popular science and man's ongoing curiosity and ingenuity when it comes to food. From Francis Bacon, who died trying to freeze a chicken, to Attila the Hun, who 'gallop cured' his meat by storing it under his horse's saddle, history is littered with wonderful stories of those who have contributed to our knowledge. And there have also been some notable mistakes. In 1800, archaeologists in Egypt consumed a jar of honey, still edible after thousands of years, only to find at the bottom the preserved body of a dead baby..!"
      "Pickled, Potted and Canned: The Story of Food Preserving" Paperback – by Sue Shephard 2001



      Monday, 24 April 2017

      Time and tide waits for no man, the new surf and turf

      I am a product of that era of cooking in which surf-and-turf was the be-all and end-all, the epitome of gourmet cuisine, the go-to meal for all special occasions (except those at which Chateaubriand was served, of course).Surf and turf is one of those dishes that sadly doesn’t get much in the way of respect nowadays. One of the hallmarks of middlebrow “Continental cuisine” in vogue in the 1960s and 70s, a plate of pallid steak and tough defrosted lobster graced the menu at restaurants ranging from fine-dining establishments to local bistrots in an effort to appeal to those looking to give the impression of being classy (the word “ersatz” comes to mind a bit when referring to the dish). But that era is over and today the chefs who include this legendary dish on their menus do not want a poor imitation they are finally treating it with the respect it deserves.
      They saying goes "time and tide wait for no man. We now live in an era when every classic dish seems ripe for innovation, and surf and turf is no exception. Today you’ll find surf and turf burgers on restaurant menus, as well as dishes including braised beef with shrimp paste being called  “surf and turf.”
      Obviously, surf refers to seafood and turf to livestock fed on grass.Carne de Porco à Alentejana is a traditional Portuguese Pork and Clams dish which originates in part from the Portuguese region of Alentejo.The combination of pork and clams in this dish is unusual, but creates a rich flavour that makes it easy to see why this stew has become so popular across the country. Whoever thought to toss clams into a pot of stewed pork was a genius idea?! It sounds like an unlikely combination; and to some, it’s just plain weird, but consider it the Portuguese version of Surf and turf .
      The real reason this is such a spectacular a pairing isn’t because of the “meat” of the dish; it’s what it produces at the end. A sauce that can only come from the harmony created when land and sea come together. I could happily give up the pork and clams as long as I get that residual sauce at the bottom and a loaf of Pão Alentejano to absorb it.
      Contrary to what one would think, Carne de Porco à Alentejana did not originate in the Alentejo as its name would suggest. It was the cooks of the Algarve that originally came up with the idea to mix the two unlikely food friends. One suggestion as to why, was to add clams in order to mask a “fishy” tasting pork that came from the region, as the pigs down south would be fed fish scraps and it changed how the pork tasted.
      The “Alentejana“ reference was to indicate where the pork was sourced; the Alentejo region north of the Algarve. Here the pigs’ diet mainly consisted of cork oak acorns thus creating gorgeous tasting meat. These pigs didn’t just have a better diet though. Alentejo is also home to the highly prized Porco Preto Ibérico, or black Iberian pig. If you don’t know much about this pig, maybe you’ve heard of the Spanish Jamon Iberico, a cured ham with similarities to Portuguese presunto.
      It may not sound like the most compatible two foods. I mean pork is good on its own and clams are famous in soups and pasta; but I assure you, it’s a must have when visiting Portugal, no matter what region you visit. The best part is to amaze the naysayers at home by making your own pot. Even if they don’t like pork or clams by themselves, just give them a bowl of the sauce at the bottom and some bread. It’s the best way to turn them into believers! Or why not do what I did and put my own take on the dish by introducing ginger noodles into the equation.Since carnival this year I have got a taste for cajun spice, and I thought that I would spice up tradition with a surf and turf pasta dish.I would combine wonderfully fresh raw prawns with acorn fed black pig and amp this up with a cajun seasoning, a dash of cayenne pepper, sauteed onions and garlic, cream and white wine  Rich and decadent, with a bit of heat.Prawns pasta,spicy cream sauce a dash of wine.What’s not to love here?
      Spicy Cajun pork and prawn fettucine
      serves 4
      500g (1 pound) medium or large raw prawns, peeled and de-veined
      300g  Pork loin cut into strips
      1 tablespoon Cajun spice mix
      3 tablespoons olive oil
      ½ onion, sliced
      3 cloves garlic, minced
      1 cup cream
      1/2 cup dry white wine
      1/2 cup chicken broth
      Cayenne pepper, to taste
      1 pound cooked fettuccine
      2 spring onions or bunch of chives, chopped (for garnish)

      Sprinkle 2 teaspoons Cajun spice over the shrimp, toss to coat.Repeat with the pork. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add prawns to skillet, and cook for about 2 minutes. Flip prawns over and cook for 1 minute more. Remove to plate and set aside.Repeat with the pork Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over medium high heat until garlic and onions are tender. Remove all vegetables from the pan to a plate, and set aside.
      With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium low and pour in cream, whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Return  the vegetables and the pork to the sauce. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot.At the same time re-heat the previously cooked prawns in a pan with a little oil. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine. Serve the prawns on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with spring onions or chives for garnish.

      Homemade Cajun Seasoning
      Homemade Cajun seasoning has just the right amount of kick with flavours of garlic, onion, thyme, oregano  and cayenne pepper.There many good quality brands on the market but if you have time to make your own it enhances any recipe.
      ½ cup Paprika
      ⅓ cup Flor de sal
      ¼ cup Garlic Powder
      2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
      1 tablespoon white pepper (or 2 use tablespoons black pepper)
      2 Tablespoons Onion Powder
      1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper (optional- won't be spicy without this)
      2 Tablespoons dried Oregano
      1 Tablespoon dried Thyme
      2 tablespoons dried basil
        Mix all ingredients in jar or food processor and store in an airtight container. Good on stir fries, eggs, casseroles, fish and poultry. You can add more or less Cayenne to get to your taste to suit your palate.

            Thursday, 20 April 2017

            “Moçambique Portugal Fusion” - Un incontournable....IBO

             An island, a salt warehouse, a restaurant,a cafe.... 
            I reiterate from my previous post how important it is for me to have  a convivial environment to eat in.When ones feet are sore and your calf muscles ache from climbing up and down the seite collinas de Lisboa its time for a bit of relaxez-vous, a bebida, cerveza and perhaps a petisco or something more substantial.Our friends recommended this place having in turn been recommended it themselves by another friend.No regrets here.Cafe Ibo and its adjoining restaurant are located just a stones throw from the “Praça de Comércio” Slap bang on the water, you can eat and watch the world go by accompanied by very tasty food and good wines at a very acceptable price point given the quality and location.Just where ferries embark and disembark from the cais de sodre ferry terminal you can both people watch and admire the views. It serves a variety of light snacks, great salads and sandwiches,  and a full range of drinks (including selection of craft beers).What makes for a good ambience is the friendly staff and the prices will not put a hole in your pocket.It became evident quite quickly that this is a local cafe for local people.this was reiterated by one tripadvisor review I read afterwards.

            " Résidents lisboètes nous fréquentons régulièrement ce restaurant 
            avec toujours autant de plaisir".

            An added bonus to this venue is the origin of its name and a reminder of its history.The establishment is named after Ibo, an Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago ( Indian Ocean ) off the north coast of Mozambique.
            In the 17th century Ibo Island was the capital of a large area on the east coast 
            of Africa. At that time, this area was dominated by the Portuguese, from the centre of their Oriental colonial empire, Goa.Its strategic location allowed the Portuguese to control the Arab trading that existed then in the region.Other Europeans, such as the Dutch and the French, made several attempts to conquer the island. Consequently, in the late 18th century (1791) the Saint John Baptist Fortress was built.This military and commercial evolution attracted people from different parts of the world. Evidence of this can be seen, still today, by its mixed population.Today the Ibo Restaurant and cafe
            are housed in a simple refurbishment of a former salt warehouse, built at the beginning of the 20th century. So as one revives oneself from steppin out in Lisbon, imbibing some fine artesanal beers and sampling some inspired Portuguese gastronomy and Mozambician flavours one casts ones mind back to the travels of the Portuguese and evoke passions of its colonial past.
            "Há quem diga que o Ibo tem o melhor prego de Lisboa"
            revista evasoes
            Mozambique prawns at Ibo whats not to like
            salada com pesto de azeitona