Tuesday, 27 June 2017

With regards to and reverence of the radish-Sorry mum!!!

When I was a small boy my mother used to read "A Tale of Peter Rabbit to me.I sat up in bed enthralled by Peter and Benjamin escaping from the vegetable garden hotly pursued by Mr McGregor,then falling asleep and dreaming that it was actually me in that vegetable garden,Peter Rabbit,the robber.This is how I came to love radishes, but it was not until very recently that I discovered there were many more ways to eat radishes than just with salt and butter.First of all,I always dunk them in iced water to crisp them up.They become so crisp that the sensation is almost like crunching on ice cubes and the soft green leaves, having been refreshed, regain their peppery bite, akin to watercress and rocket.There has always been room for a ruby red radish in my diet.

"First he ate some lettuces and some French beans; and then he ate some radishes.".

But now I have discovered some ravishing radish recipes that cook the little rubies in many ways. Roasted, sautéed, glazed,who would have thought it eh? In the realm of radishes they are all about the pared back style of cooking that lets ingredients shine,radishes reign and should be treated like heroes being allowed to win supremacy in whatever way they are being prepared-here are a few of the radish recipes that have won me over.
Serve radishes with olive oil and dukkah for dipping.Duqqa, du'ah, do'a, or dukkah is to die for. Its an Egyptian condiment consisting of a mixture of herbs, nuts, and spices. It is typically used as a dip with bread or fresh vegetables for an hors d'œuvre.Radishes and anchovies were born to be childhood sweethearts and what can be more delicious at this time of year than a radish confetti with that classic Italian green sauce of herbs, capers and anchovies, salsa verde.
 Try a "Real Simple" idea of a pesto, radish and sea salt crostini.And if you are still attracted by the idea of anchovies, a real simple variation of the crostini idea but use a traditional tapenade in place of the pesto.Another tasty tapa. and one of my faves, is a crostini of smoked cods roe pate and radish.Ruby red radish and ricotta would not go amiss either.
I stumbled upon an "Asian ham and chicken salad"which took me back to my childhood and a summer standby of my mother´s which she so endearingly named "slosh," I suppose because of the way in which she sloshed the dressing around a few times and poured it on the salad.This salad, although having similar flavours, is far more subtle and a lot healthier, using healthy oils and vinegar for the dressing as opposed to my mother´s lashings of mayonnaise.Sorry Mum, you know I draw great inspiration from you but not on this occasion.When raita is called for why not call for some radish.And for another side dish with a difference why not do what Martha does(ie Stewart)and serve up glazed radishes,tossed in butter,sugar and vinegar,yum.But finally my star act I owe to Mr Nigel Slater´s Sauteed radishes and grilled lamb chops.This is not dissimilar to my grilled lamb chops and chilli roasted pumkin salad.I was almost true to his recipe but I embellished it slightly by adding new potatoes to the sautée mix.I have to say in hindsight that his original dish was many degrees more vibrant and colourful in its presentation.The reason being he had different coloured varieties of radish to hand.Anyway thank you Nigel for giving us such a delicious dish.......
Sauteed radishes and grilled lamb
serves 2

radishes 125g
small new potatoes,125g
onions 2, small

butter 30g
vegetable or groundnut oil 3 tbsp
coriander seeds 3 tsp
cumin seeds 2 tsp
lamb cutlets 12
mint leaves 8

Trim the radishes and halve lengthways. Peel the onions, cut them in half then cut each half into 3 or 4 segments.Boil the new potatoes in salted water.Set aside to cool then slice in rounds.
Melt the butter in a shallow casserole, add the oil, then the onions. Cook for 10 minutes over a moderate heat until soft, then add the radishes. Lightly crush the coriander seeds. Season with the cumin, coriander, black pepper and sea salt. Cook for 10 more minutes, partially covered.
Season the lamb cutlets and grill lightly on both sides then finish with the chopped mint and grated zest. Place the radishes on a serving plate with the cutlets on top.
Asian ham and chicken salad
1 cup frozen shelled broad beans
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 soup spoon fish sauce,nam pla
1 heaped teaspoon golden granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed Szechuan  pepper 

1/4 teaspoon crushed ancho chilli
Flor de sal and black pepper
125g ham, chopped (1 cup)

1 roasted chicken breast,torn into strips
 2 cloves garlic crushed
6 radishes, sliced

1 small carrot grated
4 spring onions, sliced

handful chopped fresh coriander and mint
2 tablespoons chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Separately, cook the rice and edamame according to the package directions.
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oils,fish sauce,sugar,garlic ,pepper, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Add the rice, edamame, ham, radishes, and scallions and toss to combine. Top with the peanuts.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Peixe ensopado - Salmonete Acqua Pazza ( Fish over troubled water )

While we all love a night out at our favourite restaurant, it is equally enjoyable to cook at home. But nowadays it has become so easy to recreate  your favourite  restaurant dishes at home. Eating in is the new dining out.There are now even Bloggers who recreate restaurant dishes for their blogs,one of my favourites is London based blogger sam cooks food. If your memory of a dish fails you, the internet is always there as back up. 
 Start by researching recipes that sound close to your dish and think about differences and similarities. If the recipe calls for cream, for example, do you remember the sauce being creamy or was that perhaps omitted? You'll be surprised what you forget days, even minutes, after tasting a dish and how helpful jotting down a few tasting notes can be. Do you detect a spicy component, for example? Is there a citrus flavour hiding in the background? Sometimes the coriander garnish or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese makes all the difference in recreating that restaurant dish that feel you might forget as soon as you put your fork down. Taking a quick photo at the restaurant helps as well.
 It never hurts to ask the restaurant if they're willing to share their recipe. If they won't go for that, try asking specific ingredient questions like "What is the spicy flavour?" or "What gives the dish the crunch?" If all else fails, ask for a list of the ingredients, perhaps hinting that you have a certain intolerance or food sensitivity so they'll be inclined to include everything (not that I´d advocate fibbing, of course). Many restaurants are used to catering for food allergies and will be able to give a rundown of ingredients. 
The term acqua pazza (pronounced [ˈakkwa ˈpattsa]; literally crazy water in Italian) is used in Italian cuisine to refer to a recipe for poached white fish, or to simply refer to the lightly herbed broth used to poach it.I tend to draw my inspiration from pieces not of just one, but of several similar dishes, before bringing together their best elements to showcase a fine recipe. This particular recipe was  inspired by a dish I saw Massimo Bottura cook on an episode of Masterchef.The recipe was  his interpretation of Triglie (red mullet) alla livornese . This is an Italian fish stew,the sauce being not dissimilar to a bouillabaise. I searched the length and breadth of the internet but could I find his recipe? Could I heck.  So I improvised and "made it my own", a coin of phrase much over used to my annoyance on TV reality shows.
Well I was half way there and had to set out exactly how and what I wanted my final result to look and taste like.I wanted to keep the feel of the Bottura dish.Served on the Livorno sauce, he covered it with a very thin crisp slither of bread dusted with tomato powder, capers and black olives. I needed to put "my" own stamp on it.I decided to serve it as an ensopado de peixe salmonete, ( Portuguese Red Mullet stew ) but I was going to make a tomato acqua pazza and then deconstruct the way the dish was plated up and served.First of all I would place a slice of grilled country bread on the bottom of the dish, place the cooked  fish on top of the bread and then pour the sauce from a jug over each serving once it was on the table.II garnished the fish just before serving with some black olives and capers.
    Peixe ensopado - Salmonete com Acqua Pazza
    serves 4
    4 medium size salmonete (red mullet)cleaned and flleted
    600g ripe tomatoes,skinned de-seeded and coarsely chopped
    1 small tin anchovies including the oil
    1 onion
    2 cloves garlic
    1 stick celery
    1 leaf of leek
    50 ml olive oil
    50ml white wine
    few sprigs of manjericão (basil)
    salt and pepper to taste

    Clean the mullets. Skin and seed the tomatoes,Set aside.
    Chop the onion and the garlic.
    In a pan heat the olive oil and the oil from the tin of anchovies.Add the onion and garlic and cook until they are soft and golden.Stir in the anchovies until they break up and melt.Add the tomatoes,stick of celery and the leek.Leave to cook until reduced to a thick sauce.Remove the celery stick and leek and strain the sauce through a passe-vite or blend in the pan with a stick blender.In the pan bring back to the heat,season with salt and pepper to your taste.Strain the sauce into a jug and keep warm while you cook the fish.Fry the fish in hot butter skin side down turn and continue cooking until fish is cooked through about a minute.In a large soup plate place a slice of grilled country bread and place two fillets of fish on top.Pour the tomato sauce around the dish and scatter a carpet of parsley powder around the plate for garnish.

    Friday, 16 June 2017

    The hottest drinks for summer

    Its hot hot hot down here in the Algarve and when the heat is on the hot need hooch.The love child of rosé and slushies,"Frosé" took the world by storm last summer but it is still set to hold its own in summer 2017.You see the colour and assume that light,ballerina slipper pink means it’ll be “dry” and that deep magenta “I’d wear that as a lipstick” will be "sweet". So not so.Taste and try before you buy and then make it and see.Yes its pink but more like my accidentally sunburnt nose.In place of the peaches you could use 1 cup of frozen seedless watermelon chunks.

    6 large or 12 tiny peaches with dark red skins
    lemon zest 2 strips made with a potato peeler
    vanilla pod ½, split lengthways
    cinnamon stick 3cm
    750 ml Quinta do Barranco Longo rosé 

    caster sugar 175g
    Put everything into a saucepan, and add water to just cover the peaches – 500ml or so. Bring it to a simmer, and cook until the peaches are tender and the skins ready to slip off. This may be as little as 3 or 4 minutes if they are ripe, 15-20 if they are firm.
    Use a slotted spoon to lift them from the syrup and leave to cool until you can just handle them. Remove all the skin with your fingers and return it to the liquor; put the peeled peaches, covered, in the fridge and save for another occasion.
    Allow the syrup to simmer with the skins in it for at least 20 minutes longer (to extract all the colour and flavour), and taste for sweetness. If it's too watery, boil it down a little or add more sugar to taste. Strain the rosy pink liquid, let it cool, then pour it into a deep tray that will fit in your freezer (metal is best). Place it in the freezer and check after half an hour. Once ice crystals start to form, stir every 15 minutes or so with a fork or sturdy balloon whisk until you have a satisfyingly thick slush. If it gets too hard, thaw it a little before serving – it can be stored this way (frozen solid) for weeks.
    When ready to serve remove the slush from  freezer and fill the glasses 1/3 full of tonic water. Spoon the slush onto the tonic water and stir it into the tonic until you have filled the glasses almost to the top.
    And while I am on the subject of rosé drinks (whose colour is about as beautiful as can be, especially on a sunny day, lets talk about the other drink putting smiles on everyone´s faces this summer - The Rosé-Aperol Spritz
     A colour so vivid it doesn’t need an Instagram filter.

    A traditional Aperol spritz is Aperol + Prosecco, splash of soda, orange slice, and that is a thing of beauty and refreshment. The rosé spritz recipe adds passion fruit juice  which is sweet-sour so it doesn’t make the cocktail too sugary. You’ll still need a little sugar to balance out the bitterness of the Aperol, and lime juice for tartness that keeps the cocktail from being monotonous. You can play around with other combos (Mango! Lychee! Guava!) but  it’s hard to top passion fruit.Try and go for tropical juices, but not pineapple (too acidic), and keep an eye on juice colour that's as close to clear as possible or the drink will get cloudy like a summer rainstorm. This recipe calls for sparkling rosé, but get this—if you make this exact recipe as I did with regular, non-sparkling rosé wine and tonic water, it´s even better. No matter what, though, garnish with an orange slice and switch your email to sleep setting or out-of-office automated reply.

    Rosé - Aperol Spritz
    4–6 servings

    ¾ cup passion fruit juice, chilled
    ¼ cup Aperol
    ¼ cup fresh lime juice
    4 teaspoons sugar
    750ml bottle sparkling rosé, chilled
    33cl  tonic water
    Orange wedges (for serving) 

    Whisk passion fruit juice, Aperol, lime juice and sugar in a large pitcher until sugar is dissolved. Stir in rosé.Serve spritz in large ice-filled wine glasses. Garnish with an orange wedge.

    Tuesday, 13 June 2017

    All back to casa rosada for industrial quantities of coleslaw

    "Din´expect to be served a Vietnamese chicken salad in the Algarve"- recent American guests at casa rosada
    I have never really been able to stomach coleslaw. It is way too sweet, mayonnaise-y, and doesn’t have any colour at all! but freshly made coleslaw can be a wonderful thing, and every now and then it’s fun to zip up the formula with a burst of lively Asian flavours.Forgettable old coleslaw, your days are numbered.Coleslaw can and will be cool again. Or, at least, tasty. Coleslaw is a corruption of the Dutch koolsla, meaning cabbage salad, and arrived here via the USA. Cabbage was, according to the Oxford Encylopedia of Food and Drink in America, a popular crop "throughout the colonies", and Dutch settlers, who grew it "extensively along the Hudson River" liked to serve it in the familiar, old-country way: the first mention of coleslaw in the USA dates from 1785.Early versions seem only to have used a vinaigrette, but mayonnaise now seems to be the standard dressing, usually the gloopy sugary kind that smothers all other flavours, leaving you unsure whether you're eating cabbage or carrot.So lets go back to its roots and start again.This is based on a recipe from Taste: A New Way to Cook, by the marvellous Sybil Kapoor.The recipe has been emulated across the globe by the likes of Nigella and Bill Granger to name but two.It's filling, fabulous and packed with veggies. It's wonderfully aromatic, quite unlike any other coleslaw.There are many variations of this fabulous and classic Vietnamese Chicken Salad. The salad can be especially pleasing, with different textures and flavors ranging from fried shallots, roasted peanuts, fried garlic and pickled onions to different Vietnamese herbs such as mint, basil or the classic rau ram (Viet coriander). Some salads will be heartier with more chicken than cabbage, so you can choose your ratios and toppings to your personal taste. The chicken can be boiled, poached, grilled, fried or barbecued

    (Gỏi Gà or Gỏi Bắp Cẚi Gà)
    Yield: 4-6 Servings
    Total Time: 40 minutes 
      2 pounds (910g) boneless, skinless Chicken
      1 tablespoon (15ml) crushed or grated fresh Ginger
      2 cloves Garlic, crushed or finely minced
      2 tablespoons (30ml) Vegetable or Grape Seed oil
      2 tablespoons (30ml) Fish Sauce
      1 teaspoon (5ml) Sugar

      For the Fish Sauce Dressing:

      1/4 cup (60ml) Fish Sauce
      1 teaspoon grated fresh Ginger
      3/4 cup (180ml) Water
      3 cloves Garlic, finely minced or crushed
      1-2 Red Chilies, minced
      1 teaspoon (5ml) Sugar
      1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh Lime Juice or more to taste
      2 teaspoons (10ml) rice vinegar

      For the Salad:

      6 cups thinly shredded Chinese cabbage
      1 cup chopped fresh herbs: rau ram (Vietnamese coriander), mint, basil, and/or coriander
      1/4 cup (60ml) shredded Carrots
      about 1/4 cup (60ml) crushed, roasted Peanuts
      optional - about 1/4 cup (60ml) fried Shallots
      optional - 2 tablespoons (30ml) fried Garlic
      optional - about 1/4 cup (60ml) Pickled Red Onions

        In a large bowl, combine all chicken marinade ingredients (ginger, garlic, oil, fish sauce, and sugar). If your pieces of chicken are thick, place them between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound them with a meat mallet to an even 1/2-inch thickness. Remove the plastic wrap and add the chicken to the marinade. Let marinade for about 20 minutes.
        Heat a grill or heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until it is browned and cooked through, usually 3-4 minutes per side. Let cool, and then shred or chop the chicken.

        In medium bowl or large jar, combine all ingredients well (fish sauce, ginger, water, garlic, chilies, sugar, lime juice, and vinegar). Allow sugar to completely dissolve before using. (You can keep chilled in fridge for up to 1 month).

        In large bowl, combine cabbage, herbs and shredded carrots. Add the chicken to the bowl and toss to combine.
        Add fish sauce dressing to taste just before serving. Top with peanuts and other optional fried shallots, garlic, and/or pickled onions if using and serve.

        Chicken, chinese cabbage, mint, carrots, spring onions, peanuts,Asian vinaigrette, rolled in rice paper with dipping sauces, whats not to like?

        Monday, 5 June 2017

        A warm prawn salad with sriracha beurre blanc

         Summer in the Algarve with a nod to France

        "All you need is a knife and fork to travel this summer"- so says the current Marks and Spencer food campaign.Never a truer word was spoken.A plate of food can literally transport you like a magic carpet ride to exotic destinations where you are experiencing a different cuisine in a different climate.It could also conjure up memories of something you ate on the holiday you have recently returned from.I dont know why, but when I was creating and eating this salad I had a feeling for the south of France.Maybe I should have donned Julia Child´s apron and stuck to a more traditional approach, traditional by using champagne vinegar.Salad isn't everyone's first choice for a main dish, and this could work equally well as a starter, but when you try out this particular salad you'll want to make it your main instead of your starter.This salad  fuses Eastern flavours with Western methods and produces an irresistible plate.The secret to this dish is that the sauce is a version of that French classic, beurre blanc,quite frankly, indispensable to any cook. but with the addition of Thai Sriracha sauce.

        A Warm prawn salad with Sriracha beurre blanc
        serves 4
        100g (3.5 oz ) unsalted butter, chilled and diced 
        1 tbsp shallot or spring onion, finely chopped
        50ml (2fl oz ) whipping cream
        1tsp sriracha sauce
        1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
        salt and freshly ground white pepper
        2 plum tomatoes,skinned ,seeded and roughly chopped
        1 small avocado ,peeled and diced
        2tbsp fresh coriander leaves,roughly chopped
        1 tbsp chives, snipped
        400g king prawns,raw
        75ml sunflower oil
        2 small green chillies,seeded,and finely chopped
        2 cloves garlic,finely chopped
        mixed salad leaves of your choice 
        2 tbsp home made vinaigrette
        For the vinaigrette-
        (this will leave you with plenty to jar up and store in the refrigerator)
        300ml extra virgin olive oil
        125ml white wine vinegar
        1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
        1 teaspoon Flor de sal
        1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
        1 clove garlic
        generous sprinkling of Herbes de provence

        Make the vinaigrette by placing all the ingredients in a food processor until well emulsified.
        NOTE: Butter is essentially a smooth mixture of fat and water. The secret to making beurre blanc is to preserve its makeup by allowing each addition of butter to melt smoothly into the sauce, as you whisk it, before adding the next piece of butter. Never let the sauce come to a boil once the butter is added, this will cause it to separate.

        Thursday, 1 June 2017

        "Uma abundância de agrião, fazer sopa" .......

        "....and as we all know when life gives you an abundance of watercress,you make soup".......

        Sometimes the best things happen when you are least expecting them to. More often than not I shop with an open mind, receptive to what I may find in the market or fresh produce counters of the supermarket.Abandoning the shopping list can result in the creation of some of the most spontaneous and tasty meals.This happened to me yesterday, I walked into the supermarket the first thing that caught my eye was bunches of fresh young watercress still with root balls attached and on promotion at €0.99  for 3 bunches.Well that was a summer lunch taken care of.In the words of David Lebovitz whose blog I consulted
        "....and as we all know when life gives you an abundance of watercress,you make soup".......
        Well, there´s no time like the present and there´s no present like time.These were the words which came out of the mouth of a humble Indian taxi driver by the name of Babul in one of the Marigold Hotel films.How Profound” I thought to myself, damn shame it was scripted.Any way it was exactly the moment to put it to practice.I had some time on my hands and it seemed the opportune moment to do something with this abundant windfall.
        Watercress soup is one of those great soups, that don’t require a lot of ingredients. Instead it depends on coaxing flavour out of the few ingredients that you have. Potatoes,onion, butter, watercress, and I have to confess to throwing in a handful of peas to bulk it up and boost the colour. Watercress is packed with flavour, for example, so keeping it simple highlights that vibrant green color and peppery flavour of the cress.
        Watercress soup ( sopa de agrião )
        Serves 6
        Clean the watercress in a colander under the tap to get rid of any grit.You can use all the leaves and tender stems but discard any woody stems.For a creamier soup add a swirl of heavy cream,greek yoghurt or creme fraiche before serving the soup can be served hot or cold my preference is for a chilled version.
        3 tablespoons of butter
        1 medium onion peeled and diced
        salt and freshly ground black pepper
        1.5 ltrs vegetable stock
        450g potatoes peeled and diced
        250g watercress leaves and tender stems
        1 cup fresh or frozen peas ( optional
        In a large pan,melt the butter.Add the onion,season with salt and pepper, and cook over a medium heat stirring frequently until the onion is translucent,about 5 to 6 minutes.Add the stock and potato and cook,covered until the potato is tender,about another 10 to 15 minutes.turn off the heat and add the watercress and peas if using.Allow the watercress to wilt. Cool slightly then blitz the soup in a blender or alternatively blend in the pan with a stick blender until smooth.
        Reheat the soup if serving hot or chill the soup in a container in the refrigerator.
        The soup will keep for up to three or four days in the refrigerator.It can be frozen for up to two months