Monday, 14 August 2017

Parmesan and pear ice cream with a spiced pear confit -by George they´d got it!!!

It is always lovely to be able look back into our past and find something old is new once again.Flavours that were once popular fall out of fashion for centuries, then suddenly make a comeback. Life is full of surprises.I was recently watching a television programme where four modern-day confectioners were given the task of making sweets as they were made in past eras.The episode in particular was centred on the Georgian period and the first revelation for me was that Ice cream was being made in the eighteenth century.an even bigger surprise for me however was when they came to make a traditional recipe for Parmesan Ice cream.No this was nothing to do with some modern Heston Blumenthal trickery, Parmesan was around in the eighteenth century.In hindsight this makes complete sense.Just like wine and people, Parmigiano Reggiano gets better with age.In the centuries before refrigeration, this hard cheese was ideal for storage and transporting over long distances. Parmigiano Reggiano was a favourite on sea voyages, but at the same time being beloved by connoisseurs.Ice cream making has always been the domain of the Italians and since introducing it to Europe in the middle ages, Italy has never relinquished its lead in this field.Over the centuries the manufacture of ice cream has in many countries been the province of Italian emigrés.
 But ice cream and cheese,it has a ring of Peter Kay about it "cheese and cake,you dirty ......" but Heston Blumenthal and Peter Kay aside how could one dismiss it without actually making it.I totally adore pears and parmesan as a combo. And more generically, cheese and fruits.I achieved this pairing by serving the ice cream in a scooped out baby pear. I accentuated the Italian theme by using Mascarpone in place of heavy cream.
Parmesan ice cream
makes 1 litre tub
450ml whole milk
5 large egg yolks
125g caster sugar
250ml greek yoghurt
250g mascarpone
100g parmesan
Heat the milk in a pan till almost boiling.Remove from the heat.In a large deep bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together till pale and creamy.Slowly pour the warm milk stirring constantly.Return the the mixture to the pan with the parmesan.Stir constantly over a low heat until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon..It must not boil as it will curdle.Remove from the heat and stir in the yoghurt. Pour into a bowl.Sit the bowl within another bowl of iced water and leave to cool.When completely
cool use an electric whisk to beat in the mascarpone.when fully mixed ladle into aone litre plastic tub and put in the freezer for 2 hours.Check the ice cream to ensure no crystals have formed and give it a good stir.Repeat this two more times at hourly interval then leave to freeze completely overnight. 

For the confit of spiced pears
4 large Williams pears
400 g caster sugar
1 piece of lemon peel
1 tonka bean
Peel and cut the pears into small cubes. 

Place in a large bowl, cover with the sugar, add the vanilla bean and leave to rest overnight. 
Transfer to a saucepan, add the lemon peel and bring to a boil over low heat, skimming occasionally. Turn down the heat and continue cooking, skimming regularly, for 35 minutes. (Place a drop of the preserve on a cold plate, if it is cooked, you will be able to draw a line through it with a teaspoon 
Remove the vanilla bean and blitz it with a stick blender.

Serve as above with fresh ripe baby pears.core the pare from the bottom very carefully, then cut the pair crossways in a proportion of 2/3 on the bottom to 1/3 on top.Scoop out some flesh from the bottom half and over fill it with ice cream.Put the top half back on and drizzle the confit over the pear garnish the plate with roasted pistachios scattered around the pear.
The verdict was  that we found it amazingly delicious for having such a dubious ingredient flavouring it. I found it pairs beautifully with pears and pistachios.I highly recommend trying it!


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Charabancs mountebanks and chari vari

The Charivari is about to begin.The medieval circus is coming to town once again.All the performers will soon be doing their introductory piece before they take to the streets.We gonna party like its 1499. Charabancs of all those who want to party into their middle ages are imminent.Oh joy,Such fun!!!
Today the promotional packs of medieval sugar arrived for our guests to tear open and sweeten their coffee at the breakfast table."Azucar Medievais" announced the delivery man Thank you my liege, noblesse oblige, we will duly serve and not store the "white gold".
In medieval days sugar was extremely expensive, and was known as “white gold”. Wealthy people actually stored sugar as a form of savings.
One of my favourite stories tells of a bishop who bought sugar from Portuguese merchants for many years and stored it in his chamber. When he died, his possessions were divided between the cloister's monks. These possessions included the sugar. The monks tasted it expectantly, but grimaced in disgust. Instead of being sweet, it had a bitter, unpleasant taste. They didn't know that the sugar had been transported across Egypt by camel. During the journey it had absorbed the camel's sweat, which turned it bitter. Deprived of its sweetness, the sugar was now worthless.


Dias Medievais 2017 Castro Marim Dias 23 -27 Agosto


Monday, 7 August 2017

A vine romance,red alert

O devil diablo does it again.Hellishly hot Heatwave Lucifer maybe carrying "danger" warnings and we maybe wilting and dropping like flies, but this current scorching sun has been just what our vine tomatoes needed.Growing tomatoes and sunshine go hand in hand. Without enough sun, a tomato plant can’t produce fruit.our cherry tomatoes are growing in pots and have just started flowering with abundance.These flowers will be followed by tiny green fruits.You can actually see in the picture above some of the flower heads transforming into  fruit.After a few weeks, those will turn into full-blown cherry tomatoes that we can harvest.if picked every day hopefully we can expect our plants with luck, to continue producing right up until winter comes.
We have got more than enough sun and are going to have a bumper crop and "Ah canny wait".Watch this space and I will be telling you about all the witty ways with a cherry tomato.
Growing tomatoes and sunshine go hand in hand. Without enough sun, a tomato plant can’t produce fruit.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Light Requirements For Tomatoes – How Much Sun Do Tomato Plants Need https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/tomato/how-much-sun-do-tomato-plants-need.htm
Growing tomatoes and sunshine go hand in hand. Without enough sun, a tomato plant can’t produce fruit.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Light Requirements For Tomatoes – How Much Sun Do Tomato Plants Need https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/tomato/how-much-sun-do-tomato-plants-need.htm

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Broccoli the "it" vegetable coming soon to a smoothie parlour near you

Detoxifying green smoothie with broccoli apple and celery  (recipe below)
I recently saw a poster that carried this headline "I love my gut"....my initial reaction was, but how can I when it does what it does to me.On further investigation I discovered it was advertising a product of the same name,another product that might well be something that could improve my wellbeing.Inside the big bad "marketing machine", public relations and marketing companies are hired by growers and supermarkets to influence us, the public, and help them create a market for "superfoods."
As we all know there is no such thing as a "superfood" its just a tag that the media and marketeers have chucked at us in the hope that we are gullible enough to believe it.Kale became a darling of the fruit and vegetable aisle thanks to a viral transformation. Now, publicity firms are helping to create trends around once uncommon produce, touting their nutritional superpowers.Broccoli is now trying to be the new Kale emerging as the star of food blogs and instagram feeds and whatever else is currently trending.I have recently been putting one of these broccoli based products to the test.The bacteria Helicobacter Pylori is present in two third of the world´s population (in many it lies dormant in others like myself it leaves us feeling miserable ).
H.Pylori is the only known bacteria to survive in the highly acidic environment of the stomach.The product in question contains a natural extract found in fresh broccoli, brassicare. The manufacturers claim "that it has been proven to be an effective anti-bacterial agent for H.pylori and can prevent and cure stomach ulcers and other gut problems it causes".They also claim "it has proven antioxidant properties which act as a booster of the detoxifying system (in particular the liver)".This helps the body counter the negative effects of modern life.
There´s hurly there´s burly but Mary Brazzle is always in equilibrium:increased stress,unbalanced diet,alcohol consumption
The current path used by most doctors, mine included, is to prescribe antibiotics, but it has been pretty well proven in my own case and others alike that this tough bacteria is resistant to any antibiotic on the market.So that route will not destroy H.Pylori but also can upset the already delicate balance of friendly flora in the gut actually making the situation worse.Well the good news is surprisingly in this case the manufacturers claims are true. It has worked for me and at the end of a 30 day course of one tablet a day, I have found that it has not been enough to wipe out this nasty bacteria completely but has significantly contributed to a noticeable improvement in my condition.And to think it comes from something as basic as broccoli!!!!being pleased with the result I thought I would put fresh broccoli further to the test......

Detoxifying green smoothie with 
broccoli apple and celery

If the thought of raw broccoli in your smoothie has you running in the opposite direction, wait just a minute. I won’t try to convince you of its mighty healthy powers (that is a bit of a lie,after all we are talking about broccoli,one of nature´s best foods).I am going to share a secret with you,(and dont worry I´m not going to get you tangled up in my insides).You can hide the taste of of your broccoli in your smoothie.Pulverize it to oblivion if you wish,top it with banana,almond milk and honey to sweeten the result,but just add the broccoli.Start with just a bit then gradually increase the amount to 1 cup florets per smoothie. Impressed?-I think you will be.Cooking broccoli will cause valuable vitamins to be lost as they leak into the water.The more you cook it,the more it will leak and lose its powers.Who needs powerless broccoli.Its bad enough that we have to eat it at all, but if it is not doing us any good what is the point of eating it at all.Hide your broccoli in your smoothie because your broccoli itself is hiding a lot of minerals and vitamins within it.Make a habit of it and it will help will help detoxify your body,helping it to be healthy and to fight infection and disease.The vitamin C alone helps repair cells.

1 cup broccoli florets
1 rib of celery
1 apple
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 small banana
12 tsp raw honey
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup water
add to blender,blend,drink,enjoy and get healthy

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Corvina baiana moqueca with farofa

The bright summer colours of a Brazilian Moqueca
Whilst dining out at Aquasul restaurant in Tavira the other night I had a strong premonition confirmed for me.For some time now I have had a feeling that the cuisine of Brazil,South America's largest country is set to be the next big thing.When the waitress came to take our orders she informed us of the specials.We had a choice of lamb shank or a Moqueca.She went on to explain Moqueca .Because of my premonition I already had prior knowledge of the dish.The fact that the chef in this restaurant in mainland Portugal, and more exclusively Tavira, the prettiest town on the East Algarve had chosen to put this dish on his menu was proof of this.This vibrant moqueca, a thick seafood stew, hails from Bahia, the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture in the country's north-east.It definitely has a Latin American Portuguese feel to it.Featuring boneless white firm fish fillets such as hake, corvina ( grouper) and sea bass the result is a fish stew with red and green peppers and hot piri piri, mellowed by coconut milk.To give this dish its true authenticity it should be served with farofa.Farofa, manioc flour fried in butter, is served all over South America with all kinds of dishes.You can serve the moqueca without the farofa, if you prefer, but it helps to sop up the soupy liquid from the stew.Manioc or cassava root is one of the most popular ingredients in Brazilian cuisine. Traditionally food of the poor, cassava is so versatile and healthy that is used in many different ways.In this case it is served as a side dish replacing potato.
Manioc is a fundamental ingredient of Brazil’s indigenous tribes, and is rich in minerals such as calcium, iron and phosphorus, vitamins of the complex B and potassium. Absence of gluten makes it ideal for people suffering from coeliac disease.Farofa is the term for a side dish using toasted farinha de mandioca—in English, manioc flour, which is a dried flour similar in looks and texture to breadcrumbs. The making of farofa as a dish couldn't be easier.Beware, farofa can be extremely dry, since the manioc flour immediately sucks up all the juices from anything it encounters, especially when it's served plain. The trick to making a moist farofa is to use a small amount of manioc flour in proportion to the other components, turning a side dish into a savoury accompaniment that is so tempting, you may even forget there is a main course.

Corvina baiana moqueca with farofa
This recipe would traditionally use Dendê Oil (Azeite-de-dendê)but for two reasons I have not used it see the Note below*.Peanut oil coloured with paprika or annato oil (poor mans saffron) will give the dish the same intense colour but with a healthier result

1kg skinless firm white fish  (such as corvina or grouper), 
pin-boned, cut into 3cm cubes
1/3 cup (80ml) lime juice
1/4 cup (60ml) peanut oil coloured with paprika
*
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 green capsicum, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 short red chillies, finely chopped
2 cups (500ml) fish stock
400g can chopped tomatoes
270ml can coconut milk
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil

6 large green prawns, peeled (tails intact), deveined
Coriander leaves, to serve
Farofa, to serve 
 
Place fish in a large ceramic dish and toss with 2 tablespoons lime juice and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Chill for 30 minutes to marinate. Meanwhile, heat peanut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion for 10 minutes until really soft.
Add capsicum, garlic and chilli, then cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for a further 25 minutes or until capsicum is softened.
Stir in stock, tomatoes, coconut milk and coconut oil. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 20-25 minutes until slightly reduced.
Add prawns, fish and marinating juices, then cook for a further 8-10 minutes until the seafood is just cooked. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice and season to taste. Serve with farofa.
FOR THE FAROFA
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups manioc flour
Flor de sal and freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the manioc flour and toast it to a light golden color, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly, otherwise the flour will burn. Set aside. 

*IMPORTANT NOTE- Dendê Oil (Azeite-de-dendê)

Bahian cooking without dendê is unthinkable. It's an almost-omnipresent ingredient there and an essential part of the typical Bahian cuisine.
Dendê oil and its consumption by humans is a controversial topic among botanists and nutritionists. On the positive side, the bright red-orange color of the oil is due to the presence of high levels of carotenes - alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lycophene. These phytonutrients are all highly beneficial to humans and have significant anti-oxidant properties. Studies show that dendê has up to 15 times as much beta-carotene as carrots. It is also a source of tocotrienol, part of the vitamin E family.
On the other hand, dendê oil is highly saturated, and the consumption of large quantities of saturated fats has been shown to have deleterious health effects in humans, primarily an increase in cholesterol levels.  Dendê does not contain cholesterol, only animal fats do that, but highly-saturated fats can contribute to increased levels of cholesterol in humans, both LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and HDL ("good" cholesterol). 
The use of palm oil in food products has attracted the concern of environmental activist groups; the high oil yield of the trees has encouraged wider cultivation, leading to the clearing of forests in parts of Indonesia and Malaysia to make space for oil-palm monoculture. This has resulted in significant acreage losses of the natural habitat of the two extant species of orangutan. One species in particular, the Sumatran orangutan, has been listed as critically endangered. In 2004, an industry group called the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil was formed to work with the palm oil industry to address these concerns. Additionally, in 1992, in response to concerns about deforestation, the Government of Malaysia pledged to limit the expansion of palm oil plantations by retaining a minimum of half the nation's land as forest cover.
It definitely has a Latin American/Portuguese t