Sunday, 26 August 2018

Takin' It to the Streets

Once again our tabards have come out of the closet to get an airing.We have been jesting and japing, jousting and jollying.Tascas and tabernas have been popping up all over town, and street food is the order of the day.20,000 people supposedly have been on the streets of Castro Marim every night this week and they all need feeding.We took to the streets and see whats on offer...
The return of this annual festival always makes me curious about the concept of medieval fast food.There are some surprising parallels that can be drawn between medieval fast food consumption and modern fast food consumption. Medieval people generally viewed fast food as a kind of last resort of the poor –cheap low-quality food prepared dubiously by shady characters, unwholesome and unhealthy. Many modern fast food establishments enjoy a similarly bad reputation; social media and the press keeps us posted with news about the fundamentally unhealthy nature of fast food, and yet fast food consumption continues to rise. When we look at who ate and eats fast food, a stark pattern emerges: convenient, prepared foods, however unhealthy, are still disproportionately consumed by those with few economic resources.
Street food has always been renowned for being at the forefront of food innovation and therefore should be more than a pig on a spit,pork in a bun that pulls no punches, or a bit of Donna and the kebabs.There is a limit to the amount of crepes, buddha bowls,seitan burgers and falafels one new age person can eat.But looking at some of the more sophisticated offerings that are being purveyed, perhaps one should pay closer attention and take note.Todays cutting edge street food could be tomorrows Michelin star?
Street food is a relatively narrow category of food. Ready-to-eat, intended to be consumed immediately. Purchased from a hawker, or vendor, in a street or other public place, such as at a market or fair. This style of eating is in contrast to made-to-order foods (as would be available in inns or taverns or similar establishments) It is often sold from a portable food booth, food cart, or food truck and meant for immediate consumption. Some street foods are regional, but many have spread beyond their region of origin. Most street foods are classed as both finger food and fast food, and are cheaper on average than restaurant meals.Bread and ale were prevalent in medieval towns and cities, and buns or baps soon became the carrier for portions of cured or cooked meat.These foods are roughly equivalent to modern fast food, and were a unique facet of the history of urban food. Fast foods found in towns in the middle ages included spiced meat and fish pasties; cooked meats, game, and poultry (wild and domestic); “cheesecakes” and flans made of eggs, bread, cheese; and of course many varieties of pies.

On my street learning crusade I stumbled upon one such stall selling what appeared to be little pies.They were called pão do tesouro, and on closer examination were what turned out to be molten, garlicky cheese breads, which made me relish them with gusto.I did some further research and discovered that there is a very old Portuguese recipe called "O Tesouro escondidinho no Pão" This literally translates as "The hidden treasure in the bread" The treasure you hide in it can be anything from vegetarian, fish, shellfish, sausage or even small macaroni type pasta.What a great idea.I took the treasured pie home and set about creating a replicant.

"O Tesouro escondidinho no Pão"
makes 6
6 pão bijou or miniature bread rolls
100g alho Françes (Leeks)
2 dentes de alhosesmagado (2 cloves garlic crushed ) 
25g manteiga sem sal (unsalted butter)
1 colherada farinha (tablespoon flour)
150ml leite gordo ( full fat milk )
1 colherada vinho branco (tbsp white wine)
1 colher de chá mascarpone
50g chevre
50g parmegiano reggiano

Chop the leek finely.Sauteé the leek in the butter until glistening and soft.Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes.Remove the pan from the heat,add the milk and white wine and return the pan to a medium heat stirring constantly until the sauce thickens,stir in the three cheeses and some chopped parsley.Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile slice a lid off the top of each roll and scoop out enough dough to allow the bread to be filled with the sauce.When the sauce is cool spoon the filling into the bread rolls and replace the tops.wrap each bread in a piece of foil so it is completely sealed and bake on a baking tray for 40 minutes at 180c.After 30 minutes remove the foil and lids. continue cooking them unwrapped for the last 10 minutes.Discard the foil but keep the lids warm.When ready remove the breads to a serving platter and replace the lids slightly off centre.Eat
with gusto. 
Back on the street again,smoky whiffs of grilling beckoned.The fragrances of Mediterranean spices mingled with others not so appealing.Charcoal cinders and dust filling the often acrid and arid evening air. All combined with the deathly smell of octopus tentacles and tuna drying on a hot grill! yes thin slices of tuna and octopus tentacles dry grilling without any oil or seasoning on them.A delicacy I was assured by its purveyor but I decided to pass.Could we see this being adopted on a novochic Avillez menu one day? He´s done "Greek street"this summer so next stop another Mediteranean "street."There’s a time and place for fine dining, but in 2018, street food staples like some that I have mentioned here should be given more than just a paper bag or cardboard container.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Drink your greens, and lose weight the chayote way

Its better for you than any Um Bongo.
I have to admit that I have always been a victim for trying out a particular food or drink  when the media is flagging it up as being good for you.Our mothers always told us "eat your greens" but hey mums, how about if we "drink our greens? It’s still summer so we carry on eating our glossy green salads with mint, celery and basil, and still its normal we  crave a lie down later.But what if we were to consume our greens another way and get energized? And after a cruel summer of chocolate, ice cream and cocktails, get that wasp waist back again? What would you say to that? I can see my dear mother grimacing in her grave as I tap this keyboard.I have tried many a green smoothie over the past few years and I have to say with great success.Carbohydrate squared is always the way forward.First came my cool summer hit,a Melon and ginger smoothie followed by the Green Genie,and more recently a detoxifying green smoothie with broccoli apple and celery.Now I just needed a new kitchen challenge, so I concocted a slightly different green smoothie, one that I hoped would not only be beneficial to my well being, but one that I  could really enjoy.
I have recently re-discovered the wonder that is the chayote.Often called the vegetable pear,chu chu, chayote, christophene, xuxu, mirliton, or sayote, it’s not actually from the pear family,but you can call it what you will. It’s high in fibre, vitamin C and vitamin B. It’s got really good properties that help lower your blood pressure,lower your cholesterol levels and help you lose weight.My dear mum could never get her head round cholesterol.She considered anyone who mentioned the word cholesterol a hypochondriac.
Chayote Smoothie
1/2 chayote
1/2 granny smith apple cored and de-pipped
2 cups green melon
1 celery rib
1 tablespoon honey optional
Juice from one lemon (only if making in advance)
Spring Water (if you want it thinner)
Blend all the ingredients.  If it is too thick, then add water,or if you prefer coconut water

I found that many smoothies required a banana for optimum flavour and texture,not so this one.
 Although I wouldn´t reccomend it, this can be made the night before but it will lose its colour.Lemon juice, or a similar acidifier, will help delay this discolouration.and you may need a corresponding addition of honey once you are ready to drink your smoothie.

Add mint to your smoothie if you ever get bored of it! It really changes the flavour!

This smoothie is loaded with phytonutrients, and it´s filling. It is definitely a meal in a glass. When I was testing this recipe I enjoyed every sip and felt very energized for hours afterward.

It will help you lose weight – the chayote is a veggie that contains a very low amount of calories,16  in 100 grams. This means that it can be seen in the nutritional content table at a very high number,because the chayote also contains no cholesterol and no saturated fats at all! Also, the chayote contains a lot of fibre. This is why it is such a recommended food for those people who are eagerly trying to lose some weight.

Will lower your cholesterol levels – when it comes to the nutrient content table of the chayote, this is a veggie that does not contain any saturated fats whatsoever, even for the caloric content alone in very small amounts. So, based on these factors, the chayote is definitely used to control your overall cholesterol levels. This is why it is quite good to be used by people who are dealing with high levels of cholesterol.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Tiborna de Codorniz espalhada apimentado em cima de torrada saboroso Portuguese-style devilled spatchcock

What better way to kick off our Medieval festival? A piece of exemplary quail atop a piece of toast slathered with a piquant tomato sauce, that for me is what I call dinner.Simplicity, straightforwardness and good, honest cooking is where it’s at. Portuguese food sometimes gets a bad rap from euro critics, the likes of Giles Coren or the late AA Gill.My very own brother is not to be let off the hook here either. On a recent trip to Porto he claimed that "Portugal is not renowned for its gastronomy."My reply to all of them would be that they had chosen the wrong restaurant.Unprepossessing it maybe,basic perhaps and definitely conformist, but I have to say some of my greatest dining experiences have been since living in Portugal, particularly on a visit to Porto.

When Portugal finally shuffles off this mortal coil,one would hope, at the very least,to go out with a certain degree of style and grace and dignity.
 I thought I would put this theory to the home test.I’ve borrowed two ideas for today’s dish.Both cooking and eating it transported me just a fraction closer to the kitchen of a Portuguese avõ.

 We have a glut of basil in the garden at the moment, and so I turned to a saved Jamie Oliver tear sheet, from a back in the day Olive magazine summer supplement, to apply a true "root to stem" principle.A pungent tomato salsa freshly made,rustic looking and brimming with earthy charm made more than worthy use of both basil leaves and stalks.Two spatchcocked quails from the butcher,a loaf of  "grandmother´s" bread and dinner was ready to rock.
That this was all to be served up on toast, plain ol’ toast, like you would with beans, eggs or sardines, seemed at first to be the last humiliation for this noble bird; a final injustice. But of course, the toast was the best element, growing soggy under the weight, soaking up all the juice from the sauce; becoming perfect for mopping the plate with a fork.
Finger-lickin´good,suitably messy and definitely a no for those hoity toity people who try to tackle a prawn with a knife and fork.Tackle the birds first,wipe your chin with nice napkins,then sink your teeth into the bread and its salsa A culinary revelation,simply produced and Portuguese inspired.
Devilled quail,Portuguese style

2 quail, spatchcocked from the butcher

1/3 cup olive oil
2 limes, juiced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 spatchcocks, halved, washed, dried
Fresh oregano leaves, extra, to serve

Marinade the spatchcocks in the marinade for at least  three hours or ideally overnight.
Place on a wire rack over a roasting tray and grill skin side up for seven to eight minutes basting once with the marinade.Turn and grill them bony sides up for a further five minutes.Toast slices of rustic artisan bread and then drizzle them with olive oil and rub the edgers with garlic as you would bruschetta.Spread a spoonful of the salsa over the toast and place the spatchcocks split in half lengthways on top.Garnish with some fresh basil or parsley

Salsa Rossa
(feel free to amp up the number of chillies if you want to spice it up)
4 garlic cloves
Olive oil
bunch of fresh basil stalks,chopped
800g of tomate chucha (plum tomatoes),skinned and deseeded
1 red pepper 
2 large fat red chillies 
Fry the garlic in olive oil until golden.Add the basil stalks,stir once and then add the tomatoes and a pinch of flor de sal.
cook gently for an hour or so to let the sauce thicken and the flavours concentrate
meanwhile,toast the red pepper and chillies under a hot grill or even better on your barbie,turning now and then until they blacken and blister evenly all over.Place in a bowl and cover tightly with clingfilm.After half an hour,unwrap and carefully peel away the skins.remove the seeds and chop the flesh into small pieces.When the sauce has concentrated and thickened,take it off the heat and add the chopped pepper and chilli.Season the salsa well with salt and pepper and stir in torn up basil leaves and a couple of glugs of your best olive oil.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Dias medievais 2018

São 5 dias de regresso à Idade Média e a XXI edição dos Dias Medievais em Castro Marim, evento já reconhecido pelo rigor da recriação histórica e, simultaneamente, pela inovação que procura trazer a cada ano. É também um dos maiores eventos nacionais do género.
Pelas ruas e ruelas de Castro Marim vamos encontrar a recriação da vida quotidiana do homem da Idade Média, com a representação de todas as classes que estruturavam a sociedade na época – clero, nobreza, burguesia e povo. Guerreiros, grupos de música e de dança, cavaleiros, malabaristas, zaragateiros, cuspidores de fogo, contadores de histórias, gaiteiros, equilibristas, espadachins e contorcionistas, entre muitos outros, colorem o resto do cenário medieval. Nas mesmas ruas e ruelas encontramos todo o imaginário de uma época que carregava criaturas mitológicas, monstros, criaturas demoníacas e mágicas, que explicavam tudo o que era ainda vago e impreciso.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

A summer leftover, Chocolate muffin double almond trifle

    Defy me if I´m wrong but who doesn’t like a celebration with chocolate? Everyone likes celebrations, right? We can celebrate any event special for us, it doesn’t have to be a national or universal occasion. The most important occasion for some people to celebrate is their birthdays, while others think that their anniversary is as important. So maybe it’s not right to put them in order according to their degree of importance. Celebration is good when you experience something meaningful for you. Personally, I don’t have many special days to celebrate. I just don’t like to limit celebrations to specific dates. You might think I’m a bit weird, but I don’t care about even my own birthday. Well, that is not entirely tue, I do like receiving presents or being together with my family or friends, but not on an arranged day. If someone wants to make a person happy,they don’t need a specific day, they can do it on any ordinary day when that person least expects it! For me, this is the real way of surprising someone.Casa rosada was asked to make a surprise birthday breakfast for our guests this week.
     I thought I must make something sweet for her. She must love chocolate, so it had to be something with chocolate! Ottolenghi´s Chocolate almond cup cakes I thought, topped with some brightly coloured chocolate beads that I had bought from the cake decorating shop festooned with a colourful array of iced gem biscuits.
    Anyway to cut a long story short I slightly over filled my muffin cups and the filling spilled over and bequeathed me with some lovely chocolate trimmings which along with a couple of mutant muffins would go to make the base of a summer chocolate trifle.
    Trifle is a great dessert and a way to use leftover cakes, brownies or muffins! As you all know wasting food is my biggest bugbear and I always try to find new ways to use up leftover foods. Since two of us can’t finish cakes, there are always some leftover cakes in our house. This makes things a lot easier. When you need to make something sweet in a quick way, it’s great to know that you have some leftover cake.
    Leftover Chocolate muffin double amarguinha trifle
     I used my standard trifle recipe (Nigel Slater)but instead of amaretti cookies I used leftover chocolate muffins.The muffins already had almond licore (amarguinha) in them, so I soaked the  crumbled muffins in a few tablespoons more.The almond is technically the hard-shelled fruit of the almond tree, itself a member of the prunus family. This category of stone fruit encompasses trees and shrubs that produce edible fruit like apricots, plums, peaches and nectarines.My choice of fruit in the trifle was
    therefore guided by this in order to give the trifle a kind of double almond hit.

    455g/1lb apricots
    2 cups of leftover chocolate muffins
    6 tablespoons amarguinha,amaretto or other good quality almond liqueur
    500g peaches or plums
    250g mascarpone
    2 free range eggs, separated
    60g/2oz caster sugar
    230g/8oz crême fraiche or thick double cream 

    Halve the apricots, remove the stones and place the halves in a shallow pan of simmering water and cook for 4-5 minutes,until the tip of a knife will slide through them effortlessly. Drain and allow the fruit to cool.
    Place the crumbled muffins in the bottom of a large glass bowl.Sprinkle over the almond liqueur.Purée half the apricots in a blender and rub through a sieve. Pour the apricot purée over the amaretti biscuits.
    Scatter the remaining apricots and the rest of the fruit over the purée. Beat the mascarpone and the egg yolks in a bowl till creamy, beat in the sugar, then beat the egg whites until stiff and fold in gently.
    Place the trifle in the fridge for at least 4 hours for the flavours to blend together. Spread the crême fraiche or cream over the top of the trifle.

    Friday, 17 August 2018

    Espetadas de puntillitas de ayamonte

    When you're at the fish market visiting a peixeiro (fishmonger) you trust,don’t pass up the opportunity to buy some fresh fish, caught that morning! I was lucky enough while in the local supermarket this morning to stumble upon some local baby squid from just across the river in Ayamonte.How excited was I? Puntillitas are an Andalucian speciality.I already had a dish in mind and was going to buy some baby squid on my next visit to the market in Vila real de Santo Antonio.This however was too good an opportunity to be missed. Knowing their provenance and where they were caught,these were an extremely local speciality. They are a type of seafood that are characterized by their tenderness (if preserved and cooked as they should be) and richness in protein.Great when eaten in seafood salads or stews.In Ayamonte, where they come from, the tapas bars specialize in chocos, calamares,chipirones, puntillitas, pijotas, acedías and a whole assortment of fried fish tapas.Here  you will find puntillitas fritas...delicious but because they are fried bear in mind that the calorie count will inevitably rise.My idea was to prepare them in a more Portuguese and somewhat healthier style. I was going to grill them as posh kebabs with Chouriço and a lemon, coriander and anchovy olive oil, but still do them a bit of Spanish justice by serving lashings of smoked paprika aioli alongside.A few new potatoes in parsley butter would not go amiss either.
    Espetadas de puntillitas de ayamonte
    con chouriço e olio de limão,anchoas e coentros
    Serves 2 (or 4 as a starter )
    600g Puntillitas (baby squid)
    150g Chouriço
    2 tbsp butter
    2 garlic cloves,roughly chopped


    Handful coriander leaves
    juice of half a lemon
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1/2 tsp salt
    2large anchovy fillets in oil ,drained

    To prepare the squid:
    Firmly pull the head and innards from the body and wash the body well. Cut off the heads just below the eyes,leaving the tentacles in one piece,and discard the head.pull out the transparent quill,rinse the tube and peel off the outer membrane.cut the chouriço into about 8 chunks.Thread the pieces of squid (body and tentacles)( I tucked the tentacles inside the tubes because they were so small)and chouriço alternately onto the skewers.heat the butter and garlic in a small pan.Sizzle just until the garlic is starting to crisp up but not yet turning golden.Remove from the heat immediately as the garlic will carry on simmering in the butter as it cools.

    To make the lemon anchovy and coriander oil:
    Pulse the coriander with the lemon juice,oil, salt and anchovies i a blender until you have chunky flecks of green sauce.

    Preheat the grill.Brush the skewers with the garlic butter and grill until charred here and there(probably more noticeable on the chouriço), brushing occasionally with the butter.Take great care not to overcook - the squid must be cooked through but still tender.Serve the skewers with the lemon coriander oil.

    Wednesday, 15 August 2018

    Cerveja e tremoços, beer and lupins

    With  temperatures soaring high this summer, it's good to hear that beer, peanuts and lupins are good for health, provided they are consumed in moderate amounts and that you dont have an allergy.
    With these temperatures, the preferred drink is always water but, though you might not know it, the best exceptions are not soft drinks, but beer and red wine, which surprisingly have some beneficial effects for cardiovascular health and can increase levels of good cholesterol. Beer and red wine apparently are the two alcoholic beverages with the highest health potential.... and lupini beans are the perfect snack when it is hot.
    Beer has always occupied a very important place in my life, coming a close second to water and tea. I have never really been one for soft drinks, so if I feel like drinking something fresh, I drink beer (at breakfast is an exception but I have witnessed others partaking).It is usually accompanied by good conversation and a gathering of friends.For me beer represents relaxation. The light side of Portuguese life. It accompanies snails or prawns, lupini beans, peanuts or octopus and egg salads. It goes well with everything and everyone.
    The first time I encountered these yellow beans in a local café with a beer, I did not know what they were. In the meantime I learned to appreciate these "Petiscos" (Portuguese for "tasty little bites") as a delicious snack, especially since I found out how healthy they are!
    Lupini beans are the yellow legume seeds of Lupinus genus plants,belonging to the same plant family as peanuts, grow all over Europe and are a common snack food in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, and Egypt. The Lupini bean is a member of the pea-family. They are power-packed beans full of protein (almost as much as soy beans), fibre, and are low in oil and starch and because of that weight loss is commonly associated with eating Lupini beans. They are full of the amino acid arginine which also helps lower blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and trigs, and lowers blood sugar levels. Lupini beans also act as a pro-biotic. Be careful though, if you suffer from peanut allergy! In that case you should avoid eating Lupini beans.But how do you eat these Tremoços, as the Portuguese call them?
    The outer skin is thick and not something you want to try and chew, although our guests often place the whole thing in the mouth just as we did the first time!
    The thing to do is nip the corner of the skin with the teeth before squeezing the soft bean from inside, or pull a tiny corner off and squeeze the bean out with the fingers as we used to before being taught the correct way by a Portuguese friend. The bite and squeeze method certainly results in less of the tasty beans bouncing over the floor of the bar.
    Here at casa rosada we enjoy placing a bowl of these tasty little yellow beans in front of guests who have not visited Portugal before.
     Available in tubs, jars and huge vacuum seal packets, these lupini beans have become part of our life since we moved to Portugal. In fact I think I may have to pop to the kitchen and restock the bowl next to me,that I have just demolished while writing this post.Woops ,I think it was meant for our guests upstairs in the garden.

    Saturday, 11 August 2018

    Talking tonnato.Cold roast swordfish with caper tuna and sundried tomato mayonnaise

    Talking Italian, everybody´s talking tonnato.Chefs are taking creative liberties with the dish and, more specifically, its fish-enriched condiment. Like other sauces — bagna cauda, chimichurri or romesco, to name recent examples — it appears to be having its "meme moment". Where before people bastardized Caesar dressing, now they tonnatize with gay abandon. It has been swooshed onto seared swordfish and raw tuna.They say "Italians do it better", but this is a classic case of chefs trying to prove them wrong, and "we can do it better".Lately, the thing to do is to pair it with vegetables,"you say tomato I say tonnato" Thomasina Miers, bless her cotton socks, has taken this route with her recipe for  green bean and new potato ‘tonnato’ salad, a version loaded with vegetables, for the summer.
    Tradition be damned, unabashed classicists seem less than thrilled with the "very strange things" being done to the iconic Italian dish. They are using the word tonnato for anything that's a mayonnaise with tuna in it. . . . This is a prime example of a recipe losing its meaning, so where does it come from and how has it been led astray?
    If Anna Del Conte is to be believed (and why should Britain's Italian-born maestra of her native cuisine not be?),Milan is the owner of the original recipe.Not only does that city prefer heavy cream to eggs in its sauce, but this style of tonnato also was the first. "In the Milanese version, known as vitel toné," she wrote in "Gastronomy of Italy" (1987), "when cooked, the meat is carved and coated with a sauce made with mashed preserved tuna, anchovy fillets and capers diluted with the pureed cooking juices, lemon juice and a couple of tablespoons of cream. The Piedmontese version, influenced by nearby France, is made with mayonnaise instead of cream." The other distinguishing difference, she added, is that while in Piedmont the dish is always served cold, in Milan, it's eaten hot.Perhaps the riffs started in 1954, when Elizabeth David wrote "Italian Food" she edited out the anchovies, and, an was an early advocate for repurposing the sauce.Her "Tunny Fish Mayonnaise" was "excellent for all kinds of cold dishes, particularly chicken or hard-boiled eggs, for sandwiches or for filling raw tomatoes for an hors d'oeuvre."
    The River cafes Ruth Rogers and the late Rose Gray, who often consulted David's recipes to develop their own, turned to Marcella Hazan's "The Classic Italian Cook Book" (1976) for their vitello tonnato. Unlike Rogers, a stickler for the traditional pairing of veal with the sauce, Hazan, who acknowledged that meat's superior flavour and texture, offered less-expensive turkey breast and pork loin as more than acceptable alternatives. And with regards to method,while Hazan, the legendary cookbook author from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, blends her tuna into the sauce in a food processor, at the River Cafe, they stir the fish into their mayonnaise. 
    More recently Porcini mushrooms and garlic have been putting in an appearance, and potatoes  deployed as a thickening agent. The resulting sauce in whatever form has also been going down first on the plate rather than being poured over the top as was the norm.The tonnato was now becoming the underdog being used as a fixing point
    for whatever chefs decided to throw on top.So however tonnato is made and applied,I´ll let you decide.Comedian Peter Kay might have been heard to say "fish and meat,you dirty b.....d".I have taken the veal out of the equation altogether and  and gone for a purely fish dish.......
    Cold roast swordfish with caper tuna
    and sundried tomato mayonnaise
    Swordfish is the kind of fish you want to have around in the summertime. Set aside some time to make a proper summer lunch and the rewards are many. Here, the sauce gives a boost of flavour to mild, meaty swordfish.It's perfect in summer for a buffet, served with tiny new potatoes and a lemony, green salad.
    1kg piece of swordfish, skin on
    2 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
    110 ml dry white wine
    2 tbsp olive oil
    black pepper
    chopped parsley, for sprinkling

    For the caper, tuna and sun-dried tomato mayonnaise:
    8 tbsp mayonnaise
    1 1/2 tbsp capers
    3 tinned anchovies, finely diced
    100 g tinned tuna
    2 tbsp sun-dried tomato purée
    black pepper
    squeeze of lemon juice

    Preheat the oven to 190ºC/gas 5.
    Cut small slits in the swordfish and push in the garlic slivers.
    Place the swordfish skin side up in a shallow, lightly oiled baking dish. Pour over the wine, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
    Roast the swordfish, basting often, for 40-45 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. Remove from the oven and cool, basting now and then with its cooking juices.
    Meanwhile, mix together the mayonnaise, capers, diced anchovy fillets, tuna and sun-dried tomato puree. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and mix in a squeeze of lemon juice.
    To serve, slice the swordfish as thinly as possible,as you would if it was veal, discard the skin and arrange the slices on a dish.
    Spread the fish with the mayonnaise and scatter with parsley. Serve. 

    Wednesday, 8 August 2018

    Besotted by locals- "Uma Tasca em Familia"

    The East Algarve, ( the old, real part of Portugal ) is impressively managing to establish itself on the international culinary scene, and despite the area continuing to increase in popularity for visitors, local restaurants remain proud to showcase the very best traditional regional dishes to devoted foodies. Salty or spicy grilled meats, fuss free seafood and hearty family stews await hungry travellers in the Algarve.Alongside sun-drenched beaches and historical villages, the East Algarve  is packed with choices for anyone with a passion for simple, lovingly prepared local food.
    But for food lovers looking to delve deeper into the culinary delights of the region, dining with the locals is a foolproof way to ensure you are sampling some of the best dishes south eastern Portugal serves up. From beach bars to remote hilltop restaurants, here is how to eat inexpensive but delicious food while rubbing shoulders with Algarvians.A fine example of where travellers, expats,nomads, wanderers, ramblers and locals alike is found just 500 yards from our house.A Tasca Medieval is a traditional tavern with a more than welcoming pleasant and informal atmosphere.The friendliness and professionalism in the reception you are given are a constant.The cook ,her husband, their son and her dog are what make this place somewhere to nurture, Ligia,Antonio, Gonçalo and Milka are the role model family business, exhibiting great service, especially when compared to some other restaurants on the Algarve coastline.Donna Ligia is an excellent cook with a contagious smile that you just can´t but love. A truly lovely family, good home made food and that one unforgettable starter that they always remember I like so I dont even have to order it, I have christened it Salada Ligia.
    On our last visit I quietly whispered across the table to the thespian that our Pork secretos were missing their signature fried egg sitting atop. Not to be outdone in his professionalism, in a matter of minutes Gonçalo, Ligia´s son appeared bearing a platter with two of the most perfectly fried eggs I have ever seen.Given the incredibly busy nature of the restaurant his friendliness is exceptional.

    This is a fabulous restaurant which is well used by locals for their lunch.
    I have noticed recently some of Ligia´s lunchtime specials " polvo lagereiro" "Lingua de vaca no forno", to mention just two of my Portuguese all time favourites. Service aside,this brings me to "THE cataplana".This can be pre-ordered but if you dont know or forget or just decide on a whim that you "feel like cataplana tonight"you will be told that it will be a 40 minute wait.Well whats 40 minutes when you are out of an evening? Whilst you wait there are plenty of other delicious distractions in the form of fresh bread and butter,sardine paste,grilled morcela sausage and of course Salada Ligia,a delicious dish of queijo fresco (fresh goat's or sheep's cheese) covered by sliced tomatoes and garnished with dried oregano and olive oil.Oh how time flies when you are enjoying yourselves.This more than keeps me happy while I wait and the Thespian pops out for a fag break.Well there should be a fanfare of trumpets to announce the arrival of the cataplana,a huge sharing dish full of prawns, langoustines, crab claws, green lipped mussels,clams, crayfish,tomato, onion, green pepper in a delicious broth - FAN-bloody TASTIC!For small eaters,myself excluded, the dish that is portioned for two to share has the possibility of stretching to three...No sir, not while I'm around, Demons are prowling everywhere nowadays,I'll send them howling, I don't care..." Obviously this is a fiddly dish to eat and I have omitted the first part of the ritual which is the applying of the bib so you don´t get bits of seafood dripping down the front of your new Dona Karan.Delicious and at €25 for two people is a steal. Much better value than the more popular hot spots along the coast where you can expect to pay double that.
     I love you guys and I can't praise you enough!The cooking of the dishes they serve and the wine list are at the level of many good restaurants in the capital.This is traditional food extremely well made with emphasis on regional products. The price is spot on.We are so proud to have you here in Castro Marim,"My friends" Keep us a table Antonio,we know you are now so busy mas não estamos acostumados a fazer uma reserva!!! 

    Monday, 6 August 2018

    A "first course" in Spanish - tapas

    You maybe short of time, and maybe a little short on cooking skills. But as summer yawns into August, there's no need to shy away from the kitchen. Instead, simplify.The desire to not turn on your oven combined with the plethora of summer produce means that cooking becomes less of a worry. In fact, it's a fun and inspirational challenge to see just how long you can go without turning your kitchen into a sauna in the middle of August.
    The main goal of summer cooking is simple: Buy all the fresh produce and try to not turn on the oven. At all. If you must, boil some pasta or sauté some prawns with garlic on the hob, but that hot box called "THE OVEN" should remain off as much as possible. How do you cope? I hear you say.There are outdoor grills, barbecues,but the bulk of your efforts should concentrate on assembly, which is basically cooking without the heat.

    "making cold soup is not cooking,it is responding appropriately to seasonal circumstances

    For example, last night's dinner involved the following: A platter of sliced tomatoes, mozzarella , avocado, drizzled with home made Asian style pesto and then strewn with herbs and salt,Try a simple crisp green salad with shaved radishes, raw carrots and beetroot;Stir fried prawns and garlic; Iberican ham,boquerones; figs, soft fresh goats cheese and pistachios  and a loaf of crusty bread, a nice cheese, and a decent bottle of rosé. There you have it — some pretty delicious dinners with just the tiniest bit of applied heat.
    Dont chastise yourself this is not "lazy cooking," it is responding appropriately to seasonal circumstances. In other words, this is smart cooking, this is inspired cooking, this is living-in-the-moment cooking. No apologies necessary. If the cultural identity of a country is wrapped up in its food, it's fair to say tapas is more than just a pre-dinner snack.Take a lesson from the Spanish and make a delicious spread of simple appetisers Tapas is fast, easy, tasty as hell and made for sharing. Plus, it's gastronomy's most social food, made for those slow lunches that roll into the night, and into the third bottle of wine.What better when demanding friends need to be fed, you wont have to be a slave to the oven night after night.
    In principle tapas is a slice of bread topped with any ingredients, served hot or cold, and eaten with fingers or a fork. It's something to be done before a meal, but then tapas can often replace a meal. The point of tapas is that you're not locked into a formal meal. There's very little commitment in sampling tapa. The only thing universally agreed on is how it's eaten:invariably with a drink.Here are 6 of my favourites.......

    Gazpacho shots,why not have 3 shots at it?
    Three super cool soups for a hot sultry summer meal.Traditional recipes for making samorejo and ajo blanco came from Elizabeth Luards book "The food of Spain and Portugal. "The beetroot gazpacho is a casa rosada signature dish.

    Honey glazed Chouriço pinchos with garlic  ( pictured above)
    250 g semi-cured whole iberico chorizo
    2 cloves garlic
    4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
    1 tablespoon runny honey

    Slice the chorizo into 2cm rounds. Put into asmall frying pan with a splash of olive oil and toss occasionally until golden and crisp.Lightly bash 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic with the heel of your hand or the bottom of a saucepan and add to the pan.Carefully drain away most of the fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon of it behind. Add the sherry vinegar and runny honey and leave to reduce down to a really sticky glaze. Keep an eye on it, giving the pan a shake every so often so it doesn’t catch.

    Pimientos Piquillos Rellenos 
    piquillo peppers stuffed with just about anything
    A "tapa" that is light and easy - and no cooking involved! A great dish for the summer or any time you want to prepare an appetizer quickly. Mix tuna with a bit of green onions, black olives and parsley, then stuff into roasted red peppers and serve.Any of your favourite dips would suffice as alternatives.Pea mousse LPA shown below.

    Pan con tomate (Spanish toast)
    All you need for this simple Spanish snack is good-quality olive oil, bread, garlic, a ripe tomato, and a sprinkle of sea salt.Only 5 ingredients, only 5 minutes to prepare
    1 (6") piece of baguette, halved lengthwise

    1 clove garlic

    2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

    1 very ripe large tomato

    Coarse sea salt, to taste
    Toast bread on a griddle until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Rub garlic over cut surface of bread and drizzle with oil.Put a box grater into a large bowl and grate tomato over largest holes, discarding skin. Spoon grated tomato onto toast and sprinkle with sea salt.

    Gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns)
    One of the most common "tapas" of Spain, this dish is quick, easy and full of garlic flavour.No recipe needed 

    Figs in a blanket
    Prosciutto wrapped around fresh figs? Mascarpone cheese and Dijon mustard stuffed  figs,wrapped  in an extremely thin slice of presunto serrano and then finished with a topping of coarsely chopped pistachio
    Pairing the fresh, savoury flavour of prosciutto with sweet rich figs and then stuffing them with this Dijon mustard-based cream creates a contrast to the lightly vinegared mustard and naturally sweet mascarpone.Topping the figs with coarsely chopped pistachios gives the dish a nutty salty finish.YUM!!!!!

    Wednesday, 1 August 2018

    Pudding basins in Summer?

    As deliciously retro as Fanny Craddock would have presented it!!!!!

    Summer pudding is an English classic – and this savoury take makes a succulent, refreshing alternative to sugary berries. Serve this cold after putting it in the fridge overnight. Eat with a green salad and any other summery accompaniments you fancy – boiled eggs and olives are both good.Now regarded as a traditional,almost quintessential midsummer dessert,summer is not summer without making a summer pudding.The correct fruits that go to make a true British summer pudding are hard to find here in the Algarve.The strawberry season is over by the end of June and that just leaves us with raspberries and blueberries,the latter of which are not a traditional ingredient of this summer concoction.My mother sometimes cheated and bulked up with tinned fruits but I am not going down that road.
     So warm summer days and the nostalgic sweet and melting nostalgic taste of an old-fashioned  summer pudding.But hey-ho the taste of savoury bread puddings too are much loved and not forgotten.In the absence of black and red juicy fruits my thoughts,alongside a couple of British culinary doyennes, turn to luscious summer tomatoes,red peppers and black olives to make a vegetarian alternative.You dont need to be a vegetarian to love this one.I modelled mine on a mutant of that famous and much loved Italian putanesca sauce,and a traditional ratatouille.Jennifer Patterson( much revered half of the two fat ladies) thought this up while daydreaming over that splendid Italian peasant dish Panzanella.Sophie Grigson considered it the perfect dish for a lazy summer lunch.I was just daydreaming.
    Savoury summer pudding
    Two essentials.You must find really good sweet tomatoes,not those tasteless Dutch ones.Second, the bread you choose to line the pudding basin must be thinly sliced otherwise the wonderful red juices wont seep through and stain the bread.
    2 red onions
    2 cloves garlic
    1 large red pepper
    1 orange pepper
    1kg fresh vine ripened tomatoes
    2 tbsp concentrated tomato purée
    50g capers,rinsed and drained
    1 mild fresh chilli deseeded and chopped
    1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    celery salt and pepper to taste