Thursday, 27 September 2018

Figos da Índia Portugueses,uma fruta cheia de benefícios

The fig tree, Opuntia ficus-indica, was brought from America to Europe at the time of the voyages of discovery, having adapted itself to where the weather conditions were more favourable.In Portugal, it was mainly in the Algarve and Alentejo. 
 It is also known as piteira, devil-fig, tabaio or tabaibo or Barbary fig, more commonly the prickly pear.The cultivation of the Indian fig tree in Portugal is only as recent as 2010. Up until then it had appeared wild, on the borders of rural roads and farmland. The only way the fruit was collected was by individuals foraging it.In recent years, orchard plantations have begun to appear throughout most of the country, a professional association has been formed, a cooperative of growers,and new uses have been found, as a result processed products have emerged.
 Nelson Ventura,manager,Confraria do Figo da Índia at a recent tasting in Supermercado Intermarche,Vila Real de Santo Antonio,uma parceria entre a Confraria do figo da india e a empresa Pepe Aromas
Events (fairs, seminars, workshops) have begun to take place.These fruits are virtually unknown and have a limited consumption,something we consider to be a niche market.If growers are going to make a sustainable living by their product it has to have a broader market.There is a growing market for"exotic products", particularly those with organic certification.This is a market which attracts a range of customers, like myself, looking for new,rare and unfamiliar things.
The market for fresh harvested figs as an exotic food item will always be limited.However it is not just the fruit but the entire Indian fig tree that has wider uses than just being part of the food in our shopping trolley.
 The marketing of further applications will support the sustainable farming of this plant.The seeds can be used in the production of oil for cosmetic products and is one of the most sought after oils in the world.The fibre of the Indian fig when dried can be applied to furniture and fashion accessories.The flowers when dried can be used in many infusions with remedial properties and to improve bodily functions.Studies demonstrate positive results pharmaceutically in the treatment and healing processes of cancer psoriasis,eczema,muscle pain,inflammation of the respiratory and digestive tracts,blood pressure, liver,diabetes,atherosclerosis and ulcers.
The young cladodes or flattened leaf like stems are usually considered to be modified branches, and can be used in vinaigrettes for salads, for animal fodder and in processed fruit products.
Harvesting may be a challenge, but growing them is definitely not. They easily reproduce by seed and also by stem fragments detaching and rooting to form new plants. No wonder these plants have now naturalised across Portugal. This might be great for anyone who enjoys making jam, jellies, juice, licores or dressings.Judging by the response I have been getting from our guests here at Casa Rosada, this fig is going to become part of the breakfast table.If we all adopt this fruit in our diets then we can enable an increase in demand and production, resulting in Portugal being able to join other countries exporting the fruit globally.I am sure this could be a breakthrough product in some of the UK supermarkets ,but we must be be quick or Brexit will get in the way.
For a prickly pear mojito and other adaptable recipes click here.
 

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Colour my world

You'll never see a dark cloud
Hanging 'round me
Now there is only blue sky
To surround me
There's never been a grey day
Since you found me
Everything I touch
Is turning to gold
So you can colour my world
With sunshine yellow each day

Just what is going on? We are three days into Autumn and it is hotter than August.The last two days the temperature has reached 36º C (97ºF) Well I am sorry, but I dont want to sit down to a meal of hot food in that temperature, so I am still rustling up and concocting salads.When I say salad I mean something that radiates colour on the plate.Music very often accompanies me while I am cooking and I have recently been having some great sixties moments.Back in the day  "Downtown" immediately made me a Peculiar Clark fan and was the first single I ever bought in good old 1965.This was followed by so many more great songs but surprisingly, so many never made the British charts."Colour my world" was just one of these inexplicable misfires.Perhaps it was just "a sign of the times" but what I have never understood is that this single is one of the happiest and most positive songs known to man - in a decade where there were so many such wonders that have left such an indelible impression a lifetime later. By what cruel twist of fate did this magnificent single fail to even touch the chart back in 1967? It's every bit as good as Downtown, and my other two favourites of hers, Don't Sleep In The Subway and I know a place and has all the hallmarks of greatness, both of Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent's brilliant songwriting, and of the 60s generally. The only thing I can think of which might have worked against it is that the public at the time just couldn't associate the sound of the sitar with the voice of Petula Clark.Well back to what I was doing when I spotified the song on my computer.From the very first bar I felt a salad coming on... "Colour your world with sunshine yellow each day"she belted.Construct my everyday salads with lots of different colours, get  creative and have some fun with them, I thought.But what do you call an everyday salad that is bright and colourful? I was stumped for what to call this salad. Polychromatic salad? Spectrum salad? Rainbow salad? I went through a full gamut of words but nothing spoke to me.I thought of that great educational book for kids I Can Eat A Rainbow by Annabel Karmel but still I really couldn’t figure out what to call this salad.I finally ended up naming it Patala salad after its inspiration Petula.
Petula is a feminine name used most commonly in Latin based languages commonly accepted to mean ‘to seek’ or ‘to go forward’ from interpretation of the Latin word Petulare. The use of similar names can be traced back to early Tribal or Sanskrit Languages. This perhaps contributes the foreign or exotic ring to the name Petula. The exact origin of the name is a combination of similar syllables all having in common a mystical, desired or sought after quality.Patala of Sanskrit origin- an underworld kingdom of ageless and shimmering radiance, described as more beautiful even than the heavens or the earth.

on the plate
 This is more of a guideline than a recipe for how to create your own version.The idea is to mix cooked and raw vegetables together. There are no rules but rather a guide to the fruits and vegetables you can choose from each colour to create your own beautiful, fresh and colourful salad.The smoked salmon could be substituted with prosciutto or other type of ham.

Patala salad
1 small oak leaf lettuce,cavolo nero,kale or other dark leaves
6 medium purple potatoes quartered
1 small red onion chopped
2 carrots cut into thin batons 
6  runner beans cut into thin strands
1 each of small red yellow and orange peppers
1 cup fava beans
1/2 cup garden peas
4 breakfast radishes,thinly sliced
12 small cherry tomatoes of assorted colours, red, yellow, orange

1 x 220g packet of smoked salmon

FOR THE DRESSING
1tbsp creme fraiche
2 heaped teaspoons horseradish sauce
Boil the purple potatoes as you would any potato,drain and set aside.Toss the carrot batons in some oil to coat and place them on a roasting tray in a moderate oven until cooked (about 25 minutes).Lightly pan fry the peppers until they soften.Set aside.Boil the broad beans,rinse and remove their skins.Boil the peas with a little salt and sugar.Set aside.Boil the runner beans till soft but still retaining a bite(10 minutes)Prepare the rest of the vegetables and then make the dressing by mixing the creme fraiche with the horseradish.When cold toss the potaoes and the red onion in the dressing and put in the refrigerator until ready to make the salad.
To prepare the salad,line a shallow salad bowl with the lettuce leaves and spoon the potato and onion mixture to fill the well in the middle.Top with a layer of torn smoked salmon and then mix all the rest of the ingredients and pile up on top.Finish with more smoked salmon pieces.
VARIATIONS ON THE THEME

Purple potatoes/ red potatoes
chayote
red cabbage
roasted baked or steamed diced butternut squash
radishes
peas
courgettes
broccoli
green beans
fava beans
tomatoes
carrots
beetroot
red pepper,yellow pepper
red onion,pickled red onion
avocado

Add up to 1/2 a cup whole grains and/or legumes to make it a more substantial and filling, higher-protein meal:
Quinoa
Cous Cous
Brown rice
Pearl barley
Black eye beans
Chickpeas
Puy lentils
White kidney beans or mixed beans

ALTERNATIVE DRESSING IDEAS
The dressing is the most fun part, don’t you think? There are so many choices! My favourite ingredients for creating your own salad dressings are:
Fresh herbs. Cilantro, parsley, basil, mint.
Nut Butters. Peanut, cashew, almond.
Vinegars. Rice, apple cider, balsamic.
Fresh garlic, onion and ginger.
Citrus. lemon, lime, orange.
Sea Salt and Black Pepper.
Miso, tamarind paste.pomegranate molasses
Dijon Mustard,grain mustard,English mustard
Spices and dried herbs. Ginger, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, onion powder.
Soy sauce, tamari
Oils, olive, avocado, sesame,sunflower
If you’re stocked up on all of those ingredients, you can make endless variations of healthy salad dressings. That’s about everything you’d ever need to create salad dressings and just about any other combination you can think of.

More colourful salad Ideas
Chilli roasted pumpkin salad
serves 4
400g (14oz) Butternut pumpkin,peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2-3 dried red chillis
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
3 large juicy cloves garlic
Flor de sal and cracked black pepper
400g (14oz) can of chickpeas (grao bica) drained and rinsed
1 cup coriander leaves
1 long red chilli,thinly sliced
1 cup baby rocket leaves ( Rucola selvagem) 
Put the coriander seeds and dried chillies in a Mortar and pestle.Bash them to a rough powder.place the butternut squash in a roasting pan.Toss to coat with olive oil and then sprinkle with the chilli powder.Season with salt and pepper.Roast for 15 minutes or until the pumpkin is cooked and golden.Place the pumpkin, chick peas,coriander,chilli and rocket in a bowl.When ready to serve gently toss with the dressing and transfer to serving plates.
Slada Batata Hilwa (Moroccan sweet potato salad)with preserved lemon

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Flor de sal, a tomato and a glass of wine

A tomato is one of those things that you can almost always feel good about eating

Photos:Jane Bryan
Tomate:Dona Isabel
Realizaçao: Jorge Raiado, Salmarim
 
 A visit to the Sapal in Castro Marim always gives visitors such pleasure and with the added bonus of an afternoon snack and a glass of wine what more could one ask for.This is a simple pleasure that money cant buy.
Afternoon Snack: Salt and Tomatoes
This is seriously the easiest snack ever....oh so simple! Take an idyllic location,find one old landed rowing boat, take your favourite kind of ripe tomato ( cacho /tomate-coração-de-boi ) cut into segments and sprinkle with flor de sal.Open a bottle of wine.Set everything down on one of the boats cross planks,relax,imbibe wine and let the salt do the talking......


......life just doesn´t get much better than this 

Photos:Jane Bryan
Tomate:Dona Isabel
Realizaçao Jorge Raiado,Salmarim
tomate-coração-de-boi

"tomate-coração-de-boi", in Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa [em linha], 2008-2013, https://dicionario.priberam.org/tomate-cora%C3%A7%C3%A3o-de-boi [consultado em 22-09-2018].
tomate-coração-de-boi

"tomate-coração-de-boi", in Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa [em linha], 2008-2013, https://dicionario.priberam.org/tomate-cora%C3%A7%C3%A3o-de-boi [consultado em 22-09-2018].) and cut it into thin slices. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Done--and yum.

Monday, 17 September 2018

"Umami bomb" - Som dtam salad with sweet crispy pork

Som dtam; is it really the world’s greatest salad, and if not, what is? And what would you suggest as a good homegrown substitute for green papaya when it is unavailable in your area? all will be revealed....
Despite its apparent simplicity, the magic of those characteristic mixtures of chillies, garlic,roasted peanuts,dried shrimp, lime and fish sauce are surprisingly difficult to replicate at home.In the name of fashionable veganism and veggie trends I have seen so many plagiarisations of this dish on the internet and in magazines ( for example Courgetti som tam salad  not even spelt correctly), being flagged up as if it was something new and making use of that tiresome gadget -the spiralizer.In fact this truly Thai dish when executed correctly, using the correct ingredients, is one of the most loved in the Thai repertoire.Originally street food from the North east of the country, Lao, where their food is hotter and referred to as Issan.It has proved so irresistible that it is now not only eaten throughout Thailand but has become a signature dish for Thai restaurants all over the world.Fermented fish sauce( garam ) is sometimes used to season the dressing rather than  regular Nam pla.I used colatura de alici. After consulting the oracle David Thompson´s "Thai Food" I set myself the challenge of making the dish.
I tested and tasted, tried and deliberated, cogitated and digested,and here are my findings. When you are faced with the urge for Som Dtam like myself and are unable to find proper resources you could on occasion use Granny Smith apples instead of green papaya.Green apples replace the green papaya brilliantly, so Granny Smiths julienned or quartered and very thinly sliced work very well with the sweet/sour nature of the dressing. It worked rather well I thought.You CAN make a similar salad with cucumber, and very good it is too ( you do need to include mint as well), but it is definitely not Som dtam. The texture is entirely different. Courgettes are considered by some to be  a better substitute than cucumbers, but I really don't like limp raw courgette in salads. And it does not hurt to add a few juliennes of carrot in order to get a sweeter take.Green beans are a must for a true Som dtam but raw,as specified I´m not so sure.I blanched the beans, but it is important to refresh them immediately in iced water. They will then retain their crunchiness.
I was thinking that a chayote /chu-chu /choko/ chaku  would be better than a courgette - it'd retain some crunch. Uncooked it tastes like a crisp cucumber without the seeds or bitterness, just the good part, and similar in many ways to green papaya.Whatever you call it chu-chu, chayote ,christophene, xuxu, mirliton, vegetable pear or sayote,and whatever bad press it has got, i think you’ll certainly agree that this vegetable isn’t just delicious, but nutritious too.
Someone compared it to a water chestnut. I don’t agree with that taste-wise, but the crunch is similar.Raw cucumber would be the best analogy. That pretty light green color that a cucumber has just under the skin runs all though the vegetable. While the skin is edible, but you don’t want to eat it any more than you would a cucumber.Anyway so,the great papaya debate aside,green papaya is difficult to source here in the east Algarve so I settled for the Chu-Chu,which I have always been able to  buy in my local supermarket.
"Almost" Som dtam salad with sweet crispy pork
This delicious Thai salad, Som dtam  is like an *umami bomb”waiting to go off,  it combines all four tastes - sour, bitter, sweet and salty, with that all important flavour sensation the "fifth taste".Som dtam  is  balanced sweet and sharp, and crunchy with tomatoes, beans, chillies and those little dried shrimp.
Tomatoes are rich in umami components.
Sweet Soy sauce used to season the pork is also rich in umami components.
Pounded peanuts are a source of novel umami flavour compounds and enhancers
It certainly gives Korean Bibimbap a run for its money.
3 garlic cloves ,peeled
pinch of salt
4-6 birds eye or piri piri chillies(scuds)
1 heaped tablespoon roasted peanuts
Coriander stalks,from a small tender bunch(not standard but amplifies the "fifth taste")
2 tablespoons dried prawns*( shrimp)
4 cherry tomatoes,quartered
6 french beans lightly blanched and cut into 1cm(1/2 in) lengths
1 cup grated Chayote or papaya, if you can get it
2 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp tamarind water
1-2 tbsp nam pla,fish sauce or colatura de alici (see main text above)
 *I was also unable to source these so I zipped it shrimpy 
   and dry fried some small shrimp in sea salt until crispy
sweet crispy pork
1 cup palm sugar or golden caster sugar
1/2 cup sweet soya sauce (kecap manis)
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
pinch of salt
pinch of ground star anise-optional
200g (6oz) pork neck
oil for deep frying
Prepare the sweet crispy pork a day in advance.Make a syrup by simmering the palm sugar with soya sauce,oyster sauce,salt and star anise(if using)until quite reduced- about 3 minutes.Be careful- the sugar and oyster sauce burn easily.Cool.Slice pork into 5cm x 2cm (2in x 1in) pieces and marinate overnight in the syrup.Dry on a rack for aday until almost dry.
For the salad:pound the garlic with salt and chillies in a pestle and mortar.Add peanuts coriander stalks and dried prawns,and pound to a coarse paste.Add the cherry tomatoes and beans to the mortar and gently bash together.Add the chayote or green papaya and bruise.Season with palm sugar,lime juice,tamarind water and fish sauce.
Deep fry the pork in plenty of oil over a medium heat until mahogany coloured and fragrant.serve alongside the salad.
Coconut rice is also a classic accompaniment to this dish.Wait for the bomb to explode.
a classic example of umami
*Umami (/uˈmɑːmi/, from Japanese: うま味)
Umami means “deliciousness.”or "pleasant savory taste" Beyond sweet, sour, salty, and bitter, the fifth taste of umami is rich and savoury. A word coined by the Japanese, Umami is a powerful force behind many of our food cravings. Umami-rich foods include soy sauce, miso paste and bonito flakes in Asian cuisine; and cured ham, cheese, tomatoes, ketchup and mushrooms in Western cuisine. Backed with a little bit of food-science we analyze ingredients and their flavour profiles to ultimately achieve this sought-after taste.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

A perfect pearing

Saffron poached pears with Parmigiano Reggiano ice cream
"You were made for me"...." everybody tells me so." sang the British band Freddie and the Dreamers in 1964. I dont think we need to be told that pear and parmesan is a match made in heaven. As the king of cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano is an incomparable, time-tested, complex cheese. It’s magnificent served on its own or paired with flavours that complement it. Go beyond grating and get to know why Parmigiano Reggiano reigns supreme! Highlight its subtle bite, creaminess and sweetness with one of my favourite marriages: pears.The combination of Portuguese desert pears and a strong mature hard cheese has always been a favourite flavour pairing for me.Pears and parmesan cheese make an unusual but delicious end to a meal especially these sweet and fragrant, wine-poached pairs served with a Parmigiano reggiano ice cream.I put it into practice for our guests last night.
Wine poached pears with saffron
2 cups white wine
⅓ cup sugar
Pinch of saffron threads
1 lemon zest strip
2 bosc pears
½ cup ricotta
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1. Cut pears in half, remove core and seeds and peel off skin.
2. In a pan heat wine, add sugar, saffron and lemon zest, and mix. Let it come to a boil. Once sugar has melted, add pears and cook in liquid for about 20 minutes, occasionally spooning them with liquid over. Turn at the halfway mark.
3. While pears are poaching, combine equal parts ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano in a bowl. Mix until fully blended. If you want, you can add some cinnamon or sugar.
4. When pears are finished poaching, set aside and continue to reduce the wine until it becomes a thick syrup. Plate pears and serve with a scoop of Parmigiano Ricotta cream. Drizzle with wine reduction.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Yia Yia potted chicken

Mamma Mia, here we go again!The fun filled film of the summer made me crave fun filled food.I left the cinema feeling I had just had a glorious experience.The spread on that Greek terrace left me salivating for bowls of Mediterranean summer salads, grains and a wonderfully resplendent cooked octopus sitting atop the buffet.Oh for the scorching heat of a Greek summer,or maybe not when we finally got one. My thoughts turned to a Mediterranean diet and in particular Greek food. I returned home and pulled from the bookshelf the wonderful "Real Greek Food".Theodore Kyriakou, the driving force behind this book changed my perceptions of what Greek food is all about.
Never losing sight of the true essence of "Real Greek food" I found a dish that I felt sits equally at home in The Portuguese Kitchen too. It acknowledges the Dieta Mediterrânica and traditional ingredients that are now recognised all around the world, walnuts,garlic cumin, coriander, cayenne , Flor de sal and last but lost least, that farmyard staple, chicken.Lo and behold this is fairly cholesterol friendly,no dairy, high in lean white meat and high in nut content.
Like their counterparts the Portuguese avõs,Greek grandmothers are hardcore about holding the secrets of traditional recipes, and there is much harrumphing and sucking of teeth if you deviate by a jot from "the way it has always been done". Yia Yia,here we go again.I dont want to be troubled  by a Greek yia-yia (granny) in my life, therefore I dare not  deviate, but when I tasted the finished dish I have to say, next time deviation it will be.The recipe below is not the original one I made, it is the revised version which was far and away an improvement.
Potted chicken with walnuts
1 chicken( about 1.5kg)
200g fresh white bread (crusts removed)
300g walnuts,finely ground and toasted in a dry pan with cumin (see below)
100ml chicken stock
1/3 cup shallots,finely chopped
1/4 cup celery
4 cloves garlic,peeled and crushed 
1 tbsp toasted cumin seeds
2 heaped tablespoons finely chopped coriander
2 bay leafs without stem and ground up finely
tsp crushed fresh thyme
1 small red chilli,finely chopped
heaped tsp cayenne pepper
flor de sal and freshly ground pepper
Put the chicken in a large deep saucepan and cover with water,Bring to the boil and then simmer with the lid on until cooked,about 25-30 minutes.
( Do not continue to boil or the chicken will become tough.)
Remove the chicken from the pan and when cool enough to work with, skin it and remove all the bones.Shred the meat with a fork.
Meanwhile heat a tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan and gently fry the shallots,celery thyme,chilli and garlic with the cayenne pepper.Cook until soft.
soak the bread in water,then squeeze it and put it in a blender or food processor together with the walnuts,cumin,chicken stock,coriander  and fried vegetable mix.Process until mixed.In a bowl mix the shredded chicken with the processed bread mixture until well amalgamated.Season well and then pack it into a terrine or a number of small individual ramekins.Press down firmly with your fingertips.Cover and refrigerate.Serve at room temperature.

Friday, 7 September 2018

At first there was cake....


.......and then there was none.
see what you´ve just missed at
http://casarosada-algarve.blogspot.com/2018/07/almond-and-polenta-sponge-cake-with.html

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Verão até à última gota- tapenade

 Summer until the last drop

While there is still a little light left in the evenings I am not quite ready for autumn.For me it still feels like summer.The weather outside is still saying hot, but the labels in my closet say not.
It is only right and proper to embrace every last opportunity to sit out on the terrace with a well-chilled drink – heaven knows there will be time enough to huddle round the fire with a warming cup of tea once autumn girds its loins in earnest.
And, just as tea needs biscuits, a stiff drink demands nibbles.Roasted nuts are always a winner, of course, and an offensively cheesy whatsit,(may i call it a Pringle?) rarely fails to please, but to really string out that holiday feeling, you can't get much more Mediterranean than olives and more specifically, tapenade.
Not only in Provence,but other Mediterranean countries too it is a much loved favourite as the perfect drinking companion.It's that combination of the saltiest ingredients you could imagine, capers,anchovies, salt cured olives– great with a delicate, pale pink Algarvian rosé, yes, but also an unimpeachable pairing with the magic of a Portuguese Sharish gin with "Mediterranean Fever Tree" or, of course, a pink port and tonic.
Every year around the end of October, in fields all over Portugal little old ladies in blue gingham checked nylon wrap-around housecoats can be seen performing acrobatic feats.
Their men, sporting baggy flannel trousers and donning either a beret,cloth cap or more traditional homburg-esque black hat, drop their accordions for a day or two and join them to perform a merry fandango beneath the trees. In Spain, Italy and southern France, people will be seen whacking trees with sticks. This may seem like strange, and relatively cruel treatment for some poor trees who did nothing but stand there and help to prevent the warming climate from speeding along like an out-of-control freight train, but such is the life of an olive tree, full of shining black olives in the autumnal months. Nets are rolled out below the trees and then long sticks are used to knock the olives into the nets, so it’s easier to gather them into buckets. They are then either taken to the mill to be graded and turned into olive oil, or cured so they they can be made into delicious spreads, such as this tapenade (olive pâté) that graces every self-respecting Mediterranean household.Though the principal ingredient is olives, the French word comes from the Provençal name for caper buds, tapeno. The story goes that, in ancient times, these would have been preserved in amphoras of olive oil, to re-emerge, when required, as a pungent mush – the origins of the modern tapenade.In Italy and Spain it goes under the name Olivada and has distinct regional differences to the Provençal version.Recently, even I got the bug for making this delicacy from these autumn fruits.Before you could say aiaiai Azzedine Alaïa I found myself on the case, processing industrial quantities of tapenade.
When we think of tapenade, we usually envision a thick, smooth paste of black olives spiked with anchovies and garlic. But I also opted for this version which is tapenade's boisterous blond twin: briny green olives are kept chunky and are smashed to a crumbling rubble with the usual Nice suspects of  garlic, capers, and anchovies.With the addition of some peppery chilli flakes and a spoonful of Dijon mustard it helped the tapenade go down,in a most delightful way.
Green olive tapenade
4 cups green olives pitted
12 anchovies
4 tablespoons capers drained
2 garlic cloves
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix all in a processor, as above adjusting quantity of olive oil until your desired consistency is achieved.
I also found once again that "Italians do it better"
Pasta salads are always great ideas for summer parties and quick lunches, but not so much in autumn. That’s why I’m squeezing one last salad in before meteorological autumn comes along with it’s tidal wave of pumpkin recipes. The secret to making pasta salads, for me at least, is to keep them simple. No thick heavy dressings are needed, just a light olive oil coating which wont affect the taste of the other ingredients.
I usually use penne for my pasta salads but this time I picked up tagliata and added some olivada. I racked my brain trying to think of what cheese I could add, because, come on cheese is always needed. Parmesan would have been a respectable choice but burrata was the winner. It’s insanely creamy texture goes perfectly with the pasta and doesn’t get lost among all of the other ingredients. This is a solid recipe for a weekday lunch or supper on a Monday and if you are lucky it might last until Wednesday, I say might because you may just eat the whole batch for lunch and dinner on the Monday.We did.

Olivada salad
Getting the biggest flavour from the simplest ingredients.With this room temperature pasta salad, which combines al dente pasta,creamy burrata, spicy-tangy peperoncini and salty green  olive tapenade and salami. 
    FOR THE OLIVADA
    4 cups coarsely chopped pitted green olives
    4 tablespoons capers, drained
    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    12 anchovies
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red chilli pepper
    1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    Mix all in a processor, as above adjusting quantity of olive oil until your desired consistency is achieved.
     
    FOR THE SALAD
    500g dried tagliata pasta cooked in boiling water, 
     then dressed copiously with olive oil
      
    2 pints cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved 
    1heaped tablespoon olivada
    1 large ball of burrata cheese
    8-10 leaves fresh basil, torn

    lashings of cracked black pepper
      Once the pasta has been cooked, toss it with olive oil and allow to cool down.
      Halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes depending on their size.
      Take the cold pasta and add the tomatoes,then stir through the olivada.
      Carefully tear pieces of the cheese into smaller strips and mix into the salad.
      Tear the basil leaves and sprinkle over the top of the salad.
      Season well with plenty of ground black pepper
      Toss quickly to mix. Add more dressing if you prefer.
      Toss well and transfer to a large serving platter.

      Sunday, 2 September 2018

      Nervo de ganso envolto em folhas de videira com molho de limão salgado

      Using grape leaves from your garden is a wonderful way to do some urban foraging — very NORDIC, very NOMA, very NOW! Urban foraging is the way sustainability-minded hipsters and cutting-edge chefs with humming Instagram accounts are going at the moment. Unbeknown to us there is a sustainable bounty in our very own gardens.The footprint of the land many of our homes are built on has a food-producing past that provided crops before urbanisation was even conceived.We sometimes dont realise that edible ‘weeds’like nettles mint and dandelions are growing wild beneath our feet, providing a feast of fresh ingredients.Last year I enjoyed unearthing wild fennel,poejo, river mint, nettles, wild strawberries and rosehips in our garden.
      As I strolled down the travessa on the outside of our garden recently I was overwhelmed by the overhang of branches and leaves from our grapevine.Ripe for the picking I thought. If I dont, anyone else can.I read up on how to bottle them and related recipes.
      Stuffed Grape Leaves are popular in several Mediterranean countries and in the Middle East. The dish has different names depending on the region. The Greek call them dolmades or dolmathes, and the Egyptian and the Lebanese call them Mahshi Wara’ inab. But It’s okay like me just call them… stuffed grape leaves! I  took my lead from Portugal´s most prolific chef of the moment, Jose Avillez.While Lisbon vibrated with the opening of Jamie Oliver's first restaurant in the country, and the press and television jostled to give the first images of the British chef's italianesses in fashionable Principe Real, only a short schlep away,without all the fuss, another new venture, Pitaria, was quietly opening its doors,masterminded by Portugal´s very own Avillez.
      A new micro restaurante, at Rua Nova da Trindade, very close to Bairro do Avillez, with a new style of food,slightly different to  the range of restaurants Lisbon is used to: flavours of the Middle East, everything Pita.Smart innovative street food,all to take-away, a rare case for Chiado.
      The carefully chosen aromatic herbs and spices used in each pita is what distinguishes it from the competition, with pitas always prepared to order in full view of the customer.

      Well I thought; if Avillez has crossed the inexhaustible energy of Lisbon with flavours of the middle east I can cook up a bit of Levantine dolma in the east Algarve. street food in Castro Marim? We now have a tuk tuk so anything is possible.Pita falafel with baba ganoush anyone?
      My stuffed grape leaves with preserved lemon sauce 
      My very own  Stuffed Grape Leaves. These are grape leaves, stuffed with a tantalizing mixture of Portuguese beef,rice, parsley,garlic, paprika, tomato concentrate and lemon. 'Yum' is the only one word to describe these. These can either be a main dish or part of a mezze, depending on your appetite,and what size vine leaves you have to hand.

      250g(8oz) nervo de ganso,braising steak,round or flank

      Clean the piece of meat of any excess fat.Heat a little olive oil in the bottom of a deep saucepan or small casserole and over a medium to high heat. Colour the piece of meat on all sides.season with salt and pepper.Pour in enough beef stock and water to come half way up the meat.Reduce the flame to lowest setting and leave the meat to cook slowly uncovered until it begins to crack ( around 2.5 to 3 hours )remove the piece of meat from the pan and reserve the remaining stock for later. When cool enough to work with Shred the meat well using two forks.

      20 vine leaves
      115g (4oz ) long grain rice
      40g 1.5oz spring onion,finely chopped
      Tbsp finely chopped celery
      25g finely chopped parsley
      2 cloves garlic crushed
      80 ml lemon juice
      2 tbsp tomato concentrate
      heaped tsp smoked paprka (picante)
      Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add the celery, spring onion,garlic and paprika.Add the rice and stir until covered and glistening.Add the reserved stock that the beef was cooked in and enough water to cook the rice.Cook the rice until all the moisture has been absorbed and the rice is tender, then stir in the lemon juice tomato concentrate,and parsley.Mix in the shredded beef till well incorporated.
      What do you serve with them?
      Stuffed vine leaves are normally served hot with a lemony egg sauce called avgolemono.This is quite a tricky one to make and requires practice.Although the basic Greek Avgolemono recipe is relatively simple, experience has shown me that it can be really tricky. If you have ever tried making your own Avgolemono before lots of things can go wrong, leading to a disaster! The most common mistake is that the Avgolemono – egg lemon sauce curdles and gets lumpy.It is also often served in Greek restaurants as a starter.If you are in the right restaurant it is an absolute treat,but it has to be made  to the word.I have gone for a slight twist here and made a  creamy sauce with preserved lemon and garlic.I finished the plate with a simple tomato and red onion salad dressed with olive oil and oregano.
      Creamy preserved lemon and garlic sauce
      2 tsp butter
      2 quarters of a preserved lemon ,rinsed and flesh removed the diced
      tsp piri piri flakes
      3-4 cloves of garlic crushed
      2 tsp honey
      heaped tbsp fresh coriander
      1/2 cup white wine
      1/4 cup heavy cream 
      Sauté diced preserved lemon and garlic in the melted butter  and then add white wine (or chicken stock if you prefer) and heavy cream, then simmer gently until it reduces to a dreamy, decadent, creamy lemon sauce.If you want a smoother consistency,whizz the sauce in a processor and then return it to the pan.