Thursday, 28 February 2019

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Crispy potato nests with poached egg

 Breakfast will never be the same again!!
Italian cuisine has always mastered the art of making do with what you have and still being able to put beautiful meals on the table.Today I am taking a dish that playful Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco cooked to great adulation as a main course at Refettorio.
His dish was prepared in the form of a nest with a poached egg carefully placed inside and topped with a goats cheese sauce.It is something so beautiful that you are afraid to lift your cutlery for fear of ruining it.Then dispelling the reverence you discover like a child the joy of poking the runny poached egg and watching the plate become engulfed in a creamy yellow mess.
I love this recipe, particularly for its ease and simplicity – I’ve even been known to have it for breakfast. The whole dish can be prepared in five minutes and you’d be hard pushed to find a tastier bite to eat.If you love latkes and revere rostis this one is for you.
The key with simplicity is perfect execution and, as are there are only three main elements in the recipe, it would be a disaster if any of them weren’t perfect.The beauty of this food is in its near inability to be bad. After all, we are talking about potatoes crisped up in fat. If you can achieve that, any recipe is sure to be delicious.
With just four ingredients plus seasoning and garnish this is something so simple yet so delicious that it brings a smile all round.We always buy too many potatoes so what better way to use them up than to get grating and making nests for however many poached eggs are needed.Buon appetito!!!

Potato nest with poached egg and goats cheese sauce
serves 6
2 cups(475ml) sunflower oil for deep frying 
3 potatoes peeled
6 eggs
11/4 cups (300ml) goats milk
7oz(200g) soft goats cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium pan,or deep fat fryer heat the sunflower oil to 265ºF (130C)
Using a grater,finely grate the potatoes to obtain fine strings.Form 6 nests.One by one,carefully place the nests in the oil and fry until golden brown,about 4 minutes.Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil over a medium heat Crack the eggs into the boiling water one by one and cook for 6 minutes.Carefully remove with a slotted spoon.
In a medium pan,bring the goats milk to a simmer over a medium heat and reduce until creamy, about 10 minutes.remove from the heat,stir in the goats cheese,and mix well to obtain a smooth sauce.
To serve,place a nest on each plate and top with an egg.Drizzle the egg with the goats cheese cream.Garnish with salt,pepper.


Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Passatelli with ragu and parmigiano sauce

I have always been fascinated by passatelli ,but never got around to actually making it.It is a type of home made pasta which is a common dish in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.Whereas Spätzle (aka Spaetzle) are made with flour,these are made with breadcrumbs.Apparently spätzle translates as little swallows in German, which makes a lot of sense when you consider the shape of both these little pastas.
Athough passatelli are not made with flour, they're classified as a pasta. It is one of the best ways to re-cycle day-old bread.  These soft, normally homemade strands of breadcrumbs, grated cheese and eggs are an ancient tradition, born in the rural low income areas of Italy where leftovers and simple foods like stale bread, cheese and eggs were used often to create tasty dishes.In the past passatelli were considered a special dish because they were made with white bread; The original recipe called for breadcrumbs and parmesan in equal measure, but in the homes of the wealthy more parmesan was used, whilst in the homes of the poor more bread!
There is no way round it,making home made pasta is nothing more than an act of love,but then again if you´ve got the time what better way to pass an afternoon.
The dough is simple enough to be made by a child and actually turns out better when it is mixed by hand.There are just three main ingredients: breadcrumbs,eggs, and grated parmesan.the dough is formed into a ball pressed through the small holes of a ricer,or an implement which Italians call ‘il ferro di passatelli’ (passatelli iron).This is actually a handheld press with holes, similar to a spaetzle maker or potato ricer. It comes out the other end in long threads,much like Play-Doh.This recipe for passatelli follows the classic recipe to a point,but instead of pressing the pasta through the ricer or colander,it is rolled out by hand into long threads and then cut into bite-size pieces.I prefer this process by far and it is a lot easier and faster too.
Like their German counterpart these little micro lovelies cook in a just a few minutes, and are great plain with browned butter or topped with slowly braised meat.Passatelli are traditionally served in broth but there are many other recipes for them like this one.As a virgin passateli maker, for my first foray I decided to skip the broth making stage and make something more familiar.
 Even bette,r passatelli are a great vehicle to carry a meat-based ragú  and accompanied by a creamy lasagne bechamelly type sauce, made by infusing parmesan rinds into heavy cream. I came across this cheesy pasta recipe whilst reading "Bread is gold" and my first reaction was that I absolutely had to make it myself!The recipe below for ragu can be changed to suit whatever meat you have to hand.I actually used a combination of pork and beef and passed on the specified chicken.
How to make passatelli.
Although passatelli appear to be simple to make because of the few ingredients required, a certain amount of skill and practice is needed to get the dough to the right consistency.If the dough isn’t right then the pasatelli ,like gnocchi .will fall apart quickly when passed thorough the press and dropped into the broth, or they won’t pass properly through the press. In order to get a good dough you have to use normal white bread, well dried and finely grated. and the ingredients must be blended with care, until you get a compact and good textured dough. The dough needs to ‘rest’ for at least two hours before being pressed through the passatelli ‘iron’
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
250g minced beef and chicken
3 medium carrots,chopped
200g celery chopped
1 medium onion chopped
400g canned peeled whole tomatoes
2 sprigs rosemary
tbsp flor de sal
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

100g parmigiano-reggiano rinds,chopped
200ml milk
1/2 cup(125ml) mascarpone
120g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated 

150g dried breadcrumbs
120g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 tsp flor de sal
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
In a medium pan,heat a tablespoon of the olive oil.add the beef and chicken and cook until lightly browned,about 7 minutes.remove from the heat and set aside.
in amedium pot,heat atablespoon of olive oil over amedium-high heat.add the carrots,celery,and onion and cook for 5 minutes.add the cooked beef and chicken,tomatoes and rosemary and gently simmer for 1 hour.Add seasoning.

In a medium pot,simmer the parmigiano rinds,milk and mascarpone over medium heat for 2o minutes.Remove from the heat and let sit for 1 hour.Return to the heat and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese.Using a hand held blender,blend until smooth.Strain through afine mesh sieve and set aside.

In amedium bowl,mix together the breadcrumbs,parmigiano and flour.mix in the eggs,salt and pepper.gather into a ball,cover with plastic wrap(clingfilm)and set aside for 20 minutes.
Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil over a medium heat.push the dough through a ricer or  colander and directly into the boiling water.Cook until al dente,about 12 minutes.Drain and transfer to the pan with the ragu and gently toss to coat.alternatively roll the dough out into long threads and cut into bite size pieces,Toss into the pan of boiling water and cook immediately.
Divide the passatelli among serving bowls and drizzle with the parmigiano sauce.

Monday, 18 February 2019

A green soup to garnish a grey day

                                  Watercress and lemon soup,recipe below

Whilst long January is over,February seems to still give us some resolutely grey days.Today its chucking it down.Lets remedy this with delicious and comforting food and colourful recipes that will see us through the rest of the winter.Come on daffodils.If the produce at our recent local Farmer’s Market was any barometer to go by, then greens,spinach, watercress, peas in the pod,mint,radishes, strawberries, avocados,and all the good stuff is available.So lets make some soup shall we? Such fun.In fact while we are at it,lets go green and make two.
First up spinach and bacon with a hint of nutmeg. 300g of fresh spinach in the market for one euro tells me a thrifty cook should take advantage and make soup,so I did.
Spinach and bacon soup with a hint of nutmeg
Serves 2
1 slice thick-cut bacon, cut into 2″ strips
1 cup finely diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
300g fresh spinach, chopped

1 cup chicken stock 
Heat a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon slices and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until brown. Remove half of the bacon from the pan to a plate and pat dry with a paper towel. Leave the rest of the bacon and drippings in soup pot.Grate some nutmeg into the pot. Add the onion, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes, until onion is soft. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds stirring constantly. Add the spinach and cook, stirring continuously, for 4-5 minutes, until it begins to wilt. Season with a little salt and pepper.Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.Turn off the heat return the bacon to the pot stir well and blitz with a hand blender.Add more chicken stock if you want a thinner soup.
Watercress and lemon soup
I love the distinctive fresh peppery flavour of watercress. This soup has just a few ingredients — including lemon, which adds a subtle surprise,as did the home made chicken stock.On the spur of the moment I took the liberty of making a garnish of frazzled leek, shallot,peas fresh parsley and garden mint.I am glad I did.
Serves 4
50g butter
1 leek, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 stick celery, sliced
1 medium-sized potato, chopped in cubes
4 cups chicken stock
Zest of 1 lemon
100g watercress, plus few leaves to garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot place the butter to melt. Add the leek, garlic, celery and potato, sweating for 5-10 minutes until completely soft but not brown.Add the chicken stock and lemon zest and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add the watercress, cooking for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.Place the mixture into a blender in batches and mix until smooth. Return to a large pot, season with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread and garnish if you feel so inclined.OPTIONAL GARNISH
olive oil
1 leek, white and very light green parts only, cut in 2-3-inch pieces and julienned

1 small shallot
fresh parsley, chopped

pinch of garden mint
lemon zest

In a small skillet, sautée leeks until slightly brown,add shallot half way through about 5-7 minutes. Set aside. In the same pan, add peas. Cook for about a minute, season with salty and pepper. Remove from heat.Stir in flat leaf parsley and garden mint.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Seville orange tart with orangettes

Marmalade remains an invigorating way to start ones day,its combination of sweet and tart kick-starting the tastebuds and lifting the grim mood of the mornings papers promising nothing but a world gone mad,backstops and procrastination.
Rather than serving the Seville orange at breakfast in the form of a jam why not as a sweet ending to a dinner.I use the juice and zest in combination with other ingredients as a marinade for fish.Most recently I used it in place of limes for a tuna marinade.One could make a good old fashioned sponge pudding and serve it with custard.Thats what my mum would have done.But for now I have replaced my tarte au citron for the season with this alternative citrus tart.Like the lemon tart but a little shallower.It is sweet and sharp and I am sure if you make it you are not going to be disappointed.I served it with home made orangettes, using up both pith and peel.Orangettes,it sounds to me like an indie girl group from the Seventies,or am I mistakenly thinking Noisettes?

120g unsalted butter 

100g light brown caster sugar 
2 egg yolks
140g plain flour
A pinch of salt 
 24cm tart ring 
 1 egg 
 Cream the butter and sugar until light and aerated (this is best done with the blending arm of an electric mixer). Add the egg yolks one by one and beat until amalgamated. Add the sieved flour and the salt and very gently knead into a paste without overworking the flour. Shape into a slightly flattened ball, wrap in film and refrigerate for one hour. ● Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Allowing extra for the depth of the tin and to overlap the sides a little, roll it out to a disc of at least 27cm in diameter. Carefully drop the pastry into the ring, making sure it fits right into the corners and hangs over the edge of the ring at every point. Do not cut off this overhang. Make absolutely sure there are no holes in the pastry, using any excess overhang to carry out repairs. Refrigerate the case for 30 minutes. ● Line the interior of the case with greaseproof paper or foil and baking beans. Bake in a moderate (180C) preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove the baking beans and paper from the case and return to the oven for five minutes to finish cooking the base. ● Beat the egg with a tablespoon of milk and brush the interior of the case the minute it comes out of the oven and is still very hot. Return the shell to the oven for three or four minutes to bake the egg coating and thus ensure there are no holes in the case. ● Allow to cool a little.
5 Seville oranges 

4 eggs plus 1 yolk 
150g caster sugar 
150ml double cream 
Icing sugar for dusting 
Very finely grate the zest of three of the oranges into a bowl and then squeeze well and strain the juice into the bowl. Whisk together the eggs and yolk and the sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the mix is smooth. Pour in the double cream. Mix well before stirring in the juice and zest. Lower the oven temperature to 150C. Place the tart tin on the middle shelf of the oven a third of the way out of the oven. Carefully pour in the mixture and slide it into the oven. It will take about 40 minutes to cook. If the surface threatens to colour, cover it with foil. To test, give the tray a nudge – there should be no sign of liquid movement beneath the surface of the tart.Allow the tart to cool a little before sawing off the overhang with a serrated knife and gently lifting off the tart ring. Transfer the tart to a plate only once it has completely cooled and refrigerate. Dust with a sprinkling of icing sugar and serve chilled with the orangettes and no other accompaniment.

Orangettes are a perfect, simple homage to the combination of orange and chocolate. This recipe is designed to create candied orange zest that is delightfully chewy on the inside, with chocolate that snaps between the teeth on the outside. Use a high-quality chocolate of no more than 61% cocoa solids; higher percentages can be difficult to use for dipping.Orangettes are the ultimate treat for those who love the chocolate and orange flavour sensation. They are brilliant in their simplicity, made of nothing but orange peel, sugar, and the best dark chocolate you can get your hands on. They are also relatively easy to make at home, have a long shelf life, and are quite beautiful.
    2 Seville oranges with thick skin 
    3 cups granulated sugar
    3 cups water
    1/4 cup corn syrup
    optional: cinnamon stick
    6 ounces 61% (or lower) high-quality chocolate, tempered
    optional: sprinkle of sea salt

      Using a serrated knife, cut off the very top and bottom of the oranges, just exposing the flesh inside the pith. Then, cut wide strips of the peel from the orange, from pole to pole. Scrape any flesh from the inside of the peels using a melon ball scooper. Using a chef's knife, trim the edges of the peel pieces so they are even and rectangular. Cut the rectangles into narrow strips.
      Set up a bowl of ice water and set aside. Combine 3 cups water, the sugar, corn syrup, and cinnamon stick in a 4 quart saucepan. Stir to combine the ingredients. Place 2 quarts of water into another 4 quart (or larger) saucepan. Set both pots over medium heat. Bring the sugar solution to a simmer and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside. Once the pot of water has reached a boil, add the orange peels and simmer for one minute. Strain out the zest, place in the ice water bath. Discard the water, rinse the pot, and add fresh water. Bring the fresh pot of water to a boil and blanch the peels a second time, for one minute. Strain out the peels, stir to add them to the pot with the syrup, and bring them to a low simmer, over low heat. Simmer the peels for one hour, stirring frequently. Remove the peels from the syrup, and spread them so they are not touching over a cooling rack. Allow them to dry overnight, turning halfway through.
      Place a bowl of tempered chocolate on the workstation, propped at an angle with a towel. Set up a sheet tray lined with parchment and dipping forks. Partially or fully submerge the candied peels in the chocolate, shake and wipe off the excess, and place on the parchment to set up in a cool dry place. The orangettes are best enjoyed within two weeks. Store in a cool, dry place.

      Friday, 15 February 2019

      Spicy hummus muffins

       "a gentle tickle of your tastebuds, rather than a full-on, tonsil-jiggling snog"
      as Grace Dent would say
      I´ve never been a great fan of tahini,so when I saw Jamie Oliver on the television, making hummus with a peanut butter twist, my heart leapt for joy.I rushed to the store cupboard and with gay abandon, started opening cans of chickpeas and chucking them into my processor, followed by peanut butter.I was so beside myself that I was not really paying attention to the quantities in his recipe.I did however remember him saying as he emptied the chickpeas into his processor that you need not drain the water.My initial thought was that this would make the resulting texture too thin.I was right,what emerged from my processor was way too thin so I opened yet another can of chickpeas and achieved a result that satisfied me.This hummus was perhaps the best hummus I have ever tasted, but I was left with more hummus than anyone in their right mind should consume.I proceeded to Google "things to do with Hummus".What I unearthed surprised me,not only that there were so many flavoured varieties of hummus, but that you can also use hummus as an active ingredient in baking.Having discovered spiced hummus I thought I would spice up my hummus and make some muffins.This was perfect timing to revisit my spice cabinets and decide firstly what now belonged in the elephants graveyard,and then to start using up the still-fragrant but perhaps too-abundant spices before they too lost their vibrancy and join the others in the compost grave.Dead spices, unlike spoiled yogurt or mouldy cheese, somehow feel like failures, a reminder of big culinary dreams that you failed to fulfill in the prior year.But be bold, sniff, accept and toss you must. Then you can reorganize, and assess what you have left.Fast fading sumac,long in the tooth turmeric and past its best porcini were among those alongside garam masala, caraway seeds, sumac and herbes de Provence,that needed depantrification. Cumin,cayenne, sesame oil,and some dregs of tabasco was the answer.I was really surprised at the result.The individual flavours of the spices shone through with out interfering with the overall taste.A gentle tickle of your tastebuds, rather than a full-on, tonsil-jiggling snog as Grace Dent would say.I feel another batch coming on.
      Jamie Oliver´s Hummus  

      1 x 400 g jar /can of chickpeas
      1 tablespoon unsweetened peanut butter
      tbsp olive oil

      ½ a clove of garlic
      1 lemon

      Drain the chickpeas and tip into a food processor. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Add the peanut butter and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, peel and add the garlic, finely grate in half the lemon zest and squeeze in all the juice.Add more olive oil or water until you achieve the consistency you desire.Whizz until creamily smooth, then transfer to a shallow serving bowl. 
      To spice up your hummus
       I/2  cup of hummus from recipe above
      1/2 tsp ground cumin
      1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
      1 tsp sesame oil
      dash of tabasco / sriracha 
      Large clove garlic,minced

      Spicy hummus muffins
      makes 8
      1/2 cup prepared spicy hummus
      1/3 cup milk
      3 large eggs
      11/4 cups plain flour 
      1 tsp baking powder 
      1/2 tsp chilli powder
      174 tsp flor de sal
      1/2 cup cheddar cheese grated
      2- 3 spring onions shredded 
      Start by mixing your wet ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the hummus into this bowl and whisk it well. You don’t actually want any lumps of hummus in the batter.
      In the dry bowl, add in the flour, leavening ingredients, cheese, scallions, and spices. Toss this all together really well so the cheese and scallions get lightly coated in flour. This will help them stay evenly distributed in the final batter.The final Hummus Muffins batter should be on the thick side for sure. Thicker than pancake batter, definitely.If your batter is too thick (it should be slowly pourable), then add a bit more milk until it’s the right consistency.
      Grease or butter your muffin tin well and fill them up to just below the you can see mine rose quite considerably.Bake for about 30minutes at 200Cuntil they are puffed and a bit crackly on top.Let them cool a bit before popping them out.They are great on their own for breakfast and make a lovely accompaniment to a bowl of hot soup.they have a great shelf life of 3-4 days if you dont finish them all the same afternoon they come out of the oven.

      Sunday, 10 February 2019

      Moorish in style moreish in nature.

      Over the past decade of living here in The Algarve I've become more and more intrigued with the pronounced mark left by the Moorish influence, and how it has seamlessly combined with the local flavours and ingredients to produce some exotic, full flavoured and vibrant dishes.These tasty chaps from the pig's head need long, slow cooking. They're incredibly flavoursome and meltingly tender when braised or stewed.Here is a Cheeky chappies take on that Moorish style.Carrilada is a favourite tapas recipe in Southern Spain.It is a melt in your mouth, get up and dance,go to, smack yourself in the head for not having eaten this earlier type of food. Yes, it is that good. What is carrillada, you ask? Simply put, it is cheek— beef cheek is carrillada de ternera, pork cheek is carrillada de cerdo, lamb cheek is carrillada de cordero…etc. And despite their differences in taste, all carrilladas are delicious.Here is a delicious recipe for pork cheek (carrillada de cerdo) which I’ve borrowed from the British chef Ben Tish.This traditionally Catalan dish,is made with chocolate and spices,and is reminiscent of Mexican mole. The sauce is thickened with picada, traditionally a blend of toasted nuts, herbs and garlic.
      Carrillada de cerdo con patatas al ajo y comino
      Braised pigs' cheeks with garlic-cumin potatoes
      Adapted from an original recipe by Ben Tish
      For the pigs' cheeks
      1-2 tbsp olive oil, for frying
      750g/1lb 10oz pigs' cheeks, preferably Ibérican pork mejillas
      , trimmed of fat and sinew
      1 onion, chopped
      1 carrot,
      4 garlic cloves,
      ½ tsp cumin seeds
      1 tsp smoked paprika
      200ml/7fl oz Pedro Ximenez sherry
      750ml/1¼ pints good-quality beef or dark-chicken stock
      25g/1oz bitter chocolate

      For the garlic-cumin potatoes
      700g/1lb 8oz waxy potatoes, peeled, cut into cubes
      1 tbsp olive oil,
      for frying
      3 garlic cloves,
      finely sliced
      1 tsp crushed cumin seeds
      125g/4½oz softened unsalted butter


      For the picada
      1 slice crusty white bread, crusts removed, cut into chunks
      70g/2½oz blanched Marcona almonds

      1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
      ½ tsp grated orange zest
      small handful fresh flatleaf parsley 

      sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
      Preheat the oven to 260F/130C Fan/Gas 2.
      Heat the oil in an ovenproof casserole over a medium heat. Add the pigs' cheeks and fry for 1-2 minutes on all sides, or until browned all over. Remove from the casserole and set aside.
      Add the onion, carrots and garlic to the casserole and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until light golden-brown.
      Add the cumin, smoked paprika, stir well and continue to cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
      Pour in the sherry and bring to the boil, scraping up any burned bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon. Continue to boil until the volume of sherry has reduced by two-thirds.
      Return the pigs' cheeks to the casserole, the pour over the stock and return the mixture to the boil. Transfer the casserole to the oven and cook for 2-2½ hours, or until the pigs' cheeks are tender and the cooking liquid has reduced and thickened to a sauce.

      To make the garlic-cumin potatoes, boil the potato cubes in a pan of salted water for 8-10 minutes, or until tender. Drain well, mash using a potato ricer or masher, then set aside to cool.
      Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and cumin and fry until the garlic is pale golden-brown.
      Mix together the mashed potatoes, garlic, cumin and the cooking oil in a bowl until well combined. Stir in the butter, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep warm.

      To make the picada, blend all of the picada ingredients to a thick paste in a food processor. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
      When the pigs' cheeks are cooked, remove the casserole from the oven and place it on the hob over a medium heat. Stir in the chocolate and the three-quarters of the picada and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the chocolate has melted and the sauce has thickened a little more. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
      To serve, divide the pigs' cheeks equally among 4 serving bowls. Spoon the potatoes alongside. Garnish each dish with some of the remaining picada.

      Friday, 8 February 2019

      Mini Canneloni with pork ginger and spring onions

      Life has been a little stressful the last few days so it was with some gratitude that I peeped into the freezer and spotted a planned-over portion of pork ginger and spring onion.In a moment of madness, I threw caution to the wind and used the mixture for a quick and easy canneloni supper.What was even better was that while I was scouting the freezer I found another planned-over portion of a parmigiano sauce I had made the other week for some passatelli( more on that story later,Kirsty)
       It is so great to have these standbys in the freezer, so as you can whip em out on a weeknight for a super-quick no-brainer dinner.The pork mixture is taken from an Ottolenghi recipe. Minus his suggesion of serving it with aubergines and rice, I now use this recipe as a standard filling for empanadas, ravioli (puréed to a paste in the processor) and in this case as a stuffing for canneloni.
      This dish pairs a "SIMPLE" Ottolenghi  with an exceptional Massimo Bottura parmigiano sauce pinched from his book "Bread is Gold."The resulting bout produced this harmonious supper dish.Keep a few portions of these  classics in the freezer and you'll never be stuck for a satisfying supper.
      Pork with ginger and spring onions
      ¼ cup (60ml) sunflower oil
      2-3 bunches spring onions (250g), chopped on an angle into 3cm slices
      7cm piece ginger (60g), peeled, julienned
      4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
      1 green chilli, finely sliced, seeds in
      500g pork mince
      45ml mirin
      30ml dark soy sauce (avoid ‘premium’ dark soy sauce, which is too dominant for this dish)
      2 tbsp keçap manis
      1 tsp sesame oil
      1 tbsp rice vinegar
      15g coriander, roughly chopped

      Pour half the oil into a large sauté pan on high heat. Add spring onion, ginger, garlic and chilli and fry for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the garlic starts to colour. Transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining oil to the pan, add the mince and fry, breaking up lumps, for 3 minutes. Add the mirin, soy sauce, keçap manis, sesame oil, vinegar and ½ tsp salt. Cook for 2 minutes, then return the spring onion mixture to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat

      Parmigiano sauce
      100g parmigiano-reggiano rinds,chopped
      200ml milk
      1/2 cup(125ml) mascarpone
      120g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated  
      In a medium pot,simmer the parmigiano rinds,milk and mascarpone over medium heat for 2o minutes.Remove from the heat and let sit for 1 hour.Return to the heat and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese.Using a hand held blender,blend until smooth.Strain through afine mesh sieve and set aside. 

      For the canelones  
      Take one packet mini canelones (20 sheets)
      and follow cooking instructions on packet.
      You will need 3-4 canelones per portion
      To assemble and serve: Preheat oven to180°. Cook cannelloni wrappers, several sheets at a time, in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender, about 12 minutes. Dip wrappers briefly into a large bowl of ice water as you remove them from boiling water, then lay them out, not touching, on clean damp dish towels. Working with 1 wrapper at a time, spread about 1 tbsp. of the meat mixture along edge nearest you, then roll up jelly roll style. Transfer canneloni to an oiled medium baking dish, seam side down, in a single layer. Spread  a little parmigiano sauce on top of each cannelone and bake until heated through, about 7 minutes,then brown under hot grill for 3-4 minutes.Divide the remaining sauce between soup plates, put 3-4  cannelloni into each bowl, and serve immediately.

      Wednesday, 6 February 2019

      Iced gems,where are they now?- Beijinhos

      Iced Gem Biscuits may or may not sound or look familiar to you depending on your age.If you are twenty something you wont know what the f...k I am talking about, but  those of you my age will probably enjoy this joyous little whiff of nostalgia that caught my eye in our local supermarket here in Portugal.I often ask the question,where are they now? Whether it be a past celebrity that has nudged my memory and I often yearn for a google update on their current professional and personal status.Anyhow, the story goes that these little biscuits were invented accidentally by a British biscuit factory in Reading. The accident came about when British biscuit giant Huntley and Palmer was experimenting with some new technology, and what emerged from the oven was a shrunken biscuit. Proprietor Thomas Huntley liked the resulting mini biscuits ,which were christened Gems and started to sell well. Sixty years later in 1910  the swirly icing was added and children's birthday parties would never be the same again.Later on the biscuits started to be exported to several countries.There we have it, perhaps this is why I stumbled upon them once again in my little village in Portugal."Beijinhos" they were called and therefore kisses for everyone.

      Tuesday, 5 February 2019

      Ano Novo Chinês:O ano do porco.Entremeada "orientale"guisada em molho feijao preto e alho

      A Feijoada in the Brazilian style, uses black beans as opposed to the Portuguese version, which uses pinto or butter beans.I am never convinced whether the conquistadores taught the pig and bean thing to the natives or vice versa, but surely the Brazilians the Spanish and the Portuguese are top of the league when it comes to pig and beans in a pot. I have never been a great fan of the Brazilian version, but since it is Chinese New year and the year of the pig I decided to improvise and have come up with a pan-asian meets Iberican belly pork, braised in a garlic and black bean sauce.
      The black beans from Asia are soybeans, which are  fermented and preserved in salt.Also known as Chinese black beans  or salted black beans, they have a very strong, salty flavour and are generally soaked for a half hour or so in fresh water before being added to a dish.Black beans are particularly popular in Brazil, Spain and Portugal  (frijol negro in Spanish, feijao preto in Portuguese), or Mexican black bean or turtle bean. Their flavour is stronger and fuller, bearing undertones of meat or mushrooms.So taking a recipe from the orient I replicated the saltiness of the recipe by the seasoning of the meat as opposed to the beans.Well I thought; living at the far easternmost end of the Algarve, this could become a dish from the Portuguese Orient:
      Belly pork from the "orient" 
      braised in a garlic and black bean sauce
      ( entremeada "orientale"guisada em molho feijao preto e alho)
      Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
      Serves 2 as a main plate or 4 as part of a multi-dish meal

      1 kg (2 pounds) entremeada( belly pork), cut into strips about 1½ inches wide and seasoned with flor de sal
      4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
      3 green chillies,deseeded and cut into thin strips

      1 stick of lemongrass,finely chopped
      1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
      2 large spring onions, finely chopped
      1 teaspoon Flor de sal
      1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
      1 tablespoon dark (thick) soy sauce
      3 tablespoons madeira wine or dry sherry
      1 1/2 cups water
      2 tablespoons sunflower oil
      1 410g tin black beans, rinsed
      1/4 cup coarsely chopped coentros (coriander)

      Prepare the garlic, ginger,lemongrass, spring onion and chillies on a plate. For the seasoning liquid, stir together the salt, sugar, dark soy sauce, Madeira and water.
      Heat a wok, heavy pot or deep skillet over high heat. Swirl in the oil, then add the garlic, ginger and green onion. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Stir in the pork and black beans. Continue cooking until the pork turns white and is coated with the other ingredients, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the seasoning liquid,and bring to the boil.
      Transfer the contents of the wok to a large casserole, cover, then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook until the pork is chewy-tender, about 1 hour, stirring 2 to 3 times. The dish can be made up to this point and then refrigerated overnight before continuing.
      Skim most of the fat from the sauce (the fat will be easy to remove if the pork has been refrigerated and the fat is solidified; if not refrigerated, temporarily transfer the pork to a bowl to make skimming the fat easier).
      Heat the pork and sauce over medium-high heat until the liquid comes to a vigorous simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has reduced and thickened enough to coat the pork, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the coriander and transfer to a serving plate or shallow bowl. Serve with rice.

      Monday, 4 February 2019

      Catalan-Style Pesto,glorified roux or the best thing since sliced bread?

      Picada is a dense, pounded paste of bread, nuts, garlic, olive oil, and other aromatics which originated in the Catalonia region of Spain. It dates back to the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries, as a way to thicken and flavour stews and braises. With its history comes recipes as varied as the cooks themselves. Almonds are traditional, but some picadas call for hazelnuts, pine nuts, or walnuts—sometimes individually, sometimes in combination. Aromatics like saffron, cinnamon, white wine,even dark chocolate, as well as chicken and game livers, are not out of place here.Picada is the Catalan-style pesto you can use on almost everything.It can be used as a condiment to enliven non-Catalan dishes too, sprinkled on top of everything from grilled fish and ribeye steaks, to warm frisee salads and even pasta dishes.Picada is usually stirred into a stew or braise during the final minutes of cooking.
      After more than 30 years sniffing out recipes across Spain and publishing them in highly successful cookbooks, journalist and authority on Spanish food Janet Mendel sauces dishes from chicken to codfish balls and Zarzuela with typical picadas,while "Queen of Mediterranean cooking,American food writer Paula Wolfert, claims it has“a deeper and lustier taste than butter or cream,”Well who would have thought?
      As Colman Andrews writes in Catalan Cuisine: Vivid Flavors from Spain’s Mediterranean Coast, anyone who has tasted a dish before and after its addition will understand that picada “seems to fill in all the holes, plug in all the gaps in flavour.”
      No other European cuisine has anything like picada. 
                                                                                    Colman Andrews
      Andrews devotes several pages to picada in Catalan Cuisine, referring to it as a “glorified roux,” one that “doesn’t swell up as dramatically or thicken as relentlessly as roux,” and “adds more heart than heft.” He explains that no other European cuisine has anything like picada. Its closest relative is Italy’s pesto, also a pounded mix of garlic, nuts, and herbs, but one that’s unmistakably a sauce; and gremolata, the herb and garlic mixture classically added as a final flourish to osso buco. But no other blends, Andrews writes, come close to picada’s versatility and range.I would have to agree.