Monday, 29 April 2019

Muitas coisas dependem no almoço, much depends on lunch

Much depends on lunch.Whether it be a business lunch,a liquid lunch,a picnic lunch,an office lunch, a pack lunch,whatever happened to the pack lunch? Let´s talk lunch,even better lets do lunch.
There is a time around midday or a little after,maybe 1o´clock, when in a quiet village, life almost ceases to exist.No one is seen on the streets.Front doors are closed.This is the luncheon hour.It is a time of day which has little or nothing to do with its bastard sister lunch.Lunch is an event.Lunch is for businessmen- and can sometimes be entirely liquid.Lunch is for those ladies of Manhattan or Knightsbridge who´ve just been to the gym and then to a fitting and so decide to ignore all calorie counting,picking on frivolités in favour of destroying yet another reputation over lunch.Normally the lunch is in a high-class restaurant,and probably has been put in the diary some days or weeks in advance of the event.A less grand affair could be partaken in a department store as a break in a shopping trip.I remember well being taken by my mother and my aunt for the table d'hôte lunch in the pleasant ambience of the John Lewis Brasserie, where mothers with small children, families, friends, parents, grand-parents, visitors from further afield, and, perhaps occasionally, students escaping from their studies, could enjoy one of the essentials of good living - good food and drink! My  lunch-time treat always included a very grown up  glass of ginger beer, excellent crisply battered fish and chips, accompanied by really good sauce tartare and minted peas, with half a fresh lemon, all served efficiently and correctly.Those were the days.At the other end of the lunch scale there is another type of repast more often than not taken on the hop.The lunch break. There is no event as such, it is just a necessary break in the day for some nourishment or consummation of victuals.
 This type of lunch is a for office workers popping out to British Home Stores ( another one dropped dead on British high Street )for a cheese and pickle sandwich.Other collations might be purchased from the snack bar round the corner and weather permitting, consumed  on ones lap on a park bench near to the office.If the weather was too wet or cold, lunch might be consumed at ones desk in the office,not one to be encouraged I might add.For sightseers burgers and chips or a slice of tray baked pizza, oh so italiano. For sportsman,for shop assistants,shift workers,travellers,motorists  it is more often known as the "lunch break"  and for the traveller often includes a "comfort stop." Luncheon is a very different affair. Luncheon is the silent pause that separates the morning from the afternoon.It is almost a religiously observed cessation of activity and may in many countries be followed by a"nap" The nap is a snooze (catnap)and has nothing whatsoever to do with the continental siesta. An altogether grander and more elaborate affair which purely on the evidence of my nosy neighbour observations may often accomodate an indulgence in marital or extramarital liaisons.
Back from lunch, and a particular lunch that has crossed the barriers of time and gained a place in history.Anyone who still subscribes to the old trope that English food is terrible or boring is woefully out of touch. And it’s not that it just magically got better a decade or so ago. It’s always been great,with thanks to splendid traditions like The Ploughmans Lunch. Originally a British farm worker's packed lunch was composed of crumbly, cloth-bound cheddar, strong pickles and tough bread.The ploughman's was promoted as a quick, easy pub meal in the late 1950s as part of a campaign to get Britons to eat more cheese. With the rise of gastro pubs, casual eating, shared platters, micro breweries and craft beer its ideal companion, the ploughman's is being put to work once again.
Without knowing it, we all probably have a ploughman's lunch regularly. It's basically a deconstructed cheese sandwich: a hunk of cheese, a knob of rustic bread, sometimes some greens, sometimes some meat, a tangy pickle of sorts or some kind chutney-like condiment, and an apple.
The ploughmans lunch is often taken as an example par excellence of the hijacking and perversion of a traditional food.What, it is asked, could a ploughman find less satisfying after a back-breaking morning in the fields than an exiguous piece of tasteless, unidentifiable cheese,a flaccid roll,a couple of limp lettuce leaves, and not even a fine tracklement but a dollop of commercial pickle?
The ploughmans, as it is often abbreviated,was quick to arrange and serve making it easy for publicans to satisfy the growing demand for pub grub that was a tad more adventurous than a packet of Smiths Crisps, and it had the added advantage for the marketing men of conjuring up a nostalgic vision of simple hearty country fare.The basic ingredients cheese, bread, and pickle have remained the same, although what a Victorian farm labourer would have thought about some of the mass produced abominations sold under the name of the ploughman´s lunch is nobody´s business.Items  about as demure as an inflight airline salad or pate in plastic pot with a tear off lid, which is now often substituted for the cheese.The ploughmans has now become pretty universal with many countries throughout Europe emulating in their own way a truly English classic.

Ploughmans lunch
lanche de pão, queijo e picles
A good farmhouse cheddar  is the heart and soul of it
300g wedge cloth-bound cheddar
6 thick slices rare roast beef or leg ham or even cured ox tongue
4 salad radishes
4 pickled onions, gherkin, cornichon, etc
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
Sea salt and black pepper
Celery stalks and leaves
Crusty bread
Fruit chutney or piccalilli
Just plonk it all on a big wooden sharing board, scatter sea salt and pepper over the eggs, and sit down and eat.
Feel free to add watercress, fresh tomatoes, Branston Pickle, horseradish, hot mustard, Scotch eggs, cultured butter, pastrami, blue cheese, apples.

European variations on the theme
For French, and more specifically a cheese from the Auvergne  Cantal or Salers. Cornichons for pickles, a mesclun or potato salad with a simple dijon vinaigrette, some walnut bread, an Anjou pear (just to keep it French), and a normandy cider.

For  Italian try some aged pecorino, pickled peperoncini, olives, ciabatta or pugliese for bread,Bresaola and robbiola cheese, some cantaloupe melon, and a classic Italian beer like a Peroni or Moretti.

For Portuguese,try a queijo fresco or queijo Azeitao with marmelada, figs,almonds,pao regional,tomatoes and a Rocha pear

For Spanish. Idiazabal, that smokey, gamey sheep milk cheese from the Basque country makes perfect sense in this application, or a strong, spicy cabrales alongside some 
Cecina and Jamon with pipas, galletas or picos, a peach,caperberries, and some aged chorizo.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

What to cook with leftover lamb?

Using up any leftovers from Easter – or last week's roast lamb – couldn't be easier. Try whizzing it up for a shepherd's pie, in a pilaf, or, for showing off a bit, make a moussaka.We had so much lamb left over from the main event that I tried all of them.Eyebrows might be raised at the mention of leftover lamb, but I am sure that a lot of us have found ourselves left with a plethora of the stuff the Easter lunch was made of.
Lamb leftovers are slightly trickier to use up than beef or chicken. The meat is very fatty, which makes it unctuous and flavoursome when hot, but too greasy to nibble as a cold snack or use in sandwiches and salads. Instead, your best bet is to recook it and turn it into something new.My obvious go to solution for left over lamb is always to make a Rogan Josh  and I have just found a brilliant no frills, no fuss new recipe that will now replace my usual one.This recipe minimises a lot of the "faff" involved in making a curry.Lets face up to the fact no one wants to slave over a hot stove at the end of a long day.This Lamb Rogan Josh Curry is pretty special in the way that you make up the curry paste,you can make it two or three days in advance then use it when ever you like.
The Lamb Rogan Josh Curry paste will last a few days in the fridge, but make sure to sterilise your jar first.You can also freeze it in an ice cube tray, and just take them out of the freezer when ever you like.

For the Curry Paste
2 large onions
2 cloves Garlic minced
2 cm Piece of ginger minced
1 Chilli chopped
2 tbsp Paprika
1.5 tbsp Garam Masala
1 tbsp Ground Cumin
1 tbsp Ground Coriander
2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
3 tbsp Tomato Puree
80 g Red Pepper from a jar in brine!
pinch Salt and Pepper

For the Curry
500 g Lean Diced Lamb
2 tbsp Greek Yoghurt to marinade the lamb
2 tbsp Curry paste to marinade the lamb
1 tin Chopped Tomatoes
1 Beef Stock Cube
4 tbsp Curry paste to make the curry
2 tbsp Greek Yoghurt to finish the curry

Fry the onion, ginger and chilli until brown.
Place the fried onions, garlic and chilli into a food processor along with all of the Curry Paste ingredients and blitz until smooth.Place the curry paste in a sterilised jar. The mix will last a few days. You can also freeze it into ice cube trays.
To Make The Curry
Place the lamb into a non reactive bowl along with 2 tbsp of the curry paste. Add 2 tbsp of greek yoghurt  and some salt and pepper.
Mix well, then cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
Fry off 4 tbsp of the Curry Paste for a few minutes until it begins to stick to the bottom of the pan
Add the tinned tomatoes, and stock cube (just crumble it in). Fry until the mixture starts to boil
Add the lamb and a little water to the pan. Bring to a boil, then place a lid on the pan and simmer until heated through.
Remove from the heat, and add 2 tbsp of fat free yogurt, and a small bunch of roughly chopped coriander - stir well. Then serve!
Shepherds pie
The classic British method for using up lamb is, of course, the shepherd's pie, which is all about simple, savoury flavours. Fry some chopped onion, leek and carrot. Add finely chopped or minced lamb (you can whizz it in the food processor), cover with stock (made from a cube is fine if you don't have fresh) and simmer until tender. Top with mashed potato and bake at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for 20 minutes.

 Individual moussaka with a simple Greek salad
The classic Greek method for using up lamb is, of course,Moussaka.In this instance I have replaced the customary aubergine with chayote,how they make it in Brazil.I have put a further spin on the recipe by giving an alternative which is making individual starer sized portions.
serves 2 for a main plate or 4 individual starters

4 tbsp olive oil
2 Chayote, boiled then sliced 
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1.5 tsp Ras al hanout
1 tsp dried oregano
500g left over minced lamb
2 tbsp tomato purée, mixed with 150ml water
Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

For the bechamel:
500ml milk
60g butter
60g plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
Nutmeg, for grating

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Boil the chayote unpeeled in salted water until tender, testing them after 30 minutes.Run them under the cold tap to cool them then cut them into 0.5cm slices.Set aside.
Meanwhile, put 2 tbsp olive oil into a large frying pan over a medium high heat and cook the onion until soft. Add the garlic,Ras-al-hanout and oregano and cook for a further couple of minutes, then stir in the lamb. Turn up the heat slightly, and brown the lamb well, cooking until the mixture is quite dry. Stir in the tomato purée and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down low and cook covered for 15-20 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season and stir in the parsley.
To make the bechamel. Warm the milk, and melt the butter in another saucepan. Stir the flour into the butter and cook for a couple of minutes, then gradually whisk in the hot milk. Cook until you have a thick sauce. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, then beat in the eggs, salt to taste and generous nutmeg.
Arrange a layer of the chayote slices on the base of a greased oven dish, and top with half the meat. Repeat these layers, then finish off with a layer of chayote, and top with the sauce. Bake for about 45 minutes until well browned, and then leave to cool for ten minutes before serving.

For individual starter portions:
Choose 4 x 7cm  pastry cutters and put them on 4 sheets of cooking foil large enough to form a base under the cutter and then wrap around the outside of the cutter to a height of  the depth of the cutter and half again. Cut 8 previously boiled slices of chayote. Lay a slice of chayote on the bottom of each cutter top with a generous layer of meat filling and press down, cover with a second slice of chayote.Top with bechamel sauce and cook as above.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

LPA From wide door to high door - "Teatro por gourmand"

Number one is back and it s better than ever!... and aren't we just loving the new decor and colour schemes.The furniture, paintings, mirrors and flooring are all just wonderful. After closing the "wide door" to their restaurant on the main square for 3 months, LPA has reopened and we were privileged and delighted to return to our all time number one favourite restaurant.The anticipation for the last 3 months and the suspense had been getting too much for me ,but as I crossed the plaza that cold April night and saw the vision that was beyond glamour, LPA incarnate, I was seized by an effervescence of nervous excitement.What stood before us was the epiphany of all epiphanies.As we entered through the "tall door" it was about to get even better.A warmth came over me that dispelled the previous chill,blowing off the Rio Guadiana.
The new space is bigger, more spacious and extremely well decorated with the help of Huelva province´s interior style guru Juan Rodrigues.The spacious and rather romantic room, allowing more relaxed dining than before, is clad in wallpapers reminiscent of colonial jungles,upside down astro turf appears to be growing out of the ceiling and there is even a chinoiserie alcove.It is like A-list Ayamonte meets the eccentricity of House of Hackney except you are getting dinner for half the price of an H of H cushion.
Whimsical chinoiserie
Splendid-looking, twinkling and lavishly finished,in my dreams I could be transported to  back in the day Hollywood where the LA producers wife has been told to keep shtum about her studio windfalls,or on the set of Richard Lesters beautifully  cinematographed 1979 film Cuba. If only Sean Connery was to walk into LPA now.
As well as keeping some all time favourites Fabio has added lots of innovative new dishes to the menu. The presentation of all Fabio’s dishes still, as always, have his hallmark of perfection and design.This style of dining is so often done badly: too pretentious, too minimal, too few smiles, and not a lot of laughs.Not so LPA.  These are guys who know how to deliver modern dining glamour.
Burrata with smoked ham and home made pesto
It also has some of the greatest,most magical front-of-house service you´ll ever experience this side of Nirvana.If you want to sample the best of Fabio's "Teatro por gourmand" start with one of our favourites, burrata, smoked ham and home made pesto with its impressive delivery under cloche. A hard act to follow but we stepped up the momentum by ordering all new Garlic prawn filled gyozas and the baby ceviche of corvina and lime caviar.
It came to the table in complete equilibrium with the quasi tropical decor of the space it was being served in.
It really feels like you are experiencing a tasting menu in an expensive Michelin restaurant, except the bill came to 75 euros including a bottle of wine.Prices are relatively unchanged. Its not just three star its more like five.LPA is a place where people who’d like to be famous can plaster Instagram with evidence of each stage of their meal, before jumping from their seats to be snapped themselves by a member of the staff.Like your glass of prosecco  the ambience is never anything less than nicely bubbling.

Baby ceviche of corvina and lime caviar.
 Garlic prawn filled gyozas

Top-notch and even better than ever before. There aren't enough adjectives to describe "excellent." And as someone so rightly put it; you are planning your next reservation before you have even finished this one.LPA will be the epitaph on my tombstone.Hasta mañana mi amigos.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

A pashka is for life,not just for Easter

Páscoa,Pascua, Pasqua,Pashka..... Most of the regional names of Easter have been derived from the Latin and Greek word ‘Pascha’ or Hebrew ‘Pesach’ meaning Passover. English speaking countries term the day of the feast ‘Easter’ and German speaking tongues refer to the festive day as ‘Ostern’. Both these terms seem have come from the name of an ancient goddess known as Eostre.

After forty days and forty nights of undefiled fasting in the wild,you´d not only be starving but tempted and craving the most delicious hot fudge sundae ever.Having given up that latte and chocolate muffin, where were you forced to turn in order to survive those Monday mornings at work? Well look no further. Dog days are over,the humdrum drudgery's done and now its time to let the good times roll! But be quick! Indulge while you can and enjoy every moment.Now its time to let your heart beat faster and your cholesterol levels run wild.Last Easter I entreated you to make monkey bread and this year your Easter treat is going to be an indulgent Pashka (or Paskha)that is something that would bring back the smile to the face of any Czar or Czarina.
Pashka is essentially a crustless cheesecake  that is served in Russian homes for Easter. It is traditionally made during Easter week, and brought to church for blessing on Easter Saturday,before being served on Easter Sunday.
Traditional Pashka is made from a type of farm house cheese or curd cheese called tvorog. Cottage cheese and ricotta cheese are similar and can be used instead.
It’s combined with rich ingredients like cream, butter and eggs and then sweetened with sugar, dried fruit and nuts. This dish is usually heavy on dairy, but I’ve lightened it up by using ricotta with only a small addition of yoghurt.Recipes for this right royal dessert vary from region to region and home to home. Variations can be  found throughout the Eastern Orthodox world. The taste, no matter what recipe is used, is extraordinary. It is often moulded into the shape of an egg, crown or pyramid. Pashka is sometimes made with simple fruit and nuts or with more complicated mixtures of dried fruits and nuts. My loose interpretation encompasses many of those different styles and tastes.Pashka is for life not just for Easter.I feel like I´ve just died and gone to heaven.That is what happens at Easter isn´t it?
Pashka with ricotta and raspberries
Serves 10
It is perfect served with fresh raspberries. The mixture can easily be doubled or tripled, and made in one large mould for a crowd. It is also delicious spread on toast or brioche.So
you can have it for breakfast too.There´s a thing!!!

250g full-fat ricotta, requeijao or cottage cheese
250g mascarpone
150ml whipping cream

1/4 cup honey
a few drops vanilla essence/extract
2 egg yolks
Zest of 1 medium lemon
Zest of 1 small orange
2 tbsp natural, full fat yoghurt
10 dried apricots, finely diced
candied peel 20g
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
6 tbsp (50g) almond flakes
100g ground almonds
2 medium foil pudding moulds
Fresh raspberries and natural yoghurt to serve

In a medium frying pan, cook almond flakes over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, until light browned/toasted. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Set aside.
Put the mascarpone and ricotta in a mixing bowl. Put the egg yolks and honey in a food mixer and beat till thick and pale. Pour the cream into a saucepan and bring to just boiling point. Pour the cream into the eggs and honey beating continuously. Pour the egg custard into the saucepan in which you heated the cream and warm, gently and stirring regularly, until the mixture is hot, but far from boiling. Stir regularly, adding the vanilla extract, a drop or two should be enough, as you go.
Stir the dried apricots, candied peel,blueberries,raspberries finely grated orange and lemon zest, the flaked and ground almonds and the yoghurt into the cream cheese. Reserve a few whole raspberries and blueberries for decoration at the end.When the custard is hot, pour it into the cream cheese and ricotta and fold everything gently together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. Mix lightly but thoroughly.
Line a large sieve with muslin or a new J-cloth, then suspend it over a bowl. Scrape the cream cheese mixture into the lined sieve, fold the overhanging fabric over the top and refrigerate overnight.
The mixture will set and some of the liquid will sip out through the bottom. To serve, remove pashka carefully from the sieve and peel away the muslin cloth. The easiest way to do this is to tip the sieve upside down on to a plate and then pull it off and peel the muslin off. Garnish with extra almond flakes and raspberries and blueberries on top. Serve with more yoghurt and extra honey if you like.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Oh how the madcap laughed.Ha!! Peanut flavoured brioche?

If there’s one bread you need this Easter, it’s brioche,
an earthy intrigue and an even more velvety texture.
My post natal reaction to past bread baking endeavours has been to yell "I am as mad as hell and I am not going to "bake" this anymore.Redolent of Howard Beale the news anchor man in the movie Network.It is always a bread making breakdown that triggers this rant. However I have now finally achieved redemption through anger in the form of brioche baking.I have always loved  brioche but did not realise just how easy it would be to make (once mastered!!!!), easy to tweak, and great for almost anything: on it's own, smeared with almost anything, toasted, as a substitute for  hamburger buns, grilled with cheese, toasted for bread pudding, or just left to dry out and get stale for croutons or crumb.It is a basic bread that includes egg, butter, and milk to give an even and smooth texture and flavour. The higher the egg/butter content, the fluffier and more pastry like. The pores in the bread are smaller and almost looks like the cross-section slice of cake.
 Well I have been playing Mad Baker-Scientist and introducing peanuts into the brioche equation.I have to say it did not get off to a good start with what appeared to be a bowl of brown soup.I soon realised the proportion of flour in the basic brioche recipe I was following had omitted a nought.25g of flour should have read 250g.Bring back subs I say,particularly where recipes are concerned.Are recipes not subjected to the test kitchen process these days? I can assure you all mine are before I post them.Back on track I achieved the very soft,elastic,very smooth and shiny dough I knew I should be striving for.But then what appeared to be a scientific phenomenom occurred. "Phenotype"came to mind.The term "phenotype" refers to the observable physical properties of an organism; these include the organism's appearance, development, and behaviour.At first I thought I had given birth to a mutant loaf,my dough had all the characteristics of a living thing.It rose and rose as it proved and the only way I could suppress it would be by puncturing it,like a sheep with colic. I quickly turned on the oven and put my brioche form in before it ran across the floor like an alien obsessed.30 minutes later I opened the oven door and was presented with the most delicious looking brioche loaf ever.It had a sophisticated,subtle background note with the peanut flavour coming through with a strong finish.Epiphany achieved, the alien predator was finally held at bay and warrant officer Ripley became enlightened and ready for a French breakfast.

Disclaimer /abdicar de direitos:One word of warning before starting to bake.The dough may seem a little on the liquid side and so gradually add more flour in stages until you have achieved a workable soft but elastic dough for kneading.

 French breakfast ready and waiting
Peanut brioche
400g plain flour,plus more as required
20g fresh yeast
100ml milk heated to 33ªC
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
20g sugar
10g flor de sal
100g butter, softened to room temperature
80g ground peanuts
Mix everything together in a bowl.Turn out onto a floured board and knead for about 6 minutes.Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container covered with plastic wrap and allow a bulk fermentation time of 1 hour in a warm draft-free place.The dough should have doubled in size.If you have time place the dough in the refrigerator overnight.This makes the dough easier to work with and mould.Otherwise place the dough in an oiled 9" (22cm) brioche form and bake in a preheated oven 180c for 30 minutes.allow to cool in tin before removing.
HAPPY EASTER, EVERYONE!!! Boa Páscoa a tudos 

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

A nova Meia Desfeita com bolo de grão bica

Perfect for introducing a friend to great Portuguese food.
This is my modern take on a rich luncheon dish,originally made famous in the province of Estramadura.Historically in Lisbon there used to be a variety of small restaurants specializing in this dish,all putting their own particular stamp on it.Alas, they do not seem to have survived,but you can still find the dish at many establishments one in particular taberna da rua das flores, and failing that it is easy enough to prepare at home.I have always wanted to try this but was put off by the way it was presented on the plate at any of the restaurants where it was on the menu.It looked so unappetising to me,so I thought how can we give this classic Portuguese dish a makeover.
The traditional main constituents of the dish that keep strictly to early 20th-century principles are bacalhau,chickpeas ,hard boiled eggs ,olives.It is usually dressed with olive oil,parsley and vinegar.Other seasonings are sometimes included,colorau or smoked paprika being one of the commonest along with onions and garlic.
For this version here I have made some changes(mostly in the presentation of the dish) like making a base for the salad to rest on in the form of a chickpea cake.

A nova Meia-desfeita
For 2 people 

300g migas de bacalhau,washed and drained, or cod cheeks
1 jar of chickpeas washed and drained
6 boiled quails eggs, 6 ovos de codorniz

12 black olives,stoned
2 breakfast radishes,chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/2 onion
lemon juice to taste 

olive oil
white wine vinegar
Flor de sal
piri piri flakes or togarashi seasoning
Small bunch Flat leaf parsley,leaves only,chopped

Sweet paprika, colorau doce

Boil the quails eggs for 2-3 minutes the rinse under cold water.When cool,with the help of a sharp pointed knife remove the shells and set the eggs aside.
Chop the onion and garlic and parsley and radishes,combine with the lemon juice olive oil and vinegar to make a chunky dressing.add the olives and set aside.

Season the chickpeas with lemon juice and garlic,crushed Flor de sal and pepper
Place the cod in a pan with cold water until covered and bring to the boil, drain and set aside to cool.

To assemble: With the help of a circular mould shape the chickpeas into cylinders.
Top with the cod,halved quails eggs and the chunky dressing.Sprinkle a fine carpet of paprika over the top.Serve.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Better the devil you know than the devil you don´t

There’s a good reason why you never see a leftover devilled egg.
Who put the devil in devilled eggs? Througout the years, I’ve eaten deviled eggs every which way. Many were decades-old family recipes that followed some combination of mashed yolks, mayo, mustard and sweet pickled relish. Others were filled with more interesting ingredients like crabmeat, chilli peppers or Old Oak Ham(who remembers?) in the can. Do you remember that stuff? All of them were delicious, even the ones with pickled gherkins– something which which I firmly believe should be relegated to hotdogs! At home, however, I’ve always stuck to my traditional recipe of Hellman’s mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and black pepper. I’ve relied on those basic ingredients just because my mother did and everyone loved them.But recently, I started playing around with my stuffed eggs and discovered that they’re even better with a bit of  a kick of chilli eh boys. I love the bite it adds to the creamy yolk filling.So,hey ho what about some home made hummus as healthy option in place of tired old mayonnaise.
Hummus Sriracha Devilled Eggs
8 large eggs
3/4 cups home made hummus

4 cloves roasted garlic
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1 1/2 tbsp sriracha 
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
Smoked paprika for garnish
Place eggs in pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Turn off the heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and run cold water over the eggs. The eggs are easiest to peel if they're still slightly warm. Also, older eggs peel easier than fresh. Cut peeled eggs in half with a sharp knife, dipping the knife in water between each egg so they slice smoothly.
Scoop out the yolks. Reserve 4 of the yolks in bowl of a food processor. Discard the other yolks (or save them as a special treat for your dog!). Add the hummus, roasted garlic, lemon juice, sriracha, honey and salt to the food processor and process, adding the olive oil in small batches until mixture is smooth and easily spreadable. If you're spice sensitive, you might want to start with 1/2 tbsp sriracha and add more to taste.
Use a pastry bag with tip to pipe the hummus mixture into the halved eggs (or, if you want to be less fancy, just scoop a bit of the mixture into each egg).
Dust the eggs with smoked paprika using a mesh strainer to disperse the spice neatly and evenly.
If you have leftover filling, place it in a small bowl for next days sandwich filling. These deviled eggs can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in a covered container until ready to serve. Refrigerate them immediately after making, do not leave at room temperature for very long or they may spoil.

I also like the brininess of pickled jalapenos.. This is good old fashioned finger food with a twist. If you’re serving them to company, be sure to “flag” these Jalapeno Devilled Eggs with the recommended garnish so your guests will know what to expect when they bite into them.I’m thinking that these spicy devilled eggs will taste even better 
Jalapeno Devilled Eggs 
6 large hard-boiled eggs, cooled and peeled
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon pickled jalapeno juice (or white wine vinegar)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Halve the eggs lengthwise.  Carefully remove yolks and place in a small bowl; mash yolks with the back of a fork.Add jalapeno pepper, mayonnaise, cilantro, mustard, and cayenne pepper.Season to taste with salt and black pepper.  Spoon mixture into hollowed out egg whites. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.  Serves 6.
Amped up Devilled Eggs
Strictly speaking, anything described as devilled should be spicy, but this bandwagon has run away with itself – like a good catalogue model, the humble egg is versatile enough to take on almost any flavour humanity can throw at it, from simple smoked salmon,bacon or avocado, to hipper-than-thou kimchi.This is good old fashioned finger food with a twist.
6 large hard-boiled eggs, cooled and peeled
1 ripe avocado pipped and peeled
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp capers finely chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 lime juiced and zested
1/2 tsp flor de sal
2 mild green chillies,seeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
chives, for garnish
Follow method as above

And finally for a truly "Portuguese" palate
Portuguese devilled eggs
6 hard boiled eggs
½ cup mayonnaise
Dash of piri piri sauce
Dash of paprika
Flor de sal, pepper

Cut the eggs in half and scoop out the yolk. Mix in the mayo, peri peri sauce , salt and pepper. Mix well and fill a piping bag with a large star tip. Pipe back into eggs. Sprinkle with a little paprika and pepper.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Risotto no forno, rábanos e rabáno picante, com creme de queijo fresco vaca e lascas de cecina

A traditionalist at heart, I have never favoured oven baked risotto,but then again it has certain advantages. This non-traditional risotto is cooked as if it were a gratin,finished in the oven,rather than on the stovetop.This makes it much easier to prepare ahead of time and then finish at the last minute in about ten to twelve minutes.This allows you to watch that instalment of your favourite TV show and still stay calm about getting supper to the table bang on time.
The recipe here, once again is adapted from my new inspiration "bread is gold,"It is crunchy on top and soft and creamy in the middle.It is served with a creamy turmeric and crescenza cheese sauce.Crescenza is similar to stracchino.They are both Italian, made with fresh cow's milk cheese.I sourced a Portuguese queijo fresco made with cows milk,but at a pinch you could substitute with mascarpone or ricotta.The original recipe was served up with bresaola that had been dehydrated in the oven  and then crushed into fragments,similar to bacon bits and sprinkled over the tops of the individual risottos.Given our location I thought it appropriate to put an Iberican spin on it and serve it with cecina chippings.
I found the recipe for the actual risotto a little bland so decided to give it a bit more oomph.My solution was to pepper the proceedings with two elements that I think partner beef perfectly,baby radishes and horseradish.So not much of the original core recipe left.I did say in my first post from this book that it was inspirational and having made a few of the recipes  I now think inspirational  is the way forward,unless you are feeding the homeless on a mass catering scale.
Oven baked risotto with fresh cows cheese cream and cecina chippings
makes 5 individual risottos
3 cups chicken stock
1 small leek
1 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
180g / 6 oz
(Arbório or Carolino) risotto rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 Cups of hot radishes grated

1 dsp horseradisjh cream
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a milk pan, heat the stock until it begins to boil.Keep it warm on a low heat. Remove the green part of the leek and cut in thin rounds,rinse in a colander under a tap of running hot water running your fingers through the leek turning the rounds over.this accentuates the flavour when you cook it.Shake dry.
In an
a heavy-bottomed, straight-sided skillet — something in the 10- to 12-inch range heat the olive oil together with half the butter.Add the leek and saute until transparent,
but without it turning golden.Add the rice and stir. Let it cook for3-4 minutes. Add the wine and stir again. Let it cook until it evaporates.
Introduce the stock little by little and cook,stirring constantly ,until creamy,about 12 minutes.Add the radishes,horseradish parmesan,butter salt and pepper and mix to combine.Remove from the heat.Transfer to 5  x  7 cm circumference by 4,5cm deep stainless steel cooking rings.Let cool completely until you are ready to put them in the oven.Carefully remove the rings and arrange the risotto  on a prepared baking tray lined with parchment paper brushed with oil.Bake until golden brown 10-12 minutes.

200g fresh cows cheese or other soft mild cheese
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
45ml whole milk
flor de sal and freshly ground black pepper
In a blender,combine the cheese ,milk and turmeric and process until smooth season to taste with salt and pepper 

75g  thinly sliced Cecina or other cured meat
Preheat the oven to 200F(100C) or as low as your oven can go.Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.Arrange the cecina on the baking sheet and let dry in the oven for 1 hour.Let cool for 15 minutes,Crush into small chippings.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Lost in translation or unfulfilled muffins

Lost in translation, NOT.Undelivered promise,YES. Its as bad as a government making promises they cant keep.Well the "best of British" to that one.But it seems the Germans can´t deliver either,The promise of a warm chocolate and blueberry muffin on my plate for breakfast was not to be.
A blueberry muffin is a simple pleasure. They have always been hugely popular in cafes, breakfast bars and recipe books across the globe, and making blueberry muffins at home is easy, as punnets of fresh blueberries are readily available in shops.As the supermarket titans continue to entice us, it is not uncommon to see blueberries included in super-saver deals. Because blueberries freeze so well, it’s worth stocking up when you come across these deals. 
"Come Easter, chocolate is king",proclaimed the strapline on the recipe of the week in a recent Aldi promotions leaflet.Accompanied by some mouth watering photography of Chocolate muffins oozing deep purple juice and topped with fresh blueberries and sprigs of mint.
Blueberries and chocolate chips in one muffin? Yup. Why? Because it’s good. That’s why. Another reason why? Because I love both chocolate chip and blueberry muffins. So why make two separate muffins when you can just roll them into one? Perfect I thought.I purchased all the necessary ingredients cited in the recipe which came to a total of €14.28 to yield a promise of 30 delicious muffins.Having followed the recipe meticulously, no meddling here mother,it was not until I was at the stage of pouring the batter into the muffin moulds that I realised the recipe was not going to make the promised chocolate muffins.If one followed the recipe as I did one would end up with regular blueberry muffins with chocolate chips.
 Following the instructions this is what the recipe above delivered

Never one for waste I re-made the muffins which incidentally only yielded 20 not  30 as cited on the recipe.I made a second batch and now added cocoa powder to my batter.This time they delivered chocolate muffins,an approximation of the picture in the recipe but not half as luscious.
                                  My re-interpretation of the recipe,still not right
Both batches fell way short of their aspirational image.Fresh out of the oven, the chocolate chips were melted. The sweet and tart fruit juice of the burst blueberries was soaked throughout the muffins. The muffins were not the best and certainly not worth the 70 cents unit cost.In the words of AlDi´s own mission statement "Quality should not come at a high price; rather, great quality should come with everyday low prices".I dont think so Herr Albrecht, you did not get my vote on this time round.

I contacted Aldi customer services to inform them of the fact that their published recipe did not work and included photographic evidence.They replied immediately claiming that all their recipes are the creations of their nutritionalist Dr.ª Eduarda Alves and that all her work is tested before publication.I replied suggesting that they had the recipe re-tested and that I was very disappointed in their lack of responsibility.I have received no further response from them.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Oh my cod!! Fish and chip pie.Gimmick or gourmet gorgeous?

I´m all for trying new things and this is a classic with added pastry!

Take two British staples, Fish and chips and pie.The mouth watering prospect of a mixture of two traditional favourites of British cuisine sharing one plate, in principle, seems great.
How many of us have put a dinner on the table for friends and claimed that we made it ourselves,when if the truth be known It was a Marks and Spencer ready meal.Well here is the situation in reverse,You steal the recipe of one of the aforementioned store´s best sellers,and make it yourself at home and probably took only a little more time to make than if you’d bought one and baked it for 35 minutes.So whether Remainer,Brexiter, frustrated expat or someone just wanting to dabble in a bit of British tradition,here´s one for you.Such fun!!
In the all-butter shortbread pie crust, we have a minted pea puree (mushy peas) topped with cod chunks in a tartare sauce and and topped off with a chip ‘lid’.Start with the tartare sauce.The point of tartare sauce has always been to provide a piquant contrast to the mild-tasting food it accompanies.
In one knife-sharp hit, this sauce of egg, gherkins, mustard and capers continually sharpens an appetite that would soon be dulled by mouthful after mouthful of crumbed or battered food. Traditionally the sauce exists to put some much-needed spark into fried, crumbed or battered fish. After years of service in the dented sauceboats of hotel dining rooms, tartare made its bid for wider appreciation with a brigade in the 70´s who pub lunched on scampi in a basket. But history has not been kind to our classic and if we are not mindful, accompaniments like this one will be in danger of becoming a rare species.The secret here is in finding the correct balance between piquancy and creamy blandness. Too much vinegar or lemon in the mayonnaise and the result will be harsh; too few capers or gherkins and the essential piquancy will be lost.While the exact ratio is a matter of taste, the sauce needs an unmistakable tang.


30g butter
30g plain flour
300ml warmed milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, 
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
juice of ½ a lemon 1 tbsp rinsed capers
1 tbsp chopped gherkins
2 tbsp chopped parsley
 Start by making a small quantity of classic bechamel (quantities above) Stir in the egg yolk,Dijon mustard,lemon juice, rinsed capers and chopped gherkins, plus 2 tbsp of chopped parsley. Check the seasoning – you want it to be piquant, but not acidic.
Take a pie dish  6"x 4"x 3"deep (150cm x 100cm x 70cm)
grease it all over and line it with baking parchment
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
Make the chips by cutting enough potato to cover the top of the pie dish with chunky sized chip shapes. Then boil the potatoes in a saucepan of water for 4-5 minutes.
Bake in an oiled dish in a hot oven for approx 30 minutes, stirring regularly.
Meanwhile, roll out enough shortcrust pastry to line your pie tin. Prick the base and inside edges of the pie with a folk.
Line the inside of the Pastry with greaseproof or parchment paper. Pour in some baking beans and blind-bake for 15 minutes.
Also bake the Fish (cod fillets) in the oven on a grill tray for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the mushy peas by cooking the Peas in a saucepan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Then drain from their water.
Return the Peas to the saucepan, add some butter and mint then mash until you’re happy with the consistency.
Once cooked, remove everything from the oven and remove the baking beans from the pastry case.
Construct the pie by layering in the Mushy peas, Fish, Tartar Sauce, then top the pie off with the Chunky Chips.
Finally, place the pie back in the oven for a final 15 minutes to finish baking.
When the pastry turns golden and the chips are crisp, remove from the oven, cut the pie in half and serve straight away.