Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Squids in,black is back

looking for something spooky to rustle up for halloween? Ask Nigella

One of the most well-known foodie trends of last year was black food. There are numerous ways to accomplish introducing your dishes to the dark side, but the most popular way is squid ink. It's surprisingly simple to add it into a dish's creation process, and the outcome is usually an elegant, aesthetically-pleasing dish.Here are some recipes I have collated for a ghoulish evening.

                                                                            Photo by Christine Willmsen
Pasta is one of the most popular squid ink-infused creations, and it's easy to see why. Whether you want to make it yourself by adding a bit of squid ink into your pasta recipe or purchase it already made, it's pretty easy to get your hands on some squid ink pasta. There are so many different varieties, including spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, and more! It's most commonly used in seafood pasta dishes - in fact, the noodles pictured above were part of a Squid Ink Pasta with Scallops recipe from The Solo Cook - but they can also be served with a simple sauce, since the noodles are a main part of the dish's flavour.
 Black battered fish and chips from

Classic fish and chips is an iconic part of British cuisine.The established reliability of it makes it a good candidate for experiments. Bringing this dish into the realms of halloween is as simple as adding a little bit of squid ink into the batter that the fish is dipped into before frying. The outcome is a uniquely jet black, richly flavoured twist on a classic.
Pataniscas de peixe negros 
com sriracha sauce
makes 30
250g Cod or Pollock fillets
200g potatoes 
60g finely chopped onion
10g finely chopped parsley
20g (5 x 4g sachets) squid ink
4 eggs
olive oil
1 clove garlic
Bread crumbs as required
Flor de sal and pepper, nutmeg to taste
Sunflower oil for frying

Boil the unpeeled potatoes with a clove of garlic,salt and olive oil.Remove from the heat and when cool,mash.
Steep the pollock in some hot milk with some peppercorns and a bay leaf.When it almost comes to the boil, remove from the heat and leave with a lid on for 5 minutes then flake it.Add the flaked fish to the mashed potato, chopped onion parsley and stir in the squid ink.Add the eggs one by one and stir them into the mix.Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.With the help of two dessert spoons make quenelles and fry them in a deep fryer at 180C.

      Finally for the more adventurous  

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Live a Lidl,Love a Lidl.A Lidl goes a long way with a Lidl less snobbery

Beautifully photographed and styled;a recipe from the Lidl "mais" magazine
You used to be able to tell a lot from a shopping bag, but it’s a little harder since plastic  recycling became de rigeur. Is yours a stout plastic number from Waitrose? Or an organic cotton thing, hand-knitted from a Gaelic-speaking vegan co-operative? The weekly shop it seems has become a pointless form of particularity; a concern with food that ignores real issues of sustainability and embraces bespoke snobbery.Class used to be about jobs, accents, fee-paying schools and the house you lived in. Now it appears to be about your lifestyle and whats in your shopping trolley.
In one of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads dramas,I can´t remember which one, someone exposes themselves in a branch of Sainsbury's. "Tesco's you could understand," says an elderly woman tartly. It's a remark that neatly sums up both the British obsession with class and its almost tribal attachment to specific supermarket brands. Tesco, the implication goes, used to be for commoner people who were slightly more likely to drop their trousers in public than Sainsbury's shoppers. Waitrose, on the other hand, is for those more likely to have second homes in the Algarve than the first two.There can be no doubt that Rupert and Fliss or Flick as her Made in Chelsea friends know her, are lured there  by the smart house style and livery, Conran grey with aureolin accents; What about Asda then? Asda is for people who aspire to have a second home anywhere but probably never will; Ahh Iceland, I hear you say,who shops there? People who have never heard of Waitrose perhaps;Budgens is for Huw and Gwenda who affect to have never heard of Aldi and have opted for a more rural lifestyle in very flat Norfolk or sedentary Suffolk.
As for who shops at Aldi or Lidl,that leaves us with a pretty broad demographic.You are just as likely to see as many Audis at Aldi as you are Land Rovers at Lidl.Four- by- Fours might look really dinky on the driveway and ab fab in front of the wine bar,but they will also pull in next to a beat up whatever or camper van outside Lidl.Oh yes, trailer trash even make a temporary home nowadays in a Lidl car park.The transient population is even offered designated camping areas at Lidl.
Wayne and Leanne and Lee and Noreen would normally shop at Morrisons when they are at home in the UK, but when in Portugal escaping the weather and Brexit they can be seen shopping at Lidl a fair bit, as they would at Kwik Save,and Netto back home.They are not however the typical Lidl demographic either.Lidl is no longer about a quest to get your pennyworth, although bargains always abound.
I have written before about the odd phenomenon that is LidlI.Is it just my local branch that’s always a hothouse of weirdness? The bizarre selection of random merchandise (sports bras one week, childrens wigwams /tents the next, and fishing tackle the next) all sitting alongside the food.I really dont feel comfortable doing my foodshop next to a packet of lady leggings or extra large mens pants .So at first glance, it’s possibly not the kind of place where you’d go to pick up the ingredients for a chic dinner.  But… surprisingly, you can find some rather good continental goodies there.Endamame beans, Wasabi peanuts John Dory fillets,Bresaola,Pecorino Romano,Amaretti cookies to name but a few of my favourites.
Already a household name across Europe, from the United kingdom to Portugal to Sweden, Lidl, like Aldi, is not known for its charm—you go there because of the prices. Load up your cart and get out. Bags are an extra charge, you won't recognize a lot of the brands, and the only thing you can really be picky about, if you're going to shop there, is saving money.So what is the main reason for shopping at Lidl? The following is an abridged extract from a newsletter published by the Portugues jornal "Agricultura e mar" in 2016
"Lidl focuses on fresh produce from local producers"
Lidl is a food distribution chain of German origin, which dates back to the 1930s. It is active in more than 29 countries and currently has about 10,000 stores in 26 countries with more than 200,000 employees. For more than 20 years in Portugal, Lidl currently has 241 points of sale and 4 warehouses.Lidl Portugal "increasingly focuses on the quality and freshness of fresh produce with an exclusive distribution system, choice of fruit of the season using local producers.
"The commitment to the freshness and quality of Lidl products and the principle of maximum quality at the lowest price are part of the company's DNA", adds the same source, saying that the company "supports its position in the market through a systematic work, where quality, a fundamental requirement, is worked from the source, from partnerships with suppliers and trading partners, through the distribution system, to the store. ""At all stages of the process are guaranteed maximum quality and freshness that meet the criteria and standards of demand of Lidl customers.Lidl guarantees that it has the daily delivery of fruit and vegetables in all its 241 stores, its distribution seeks to reduce the time from picking to the customer's home to the minimum, and that Lidl Portugal's suppliers "meet strict criteria of certification, as is the case of Global GAP which ensures safe and sustainable production. "The supermarket chain also ensures that it has a purchasing policy that favours the local purchase and whenever possible the local producers. Currently about 70% of the available supply of fruits and vegetables is bought locally. "The use of local producers allows shorter delivery times, causing several products to have a producer / store circuit less than 24 hours after harvesting in the field," the company says.On the other hand, Lidl highlights the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Products, "which guarantees quality and promotes local development. As an example, Lidl Portugal is the distribution chain that most packaged apples from Alcobaça bought and sold during the 2014/2015 marketing year for the fifth consecutive year, according to the Association of Producers of Apple of Alcobaça (APMA) . This year's campaign reached 2.5 million kg of Apple of Alcobaça, equivalent to 20,000,000 apples, almost double the sales of the previous campaign, says Lidl.there is a spirit of partnership and innovation with our commercial partners, where we highlight the specific product lines, such as the apple of Alcobaça and Pêra Rocha in mini format for the youngest. Or the export support of Pêra Rocha do Oeste to Germany, which in less than two years of partnership with Portugal Fresh saw the volume of exports double (2,500 tons in the first year and 5,000 tons in the second), reaching 7 , 5 thousand tons. This volume is equivalent to 54 million units of Pêra Rocha, and makes an average Pêra Rocha to each German home (40 million households in 2014), "adds Lidl.

Muffins de salgados from the Lidl lifestyle magazine "mais"
Makes 18 or 36 mini muffins
2 large eggs
100ml cold milk
125g pot of yoghurt
25ml olive oil
1 teaspoon Flor de sal Salmarim
1Tablespoon piri piri chilli flakes
1 small onion finely chopped
1 handful flat-leaf parsley chopped
150g chouriço corrente ( cooking chouriço)
150g smoked ham, paio de lombo or smoked bacon
275g mixture of grated mozzarella and grated cheddar or flamengo
275g grated courgette
275g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder.
Pre-heat the oven to180ºC /390F / Gas mark 6. Lightly grease each mould of your muffin tray with vegetable oil.Chop the meats into small cubes and set aside in a bowl.In a large bowl, beat the eggs well with the olive oil, then stir in the milk and yoghurt and beat a little more to combine.Stir in the rest of the ingredients except the flour and baking powder. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and fold through gently, then spoon
the mixture into the prepared muffin trays almost to the top.bake for about 25 minutes until puffed and golden.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Espresso bolo.Afternoon tea with history

More homely than sophisticated and dainty; If push came to shove, most of us would admit to preferring the sort of cakes our grannies might have made (if they had lived in Ambridge), those ones sold on paper plates made from a WI recipe and wrapped messily in clingfilm at the village fete, bring and buy sale or the all new event The Worlds biggest coffee morning; in short, the cakes you imagine the pious Mary Berry probably feasts on for breakfast.
If I had to pick one cake to represent England, it would have to be a Coffee and Walnut Cake. The Fullers Tea Room*  version is mentioned in both Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited and Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate. That's a good enough pedigree for me! As it turns out the original Fuller's Walnut Cake had two layers with buttercream between them, as did my mothers coffee and walnut cake of my childhood, but having lost my mothers transcript, the recipe I found was for a single layer cake. I'll definitely have to try it again. However, if you want something smaller and simpler than a layer cake, this recipe will work out just fine. It's subtly walnutty,utterly butterly and not too sweet.Delicious with a cup of tea.This is a classic tea room cake as would have been served in the aforementioned Fullers who ran the tearoom for the London Coliseum,
 The London Coliseum Tea Room - From a Postcard in 1904
staffed by ladies in black and white uniform.Another celebrated tea room, Betty´s in Harrogate, the Yorkshire institution, turned 100 this year.

Growing up, this cake was a constant on our kitchen counter. My mum made it practically every week, and I would have a giant slice with a big glass of milk. It was one of the most well worn pages from her cookbook, and it wasn´t till recently that it suddenly came back to light in my head.
Coffee and walnut cake
This is a revised, more contemporary, version of one of the original sponge cakes I remember from my childhood. Now, though, since the advent of mascarpone, the icing is a great improvement. finely chopped walnuts give it amazing texture. A little cream cheese makes it especially smooth and delicious. My version however is topped with an easy espresso-infused buttercream icing. Fie on Nigel Slater or anyone else who advocates the use of instant coffee granules. I have flavoured both cake and frosting with strong homemade espresso
  •  Cake:
  • 3/4 cup walnuts (divided)
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar (granulated)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons strong espresso or very strong black coffee
  • Frosting:
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter (softened)
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons strong espresso or very strong black coffee
Heat the oven to 350 F/180 C/Gas 4. Grease and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.With a food processor or food chopper, finely chop 1/2 cup of the walnuts. Set aside.Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; blend thoroughly and set aside.In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat the 1/2 cup of softened butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Blend in the vanilla.In a measuring cup, combine the milk with the 3 tablespoons of espresso or coffee.With the mixer on low speed, blend in the flour mixture into the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk and espresso mixture. Blend well.Fold in the finely chopped walnuts.Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan.Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched with a finger. A toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and cool completely

In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, blend the confectioners' sugar with the 2 tablespoons of butter and the cream cheese. Beat in the strong espresso or coffee, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the frosting is fluffy and spreadable. Add more confectioners' sugar if it becomes too thin.
Coarsely chop the remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts.
Spread frosting over the top and sides of the cooled cake.
Sprinkle the coarsely chopped walnuts over the top of the cake.
* Years ago, Fullers Tea Rooms were a familiar sight in many English towns and Fullers cakes, which came surrounded with paper straw and packed in shiny, white boxes, were a nice reminder that bought cakes could be good. Fullers Walnut Cake with its crunchy white icing was legendary. 

Thursday, 3 October 2019


Signature pan seared cajun pork with turmeric and Singapore slaw,recipe below
The question “what’s your signature dish?” is one that all us cooks and chefs will face at some point in a culinary career. The older you get,and more people get to recognise your style, the more frequently you will hear this. It’s always a good idea to have a fluid menu that you can adapt and change, but a signature dish provides an essential anchor,and something people will remember you by.
A signature dish can even play a part in helping you to build a brand as it has done here at Casa Rosada.
What makes a signature dish? there seem to be differing views on what a signature dish really is. There’s general agreement that it’s the one dish that is really “you.” Some  feel that a signature dish is the one that you are the most confident in making and displays a balance of impact and ease. Others might say that a signature dish is one that sums up your passions and cooking style – or it’s the most technically difficult dish you do.Food for thought and room for interpretation when developing one.
What makes a signature dish significant? For me its simplicity – The ideal signature dish should be innovative or one´s own interpretation of something classic that you have put your own stamp on,it can be both adventurous and creative – but simple. You know you can prepare it and you know what it’s trying to say.The personal touch is all important – Eggs Benedict is a classic brunch dish but if you add a twist of your own to it then it can become your signature dish. I mutated Eggs Benedict into Eggs Benedict Cumberbatch by adding smoked salmon, avocado and trading the muffin for grilled polenta.  
Perhaps it can be about adding an unexpected flavour to something or an unusual glaze to a pastry.This is innovating the construction of the dish.It is all about showcasing something that others might not otherwise have thought about.I applied this to both a traditional and a savoury version of pannacotta.To the traditional recipe I infused the cream with lemon geranium and for a savoury version I added slow roasted tomatoes and angostura bitters. Another unexpected combination I put together was  Panna cotta de trufa boletus or Porcini mushrooms with bacon marmalade.
That astonishing pair of culinary geniuses The Clarks of Restaurant Moro in London put a very simple twist on something I have always loved,that age old classic rum and raisin ice cream.By soaking the raisins in sherry and pouring some more sherry over the top before serving gave this retro dessert a more modern context.Helado de pasas de Málaga Malaga raisin ice cream with Pedro Ximenez.
Many a signature dish has been built upon fantastic flavour combinations, which makes this a great place to start when your are in the development process. Make a list of the ingredients you love to use and go through a tasting process. Which combinations make sense classically and where could you add a different taste to produce something completely new? My signature pesto for instance is Ginger, mint, basil and coriander ,which when combined with dry roasted peanuts as opposed to pine nuts gives the pesto an excitingly fresh twist. and opens up an avenue of new serving options.
Presentation – if this is the dish that says everything about you as a cook then it should be presented with pride. Great signature dishes usually arrive to an awed intake of breath from the diner.It´s always worth taking the time to factor in plate design and the best way to present the ingredients you’re using so they make the most impact.I recently drew breath when I served a Caesar salad in a giant crouton box.
As a child, I was absolutely revulsed by bread and butter pudding.I even balk at modern interpretations using brioche and fresh grapes or adding citrus tones,but by making it with anchovies, ricotta and parmesan and by substituting olives and capers for the sultanas and raisins, it suddenly transformed into something more than acceptable to a more matured and sophisticated palate.
Anchovy bread and butter pudding

Signature pan seared cajun pork 
with turmeric and Singapore slaw (above)

Cajun seasoning is essential for creating many of the best-known dishes from Louisiana’s legendary food culture. Its blend of familiar, savoury flavours can be used to enhance a variety of dishes from elsewhere as well.
Cajun seasoning blends typically contain onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt
These are not exactly the most exotic ingredients. In other words, it is a relatively simple task to find them and then to blend them all yourself.Its not that difficult either to amp up the formula and arouse the senses a bit more. I omit oregano, paprika,and salt but introduce turmeric and thyme, in addition to the other spices.
I have fine tuned the spices in this rub to make it one of my signature rubs, It works best with pork or any other white meat
to start 1 heaped tsp.good quality cajun spice mix
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
2 1/2 tsp. light brown sugar, divided
2 large boneless pork loin chops (about 600g total)
Working one at a time, place pork chop flat on a work surface. First, butterfly the pork chop so that it’s thinner, which will reduce cooking time and create more surface area for seasoning. Using a sharp knife and starting from an outside edge, slice three-quarters of the way through the centre of chop, as though you’re slicing a bagel in half, then open it up like a book. Place butterflied chop between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or inside a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag and pound to 1/4" thin. Repeat with remaining chop. Rub chops with turmeric mixture and let sit 10 minutes.Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over high until shimmering. Cook chops one at a time until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Slice into 1/2"-thick strips.  
Singapore slaw
2 cups chinese leaf,green cabbage or 1 small pack of pre-shredded coleslaw mix
1 cup turnip or radish peeled and cut into thin strips
1 sweet orange sectioned (optional)
1 cup green,red and yellow pepper cut into thin strips
1 shallot,thinly sliced into rings
1/4 cup fresh coriander 
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

1/4 cup peanut oil
2 tbsp rice vinegar
tsp golden caster sugar
tbsp sesame oil
tsp soya sauce
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
Combine the cabbage,turnip/radish,orange sections if using,peppers,shallot and coriander in a large salad bowl.Cover and chill till ready to serve or up to 4 hours.
For the dressing,combine peanut oil,vinegar,sugar,sesame oil,soy sauce, and dry mustard in a screw-top jar.cover and shake vigorously.(This dressing can be made up to 1 week ahead and kept chilled in the jar.
To serve, toss the slaw with dressing and sprinkle with peanuts.