Saturday, 30 May 2020

Saline inspiration
The briney quality of seaside wine is definitely going to be all the rage this summer if I´ve got anything to say on the matter.

A savagely sunny day by the sea, a platter of perfectly grilled prawns, the aroma of succulent sweet and smoky sardines, indigenous and abundant sensual oysters – freshly caught and bought direct from the fisherman; and last but not least by any tipplers imagination a perfectly chilled bottle of the great beside the sea white wine, albariño/ alvarino.
 Seafood friendly, crisp, clean and citrussy,there aren´t enough adjectives to describe albariño or its Portuguese cousin alvarinho. One of not only Spain’s but Portugal´s gifts to the big wide wine world.The Iberian Peninsula’s greatest white grape variety is taking hold in pandemic proportions around the world right now.
The seasidey briney quality of this wine, so evocative of its origins whether it be Rías Baixas in Atlantic coastal Galicia, or the Minho region in Portugal,its zesty acid, bright citrus and green apple flavours, refreshing personality and full invigorating effect make it a superb seafood wine.It could even be a perfect pairing for fish and chips, where the wine’s acidity would make a refreshing foil to the battered crust.If you are not permitted to travel or meander on down to the costa del atlantico this summer here s a fantasy that can be easily fulfilled at home.

"Because the contrasts define me, I am unique. I'm different.MADE OF ATLANTIC. UNCONQUERABLE. " Mar de Frades website

Mar de Frades Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain 2019
(Bodeboca 9.44 ) (UK £18.95,
Albariño has been in Galicia for the best part of a millennium, but there is great alvarinho – just across the border from Galicia in the Vinho Verde region of northern Portugal, from producers such as Anselmo Mendes (alvarinho contacto 2019) £14.44 UK 
( ) 9.44 (Garrafeira Soares PT)
Quinta de Soalheiro (Alvarinho soalheiro 2019; 9.49  (Garrafeira Soares PT) UK £11.01, Quinta de Soalheiro - Soalheiro Allo 2019 UK £6.92 (

Friday, 29 May 2020

Kitchen Disco

                                    Maravilhoso maravilhoso! 👏 e fantastico

OH WHAT JOY!!!,This is exactly what we all need.Its got me wearing pink tinsel and gold heels!!! I've actually had 'Stay At Home' stuck in my head since I first saw this video. Hearing the "THE MESSAGE" conveyed in this way actually resonates.If this is government advice,wouldn´t you rather take it from this woman than happy boy or doormat Hancock.It has inspired my daily circuit training round the kitchen table.When I''m cooking chicken breast with quinoa, I´m dancing and singing "Stay At Home"!! The first time I heard it I was so excited I nearly spilled my Gin and Tonic.The best thing about lockdown is this type of creative madness.This is a class act.I want lockdown to last for ever so we can enjoy more daily guilty pleasures,like this.ABSOLUTELY  FAABULOUSSS! Encore.......

Thursday, 28 May 2020

"all of my avocados just ripened at once"

Dear me,but doesn't time fly when you are enjoying yourself?!!It seems like it was only the other day that I was signing up for High 50 and today I find myself signing up to follow starts at 60.
"all of my avocados just ripened at once" was the strap line that popped out at me.Was this a euphemism for some lucky soul who just got flashed by some eye candy or was it a nod to Victoria Wood? Its like you popped to the shop for a bar of chocolate and some avocado and when you came out smelling of Revlon your avocados had already ripened.They say a brown paper bag does wonders for ripening an avocado quickly.Well nothing can ruin your plans more than a brown mushy avocado.
In case you were wondering like myself the avocado is a fruit. More specifically, botanists define it as a large berry with a single seed.
Avocados are notorious for turning brown and slimy once they’ve been cut open, and there’s nothing more frustrating than throwing away perfectly good food!
But one savvy woman has revealed a simple trick for preventing the browning process — and it’s all down to how you cut it. Margaret Drisi shared her secret on the new teen app TikTok, which allows users to share videos,She calls it the ‘Dinosaur Egg Avocado Hack’.
In the short video (above), which has been viewed more than 170,000 times so far, the woman shows the unusual way she cuts into an avocado to prevent it from turning brown. “This is how to cut your avocado so it doesn’t go bad when you’re only using a little piece of it every day,” she says in the video.
Instead of slicing the avocado right down the middle as most people would, Margaret slices a round piece off the very top of the avocado. With a tablespoon, she then scoops the fruit out of the chopped-off piece, before continuing to dig out some from the rest of the avocado. She then places the remainder of the avocado in an air-tight container, with the rest of the peel and seed intact, which protects the avocado from turning brown.Cookbooks and Grandma's recipe cards aren't the only places to find expert techniques; social media also happens to be a useful tool for cooking tips and tricks.As someone who often eats one per day,it probably wouldn´t be practical for me, but I thought I needed to try the method for myself.Bearing in mind my age I erred cautiously towards this new social media platform for teens,TikTok.I Tried the TikTok Hack to Keeping An Avocado From Going Brown—and after three days in my fridge it worked.
The only reason this method probably won't become my go-to is that I usually enjoy half of an avocado at a time. But if you have better portion control and only like a little, this is trick is a great idea.
Lettuce leaves even keep buns fresh!
Nosing around the starts at 60 site further I found these enterprising sexagenarians  recently shared another hack to keep avocados fresh for longer — and the secret is can you believe it,lettuce leaves?!
"Sort of accidentally I discovered that I have been throwing away 1st class food wrap", a woman from New Zealand wrote on her Facebook page. “Lettuce leaves, primarily the outer ones that are a bit harder, Make excellent food wrap! Since they’re designed for that purpose in the first place… ( who knew!)”
Sharing an image of her cut avocado, she added: “This avo was cut a week ago, and stored in the fridge ever since, wrapped in lettuce leaf. All good for today’s breakfast. Incidentally, Lettuce leaves even keep buns fresh!”

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

African peanut soup

You know how sometimes you have distinct memories of nothing in particular? I barely remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, but for some reason, I have a very clear memory of eating peanut soup on the terrace of The House of Wonders in Zanzibar in 2000.I have had the moment jotted down in my holiday notebook since January 2000. It has taken CV lockdown for me to actually find the recipe and get around to making it. So now,I will always associate peanut soup with that special dinner in Stone Town Zanzibar.
We had visited in the morning and thoroughly enjoyed pottering in the palace,  taking in its artefacts and having noticed a small restaurant with an interesting menu and stunning view over the gardens we decided to return for dinner. Here I sampled one of the best soups that I have ever tasted and dare I say it, the bill was peanuts.
House of Wonders (Beit al-Ajab)
 this is a virtual tour showing the very terrace where we ate dinner

It is the largest and tallest building of Stone Town and occupies a strategic place facing the Forodhani Gardens on the old town's seafront,in Mizingani Road. It is located between the Old Fort and the Palace Museum. The House of Wonders, or the sultan´s palace is one of Stone Town's most prominent landmarks, showcasing European and Omani influence not only in appearance, but also through the various exhibitions housed here.This was until 2012 the best place to catch up on Swahili and colonial culture.Sadly due to falling in to disrepair it was forced to close is doors
This iconic building rises in impressive tiers of slender steel pillars and balconies overlooking the waterfront. Its enormous carved doors are said to be the largest in East Africa, fronted by two bronze cannon with Portuguese inscriptions dating them to the 16th century.
Evocative of Stone Town and peppered by the spice tour we had been taken on.
Peanut soup is not exactly the lightest soup, but this recipe includes an option for trimming things down a little bit by using less coconut milk. I made the non-light version because even though this African Peanut Soup is pretty calorie-dense, it’s also very filling, so I don’t feel the need to go back for seconds. The sweet potato is perfect with the creamy, peanutty base.I also blended the soup which from my memory was how the soup was served to me.

African Peanut Soup
Having enjoyed this soup in Africa,it certainly fills the bill of a summer starter.
When I made it I had a fair quantity left over so I tried it chilled and it worked beautifully,but I would suggest the diluted version for this.Combined with a Thai red curry paste it makes a wonderful curry sauce.

3 cups vegetable stock or water
2 (15-ounce) cans coconut milk
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup diced celery
4 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 teaspoon seeded and diced hot chilli pepper
4 cups chopped sweet potato (1/2-inch pieces)
1 1/2 cups chopped tomato (1/2-inch pieces) or 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon Berbere spice mix (optional)
3/4 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, for garnish

Sauté the onion, celery, and garlic and sweet potato in 1 tablespoon of oil before adding the vegetable stock.Cook for 5 minutes until vegetables start to soften.Add the chilli tomatoes,salt and pepper, spices and soya sauce if using.
Continue cooking for another 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
Remove about 1 cup of the liquid and place it into a small bowl. Add the peanut butter and stir until creamy. Return the mixture to the pan, stir well, and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the coriander stir and then blend the soup till its smooth and velvety.  
Garnish with peanuts and extra coriander leaves before serving.
For a lighter soup, replace one can of coconut milk with an equivalent amount of vegetable stock or water.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Recipe for an elite back garden roasting

What’s the secret ingredient to a great back garden roasting? Bovril. Invite your journo friends round for a late afternoon roasting. If they can walk there,tell them to come to the barbecue.Dont tell them to come to to the barbecue if they´ve got a bike, but if they can walk come to the barbecue. They can also come to the barbecue if they have a bike,but if they don´t have a bike or can´t ride a bike they can´t come to the barbecue.Tell them to read DVLA regulations on poor eyesight and if they are having trouble with their eyes, tell them to take a short drive in their car, but even better when they arrive pretend you are still in Durham.First and foremost tell them to "STAY ELITE" at all times.If they cant stay elite or have always been elite or cant come to the barbecue tell them to go to their second home.

Always consult with your wife about what you should wear.Tea cosy man or tracksuit and hoodie is not a good look for a barbecue.
Make sure you allow enough times for a delay to the scheduled time for your barbecue to start.(allow at least 30 minutes).Say "Hi there" smugly when your guests arrive and when in conversation always talk to them contemptuously. 
Always remember you are better than your guests.
Always lie to them,even your bestest friends will spread fake news about you.Never apologise if anything goes wrong.

Before your guests arrive
Lightly brush your meat with some Beefy British Bovril before cooking. It adds an extra taste element called ‘umami’ – the fifth taste after salt, sweet, sour and bitter. It really makes a difference.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

The all day shift worker,Greek yoghurt

I honestly can’t remember the last time my fridge was yogurt-less.I never have enough yoghurt in my fridge to fulfil the cooks needs.
Over the last two months as I hunkered down,Greek yoghurt has been one of the hardest working ingredients in my fridge.It is the sort of staple that can bounce between sweet and savoury recipes without batting an eyelid.This all day shift worker provides me a service  24 hours a day ,seven days a week. 
This is the perfect example of where a migrant ingredient could work wonders in a British kitchen where Billy No Mates would have been too lazy to even be considered for the job.
The early morning shift covers a breakfast topping for my granola and fruit or when I´m in the fitness frame of mind,a smoothie.During the midday shift I can put it to good use in a potato salad or dressing for a porky pitta pocket or other sandwich filling.While the all day or overnight shift can be employed in any number of marinades.
In this fool-proof recipe for never-dry chicken breasts, Greek yogurt works double-duty—both as a marinade and a salad dressing.
I have always liked this recipe,not just for the aromatic spicing,but for its convenience.This is one of those recipes you end up blessing for the fact that it is better prepared in advance.The last minute activity involves nothing more than putting the dish in the oven chopping a bit of garnish and making a salad or cooking some rice.All you have to do really is make a marinade that is not so much hot as imbued with an earthy warmth.
The yogurt-based marinade gives it its mild temperature from ground coriander, turmeric and cumin, with a pinch of ground cayenne. The result is on the lower reaches of the heat scale, yet the smell from the oven as it is cooking, the spiced yogurt forming a light crust around the meat, always brings a smile to my face.
Frango Elaichi Jirey Mirey malai masala
(Chicken baked with peppercorns cardamom and other spices )
This is a Goan Speciality and a real tongue tingler. Jirey means cumin, Mirey means black peppercorns and Elaichi is Caradamom. Malai means cream and this is exactly how the meat turns out too, rich and creamy.

4 large,free range chicken breasts
250ml home made or good quality greek yoghurt

For the masala
the seeds of 6 green cardamom pods

1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 heaped teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons flor de sal
thumb-sized piece of ginger
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
a cinnamon stick
large bunch of coriander and mint leaves
Put the whole peppercorns,the cardamom cuminand coriander seeds in apestle and mortar and grind them to a fine powder. The true goan tradition would have specified roasting the spices first, but I have taken a short cut at no expense to the finished dish.Put the water into a food processor, then add the salt, the peeled and choppped ginger, peeled garlic, the cayenne, vinegar and finally the ground spices. Blitz to a smoothish paste.
Put the yoghurt in a bowl large enough to take the chicken breasts and stir in the spice paste. Add the chicken breasts and make sure the masala covers it completely. Break the cinnamon stick in half and and add it to the masala. Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinade for a minimum of 2 hours, but ideally overnight.Set the oven to 220C / gas mark 9. Transfer the chicken and masala to a shallow oven proof dish. Bake for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the yoghurt has a golden dark brown crust. Scatter with
leaves and mix the rest of the leaves into an accompanying rice dish.
Try making your yoghurt work a double shift as I have done here.Having marinaded the chicken I employed more yoghurt to make a dressing for an Indian style cucumber salad on the side.Often, cucumbers get tossed with sour cream or créme fraîche or Greek yogurt as a dressing.Its a sort of embellished  raita.
Indian-style cucumber salad (pictured above)

1 long cucumber
1 medium red onion, diced
an assortment of mixed cherry tomatoes,some halved
handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and diced
1 green chilli, deseeded and diced
2 limes, juiced
15ml (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
3 tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped

For the dressing 
One 100g pot greek yoghurt
¼ tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp ground cumin

Peel the cucumber, remove the seeds with a teaspoon, then cut into slices.
Put the cucumber slices into a bowl. Add the onion, tomatoes, coriander, red and green chillies, lime juice, vegetable oil and chopped peanuts. Toss together.Mix the cumin and chilli powder together in a bowl with the yoghurt
Spoon the yoghurt dressing over the top.Serve with pappadoms.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

When one door closes.....

Illustration from an original edition "O livro de pantagruel" 
On a health level,these last 10 weeks we’ve eaten better than we have in years, and that’s saying a lot.Here at casa rosada we eat pretty damn well, but if the truth be known I have been secretly quite enjoying this period of forced confinement. I have been able to cook at home as I always do, but just for the two of us minus the privilege of cooking for our patrons. 
In the early days of lockdown we saw chefs, bakers and other crafts people do a commendable job with baking classes and cook-alongs, helping us all navigate our kitchens with panache.They taught us to bake, how to be thrifty and one thousand and one other tips for managing a better kitchen.
This informative video is a useful time-saver that will enable you to get good at meat pies, pork recipes, classic British food, oven bake recipes, main dish recipes, bacon recipes, more than 1 hour.

For some it has become a near-daily ritual to exchange photos with family and friends of what they are cooking. I find it quite remarkable, that in distancing ourselves from each other, we now know more about each others’ daily lives.
With the pace of life slowing down it has been so rewarding for me to hear from readers in response to my blog posts who are cooking the recipes and enjoying them and seeking further information.

"After reading your post 'm aroused and hungry 
all at the same time!"

As the writer of a blog about my biggest passion, it means the world to me when recently I received this response(above) to one of my posts. The post in particular was Soufflé de bacalhau,rising to the occasion.I re-read the post to try and ascertain the basis for this comment,but was left wondering whether the reader had misinterpreted an unintentional inuendo in the heading. Whatever the reason, it was a great pleasure to know one is being acknowledged by one´s readers.I have always been well aware when writing that content must include something to trigger that all important emotional response.

As we move into the next phase,whatever that maybe, it would be great to see gastronomy moving beyond these instructional formats that have been seen so far.We now have to put those lessons into practice.
 It would be exciting to exchange ideas, getting creative together by co-creation.From the keenest of cooks to the humblest of beginners, the kitchen has provided us all with the one thing we’ve been missing the most, freedom. We have been able to cook to feed our families and experiment in our own time without that pressure of having to get a meal on the table at a certain time. And I dont mean getting creative with a banana or a jar of peanut butter.
As our plans were all halted, we sat first twiddling our thumbs then joined in to the newly re-established love of home cooking. We baked, then we fermented and rendered and tempered, over-egged the pudding and even more goals would have been the icing on the cake. Some of us  live streamed what we were doing to give friends and followers a way of joining in.Having learnt all this we must continue to connect to our communities in this way, while championing local purveyors, farmers and artisans. Sharing our resources so that they too may survive this bleak economic period.Flag up what you know is good; tell us all about it, be it a restaurant you visited,a particularly well stocked farm shop or an unusual local supplier.
 Necessity is the mother of invention they say, and this has been the time to pick up our spatulas,spurtles wooden spoons and whisks and embark on a culinary adventure.These are the tools that have given us the freedom to become creative.Now is the time to look at what´s in our spoons with fresh eyes.Let us not be afraid of creating delicious meals out of the humblest ingredients, leaving extravagance behind (at least for a while). Be resourceful! Be savvy! just COOK will ya!
We have had more than enough doors closed to us for the last two months,shops restaurants, the barber,you name it, but they say when one door closes another one opens and one grand portal that is now wide open and beckoning, the doorway to a place of enchantment,the kitchen.The new necromancer.Bring things back to life, go back to mum´s recipes.
Cool your biryani with leftovers from yesterdays vegetable curry.Use those leftovers to jazz up and embolden the flavour of tonights whatever.
My amateur attempts are no match for those supremely crafted mouthfuls made by someone who’s been honing their skills with balletic repetition their whole professional life, but I am proud that I can induce a positive response from the gourmands I feed, and dont get me wrong I´m yearning for food cooked by someone else – especially if that someone happens to be a masterchef. God I miss flawless plates prepared by a professional.
What does the restaurant world look like as we good citizens slowly emerge from a deep slumber.The chefs and restaurateurs are recommencing the stirring of industrial-sized stock pots and setting of tables with gleaming cutlery ready for us? Support an industry in crisis and spread the word....

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Celeriac bhajia burger with wasabi lime coconut coleslaw

Ram jam packed full of tastiness using 9 easily sourced ingredients
One of the very best things you can make with a rather tired looking vegetable (not that my celeriac looked anything less than perky), is bhajia. Bhajia can of course be made from a variety of vegetables, including, I recently read, vegetable peelings. In this case I was thinking about a challenge to make good use of the celeriac, and also what might go well with it.
Almost all vegetables, (I have never tried potatoes) work well in bhajia, the batter holds even small things like peas together. They make an ideal gluten free dish, they also happen to be vegan.As you know, if the label says vegan I walk on by, but on this one occasion my attention was arrested and delicious it was too.At least it wasn´t pretending to be meat.
When making bhajia  I usually add grated ginger, green chilli, cumin seeds and finely minced garlic. This basic recipe will enable you to experiment with many different ingredients.These bhajia burgers can be shallow fried but they lose some of their lightness if they are not deep fried.
The brilliant thing about using gram flour in this way, is the fact that it eliminates the need for eggs. Gram flour naturally forms a cohesive batter when mixed with water.
Wheat, dairy, egg and refined sugar free.
Celeriac bhajia burger
Perfectly spiced, slightly crispy and full of flavour,
and only 20 minutes to make.If you are like like me you’ll definitely make these more than once.

Wheat, dairy, egg and refined sugar free

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Serves: 6

150g  Gram Flour
¾ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
1 large red onion, cut into fine strips
¼ celeriac, peeled and grated (approx 200g)
4 tbsp oil
Sieve the gram flour into a large bowl with the baking powder, cumin, coriander, chilli, salt and turmeric. Mix well with 100ml cold water to make a batter. Add the onion and grated celeriac, and mix well with clean hands.In your hands shape the mix into burger shapes
Heat 500ml of cooking oil (I use sunflower) in a small but deep pot (aim for 3 inches deep of oil). You can skip this stage if you want to cook them in less oil  but they won't come out as crunchy.
Carefully place 2 burgers at a time into the oil to fry for around 2 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove and place onto kitchen roll and dab off any excess oil  
1/2 cup radishes(3-4) grated
1/2 cup carrot grated
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 spring onion shredded   

2 tbsp rice vinegar 
Mix carrot,radish,spring onion and cabbage in a medium bowl and add rice vinegar

Tbsp home made mayonnaise
dsp wasabi paste
dsp coconut oil
Tbsp dessicated coconut
juice and zest of 1 lime
Put all ingredients in a small food processor and blitz.Adjust to taste and achieve desired texture by adding more coconut oil if necessary.You should be looking for a dropping consistency. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

A little escapism....

If you're missing the feelings of wind in your hair, sun in your face and sand in your everything,a little escapism is what you need. Al-Gharb, means "The West” in Arabic and al-Gharb was the term that gave rise to the present day word Algarve, literally the western lands south of the Iberican peninsular.The cuisine of the indigenous Berbers is highly adapted today in classic Portuguese dishes, giving us a blend of traditions that puts delicious slow cooked stews and tagines on the table.Combine an Arab sensibility with a European recipe, using store cupboard ingredients, and you pretty much have casa rosada´s modern take on the truly Moroccan kitchen.This´ll get you dreaming of your next trip down south.This easy lentil stew is just that. Spice packed full of Moroccan-inspired flavours and only requires a handful of ingredients to put a wholly satisfying dinner on the table.As if that wasn't appealing enough, you may also be pleased to learn that it doesn't require a whole host of ingredients either. In fact, chances are you'll already have most of them in your cupboard – and could easily substitute anything that might be missing.This could be a great alternative to fighting for (seemingly non-existent) food delivery slots.The other plus of this dish is its versatility.
In its basic form this dish can be eaten by everyone, vegetarian, vegan or meat fiends alike and delicious it is too.
For the trick, while it is cooking, roast some chicken breasts in the oven. When ready to serve, remove half the sauce to another pan and stir through the chicken roughly sliced and chopped up into large pieces.
Moroccan lentil Stew with roasted chickpeas
Serves 4

4 green peppers
1 large onion

4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp pimenton dulce ( sweet paprika)
2 tbsp ground cumin

2 tbsp ras al hanout
Plum tomatoes, 400 grams (could substitute tinned if you don't have fresh)
Tbsp harissa paste 
Red lentils, 100 grams
500ml good quality vegetable stock
200ml carton coconut milk
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 tablespoon caster sugar
Ground sumac, one teaspoon (combine salt and lemon zest for an alternative)
1 tin of chickpeas

Grill the green peppers close under a pre-heated grill, turning frequently until blackened and blistered all over.Put them in a plastic bag and knot it. Leave to cool enough to handle, then peel off the skin. Remove the stem and seeds and cut the peppers into strips.The strips should be about thirds of each pepper.Reserve.
While the peppers are cooking, peel the onions and garlic and process in a food processor or chop them finely by hand.Put the olive oil in a pan and fry the onion-garlic mush until soft,sprinkling some salt over the top to stop it catching.
While the onions soften, Combine the vegetable stock with the coconut milk and tomato puree (this will form the base of your sauce).Set aside.
Once the onion has softened, add the sugar, paprika, ras al hanout, cumin and cook for one to two mins or until fragrant. Rinse the red lentils and add them to the pan with the coconut stock.Add the cooked peppers, tomatoes and harissa paste.Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 25 to 30 min or until the lentils are cooked and the sauce has thickened – this is your Moroccan lentil stew.While the stew thickens, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Then, add the chickpeas to a baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle over the sumac and give everything a good mix up. Put the tray in the oven ( 220°C/ 200°C (fan)/ 425°F/ Gas 7) for 15 to 20 min or until golden and crispy – these are your roasted chickpeas.
Serve the Moroccan lentil stew in bowls, topped with the roasted chickpeas and sprigs of mint.

Monday, 11 May 2020

Thoroughly modern millefeuile,not tonight Josephine!!!

 Shame about my attempt at signature icing!!!
It’s the white and brown chevron stripes of the fondant glaze that this dessert is most recognized for, but if you’re a beginner, like me or not in the mood for extra work, you can simply dust your mille feuille with powdered sugar, cocoa, or grounded nuts.
A thousand leaves of creamy, crunchy, heavenly delight are what Millefeuille are / is. Caloric suicide others might call it.Whichever floats your boat. It is an irresistible dessert that dates back to the 1600s and is found in patisseries boulangeries and upmarket tearooms worldwide. The name of the dessert translates into “a thousand leaves”, and this light and airy treat has just the right amount of sweetness.The Portuguese are fond of their confections and confectionery shops are very popular.They are wonderfully decadent, usually “sit down” coffee shops with glassed counters containing all sorts of fancy pastries and delicate sweets, and of course mille feuille, also known in English-speaking countries  as a Vanilla Slice or a Napoleon (or as we call it in Portuguese, mil folhas) and you will find there are a number of variations.  But when you come to suggest making your own  at home people balk at the idea ("not tonight,Josephine") Now I know why.Well let me tell you something, you don't need to make your own dough the tutorial told me,when frozen puff pastry sheets work perfectly well.
 The key is keeping the dough flat when baking which is done by 'docking' it, or pricking all over with the tines of a fork. These crispy, buttery sheets are the first step in making your own "Napoleons." Well I thought so anyway.It all sounded good when I embarked on a Portuguese online patisserie class. Always one to share my failures with you, as well as my successes,this is definitely the latter.Without the guidance of Albert Adríã (the other one from el bulli) I will never be a masterchef pâtissier.Patisserie is an art, and to achieve the Paris perfection of "The Picasso of pastry",Pierre Hermé or to acquire the finesse of Cherish Finden takes years of training.

 Admittedly, I cannot claim my "cheats" mille feuille is as beautiful and delicate as one made by an experienced French pastry chef.  But I’ll tell you what, it is more than good enough to have surprised myself and certainly good enough to amuse my greedy little bouche.
Thoroughly modern millefeuille makers are beginning to experiment with variations on the classic recipe. Some pâtissiers nestle fresh berries between the layers of cream. Still others are incorporating chocolate shavings. Others work with hints of caramel. So what about millefeuille tiramisu I say?  and what happens if you opt for a crispy tiramisu as opposed to a soggy one? What if?
Done correctly, a classic tiramisù can be transcendent.But what if I take the core of the tiramisu ingredients and use them as a filling for my Mille feuille? There are as many different Tiramisu recipes as there are Italian grandmothers, each with their own little twist, some which aren’t even tiramisu at all, so I think my idea of an ethereal balancing act of airy whipped mascarpone,rum or cognac, mysterious espresso, bittersweet chocolate and puff pastry is more than a “pick me up”,which after all is what the literal translation of tiramisu is.
The components were delicious but as a composite pastry and on the level of finesse it had along way to go. It was a nice idea in theory and a great extramural for a rainy Sunday afternoon in lockdown.Budding pastry makers I pass the challenge over to you and see how you get on? I am sure those of you who are proficient bakers can do it. I guess if I strive for perfection I will try it again,someday.This was already my second attempt I might add.What a "lert" i am eh ?

1 packet of puff pastry sheets (2 sheets)
granulated sugar for dusting

¾ cup heavy cream
1 cup/227 grams mascarpone (8 ounces)
1 ¾ cups good espresso or very strong coffee
2 tablespoons rum or cognac
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons, or as needed, milk
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

 Prepare a few hours or a day in advance.
Whisk together the cream and mascarpone till stiff peaks,slowly add the coffee,mixing as you go,followed by the rum and finally add the cocoa powder till all is thick and well amalgamated.Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Unfold one defrosted puff pastry sheet and cut into three equal lengths. Place the cut lengths onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. If your baking sheet is large enough, you can bake both puff pastry sheets at one time, for a total of 6 cut sections. Otherwise, bake them three at a time.
Dock the pastry sections by piercing repeatedly with the tines of a fork. Make sure entire surface is docked.
Then sprinkle lightly with pinches of granulated sugar.
Place another length of parchment paper on top and weigh the pastry sections down by placing a second baking sheet upright over the parchment paper.
Bake for 15 minutes, the remove top baking sheet and parchment paper.
Return to oven and bake for 8 minutes, then remove and flip the pastry sections over. Bake for another 8 minutes until dark golden brown.
Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Once the puff pastry is at room temperature, mix the icing by whisking all the ingredients except the powdered unsweetened cocoa. Add the milk a bit at a time to achieve a nice, thick spreadable icing that is not too runny.
Take about ¼ of the prepared icing and the cocoa and whisk together in another bowl. This will be the colour and flavour accent for the design that goes on top of the mille feuille.

Spread ¼ of the filling over one section of puff pastry, top with another section, and spread another ¼ of the pastry cream on that one. Top that one with a third section.
Try not to let the pastry cream run down the sides but spread right to the edge of the puff pastry.
Then spread about ½ of the white icing over the top, covering the entire sheet.
Draw some lines at about 1-inch intervals by piping the chocolate icing out of a small cut in a plastic bag.
Pull a toothpick 3 times, about 1 inch apart, down the length of the pastry, dragging the lines of the chocolate into the white icing, creating an intricate pattern. Pull toothpick in one direction only or alternate the pulling of the toothpick in the opposite direction for a more intricate design pattern.
Serve, or chill for until ready to serve.
Cut individual portions with a sharp knife or pizza chopper using downward only movement. Do not saw back and forth or you will dislodge the layers of pastry on the soft pastry cream.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Porco presa Ibérico con Mantequilla Jamón e Pedro Ximenez

Manna from heaven
This is the second instalment in my "armchair" blog where I give you a travel aspiration for when travel beckons again. In the oak-filled pastures of western Spain, home to the black Iberian pig, a distinct combination of terrain and tradition helps to produce one of the most dazzling mouthfuls of meat anyone could hope to enjoy – jamón ibérico de bellota.If your romantic mood is adventure, this is the meal for you. First, it’s a bit of a quest to find presa Ibérico de Bellota, an uncured cut from between the shoulder and the loin of black-footed Ibérico de Bellota pigs,so dont expect to source it close to home unlees you happen to reside in Andalusia or Portugal.But once you pull it together, you’ll be transported.The pigs are known for their huge appetite (wonder if am descended from these pigs!) and generate a large amount of fat,hmmmmm.The marbling is unlike any other pork you have seen and is sometimes referred to as the Wagyu of pork.

This is the perfect meal over which to make future travel plans.If there was ever a food that was sent to save us this would be it.In order to fully grasp the unspeakable glory of this dish, I need you to accompany me to an imaginary place.Close your eyes for a moment. Can you imagine yourself being in a warm sunny place.From Seville, you drive in the direction of Portugal. It's not long before you reach the edge of the Dehesa in Extremadura.The sun may be setting (darkness falls rapidly ),but even in the fading light the countryside is stunning, and there's something reminiscent of Britain — no doubt the rolling, oak-dotted hills that sprawl as far as the eye can see (and beyond, across the border, just a few miles away). Porco Presa, hot off the grill and blessed with the most magnificent of crusty-smoky sears. As you start slicing it into wide, wobbly, perfectly-pink ribbons, you whistle quietly to yourself—each slice is zebra-striped, like rock strata, with beautiful striations of sweet, sweet pork fat, marbling like you’ve never seen, guaranteeing that each and every bite will be as juicy and porky as the last.In those days when we could be social without the distance, your invited friends would have come to the kitchen to investigate that pervasive,distinctive aroma.Once they caught wind of what was going on in the kitchen, and when you sneaked them a bite they moaned with pleasure.See, the thing about this recipe is that it’s more than “really, really good,” it’s paradigm-shifting. It is bold and it is brash and it will make you a better cooker of meats and a better consumer of pork. Here’s why.First, there’s the dry rub. If you’re not on board with the whole marinades-are-mostly-bullshit, dry-rubs-rule thing, this should convince you. Instead of bathing the pork in some messy mixture of different liquids that aren’t ever going to penetrate beyond the surface of the meat, you rub it down with a crushed up mixture of hot smoked paprika, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, yellow mustard seeds and dried oregano that form the basis of an intensely aromatic, complex crust. Nice! Then there’s the cut. Unlike your classic pork chop, which is cut from the loin of the pig, these pork shoulder steaks are cut from a hunk of boneless shoulder. (Fair warning: You’re probably not going to find these packaged and ready to go in the pork section of the supermarket. Which means you need to either a) ask your butcher to cut ¾-inch steaks from a shoulder blade or b) buy a boneless piece of shoulder and cut it against the grain into said ¾-inch steaks yourself, which is really not a big deal.) It’s an extremely affordable cut that most people cook low-and-slow until it’s fall apart tender and shreddy—but that doesn’t mean that it has to be cooked that way. It has a lot of intramuscular fat, often referred to as “marbling,” which means it takes well to hot-and-fast grilling the same way a ribeye steak does, juicy and full of meaty flavour.

Porco presa Ibérico con Mantequilla Jamón 
e Pedro Ximenez

4 x 200g steaks of Ibérico pork presa
or beef rib-eye steaks

Flor de sal

1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons smoked paprika


175g unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherry
25g jamón Ibérico( or serrano or parma ham) finely diced

Place the butter in a bowl and whisk in the PX sherry and diced ham.
Season well well and reserve in a cool spot.
Place the meat on a tray and using the tip of a knife, lightly score fatty side of pork; season all over with salt.
Coarsely grind peppercorns, coriander, red pepper flakes, oregano, and mustard seeds in spice mill or with mortar and pestle; set spice mixture aside.
Heat oil in a small saucepan over low heat; add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant and barely golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon zest, paprika, and reserved spice mixture. Let cool completely.
Rub marinade all over pork,massaging it well into the meat as you go. Wrap tightly in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
Let pork sit at room temperature 1 hour.

Prepare a fire in the barbecue,or heat a ridged grill pan over medium/hot heat.drizzle alittle oil over the the pork,then place over the hot coals oron the grill pan.Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side - the exterior will naturally blacken and caramelise to a crust,while the inside should be pink (the meat of Ibérico pigs is red and it is perfectly safe to eat it pink or even rare).Rest the meat for a few minutes before you eat,serve with the PX butter alongside.