Saturday, 27 June 2020

When in Rome........Cannelini bean cheesecake

When in Rome do as the Romans do? The inspiring Italian born chef Christina Bowerman does just that.She uses ingredients from traditional Roman cuisine and reinvents them in her own innovative style.Working with old recipes she produces her modern day interpretations.Tucked away in the labyrinth of small streets that prepandemic was the trendy area of Trastevere, you will find her Michelin starred restaurant Glass Hostaria.
I discovered the genius that is Christina through a Televison programme "Rome unpacked" in which art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon and Chef Giorgio Locatelli go in search  of the greatest food and art that they can find off the beaten track, in Rome.
Beans have always been a part of the Roman tradition.They used to say the Roman army would travel "on their stomach",and what they would carry in their packs would be like cicerchia.Cicerchia (Lathyrus sativus) is a legume that was once widely consumed, while nowadays, it is grown only in central Italy.Cicherchia was like wild chickpeas that the soldiers used to carry in their bags with salt and a little bit of flour. They would cook the beans,add things, and make some bread perhaps, so providing sustenance as they were advancing.This recipe would probably come as  very much of a surprise for a Roman soldier nowadays but drawing on his cultural gastronomic heritage I am sure he could conjure up a memory.A word of warning do not embark on this recipe unless you are looking for a challenge and have plenty of spare time.If you do decide to try it it the effort is more than worthwhile.
White bean cheesecake with pasta crumb base
It is almost a scherzo of a cheesecake,a playful jest of what we would traditionally expect from a cheesecake.Are you ready for a savoury cheesecake with a pasta crumb base and a custard of cannelini beans citrus and tahini? This is my interpretation of a Christina Bowerman recipe.For the crumb, she boiled the pasta,dried it, deep fried it, dried it in the oven then crunched it up to make a biscuit base.So instead of biscuits it is pasta.It has a wonderful melt in the mouth mousse like texture that is irresistible to an ever expanding waistline.
Serve dressed with a green tahini dressing.
200g spaghetti
1 tbsp (15ml) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (60g) finely ground pasta
( or any other type of savoury crust,Crackers,breadcrumbs etc.)

White bean purée
1can (15oz,or 420g) cannelini beans
2 cloves garlic,crushed
1/4 cup (60g) tahini
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
2 tbsp (30ml) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp Flor de sal
172 tsp black pepper

350g (12oz) cream cheese
250g mascarpone cheese
300g greek yoghurt
4 large eggs 


Cook the spaghetti as you normally would following instruction on the packet.
Drain the spaghetti and dry it on a tea towel.When dry deep fry the spaghetti in batches until crisp and golden.Drain on paper towel and then dry in a low temperature oven(150C)
remove from the oven and allow to cool. when cool blitz the pasta in a food processor as you would if making a biscuit base for cheescake, until you have a coarse crumb.

Pour the oil into the bottom of a 10" ( 25cm ) springform pan.
Using a pastry brush,brush the oil all over the bottom and sides of the pan.
Sprinkle the pasta crumbs over the bottom of the pan and rotate the pan around so that the bread crumbs cover the bottom and sides completely.Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor add the white beans and garlic; process until smooth.Add the tahini,lemon juice,olive oil, salt and pepper and process again until smooth.remove from the bowl and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 325F / 170c or gas mark3
In the bowl of an electric mixer,using the paddle attachment,mix the ceam cheese,mascarpone and greek yoghurt until softened,scraping down the sides of the bowl underneath the paddle,and the paddle itself frequently with a rubber spatula,for about a minute.
Add the white bean purée and mix for a further minute,until completely smooth,add the eggs,one at a time,and mix until combined,about 10 seconds after each egg.
Pour the batter over the crust and level it with a small offset spatula.
Take a baking pan that is large enough to hold your springform pan, and is also large enough to allow for water to surround the springform pan. Next, cut a large single sheet of aluminum foil, making sure that it is wide enough to surround all sides of your springform pan.  (Use an extra wide aluminum foil if it is available rather than two narrower pieces of foil to avoid any chance of leaking.)
Wrap the pan, making sure that the sides of the pan are fully covered by the foil.  Also make sure that you don’t tear the foil as you wrap it.
Place your prepared cheesecake in the springform pan into the baking pan.  Then, add about an inch of very hot water to the baking pan so it surrounds the pan.  You want to add enough water to the pan to ensure that the water does not fully evaporate during the baking process.(It should come up halfway around the sides of the pan).Bake for about one hour,until the cheesecake is firm around the edges,but still a little bit jiggly in the middle.remove from the oven and remove the cheesecake from the water bath.gently run a small sharp knife or small spatula carefully around the edges of the pan to loosen the cheesecake from the sides.Allow to cool at room temperature.Place in the fridge for at least eight hours till set completely.
To unmould the cheesecake,gently run a small sharp knife around the edges of the pan.Release the latch on the side of the pan and then lift the ring straight up.Refrigerate until ready to serve.
What's her name? Si chiama Cristina Bowerman.
She's very inspiring, the way she works with old recipes.
Her food is really top-notch.
Maybe she can cook us some beans, eh? Well, that's Let's hope so.
Cristina's Michelin-starred restaurant is called Glass Hostaria.
It's in the trendy neighbourhood of Trastevere in the centre of the city.
You come from these great, wide avenues into these little almost like labyrinths of streets.
With all these bars and restaurants, everybody eating and drinking.
This is it? I'm going to introduce you.
In this beautiful tavern.
How are you? Can we come in? Welcome.
Very well.
Come on over.
Cristina uses ingredients from traditional Roman cuisine.
Today, she's going to cook for us a unique cheesecake.
A cheesecake? A cheesecake with pasta, with beans, and mussels.
Are we talking about almost a scherzo on the cheesecake? Exactly.
Cos it's a joke on the cheesecake.
That is exactly it.
Cos we're savoury here.
We're not sweet.
This is actually the base of the cheesecake, but let me show you how I did it.
She boiled it, and then she put it into a dryer, and dried.
Can I just get that right? The base of the cheesecake - you cook pasta? Exactly.
You then, when it's cooked Dry them.
you deep-fry it? Yes.
Deep-fried it.
Then you dry it in the oven? And then you crunch it up? So, it's instead of the biscuits? Exactly.
How thick do you want it? I want it, like, this thick.
And you need to press it.
So, now What's this extraordinary? That's the beans.
That's the beans.
This is cannellini beans.
The cannellini beans that have been made into a puree.
This is what that becomes? Exactly.
That's exactly it.
Beans are really part of our tradition.
They used to say the Roman army would travel on their stomach, and, you know, what they would carry would be like cicerchie.
They will have Chickpeas? Yeah, like Cicerchie is like wild chickpeas that they used to carry on their bags with their salt - their own salt - and a little bit of flour.
So, they would do this, like, cook the beans, add things, and make some I don't know.
Some bread.
And they would make up something like that, even as they were advancing.
So, even this would probably very much surprise a Roman soldier, but he would still, in some taste memory, he would know what it is.
It's going to look like a dessert! Exactly.
And this is my last touch.
Smell it.
Wow! That is Those are mussels.
Goodness me.
So, how have you prepared those? I cooked them up, then I dehydrated them, and then I powderised them.
Goodness me.
I never heard of that.
Can you buy this or? No, you have to make it fresh.
No, no, no, I made them.
You make it yourself? Yeah.
So, you're going to have that bean taste, pasta taste, and then you're going to be hit by that sort of flavour of the fish because, you know, like, the mussel, they've got that really fish Rich, fishy flavour.
That is very ingenious.
So, when did you invent this recipe? Last month.
Last month?! So, this is straight off the wheel of time.
Mm! Can you taste the mussels? Yeah.
Very strong.
The mussel comes at the end At the end.
with the seasoning and And that's the thing that should stay with you.
What I love also is this crust.
I have one little more surprise.
Could you wait just 20 seconds? I'm going to go get it.
We can wait.
You can clean up here, so I can put it right there.
We can eat a bit more of this if you want.
So Ooh, wow! Cannelloni.
I want you to taste it and guess what it is.
Mm! It's some kind of beautiful semifreddo.
Made of? If you're going to put me to the test, it's like nougat? Almonds? OK, I'll make it easy for you.
They are all beans.
That's all beans?! This is a meringue made out of the leftover water from cooking the beans.
That's a bean powder, and that's a bean mousse.
You're kidding me! Yes.
You are kidding me.
The only different thing is it's an almond outside.
There is an almond.
I knew there was an almond.
Yeah, the green stuff.
But everything else is a bean? Everything else is a bean.
You are kidding me.
So, you can make anything out of a bean, right? Not only.
You use everything, even the water.
No, I don't mean I don't mean one.
I mean YOU can make anything out of a bean.
Thank you.
You really can.
Come on, let's go.
Thank you.
This was delicious.
That was fantastic.
It's BEAN great.

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Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Uma salada alabote, com orzo e um ingrediente secreto

Halibut salad with orzo and home salt cured olives
This shows the sheer joy of creating a Mediterranean dish that's pretty good for you too.However this is not a typical dish of the Mediterranean,but the inclusion of casa rosada´s own olives, home cured in flor de sal salmarim is the perfect example of how the addition of a secret ingredient,along with fresh garden herbs can create a tantalizing dish.
The word Halibut is derived from haly (holy) and butte (flat fish), for its popularity on Catholic holy days.Eaten fresh, the meat has a clean taste and requires little seasoning. Halibut is noted for its dense and firm texture,and therefore often included in the Portuguese cataplana. 
Halibut salad with Orzo and salt cured olives
Serves 8
For the fish:
650g (11/2 pounds) halibut fillet cut into 11/2 inch cubes (about 40 cubes)
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 or 4 fresh mint sprigs
1/2 tsp flor de sal
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the Orzo:
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic,minced
11/2 tsp flor de sal
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 pints water  
250g orzo
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup salt cured black olives,pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint 
2 tbsp minced flat leaf parsley 

To prepare the fish,put the cubed halibut in abowl and add the lemon zest,lemon juice,olive oil mint sprigs,salt,and pepper.Turn the cubes to coat them.Cover and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
To prepare the orzo,in a bowl,combine the lemon juice,olive oil,garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt,and the pepper and stir to mix.
In a saucepan,bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.Add the remaining teaspoon salt and the orzo and cook until al dente,4 to 5 minutes.drain well and place in abowl.pour the lemon juice combination over the warm orzo and turn to coat.gently turn in the lemon zest,olives,mint and parsley.cover to keep warm.
Prepare a medium-hot wood or charcoal fire in a barbecue or preheat a grill. Oil the griddle or prepare a rack,if grilling in the oven.thread the halibut cubes onto about 8 not pack them too tightly.Place the skewers on the griddle  or on the grill rack 5 to 6 inches from the heat.Cook for about 5 minutes each side ,turning once.The fish should just be opaque in the middle.Do not overcook.
Remove the fish from the fire.slide the fish from the skewers.Arrange the orzo on a platter, and top with the fish.Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, 22 June 2020

"Rediscovering the charm" From Aljezur to Alcoutim

The charm is still there
How many of us have ever really explored the full potential and legacy of our own country, or for that matter as migrants in the country we go on to live in? Back in the day,when my home was London I never visited Westminster Abbey, and St Pauls Cathedral received just one visit from me when I was a child.There is a whole world out there in cities and countryside alike that needs to be explored or perhaps revisited if you haven´t been there for a while.And now is the time to pause for thought.The President of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has invited the Portuguese this summer to “rediscover the charm” of Portugal’s cultural heritage, through planning holidays in the country and visiting the monuments they may not have visited for a long time.
The idea behind his thinking is that many people due to the present circumstances will be holidaying in their own country this year. Foreigners, he said,  visit the country on holiday, and they know their mission having read beforehand and selected the places they wish to visit.
This is when we suddenly realise that we haven’t known or visited some of these sites for many years, many, many years, which is unforgivable.Portugal is the "It" destination. And it is not just Lisbon, Porto or the Algarve that conquers the heart of travelers: it is from north to south, from the interior to the coast, through the islands.Like the Portuguese we too should appreciate what is there.
There is absolutely no doubt that it is one of the best destinations in the world for the reasons we all know.
  It is not just about an architectural, monumental or cultural heritage either.It is about holding on to the wealthy gastronomic legacy that Portuguese families have passed down through generations.Now more than ever is the chance for chefs, owners and managers in the hospitality sector to look deep into those historical vaults and recover what may have been forgotten but not lost. 
If the Portuguese economy is to survive, the hospitality industry is there to help it.In the 25 years that I have holidayed and then decided to make this wonderful country my home I have seen vast changes across the spectrum.
After decades of obsessing over French and Italian cooking, up and coming Portuguese chefs were finally catching onto the global trend of gastronomic realisation: valuing the indigenous ingredients, techniques, and recipes of their own country with the same reverence given to Escoffier for most of the previous century.Each chef has his own vision, his way of interpreting local flavours and ingredients, and makes restaurants richer and more diverse. Each one that gets lost along the way [with the closing of restaurants] makes the situation weaker.
 By virtue of a growing international appreciation in recent years, a movement to rescue traditional flavours was gaining momentum and then..... coronavirus came. Full stop.Rewind,re-work,restart.Traditions must be nurtured and innovative ways of giving them a new lease of life must be found.
much loved ingredients like salicornia (marsh samphire) moura chouriça (blood sausage) and forgotten delicacies such as Abrótea (fork beard fish)should appear back on restaurant plates.Ancient techniques that still continue to thrive should come to the fore,escabeche,peixe alimado( a method of tempering fish,usually mackerel with lemon salt and olive oil).These are cooking methods that produce a blend of flavours that is evocative of Algarvian food culture.
 As is the case for every other country facing the pandemic, projections for the local economy (especially those so dependent on tourism) in the wake of COVID-19 are not good — and the sting is particularly sharp for the hospitality industry, which may never fully recover. For Portugal, the most lasting damage might be to the cuisine itself. With so much of the status of Portuguese food hinging on foreign interest, local chefs and restaurateurs should be concerned that the sharp downfall in tourism could be a huge blow to the food identity of Portugal — and the entire food chain so recently created to support it. 
The East Algarve has a landscape of rolling hills and valleys, dotted with olive, carob, almond, fig, and orange trees and a formidable coastline overlooking the Atlantic. It comes as no surprise then that the Algarve’s cuisine has developed in two directions. An impressive variety of dishes using fish and shellfish on the one side, and a varied assortment of meat and game dishes on the other.
Outside culinary influences in the Algarve are few, and so traditional home cooking has taken on a vital significance, with recipes passed down through families and the ages. Odd really, as it was Portugal who first brought ingredients like pepper, coriander, ginger, curry, saffron and paprika to Europe, not to mention tea, rice, coffee, peanuts, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes.
Those foreign influences that did manage to leave their mark on the dinner table include the Goths who introduced stews to the nation – which today constitute a major part of the local diet. More importantly the Moorish occupation of the Algarve was to give the area its own regional flavour – not only in the interesting variety of confectioneries, but also with “Xarém”, a distinctive dish (above) made with corn meal and shellfish.
Portugal is a country of immense diversity and limitless holiday possibilities. 
People are drawn to Portugal for its glorious climate and stunning beaches, but there is so much more to discover within this fascinating country.On foot, by bike or in a car, whether its towns to visit,beaches to discover,countryside to explore,new dishes to experiment with, Casa Rosada  invites you to rediscover all the charm that is Portugal.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Chista è ‘na vera Norma! (this is a true Norma!)

 Norma is the kiss of Sicilian summer
 and this dish is dedicated to our best friend Norma

“Pari ‘na Norma,” you look like a Norma, is the most appreciatiive compliment that could be paid by the fellow citizens of the celebrated Italian composer Bellini, the so called Swan of Catania.
Pasta Alla Norma is a traditional Sicilian recipe made with "fried" aubergines, tomato sauce and sprinkled with Ricotta salata ( salted ricotta ).Don´t worry if you can´t get it where you are there are alternatives.
Literally, Norma in Italian is short for Normativa – rules, meaning made within the rules, but the name of the dish has probably a different origin.A well-known comedian from Catania, Nino Martoglio (1870-1921) compared the perfection of this dish ( Chista è ‘na vera Norma! (this is a true Norma! ) to the famous opera from Vincenzo Bellini ) “La Norma” that was premiered in 1831 at the Scala theatre in Milan., and served post performance to the invited guests.
I’ve tried a lot of pasta alla Norma recipes over time, and I have to say, after making this one,I need search no further.This is the only one I’ve tried that roasts the aubergine rather than fries it, and for me, that makes all the difference.As you’re probably well aware, the trick with aubergine is that it absorbs oil like a sponge, and 1/2 cup oil can disappear into one’s pasta sauce only to magically reappear later on one’s waistline,  Not only that, but if aubergine is allowed to soak up oil in this way, the resulting dish just tastes heavy and unbalanced rather than intensely auberginey.My version is lighter. I tried this recipe with beautiful home grown aubergines from Dona Isabel in the local market.She grew them herself and also proffered me one of her home grown cucumbers which she told me was muito doce (very sweet).There on followed a conversation about pickling gherkins but I think I lost her somewhere along the line as my description in Portuguese of bottling a cucumber fell on stony ground.
 The dish is simple: pasta—more often penne, sometimes spaghetti—with tomato sauce, silken nuggets of aubergine, aromatic basil and salted ricotta. But, as with all great dishes, the result is so much more than the sum of its parts. Norma is the kiss of Sicilian summer. It’s a composition that sings of seasonality, when tomatoes and eggplant are at their peak, and our terraces and balconies are overrun with aromatic potted basil.

Why Ricotta Salata and not Parmesan?
Parmesan is a cheese from Parma located in the North of Italy, while Pasta alla Norma is a Sicilian dish and therefore it uses a local cheese. Ricotta Salata is salted and aged sheep ricotta.
It is not as sweet as Parmesan and slightly more bitter and acidic like Pecorino. It gives a nice contrast to the aubergine

Ricotta Salata Substitutes
It is unlikely that you will find ricotta salata outside Sicily.Pecorino is the best substitute, but at a pinch feta does the same job.I amalgamated a 1/2 and 1/2
mix of Feta and Requeijao (Portuguese ricotta).Although feta is saltier and tangier, the texture is very similar to Ricotta Salata. If you'd like to stick with an Italian cheese, Pecorino Romano can also be used in place of Ricotta Salata. The Greek cheese Mizithra is also a decent substitute. 

Pasta alla Norma
serves 2

1 large aubergine (225g / 8oz) diced small 

Sea salt 
extra-virgin olive oil,
250g /8 oz penne rigatoni macaroni or fusilli

About 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 scant cup ricotta salata, crumbled or coarsely grated, optional
25g /1oz /1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese

Heat the oven to 425°F /220°C / Gas 7
Using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife, peel all or some of the skin from the aubergine in stripes (it can be nice to have some, but not all, of the eggplant skin in the final pasta dish). Cut the aubergine into 1-inch dice and toss it on a rimmed baking sheet with enough olive oil to lightly coat it. Sprinkle with salt. Roast the aubergine until browned and very tender, about 20 minutes. The eggplant is done when you can easily squish a cube with your finger and it has a nice, creamy texture.

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE or you can use your own favourite tomato sauce recipe
2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion finely chopped
1 400g/14oz can tomatoes or 400g/14oz passata 
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
Crushed red chilli flakes
1 bunch basil, leaves only, very roughly chopped (about 1 packed cup)

Warm a large frying pan over low heat and add the  olive oil. Toss in the garlic and crushed red chilli flakes and stir a bit. add the chopped onion and cook gently until softened.Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste.Bring to the boil,lower the heat,cover and simmer for 20 minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of rapidly boiling salted water for 10-12 minutes or until al dente.Reheat the tomato sauce.Drain the pasta thoroughly and add it to the tomato sauce,with half of the roasted aubergines and the pecorino.Toss to mix together,then taste for seasoning.Spoon the pasta and sauce mixture into a large warmed serving dish and top with the remaining roasted aubergine. Toss in the ricotta salata, if using,or your alternative and the parsley.

Panini alla norma
As an added bonus I used the same ingredients (minus the pasta!) in a sublime sandwich that does more than justice to its namesake.Traditionally this would  be made with ciabatta but any chewy,crusty bread roll can be used in its place.
FOR ONE PANINI.(repeat as necessary)

Oven baked aubergine slices
1 ciabatta or crusty bread roll,halved
basil pesto spread
coarsely chopped walnuts
1 quantity left over tomato sauce(see above)
moist ricotta salata  (see above)
freshly grated pecorino or parmesan
fresh basil to garnish
Slice the bread in half.Toast lightly to crispen.Spread a generous layer of pesto on the bottom slice of the bread,Layer aubergine slices with the tomato sauce.Sprinkle with chopped walnuts,crumbled ricotta and a grating of pecorino or parmesan.Spread some more pesto on the other slice of bread,Cover and press down lightly.Enjoy.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Open sesame- How I learned to love tahini

You've probably seen tahini slowly creep into more and more ingredients lists on recipes recently.From Ottolenghi to Michael Katz ,dollops of tahini are being heaped onto dishes across the board. 
But what exactly is it? It’s vegan, gluten-free, tastes nutty, and is simple to make.It was yet another lockdown revelation for me.Every time I logged onto my phone in the last couple of months it was flashing up recipes for tahini every which way.I was astounded by the amount of new uses for this age old ingredient that were coming up.
So with this new acceptance, I started a mission to fix this one missing puzzle piece. I was going to embrace Tahini like I hadn’t before.
 Tahini paste is made from ground sesame seeds. It's quite thick, so it's often made into a tahini sauce or dressing by adding water and/or lemon juice,which  as I have recently discovered, is so cheap and easy to make at home.The commercial varieties are just not a patch on what has been emerging from my food processor.
This paste made from hulled sesame seeds, is a staple ingredient in the Middle East and Mediterranean.
If you are buying tahini, you want to make sure you choose the lighter coloured variety, so there’s not a lot of oil separation in the jar. This will happen naturally after a certain amount of time, but it normally indicates the tahini is on the older side.Always choose a light-coloured tahini made from hulled sesame seeds. Check the label and make sure the ingredients list is as short as possible, ideally only sesame seeds. You can store tahini in the fridge, but keeping it at room temperature makes it much easier to use. Always remember to stir it before using, too. 
The reason it's popping up everywhere is because it's so versatile! From smoothies to sauces, this must-have ingredient  should not be overlooked.I have to eat my words here because It has taken literally years for me to come round to the fact that tahini was an ingredient that I should embrace....
"I´ve never been a great fan of tahini,
so when I saw Jamie Oliver on the television,
making hummus with a peanut butter twist, 
my heart leapt for joy".     o cozinheiro, 15 February 2019
I’m totally in love with the vibrant pink of this roasted beetroot hummus!
Something like homemade hummus takes practice to perfect. Getting the perfect smooth and creamy, yet light and airy consistency takes practice, as does perfecting that satisfying rich nutty-“yolkey” aftertaste that I discovered I liked so much.I was surprised to find through this process that it was the tahini that lent this delectable quality to the dish, and so, with a perfect bowl of warm homemade hummus that I had slaved to make, I started to appreciate my long arch-nemesis — the tahini itself.It was not so much that I loved tahini less but that I loved hummus more.

Ways to use tahini
Homemade tahini is so easy to make. This recipe is quick and makes tahini that tastes so much better than commercial varieties.Once you have tahini in your fridge (it lasts over a month), you will find yourself adding it to an endless number of dishes.

1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) sesame seeds
2 to 4 tablespoons neutral flavored oil such as sunflower,or a light olive oil
Pinch of salt, optional

Toast Sesame Seeds

Add sesame seeds to a wide, dry saucepan over medium-low heat and toast, stirring constantly until the seeds become fragrant and very lightly colored (not brown), 3 to 5 minutes. Careful here, sesame seeds can burn quickly.

Transfer toasted seeds to a baking sheet or large plate and cool completely.
Make Tahini

Add sesame seeds to the bowl of a food processor then process until a crumbly paste forms, about 1 minute.

Add 3 tablespoons of the oil then process for 2 to 3 minutes more, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the food processor a couple times. Check the tahini’s consistency. It should be smooth, not gritty and should be pourable. You may need to process for another minute or add the additional tablespoon of oil.

Taste the tahini for seasoning then add salt to taste. Process 5 to 10 seconds to mix it in.
To Store

Store tahini covered in the refrigerator for one month. You may notice it separates over time, like a natural peanut butter would. If this happens, give the tahini a good stir before using.
new potatoes with green tahini dressing

Arguably the most well known way to use tahini is when making hummus. Even though I am a huge hummus freak, I now use tahini many other ways in the kitchen.Here are some  suggestions for how to use tahini, other than in hummus

Mixed with Greek yoghurt, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper and a sauce to dip roasted veg or crudités.

Mixed with equal quantities of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Coat cauliflower, broccoli or Romanesco before roasting for about 20-25 minutes on 200°C.

Served with noodles. Italy might have brought bolognese into the world, but China has dan dan noodles – stir-fried pork mince with ginger, chili oil, szechuan peppercorns and tahini over egg noodles. Simply mixed with soy sauce is great, too.

With chicken thighs. Sear the thighs and then add a mixture of chicken stock, tahini, soy sauce and a little sugar and cook for 35-40 minutes. The sauce will be thick, sweet and salty at the same time – delicious.

Make Baba Ganoush, an incredible roasted aubergine dip and great alternative or companion to hummus
Make your own tahini salad dressing.

Turn it into a sauce. perfect drizzled over vegetables such as new potatoes fish or meats. 
Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Green Tahini Sauce

Corn on the cob With Green Tahini Sauce

Green tahini

 Just love the litle butterfly that landed as we were taking the picture

Tahini is an incredibly versatile ingredient, especially when it comes to dressings and sauces. The smooth texture can be used make a variety of creamy dressings for salads, grilled vegetables or meats. A spectacular sauce can make all the difference in a dish. This one is incredibly versatile and loaded with fresh flavour that will have you reinventing ways to use it over and over again.  It will elevate any dish.I´m currently slathering it on everything including sandwiches and salads.
It makes a wonderful dressing for grilled vegetables and light meat dishes like grilled chicken.This sauce is ready in less than five minutes and works with so many dishes The combination of fresh coriander and parsley gives it a gorgeous green colour and tons of fresh flavour.
        1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
        1/4 cup runny tahini
        1 cup fresh cilantro, large stems removed
        1 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, large stems removed
        1 large garlic clove
        1 tsp honey p
        1/2 teaspoon salt
        3–4 tbsps filtered water (start with 3 and add 4 if you desire a thinner consistency)

            Add all ingredients to a mini food processor (or blender) and puree until smooth and creamy.It can be thinned out with water to make it pourable and drizzle-able.Use immediately or store in an airtight container for up to five days. It will thicken in the refrigerator so when reusing you might need to whisk with water to thin out a bit.

              Sunday, 14 June 2020

              Please sir can I have Samoa

                One of my big culinary crushes is Samoan-born chef Monica Galetti who grew up in New Zealand.Formerly Michel Roux Jr.'s senior sous-chef at the two-Michelin starred Le Gavroche in London, Galetti is best known as a presenter on MasterChef: The Professionals.She's made a name for herself on the show for turning so-called 'pro' chefs into quivering wrecks, often standing over them - eyebrows contorted in horror - as they fail spectacularly at simple skills tests, their years of training turning to mush as they burn honeycomb, massacre sea urchins and forget to wipe down their work station.
                The woman is formidable, she rocks a peroxide crop and her visual disappointment is something you would hope to never experience.
                 Galetti appears to be undoubtedly awe-inspiring and thoroughly impressive,but I bet she's not half as intimidating as those crafty MasterChef editors make her out to be. All those aghast faces she pulls on camera? surely that's just exasperation at seeing quality produce wasted? She´s a right bobby dazzler.Having said that I´m not so sure I´d like to be in the ranks of her brigade. In 2017 she left the autocracy of Roux´s Gavroche, went her own way and opened her own restaurant Mere with her husband David, former head sommelier at Le Gavroche.
                 Mere is French for mother but also apparently Samoan for Mary, Galetti’s mum’s name, and it’s supposed to be pronounced “mary” not “mare”. But the staff pronounce it “meer”, as in lake or as in “Pah, milord, ’tis a mere restaurant”. Meer, mare, Mary?   
                Soy and honey chicken with coconut brown rice
                This quick, easy springtime recipe by  Monica Galetti is inspired by her mother’s home cooking back in New Zealand.This is a wonderfully sticky dish which doesn't so much have a sauce as a glaze that coats the chicken. My twists to her recipe which are a substantial increase in the liquid quantity, the addition of some garlic paste part-way through cooking and the addition of  spring onion and red chlli to the rice adding some additional flavour along with some crunchy texture and chilli heat.
                  400g chicken skinless thigh fillets
                  1 tbsp clear honey
                  1 tbsp dark soy sauce
                  1/2 tsp garlic paste
                  1 spring onion, shredded
                  1 red chilli, sliced 
                  150g/5oz brown rice
                  pinch salt
                  1 tbsp sesame oil
                  1 tbsp rapeseed oil
                  2 heads of bok choi, halved
                  ½ tsp coconut oil
                  1 tsp sesame seeds
                  handful fresh coriander leaves

                  Chop the fillets into bite sized pieces, or pieces that would require cutting in half when served - probably two to three pieces per thigh fillet
                  Combine the honey and soy and mix together with the thigh fillet pieces. Do both of these steps in the cold, heavy (I used a cast iron casserole )  you're going to cook with to minimise the carbon-footprint of extra washing-up
                  Put the pan on a medium heat and cook until the chicken is cooked through, and the coating has thickened to a glossy glaze, stirring from time to time
                  When you feel the dish has about five minutes remaining before it's done (this was around 15 minutes of cook time for me), add the garlic paste and stir in
                  Meanwhile, add the rice, 300ml/10½fl oz water and salt to a separate pan and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer the rice, covered, until tender (about 30 minutes).
                  For the bok choi, heat the sesame and rapeseed oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bok choi and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the leaves have wilted.
                  When the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork, then stir through the coconut oil.
                  To serve, spoon the rice onto serving plates and top with the spring onion chilli the soy and honey chicken. Sprinkle the seame seeds and coriander over the chicken and place the bok choi alongside. 

                  Friday, 12 June 2020

                  Food for thought: Camarão apanhado em redes de espaguete

                  Prawns caught in spaghetti nets? Now theres something for you to ponder. I sometimes think its fun to bring a bit of theatre to the dinner table and
                  I’m always trying to come up with new ways to excite, and at the same time perhaps inform a little about what I have cooked. Today I thought it would be fun to try something new with spaghetti!
                  Despite being an omnivore, I still think it is really important for us to know the path of how our food gets to our plate.I love prawns — it's one of my favourite forms of  seafood. My devotion to eating prawns however comes with expenses, not merely financial. From health-related problems, to environmental concerns, to human rights violations, I recently informed myself of what my guilty pleasure involved.Yes, I was a little shocked but It wasn´t all doom and gloom and there was a plus side at the end of it all.You may not think much about the dietary implications of eating prawns, even as you're mowing through a pound-and-a-half of the meaty  succulent sea beeebies. After all, nothing that small could possibly be bad for you,could it? Low in calories yes,but there's something that might give you pause if you're worried about your heart: In spite of their small size, what prawns lack in calories they make up for in weirdly high cholesterol. 100g of prawns  equals around 200 milligrams of cholesterol — a full day's allocation for those watching their heart health. In spite of those high numbers, some research suggests that because prawns are so low in total fat and contain no saturated fat, a shrimp-heavy diet may actually be healthier overall than, say, an egg-based diet. The cholesterol numbers alone shouldn't dissuade you or me from knocking out a good old retro prawn cocktail from time to time.My motivation to cook the above dish was inspired by an an experimental dining event that London based events organisers Bompas and Parr held in 2017.
                  They invited the public to consider the much-overlooked path that food takes to their plate. Specifically, it required participants to directly kill their dinner before they tucked into it.
                  The ritual allowed guests to take a close look at shellfish, appreciating their provenance and their role within the ocean food chain amid the context of the lengths we go to in order to source and prepare beautiful and tasty food. Then, each person was schooled in the biologically most efficient and humane method of killing a crab, before directly ending its life, cooking it, de-shelling it and devouring it.
                  The focus of this "Kill It, Eat It" ceremony was focused on drawing attention to a culinary area that is typically veiled with mystery, with most consumers inured to the reality of what raising, culling and preparing animals to eat actually entails.
                  Each guest’s cooked crab was finally dressed by a trained team of chefs and presented back to the group as part of a meal, accompanied with cocktails.
                  A thought-provoking check that de-mystifies our carnivorous culture in the most visceral way is no bad thing. Exploring the reality of our voracious appetite for all kinds of food, and assessing issues of sustainability and of course celebrating  the food sources is a good thing.All the while ask yourself  the question, if you want to eat animals, shouldn’t you be prepared to kill them yourself? I'm still not sure I know my answer.Do you?Not enough to convert to veganism anyway.
                  Prawns caught in spaghetti nets (goon sarong)
                  In Thailand, this dish is known as Goong Sarong whereby goong refers to prawn and sarong means wrapped around. I love the notion of food in a sarong.
                   While the original dish is done using vermicelli or even egg noodles (sometimes in Chinese cuisine), I wanted to see how it would taste using Western pasta. Frankly, the idea of deep-fried spaghetti didn’t really appeal to me initially, but I was pleasantly surprised in the end. It brought a bit of fun to the table but apart from providing contrasting texture on the plate taste wise it didn´t make my palate run wild.It´s a thing!!!
                  Cook the pasta like normal, in a pot of salted boiling water.

                  While the pasta boils, prep your shrimp so that they are deveined and the shells are removed except for the tail (or just buy them that way).
                  Strain. Do not rinse pasta or toss in oil. We need the pasta to be sticky!

                  Grab a small amount of pasta, about 15 strands. Straighten them out in your hand and use them like a rope to wrap around one shrimp. It doesn't need to be perfect. Use the stickiness of the pasta to keep everything in place, and set down on a plate or pan. Continue until all your shrimp are done.

                  Make sure to use a deep fry thermometer and a sturdy pot. Deep fry in 350°F oil until shrimp is cooked and pasta is lightly browned, about two and a half minutes. Remove from oil and place on rack to dry.

                  I served mine( as pictured above) with a Dtom yam gung,hot and sour soup

                  Alternative variations: Classic Aioli  or  a Chilli sauce

                  Tuesday, 9 June 2020

                  My lockdown life, from a culinary point of view

                   Official lockdown portrait March 2020
                   Now is the time to be looking forward into the thawing warmth of possibilty. When the icebergs finally melt and we’re all running for the safety of the lifeboats, I want to experience the great thaw wherever it takes me.As we emerge from our homely transitional and protective chrysalis I am keen to see what has been learnt from our recent experience. 
                  It’s our first coffee and pastry post-lockdown in the local café on the square, and I get confused with the mask and the coffee drinking – for a moment I almost sip my meia de leite with my mask on. I’m not the first I am told. I guess we all need more practice before we can master this new social etiquette.I have already been the subject of accidentally spraying my shoes instead of my hands with sanitiser on entering the supermarket,and at the checkout politely being told that wearing the mask over my eyes was not obligatory when they saw me struggling with the PDQ machine.Management has now installed an absorbent mat for sad old twats like myself.
                  Frantically scanning my locked-down world for sources of distraction,sadly my visual field continues to contract.options are becoming scarce. 
                  In these times when I can barely remember what day it is,fresh fish and chips with garden peas makes the house smell like Friday.After the customary early evening Pink port and tonic, the aroma created by roasting  shoulder of pork in the oven with roast potatoes tells me its Sunday, so forth and so on.
                  Here are a few things that I have not done or been forbidden to do during the past two months. Indulged myself in a gourmet shopping trip across the bridge to Spain. Get dressed up to go out. Go to the dry cleaners. Think about what I’m going to wear tomorrow. Wearing something nice around the house, except on days when I have still been wearing my morning exercise gear at 6pm – and even then, I haven’t always bothered.My kitchen pinny is fine for me.
                  Making dinner became the new getting dressed in my lockdown life.Lifting the needle on the record and moving on to the next track of my life is what has happened.My world has become a microcosm, I have become more contained and somewhat of a homebird.In fact all our worlds have become more home-based.We have been trying to look after each other as far as possible and in my world this has involved the therapy of cooking.Our social lives have been mostly centred around the people we live with, and cooking a nice dinner has been  a way to turn just another evening in into an event.If you are missing that delicious linguine you always order at your favourite restaurant,and are not brave enough to venture out just yet, you can learn to make it at home.
                  And here, on the other hand, are a few things that I have done:In the early days of lockdown I often found myself still wearing my dressing gown and pyjamas at midday.Attempted to make millefeuille for the first time. Attempted, with little if any succeess, to make my favourite Gyozas that Fabio serves at LPA Made peanut butter bread for the first time ever. I made umpteen versions of banana bread.Through trial and error, nailed a fail-safe cafe de paris sauce. Pitted bowls of cherries for a clafoutis. Eaten a salad made from cherry tomatoes and garden herbs.I could have taught myself to pickle a cucumber or to bake panettone perdu,but I couldn´t be arsed, I wonder why? On line ordering a new look from COS paled into insignificance when austerity set in.The only thing that got ordered online were food items to replace those much used spices in my store cupboard.
                  My biggest guilty pleasure has been twitching the nets of the internet to have a sneak peek into what other households look like.All these online podcasts have given one a chance to be the nosy neighbour so to speak. How does Meryl decorate her kitchen and what is Patti Lupone´s hall look like? I have had great fun watching the rich and famous broadcast,particularly when I can see what they are cooking.The evidence showed that in a pandemic "Broadway sings" while "fashion eats."Some "world beating" performances were witnessed.

                  French Designer Simon Porte Jacquemus made a video for French Vogue explaining how to make pizza.What I would give for one of your designer shirts Simon.Sadly the weekly budget for my wardrobe has just been channelled towards  store cupboard essentials.Still on the subject of fashion there have been some flash in the pan surprises as fashion icons come out of their culinary closet.Gigi Hadid showed us her take on macaroni cheese, using not one but three types of cheese.You would expect a supermodel to feel naughty having eaten two peas,but high cholesterol mac and cheese,steady on with that wasp waist girl.Who would have thought Vogue cover girl and the face of Louis Vuitton,Selena Gomes, would be signed up for a 10-part HBO cookery series on the strength of her quarantine kitchen skills.“Queer Eye” star Antoni Porowski was creating his own quarantine-centered cooking series, while Tan France has been at it on instagram with a live tutorial on baking chocolate-chip cookies. Who would have thought that the darling of the ladies who lunch, Michael Kors was using his time off from creating jet set luxury to bake pineapple upside down cake.Something for those ladies who lunch,"A toast to that invincible bunch,the dinosaurs surviving the crunch".Well "take me to the world,
                  that’s bursting with surprise".It takes all sorts.It all brings to mind that jaunty metaphor "squash the sombrero." "Does anyone still wear  a sombrero?"
                   Of course what I enjoyed the most was watching my biggest culinary crush, Michelin-starred Chef Massimo Bottura´s home videos.

                                     These videos show a glimpse into Bottura's home life

                  Each episode began with a friendly reminder to "wash your hands," and included guest appearances from Lara Gilmore, his wife and fellow restaurant proprietor, their son, Charlie Bottura, and their daughter, Alexa Bottura, who films the episodes.Bottura started streaming his family dinners on Instagram while his country was in lockdown.The series, called "Kitchen Quarantine," showed him and his family cooking dinner with common household ingredients.Bottura is one of countless chefs worldwide whose restaurants have closed amid the coronavirus outbreak,and who we need to support in any way we can.Bottura´s restaurant Osteria Francescana was ranked No. 1 in the world in 2018.It's an informal cooking class, unlike Bottura's MasterClass lesson series,which I have to say while I had the luxury of time on my hands, I have sat and absorbed many of these classes.With entertaining out of the window, traybakes became the new canapé for D-day enforced jollity.There was delicious comedy to be found too.
                  “How do you chop a garlic?” asked Hamish Bowles, editor-at-large for American Vogue, during a video tutorial with cook and food writer Skye McAlpine in which she teaches him to make chilled almond soup, and salmon en papillote.How much of a challenge was that? Not much culinary know how there.
                  “Is this a clove or a bulb?”he later asked.Virtual reality in ones kitchen will be the next best thing, but what I really yearn for now is a professional to put some "real food" on my plate.The restaurant industry hinges on our support so the sooner we can get out there and get that buzz of animated conversation in a dining room the better.
                  Come in Fabio,Cliodhna,Marco,Paolo,Sandra,Julia,Pedro and his team and anyone else that I may have forgotten we´ve missed you.
                   These are our friends, people who have given us so much. Think about the people behind your favourite restaurant.Support your local businesses and the local economy.These are hardworking people who have dedicated their lives to host superb guest experiences. Think about all the past experiences they have given you. Without these people, going out to eat would not be the same.Now is the time to give something back and show our support to those who need it the most. There are several ways you can help these people,book a table now for the future,order a takeaway if that is a service they offer,ask them if you can purchase a gift voucher for that deserving friend.These are all ways that we can get them going again.Its not rocket salad!!!

                  Monday, 8 June 2020

                  Uma salada de frango primavera e trigo bulgur

                  Poached chicken breasts are either offensively bad or transcendently good—and, sadly, the scale tips drastically in favour of the former. But that’s just because most people don't know how to poach chicken breasts properly. From this point forward, you will not be one of those people. You will poach chicken perfectly, leaving dry, chewy poached chicken in the rear view mirror.
                  But wait, what is poaching? It's a cooking method mentioned a lot less frequently than roasting or frying or grilling. To poach something is to cook it while submerged in a liquid at a low temperature (read: not boiling). That liquid could be oil, milk, or wine, but most frequently poached in seasoned water.
                  Poached chicken is one of the world’s easiest recipes, fast and foolproof. Freshly poached chicken is the key to making great chicken salad and many other delicious dishes.
                  Texture is everything when it comes to great chicken salad. The best dressing can’t do justice to dry, chewy chicken.When you poach chicken breasts from scratch you get fresh tasting, tender, juicy chicken that will elevate your chicken salad up to the highest heights of deliciousness.
                  Cooking the chicken in vinegar and then marinating it makes it tasty and tangy,Served with the bulgur wheat and beans makes it a substantial summer meal, great for feeding the family.
                  Salad of chicken and bulgur wheat
                  6-8 servings
                  1 litre white wine vinegar
                  1 litre white wine
                  1/2 tbsp flor de sal
                  1 kg chicken,jointed into 10 pieces
                  300g bulgur wheat
                  150g broad beans(shelled weight) cooked 
                  150g fresh cannelini beans,cooked
                  150g fresh borlotti beans,cooked
                  150g fresh peas,cooked
                  1/2 cucumber,sliced and cut into quarters
                  juice of 1 lemon

                  FOR THE MARINADE
                  500ml olive oil
                  6 garlic cloves,squashed
                  10 sage leaves
                  1 red chilli,finely chopped
                  3 sprigs rosemary chopped

                  Make the marinade by mixing together all the  ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.In a large saucepan,heat 1 litre of water with the vinegar and wine,then add the salt and chicken,bring to the boil,reduce the heat and simmer for 35 minutes.Remove the cooked chicken and when cool, take the flesh from the bones.Place the chicken meat in the marinade and leave for about 1 hour.
                  Meanwhile cook the bulgur wheat in 1 litre of simmering water for about 15 minutes,until al dente.drain and allow to cool.
                  Mix the bulgur together with all three types of cooked beans,peas,and the quarters of cucumber,adding a little of the olive oil from the marinade and the lemon on a serving dish and top with the chicken meat.