Thursday, 6 August 2020

Zhooshing it up: From olives to olives dust to dust

 Olive dust brings a great salty and umami flavour to almost any dish
I have always enjoyed a good tweaking, and zhooshing I find quite irresistible. Nothing fully achieves for me without a bit of added finesse, so I find myself doing a lot of zhooshing these days to make my food become more appealing. "Throw it all in a blender and zhoosh it until it's creamy smooth", should be my mission statement.
  It was the first time we´d let ourselves out since lockdown.It was the thespians birthday and we were sitting with friends on the open terrace of Cha com agua salgada catching up on much missed conversation.I had selected for my starter the smoked duck breast, an all time favourite, so a dish I often select.When the the plate was put in front of me I noticed some tweaks to the way the dish was presented.It was accompanied by a pepper coulis and a twist on the classic marinated Algarvian carrots. A post pandemic pinch of olive dust nestled next to the salad and was a flourish that I would be keeping in my backhead until I got home.
Olive Dust 
This is a simple recipe to make.It can easily be multiplied and makes good leftovers. Store in a tightly sealed container in the pantry.
Don´t be tempted to store it in the refrigerator which is too humid.Olive dust is so versatile and brings a great salty and umami flavour to almost any dish. You can sprinkle this on something as simple as a hard-boiled eggs or a salad (above), but the dust also works well on top of more complex recipes like pasta dishes or soups.


Servings: 16. Serving size: 1 tablespoon
Cooking time: approximately 3 hours
2 cups medium Black olives 
Preheat the oven to 250°F.
Spread the olives on a sheet pan.
Place the pan in the oven.
Cook for three hours.
Remove from the oven and let stand on the counter until cool.
Place the dried olives in a blender or mini-chopper.Pulse until the olives are the consistency of fine gravel.




Saturday, 1 August 2020

Are you relishing a veggie burger?

Fancy a burger? but feel like something a little more plant oriented? I´ve got just the thing,and you don´t need to be a vegetarian to love this burger.This is something that will keep even the most dedicated carnivore happy.Look away now vegans,there is nothing for you here.
Aubergine and feta cheese patties in a traditional Azorean bun with a home made hamburger relish.How can can you resist?
A bit first about the bun we are going to use, its typically Azorean and from Madeira. Bolo Lêvedo is a speciality typical of Vale das Furnas on São Miguel Island, Azores. Not unlike an English muffin in a round shape and not too high,but they are sturdier than an English muffin and do not crumble as easily.They are made with eggs, flour, sugar, butter, yeast, milk and salt,and baked in a dry, cast iron frying pan.
Its almost magical watching the frying pan as these squashed dough balls slowly transform themselves into the something very recognisable.
Its origin is related to the first settlers on the island of São Miguel, constituting  at the time one of their main sources of food. Nowadays it has become a feature that attracts the curiosity of thousands of tourists and is also appreciated by the locals. It is said that visiting Furnas and not tasting the famous Portuguese Bolo Lêvedo would be like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope.Also given its popularity, this bread, which was initially consumed in a simple way, started to be applied in the broader market of catering and served in the form of a hamburger bun.When pressed apparently it provides a unique touch and flavour.

Bolos lêvedos de São Miguel                                                              Makes 8 or 9 muffins
500-550 g all purpose flour
125 g butter (preferably Azorean!) softened
125 g Sugar 

20 g of baker's yeast
200ml milk
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs

In a bowl, pour in the warm milk, then the sugar and the crumbled yeast. Add the beaten eggs and then the softened butter. Add the lemon zest. Finally, sift in 500 g of flour.Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Watch the kneading, it is likely you will have to add a little more flour, but do so using a tablespoon at a time testing the mass little by little (I added about 50g more, ie about 4 tablespoons).
Cover dough with a cloth and set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, about 11/2 hours.
Divide dough into about 8 or 9 pieces, and shape them into flat round cakes about 1/2 inch thick. 
In a dry ungreased nonstick frying pan, cook the flattened dough balls on a low heat, one side and then the other. Caution: keep the flame low.Set aside to cool on a wire rack.

The original
A new way to relish your burger. What do you dress your burger with? If I was to turn back time I would say Bicks Hamburger relish,which has sadly disappeared from supermarket shelves and now is only available in 2.45 kilo catering sizes from cash and carries that put a hole in your pocket.
Back in the day I was a glutton for Bicks hamburger Relish.So as ever,never one to be defeated and with the back up of a glut of cherry tomatoes, I made my own home made version.It’s not easy trying to replicate a product made in a factory where food scientists roam.
I started by investigating what it contains.The list of ingredients is on the company website and is made  is  with cucumbers, glucose-fructose and/or sugar, water, tomato paste, white vinegar, cauliflower, salt, dehydrated peppers, spices, modified corn starch, sodium benzoate, xanthan gum, polysorbate 80, sulphite, and may contain calcium chloride and potassium sorbate.

 


My home made version



Quite a concoction, so when making mine, with no food additives,  I just used cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh peppers, substituted celery for cauliflower, vinegar, sugar and spices.It came out much as I remember but perhaps a tad too sweet,but then again a relish should be sweet.
So burger, bun, relish done we are ready to plate up.Bon appetite!!!





Aubergine and feta cheese burger
makes 6 burgers
2 medium sized aubergines, about 675g cut into medium sized chunks

2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
100g (4.5 oz) feta cheese crumbled
100g (4.5oz ) freshly grated parmesan
chopped parsley
chopped mint
1 egg, lightly beaten

250g (10 oz) breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 190c/375 F/gas 5 
Toss the aubergine chunks in 2 tablespoons of olive oil,then put them on abaking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes until golden and tender.Put the aubergine with the egg,garlic ,parsley,mint,breadcrumbs,feta and parmesan in a processor,add salt and pepper and blitz until you achieve a thick workable paste.You may have to add more breadcrumbs.Form the mixture into burger sized patties and set aside till ready to cook.