Thursday, 19 July 2018

Le Déjeuner sur le sable Português,summer is served.

  "look where I will...hampers are flying open and the green downs burst into a blossom of lobster salad.Weather allowing and bubbles al fresco,each parcel of joy like lunching on lawns"

Believe it or not we are almost halfway through the year now and hurtling full speed into midsummer.Sun,grass,sand and good food—this may be the closest thing to a peaceful getaway some of us get this season. So for those seeking to escape the fast pace of their working lives,take a look at some of the finest places to relax and de-stress while grazing on some exquisite finger food alfresco.Up until yesterday I had forgotten how wonderful a picnic can be.For the practice of outdoor lunches,Portugal offers some of the world’s finest places to relax and de-stress.Wide open airy spaces where you can extend the towel and enjoy the sound of the sea and the birds and the surrounding nature.While In the Algarve its so easy pack a hamper and head off to the beach.Clickety click, it was my 66th birthday and we made the spontaneous decision to do just this,celebrate alfresco. More déjeuner sur sable than déjeuner sur l´herbe,alas the nubile nude lady to sit between us was missing but,Zut alors,some things take a while to get finished.Did George ever finish that hat?
 How it all began,one of the earliest picnics
 The earliest known picnics were extravagant outdoor meals meant for groups of medieval royal hunters. Picnics would remain fancy meals for the wealthy for many years, before eventually shifting to simple meals that anyone could pack in a bag and enjoy in the sunshine. Now, cultures across the world have added their own spin on eating outdoors, adding games, specialty foods, and specific holidays to enjoy dining alfresco.
Ah! The picnic- what other meal is so synonymous with summer? Drawing it’s name from the 16th Century French word pique-nique which means “to pack a trifle”. picnicking began as a kind of pot luck dinner where everyone brought a dish to be shared.France is credited with not only coming up with its name, but also for perfecting this outdoor dining experience as an art! (Edouard Manet, Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe and all that) Why not do as the French do and stay in keeping with their love of joie de vivre!....and what a coincidence,yesterday. we just happened to have French neighbours for our pique-nique sur la plage However If you want to follow in English footsteps, whether its hats off at Henley, dining al fresco glitterati at Glyndebourne,having all the balls in your court at Wimbledon or languorously lounging like an Eva Langoria Bastón of good taste at Latitude,take a picnic blanket, a full hamper and choose a perfect spot to sip some Pimms.So wherever you are in the world,spending Sunday afternoon on the La grande jatte, down Franklin Engelmann´s way or otherwise,weather permitting,pack up a hamper and head to a beauty spot,lay out a spread and enjoy what´s left of summer.Saúde (Sow-OO-de) as we say in Portugal.
The word picnic did not appear in print in English until the early 1800’s.In England Picnic-ing became very popular at the turn of the nineteenth century. One of the most famous picnics for any Jane Austen fan takes place in Emma, when Emma and company take a trip in a courtege of barouche landaus to Box Hill (above).

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Dinner in the Gnudi: Not Pasta, Not Gnocchi, but something deliciously different

Do you feel like getting Gnudi tonight? If you've never tried gnudi (pronounced nude-y), tender, gnocchi-esque pasta dumplings, then you've got off at the right stop. These creamy ricotta creations are actually deceptively light and shine with simple sauces and fresh ingredients. And it's the perfect season to add fresh herbs straight from the market or your garden to your gnudi tonight!
These delightful little dumplings are also called malfatti, which means ‘poorly put together,’( a fine description of my early attempts  exactly) or gnudi, which means ‘naked,’ depending on the area of Tuscany you hail from. Gnudi are very simply that: ravioli filling without the pasta encasing. They’re light, fluffy and don’t miss the extra starch one bit. They’re also not fancy, and very quick and easy to make,( once you´ve got the hang of it).Happily, they’re considerably easier to make than either ravioli or gnocchi, so if you’re yet to sample the pleasures of the naked lunch, or indeed dinner, throw caution to the wind and tuck in.once in the Gnudi ,always in the Gnudi.

Serves 2
I wanted to try a version that’s a little more refined and thought the white would contrast nicely with summer colours, so I made a pea,leek and broad bean cream,topping it with some more peas and shredded spring onions. 
250g fresh Requeijao (Ricotta) 
50g freshly grated Parmesan 
generous gratings of nutmeg 
250g carôço de milho( semolina), approx.
salt and pepper to taste 
extra grated Parmesan to hand at table
For the sauce and garnish:
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas, shelled
1/2 cup frozen broad beans

2 tablespoons of chopped leeks, light green part only
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon herbs mix — mint,parsley,basil
Half a cup of vegetable stock

1 spring onion,plus extra shredded for garnish
chives for garnish
Flor de sal and freshly ground pepper
Your favorite spring vegetables, lightly cooked in olive oil, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese to garnish

Sauté leeks spring onion and shallot in olive oil,add the wine and boil off till reduced, add half the peas and half the broad beans, salt pepper and stock, cook for a couple more minutes.Transfer mixture into a blender or food processor with fresh herbs and purée.Thin with some milk if you want a thinner creamier consistency. Season with salt and pepper, ladle some sauce to cover the bottom of a soup plate, top with gnudi and garnish with spring onions the rest of the peas and broad beans.
Put the ricotta, Parmesan and nutmeg into a bowl and beat together until smooth.
Pour the semolina into a shallow tray. Slightly wet the palms of your hands and briefly lay them in the semolina. Now take up a small piece of the ricotta mix [a large teaspoon, say], gently roll it into a ball about the size of a big marble and drop it into the semolina. Push the tray back and forth to fully coat the ball with semolina and continue this process until all the ricotta mixture is used up. Transfer the gnudi into a tub, sprinkle semolina between each layer and on top, making sure the dumplings are well covered.
Place in the fridge, covered, overnight.
The next day, carefully lift out the gnudi from the semolina and put onto a large plate lined with kitchen paper.
Put a large, wide pot of lightly salted water on to boil [also, have four hot plates ready to hand].
Spoon over the warm sauce and serve without delay. Hand extra parmesan at table for those who want it: Me.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Clams and ham, Almejas al fino con jamon

Clams, garlic, pimentón, jamón and sherry… does it get more irresistible?

I imagine myself seated amid the hustle and bustle of a typical tapas bar somewhere in downpueblo Andalucia. On the battered old zinc counter, the saucers of clams with ham clatter down like a drum roll.I have a glass of fino in hand and I am ready for what o mio host is about to put before me.Sweet clams and salty ham are a perfect combination, and this tapas dish or sharing bowl is idiot-proof and can be made in minutes.
Clams always look good served in small deep bowls scattered with fresh coriander or parsley.Put a big soup plate in the middle of the table for discarded shells.The two different salty-sweetnesses, of cured ham and clams, combine to make something larger than lunch,especially with some parsley, a little chilli, a glass of cold fino and not forgetting good white bread for blotting up those complicated briny juices.In 
Catalan, cloïses amb pernil.So if you  have a voracious appetite and a purse that can compensate go out and fetch yourself a sack of Amêijoa-Boa now, and if you don´t you will only live to regret it.It is a crime that is not too hard to tolerate.

1 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic,peeled and halved
½ shallot, very finely chopped
1 teaspoon plain flour
1 teaspoon hot pimentón, although the sweet variety will do as well
handful of coriander, stalks included, roughly chopped
500g fresh clams
50g serrano ham coarsely chopped
100ml fino sherry
handful of chopped parsley leaves and/ or coriander for garnish

Wash the clams thoroughly,discarding any that have broken shells or are open.In a deep  pan with a lid, heat the oil and cook the onion for 5-7 mins till softened but not coloured. Add the ham and garlic to the onion  and cook for 1 min. Add the flour and pimentón and stir-fry for 20 seconds to cook the flour. Add the sherry, stirring all the time and then quickly flambé by setting light to the pan using a lighter or long matches. If you don’t want to flambé the sherry don’t worry, just cook for 1 minute so that the alcohol evaporates.Add the clams to the , cover and cook for 4-5 mins shaking the pan vigorously until the clams have all opened (discard any that haven’t). Serve immediately, sprinkled with parsley and a grating of black pepper.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Neat Nootropic Nespera

Nootropics (English pronunciation: /noʊ.əˈtrɒpɪks/ noh-ə-TROP-iks), also known as smart drugs and cognitive enhancers, are drugs, supplements, and other substances that improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals.
Neat- simply your alcohol of choice all by itself at room temperature – no mix or ice.
Licore de nespera
Liquor made from Loquat (Nespera) Seed Pits 
This liqueur tastes just like Amaretto. The recipe originaly came from Italy. It is not as strong as the French L'eau Du Vie which smells like fruit but has no taste except pure alcohol. 
1 cup loquat(nespera) seed pits
Pinch crushed vanilla bean
6 rose petals
4 lemon balm leaves
350ml pure alcohol ( aguardente bagaciera )
350ml bottled water
250g caster sugar

Spread the seeds out on a sheet of paper or on a baking sheet and dry them in the sun for ten days peeling away the papery brown covering off of the seeds.
After the seeds are dry you place them in an air tight clear glass jar with the lemon balm leaves, the vanilla, the rose petals and the alcohol. Boil the water and dissolve the sugar in it and add this into the jar with the other ingredients.
Now close the jar tight and let it sit in the sun for a month, shaking the jar up several times throughout the month.
After the month is up strain all of the ingredients in the jar through a filter paper into a dark glass bottle. Cork it and allow it to sit undisturbed for three more months. Then you can serve it.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Almond and polenta sponge cake with yuzu and cherry drizzle

Add a touch of Japanese flavour to a Portuguese favourite.Moist and firm, Castella (カステラ Kasutera) cake was brought to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th century, and Japan has been enjoying it ever since.Traditionally Castella cakes are baked in a wooden hako (hako means box) and are a specialty of Nagasaki.Unlike their Portuguese counterparts Japanese cakes aren't usually overly sweet, but I have made this a sweet cake by flavouring it with honey. It is said that Portuguese traders brought over the Pão de Castela, meaning "bread from Castile"(Portuguese sponge cake) and it was taken on by the only port open to trading at that time, Nagasaki. It became essentially a rather Western sponge cake. It is a beautiful cake in its simplicity and only calls on just four ingredients: eggs, sugar, flour and honey.I decided to make a drizzle cake inspired by but not entirely true to the castela cake, and put some Japanese flavours into something that was originally Portuguese, Macha green tea and Yuzu.Yuzu is a refreshing citrus fruit whose juice and rind is often used in Japanese and other varieties of East Asian cooking.Its flavour, for those familiar to it, is not dissimilar to Elderflower. Sponge cake is a basic pastry tool to have in one´s repertoire, a light cake to soak up all those delicious juices from our luscious fresh fruit of the spring and summer season. It's versatility means it can also be used to create trifles, charlottes, simple jam cakes or tiramisu. So it's a good versatile cake to master. Yet a lot of bakers aren't very comfortable working with genoise or sponge cake recipes because they can sometimes be fussy to produce. However, this recipe is one of the easiest cakes I've ever made. With just a few ingredients and the substitution of olive oil for butter, it assembles in no time and bakes off beautifully with no collapsing and any excessive dryness is counter balanced by the drizzle.
I have taken a bit of a different approach altogether to both ingredients and method. Most sponge cakes call for cake flour for a very delicate crumb, and in the case of the castela sponge bread flour and turbinado sugar is used( more on that story later Kirsty).My  cake uses a combination of almonds and polenta, which  helped to keep it sturdy.I added the olive  slowly, drizzled into the mixer rather than the classic method of folding in the fat at the very end. The cake bakes in two stages.It is baked for 35 minutes, then the heat is lowered to 160C/gas mark 2 and baked for a further 35-40 minutes.
Since we're now luxuriating in the soft fruit season, I thought it would be fun to pair this cake with a simple honey and vanilla cherry compote and creme fraiche. Apricots,fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches or any fresh fruit would also be perfect. Just macerate the fruit in sugar to produce some delicious juices,which are used to drizzle the cake with.
I have taken artistic licence to call it a "sponge" cake because it's  imbibed with a liquid. For the purpose of the photograph, I cut circular slices from the cake  so you can see the beautiful crumb, but be sure to serve the cake with plenty more compote syrup and creme fraiche.

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
220g golden caster sugar
180g very finely ground almonds
220g fine polenta flour
tsp baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup yuzu and macha green tea cordial

400g cherries, halved and stoned
3 tbsp honey
160ml macha green tea and yuzu cordial

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.Grease the base and sides of a loaf pan, measuring 20cm in length,line the bottom with baking parchment.In a processor beat the eggs and caster sugar together till pale and fluffy.Mix in the ground almonds polenta and baking powder.Blend thoroughly then add the lemon zest and through the funnel stream in the olive oil followed by the cordial.Make sure everything is well combined.spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 35 minutes then lower the temperature to 160C and continue baking for a further 35 to 40 minutes until firm.While the cake is cooking halve and stone the cherries.In a small pan warm through the honey and yuzu cordial.Add the cherries and simmer for about 10 minutes until the fruit has given off some of its juice and the cherries have made a compote.Strain the juice into another pan and reduce to a syrup.When the cake is ready, remove from the oven, then pierce all over with a metal skewer. Spoon some of the syrup from the cherries over the surface of the cake so it runs down through the holes into the crumb of the cake, then leave to cool.Remove the cake from its tin, then serve with the cherry compote creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt and some fresh cherries.


Thursday, 5 July 2018

Love at first bite, Broccoli cous cous

 Broccoli cous cous
As more and more health-conscious individuals make a life choice to adopt gluten-free, low-carb and plant-based diets, a growing number of us are following the trend by using vegetables to replace flour, rice and other simple carbs.Shoppers are turning to cauliflower in particular because of its mild flavour and versatility, using it to make an array of recipes that have spread across social media, from muffins and mash, to gnocchi, and even pizza base.One of the most popular ways to prepare the cruciferous vegetable is to chop or pulverize it into grain-size particles, which many people use as a substitute for rice. I’m late to the Broccoli / cauliflower rice party. I was skeptical at first. How could blitzed raw cauliflower, warmed in a sauté pan, taste anywhere near as satisfying as fluffy, steaming white rice? It can but it needs needs some help from other flavours to send me back saying "please sir may I have some more?"
I looked for broccoli rice or couscous recipes on the internet and I drew a blank. My first thought was that people might have tried and either didn’t like it or it didn´t work. But I was determined to give it a try anyway. I followed the same steps as I did to make cauliflower rice and guess what? It worked, it was so delicious! I served it as a side to a pork curry.The flavour would be an ideal accompaniment to any pork dish,and a whole lot more interesting than a bit of old steamed broccoli floret.
 This is my broccoli cous cous kicked up several notches by some of my favourite Mediterranean ingredients. Fresh parsley, lemon, garlic, toasted almonds, anchovy and red pepper flakes make this plant-based grain an irresistible side dish.For starters you will need just broccoli, a little butter and olive oil to make this amazing side dish. What you add to the equation after that is entirely up to your own taste.
Broccoli cous cous
1 head broccoli
3 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil
Dash of Garum, colatura de alici, nam pla or any other anchovy based sauce
3 cloves garlic
Generous handful flat leaf parsley chopped

Salt, to taste
Cut the broccoli into medium pieces:
Transfer the broccoli to a food processor - work in batches if necessary.
Pulse the broccoli until completely broken down into couscous-sized granules.
Pull out any unprocessed pieces, transfer broccoli rice to a bowl and re-process the large pieces.
In a large sauté pan, melt butter, olive oil anchovy essence. Chuck in the garlic and processed broccoli and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Add any further ingredients of your choice, toasted almonds, chilli flakes pistachios. Season with salt, pepper to taste.Serve.

    Monday, 2 July 2018

    Rolinhos de filetes espadarte fumado com espargos verde e pesto gengibre,hortela,coentros e manjerico

    codfish rolls with lemon foam
    I stumbled upon some smoked swordfish fillets in the fish market and my curiosity got the better of me. On returning home they rested in the fridge until I got my head around how I was going to incorporate them into the casa rosada repertoire of local produce. We had recently been served marinated codfish rolls with green asparagus and lemon foam at cha com agua salgada.I am no great fan of foams and always think they make a dish look like it has been subjected to passing cuckoo spit.Foam aside,my signature ginger, mint ,basil and coriander pesto sprang to the fore.I whipped up a batch and set about composing a dish for starter or tasting menu.With local seasonal produce of fresh peas and radishes and some  
    in-season inspiration from chef Marco and Diana Henry´s delicious new cookbook "How to eat a peach" I was ready to go....simple starter in 10.

    Smoked swordfish rolls with asparagus and 
    a ginger mint basil and coriander pesto
    The pesto here is rich, so you need the radishes to provide a clean contrast.

    1 small piece of smoked swordfish fillet per portion
    1 cooked asparagus spear trimmed to about 8-9 cm long
    Ginger mint basil and coriander pesto
    fresh peas and thinly sliced radish
    Lay out however many piece of fish you need. Spread the pesto all over the fillets lay an asparagus spear on each fillet and carefully roll up.Drizzle some pesto diluted with extra olive oil over the top of the rolled fish and garnish with peas and radish.

    Friday, 29 June 2018

    Lombinho de Porco à Teriyaki Sagres salgado e salsa de salada grega

    I love just about anything grilled with a teriyaki sauce.My obsession goes back many years.I first made this recipe 25 years ago from a recipe published in the October 1993 edition of the now sadly  defunct Gourmet magazine.

    For those of you not familiar with Gourmet magazine, it was a monthly publication from   Condé Nast and the first U.S. magazine devoted to food and wine. Gourmet was first published in January 1941,and also covered "good living" on a wider scale. Its editor from 1999 to its demise in 2009 was Ruth Reichl, who wrote one of my favourite and passionately crafted culinary memoirs "Tender at the bone"
    I thought it would be interesting to see how a retro dish bore the test of time.It certainly did,so hers another one for future casa rosada guests.
     They used pork chops and apple cider vinegar in their version.I substituted tenderloin of pork to make the dish more distinguished.I later saw somewhere on the internet that someone had substituted unseasoned rice vinegar which would give the pork a cleaner, brighter flavour.I will try this next time.
     I bought a couple of locally and naturally raised pork tenderloins from my butcher. Besides the fact that the pigs are treated humanely, these tenderloins taste a lot better than industrially raised pork and to me are well worth the extra money.
    Anyway, I marinated the pork overnight, turned them once first thing the next morning, and embarked on a busy day knowing a good dinner was going to happen with not much more work involved. All that was left to do besides actually grilling the pork was to make a quick and easy Greek salad salsa. I knocked that off in little more than the 20 minutes it took to preheat the  grill. Then, with a nice glass of red wine in hand, I grilled the pork. Dinner was delicious.This one´s here to stay.Thank heavens that I saved all my back copies of Gourmet magazine.
    Sagres brined teryaki pork tenderloin with Greek salad salsa
    serves 2
    2/3 cup soy sauce
    1/4 cup mirin (syrupy rice wine, available at Asian markets and some supermarkets) or sweet sherry
    1/4 cup cider vinegar
    1/3 cup sugar
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger root
    2/3 cup Sagres Portuguese beer (not dark)
    I pork tenderloin sliced into medallions

    In a saucepan combine the soy sauce, the mirin, the vinegar, the sugar, the gingerroot, and the beer, simmer the mixture until it is reduced to about 1 1/3 cups, and let the marinade cool until it is room temperature.Combine the medallions and the marinade, turning the pieces to coat them thoroughly, and let the meat marinate, covered and chilled, turning them several times, overnight.
    Pour the marinade into a saucepan and boil it for 5 minutes. Grill the tenderloin on an oiled rack set about 4 inches over glowing coals, basting them with the marinade during the last 5 minutes of the cooking time, for 8 minutes on each side, or until they are just cooked through. Alternatively the pork chops may be grilled on the rack of a griddle pan under a preheated grill in the same manner. 

    handful of mixed cherry tomatoes,quartered
    Flor de sal
    small red onion diced
    small cucumber diced
    handful of large olives pitted (about1/2 cup )
    feta cheese crumbled (about1/2 cup )
    fresh oregano sprigs
    Thyme sprigs

    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    3 tbsp red wine vinegar
    3 tbsp lemon juice
    2 tsp dried oregano
    i clove garlic,minced
    Flor de sal,pepper 

    Monday, 25 June 2018

    Fabaaqua aquafaba - squid ink and anchovy sponge

    The next time you open a can of beans or chickpeas, think before you drain it. It turns out that leftover liquid is a kind of magic. Known as aquafaba or chickpea water, it can be used as a substitute in many recipes that call for eggs or egg whites.—it might sound like nonsense, but it really does work!
    I came to this by way of trying to find an alternative method to a molecular gastrononomy recipe for producing the lightest, fluffiest,  airiest savoury sponge without having to make lavish investment in a microwave, an iSi Whip (a whipped-cream siphon with cartridges) and a paper cup(not so lavish an investment).What I unearthed was so not what I had expected to find;a vegan egg replacement that produced a meringue like consistency.Lets get something straight, I am no proponent of Veganism,and so was not the least bit interested in the fact that it provided our vegan brethren with some sort of divine solution to their dietary hardships.All I wanted was the airiest sponge that could be created, without resorting to a sub-discipline of food science involving physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that would occur in the cooking.
    The name was coined by Goose Wohlt, a (vegan) software engineer in the US, who was experimenting with vegan egg replacements and found out that the chickpea water itself is enough to form a meringue-like consistency. He posted this on the popular Facebook group “What Fat Vegans Eat” and set off a landslide. If you are interested then check out the other Facebook group “Vegan Meringue – Hits and Misses” and the tag “Community” on this site There are Facebook groups listed there in French, Portuguese and German.
    If your curiosity is piqued, great. But don't just start throwing chickpea water into your recipes willy nilly. First thing to know is that for every 1 egg white, you'll want to sub in 3 teaspoons chickpea juice. A thicker liquid  from beans is always going to be easier to work with, so if your's is particularly thin, you may want to heat it on the stove until it's reduced a little.
    Food bloggers across the web note that embarking on adventures in aquafaba is going to come with a bit of trial and error, but that ultimately it's pretty easy to master.
    You can add lightness to cakes and mousses, make meringues and even brioche, among  other things.
    It’s insane what you can do with it. When I read about it, I was like, no, this won’t work. But then I tried it and it’s amazing. Once you´ve mastered it you can make all kinds of savoury and exotic sponges.Beetroot,avocado and red pepper are on my agenda.
    Serve this particular one on the side of fish dishes or with a fish pasta or fish soup.

    Squid ink and anchovy sponge
    Preheat your oven to 180°C (not fan)
    Sift together 200 g flour, 1 tsp baking powder and ¼ tsp baking soda into a separate bowl.Set aside.
    Whip 150-160 ml of aquafaba (I used chick pea) with 1 tsp apple vinegar. Like when making meringues with egg whites, always wipe the bowl and whisk attachment with some vinegar or lemon juice to get rid of any oils which can compromise the stability of the meringue.
    Start on low speed until most of the aquafaba has turned foamy and then gradually increase the speed to medium. When there is no more liquid left, increase the speed to maximum and whip until firm. This will take about 10 minutes.
    Gradually, while the mixer is still running on high speed, add 80 g sugar. Whip until all of the sugar has dissolved. About 2-3 min.
    While the mixer still running on high speed, add 2 tbsp anchovy oil.
    Add the oil very slowly, or it will separate from the meringue.
    Add 1 sachet of Squid ink and whip a few more seconds,until fully incorporated and the colour of the mix has turned dark grey.
    Release bowl from machine and gently fold the flour into the meringue. Don’t over mix it. You want to keep all the air you beat into the mixture.
    Pour into lined (base) 24 cm round baking tin. Bake for approx. 30-35 min.

    Wednesday, 20 June 2018

    Is it hot enough for ladies fingers?

    what we have planted......
    Nothing´s ever too hot for ladies fingers. Okra needs two main things to be outstanding: It needs to be de-slimed, and it needs assertive spices to augment its mildly peppery flavour. Okra, sometimes called Lady Finger, Bindi or Gumbo, is a kitchen garden essential for cuisine such as Cajun, Indian, and African. It is a heat lover and grows best when temperatures reach 80 to 90 degrees. Okra,you probably love it or hate it, and if you are in the "love it " category like me you will have considered planting it.

    We are experimenting with growing the bindi bush in the garden for the first time this year and having planted the seeds are hoping that it will be a way of adding a little tropical flare to our garden.It belongs to the hibiscus family so when mature it displays a fine bush with blooms like a creamy white hibiscus. Most of us garden for pleasure and when what we have grown ends upon our dinner table it´s a double whammy, and to have a beautiful ornamental plant to boot things cant be so bad.
    ....and what we are hoping for

    you probably love it or hate it. If you are in the “love it” category, then you are probably already or thinking of growing it.

    Read more at Gardening Know How: Okra Companion Plants – Learn About Companion Planting With Okra
    Okra, you probably love it or hate it. If you are in the “love it” category, then you are probably already or thinking of growing it.

    Read more at Gardening Know How: Okra Companion Plants – Learn About Companion Planting With Okra
    Okra, you probably love it or hate it. If you are in the “love it” category, then you are probably already or thinking of growing it.

    Read more at Gardening Know How: Okra Companion Plants – Learn About Companion Planting With Okra
     In Portuguese its called Quiabo and there are a wealth of recipes from Portuguese, Brazilian and Goan traditions.I have spotted it recently in some supermarkets here in the Algarve. It seems to be having a bit of a fashion revival which is what revived my interest.The African slaves brought the plant to Bahia where it was very quickly adopted into the local cuisine. From eating the vegetable over the years in Indian restaurants I have more often than not associated it with tomato sauce.It was really hard to find an "okra in tomato sauce" recipe - even in all six  of my Indian cookbooks. This,  my first revelation was a great find.The sauce was more than flavourful and it could easily go vegetarian with water instead of chicken broth if you were that way inclined. I'm going to try adding a bit of tamarind next time in an attempt to approximate a dish I had in a restaurant once, that had a tart foil to the sweet tomatoes.

    Curried Okra with tomatoes
      1 1⁄2 lbs fresh okra
      4 cups tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded and crushed or 4 cups canned tomatoes, crushed, preferably organic
      1⁄4 cup peanut oil
      3⁄4 cup onion, chopped fine
      1 tablespoon garlic, chopped fine
      1 tablespoon curry powder
      1 teaspoon ground coriander
      2 tablespoons hot green chili peppers, chopped (optional)
      3 tablespoons coriander leaves, fresh, chopped
      3⁄4 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade and unsalted (or vegetable broth)
      salt and pepper to taste

        Trim off tough stems.
        Put the tomatoes in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
        Cook, stirring often to prevent sticking, until the tomatoes are reduced to about two cups.
        Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium high heat and add onions and garlic.
        Cook, stirring, until the mixture is softened.
        Sprinkle with curry powder and ground coriander and cook briefly.
        Stir in the tomatoes and cook about five minutes; reduce heat if mixture is sticking.
        Stir in chilies,if using and fresh coriander.
        Add the okra, chicken stock and salt and pepper to taste.
        Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or until the okra is tender.