Sunday, 2 August 2015

´Tis summer, the season of sardines and Sriracha

Surprise ,Surprise!!!
One of the (many) joys of writing a cookery blog is that the recipes can be 'of the moment', a fleeting idea, a temporary distraction from the hum drum repetition of home cooking we do week-in, week-out.
Beauty is in the can of the beholder
What we are likely to eat in the summer is connected more directly with the weather than at any other time of the year.Living in Portugal, grilled sardines, tomatoes, cheese and lettuce immediately spring to mind.These ingredients are inextricably linked with high summer.When temperatures are soaring daily into the nineties ( 33/34 F ) all I want to eat for my lunch or supper is salad.I love sardines but I never quite know what to prepare them with.The word “sardine” by itself is enough to put most people off. Pair “sardine” with “salad” in the same sentence  and I know half of you will be about to opt out of reading this post.The Casa Rosada  store cupboard always has stacks of canned sardines and tuna on its shelves.Usually canned sardines are thought of as a last resort for when you can’t be bothered to cook and crave an answer that is a languid lunch.
Sardines are like the win-win fish for me. They’re low in mercury, high in omega-3 fatty acids (as well as iron, calcium, and potassium), inexpensive, and sustainably-fished. Though fresh sardines taste better, canned sardines are good too,( and less smelly ).
I want to give good old Portuguese sardines some column inches.We recently had canned sardines on bruschetta for lunch in a local boutique hotel. Watch out, sardines on toast might be making an up market come back.Another restaurant had sardines stuffed with breadcrumbs and creamy feta cheese on its menu.This one got me thinking.I recently cooked aubergine and feta cheese fritters for some vegetarian guests.I topped them with a Chilli coriander chutney.My favourite variety of canned sardine is in Molho picante ( a spicy tomato sauce that reminds me of a childhood favourite - canned pilchards).
So why not Sardine Fritters with a hot chilli sriracha sauce.My Thai style pork meatballs with dipping sauce always go down a storm so I now thought I would try Thai style fish balls with a home made ketchup-killing condiment *Sriracha.(See-Rotch-ah.)


Bolinhas de sardinha com molho sriracha-soy
Sardine Fritters with Sriracha-Soy Sauce
Makes 24 cocktail sized balls
To make the sauce
2 tbsp sriracha sauce
2 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Whisk  all together together in a small bowl. 

To make the fritters
2 tins of sardines
2 eggs
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
small bunch parsley, chopped
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated parmesan
25g feta cheese crumbled
A handful of lettuce leaves
fresh lemon juice and wedges for garnish

Mix together the tins of sardines, eggs, finely chopped garlic, chopped parsley, breadcrumbs,  grated Parmesanand feta in a large bowl. Heat about an inch of oil in a large frying pan till it spits when you put a test crumb in. Make small balls (approximately 1 inch in diameter) of the sardine mixture and fry for three to four minutes until golden brown, turning them occasionally with tongs. Place the fritters on a plate with a kitchen towel underneath to absorb the oil. 
Serve on lettuce leaves with the Sriracha-soy sauce in a small dipping bowl and some fresh lemon wedges.

*Sriracha (Thai: ศรีราชา,  [sǐː rāː.t͡ɕʰāː] ) is a type of hot sauce or chili sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. It is named after the coastal city of Si Racha, in Chonburi Province of eastern Thailand
In Thailand, sriracha is frequently used as a dipping sauce, particularly for seafood. In Vietnamese cuisine, sriracha appears as a condiment for phở, fried noodles, a topping for spring rolls (chả giò), and in sauces.
Sriracha is also eaten on soup, eggs and burgers. Jams, lollipops, and cocktails have all been made using the sauce, and sriracha-flavoured potato chips have been marketed.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Tortellini en brodo Sinatra (my way)


"tortellini, small pasta shapes stuffed with minced (ground) chicken, pork,prosciutto,mortadella,parmesan  
and all the other usual flavourings such as nutmeg".

Although tortellini are always to be had in restaurants,the homemade version is for festive occasions and, in particular, a dish for Christmas Eve only. The reason being their confection is a rather tricky job and entails hours of dedicated hard graft requiring some practice.From my own point of view I love them but I feel life is too short to curl a bit of stuffed pasta dough round my pinkie. I would rather leave that task to an accomplished commis chef.From time to time I have a commercially packed version in the fridge for a midweek supper and on my last visit to the supemercado I found a particularly good quality brand that was on offer." en brodo" is my favoured way of eating Tortellini and last night I thought that having been saved the bother of making my own version of these little "navel shaped" parcels I would try my hand at putting all my energies into making a "brodo" that would do justice to my pre-packed pasta. I remembered seeing two containers of home made chicken stock in one of the freezer drawers.( Sometimes lurking freezer gremlins can earn their keep and come in handy just at the right time) I trolled tinternet for an authentic recipe but whose would I use,influenced by the fact that I already had the core stock?
Many cooks and chefs receive their first culinary experience from their mother,as was my case.I settled on making my own version of how chef Emeril Lagasse whose Portuguese mother Hilda gave him his first experience,working in a Portuguese bakery, where he mastered the art of bread and pastry baking.
Tortellini en Brodo Sinatra (my way)
It was like the old trick of trying to palm off a Marks and Spencer´s ready meal as your own.Emeril´s version of brodo retained all the constituents of the stock without straining them.My version was to be a clearer version ( the more traditional way).Slightly cloudy it may have been but delicious it turned out to be.Thank you Emeril for the starting point.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • a few sprigs of fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 4 cups (1 litre) home made chicken broth
  • 1 packet (250g) fresh artesan tortellini
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • Salt, to taste if necessary
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add the olive oil and, when hot, add the onion, celery, and carrots. Sauté until soft, about 4 minutes.
Add the garlic, basil, and crushed red pepper and sauté for 2 more minutes.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Strain the stock through a conical sieve and then again through a sieve lined with muslin
return to the pan and cool.Skim the service for any fat or scum and reheat
Add the tortellini and cook for 5 minutes if using fresh; 15 minutes if using dried. The pasta should be al dente
Stir in the parsley, taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Remove from heat and ladle into soup bowls.
Garnish each bowl with one tablespoon of the cheese. Serve immediately.

    Saturday, 25 July 2015

    Carne de vinha d'alhos, o anagrama torna-se Vindaloo

    It's a shame most British people don't know what a vindaloo really should be like. Thanks to the UK this curry has become the most abused, misinterpreted and misrepresented curry.Most people´s idea of a vindaloo is not the correct one.
    Its reputation has sunk to rock bottom. Most British curry house versions of a vindaloo do the recipe no favours. What it has become is nothing more than a macho challenge after twelve pints of lager and a packet of crisps.More commonly remembered by Keith Allen's 1998 football world cup song performed by Fat Les.The name says it all.
    A vindaloo that may have started off as a simple Portuguese stew, acquired over a period of time more and more Indian flavourings.Today even the name vindaloo conjures up  'hot, hot, hot' the world over. In Goa, however, the heat is hardly its chief characteristic. It is the combination of spices ( apparently you can buy a mixed vindaloo masala in the bazaars) - and the use of vinegar, which acts as a preservative, that makes vindaloos different from other Goan foods. In one of my posts earlier this year I told you I had found an authentic recipe for Bhajias.For this same occasion, a Goan wedding banquet I am now trying to perfect a recipe for an authentic Vindaloo.
    Because of the preserving qualities of vinegar, vindaloos are considered a perfect wedding dish that, once made, may be served again and again over several days.
    All along the tropical southwestern coast of India they have wedding and other banquet dishes that use souring agents - tamarinds, the kokum fruit and, of course, vinegar. These wedding foods (which can also include fish curries) are heated up daily to control the bacteria, but never see the inside of a refrigerator.
    The word vindaloo is a garbled pronunciation of the popular Portuguese dish carne de vinha d'alhos (meat marinated in wine-vinegar and garlic), which made its way to India in the 15th century along with Portuguese explorers. In Goa the dish was tweaked, incorporating chiles, tamarind, black pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom. When it was exported to England, it became yet another hot curry, losing its vinegar tang and spice complexity and subtlety.
    I intend to bring the recipe back to Portugal and tweak it again, sticking more to the Indian spices it acquired in Goa,and nodding to its origins in Goa’s Portuguese Christian communities.
    A vindaloo can be made with any type of meat, but it should really be pork, which again nods to it’s fascinating cultural history.It is an excellent example of how food transcends cultures and grows because of that.Yes, it’s a hot dish, it’s fiery, but it should be quite an unusual curry, with an interesting provenance.
    The vindaloo represents the collision of Portugal’s culinary heritage with that of India.The original Portuguese  dish was meat cooked with red wine and garlic,but along the way as you have seen, the wine gave way to vinegar,(usually rice, because thats what they have plenty of in Goa) and along with the spices it caused an international pile up.

    A Goan Wedding Vindaloo
    Having established I was not making a curry for the lager lout/football hooligan fight club, I set out to establish what a real vindaloo should taste like.The version of the vindaloo that I used as my building blocks is inspired by a Madhur Jaffrey recipe but more refined than the usual Indian restaurant version.  It isn’t ridiculously hot, because the heat isn’t the point of a proper vindaloo –as I´ve already said it’s about the vinegar, the sharp and sour notes subtly reiterating the rich and spicy flavours. The chilli is important, and of course you can up the ante should your tastebuds need more heat, but it’s the shock of the vinegar and the pork, that’s takes centre stage in the true vindaloo.This vindaloo is quite straightforward if a little labour intensive.The pork,garlic and chillies  are the core ingredients of any vindaloo, but you must practice restraint and keep them in gentle proportions.As a nod to the Konkani speaking christians of Goa ,of whom this dish is one of their specialities, I have included tamarind in the recipe.I wonder if there is a recipe for chilli konkani? As a nod to Portugal I have replaced the water content in the wet masala with Medronho,the Algarvian fire water distilled with the Arbutus berry.

    500g boneless pork shoulder ( rojoes) cut into cubes
    500g bely pork(entremeada) cut into cubes

    for the dry masala
    • 4 cinnamon sticks (1 inch each)
    • 4 lightly crushed cardamom pods
    • 6 dried bay leaves
    for the wet masala

    2 teaspoons whole brown mustard seeds
    1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
    2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
    3 whole cloves

    1 cup chopped onion
    5 cloves garlic, chopped
    1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
    2 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
    1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2 teaspoons bright red paprika (colorau) 

    1teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    3 tablespoons medronho, substitute with water if you dont have this 

    3 tablespoons peanut oil
    1 heaped tablespoon tamarind paste

    5 medium tomatoes (finely sliced - the tasteless run of the mill supermarket ones work well for this 
    1/2 teaspoon sugar

    Put 1 teaspoon of the mustard seeds and the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and cloves in a clean coffee or spice grinder and grind as finely as possible.

    Put this spice mixture, as well as the onion, garlic, ginger, vinegar, cayenne pepper, paprika, and 3 tablespoons of water into a blender. Blend until smooth.
    Cover the pork pieces with 2 tablespoons of the wet masala from the blender and stir well so all the pieces are covered Put in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes,or overnight if possible .
    Pour the oil into a large, heavy, nonstick, lidded pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the remaining teaspoon of mustard seeds. As soon as they pop, which will be in a matter of seconds,stir in the tamarind paste and all the three dry masala ingredients,cinnamon,cardamom and bay leaves. Stir in the remaining spice paste. Fry, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the paste is lightly browned. Put in the pork, together with its marinade. Stir for a minute. Cover and reduce the heat to medium. Let the meat cook for about 10 minutes, lifting the lid now and then to stir. The meat should get lightly browned. Add 3 cups of water, and the sugar. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and cook very gently for 11/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.




    Sunday, 19 July 2015

    Pudim de peixe,pão renascido e críticos acerbos

    salmão em um domingo de verão

    Fish puddings used to be popular in Portugal, and the country has a history of bread puddings. England too. My grandmother and mother alike used to make wonderful fish puddings.
    I can already imagine what you are thinking and see your  expressions of doubt, and disbelief ... "This" is edible? Fish, pudding, gelatin maybe? perhaps,perhaps,perhaps.
    Scout's honour: it's wonderful! Apart from that it´s so easy, and a great way to use up all that left over bread that one accumulates on a daily base in Portugal.Well as you know I am one for delving deep into the Portuguese archives and retrieving some forgotten gems to reinvent.
    This is what Algarvian restaurants should be doing too.There is a whole wealth of recipes hidden away from Portugal´s culinary past and if more chefs brought these back to life there would be less fuel for the halitosis tongues of  critics like Giles Coren and AA Gill.

    ‘The food in Portuguese hotels is never Portuguese. People are on holiday. It just wouldn’t be fair’
    Portuguese cooking is the worst on earth. Or, at least, the worst of any warm nation on earth. Obviously, Irish cooking could give it a run. Or Polish. But in its leaden, oversalted blandness, the cuisine of Portugal is, at best, what English cooking would be if we had better weather. 
    Giles Coren

    I'm sure if you're born to it, it reminds you of your grandmother's beard and your mother's mop bucket. Portuguese food is heaven if you're Portuguese. 
    AA Gill

    I've never been to Portugal, so my prejudices about the salty Iberian appendix are unsullied and uncorrupted by acquaintance. It is with a disinterested authority, therefore, that I can say Portugal is Belgium for golfers, a place so forgettable that the rest of us haven't even bothered to think up a rude nickname for it.
    AA Gill

    In gallant little Portugal, the food is well meaning and pretty dreadful. And before you say anything, no, I've never had it well made, because I've never found anyone who can be bothered to make it. Salt cod, of course, can be fantastic, but one swallow doesn't make a cuisine. Then there are all those things made with chickpeas. 
    The Portuguese are very fond of pulses, bobbing like buoys in soups of old fatty fat. 
    AA Gill

    These harsh and misdirected words bring to mind Portugal´s very own controversial and outspoken journalist Henrique Raposo,never one to miss a chance for criticising his own people.Well lets forget about these literary renegades and get back to showing them what quality meals can come out of Portugal when one puts ones mind to it.The original recipe I unearthed is from an old family recipe of one Maria Isabel Raposo of the Ribatejo.What a jewel I had found.This is the perfect dish for a summer Sunday lunch or dinner.Its light and yet beautifully textured.You can prepare it in advance ( up to two days).You can embelish it with vegetables, various types of fish and different seasonings.What´s more, you have born again bread.
    Pudim de peixe com tres Molhos
    Portuguese Fish Pudding with 3 sauces 
    Recipe adapted from the book North Atlantic seafood by Alan Davidson 
    and  an Algarvian version of the recipe recipe in Cozinha Algarvia  by Alfredo Saramago.There was no indication of what the three sauces were, apart from the fact that they were red, green and mayonnaise.Plenty of room there then for my modern interpretation of the three sauces, which was to serve wasabi mayonnaise, a tomato sauce with anchovy, and an avocado salsa.

    350g, cooked flaked salmon
    2 fresh bay leaves
    12 peppercorns
    3 tablespoons oil
    1 medium onion chopped
    a few sprigs of parsley,chopped
    1/4 pint (150ml) white wine
    150g day old bread,crust removed and torn into pieces
    2 cups of milk and water mixed 50/50
    2 eggs separated
    a little butter
    Flor de sal and cracked black pepper
    Put the 2 cups of milk and water, the wine,bay leaves and peppercorns into a shallow frying pan and bring to the boil.Simmer for 5 minutes then remove from the heat.Place the fish in the stock and cover with a lid for 20 minutes.When cooked and cool,remove the fish and flake it removing any bones there may be.Set aside.Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve and retain in a jug.Put the torn up bread into a bowl and pour the strained stock over it.Leave to soak.In the same pan heat the oil and gently fry the onion until golden and soft.Add the parsley, fish, salt and pepper stir well to mix and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat, stirring all the time.Now add the egg yolks to the bread mixture and mix in well,add the fish mixture and beat all together to a smooth consistency (this can be achieved in a food processor)Fold in the egg whites,beaten to stiff peaks.Pour the mixture into a buttered loaf pan lined with greaseproof parchment and smooth it with a spatula.Fold the excess parchment over the top of the mixture and bake in a moderate oven 180C for about 1 hour.
    Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.When cold,move it to the refrigerator and store until ready to use.When ready to serve.Carefully turn the pudding out onto arectngular seving dish or board and cut into thick slices.Serve with asalad of your choice and the three sauces on the side.

    FOR THE SAUCES

    WASABI MAYO - mix together
     4 teaspoons powdered wasabi mixed with 1 teaspoon water
    1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 

    1 cup home made mayonnaise

    RED SAUCE - mix together 
    3 vine ripened tomatoes skinned deseeded and finely chopped
    3 Anchovies finely chopped
    2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice ( approx. 2 limes)
    1/4 cup virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped


    GREEN SAUCE - mix together
    1 ripe avocado
    1 cup fresh mint leaves
    1 cup coriander
    1 cup basil leaves
    2" cube of ginger peeled and chopped
    half a cup of dry roasted peanuts
    half a cup of freshly squeezed lime juice ( approx. 2 limes )
    4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    sea salt to taste


    For another take on fish pudding try this one
    http://elvirabistrot.blogspot.pt/2010/05/pudim-de-peixe-moda-do-joao-4-por-6.html

     

    Saturday, 11 July 2015

    Atalho - Lisboa, a "Real" meating place."A melhor carne em Lisboa"

    Os melhores bifes de Lisboa

    If you are a meat maven like myself you will travel far and wide to find good cuts of meat.When dining out I more often than not choose meat for my main course.This obsession with meat began for me back in 1978 while wandering in the bohemian quarter of St Germain in Paris. At Number 9 Rue des Canettes ( a narrow little  back street),by chance we stumbled upon La Mercerie.Here I had one of the most memorable dinners of my life.Each course was exceptional - the flavours and combinations of ingredients were outstanding. This was one of the tiniest restaurants I had ever seen.I can still visualise the cramped rustic dark wooden tables, the exposed stone walls and the smoky haze wafting off the "grillade au charbon de bois", the wood burning cooker.Whether you chose Côte de boeuf pour 2, côte d'agneau,or the entrecôte you were guaranteed a meat feast.Since that day I have built up a collection of carveries,burger bars and brasseries that I would happily return to if perchance they were still open.London provided me with many a meat feast.The original Cafe des Amis du Vin I remember for its sublime assiette de charcuterie. Le Garrick Brasserie, also in Covent Garden, was as close to Parisian dining in London as it was possible to get.In the same street, by coincidence, was the short lived Prospect Bar and Grill, a kind of homage to the uptown American diner.To round up the meat scene in London where I spent the best part of my life. I am going to mention the Quality Chop House on Farringdon Road, just around the corner from Exmouth Market.I have chosen this not only because of its uniqueness and quality but also because it is the link to the main point of this post,which is to sing the praises of my most recent discovery.I am in danger of waffling like AA Gill so I will get right to the point.The Quality Chop House is a dining room which opened in 1869, and has been the Quality Chop House ever since.More recently, and this is the link, they have opened a butchers shop next door.It sells a range of British meats and produce from daily provisions to fresh produce, homemade condiments and pies.The connection is that both these establishments have their own butchers shop. Atalho Real, (The Butchers Shop) in Principe Real, Lisboa also has its own butchers shop.
    The Atalho shop is not attached to the restaurant but in the new Mercado de Campo in Campo Ourique where you can not only buy the meat to take home but also have lunch or dinner.
    In the same location they have now opened Atalho Burger House, a space dedicated exclusively to hamburgers.
    Atalho is most definitely a place for those who appreciate meat. Good meat at an affordable price is not easy to find and here you find both, and friendly service to boot. Having dined at Atalho Real I am now more than ready to sample the experience of Atalho de Mercado.
    What I loved about this restaurant was not only the superlative quality of the meat,but their undertaking to make you a custom made burger from a choice of 5 different cuts of meat. They also serve the best ever  Chimi Churri sauce  as a side to all the dishes.We all opted for the "entrecôte maturada" a dry aged rib eye which was particularly amazing.Obviously this restaurant, like any other, will got give away the secret to a recipe, so what they posted on their Facebook page as the ingredients for the Chimi Churri sauce was all I had to go by when I tried to replicate it at home.I think I made a pretty good job on matching the taste but maybe they put in more parsley to achieve a deeper green colour.

    Chimi churri sauce inspired by Atalho Real
    2 fresh jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
    6 pimentos padrão, finely chopped
    2 habañero peppers, finely chopped
    2 cups salsa (flat leaf parsley), finely chopped
    1 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
    6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    2 tbsp golder cane sugar
    1 cup apple cider vinegar
    1 cup olive oil
    Juice of 1 lime
    Put all the ingredients into a processor and blitz

    If you like steaks as much as I do, Atalho Real is my strongly recommended meat destination. Absolutely delicious meat!! And not just that, the prices are really good considering the high quality meat cuts they serve.This is the best and worth every penny.Where else in Lisbon can you find the best Chuleton Galego?
    So around the world in eighty plates,whether my choice is onglet, entrecote, chargrilled Chuleton Galego, rare breed rib eye steak served with  peppercorn or béarnaise sauce or just a plain simple burger or Barnsley chop I am always in heffer heaven when there´s meat to be had.



    Wednesday, 1 July 2015

    A Masterchef recipe becomes a signature dish

    Pan fried sea bass with chermoula and spiced chickpeas
    For one who fell at the first hurdle of Masterchef back in 1986, I found this years series possibly the best ever.Cooking doesn’t get more emotive than this.For starters there was a lesser degree of of edible pansies being brought to the plate.Far less capering about with nasturtium flowers, sprawling and climbing in an effort to escape being garnished next to a daube of boeuf.But no seriously, the three finalists who intensely battled through seven weeks of challenges all deserved to win in their own special ways.This year’s competition put together the most evenly matched, nicest group of people in recent years. They were so nice, in fact, that if I remember correctly none of them would admit to wanting to trounce their opponents.
    Oldham heartthrob and father of four, Simon’s cooking sent the judges into slightly frightening raptures. "Do you know why I love you?" spluttered John Torode. It was all a bit oh my Giddy aunt when Simon´s  "tarted up posset"  sent John and Gregg a -reeling in the final.
    "What this guy has learnt is lunacy" proclaimed Gregg Wallace.The comment could only leave one assuming that this was a positive thing.Coming back down to earth my heart was always with "Someone’s lovely mum" Emma, so much so throughout the entire competition I constantly wanted to recreate her dishes in my own kitchen,and that is exactly what I did.More on that story later...
    To me she was one of the most consistent cooks on the show always staying true to herself right up to and including, can you believe it, the making of her own home made cous cous in the final.
    Having been privileged enough to have travelled around the middle east as a child, she kept this extraordinary culinary inspiration in her back head.These middle eastern flavours brought punch and homely soul to the competition.Yes she did falter occasionally under pressure, but then wouldn´t we all. The judges were right when they said "the benchmark has been raised"
    Her presentation at times lacked the refinement required to lift the lid off the trophy,but a tagine does not require namby pamby arranging, or decorating to enhance its aesthetic appeal.This is big-flavoured homely fare but of the highest level. Emma was so into the whole MasterChef process that she had lost all semblance of normal patterns of speech and could only talk in Wallace/Torode-isms. "I’m excited with a hint of nerves" she said. 
    They tried to inject an essence of drama into Emma’s story as she told the camera that she’d "been to breaking point" during the whole process. (cut to footage of Emma dropping a tray of sausages on a tarmac runway ).
    However poor Emma was doomed from the start, in editing terms at least, as from the word go Gregg was damning her with the faintest of praise, describing her cooking as "brave" and "heartfelt". This I assume is MasterChef code for "not gonna win any Michelin stars,love".
    After weeks of deliberating, cogitating and digesting this pair of  comical  judges finally crowned their MasterChef 2015 champion, in a frenzy of herbs and hyperbole.Sadly it was not Emma.However I wanted her achievement to live on and the dish that she cooked on the show that shone through for me was a pan fried sea bass with  chermoula sauce,roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine and spiced chickpeas.I loved it so much that I have tweaked it and adapted it as a Casa Rosada signature dish.

    Pan fried fillet of sea bass with chermoula sauce,a chickpea and spinach casserole and oven roasted cherry Kumatoes
    The chermoula can be prepared well in  advance and kept in the fridge over night.The Chickpea casserole actually improves with standing so can also be cooked the day before,just adding the spinach when you re-heat it.
    1 sea bass fillet (approx. 1lb/ 500g) per serving.
    Ask your fishmonger to clean de-scale and fillet the fish or alternately if you feel confident enough, fillet and de-bone it yourself.
    Butter and oil for frying

    FOR THE CHICKPEAS
    serves 4-6 as a side dish
    350g /12 oz chickpeas,picked clean and soaked overnight in cold water
    450g / 1lb fresh baby spinach
    2 large onions,chopped
    4 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons ground cumin
    4-5 garlic cloves,chopped
    1 lemon
    salt and freshly ground pepper
    Drain and rinse the chickpeas.In a large pan,cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil.Skim,cover and cook until they are soft.This could take about an hour or more (if using a pressure cooker,about 20 minutes).Strain,but keep the liquid.
    Using the same saucepan,sauté the onions in the hot oil until glistening and add the cumin and garlic.when they become aromatic,add the chick peas and enough of their reserved cooking liquid to barely cover them.Add the lemon juice,cover and simmer for about 1 hour.Towards the end of that time,or if re-heating, rinse the spinach leaves and drain them.Add the spinach,salt and a generous amount of pepper to the chickpeas.Mix well and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.
    FOR THE CHERMOULA
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ! medium red chilli,finely chopped
    1 clove garlic,finely chopped
    zest and juice of 1 lime
    1 tablespoon coriander leaves,chopped
    1 tablespoon parsley chopped
    freshly ground black pepper
     Mix all the ingredients together in a large shallow bowl.Set aside in the refrigerator.When ready to serve warm the chermoula through gently in a small pan and pour over the top of the fish.
    FOR THE ROASTED CHERRY KUMATOES
    Take about 5 or six tomatoes per portion and coat them in some extra virgin olive oil.
    Put them in a shallow roasting tray and cook for about 45 minutes at 200C.

    When ready to serve heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat until hot then add the butter and olive oil. Place the sea bass in the pan, skin-side down, and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until the skin is crisp. Carefully turn the fish over and cook for a further minute or two, or until cooked through.
    To present the dish.place a mound of the chickpea and spinach in the centre of each plate carefully lay the sea bass fillet over the top and Spoon over a coating of Chermoula.
    Take the roasted tomatoes and place them alongside the fish. 

    Friday, 26 June 2015

    As palavras zumbido foodie,foodie buzz words


    Describing food sometimes is not as easy as it might seem. How many ways can you say something was really tasty? Not enough to keep you interested in what you are writing. That is why we have to borrow words from other areas to describe the food and the effect it has on us.Attractive foods in theory make me more likely to activate a desire to eat than bland looking neutral foods.A brightly coloured dish of food is going to be far more appealing than say a chunk of grilled steak. So tempting food words should activate my brain with a desire to eat what is displayed in front of me, it should encourage a hedonistic impulse in me.For a while my most favourite tempting food word was unctuous.There is only one thing more enjoyable than cooking and eating belly pork and that is using the word unctuous to describe it.If you are not familiar with the word,it has several definitions, but in a foodie context it's used to describe something rich, luxurious, and fabulously fatty - think bone marrow, foie gras, and of course, pork belly.It could equally describe the starchy-soft quality of a good risotto.If you´re a food blogger like myself,a food writer or journalist and you are writing about pork belly,you just have to use the word unctuous or unctuousness whether you understand what it means or not.Ambrosial and nectar are another two well over used favourites of mine.By using these words to describe a dish of food or glass of wine it is possibly the highest accolade you could put upon it.It is comparing it to the food and drink of the gods.But once in a while a new buzz word comes along and my new word is pulchritude.I recently created this salad above, never thinking of how it would appear on the plate.The pulchritude of this salad is truly amazing.When I made it, never had I seen such a beautiful array of colours on a plate. All the vegetables and herbs looked so fresh and ripe in their pulchritude, a true testament to the stunning beauty that can be achieved in food preparation. Pulchritudinous is an adjective more commonly used to describe a person beyond beautiful, the next level above gorgeous, someone that even Aphrodite would envy. To a person who doesn't know the meaning of this word they may think at first is that it is a vulgar word and not a nice thing to say. But they are wrong, it is actually the opposite. This word is bloody difficult to say,but I love it and now I have found a new use for it.
    Roasted carrot and beetroot salad 
    with a Moroccan spiced salad dressing
    1kg large carrots peeled
    4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
    Flor de sal
    2 small garlic cloves finely chopped
    Freshly grated raw beetroot
    handful of torn mint leaves
    handful torn coriander leaves
    handful torn flat leaf parsley 
    Freshly ground black pepper
    I medium sized beetroot washed and outer skin peeled
    Cut the carrots into 7.5cm (3 inch) batons
    Halve the lower ends lengthways, then cut the thicker upper parts in quarters lengthways. put them all in a large shallow roasting tray and toss them well with the olive oil,orange juice and flor de sal.Roast for about 45 minutes at 200C for about 45 minutes,turning occasionally until tender and patched with brown but still retaining some texture.While the carrots are roasting, grate the beetroot. Turn the carrots out  into a mixing bowl and allow to cool completely.Meanwhile make the dressing.

    Moroccan spiced salad dressing
    1 tbsp cumin seeds
    1 tsp coriander seeds
    1/2 tsp turmeric
    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    3tbsp lemon juice
    3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed with tsp flor de sal
    Stir the cumin and coriander seeds in small  heavy dry saucepan until toasted and fragrant (about 30 seconds).Remove from the heat and stir in the turmeric and cinnamon.Allow to cool completely.Grind in a pestle and mortar. In asmall bowl combine the spices with the lemon juice,garlic,and olive oil.Whisk to blend well.this dressing can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator for a few days.

    When ready to serve toss the carrot and herbs with the dressing in a mixing bowl.
    Toss the grated beetroot in another bowl and then carefully compose the salad on a serving dish






    Monday, 22 June 2015

    Indian guacamole,pickle or chatni?

    Most people think of chutney as a mere condiment.It is dark brown, has a strong odour
    and is generally not very appealing.Many people also think that chutney has to be cooked.Not true.Chutney made the journey to Europe from India in the early nineteenth century,and in the process changed out of all recognition.Indian chatni is standardly a relish made from fresh fruits or vegetables with appropriate spices.In Britain,whether commercially bottled or home made, chutney making manages a rising tide of apples tomatoes and windfalls from gardens at the end of summer.This cooked variety resembles more what the Indians would call a pickle.
    A true chatni is a blend of things, with quite a sharp taste. It can be sweet(tamarind) or savoury(chilli), cooked(mango) or uncooked(chilli). Generally its mashed up with spices and herbs  (common ingredients being ginger mint, green/dry coriander, red/green chillies, garlic),and sometimes thinned with yoghurt.
    At our local Mercadinho de verão  this weekend I happened to pick up a real gem of a cook book.The price dictated why I had picked it up, but it wasn´t until I got home and browsed it in depth that I realised the true gem I had purchased.Neelam Batra’s The Indian Vegetarian (1994) contains a wealth of unusual recipes.She combines authentic Indian spices with readily available Western produce.The use of vegetables like avocados, generally not found in Indian cuisine, is a welcome change, from using the same old vegetables everyday.It is a book like this to remind me why I dabbled briefly in vegetarianism as a student.If I had had this book then might I still be a vegetarian today? The beauty of this book is in her interpretations of classic Indian dishes to New World inspirations,Combining Indian culinary tradition with others from around the world ,her recipe for lemonade is memorably minted; so is her version of the British cucumber sandwiches. 
    My favourite so far was her modern treatment given to avocado by turning it into a tangy,spicy,herby chutney.It’s more or less guacamole but with ginger, garlic, green chilli, cumin, and mint. Using lovely Portuguese grown avocados the touch of yoghurt lightens things up and adds a certain tang.
    Chatnis were always ground with a pestle and mortar made of stone. Nowadays, electric blenders or food processors are used as labour saving alternatives to the traditional stone utensils. Various spices are added and ground, usually in a particular order; giving a wet paste.This makes complete sense to me.The pounding of the aromatics is just right for releasing the oils. The technique used in this recipe provides a key that people miss.In essence you are making a dressing in which to coat the avocado as one would a salad.The next time I make ´real` Guacamole I am going to use this technique.
    When you're finished, remove the pestle and serve in the mortar. Less washin´up,less of a pickle  and more time to enjoy a chutney chat with friends.

    Avocado and Mint Chutney
    Yields: Serves 4
    Ingredients:
    Eat this chutney as a summery snack with corn chips, pappadums or home made crackers.Use it to replace butter when you make sandwich and fcombine it with hard-boiled egg, rocket and capers,or just stay traditional and use it as a side to an Indian curry or grilled meats.
    • 1 tablespoon chopped yellow or spring onion
    • 1 clove garlic, chopped
    • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 Thai or Serrano chile, chopped
    • Flor de sal
    • 1 large ripe avocado, pitted and roughly chopped
    • Lime juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves
    • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
    • 2 tablespoons plain whole fat or low-fat yoghurt
    1. Use a mortar and pestle to pound the onion, garlic, ginger, chile and a pinch of salt into a coarse texture. You want the ingredients to shed their liquid. Add the avocado and a few good squeezes of lime juice. Lightly pound to mash and mix the ingredients together. Stir in the cumin, coriander, mint and yoghurt.
    2. Transfer to a serving bowl.If you can avoid  temptation Let it sit for 5 minutes, then taste and adjust the flavour before serving.

    Wednesday, 10 June 2015

    Dia de Portugal.o prato de dia, Bolinhos de bacalhau

      “To know how to make codfish cakes is as important as to have read the Lusíadas."  
                                                                                                                     António Lobo Antunes                                                 
    Today is Portugal Day. Portugal has 365 salt cod recipes,but todays dish of the day has to be the nation´s favourite, Bolinhos de bacalhau,salt cod fritters or cod cakes.
      Although their real origin is the north, cod cakes became so popular that they were adopted as a true “national specialty.” They are the perfect petisco ( snack ) for the humblest or most sophisticated of occasions.
      If there is anything really ingrained in the Portuguese palate, loved by everyone, this is it. Snobs may be somewhat derogatory about cod cakes, afraid of admitting that they too love this “poor-man’s dish,” but do not believe them. They probably eat them all the same, when nobody is looking. Cod cakes are sold at delicatessens, patisseries, roadside cafés, tavernas—everywhere in Portugal,especially today of all days.
    Pataniscas de bacalhau Tailandes  
    Pataniscas originated in the Algarve.There are a few versions around,  but this is certainly the sort of salt cod dish you can modify.  I have put a certain Thai stamp on mine.
    500g flaked salt cod, desalted and reconstituted 6 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped  or 1 stalk lemongrass finely chopped 1teaspoon Nam Pla ( thai fish sauce ) Handful of fresh coriander leaves 2 small hot red chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped 3 spring onions finely chopped 75g fresh bread crumbs a little flour oil for shallow frying
    Put the fish, Kaffir lime leaves or lemongrass, if using, fish sauce, coriander leaves, chillies and spring onions into a food processor.Blend briefly then tip into a bowl and stir in the breadcrumbs and enough flour to bring the mixture together, it should be firm enough to be able to shape into flat cakes or balls. Mould the mixture with your hands into patties, cakes or balls, to the size you require. The above quantity will make 12 5cm patties. Dust these with a little flour, then fry them in shallow oil till crispy and golden about 3-4 minutes each side. Serve as a starter, canape or snack with a pot of chilli dipping sauce
    Happy Holiday.Boa festa a todos!!!

    Tuesday, 9 June 2015

    What kind of fool am I? It´s my parfait,


     yes,we even fooled with the photograph

    When push comes to shove I never know whether the whipped cream dessert I am making is a trifle, fool, or parfait."Words, words, words! I'm so sick of words I get words all day through..."

    Trifles, fools, and parfaits are close cousins. There is so much overlap that what I call a parfait, you may call a trifle or a fool. They are all layers of fruit, creamy fillings, and perhaps with crumbled cookie or cake pieces.Regardless of what you call it, these decadent kind of fluffed up creamy desserts are irresistible summer puddings.
    What I set out to make last week was a fool,so lets take it from the top.
    Gastronomically speaking,a fool is a cold English dessert made from puréed or stewed fruit mixed with cream or custard. In theory it can be made with any fruit, but the Victorians seemed to have been inordinately fond of gooseberry fool.That particular classic fool takes me back to my childhood. Edward Lear celebrated it in a limerick:

    There was an old person of Leeds
    whose head was infested with beads
    she sat on a stool
    and ate gooseberry fool
    which agreed with that person from Leeds

    Modern recipes may include any seasonal fruit readily found, but gooseberry fool remains the perennial favorite.Nowadays recipes often skip the traditional custard and use whipped cream instead.Where I was born we didn´t have trifles and parfaits, and we didn´t have many fools either,only the dessert kind that my mother introduced us to.What we did have however was a heck of a lot of gooseberries.Unfortunately here in Portugal gooseberries are non-existent, so I have to stick to seasonal fruit. There is a glut of apricots,so I made an apricot fool but introduced yet another culture into my recipe,Italian flavours.To hold on to that childhood reference while making this fool of myself I needed music to accompany my vigorous whipping and beating and stir me on. I was brought up by my parents on musicals and what better choice of soundtrack to back up my endeavour than "My fair Lady",one show stopper in particular,the song "Show me" when the changed flower girl Eliza Doolittle vents her anger at paramour Freddy Eynsford-Hill.
    For anyone who is familiar with this number try beating cream to it.The feeling of exhilaration that comes over you and possesses you is quite extraordinary.Try it.

    Sing me no song, read me no rhyme
    Don't waste my time, show me!
    Don't talk of June, don't talk of fall
    Don't talk at all!
    Show me!
    Never do I ever want to hear another word
    There isn't one, I haven't heard
    Here we are together in what ought to be a dream
    Say one more word and I'll scream
      
    Apricot amaretti parfait
    • 500g ripe fresh apricots, halved and stoned
    • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
    • 125ml honey
    • 15g golden caster sugar
    • 3 tbsp Licore de laranja, Cointreau or other orange flavoured liqueur
    • 500g carton mascarpone
    • 142ml carton double cream
    • 18 amaretti biscuits, plus extra to serve
    Put the apricot halves in a saucepan with the lemon zest and juice, honey and sugar. Shake the pan to combine, then simmer, uncovered, over a medium heat until the apricots are soft. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
    Tip the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor and whizz to a purée. Decant into a bowl, stir in the liqueur and leave to cool – about 20-30 minutes.
    Soften the mascarpone in its tub by whisking it vigorously with a fork. Whip the cream in a bowl – you want it softly whipped not stiff. Fold in the mascarpone with a large metal spoon, then lightly swirl in the apricot purée.
    Spoon the mixture into six wine glasses. (At this point, they’ll keep in the fridge for up to a day.) To serve, crumble over the amaretti, with a few on the side for dunking.
    Having made a fool,and got it out of my system I thoroughly enjoyed myself and wont need to get fooled again for a while.It was my parfait and I tried because I wanted to.