Friday, 19 December 2014

" A Celebration of Fanny"

First edition 1964

Just in time for Christmas on the Food Channel Nadia G is hosting a special series about cookery legend Fanny Cradock." A Celebration of Fanny" is a parody of the "Cradock Cooks for Christmas" TV shows in which the inimitable no-nonsense "cook" shares her unique style of festive gastronomy.Fanny gives advice on choosing, stuffing and carving the bird and makes her mother´s Family Trifle with her very favourite Swiss Roll slathered in apricot jam and sprinkled with a " sweet white wine such as Sauternes". "Its all in the booklet " Fanny keeps reminding us.The programme cuts back and forth from cuts of the original show to Nadia G cooking sensible modern takes inspired by Fanny´s abominations.If you are new to Fanny, or are of the generation like me that experienced Fanny first time round, you must catch this wonderful spoof.
While on the subject of Fanny I want to share with you the 50th anniversary of one of her greatest triumphs.If you can lay your hands on a copy this would make a very novel Christmas present for someone who would enjoy a nostalgic reminder of what TV chefs were like in the mid 60's.

It is 1964 and the last year in the UK when a crime was punishable by death,and the year the first edition of The Daily Telegraph Cooks Book was published.For many the majority of its recipes should have faced the death sentence.Its author,a preposterous character, who the foodies loved you to loathe was causing a culinary stir across middle class England. Her signature maquillage of a French clown or pantomime dame brought the same terror as might be experienced by a child witnessing the appearance of a kabuki performer.Her demeanour was of a woman in constant search of an argument. Terrifying, strange and rather grand – and that was just her cookery.From the mid-1950s to 1976, she was the "Queen of British cuisine". She was to be utterly reviled and disgraced during her lifetime: Her name:Fanny Cradock, Britain´s first celebrity chef.She introduced a well-off dinner party generation,my mother among them, to canapés and prawn cocktail. She and her monocled husband Johnny, appeared dressed for a ball, rather than for working in a kitchen.An early memory I recall is of her cooking in the kitchen in evening wear with long 3/4 length gloves.The pair delighted and astonished television audiences in hundreds of early cookery programmes, starting in 1955. In Kitchen Magic they put on airs as they demonstrated souffles ( “what goes up must come down” ) and eclairs.While piping rosettes of cream onto a trifle -- "they're frightfully important" -- Fanny would dispense pearls of wisdom for anyone looking to one-up the Joneses. ."Don't tell that woman next door [how to do it]," she warned, "and then you've got a bit of one-upmanship ... which is always satisfying." It was not a parody, however, but Fanny and Johnny's genuine idea of how our social betters wined and dined.She introduced a whole generation to ASPIC.What happened to aspic, does anyone still use aspic?
The Daily Telegraph Cooks Book by Bon Viveur was a pioneering influence on me as a child growing up in a 60´s kitchen. My parents were ardent Telegraph readers and the first column my mother would turn to, even before she put pen to the crossword, would always be "Bon Viveur”, Fanny Cradock´s early anonymous role as a food critic working alongside hubby Major John Craddock.
Her name probably won't mean much to people under the age of 40, but if your televisual memory extends to the mid '60s and beyond she will need no introduction.
Daily Telegraph readers knew the drill better than most.The forthright Bon Viveur columns, which acknowledged the contributions of Fanny's much-put-upon partner Johnnie, but which were unmistakably hers in tone and content, carried housewives from the dregs of rationing right through to the brashness of Thatcher's Britain.
The Daily Telegraph was the couple´s passport to stardom in the late 1940s. Fanny wrote fashion items and beauty tips for its pages under a brace of noms de plume. In 1949, shortly after her first recipe book, The Practical Cook, was published, the paper’s women’s editor asked her to take some weekend breaks in the country to see if any “worthwhile” restaurants had emerged since the war. Fanny and Johnnie visited hundreds of hotels and restaurants in Britain and abroad. They accentuated the positive, and wrote only about good ones.
The dual lure of the Daily Mail and the new Associated-Rediffusion independent television channel however was impossible for Fanny and Johnnie to resist, and they defected in 1955.The Telegraph regarded it as a separation rather than a divorce, and by 1959 the duo were back in the fold. The Daily Telegraph Cook's Book became one of 1964's bestsellers, by far outselling John Lennon´s “In His Own Write”, as it soared to the top of the charts.
I was only twelve at the time and it was like learning to read something surreal, a culinary version of Rudyard Kipling´s ´”Just So Stories”, full of whimsical oddities.Fanny´s strange ideas were perhaps a little beyond me as a minor.I was too young to  get the nuance of the captions like "Fine fish is never boiled”, or "Oh that poor spud!" Nevertheless it left a marked impression on me even though its physical evidence now seems to have vanished without a trace.I looked up at my mother´s kitchen wall constantly to see what was in season on the spin-off purchase she had mail ordered, the Bon Viveur Cooks Calendar, printed on cloth.Fanny Cradock wrote with aplomb and humour and a brisk Edwardian no-nonsense authority, unsympathetic to namby pamby ideas about electric toasters and instant coffee.I can imagine her throwing an acolyte's less-than-perfect culinary offering straight out of the window without a backward glance and without even pausing for breath. She would not countenance mutton ("divorce meat") but to make “Tripe which is not like stewed knitting “she gave detailed and strict instructions, and woe betide the reader who deviated from them even by a single teaspoon of “fécule de pommes". Herbs are characterised as "bad-tempered, secretive and choosy", "a prickly customer" and "a bit of a bully". Takes one to know one I suppose.
And it doesn't disappoint. It's bonkers and idiosyncratic,a thoroughly entertaining rant, but at the same time infused with a profound knowledge of cooking and a deep love of food.I don't believe for one minute they wrote it together; I like to imagine Fanny, reclining on a chaise-longue, with a fag in one hand and a gin and tonic in the other, barking the prose out at Johnnie, who's sitting upright in a hard-backed chair and desperately scribbling to keep up.The whole book is a delight, and here are a couple of Fanny´s specific cake-related tips that I am sure would bring a smile to Mary Berry´s face.
Subduing lumpy icing sugar
“Old, lumpy icing sugar can be a beast to sieve. It can soon be slapped into submission [I picture Johnnie quaking here, or possible shivering with pleasure - yeuch!] if you tuck it under a thick fold of paper and bash it with a rolling pin. After this treatment it runs through a sieve if you just shake and tap”.

Eclairs and cream buns
“will never have any surplus goo in the middle after baking if the mixture is made properly in the first place. Therefore the moronic advice to scoop goo out with the handle of a teaspoon should be treated with the contempt it deserves”.

And finally, the first lines of a chapter entitled "Let your starches breathe":-
“Please do not stifle your starches. Stop pawing them. Pastry prefers to remain aloof. It bitterly resents being stroked and patted. Such treatment makes it close up on itself and settle into a leaden sulk. Baking powder only gives it violent indigestion and successfully ruins flavour and texture, too”.
Many people couldn´t stand Cradock, but I adored her. Perhaps she was a subliminal signal to me that I would later revere drag queens.Beyond the epic snobbery and egotism, the lack of empathy, the overbearing insistence on her way and her way only, and the horrific comedy eyebrows she was an excellent cook and a first-rate if terrifying instructress. I can't remember a time when, thanks to this book, I didn't know about soupe au pistou and beignets d'aubergine, the true and correct meaning of the term "au gratin", how to make a perfect profiterole with “No Goo”, and most importantly, life-alteringly crucial to me, how to produce the perfect omelette, for which I gladly forgive her all her sins.
I will always love this book, but if you don´t already own an original edition and are looking for a second hand copy beware. In 1978 it was revised. Gone are all the cartoons, replaced by tasteful woodcuts, lots of the humour has been toned down and much of the snobby, endearing chatter is gone....even though most of the recipes are essentially unchanged, as a book it's worth holding out for an original.
Make sure the copy you are buying is one of the earlier editions, look for the blue spine and the cartoon of the butler with the boiled egg on the front.
Closely followed in 1967 came "The Sociable Cook´s Book" Culling more extracts from Bon Viveur's column in The Daily Telegraph. What is a Sociable Cook? Apparently "Someone who is completely unruffled by unexpected extra mouths to feed".
Fanny had a good innings at the Telegraph.The Bon Viveur columns survived till the mid eighties.
But having reviled and rebuked so many it was time to step down and relinquish her culinary crown.She had lost her grip on the nation.There was no forgiveness for her ritual dismembering in public of housewife Gwen Troake and from them on it was time to hand over her role,if reluctantly to a new generation of TV chefs.There were new ways to sell an omelette.She was well worth the tantrums,the bullying,the pretentious spun sugar and underneath all that couverture was a television genius who could turn some pretty dull ingredients into something pretty spectacular.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Afiambrada-língua de boi

   Afiambrada Casa Rosada style with home David Lebovitz´s Homemade mustard

Afiambrada as served at LSD in Porto
You may remember back in June, I shared with you how on a visit to Porto I had re-touched childhood memories with a plate of Lingua de Afiambrada,ox tongue and home made seed mustard.This stuck in my memory and I vowed that before the year was out I would bring back tradition and recreate my mother´s recipe for a brine cured pressed ox tongue.
Well, last week my butcher having remembered that I enquired about the availability of ox tongue and how much it cost, proffered me with just one of those.
I know, I know… this offal recipe might not be on top of everyone’s list of favourites, but I think you should at least give it a chance… if only a tiny little one.
I have never had a problem with the fact that I was eating an animal´s tongue and honestly, once you get over the aversion to the fact that it’s an actual tongue you’re dealing with, the whole experience just gets that much easier.
Once relegated to Jewish delis and sandwich lunches, tongue—like the rest of its offal brethren—is making glamorous appearances in butchers, supermarkets and on restaurant menus. Ever game for taking tough, cheap cuts and turning them into meat magic, chefs are using tongue again.Lets encourage this and see more tradition being incorporated into menus by chefs ( you know who you are) rather than pandering to what you think tourists want. While the affordable low price point is a clear draw—the real allure is the meat itself. The delicate texture that emerges after a long slow brine  and a heavy pressing under weights make this meat once again a shining star on smart restaurant menus, but so accessible at home too.Please people, start educating your children by bringing back culinary traditions and introducing them to the meals their grandmother gave you.Then and only then will we  have a healthier world with better nutrition,parents being able to give their children more affordable meals and last but not least, less obesity.Wake up and enjoy what was good in this world.Thank you Restaurant Largo Sao Domingos for bringing back this memory and inspiring me with this project.

Yield: Approximately 750g (1½lb) cooked meat
Serves 6 - 8
Before embarking on this project please refer to the guidelines below*

First up you need to rinse the tongue well and place it in a bowl or plastic container that´s large enough to to hold the tongue  plus about 8 cups of brine.

After your brine has cooled down completely, pour it right over your beef tongues until they are completely covered.

After the meat has been cured, rinse it under cold running water and place it in a large casserole or dutch oven; discard the brine, it’s done its job!
Add onions, garlic, celery and carrots to your casserole and cover with cold water.
No need to get fancy-schmancy with the vegetables here. You can even leave the peel on: it’ll only give more flavor to the cooking liquid!

Pressed and ready for sandwiches or cold cutting
Melt-in-your-mouth tender and flavoursome.
 Traditional comfort food at its best!

Yield: Approximately 750g (1½lb) cooked meat
Serves 6 - 8
  • 1.5kg (1½lb) ox tongue
  • 8 cups water
  • 2/3 cup coarse flor de sal
  • 2 tablespoons pink curing salt (prague powder )
  • 1 tablespoon spices,mustard seeds,coriander seeds,allspice,peppercorns,dried chilli
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 10-12 juniper berries
  • 1/2 whole cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg
  • 4-5 whole cloves
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 celery rib, cut in half
  • 1 large carrot, cut into large chunks
  • Enough water to cover the meat
  1. Add all the ingredients, except for the tongue, to a large stockpot and bring to the boil. Stir until the salt is completely dissolved, then kill the heat and let the brine come down to room temperature. If at all possible, place it in the fridge and let it cool overnight. To speed up the process, you could also add only half of the water to the stockpot and put the other half in the freezer, then add the cold water to the brine once it has boiled and the salt has completely dissolved.
  2. Once the brine has cooled down, place your tongue into a non-reactive container and pour the brine right over it until it’s completely covered. Now you need to make sure that your meat is completely submerged and that it will remain submerged for the entire duration of the curing process. If it wants to float to the top, weigh it down with a plate or any other similar clean and non-reactive object that fits snugly inside your container.
  3. Place your meat in the fridge and leave it to cure for 12 to 14 days. Check daily to make sure that your meat is still submerged.

  5. After the meat is done curing, rinse it under cold running water and place it in a Dutch oven; add onions, garlic, celery and carrots and cover with cold water. Discard brine.
  6. Cover your beef tongue place it in a 250F oven for about 6 hours or until the meat is super tender and pulls apart when you tug at it with a fork.
  7. Remove the cooked meat from the oven and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes and then peel the skin off. If your meat is cooked all the way, the skin should come right off. If it offers resistance, put it back in the oven and give it a bit more time in there.
  1. Once the tongue has been completely peeled,and has been allowed to cool, transfer it to a 15cm (6") loose bottomed cake tin set within a pie dish in case of any leakage.Curl it round inside the cake tin as tight as possible and then place a ceramic pie dish or souffle dish with a slightly smaller diameter on top of the tongue.Put 6kg (8lb)of weights inside the soufflé dish and leave to set overnight in the fridge.When ready to serve,remove the dish with the weights and gently ease the pressed tongue from the cake tin.With a very sharp carving knife slicevery thin slithers crossways across the top of the tongue.
Some short notes on curing
Curing Salts (Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite)
Saltpeter (sodium nitrate) is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used to cure meat for thousands of years. Nitrate preserves meat by prohibiting the growth of spoilage bacteria (especially C. botulinum) and preventing fats from going rancid.
As it turns out, nitrate isn’t the active agent in meat curing, rather its derivative, nitrite. Nitrite causes the preservative effects, as well as the appetizing reddish-pink colour and pleasing flavor that we associate with cured meat. People continued to use nitrates only until they ceased to be readily available,due to their connection with terrorism. Nitrate apparently is still used today only when a slow-cure method is needed for raw-cured products,

Curing salt  or pink curing salt is a “fast” cure that contains sodium nitrite and is known by various brand names. The pink colour ensures that users will not confuse it with any other type of salt.
If you don’t have or don’t want to use curing salt containing sodium nitrite, you can brine meats without it. Without curing salt that contains sodium nitrite, the colour of the cured meat will be grey rather than pink and the flavour is less sweet .

Who knew that I would someday end up making my very own pressed ox tongue…  If mother were still with us, I think she’d be very proud of me! - and it looks like it could well become a Casa Rosada staple

Monday, 15 December 2014

Quentao,it´s like winter in June

I dont know about you but I have always been accustomed to some mulled wine from November to Christmas.Huddled around the bonfire or wrapped up in mufflers watching fireworks in the garden, there is nothing that warms the cockles more than a seasonal steaming vat of mulled wine.The wafting aromas from the spice laden brew brings warmth and energy.This weekend Casa Rosada provided the venue for an office Christmas party and I thought it would be opportune to proffer our guests with a little warm something on their entrance.I did my research and discovered that mulled wine is not alien to the Portuguese, but more frequently adopted in Brazil where rum is the more popular constituent than red wine. Nowadays apparently, it is not always tradition but the makers means and pocket that determines this decision.
Quentão, (Brazilian mulled wine) literally translated as “Big Heat” and consists basically of a heated mixture of red wine, ginger, sugar, and spices such as cinnamon and cloves… Well, at least in southern Brazil where the largest production of wine is located. In northeastern Brazil, Quentão is made from cachaça instead, a distilled alcoholic white rum made from fermented sugarcane juice. Alas I had no cachaça to hand so I chose to make Quentão de vinho or Brazilian mulled wine as I said earlier.Before someone accuses me of serving alcohol to children (The parties it is normally served at are family affairs) I have to explain tha Quentão de vinho is suitable for children because all the wine alcohol content will be evaporated during the boiling process.If you wish, you could use a good quality grape juice instead of red wine.
Brazilian celebrations, Festa Junina, are historically related to European Midsummer.In Brazil however June is the beginning of the Brazilian winter (June to September) and the southern most part of the country, having a sub-tropical climate, can experience temperature falling below freezing during this period.The drink is normally consumed outdoors, so on cold nights round the bonfire this winter warmer is much appreciated. In the north of the country however the drink is increasingly common at Christmas.Those lucky Brazilians are spoilt.They have Caipirinhas in Summer and Quentão in winter.I got cold feet at the last minute and decided to offer a
safer bet to our visitors, but nevertheless made it the next day for ourselves and thank god for the spice who brought us in from the cold.
Quentão de vinho
Brazilian mulled wine

Makes about 6 Glasses
1 litre red wine such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon (or grape juice if desired)
( I used Fontanario de Pegoes)
17 fl. ounces (1/2 liter) of water
1 orange, slicedor zest of tangerine, mandarin or clementine
2 slices of fresh ginger, peeled

4 bay leaves
6 cloves
3 cinnamon sticks

grated nutmeg (optional)
1 cup sugar (or more, if desired)

Place all the ingredients into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly just until sugar has dissolved (about first 2-3 minutes of heating). Let boil for additional 10 minutes. Strain and serve warm. Garnish as desired.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Gorreana Green tea-ramisu

This post is something I have wanted to get off my chest for ages.This is the story of my chequered history and love/hate relationship with tiramisu. It harks back to the nineties when I first saw a recipe for green tea-ramisu in Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine or Vogue Entertaining, I dont remember which, but the tear sheet has long since disappeared from my "to be sorted" folder.Twenty years later it has come back to haunt me. I was recently tippling with trivia for my "Cooking with Colour board" on pinterest.The whole internet world it seemed was awash with pictures of tiramisu made with green tea.There are two reason perhaps why I have never made this. Firstly Matcha green tea is somewhat of a luxury commodity coming in at €20 for 80g, and secondly I have never been a great fan of some of the abominations that have been created in the name of tiramisu.When I did a screen test for Masterchef back in 1995 I upset Italian chef Madelena Bonino, one of the judges, who through her arms up in horror when,on the grounds that I disliked tiramisu, I put my alternative in front of her. She had missed the point completely. I was not trying to make a tiramisu.She repeatedly told me how my "tiramisu" should be much creamier.Quite clearly I had touched an over sensitive national nerve.I´d upset her and that was that, me out of the competition.
Since living in Portugal I have become aware of the nation´s obsession with and mega consumption of green tea, so I thought now the time had come for green tea-ramisu, made not with Japanese Matcha but with a more affordable Portuguese Gorreana green tea from the Açores. I checked and there is a traditional Açorean pudding made with green tea, Pudim de Cha Verde de Gorreana dos Azores (Green Tea Flan from Azores) but it did not look very appetising.It is more related to Pudim flan (Portuguese creme caramel) and my mission was to make a green coloured pudding.Gorreana green tea would never give me the colour that Matcha produces, but I was soul bent on making it 100% Portuguese. 
 Natural colourants often lend a more demure hue than their petroleum-laden cousins. A concentrated artificial food colouring requires only a few drops to add colour and thus doesn’t change the texture of the food by adding vast amounts of liquid. I kept my required final flavour in mind so as to avoid overwhelming it.
Green food colouring however is easy to create and very quick. Juice extracted from spinach is one such solution and does not taint what it is being added to,likewise avocado.I opted for the latter, mashing some ripe avocados and mixing them in with my other ingredients.This provided me  not only with a pale green colour to lift my pudding but also give it some texture. I was also removing the caffeine hit by dipping my biscuits in green tea as opposed to coffee.All in all a more subtle flavour, and the caffeine hit would be lessened ( Matcha can give quite a jolt too). So by "portuguesifying" tiramisu I seemed to be giving birth to a mutant confection.Here was something so delicious and spectacular that I defy even the most determined dieter not to succumb to temptation. What I ended up with was a cross between Bolo de bolacha and a semi-freddo ice cream cake.

1-1 1/2 cups brewed green tea, cooled to warm
2 packets savoyard (ladyfingers) biscuits (I ended up using a bit more than 2 boxes of ladyfingers, because I doubled the recipe to do the picket fence(optional)

Green Tea Mascarpone Mixture
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 medium avocado
250g mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp finely ground Gorranea green tea

Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a  bowl  until the mixture is pale yellow and has doubled in volume. Set aside.
Beat the mascarpone cheese until smooth and creamy. Don’t overbeat it or it will get clumpy (though if that happens, it’s not the end, you can still smooth it out at the end with the cream).
Add the ground Gorranea in small amounts at a time, adjusting according to your taste. If you prefer a stronger tea taste, feel free to add another teaspoon of matcha powder. Mash the avocado with a fork to a smooth mellifluous consistency and then add it to the mascarpone and mix to blend well.
Fold the mascarpone cheese into the egg yolk mixture .
In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks.
Fold the mascarpone mixture  into the whipped cream until well blended.

Count out the number of lady fingers you need to make a picket fence( optional) round the circumference of the tin.Cut the ladyfingers to height of the springform tin.
Dip each ladyfinger into the brewed green tea (don’t let them sit in the tea too long or you’ll get soggy ladyfingers but give it a second or two so they do get a little soft). I used a pie dish so that it’s easier to place the ladyfinger in the tea. Roll the ladyfingers over to get them soaked then remove them. Make a line of them around the circumference of the tin making the fence.Repeat the process with more biscuits but this time layering them crossways across the base of the tin inside the fence.
Spread the mascarpone cream mixture on top, and repeat with alternate layers of soaked biscuit and cream filling until finished (I made three layers of biscuit and three layers of filling ). The top layer should finish with the remaining the mascarpone.
 Refrigerate overnight to let it set well. I find that overnight is best.
When you are ready to serve dust with ground green tea powder and finely grated chocolate just before serving.

Other things to do with green tea
Green tea jelly
Lime and green tea salt
Put green tea, lime zest and kosher or sea salt into mortar & pestle, grind or pound until finely crumbled (powdery) & mixed. Spread on sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper & put in a low oven about 1 hour to dry.
Green tea shortbread
Green tea pannacotta

Friday, 5 December 2014

Cracking chestnut and chouriço soup (sopa de castañas)

a soup that matches the rich seasonal hues outside
Can anything beat the smell of chestnuts sizzling and spitting on a brazier? Christmas shopping in the city wouldn´t be the same without that fragrant scent.On our recent trip to Lisbon I was reminded that it is that time of the year when chestnut sellers line the streets of major cities selling delicious hot chestnuts to warm your cockles.The toasty treat that Nat King Cole immortalized in "The Christmas Song" is a once a year-round staple of street vendors worlwide.
Like sweet potato, chestnuts have become a nostalgic tradition during the Christmas season.Just the smell of them brings back so many good memories.When I think of chestnuts, I think of winter, snow and fireplaces.Bring some raw chestnuts home, dry roast them in the oven for 20-25 minutes and while still warm discard the shells.Add chouriço to the equation and you have something traditionally
Spanish that is synonymous with autumn, Chestnut and Chouriço soup.
The soup is simple but satisfying, subtle yet packed with layers of wonderful flavour. The sweetness of the chestnuts and the salty, spicy nature of the chorizo are perfect bedfellows, and the colour of the soup matches the rich seasonal hues outside.I mean, how more autumn can this soup get?Its comforting and a bit spicy, yum! The soup freezes beautifully and so it can be made in advance then reheated. It doesn´t get much better than that when planning for stress free Christmas catering.

Sopa de castañas
Chestnuts are often paired with sausage, but using spicy Spanish chorizo definitely gives this soup an edge (one that will vary greatly, depending on the type of chorizo you buy).The addition of cumin and saffron bring in hints of North Africa and the Middle East.

4tbsp olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 celery stick, thinly sliced
120g mild cooking chorizo, cut into 1cm cubes
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1tsp ground cumin
1½tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 small dried red chillies, crushed
2 tomatoes, fresh or tinned, roughly chopped
500g cooked, peeled chestnuts fresh or vacuum-packed), roughly chopped
20 saffron threads, infused in 3-4 tbsp boiling water
1 litre water
Sea salt and black pepper

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat.
Add the onion, carrot, celery, chorizo and a pinch of salt and fry for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything caramelises and turns quite brown. This gives the soup a wonderfully rich colour and taste.
Now add the garlic, cumin, thyme and chilli and cook for one more minute, followed by the tomato and, after about two minutes, the chestnuts.
Give everything a good stir, then add the saffron-infused liquid, and the water, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and mash by hand (with a potato masher) until almost smooth but still with a little bit of texture. Season with salt and pepper, then serve.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Fruity alioli,a christmas quince esential

There are certain culinary aromas that herald the imminence of Christmas.Tearing back the peel from a satsuma,tangerine or clementine is one, but the unforgettable scent of the quince at this time of year has to be the most distinctive of all.So beautiful is the smell of the ripe fruit that there is a temptation to keep the whole lot in the fruit bowl until Christmas, just for their perfume.The quince is not a user friendly fruit by any means, so any thoughts of sinking your gnashers and tucking into it  as you would a pear, you can forget.
Quince has a particular affinity with pork, especially a fatty cut like shoulder or belly, as its astringency cuts through the richness of the meat. I have often added some pieces of quince to slow-roasted pork.I have also used it in crumbles and bakes as a foil to apples and pears.Quince has a great affiliation with dairy products too,so it makes great ice cream – the flavour is so distinct and wonderful that it really holds up to the addition of cream and also being frozen. Quince is a very versatile fruit, so once you get to grips with the fact that it needs long, slow cooking, you will find yourself putting it with all sorts of things – a slice with yogurt in the morning, a piece with some cheese at lunch and some with your roast meat at dinner.
Quince is probably most commonly eaten as membrillo or marmelada, a quince paste that is popular in Spain and Portugal. There are any number of versions; my favourite is a coarse paste with a deep red hue, and is delicious eaten with an aged tangy cheese like Manchego, Pecorino or a mature Cheddar. Quince paste is also useful in cooking – a slice in the pan with a good old game bird can add the fruity sweet and sour flavour that game needs.My latest discovery with quince comes by way of Moro,the restaurant in Exmouth market,London. You add crushed garlic and olive oil to the quince paste to make a delicious quince alioli to eat with roast pork.
Quince alioli
This fruity variation of alioli goes especially well with pork and lamb. It's best to use a food processor or mixing bowl when you're dealing with something as dense as membrillo, but if you're just using a pestle and mortar, melt the membrillo down first with a tiny bit of water (I used Oloroso sherry)? over a low heat. This will make it easier to incorporate the oil.There is no need to for egg to emulsify the alioli as the membrillo is thick enough to serve the same function, and better still, unlike a regular alioli, it is difficult to split this.

Serves 4
1 large garlic clove
250g membrillo (quince paste)
150ml oil (equal parts extra virgin olive oil and sunflower oil)
Lemon juice to taste
Salt and black pepper
Crush the garlic with a little salt in the pestle and mortar.
Transfer to a food processor or bowl, and add the membrillo. Blend, and slowly add the oil in a thin stream, resting occasionally, until all the oil is incorporated. Add more salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Time Out Mercado da Ribeira,the new kid on the block

 The "market" you see today is a very different version of what has gone before

...Back on track we turned a corner and there she was in all her glory, the Mercado da Ribeira with its new kid on the block, The Time Out Mercado da Ribeira.It was lunchtime and normally this would be a bad time to visit a food market,when all the stalls would be closing for the day.As it transpired it was one of the best times to go.
As we passed through the original central hall this indeed what was happening,the traders were shutting up shop for the day,but next door we were thrown into the hurly burly of a Lisbon lunch hour.Office workers and shop assistants alike were enjoying a novelty new lunchtime experience. 

 choose your outlet grab a tray a pull up a chair
Here was fast a food Michelin Star heaven.Lisbon´s finest restaurants and their star chefs were now able to make their food accessible to those who could perhaps not afford the luxury of fine dining and all that goes with it.The choice was immense, with almost thirty foodie outlets and one did not have to worry about getting a seat.With rows of sharp-cornered, light-wood tables and stools spread out down the middle, the Mercado da Ribeira is now no longer a place just to buy ingredients. Now it is a place to meet, sit and eat. Here were "shop-fronts" for restaurants, bars, posh burger joints like  Honorato (one of the first burger restaurants to take advantage of the burger craze in Lisbon), patisseries and cafes serving a tasty mix of Portuguese and International dishes.The new clientele that sat around us, one would imagine, were the now-grown-up kids who used to go produce shopping here with their parents.

Here was a showcase for Chefs such as Alexandre Silva´s celebrated sushi and contemporary Portuguese dishes from Bica do Sapato. The hippest restaurant in Lisbon for over a decade and still the place to see and be seen. It's known for being co-owned by actor John Malkovich, but has remained popular mostly for its excellent gourmet cuisine and attractive minimalist space, coincidentally along the waterfront from the Mercado da Ribeira in a renovated riverfront warehouse by the The Santa Apolonia train station.Silva was already almost at the top of his game at the five star Alentejo Marmaris Hotel and Spa when he stayed here at Casa Rosada in 2013.After a complete reccy of all the 35 outlets in the hall it was time for some sustenance.First up the usual protracted decision making.We were tempted by finger licking innovative burgers,
transitional Portuguese croquettes or posh as all get out cheffy stuff from Vítor Claro, Miguel Castro Silva, or Marlene Vieira. My eye was drawn to some fine fine presunto salad served in an ice cream cornet from Manteigaria Silva? I think they were actually free samples but never one to miss a new trick I filed it in my back head.



However the more familiar Henrique Sá Pessoa seemed an obvious choice and his endearing menu represented some really clever and interesting fast food takes.
interesting fast food takes from Henrique Sá Pessoa
The best thing about this space is a group of friends can take whatever they want and meet at a table.You can mix and match and there is something there that will suit even the fussiest of eaters.If one person wants pizza but their friend prefers fish, and there are vegetarians amongst you, no problem.We were meeting up with four friends and this is exactly what we did.The majority of the party went for the Pessoa option and the thespian and I opted for suckling pig sandwiches in soft wodgy baps. I forget which stand they came from, but they were to die for, and I died I did and went to hog heaven. Perchance there was a bar just a short schlep from our table and bottles of Prova Regia Reserva at €11 a bottle seemed to be the order of the day. We volunteered to sit wide on our high chairs and keep an eye on small items such as purses and bags while our friends tottered off to make their choices.They soon returned armed with what appeared to be a state of the art kitchen timer.
A small, black disc about the size of a paper weight, that they had been assured would ‘go off’ when their meal was ready.Indeed it did and in due course went into neon flashing and buzzing overdrive.

Now we were enjoying all the fun of the fare and we had to explore the pudding options.we didn´t have to venture far before we found Nós é mais bolos with its wonderful hanging mobile of teapots.We ordered a chocolate cake and probably the best cheesecake ever ever, with real home made strawberry jam on top.Could it get any better?
All the he best purveyors of Portuguese product were there.This was surely the best foodie experience any city can offer.
Well-known stores like Conserveira Nacional and Garrafeira Nacional as well as Arcádia (one of the oldest chocolatiers in Portugal, founded in the 1930s in Porto, which still makes some of the best chocolates in the country), Santini (probably the best ice-cream in the world! and the new ones that are making an impression around Lisbon such as Sea MePrego da Peixaria (some absolutely delicious modern takes on the Portuguese prego.The traditional steak sandwiches are there, but now introducing the more modern salmon or tuna sandwiches with an eye opening option of having it served in a black bread bun.I could enthuse forever.I was beside myself with excitement discovering this truly inspiring space.I would have liked to have tried Lab by Asian Sushi Café,there was so much more to be explored and I am sure this venture will go from strength to strength.
This is the perfect place to grab a quick bite or linger and delve deeper into a gourmet experience.
Mercado da Ribeira won't be a best kept secret for long. The in your face Time Out Lisboa branding tells you that much.
Time Out Mercado da Ribeira
Sunday to Wednesday from 10am to midnight
Thursday to Saturday from 1am to 2am

A nova vida do Mercado da Ribeira Lisboa e zona de meretrício

 o projecto de arquitectura da remodelação em ala oeste do mercado 

I now can not visit a city without searching for a food story to bring home and blog about.We have just returned from Lisbon, and yet again found many new projects of interest.In advance of our trip we had read many column inches about the excitement surrounding the renovation and restoration of one of Lisbon´s finest (in my mind) institutions,the Mercado da Ribeira, the capital´s largest (10 thousand metres of covered area) food market.
This magnificent symbol of the commercial development of a bygone era has been Lisbon’s main food market since 1882.Over the years the market has undergone change in the form of extensive renovations and expansions.Originally set up as a wholesale outlet,it changed to retail in 2000.
And again this year another surprise was in store for this grand emporium of fresh produce.One of the food halls had become redundant and here was a trick not to be missed.While searching for new premises to house their headquarters, Time Out saw the potential of this empty space.
 In May its doors once again opened  to the reveal that Time Out Lisboa had transformed it into its current status as a foodie paradise for gastronomes and shoppers alike.
The Mercado da Ribeira in Lisbon was completely refurbished and opened earlier this week with a new concept that puts the publishing project of the magazine Time Out Lisbon in three dimensions. Ie everything that the magazine will be published in the new space: food, culture, leisure and commerce. Is now called Time Out Mercado da Ribeira. - See more at:
The hall has been completely refurbished and now has a brand new concept that brings the pages of Time Out into a third dimension.What was formerly only available "in print"
was now available to be purchased on the shop floor.
Everything that was food related in the magazine is now "published" in a new dimension. Food, culture, leisure, and commerce and it is now called Time out Mercado da Ribeira.
We set foot from our bed and breakfast,Teatro,in Rua da Trindade on a voyage of discovery that would transport our imaginations  to another era and then back to the future.

♒ Time Out Mercado da Ribeira

Product Name: Time Out Mercado da Ribeira
Author: Susana Ribeiro
Date Posted: 05/21/2014
Filed under: Gastronomy and yet, , ,
Time Out Mercado da Ribeira


 1 The Mercado da Ribeira in Lisbon was completely refurbished and opened earlier this week with a new concept that puts the publishing project of the magazine Time Out Lisbon in three dimensions. Ie everything that the magazine will be published in the new space: food, culture, leisure and commerce. Is now called Time Out Mercado da Ribeira.
- See more at:
Having spent the morning in Principe Real Nuno Gamafying the thespian and going up another notch on the credit card it was my turn for a shot in the arm. When push comes to shove food is my nirvana,so schlepping on down to the waterfront our first encounter was passing by by a fashion store where Rebecca Ferguson´s  anthem "I Hope" was blasting  the entire travessa, spurring us on to our destination.It´s resonance just missed the pitch of Amalia, but nevertheless was a firm reminder that if La Rodriguez was alive today perhaps this is what the street might have resonated with then.Onwards down Rua do Alecrim,leading us hopefully not into temptation.
              Meson Andaluz with its mis-matched Philippe Starck chairs,precariously perched on steep steps beckoned with its mouth watering selection of tapas.There was enough here to make even the Spanish make the journey over to Portugal to savour the menu.Time was tight and we could not succumb to temptation.We were on a mission and I happened to mention to the Thespian that this was the street where a notorious brothel featured in David Leavitt´s book The Two Hotel Francforts. Lo and behold by accident we stumbled upon the very building, now called ‘Pensão Amor’. Once this was a cheap pension with rooms rented by the hour to prostitutes and their clients or gentlemen of the city and their illustrious mistresses to enjoy a short afternoon of gratuitous rumpy pumpy.
Instead of its former clientele of sailors and prostitutes now the occupants of the rooms, which can be rented by the day or month, are artists, or simply people with projects that needed a temporary space.Much of its former glory has been kept intact. Even the bathroom walls tell a story in the wonderful graffiti on the walls.It all makes you believe that this place was once without doubt very well attended.I loved too the the mis-matched velvet upholstered furniture,most certainly salvaged from the original boudoir of the bordelo.
The staircase has paintings depicting images of scantily clad ladies in erotic poses and there is still even a bidet and a washbasin with tile floor in the corner of one of the rooms.The rest of the space works as a bar and cevicheria (where you can eat ceviche and other exotic Peruvian specialties).We didn´t explore this but it sounds like raw fish and lime every which way.‘Pensão Amor’ is now one of the most popular bars in Lisbon.There is also an erotic bookstore and trendy hair salon..Wait for this,in hommage to its former debauchery there is even a pole dance room decorated in leopard and gold. Pole dance workshops are held here and  you might be lucky enough to learn the tricks of seduction…There is enough entertainment here to keep you going all night if you wanted to,and the option of refreshments too.

An alluring awning,a subtle reminder of its history
Don´t get me wrong there is nothing seedy about it, just a clever tongue in cheek salute to the history of the building.Leaving the rejuvenated brothel behind us we then penetrated the heart of the former red light district 

Rua Nova do Carvalho (Pink Street), located just behind our final goal, the famous market on the river. For decades this street housed bars  named after northern European capitals (like Copenhagen,  Oslo or Roterdão , Rotterdam) to attract the sailors who stepped off their boats at Cais do Sodré. Nowadays it has a pink carpet and has been transformed into a hip and trendy area lined with hip bars and clubs that become crowded after 2AM when the bars in the legendary area Bairro Alto start to close.After all these interesting and exciting distractions would we ever get to the market -  and how excited would I be when we finally got there? Coming up next on Time out Mercado da Ribeira the inside story.....

Friday, 21 November 2014

Old flames,new tricks

 Grilled tuna skewers as served at Casa Rosada
What is it about grilling that makes food taste so so good? And why does just about anything- vegetable,meat or fish - respond so well to this method of cooking?
I am not one for flitting around the globe looking for the perfect recipe but when I find one I make sure I hang on to it.You can not beat the quality of North Atlantic Tuna from the Açores and Madeira.Purchased daily in our local market of Vila Real de Santo Antonio,100% Portuguese is a great USP when serving tuna to our guests and they say they have never tasted tuna like it.The proof is here in a picture sent in by one of our guests.

"As you can see I made the Tuna Kebabs from the recipe you gave us..They were delicious. Many thanks for a restful break. Love to return for the cookery course".

The art of good grilling is to have the heat at an intense level,but without flames, which would scorch. Grilled tuna loin is a case in point. All it needs is 45 seconds grilling each side.Freshness of course is an absolute priority.A good marinade and a twist to the way it is served gives you a Casa Rosada signature dish.

Tuna loin with Soy, Lime and Ginger
250g tuna loin per person ( 3cubes per skewer)

3 tbsp soya sauce
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp rice vinegar1 tbsp sesame oil
1 pinch of Piri piri flakes 6 thin slices of fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves crushed

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients for the marinade.
Cut the tuna into approx. 50g cubes and toss thoroughly in the marinade mix.
refrigerate for at least 1 hour but not more than 6,turning once or twice.
when ready to cook thread tuna cubes onto bamboo skewers.
 Heat a ridged griddle pan to smoking and sear tuna skewers for 3-5 minutes each side
depending on whether you want it pink in the middle or medium rare,bearing in mind the marinade will have tenderized the fish and it will not require much cooking.It is very easy to over cook tuna so beware.
Serve with a jewelled cous cous or salad, a dusting of sumac and chopped pistachios.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Corgete redondo recheado, a Lidl bit different

What happened to marrow? I have always had a soft spot for stuffed marrow at this time of year.Halloween has come and gone, and pumpkins and squash are prevalent in the market.Stuffed vegetables are a staple of home cooking. I like the hot, wet blandness of this annual culinary tradition and because it has virtually no taste it is the perfect foil for bold strong flavours. However a good sized marrow is hard to find in Portugal. A vegetable that is a heavy enough blunt instrument to be used in defence if being accosted on the way back from the market (if only). However a marrow is is basically just an oversized courgette that someone has forgotten to pick, and by coincidence when I was recently combing the Algarvian aisles of Lidl,just past the popsox and mens lycra my eyes were drawn to cylindrical shaped courgettes (yes believe it or not and forgive my veering off the straight and narrow but shopping in Lidl  can be an education.There are some quality gems to be found in Lidl aside from Nuremberg sausages and pfefferkuchen).And if you are brave enough to cross the threshold of emporio Lidl without adhering to a a strict shopping list, it can be like a visit to Ikea. Who knows who or what you might come out with on your arm.Well having found the perfect alternative to marrow for stuffing (they have lids too if you want them to)I set off home to find a braveheart filling.
Nigel Slater´s ground pork with baked marrow recently re-vitalised as Roasted courgettes with Thai style minced chilli and lime pork by Marmaduke Scarlet came to mind. Slater describes it as "a contemporary take on mince stuffed marrow." I liked the sound of that and thought I could be tempted, but I was  drawn more to a traditional Mediterranean slant of anchovy, garlic and breadcrumbs with a piri piri or picante tomato sauce.
Corgete redondo recheado com anchova,alho, 
pão rolado, parmesan e molho picante

4 Corgetes redondos
Extra virgin olive oil
i medium onion peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
Nigel describes this "a contemporary take on the mince-stuffed marrow". I think of it more as a deconstructed version with Thai-infused flavours of chilli, garlic and lime with a hint of aniseed from fresh dill. But either way, it is probably nicer than many traditional stuffed marrows, which if done badly are soggy and tasteless! Here Nigel roasts his marrow or courgettes first, which prevents the sog-factor and gives far more flavour. - See more at: recheado com anchova, alho e pão rolado
2oog crisp home made breadcrumbs
80g of tinned salted anchovies
60g freshly grated parmesan

3 cloves garlic
2 red chillies
2 red peppers left whole
50ml olive oil
2 bay leaves1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp white or red wine vinegar
11/2 tsp Flor de sal

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas mark 7
Place the garlic,chillies and peppers in a small roasting tray so they are not too spread out.Add the oil and cover the tray with foil.Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the peppers are very tender.When they have cooled,pull as much of the skin and seeds from the peppers as you can leaving the chillies intact.Throw all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until you have arough bright orange paste.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350f/gas 4.Lightly oil and moisten a baking dish with 2 tbsp of water.
Cut 4 decent sized lids from the top of the courgettes and set aside.With a teaspoon hollow out the flesh from the courgettes and set aside.If you are using long courgettes or marrow cut them in half first.The scooping is best done by scraping the spoon towards you, and in the case of the long ones imagine you are hollowing out a polynesian canoe.Reserve all your scrapings and make sure you leave a fairly decent shell to the courgettes so they dont collapse when cooking.Arrange the courgettes in the prepared baking dish.They should fit snugly enough to hold each other up.
Heat a frying pan to to high then add a little oil and the onions,followed by the courgette scrapings. Saute until the onions soften the stir in the garlic and saute for a further 2-3 minutes.Add the anchovies and the surplus oil from their packaging and then mash them into the mix, almost to a paste.The anchovies do not need to cook,they just melt; this only takes a few seconds.
Stir in the breadcrumbs gradually and most of the parmesan, (retaining some to sprinkle on top at the end of cooking)  until you have a moist paste. Spoon the mixture into the dug out courgettes,drizzle with some more oil and scatter a small amount of breadcrumbs over the top.Replace the lids and bake for 30 minutes or until the courgettes accept the sharp tip of a small knife.Make sure the baking dish does not dry up with the courgettes starting to fry and burn,add more water if necessary.when done remove from the oven,take off the lids and sprinkle the reserved parmesan over the tops.Serve on plates with the piri piri sauce poured around them not over them.