Thursday, 20 April 2017

“Moçambique Portugal Fusion” - Un incontournable....IBO

 An island, a salt warehouse, a restaurant,a cafe.... 
I reiterate from my previous post how important it is for me to have  a convivial environment to eat in.When ones feet are sore and your calf muscles ache from climbing up and down the seite collinas de Lisboa its time for a bit of relaxez-vous, a bebida, cerveza and perhaps a petisco or something more substantial.Our friends recommended this place having in turn been recommended it themselves by another friend.No regrets here.Cafe Ibo and its adjoining restaurant are located just a stones throw from the “Praça de Comércio” Slap bang on the water, you can eat and watch the world go by accompanied by very tasty food and good wines at a very acceptable price point given the quality and location.Just where ferries embark and disembark from the cais de sodre ferry terminal you can both people watch and admire the views. It serves a variety of light snacks, great salads and sandwiches,  and a full range of drinks (including selection of craft beers).What makes for a good ambience is the friendly staff and the prices will not put a hole in your pocket.It became evident quite quickly that this is a local cafe for local people.this was reiterated by one tripadvisor review I read afterwards.

" Résidents lisboètes nous fréquentons régulièrement ce restaurant 
avec toujours autant de plaisir".

An added bonus to this venue is the origin of its name and a reminder of its history.The establishment is named after Ibo, an Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago ( Indian Ocean ) off the north coast of Mozambique.
In the 17th century Ibo Island was the capital of a large area on the east coast 
of Africa. At that time, this area was dominated by the Portuguese, from the centre of their Oriental colonial empire, Goa.Its strategic location allowed the Portuguese to control the Arab trading that existed then in the region.Other Europeans, such as the Dutch and the French, made several attempts to conquer the island. Consequently, in the late 18th century (1791) the Saint John Baptist Fortress was built.This military and commercial evolution attracted people from different parts of the world. Evidence of this can be seen, still today, by its mixed population.Today the Ibo Restaurant and cafe
are housed in a simple refurbishment of a former salt warehouse, built at the beginning of the 20th century. So as one revives oneself from steppin out in Lisbon, imbibing some fine artesanal beers and sampling some inspired Portuguese gastronomy and Mozambician flavours one casts ones mind back to the travels of the Portuguese and evoke passions of its colonial past.
 
"Há quem diga que o Ibo tem o melhor prego de Lisboa"
revista evasoes
  
Mozambique prawns at Ibo whats not to like
 foodspotting
salada com pesto de azeitona

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Comendo com historia It's delightful,It's Delisbon it's delicious, it's de-lovely.

Long ago in days of yore,in downtown Lisbon there was an elegant Palace, built in 1781, where the aristocracy and bons vivants danced, enjoyed lavish banquets and admired new works of art. This palace was a very different one to the gastronomic emporium it has become today, it still retains its graceful architecture and its history and experience, and one still gets a feeling of a former glory and opulence.

                        
Today´s Lisbon is now becoming more cosmopolitan, thanks to increasing numbers of visitors from overseas, including the start-ups that are finding a niche here. With its relaxed but sophisticated feel, Palácio Chiado, a restored 18th century palace in the heart of the city’s old town is attracting these younger entrepreneurs and international residents. The environment that surrounds us while we eat, to me is so important.The visual surroundings and decor of a restaurant can affect my decision of what I am going to eat. On entering Palácio Chiado, the former Barão de Quintela Palace, one is faced with a culinary conundrum. Which of the seven luxury food courts would one prefer to dine in.Spread over two floors you can wander through century old rooms full of frescos,and gaze up at vaulted ceilings, grand staircases  stained glass windows and there are even plenty of nooks in which to sit and chat.You are confronted with the choice of eating cod dishes (Bacalhau Lisboa),boards of aged meats (Meat Bar),gluten-free and lactose-free  and vegetarian food (Local Chiado) fusion sushi and Asian food (Sushic Chiado),convent sweets and Davvero ice cream (Confeitaria do Palacio) or the food court we chose, which was Portuguese cheese boards  cured ham and sausages (DeLisbon)

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Easter brunch.Piperrada,eggs with peppers

Piperade (Gascon and French) or Piperrada (Basque and thus Spanish
I can not bypass Easter weekend without a post involving eggs.I am sure that at some point over the Easter weekend  we will be entertaining some sort of brunch, either for ourselves or including a gathering of friends. Piperrada is a typical Basque dish prepared with onion and garlic,Serrano ham and tomatoes, sautéed and flavoured with red Espelette peppers. It has all the vibrant flavours of northern Spain. The colours coincidentally reflect the colours of the Basque flag.Like Ratatouille, Pipérade defies categorization. Is it a side dish? A relish? A sauce? An appetizer? A tapas dish? To me  you make it what you want, it is essentially a dish of savoury scrambled eggs.It is very often served as a tapa on a slice of baguette.In my version I normally use pequillo peppers or red pimentos that I have roasted and skinned.Obviously,one can´t do this without the eggs- and the better the eggs the better the dish-but the other ingredients should be allowed the odd substitution or even be left out. After all this is a simple supper and not something that requires attention to detail.This type of dish was one of my mothers standbys but her version included cheddar cheese and tomatoes, but no peppers.

Serves 4

2 red peppers or 2 tinned piquillo peppers drained
6tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1  small onion,shredded
75g Serrano ham,cut in strips
350g tomatoes peeled and diced
8 eggs
salt and pepper 
Roast the peppers under the grill until charred. wrap them in a cloth until cool enough to handle,then peel them.Discard the seeds and stem,then cut the peppers into strips.If you are using tinned pimientos,simply cut them into strips.Heat half the oil in a frying pan and sautée the garlic and onion.Add the strips of of ham,then the tomatoes and peppers.Fry for about 15 minutes until some of the liquid has evaporated.Tuirn into a bowl and set aside. Beat the eggs with the salt and pepper.Heat the remaining oil in the pan and pour in the eggs.Stir them,cooking very gently,then add the pepper mixture.Cook without stirring until the eggs are set.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Top of the pods, do yourself a fava

April is the peak season for broad beans ( favas )and peas ( ervilhas ). Although the first pods appear in the markets as early as March, signalling the beginning of spring.One glance at menus will show that risotto made with peas and or broad beans is currently the dish of the season...Gone are the days when the only bean ever to to appear on restaurant plates was the ultra fine french bean,and the only pea, a mangetout.I drew my inspiration for this dish from the River Cafe cook book, Green.What drew me to this particular recipe was the fact that every part of the pea is used.After podding  you save the pods and boil them in salted water and then pass them through a mouli, which results in an astoundingly sweet emerald purée that you stir through the risotto.I enhanced the dish with mint and chives for an added springtime flavour. I also used two extra cheeses which were not in the original recipe, mascarpone for a round creamy finish and some Requeijao ( Portuguese curd cheese ).
Risotto di favas , ervilhas e suas descascas
serves 6
2kg broad beans in their pods ( choose young,bright green thin pods )
1kg fresh young peas in their pods washed
Flor de sal and freshly ground black pepper
200g unsalted butter,softened
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
handful of mint leaves for garnish
small bunch of chives for garnish
1.75 litres chicken stock
200g spring onions chopped
300g risotto rice
100g parmesan,freshly grated
125 g requeijao

2 tablespoons mascarpone
Pod the broad beans and the peas. Keep the pea pods. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.Add the pea pods and cook for 5 minutes.Remove with a slotted spoon.Put through a mouli, then add 2-3 tablespoons of the cooking water.Blanch the peas in the boiling salted water,drain and add to the pea-pod pulp.Season and add 25g of the butter.

Add the broad beans to a clean pan of unsalted boiling water, and cook for 2-4 minutes.Drain and when cool remove the skins with your fingers then add 25g of the butter, the parsley and salt and pepper.Put half of this into the food processor and pulse-chop.Return to the whole beans.Heat the stock and check for seasoning

Melt half the remaining butter in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan.Gently fry the onion until soft and beginning to colour.Add the rice, stir to coat each grain with butter, and cook for 2-3 minutes.When the rice is opaque,start adding the hot stock ladle by ladle, adding the next only when the rice has absorbed the last.. Stir continuously. Continue to cook until the rice is al dente, about 15 minutes.

Finally,stir in the peas and their pea-pod liquor,the broad beans ,requeijao and mascarpone.Add the remaining butter,and stir in the parmesan.Serve immediately

Friday, 7 April 2017

octopus tartare / tártaro de polvo, caught in a trap


I like to know the provenance of the food I eat.How it is caught, how it is killed and how it gets to my table. Since Phoenician times, octopuses have been the main catch for the villagers of Santa Luzia.The best octopus in Portugal comes from this Algarvian village,  snuggling next to Tavira and just 26 kms from casa rosada.The locals proudly call it the octopus capital of Portugal.The fishing process has changed little in several thousand years.
The barnacle-encrusted pottery jars (“alcatruz” )
The barnacle-encrusted pottery jars (“alcatruz” ) you see stacked all over the village are much more than rustic souvenirs: They're octopus traps. They're tied about 15 feet apart in long lines and dropped offshore. Octopuses think these are a cozy place to sleep but get caught when  the fishermen hoist them in, and when the pots get removed from the water the stubborn octopuses hang on — unaware they've made their final mistake. Nowadays the younger generation of fishermen don’t like to wait for the mollusks to fall asleep, so they prefer to use a “covo,” a plastic trap with a sardine inside.

Old timers swear that the octopus caught with the alcatruz tastes much better than the one caught with the covo.
Frozen octopus is much more reliable than fresh, in terms of ensuring the meat is tender.No more bashing on the rocks, modern thinking suggests that the freezer is the best option.
Octopus tartare / tártaro de polvo
now the weather has finally turned this is a great sunshine dish

makes 4 servings
500g of finely chopped prepared,freshly cooked octopus
2 finely chopped banana shallots
a few drops of tabasco
2 tsp capers de-salted and finely chopped
3 anchovy fillets (optional)
1/2 avocado mashed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 soup spoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley leaves
2 small radish finely chopped
Pinch of Flor de sal
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Once everything is finely chopped, mix well together, taste for seasoning and put into mould or small ramekin.
Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes (and up to a couple of days). When ready to serve, turn out onto a plate and drizzle with some olive oil.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Ketjap manis-make your own

Shoulder of pork stew with keçap manis and ginger
These days you can make a home made version of almost any food product that is on the supermarket shelf.All it takes is a little time to research recipes online and then sort out which is the best version of what you have found. If you've eaten Nasi Goreng—or had your eye on Nigella Lawson´s Thai noodles with cinnamon and prawns—or if you are searching the internet in vain for a Hairy biker pork stew with ginger recipe, you'll already be familiar with  kecap manis (though maybe you've seen it spelled ketjap manis).
Pronounced kuh-CHOP MAH-nees, it translates to "sweet sauce": "Kecap" is a catchall term for the five essential Indonesian fermented sauces (and yes, it's related to kê-tsiap, the distant fermented-fish-sauce ancestor of our beloved ketchup), and "manis" means sweet (in this case, the source is palm sugar).
Syrupy where Japanese soy sauce is thin, caramelly and slightly smoky where shoyu is salty, kecap manis is, by many accounts, the most popular sauce in Indonesia.Add it to marinades, stir-fries, soups, barbecue sauces, glazes, or anywhere else you'd normally use maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, or agave to counter the saltiness of Japanese or Chinese soy sauce. Nigella Lawson, who describes it as "treacle-ish soy sauce," recommends replacing 1 tablespoon of kecap manis  with 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce sauce mixed with 1 tablespoon soft dark brown sugar if you can't find it.
I have to disagree with Ms Lawson here.Kecap manis adds a layer of flavour (as well as a sticky richness) that a hacked version does not.So…what’s the difference between soy sauce and kecap manis?
The obvious difference is soy sauce (or light soy sauce) is salty with a consistency of water; whereas kecap manis is sweeter and has the consistency resembling maple syrup.You can use light soy sauce in replacement of salt and kecap manis for colour and sweetness. You can also use these two sauces along side each other  to balance the savouriness and sweetness of Asian recipes.
my bottle of home made kecap manis with a cheekily printed off label I downloaded
I’m aware not everyone has a bottle of kecap manis in their kitchens and may not feel like investing in a whole bottle for an one-off recipe,but while you can pick up a bottle from any well-stocked Asian aisle of your supermarket, making a good imitation at home is simple, much like reducing balsamic vinegar: or if you are  a saucepot like me save your pricey fine balsamic vinegar for another day. It will be near-irresistable  for you to simply want the satisfaction of making sauces at home.
Either way, I thought you may be interested to make this at home since it’s neither a difficult nor an expensive exercise. Enjoy!
How to make home made kecap manis
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup water
1 cup soya sauce
7 tablesoons dark molasses ( Melaço de cana for my portuguese friends )

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine the sugar and water in a 2.5 litre (4 pint) saucepan.Bring to a simmer over a medium heat,stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.Increase the heat to high and continue cooking until the syrup reaches 200 degrees on a sugar thermometer,about 5 minutes.Reduce the heat to low.Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer for 3 minutes.The sauce has a shelf life of 2-3 months if kept tightly covered in the refrigerator.

Shoulder of pork stew with Kecap manis ( pictured above)
It’s not often that I eat something that tastes so different to anything I’ve come across before. But this is such a dish. I came to it by way of The Hairy Bikers comfort food TV series, in the episode called cosy suppers. The viewers response to this recipe was immense but could any of us find the recipe anywhere on line? Could we heck.The general reaction in numerous internet food forums was "....this was my reaction as well, so I watched it again on Youtube and wrote it all down".I apologise for any inaccuracies but this is my take on it.
1 kg lean pork shoulder cubed
vegetable oil
3 banana shallots,sliced
4 birds eye chillies,finely chopped
4 fat garlic cloves
thick finger of ginger peeled 

FOR THE SPICE RUB 
1/2 tsp dried ginger powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chinese five spice 
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
 
FOR THE STOCK 
1/2 litre stock
4 heaped soup spoons Kecap manis
2 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsps tamarind paste
Cut the pork into cubes. Combine the spices and mix well into the meat.Set aside.
In a large lidded frying pan,gently fry the shallots in the oil.Grate and add the garlic and ginger to the pan being careful not to burn it.Remove tops and seeds from the chillies ( if preferred),chop finely and add to the pan.Stir and cook gently for a couple of minutes.Add the pork and mix everything well.
Combine all the ingredients for the stock then add this to the pan.
Mix it all well and bring to a simmer.
Cover and allow to simmer for approximately 11/2 hours.
After 20 minutes remove the lid and continue cooking without the lid.
Serve with plain boiled rice and some green beans or broccoli.
If liked,fry some sliced shallots and a couple more sliced chillies until crisp and brown.Dry on kitchen paper and sprinkle on top of the stew. 

Monday, 27 March 2017

Green tomato and orange jam - never mind red,go green

Preserving summer flavours all year long seems to be the rule of thumb when it comes to jam making and preserves.Some think of jam-making as a cold-weather activity, one for the autumn and winter. Believe it or not spring in Portugal and Spain is a prime time for jam making.Trees are laden with bitter Seville oranges, ripe for the marmalade making brigade.New season oranges and lemons are prevalent too.But who knew that the first salad tomatoes while still unripe and green when combined with oranges and lemons make a delicious and unusual addition to the breakfast tray.And yes, OK, I know tomatoes are technically a fruit too. We normally use them as a savoury ingredient, but their aroma and texture lends itself to sweet preparations too.Doces de tomates or tomato jams are very traditional in Portugal and delicious they are too.Normally one struggles to ripen the late bounty of tomatoes that stubbornly refuse to turn from green to red in autumn.Dont get me wrong, this recipe is a great way to use up unripe tomatoes at that time of year,but turn the seasons upside down and grab the tomatoes in early spring before they speedily change colour, and it’s green tomato season.These are not the green-when-ripe tomatoes, that have sweet and tart flavour tones, and are soft when ripe. These are simply unripe tomatoes, which if left on the vine or on a kitchen counter for a very short time will very quickly turn red. Some are rock-hard; some are softer. The softer ones are pink inside, maybe with  a slight blush here and there on the skin.What I like most about this is that it is great to have some jams at hand until the real soft fruits of summer arrive.And by the time summer arrives and Northern Europe is feasting on strawberries scones and clotted cream teas, the strawberry season here will be well gone so I also need to get my act together this weekend and make strawberry jam pronto while they are at their peak and.... before hanging my preserving pan up for the summer the apricot season is just around the corner.
Green Tomato and Orange Jam
makes about 2kg ( 4lb )
Despite the amber hue of the resulting preserve, this is a soft set green tomato jam.
4 large sweet oranges
2 lemons
1kg ( 2lb )green tomatoes
750ml ( 11/4 pints ) water
1kg (2 lb ) preserving or granulated sugar
11/2 tbsp coriander seeds roughly crushed (optional)
Cut the oranges into slices and remove the pips.Squeeze the juice from the lemons and reserve the pips.Tie all the pips into apiece of muslin.
Put the tomatoes and oranges into a food processor until they are finely chopped.
Place the chopped tomato and orange into the preserving pan with the water and muslin bag.Bring to the boil,then reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes,or until the orange peel is soft.
Add the sugar and the lemon juice to the pan,stirring until the sugar has dissolved
Bring to the boil and boil over a medium heat,stirring occasionally for 30-35 minutes,or until the mixture is thick enough for a wooden spoon drawn through the centre to leave a clear channel. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the jam to settle for afew minutes.Skim if necessary,then remove the muslin bag and stir in the crushed coriander seeds if using.Ladle the jam into hot sterilized jars,then seal.
Shelf life - 1 year



Thursday, 23 March 2017

Chickpea chips:Better, easier, and healthier than French fries?

How many things are there that you should do before you die? Seriously? I may just have to try one of them then. Let me preface this by saying that I've never eaten a chip butty and, unless completely trolleyed and desperate for carbs, I probably never will.And if I do I will probably induce a coronary condition anyway so it would be a blessing if I did it now before I die.
In England a butty is another word for sandwich, usually reserved for combinations involving  bread and butter and breakfast meat. Sarnie also means sandwich, though I'm not sure of the difference between a sarnie and a butty. It's like how Eskimo´s supposedly have hundreds of words for snow - the British have a lot of different ways to say 'stuff between bread.
To cut along story short I have found a solution to curb the international high cholesterol sandwich...and here´s one for you political ideologist fish and chipocrites.Its a chickpea chip butty or as the Italians call it Panelle in a bread roll.The french call it panisse and lose the bread,while the Indians call it Gathya. Panisses are perfect snack food, excellent served with rosé or alongside meat dishes, like they do in Provence. Fried to a crisp, they’re so good.
Panisse,or could they be chips?
Indian savoury chickpea chips- Gathya
French fries are indisputably a wonderful food. But their reputation as the zenith of deep-fried foods seems to go unquestioned.They no longer for me hold the title of the most interesting deep-fried potato dish.That title belongs to chickpea fries: crispy-on-the-outside, moist-on-the-inside little batons made from chickpea flour and whatever other flavourings you care to add to them, Rosemary, parmesan, cumin?  With a smooth, dense, and custard-like interior, I think chickpea fries are far more satisfying than the starchy potato version. (They’re also higher in protein and fibre, if you’re concerned about such things when you eat fried foods.)
Chickpea fries are arguably easier to make than French fries, as well. They take a little extra time, but the technique itself is child’s play compared to the endless, fiddly peeling and julienning required for French fries. You make a quick stiff batter on the stovetop, let it cool and set in a pan, cut it into sticks (which takes about a minute), and fry away. If you’re planning on serving them at a cocktail or dinner party (obviously, they have a canape connotation too), you can do everything except for the frying a day or two in advance.
There are various kinds of chickpea flour available, depending on where in the world you live. I used a brand from from my local health food store, but the Italian varieties seem to be much finer, which I think is what they must use in the south of France so they have an even, crispy shell that gives way to a creamy, soft centre. Much like a twice fried potato chip.
The resultant chips evenly turn a light golden colour in the oil. They look like they could have been purchased from the golden arches themselves. It’s uncanny. Dare I say it: this is better than a chip. And I didn’t have to peel a thing. Much like its brother,the potato, the chickpea chip plays a great supporting role. It’s the sort of chip that could stand alone, but it still lets the burger be the main event. If you’re not already in possession of a chickpea flour, I say go forth now and purchase one.
What do you like to dip your chips into? Any recommendations about sauce? Just ketchup? mayo? or perhaps aioli? Yoghurt mint dipping sauce perhaps? Chip omelette anyone?
Chickpea Fries  
Serves 10 to 12

You can flavour the chips with cumin, rosemary, chopped black olives or parmesan, and if you want a more intense flavour cook the mixture in chicken stock instead of water

4 cups water
2 cups chickpea flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups vegetable oil
Place the water in a large saucepan with the salt and bring to a boil.  Pour the chickpea flour in a steady stream into the water and whisk vigorously until all of the water is absorbed and there are no lumps, about 2-3 minutes. Continue cooking until you have a thick porridge like consistency and the mass is pulling away from the sides of the pan. You are looking for the consistency of polenta. Take the pot off the heat. There should be plenty of salt but now is the time to taste and make sure. These fries are all about the salt.
Oil a ceramic dish or roasting pan or alternatively line a baking sheet with a silpat or wax paper. Pour the chickpea mixture onto the baking sheet and spread evenly. Set aside to firm for about 30 minutes or overnight.
When the mixture is set take a knife and gently cut the mixture into rectangular pieces. Use your judgement as to the size. You can make fat chips or thin fries.
In a deep fat fryer turn the heat to medium high. Once the oil is hot enough (you will get a nice sizzle) add some fries (about 8 at a time) and cook until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside. Take them out and place on a paper towel lined plate. Transfer to dish and serve immediately.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Ravioli -If at first you don´t succeed try and try again

I think that nearly everyone who loves to cook—even those of us who enjoy complicated projects when the mood strikes—have a culinary kryptonite or a baking bête noir. You know, that one thing that you’ve never made because it’s intimidating or it seems overly complicated. Mine has always been ravioli. I love to eat it, but it has always seemed like . . . shall I say it, a lot of fannying about
Pasta machines give a smooth finish, which is fine, but if you’re going as far as to make your own pasta, why not go all the way? Although Italian nonnas use a long narrow pin called a mattarello,you can use any heavy rolling pin that feels right to you.Below is a recipe for a basic pasta dough but everybody has a recipe for pasta dough that works for them, so I would suggest using the recipe that you are accustomed to. Practice makes perfect.Good luck!

Makes 48 ravioli
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
 


To make the dough by hand: Combine the flour and salt on a flat work surface, shape into a mound, and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the well and lightly beat with a fork. Gradually draw in the flour from the inside wall and mix it with the beaten eggs. Use 1 hand for mixing and the other to protect the outer wall. Continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a smooth dough. Dust some flour on the work surface; knead and fold the dough until it is elastic and smooth, this should take about 10 minutes. Brush the surface of the dough with the remaining olive oil and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax. 
To roll out the dough: Cut the ball of dough in half, cover and reserve the piece you are not using to prevent it from drying out. Dust the counter and dough with a little flour. Press the dough into a rectangle and roll it turning it over and rolling it again until your dough is paper-thin, about 1/8-inch thick. Roll out the other half.
There are many methods for forming and cutting ravioli. You can use a ravioli cutter or a cookie cutter to form round or square ravioli. Or you can roll out strips of dough, add the filling, fold the dough over and use a pastry cutter to form the ravioli.I was recently given a ravioli press or mould.The result was an improvement on my first attempt but the thickness of my pasta dough still left a lot to be desired and I am now feeling I should give up following in nonna´s footsteps and invest in a pasta rolling machine.Nonnas have time and patience on their side - I don´t.

For Butternut Squash Filling
500g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2-3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
2 pinches dried thyme
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper, to taste

Place cubed squash into a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in a hot oven ( 220C ) until squash is soft.While squash is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions until tender, 7 minutes. Reduce heat and add in garlic. Cook 1 minute and remove from heat.
Place cooked squash, onions, garlic, and remaining ingredients into a food processor. Puree. Store in refrigerator until ready to fill raviolis.

To cook. Bring a large pan of salted water to boil. Drop in your raviolis and stir gently. Raviolis will be finished cooking once they float to the top. Drain and pour back into the hot pot. Place on the warm burner. (You don’t need the burner on)
To make a simple garlic cream sauce, melt some butter in with the hot raviolis {still in the same pot you used to cook them in}. Grate in a little garlic, a splash of cream, some grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Stir for a minute or two or until sauce thickens slightly. Serve immediately. (For about 12 raviolis, I used 2 tablespoons butter, 1/2 large clove of garlic, 1/4 cup cream, 1/2 cup cheese, salt and pepper.)
My first attempt in 2013, I´ve come along way since then

Friday, 17 March 2017

Dia de São Patrício - um dia de panificação,"Ah sure, it will be a great craic !"

Guinness and spirits are not the only great consumable goods to come out of Ireland. Corned beef, cabbage and lamb stew accompanied by traditional Irish soda bread are tasty ways to "keep it real."
Last year I was given  a recipe for Irish soda bread by a guest who had been staying in the house.With Saint Patrick´s day once more upon us I thought I would make this again and also try a variation on the theme with a batch of white soda scones.I thought I would have a bit of a "Norn' Iron" fry up too with some Irish potato bread.(farls)
So come on release the leprechaun within you and If you're cooking on March 17th, you can get into the festive spirit by incorporating a little green into your work attire. Try a green apron?
White soda Scones 
The key to tender scones and most Irish baking recipes  for that matter is handling the mixture as little as possible.
3 2/3 cups (1 pound) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

( If butter milk is not available use a 50/50 blend of plain yogurt and water)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 450F. Sift flour, salt and baking soda into a large bowl, and rub the mixture with your fingertips to incorporate some air. Make a well in the centre and pour in most of the buttermilk. Using one hand, with your fingers open and stiff, mix in a full circle, bringing the flour and liquid together, adding more liquid if necessary. The dough should be quite soft, but not too sticky.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and do not knead it but gently bring it into a ball. Flatten slightly to a height of about 1 1/2 inches. Cut dough into squares or whatever shape you like. Place scones onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake 10 to 15 minutes (depending on size). When cooked they should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.
This scone recipe is from Rachel Allen, the Martha Stewart of Ireland.  It is from her book, Favorite Food at Home with Rachel Allen (Morrow, 2006). 
Potato Farls
The word farl literally means "fourths": they are shaped from a circle of dough cut into quarters. They are part of a family of Irish potato breads and pancakes which include boxty, potato fadge and stampy. Traditionally they were made with oatmeal, butter and potatoes – no flour, no bicarbonate of soda. But it's worth experimenting to get the texture you want. The less flour and bicarb you use, the denser and moister the farl. Using more flour and bicarb and moistening the mixture with milk creates an increasingly light and fluffy bread‑like substance.
Don't hesitate to leave a few tiny potato lumps, it makes the farls a bit more luscious. Try not to use excess flour when shaping the rounds; As I said above I have found the best way to shape the bread is to use your hands instead of a rolling pin and a pizza cutter to slice before cooking.
4 medium potatoes
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
Please note the above ingredients are approximate. Potato Bread is best made while potatoes are still hot.
Peel and boil potatoes until tender.
While hot, mash potatoes well with salt and butter.
Gradually work in flour in smaller increments until a soft dough forms. Dough should be a little tacky but workable.
Turn out onto floured surface and knead for about 1 minute.
Divide and roll into a circular shape about 9" and 1/4" thick.
Cut into 6 or 8 'farls' (wedges).
Grill in a hot, greased griddle or pan until well browned on both sides.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Lombinho de porco teryaki salmourado em Sagres e Xerez com espinafres e pimentão


I love pork tenderloin.Tenderloin is easy to cook, juicy, flavourful, and healthfully lean. One tenderloin typically weighs somewhere around a pound, making it a perfect dinner for two (plus a little leftover for sandwiches the next day).One of the best reasons to cook more pork tenderloin is how easily it lends itself to a variety of flavours.My favourite tenderloin recipe has always been a recipe  from the Ribatejo that came to me by way of an Açorean Blogger Elvira,who sadly has not posted for a couple of years now.The recipe in particular uses  a Portuguese store cupboard staple Massa de pimentao.For this new recipe I beer brined the tenderloin in the Portuguese beer, Sagres. I used the teryaki principle but in an unorthodox way.Using the sweet sauce as a marinade and then grilling the meat first and pouring the reduced sauce on afterwards is a non-traditional method of cooking teriyaki
Leaner cuts of pork, like tenderloin, are perfect candidates for this. These cuts are difficult to cook because there’s not enough fat to keep them tender. A beer brine not only ups the moisture but alters the natural qualities of the protein causing some of the muscle to unwind and swell. The brine then gets trapped in these proteins and when cooked, the liquid binds to the muscle creating flavour pockets and a juicier result. This basic brine with beer is an instance where the power of beer can be highlighted during the cooking process.I served the pork on some wilted spinach with a nod to Elvira´s recipe, pan roasted peppers with anchovy.Anchovies add depth to the peppers, but you can omit them if you do not like the taste of anchovy.

Sagres beer brined 
teryaki tenderloin with spinach and pan roasted peppers

1 pork tenderloin approx 500g
2/3 cup soya sauce
1/4 cup mirin or sweet sherry
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1x 25cl bottle sagres mini (left)

In a saucepan combine the soya sauce,mirin or sherry, vinegar,sugar,,ginger and the beer.Simmer the mixture until it is reduced to about 11/3 cups.
Let the mixture cool completely.In a container large enough to hold the pork in one layer,combine the pork and marinade,turning the meat to coat it thoroughly.Let the chops marinade for at least 4 hours or overnight turning it several times.Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry on paper towel.Pour the marinade into a saucepan and boil it down until you have a sticky sauce.be careful not to burn the sauce,it will reduce down quite quickly. Grill the tenderloin on an oiled rack set about 10cm/ 4ins over glowing coals for about 8 minute on each side,basting it with the marinade for the last 5 minutes of the cooking time.Alternatively the meat can be grilled on a rack under a pre-heated grill in the same manner.
Slice in medallions and serve with the vegetables. 

For the Peppers
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a shallow pan.Add 4 garlic cloves crushed, a teaspoon of thyme and anchovies (if using ).Sautée an assortment of different coloured peppers,red,yellow and orange cut into strips.Cook until the peppers start to soften about 12 minutes.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Salad Rossini, eating on the wild side

 "Drama, drama, drama! An Italian meal is like an opera," 
once wrote the well-known gastronome, Waverley Root, referring to the clashing plates and clinking glasses ringing out notes rather like a composer might have placed them.

If you started the new year craving something healthy, eat your weeds. A handful of bitter leaves added to your salad bowl could just be the thing to introduce you to a new year joy of bitterness.. Dandelions grow everywhere close to home, and are packed full of vitamins and minerals, while the bitter compounds found in their leaves are reputed to stimulate the liver, kidneys and gall bladder, and aid digestion.Well good news,the rains have abated,the sun is shining and greens are a-springin´ - the wild foraging season has begun! The must-chew colour of the season is dandelion. Get ready to start picking and eating.Field mushrooms have been popping while dandelion´s are sprouting. Though detested on lawns, the dandelion is free, grows without care and then we pull it up and poison it, what an interesting paradox. What we need is right in front of us, yet we go to a lot of trouble to eradicate it. This gives us a glimpse into our sometimes upside down relationship with nature.Dandelions are now cultivated commercially and are widely available at farmers markets and supermarkets. Even better, go out and forage them for yourself, just be sure to avoid areas where dogs have been or weed killer might have been sprayed, Its gods way of telling us to stop buying bagged salads. For my neighbours who watched the spectacle, it must have been a curiosity the likes of which most old traditional Portuguese folk don’t see anymore: a grown Englishman crawling around Portuguese soil on his hands and knees with a pair of gardening scissors in one hand and a colander in the other.The word dandelion comes from the French, dent de lion, or dente di leone in Italian, dente de leao in Portuguese and refers to the green teeth on the leaves. In France, they're also called pissenlit,, for the leaves have diuretic properties.The whole dandelion plant is edible and nutritious – root, leaves, and flowers. It grows in most climates and terrains, although the growing season is dependent on seasonal rains. This is a valuable survival plant as it will keep you alive even if you have nothing else to eat. It contains all the nutritive salts the body needs to purify the blood and is a liver tonic as well as a safe diuretic.The taste is a bit of a cross between rocket and kale — slightly bitter and robustly peppery. They are about a foot long with a saw-tooth edge. Stumped for how to use them? Consider them for any recipe where you’d normally use rocket, or even baby spinach.To counteract the bitterness I would suggest combining them with other leaves or something sweet like pears and cheese.
The flowers can also be used used to make an exotic jewelled risotto.
I love to eat them just as you would any salad green, or briefly sautéed in garlic, lemon and olive oil. They make an amazing salad tossed in the hot fat from crispy fried lardons, along with a handful of croutons and a tablespoon of chopped chives, finely chopped red onion, fresh basil, shaved parmesan, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, lardons or bacon bits, pears, walnuts, apples, hardboiled eggs and basically anything else anything else that sounds delicious!

On the 20 February 1816, Rossini premiered the famous opera Il Barbiere de Siviglia.An account from the time tells us that the composer raced through his pre-performance dissertation to plunge into a detailed and lengthy description of a new recipe for a salad that was evidently known by the name of the famous composer.It is not clear what the recipe composed of but one source cites dandelions as the main ingredient.
Rossini was the greatest example of a man who could have become a celebrated gourmet if only his musical genius had not eclipsed his gastronomic talents. Biographies of Rossini, half fact and half legend, abound in gastronomical anecdotes.An early account recalls how he enjoyed the taste of the wine served at mass.
Salad Rossini With Mustard Dressing
I have found many variations on this much emulated salad but they all substitute rocket for the dandelion leaves

1 bunch curly endive or chicory leaves, washed and drained
1 bunch watercress, washed and drained
1 bunch dandelion greens, washed and drained
2 papayas
1 stalk celery, sliced


MUSTARD DRESSING
2 tsp. prepared Dijon mustard
2 egg yolks, well beaten
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice

Combine mustard and egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Mix in olive oil and lemon juice, blending well. 

Spin or towel-dry greens and tear into bite-sized pieces. Reserve 1/3 greens; arrange remainder on 6 chilled salad plates. Slice papayas in half. Remove seeds and peel. Place 1 half on each salad plate. Arrange reserved greens over papayas. Sprinkle celery over. Drizzle each serving with Mustard Dressing.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Hobnobbin´- a very British thing

Since the launch of Mcvities Hobnob nibbles I´ve noticed the bloggin world is hobnobbin like there´s no cookies left in the universe.What is it with the English and biscuits? The British have a national obsession with biscuits.
If you want to know more about one of the nation's greatest obsessions, then you could do a lot worse than to spend some time dunking a biscuit in a cuppa while surfing the entirely fabulous Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down.When it comes to tea breaks, it goes without saying that nobody does it better than the British, and no tea break is complete without a biscuit.
While tea was the mortar with which the Empire was built, the country´s no less than magnificent range of biscuits were the bricks.But in recent years this proud heritage has been besmirched by cookies and cake pops from the other side of the pond.Chips ahoy! and Hi Ho Oreo, the American cookie has challenged the British biscuit.Stand and be counted I say, the Hobnob and its siblings are the Ambrosia of the biscuit world,and for many the true essence of British biscuit eating.
 photo hobnob_zpse85ef5d8.jpg
Chocolate bourbons . . . two buttery dark chocolate rectangles sandwiched together with a chocolate buttercream. Garibaldi's, affectionately known in Schoolboy jargon as Squashed Flies . . .  almost crackerlike and squashed full of sweet little currants . . .
Buttery Rich Tea, Shortbreads, Jammy Dodgers, Digestives, Custard Creams . . . the list goes ever on.  My favourite though has to be the plain old . . . unadulterated hobnob!  You just can't beat a good old fashioned crisp oatmeal cookie.Oaty, buttery, nobbly, crisp with just a subtle hint of golden syrup They come in a few varieties, including covered, chocolate chip, etc. Homemade hobnobs however are even better!  They were a little different to the packet version, a little chewier, and more likely to stick in your teeth but in a way I preferred them. I liked that I knew exactly what was inside them. These are the perfect fun Sunday afternoon baking project. Oaty and crumbly, buttery and chewy and  I was even tempted to smother some in chocolate. I’ll definitely be making these again.Watch out for the `Knaves of Hearts´ that may be lurking as you are making making them.Yes they are that good.I wonder if Catherine of Braganza ever set eyes on them when she was hobnobbin´over afternoon tea?


(Chocolate Coated) Hobnobs (Oat Cookies)
150g butter  
150g sugar (3/4 cup) 
1 TBS milk 
1 tsp golden syrup 
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g self raising flour (1 cup) 
120g of rolled oats (1 1/3 cup)
½ - 1 tsp sea salt, to taste
100g chocolate
10g butter


Preheat the oven to 150*C/300*F/ gas mark 2.  Line a large baking tray with baking paper.  Set aside.Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in the milk and golden syrup and bicarbonate of soda to mix well.   Stir in the flour and oats, mixing all together well.Divide and shape into 20 equal sized balls.  Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. 
Carefully lift off to cool on a wire rack.  
Store in an airtight container.