Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Carpaccio lombinho de atum em pimenta queimada - Carpaccio of pepper seared tuna loin

I first tasted pepper seared tuna in the restaurant of that avatar of stylish exclusivity, Ian Shrager´s Paramount hotel in New York.Those were the days.Business trips on expenses.I doubt if I could afford to stay there now.But I do remember vividly this pepper seared tuna salad.I had never made it until recently but it is such a timeless classic that I now include it on our villa outside catering menu.It is great standby and can be made well in advance and stored in the freezer.I make a whole piece of loin at a time and always keep some in the freezer.It needs to be frozen anyway after you´ve cooked it and then semi de-frosted to achieve the finest cuts of carpaccio.
Lombinho de atum em pimenta queimada
1 pedaço lombinho de atum, Tuna loin
pimenta preto em grao
Rest the piece of tuna loin on an oval plate just a little larger than the piece of fish.With your pepper grinder cover the all sides of the loin in coarse grain turn the loin as you do it to ensure maximum coverage.sear on a very hot griddle pan turning on all sides.Store in freezer until ready to use.Semi-Defrost to a point where you can slice off wafer thin slices with a very sharp knife.Return what you do not need to the freezer for another time.

Monday, 18 September 2017

De uvas a passas,from grapes to raisins.

This summer we had a glut of  grapes in the garden.I had been giving the surplus  away to neighbours until I hit on a brainwave.Sun dry them and stockpile the dried fruit for when it is needed  most, in the winter.
Sun-dried raisins are a delicious natural resource and an addition for many recipes, such as fruit cakes, cookies, salads, scones, granola and even ice cream.Its time to expand your horizons, and at the same time save some money.Raisins don`t come cheap in the months leading up to Christmas.Casting my mind back to 2011 I posted a blog on how to use the dash board of your car in place of an oven or expensive dehydrator.Well this is exactly what I am doing with our overabundance of grapes.Its easy peasy if you just follow these 7 simple steps.

Start with fresh green or purple grapes. Be sure they are fresh, ripe, not mushy or       otherwise blemished. Check them carefully.

Remove the larger stems from the grapes and wash them thoroughly. Do not remove all grapes from the stems.  

Place them on a shallow baking tray lined with baking parchment. You can use a wooden, wicker, bamboo, or plastic tray that is slatted, so air can circulate around the fruit. 
 Semi dried grapes dehydrating in the car

Put the trays on the dashboard of your car, roll all the windows up and park in the sunniest spot you can find. It's best to start in the early morning and finish when the sun sets. take the trays inside at night.
 
Let them sit out in the sun for 2-3 days, or until dry (taste test). Rotate the fruit and/or trays to ensure even exposure to the sun. 

Remove dried grapes gently from the remaining stems and store in a dry airtight container in a cool place.

Finished
and something to look forward to.......
The Portuguese way to bring in the New Year is by eating 12 raisins accompanied by a glass of champagne, one for each month, and making a wish with each one. 

Thursday, 14 September 2017

A bit on the side puttanesca runner beans

The original photograph of Ed Smiths recipe puttanesca runner beans from his book "On the side"
Aside from salads, which are normally served on the side, I am so often at a loss as to what I should serve alongside the main course.I have always been a lifelong fan of 'bits on the side' and when I stumbled upon this illuminating book on Amazon, I researched it further on google books and before long it was in my shopping basket. This is the cookbook that you didn't know you needed until you got it! (Ho Ho Ho Christmas is coming and an original cookbook always makes a good gift for a foodie ) Full of stunningly original recipes for 'side' dishes, with gorgeous photography and layout.This is going to be jumping on and off my bookshelves and will I am sure end up being one of the most thumbed tomes in the library. It has an excellent index and then lists of what goes with what - for example if you are roasting chicken it will suggest the side dishes that would go particularly well with it.Ed Smith,the multi award winning author of this innovative book is a former City lawyer turned trained chef.He is also the author of the influential and award winning website www.RocketandSquash.com.Take a look,it is  a food journal regularly updated with restaurant reviews, recipes and cookery news and The Guild of Foodwriters shortlisted it for its 2016 Best Blog award.
He starts the book by saying "this book will change how you think about your meals," it will.For me this book is revolutionary and revelationary at the same time.I think this is the book we have waited a long time for,myself certainly.Its going to take me a while to work my way through this book, meanwhile I made a start with the recipe above.As soon as I perused the book this recipe jumped out at me.I love puttanesca and what a way to elevate a dish of runner beans from a humble bit on the side to giving it centre stage.
Puttanesca runner beans
Runner beans and tomatoes are a pretty classic summer match.This recipe embellishes the runner beans with a puttanesca sauce, including chilli, olives and capers.This is a sort of exception to the other recipes in the book,where the side dish actually becomes the main by being served with a loin of white fish. You won’t need to serve anything alongside it.It is a composite dish and joyous too.
1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil 
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove,crushed 
1 mild red chilli,deseeded and finely diced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2tsp golden caster sugar
1tsp dried mixed herbs
1tsp balsamic vinegar
15 basil leaves, torn
3tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
15-20 black olives
2tsp capers,rinsed and roughly chopped
300- 400g runner beans
Flor de sal

Start by making the sauce. Heat the sunflower oil in a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook gently for 4–5 minutes without allowing it to colour, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes more before pouring in the chopped tomatoes. Half-fill the tomato tin with water, swill and add to the saucepan. Bring to the boil, add the sugar, dried herbs and balsamic vinegar, then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for about 25 minutes. Season the sauce with a good pinch of salt, two thirds of the basil leaves and two thirds of the olive oil.
Meanwhile, pit the olives by tapping them with the bottom of a cup or mug to crack the flesh, then pushing the stone out. Discard the stones and roughly chop the olives. Add these, along with the capers, to the sauce once it’s been cooking for 15 minutes.
Use a vegetable peeler to peel the stringy thin edges of the runner beans, then cut them on a slight angle into 5–6cm lengths. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the beans and cook for 4–5 minutes, or until tender but not dull or soggy. Drain and set aside. You could mix the beans and sauce together at this point and serve from the pan. However, I prefer it when the two are not fully combined: place a couple of spoonfuls of the puttanesca sauce in the base of a serving bowl, pile the drained beans on top and spoon the rest of the sauce over this. Toss the beans in the sauce just a little, before finishing with the remaining basil and olive oil.


SIDE BY SIDE:Having made this beautiful and delicious recipe  I thought I would take the concept of this book and see if I could make a modest potato salad into a veritable side dish.I hope I can follow the principle with many more.Its so true what the author said at the beginning of the book"this book will change how you think about your meals,"It really does.
New potato salad with garden cherry tomatoes peas and mint pesto
Serves four as a side dish
400g small new potatoes,kept whole and boiled
24 cherry tomatoes,kept whole
125g peas shelled

FOR THE PESTO
generous handful of mint leaves approx 30g
250 ml extra virgin olive oil
3-4 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 dessert spoon of honey
Put all the ingredients in a processor and liqidise.Taste and adjust the seasoning
To assemble the salad
Toss the cooked potatoes in a tablespoon of the mint pesto.
Stir in the tomatoes.Assemble in individual salad bowls and sprinkle with a carpet of peas.Tear or shred some chourlço or crispy bacon on top for garnish (optional)



Monday, 4 September 2017

Desvende o segredo da cataplana Algarvia.Unlocking the secret of the cataplana


 Cataplana de mariscos tipico de Ligia Madeira,Tasca Medieval Castro Marim
Its hardly surprising that  the icon of traditional Algarve cuisine, the cataplana, finds its roots in the Moroccan tajine. It is a form of steam tight cooking,not dissimilar to a pressure cooker. In fact to many the cataplana is seen as a precursor of the modern pressure cooker.Its peculiar shell shape guarantees a slow cooking, at low temperatures.These famous artesan braziers particular to the Algarve were initially produced in zinc, and later would change to copper because of it being a better conductor of heat and ability to give that unrivalled flavour to the food.Copper is still used today, along with aluminum and stainless steel.From fish to shellfish, from meat to game, or a combination of both,the famous pork and clams recipe (see below)
The cataplana excels itself in a giving the cook a result that brings a delicious broth, that is at the same time both intense intense and healthy. The brilliant  shape of the vessel itself causes a stir every time it is put on the table.As for when the lid is opened and the intense vapour released, a secret treasure trove of deliciousness is revealed.

Icone singular da tradicional culinària algarvia a cataplana encontra as suas raizes na tajine marroquina,á qual vai buscar o tipo de cozedura hermética a vapor.
A peculiar forma em concha garante uma confeção lenta,a baixas temperaturas.,havendo até quem defenda a cataplana como precursora da moderna panela de presss-ao.
Os famigerados artes-aos caldereiros algarvios que inicialmente a produziam em zinco,viriam depois a mudar para o cobre por ser um melhor condutor de calor e imprimir um sabor inigualável aos alimentos,material que ainda hoje é utilizado,a par do aluminio e do inox.
Do peixe ao marisco,da carne á caça, a cataplana desvenda- se num resultado sempre suculento,intenso e saudá vel,além de maravilhar todos à mesa pela sua forma brilhante ..qual arca do tesouro.
Cataplana a algarvia
Serves 6
1 kg ameijoas -clams
500g de camarao ( descascado) - prawns ( peeled )
800g carne de porco -pork
200g presunto sem sal -unsalted ham
100g de toucinho entremeado -bacon
1 chouriço corrente pequeno -small chouriço for cooking
1 copo vinho tinto -cup of red wine
150ml de azeite -olive oil
2 colheres de sopa de banha -2 dessert spoons lard
1 Folha de louro -1 bay leaf
Flor de sal q.b- flor de sal to taste
3 dentes de alho - 3 cloves garlic
2 cebolas - 2 onions
2 colheres de sopa de colorau doce -2 dessert spoons sweet paprika
1 molhino de salsa -small bunch of parsley
1 molhino de coentros - samll bunch coriander
Piri piri moido q.b -chilli flakes to taste

First wash the clams and soak them for 2 hours in cold water seasoned with salt. Dice the pork,ham and bacon, if possible all the same size. Season with salt. bruised garlic,paprika,a glass of red wine,bay leaf and chilli. Stir well and leave to marinate for about 3 hours. Peel the onions and cut into thin half moons. Heat the olive oil and lard in the bottom of the cataplana until melted completely. Add the onions, and lower the heat.When the onion is transparent add the marinated meat, the clams drained and rinsed, prawns, chouriço, the parsley and coriander. Close the cataplana and bring to a medium heat and cook for about 25 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and serve immediately

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Breton butter cake and my disdain for making desserts

We have guests arriving tomorrow evening and they have booked in for dinner.I aways try to avoid cooking dinner on Sundays for several reasons.There is no market so no fish.I dont like serving up day old fish, and even with a meat option, the butcher is open but it is the end of the week and you can not be sure,in fact you can almost be certain that the meat has been held over from the day before.Those reasons aside they are arriving late and I fully understand that they would like to acclimatise slowly without the unnecessary hassle of having to find a local restaurant,something of which we always help with recommendations.
Most of the time I don't want anything sweet. I have never had a sweet tooth. Even as a child a small piece of my mothers dark bitter cooking chocolate would suffice. 
Not only that, but as with many chefs I have a certain disdain for making desserts. It’s not that I don’t like to make them but that these grumblings occur because I procrastinate planning the rest of the menu first. It is like opening the dishwasher to to put in the dirties only to find you haven’t yet put away the clean ones. I cant explain this other than it's why the god invented pastry chefs.
Well decision time came and I decided to serve as dessert my recently made Parmesan ice cream.Last time I served it up inside a partially hollowed out dessert pear.It was the thespian who came to the fore with a suggestion of a Breton butter cake,something that I had never heard of.From the land of lace, seaside resorts, crêpes and cider,and the home of Merlin, the magician of Arthurian legend,this cake, made with just a few ingredients, has a wonderfully dense texture similar to shortbread. It suited the bill for dessert,and topped with a q spiced pear confit  it would be even better.I might even give it a go for breakfast.
I like shortbread and that compliments ice cream so I went for it. Pretty calorific I thought, as I read the recipe, 225g of butter and six eggs, but what the heck.I followed "Irish Cooking Queen," Rachel Allen´s recipe,greased my cake tin, lined the bottom with a disc of baking parchment,made a stiff dough,pressed it into the tin,glazed it with the eggwash i had prepared earlier and put it into the oven for 30 minutes.Hey Ho after ten, smoke is belching out of every orifice of the oven.My breton butter cake had seepage that was dripping onto the bottom tray of the oven and burning.Too darned hot to do a salvage operation at this point at this point.I just had to wait and pray (this is exactly why I have never wanted to be a pastry chef )30 minutes was up, I removed it from the oven, the skewer test came out clean,ten minutes cooling in the tin,a little bit of help from a sharp knife round the edges and Hey presto I had a lovely Breton butter cake cooling on the rack,ready for tomorrow.

Rachel Allen´s ( Ballymaloe ) Breton butter cake
serves 8-12

1 egg yolk, for the glaze
225 g plain flour, sifted
225 g caster sugar
225 g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
6 egg yolks


Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter the sides of a 25cm cake tin and line the base with a disc of baking parchment.
Whisk together the egg yolk with 2 teaspoons of water for the glaze and set aside. Either in a large bowl using a wooden spoon or in an electric food mixer using the paddle beater, mix together the flour and sugar, then add the butter and egg yolks and beat together until the mixture resembles a stiff dough.  Press into the prepared tin, and flatten with a spatula. Brush with the glaze, then decorate by drawing a fork across the cake in a criss-cross pattern of lines, each set of lines roughly 5cm apart in a sort of chequerboard design, following the traditional style for the cake.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until it is a deep golden colour and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges using a small, sharp knife and carefully remove the cake from the tin before placing on a wire rack to cool down completely.

Friday, 1 September 2017

A warm melon salad prawns and paraguyo peaches

It was open the door of the aircraft WHOOOOOOSSHHHHH hot air syndrome here yesterday,33º and I was gasping for a dish that would revive rather than refuel.Neither of us have ever been ones for combining fruit with savoury, but the thought of a refreshing salad with ripe melon,prawns and paraguyo peaches is exactly I wanted.I saw British chef James Martin cook something similar on the TV recently.Ham and melon in a savoury context is an age old classic,Feta cheese and pecorino, too but prawns and melon? This is going a little off piste but it works.Mr Martin called it "a spur of the moment creation "a riff on a summertime theme".The most interesting thing for me here was that he sautéed the melon  to create a warm salad (with no leaves).I did not have any tarragon or rasberry vinegar to hand, which was how he dressed his salad, but I came up with the idea of another classic combo.Ginger pairs beautifully with melon, so I set about creating a zingy ginger based dressing and made one more innovation which was to spice up the prawns a tad.I marinaded them in a wet chimichirri mix.
A warm melon salad with chimichirri prawns
2 small different coloured ripe melons,galia and canteloup or charentais
400g peeled cooked prawns
2 ripe paraguyo peaches,peeled stoned and diced 

FOR THE DRESSING 
1 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili oil
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
 
Combine soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, chili oil, lime juice, vinegar and onion powder in a blender. Process until evenly combined. Chill before serving.

Start by making the salad.Cut the melon in half and scoop out the seeds.With a sharp knife cut the fruit away from its outer skin.Cut the melon into bite sized dice.
Place a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil.Cook the prawnsand their marinade until nicely coloured. Add the melon dice.Fry quickly for 1 minute,shaking the pan.Remove to a bowl and add the peaches.Gently toss everything together in the dressing.
Arrange the salad on a platter and serve immediately.Bom apetite

Monday, 28 August 2017

A Salada Ligia,summer salad simplicity all year round

A Salada Ligia
There is a delicious salad that Ligia Madeira, the cozinheira at A Tasca medieval, prepares. I love this salad for its simplicity,just 3 ingredients,yes just 3.Not only is it the small number of ingredients that make this salad work, it is how these three ingredients so naturally compliment each other.This is a summer salad you can eat all year round ,well, in the Algarve anyway.I have recently followed the style of this salad but changed just one of the ingredients, replacing the dried herb with  fresh basil (manjericao).A kind of Portuguese tricolore,It worked beautifully too.Thank you LM Madeira for the inspiration and for all the lovely dishes you prepare for us,especially this lovely start to any meal.cant wait for my next cataplana de marisco.
Variation on a theme of  A Salada Ligia
A Salada Ligia
150g Queijo de cabra tipico fresco ( Fresh artesanal goats cheese)
6 slices of tomate cacho (Vine tomatoes)
sprinkling of dried oregano and dried basil

Slice the goat cheese in half and then cut each half into rectangles.Slice the tomatoes.
To assemble:layer alternately the slices of cheese with slices of tomato,until you have filled the plate.Finish by carpeting the salad with the dried herbs.Serve.

Variation:(as above)take each tomato and with a sharp knife make 4-5 incisions 2/3
of the way through the tomato.Fill each incision with a slice of goats cheese and a fresh basil leaf.

Friday, 25 August 2017

O banquete medieval

For each night of the medieval days there shall be a banquet in the hall of the castle held by the guild for the worthies of the region,the richer merchants,the higher clergy,abbots and priors and the more notable landowners and clerics.The Lady Filomena graced the high table in a gown with bodice semi-detached joined to the skirt with a lustrous and highly decorative grosgrain banding.There was the usual music of pipes and tabors echoing beneath the ceilinge, as the guests greeted their neighbours and an intimate parly filled the hall.The village feiticeira and mulher fascinante Mistress Margarida enchanted the guests as she drifted from one table to the next very often stopping to publicly humiliate those not of her favour.She do not that to talk but to cackle.Exaggerated in appearance and a face somewhat akin to the slap of the court jester or clown,she is with embarrassment.
 The sound of a bell heralded be the marshal led the procession of servants bringing in the food.In order came the pantry man the esquires and the valetti,bearing dishes according to their rank.They placed them reverently on the tables,while on the meat board were piled baked pheasant,goose,duck,wild fowl, pullets and pork.
On the tables dishes of peacocks and pepper sauce lay alongside partridge roasted with ginger; pigs´ears baked in wine were scooped up with fish served in a green sauce made from various herbs; a bowl of lobster with vinegar was put next to some quail covered with feathers so they still seemed alive.All the food of the world seemed to be lying there.At the end of the meat course a subtlety was brought forth; it was carved from sugar paste and was in the shape of a man,wrapped in weeds,holding a sickle in his hand.It was not to be eaten but was known as a "warmer" to signal the arrival of the next course of almond cream,baked pears,sage fritters and dates in comfit.By the time the salads were placed on the table the conversation had returned to the subject of these hard times,"stony times" the knight said.he picked among the parsley,fennel and sage,as if choosing the herbs closest to his natural humour. The squire meanwhile had gathered up a handful of garlic and spring onion.Tarts of apple and of saffron were placed upon the table,together with nuts and spices coated in sugar.
The mawmenee was passed around in great jugs,a sweet wine for a sweet end.


MawmeneeMawmenee. Take a portell of wyne greke and ii pounde of sugur; take and claryfye the sugur with a quantite of wyne & drawe it thugh a strynour in to a pot of wrthe. Take flour of rys and medle with sum of the wyne & cast gogydre. Take pynes with dates and frye hem a litell in grece oþer in oyle and cast hem togydre. Take clowes & flour of canel hool and cast þerto. Take powdour gynger, canel, clowes, colour it with saundres a lytel yf hit be nede. Cast salt þerto, and lat it seeþ warly with a slowe fyre and not to thyk. Take brawn of capouns ysteysed oþer of fasauntes teysed small and cast þerto.
It is a sweet wine stew with fowl meat and nuts. It is very much a medieval dish with all the spices and colouring and artificiality that was so priced. It is also a really tasty dish, but also very sweet dish.  It works really well as a side dish for game – like we in modern time use a jam or cranberry sauce with game. The dish can be made with any kind of fowl – the meat should be a game-meat as that adds to the flavour.the recipe for mawmenee  corresponds to the Arabic mamuniyya.
The meal was then quickly completed,with cheese and white bread cut and put on trenchers.The citizens rose in unison,bowed to the dignitaries and left in procession.The other worthies then departed according to their estate.The pieces of bread,cheese and discarded meat were put into voiders,to be distributed to the beggars who were sitting cross-legged on the floor of the stone chamber beside the hall.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

The inn keepers tale and of what could happen upon

Here continueth our tales of dias medievais. Inns in the Algarve are generally registered establishments or buildings( Alojamentos locais ) where travelers can seek lodging and, usually, food and drink.The scene is the little village of Castro Marim, in 2017. It is a time of troubled days and there is much talk of an impending apocalypse called Brexit. Casa Rosada is the only licensed hostelry in the village.At first glance it looks like a house,but it is a boarding house.That evening a group of pilgrims arrive at the inn.
A huckster peered through the iron grills of the door into the hostelry.O estalajadeiro, the innkeeper, waved his finger and shook his head at him."Nada mais".Outside in the street o afiador de faca continua pedalando a sua bicicleta inconsciente ( the knife sharpener continued pedalling his bicycle oblivious.The hostelry was expecting an impending visit from the aldermen of the village.They routinely made unannounced visits to each hostelry to investigate the estrangeiros or travellers who were lodging on the premises.It was considered likely that the poorer sort might fall prey upon any estrangeiros as a swarm of angry bees might cluster around an intruder,and it was necessary to be seen to act." You must make surety for every person you harbour.,"alderwoman May told the innkeeper of Rua Dr, Silvestre Falcao.
" God forbid I should swear for those I do not know"
You must.you are held responsible for all their deeds and trespasses"
"Oh Lord that is too great a burden for a landlord such as I". 
"Whatever next would you wish me to stalk them in the ruas and stradas?"
"Just answer me this. Do you have any estrangeiros?"
They are all estrangeiros to me, as you well know.Have I not kept this house for eleven if not a year without causing the least harm? Why the dog is better fed here than in most households.It is a sad day when one the likes of me is judged to keep heretics under his roof!!"
"Nothing of the kind, we only wish you to open your eyes.Look to any suspected person who may have infringed border controls.
"Infected persons? 
I have none such. Can you hold your tongue in your head sir? or you will have me locked up in my chamber with a bowl of vinagre before my door:I shall be painted with a red cross for all the world to see.Oh.Has it come to this? such shame upon me.He held out his Nuno Gama cloth throw depicting its distinctive mark of the cross."This is not a winding sheet, is it? Or am I mistaken?"
You are in the right.But no one......
He gazed scornfully at the group of citizens that had now gathered around alderwoman May.
" Am I to be mocked in my own street where I have paid scot and lot (Imposto Municipal sobre Imóveis)Inform me Mrs may if I have not paid it".I will now be mouthed behind my back,I am that sure of it.
" Calm yourself ,you have done nothing."
Então eu devo ser colocado pelourihno Por não fazer nada,eu sou?
( and so i am going to to be pilloried for something I have not done?)
This is the governments justice,is it? Well it is a sorrowful day for hard working citizens like myself.
He was about to close the door on Mrs May,when he opened it again." and as for the rest of you - you are good only to grill sardines in hell and cook the devils food Bacalhau.Good day!"
He slammed the door shut.
Alderwoman May looked up at the sky, and whistled."Well", she said to noone in particular,"The wheels on the bus go round and round." Our aim is to create a really hostile environment for illegal immigration.I am still clear that Brexit means Brexit.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The castro marim tales


The inn on the side of the castle
Dia XXIII Agosto 2017
Dear diary
Here bygynneth the tales of Baesuris (Castro Marim).Over the next four days we will crosse time from the past and back to the future. Conspiracies will be unveiled and fact will mysteriously merge with fiction.These here tales make Agatha Christie meet Eça queroz and cross with Boccacio`s Decameron. The pilgrims are already on their way from yonder Silves,bringing together  a diverse group of people representing a wide spectrum of society, holding amongst them various ranks and occupations.When the parade shall arrive we will see the distinguished and noble Knight (cavaleiro )and with him, his son, a youthful squire,A lover and a lusty bachelor,With locks well curled, as if they'd laid in press.Some twenty years of age,I guess.In stature he comports an average length,wondrously active, aye, and great of strength.He'd ridden sometime with the cavalry in Flanders, in Artois, and Picardy,And borne him well within that little space in hope to win thereby his lady's grace.We descend through the pious abbess (the Prioress), the honorable Clerk, the rich landowner (O latifundiário), the worldly and crude wyfe (a puta), and on down the scale to the low, vulgar Miller and  O afiador de facas,( knife sharpener),whose artesanal whistle you can hear in the distancestreets away.O sapateiro (cordwainer)

O cesteiro (the basketmaker)

O afiador de facas,( knife sharpener)






O padeiro (the baker ) 
A fiadeira (spinning lady)
A haberdasher and a carpenter carpinteiro),Laura Ashleen the celebrated arras-maker,a dyer, and weaver were among them, clothed in similar livery,all of one sober, great fraternity.Their gear was new and well adorned it was;Their weapons were not cheaply trimmed with brass,but all with silver; chastely made and well.Their girdles and their pouches too, I tell. Each man of them appeared a proper burgess to sit in city hall on a high dais.And each of them, for wisdom he could span,was fitted to have been an alderman;(more of that story later...)
Now have I told you briefly, in a clause ,the state, the array, the number, and the cause
Of the assembling of this company In Castro Marim,all hoping for a room and refreshment at this noble hostelry known as the Casa Rosada, hard by the castle.
But now the time is come wherein to tell how all they bore themselves that very night
When at the hostelry they did alight. and afterward the story is engaged to tell you of their common pilgrimage, and the days that ensued.But first, I pray you, of your courtesy,you'll not ascribe it to vulgarity though I speak plainly of this matter here, retailing you their words and means of cheer;
Nor though I use their very terms, nor lie.For this thing do you know as well as I:When one repeats a tale told by a man,he must report, as nearly as he can, every least word, if he remember it, however rude it be, or how unfit; or else he may be telling what's untrue, embellishing and fictionizing too.

Without further ado let our tales unfold...

Monday, 14 August 2017

Parmesan and pear ice cream with a spiced pear confit -by George they´d got it!!!

It is always lovely to be able look back into our past and find something old is new once again.Flavours that were once popular fall out of fashion for centuries, then suddenly make a comeback. Life is full of surprises.I was recently watching a television programme where four modern-day confectioners were given the task of making sweets as they were made in past eras.The episode in particular was centred on the Georgian period and the first revelation for me was that Ice cream was being made in the eighteenth century.an even bigger surprise for me however was when they came to make a traditional recipe for Parmesan Ice cream.No this was nothing to do with some modern Heston Blumenthal trickery, Parmesan was around in the eighteenth century.In hindsight this makes complete sense.Just like wine and people, Parmigiano Reggiano gets better with age.In the centuries before refrigeration, this hard cheese was ideal for storage and transporting over long distances. Parmigiano Reggiano was a favourite on sea voyages, but at the same time being beloved by connoisseurs.Ice cream making has always been the domain of the Italians and since introducing it to Europe in the middle ages, Italy has never relinquished its lead in this field.Over the centuries the manufacture of ice cream has in many countries been the province of Italian emigrés.
 But ice cream and cheese,it has a ring of Peter Kay about it "cheese and cake,you dirty ......" but Heston Blumenthal and Peter Kay aside how could one dismiss it without actually making it.I totally adore pears and parmesan as a combo. And more generically, cheese and fruits.I achieved this pairing by serving the ice cream in a scooped out baby pear. I accentuated the Italian theme by using Mascarpone in place of heavy cream.
Parmesan ice cream
makes 1 litre tub
450ml whole milk
5 large egg yolks
125g caster sugar
250ml greek yoghurt
250g mascarpone
100g parmesan
Heat the milk in a pan till almost boiling.Remove from the heat.In a large deep bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together till pale and creamy.Slowly pour the warm milk stirring constantly.Return the the mixture to the pan with the parmesan.Stir constantly over a low heat until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon..It must not boil as it will curdle.Remove from the heat and stir in the yoghurt. Pour into a bowl.Sit the bowl within another bowl of iced water and leave to cool.When completely
cool use an electric whisk to beat in the mascarpone.when fully mixed ladle into aone litre plastic tub and put in the freezer for 2 hours.Check the ice cream to ensure no crystals have formed and give it a good stir.Repeat this two more times at hourly interval then leave to freeze completely overnight. 

For the confit of spiced pears
4 large Williams pears
400 g caster sugar
1 piece of lemon peel
1 tonka bean
Peel and cut the pears into small cubes. 

Place in a large bowl, cover with the sugar, add the vanilla bean and leave to rest overnight. 
Transfer to a saucepan, add the lemon peel and bring to a boil over low heat, skimming occasionally. Turn down the heat and continue cooking, skimming regularly, for 35 minutes. (Place a drop of the preserve on a cold plate, if it is cooked, you will be able to draw a line through it with a teaspoon 
Remove the vanilla bean and blitz it with a stick blender.

Serve as above with fresh ripe baby pears.core the pare from the bottom very carefully, then cut the pair crossways in a proportion of 2/3 on the bottom to 1/3 on top.Scoop out some flesh from the bottom half and over fill it with ice cream.Put the top half back on and drizzle the confit over the pear garnish the plate with roasted pistachios scattered around the pear.
The verdict was  that we found it amazingly delicious for having such a dubious ingredient flavouring it. I found it pairs beautifully with pears and pistachios.I highly recommend trying it!


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Charabancs mountebanks and chari vari

The Charivari is about to begin.The medieval circus is coming to town once again.All the performers will soon be doing their introductory piece before they take to the streets.We gonna party like its 1499. Charabancs of all those who want to party into their middle ages are imminent.Oh joy,Such fun!!!
Today the promotional packs of medieval sugar arrived for our guests to tear open and sweeten their coffee at the breakfast table."Azucar Medievais" announced the delivery man Thank you my liege, noblesse oblige, we will duly serve and not store the "white gold".
In medieval days sugar was extremely expensive, and was known as “white gold”. Wealthy people actually stored sugar as a form of savings.
One of my favourite stories tells of a bishop who bought sugar from Portuguese merchants for many years and stored it in his chamber. When he died, his possessions were divided between the cloister's monks. These possessions included the sugar. The monks tasted it expectantly, but grimaced in disgust. Instead of being sweet, it had a bitter, unpleasant taste. They didn't know that the sugar had been transported across Egypt by camel. During the journey it had absorbed the camel's sweat, which turned it bitter. Deprived of its sweetness, the sugar was now worthless.


Dias Medievais 2017 Castro Marim Dias 23 -27 Agosto


Monday, 7 August 2017

A vine romance,red alert

O devil diablo does it again.Hellishly hot Heatwave Lucifer maybe carrying "danger" warnings and we maybe wilting and dropping like flies, but this current scorching sun has been just what our vine tomatoes needed.Growing tomatoes and sunshine go hand in hand. Without enough sun, a tomato plant can’t produce fruit.our cherry tomatoes are growing in pots and have just started flowering with abundance.These flowers will be followed by tiny green fruits.You can actually see in the picture above some of the flower heads transforming into  fruit.After a few weeks, those will turn into full-blown cherry tomatoes that we can harvest.if picked every day hopefully we can expect our plants with luck, to continue producing right up until winter comes.
We have got more than enough sun and are going to have a bumper crop and "Ah canny wait".Watch this space and I will be telling you about all the witty ways with a cherry tomato.
Growing tomatoes and sunshine go hand in hand. Without enough sun, a tomato plant can’t produce fruit.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Light Requirements For Tomatoes – How Much Sun Do Tomato Plants Need https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/tomato/how-much-sun-do-tomato-plants-need.htm
Growing tomatoes and sunshine go hand in hand. Without enough sun, a tomato plant can’t produce fruit.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Light Requirements For Tomatoes – How Much Sun Do Tomato Plants Need https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/tomato/how-much-sun-do-tomato-plants-need.htm

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Broccoli the "it" vegetable coming soon to a smoothie parlour near you

Detoxifying green smoothie with broccoli apple and celery  (recipe below)
I recently saw a poster that carried this headline "I love my gut"....my initial reaction was, but how can I when it does what it does to me.On further investigation I discovered it was advertising a product of the same name,another product that might well be something that could improve my wellbeing.Inside the big bad "marketing machine", public relations and marketing companies are hired by growers and supermarkets to influence us, the public, and help them create a market for "superfoods."
As we all know there is no such thing as a "superfood" its just a tag that the media and marketeers have chucked at us in the hope that we are gullible enough to believe it.Kale became a darling of the fruit and vegetable aisle thanks to a viral transformation. Now, publicity firms are helping to create trends around once uncommon produce, touting their nutritional superpowers.Broccoli is now trying to be the new Kale emerging as the star of food blogs and instagram feeds and whatever else is currently trending.I have recently been putting one of these broccoli based products to the test.The bacteria Helicobacter Pylori is present in two third of the world´s population (in many it lies dormant in others like myself it leaves us feeling miserable ).
H.Pylori is the only known bacteria to survive in the highly acidic environment of the stomach.The product in question contains a natural extract found in fresh broccoli, brassicare. The manufacturers claim "that it has been proven to be an effective anti-bacterial agent for H.pylori and can prevent and cure stomach ulcers and other gut problems it causes".They also claim "it has proven antioxidant properties which act as a booster of the detoxifying system (in particular the liver)".This helps the body counter the negative effects of modern life.
There´s hurly there´s burly but Mary Brazzle is always in equilibrium:increased stress,unbalanced diet,alcohol consumption
The current path used by most doctors, mine included, is to prescribe antibiotics, but it has been pretty well proven in my own case and others alike that this tough bacteria is resistant to any antibiotic on the market.So that route will not destroy H.Pylori but also can upset the already delicate balance of friendly flora in the gut actually making the situation worse.Well the good news is surprisingly in this case the manufacturers claims are true. It has worked for me and at the end of a 30 day course of one tablet a day, I have found that it has not been enough to wipe out this nasty bacteria completely but has significantly contributed to a noticeable improvement in my condition.And to think it comes from something as basic as broccoli!!!!being pleased with the result I thought I would put fresh broccoli further to the test......

Detoxifying green smoothie with 
broccoli apple and celery

If the thought of raw broccoli in your smoothie has you running in the opposite direction, wait just a minute. I won’t try to convince you of its mighty healthy powers (that is a bit of a lie,after all we are talking about broccoli,one of nature´s best foods).I am going to share a secret with you,(and dont worry I´m not going to get you tangled up in my insides).You can hide the taste of of your broccoli in your smoothie.Pulverize it to oblivion if you wish,top it with banana,almond milk and honey to sweeten the result,but just add the broccoli.Start with just a bit then gradually increase the amount to 1 cup florets per smoothie. Impressed?-I think you will be.Cooking broccoli will cause valuable vitamins to be lost as they leak into the water.The more you cook it,the more it will leak and lose its powers.Who needs powerless broccoli.Its bad enough that we have to eat it at all, but if it is not doing us any good what is the point of eating it at all.Hide your broccoli in your smoothie because your broccoli itself is hiding a lot of minerals and vitamins within it.Make a habit of it and it will help will help detoxify your body,helping it to be healthy and to fight infection and disease.The vitamin C alone helps repair cells.

1 cup broccoli florets
1 rib of celery
1 apple
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 small banana
12 tsp raw honey
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup water
add to blender,blend,drink,enjoy and get healthy

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Corvina baiana moqueca with farofa

The bright summer colours of a Brazilian Moqueca
Whilst dining out at Aquasul restaurant in Tavira the other night I had a strong premonition confirmed for me.For some time now I have had a feeling that the cuisine of Brazil,South America's largest country is set to be the next big thing.When the waitress came to take our orders she informed us of the specials.We had a choice of lamb shank or a Moqueca.She went on to explain Moqueca .Because of my premonition I already had prior knowledge of the dish.The fact that the chef in this restaurant in mainland Portugal, and more exclusively Tavira, the prettiest town on the East Algarve had chosen to put this dish on his menu was proof of this.This vibrant moqueca, a thick seafood stew, hails from Bahia, the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture in the country's north-east.It definitely has a Latin American Portuguese feel to it.Featuring boneless white firm fish fillets such as hake, corvina ( grouper) and sea bass the result is a fish stew with red and green peppers and hot piri piri, mellowed by coconut milk.To give this dish its true authenticity it should be served with farofa.Farofa, manioc flour fried in butter, is served all over South America with all kinds of dishes.You can serve the moqueca without the farofa, if you prefer, but it helps to sop up the soupy liquid from the stew.Manioc or cassava root is one of the most popular ingredients in Brazilian cuisine. Traditionally food of the poor, cassava is so versatile and healthy that is used in many different ways.In this case it is served as a side dish replacing potato.
Manioc is a fundamental ingredient of Brazil’s indigenous tribes, and is rich in minerals such as calcium, iron and phosphorus, vitamins of the complex B and potassium. Absence of gluten makes it ideal for people suffering from coeliac disease.Farofa is the term for a side dish using toasted farinha de mandioca—in English, manioc flour, which is a dried flour similar in looks and texture to breadcrumbs. The making of farofa as a dish couldn't be easier.Beware, farofa can be extremely dry, since the manioc flour immediately sucks up all the juices from anything it encounters, especially when it's served plain. The trick to making a moist farofa is to use a small amount of manioc flour in proportion to the other components, turning a side dish into a savoury accompaniment that is so tempting, you may even forget there is a main course.

Corvina baiana moqueca with farofa
This recipe would traditionally use Dendê Oil (Azeite-de-dendê)but for two reasons I have not used it see the Note below*.Peanut oil coloured with paprika or annato oil (poor mans saffron) will give the dish the same intense colour but with a healthier result

1kg skinless firm white fish  (such as corvina or grouper), 
pin-boned, cut into 3cm cubes
1/3 cup (80ml) lime juice
1/4 cup (60ml) peanut oil coloured with paprika
*
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 green capsicum, thinly sliced
1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 short red chillies, finely chopped
2 cups (500ml) fish stock
400g can chopped tomatoes
270ml can coconut milk
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil

6 large green prawns, peeled (tails intact), deveined
Coriander leaves, to serve
Farofa, to serve 
 
Place fish in a large ceramic dish and toss with 2 tablespoons lime juice and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Chill for 30 minutes to marinate. Meanwhile, heat peanut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion for 10 minutes until really soft.
Add capsicum, garlic and chilli, then cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for a further 25 minutes or until capsicum is softened.
Stir in stock, tomatoes, coconut milk and coconut oil. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 20-25 minutes until slightly reduced.
Add prawns, fish and marinating juices, then cook for a further 8-10 minutes until the seafood is just cooked. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice and season to taste. Serve with farofa.
FOR THE FAROFA
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups manioc flour
Flor de sal and freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the manioc flour and toast it to a light golden color, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly, otherwise the flour will burn. Set aside. 

*IMPORTANT NOTE- Dendê Oil (Azeite-de-dendê)

Bahian cooking without dendê is unthinkable. It's an almost-omnipresent ingredient there and an essential part of the typical Bahian cuisine.
Dendê oil and its consumption by humans is a controversial topic among botanists and nutritionists. On the positive side, the bright red-orange color of the oil is due to the presence of high levels of carotenes - alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lycophene. These phytonutrients are all highly beneficial to humans and have significant anti-oxidant properties. Studies show that dendê has up to 15 times as much beta-carotene as carrots. It is also a source of tocotrienol, part of the vitamin E family.
On the other hand, dendê oil is highly saturated, and the consumption of large quantities of saturated fats has been shown to have deleterious health effects in humans, primarily an increase in cholesterol levels.  Dendê does not contain cholesterol, only animal fats do that, but highly-saturated fats can contribute to increased levels of cholesterol in humans, both LDL ("bad" cholesterol) and HDL ("good" cholesterol). 
The use of palm oil in food products has attracted the concern of environmental activist groups; the high oil yield of the trees has encouraged wider cultivation, leading to the clearing of forests in parts of Indonesia and Malaysia to make space for oil-palm monoculture. This has resulted in significant acreage losses of the natural habitat of the two extant species of orangutan. One species in particular, the Sumatran orangutan, has been listed as critically endangered. In 2004, an industry group called the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil was formed to work with the palm oil industry to address these concerns. Additionally, in 1992, in response to concerns about deforestation, the Government of Malaysia pledged to limit the expansion of palm oil plantations by retaining a minimum of half the nation's land as forest cover.
It definitely has a Latin American/Portuguese t