Friday, 28 April 2017

The canned fish Renaissance

In recent years canned fish has gone gourmet in Portugal. Specifically in the major cities of Lisbon and Porto, several  gourmet shops (conservarias) have been popping up all over the city, not just selling your typical gastronomic souvenirs, but also revamped, quality brand canned fish, wrapped in delightfully artistic packaging and boxes. Who could resist?!
Both the Portuguese and Spanish have had a long tradition of canning and preserving fish, but the way that they feel about it can vary. In general, both agree that canned fish is an easy and inexpensive meal, especially due to its high quality. And in general, both the Portuguese and the Spanish like to consume canned tuna on a regular basis, often used in appetizers, salads, Spanish tapas and even on pizzas. Since canned fish tends to be more expensive in Spain (due to logistics, transport etc.), the Spanish tend to view it with higher regard, many considering the most expensive brands such as ORTIZ as a delicacy.  However, for the Portuguese, despite the recent canned fish renaissance on the gourmet market,most people view it as a “poor man’s food”
So it will be a sorry day when Old Mother Hubbard, alias me myself and I, goes to the larder and discovers that there is not a single tin of fish to be found therein.The cupboard is bare, but if the fishing industry continues to empty the seas at the current rate ,that may well be the case. The thing is, the kind of small, oily fish,sardines, anchovies, mackerel, that fit so willingly in tins and jars are the very species that, if managed properly and fished more responsibly, could continue to feed us sustainably well into the future. If however, we continue to hoover them up by the millions of tonnes, catch them out of season, and process more than half of them into animal feed and fertilisers, then stocks will run out.There is no taboo about tinned fish.The history of canned food is the story of civilisation itself.The development of preserved food enabled explorers to map unknown territories,facilitated the conquering of new lands and created routes for the expansion of trade and the exchange of knowledge and culture which opened up our world.
Something worth thinking about next time you are navigating the waters of the canned fish aisle, the 'ultimate' canned fish in terms of health value is the sardine.Eating tinned sardines in tomato sauce provides plentiful nutrition and protein.There are also lots of small bones so you are also getting added calcium in your meal. If it is tinned in tomato sauce, you are also getting the benefits of lycopene - another cancer fighting nutrient.'A simple spring store cupboard supper can be achieved with just one tin of mackerel, new potatoes, watercress, radishes and an array of seasonal herbs.This is a good way of getting your omega-3 oils!

    A simple spring salad of canned mackerel 
    and new potatoes and watercress

    700g baby new potatoes
    2 shallots, finely chopped
    200g finely sliced radishes
    1 small cucumber peeled and diced
    6 baby gherkins, sliced
    1tbsp chopped fennel fronds, plus extra for garnish
    1 tbsp flat leaf parsley
    2 x 125g cans  Mackerel Fillets in Olive Oil, drained and flaked
    Watercress, to serve

    1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1/3 cup red wine vinegar
    2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
      Halve or quarter the potatoes, depending on size (the pieces should be bite-sized). Add to a pan of lightly salted boiling water and simmer until tender. Drain and put in a large bowl.stir in the shallots,radishes,cucumber and gherkins.In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over potato mixture, tossing gently to coat. 
       Cover and refrigerate.When ready to serve, season, then add to the herbs and watercress
       Gently stir in the mackerel. Garnish with the extra fennel. 

      A good read........
      "We may not give much thought to the boxes in our freezers and the dried goods on our shelves. Yet behind the story of food preservation is the history of civilisation itself - a fascinating blend of social history, popular science and man's ongoing curiosity and ingenuity when it comes to food. From Francis Bacon, who died trying to freeze a chicken, to Attila the Hun, who 'gallop cured' his meat by storing it under his horse's saddle, history is littered with wonderful stories of those who have contributed to our knowledge. And there have also been some notable mistakes. In 1800, archaeologists in Egypt consumed a jar of honey, still edible after thousands of years, only to find at the bottom the preserved body of a dead baby..!"
      "Pickled, Potted and Canned: The Story of Food Preserving" Paperback – by Sue Shephard 2001



      Monday, 24 April 2017

      Time and tide waits for no man, the new surf and turf

      I am a product of that era of cooking in which surf-and-turf was the be-all and end-all, the epitome of gourmet cuisine, the go-to meal for all special occasions (except those at which Chateaubriand was served, of course).Surf and turf is one of those dishes that sadly doesn’t get much in the way of respect nowadays. One of the hallmarks of middlebrow “Continental cuisine” in vogue in the 1960s and 70s, a plate of pallid steak and tough defrosted lobster graced the menu at restaurants ranging from fine-dining establishments to local bistrots in an effort to appeal to those looking to give the impression of being classy (the word “ersatz” comes to mind a bit when referring to the dish). But that era is over and today the chefs who include this legendary dish on their menus do not want a poor imitation they are finally treating it with the respect it deserves.
      They saying goes "time and tide wait for no man. We now live in an era when every classic dish seems ripe for innovation, and surf and turf is no exception. Today you’ll find surf and turf burgers on restaurant menus, as well as dishes including braised beef with shrimp paste being called  “surf and turf.”
      Obviously, surf refers to seafood and turf to livestock fed on grass.Carne de Porco à Alentejana is a traditional Portuguese Pork and Clams dish which originates in part from the Portuguese region of Alentejo.The combination of pork and clams in this dish is unusual, but creates a rich flavour that makes it easy to see why this stew has become so popular across the country. Whoever thought to toss clams into a pot of stewed pork was a genius idea?! It sounds like an unlikely combination; and to some, it’s just plain weird, but consider it the Portuguese version of Surf and turf .
      The real reason this is such a spectacular a pairing isn’t because of the “meat” of the dish; it’s what it produces at the end. A sauce that can only come from the harmony created when land and sea come together. I could happily give up the pork and clams as long as I get that residual sauce at the bottom and a loaf of Pão Alentejano to absorb it.
      Contrary to what one would think, Carne de Porco à Alentejana did not originate in the Alentejo as its name would suggest. It was the cooks of the Algarve that originally came up with the idea to mix the two unlikely food friends. One suggestion as to why, was to add clams in order to mask a “fishy” tasting pork that came from the region, as the pigs down south would be fed fish scraps and it changed how the pork tasted.
      The “Alentejana“ reference was to indicate where the pork was sourced; the Alentejo region north of the Algarve. Here the pigs’ diet mainly consisted of cork oak acorns thus creating gorgeous tasting meat. These pigs didn’t just have a better diet though. Alentejo is also home to the highly prized Porco Preto Ibérico, or black Iberian pig. If you don’t know much about this pig, maybe you’ve heard of the Spanish Jamon Iberico, a cured ham with similarities to Portuguese presunto.
      It may not sound like the most compatible two foods. I mean pork is good on its own and clams are famous in soups and pasta; but I assure you, it’s a must have when visiting Portugal, no matter what region you visit. The best part is to amaze the naysayers at home by making your own pot. Even if they don’t like pork or clams by themselves, just give them a bowl of the sauce at the bottom and some bread. It’s the best way to turn them into believers! Or why not do what I did and put my own take on the dish by introducing ginger noodles into the equation.Since carnival this year I have got a taste for cajun spice, and I thought that I would spice up tradition with a surf and turf pasta dish.I would combine wonderfully fresh raw prawns with acorn fed black pig and amp this up with a cajun seasoning, a dash of cayenne pepper, sauteed onions and garlic, cream and white wine  Rich and decadent, with a bit of heat.Prawns pasta,spicy cream sauce a dash of wine.What’s not to love here?
      Spicy Cajun pork and prawn fettucine
      serves 4
      500g (1 pound) medium or large raw prawns, peeled and de-veined
      300g  Pork loin cut into strips
      1 tablespoon Cajun spice mix
      3 tablespoons olive oil
      ½ onion, sliced
      3 cloves garlic, minced
      1 cup cream
      1/2 cup dry white wine
      1/2 cup chicken broth
      Cayenne pepper, to taste
      1 pound cooked fettuccine
      2 spring onions or bunch of chives, chopped (for garnish)

      Sprinkle 2 teaspoons Cajun spice over the shrimp, toss to coat.Repeat with the pork. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add prawns to skillet, and cook for about 2 minutes. Flip prawns over and cook for 1 minute more. Remove to plate and set aside.Repeat with the pork Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over medium high heat until garlic and onions are tender. Remove all vegetables from the pan to a plate, and set aside.
      With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium low and pour in cream, whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Return  the vegetables and the pork to the sauce. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot.At the same time re-heat the previously cooked prawns in a pan with a little oil. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine. Serve the prawns on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with spring onions or chives for garnish.

      Homemade Cajun Seasoning
      Homemade Cajun seasoning has just the right amount of kick with flavours of garlic, onion, thyme, oregano  and cayenne pepper.There many good quality brands on the market but if you have time to make your own it enhances any recipe.
      ½ cup Paprika
      ⅓ cup Flor de sal
      ¼ cup Garlic Powder
      2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
      1 tablespoon white pepper (or 2 use tablespoons black pepper)
      2 Tablespoons Onion Powder
      1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper (optional- won't be spicy without this)
      2 Tablespoons dried Oregano
      1 Tablespoon dried Thyme
      2 tablespoons dried basil
        Mix all ingredients in jar or food processor and store in an airtight container. Good on stir fries, eggs, casseroles, fish and poultry. You can add more or less Cayenne to get to your taste to suit your palate.

            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
            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.