Archive for the ‘Ingredients/Ingredientes’ Category
Sardines are a big deal in Portugal. Together with bacalhau (salted cod), the sardine has become a symbol of Portuguese food and culture recognised around the world. A visitor to Portugal will not need to search much to see sardines on a menu, printed on t-shirts, made out porcelain, on designer goods etc…
Autumn in Portugal brings lots of goods, just when you think the plentiful summer has come to an end. With the colourful harvest of the vineyards arrive the chestnuts and the magustos, open air festivities celebrating the new wine with chestnuts roasted on a bonfire. Used as compliments to roast meats or as key ingredients in soups long before the potato was introduced from the new world, the chestnut is now a delicacy usually appreciated after a meal. This is the simplest and perhaps the most rewarding way of cooking chestnuts. While traditional roast chestnuts bring out a crispy and fluffy texture, boiling them brings out their unique sweet and nutty flavour.
Read about São Martinho, the chestnut day par excellence!
One of the classics amongst the 1001 bacalhau recipes that guide the Portuguese through each calendar year. This way of cooking cod intensifies its salty flavour and produces an irresistible sauce resulting from the mix of olive oil, garlic and the cod juices. Accompanying the cod is a bed of spring greens and the obligatory “batatas a murro”, baked potatoes, punched open just before serving.
Salted cod needs to be soaked in cold water for 2-3 days (depending on the thickness of the steaks). Water should be changed twice daily.
Atlantic mackerel (carapau) is by far the most popular variety of mackerel in Portugal. Its close cousin, the common mackerel (cavala) has been on the sidelines of Portuguese cooking for a number of years but is now enjoying a well deserved revival. Its health benefits together with unique taste and texture make this a prime choice for a fish meal. This recipe combines the strong taste of smoked mackerel with the sweetness of Rocha pears – the uniquely Portuguese pear variety created by the Rocha family in 1836 in Sintra.
This recipe claims no historical authenticity but is inspired by the first cookbook to be published in Portugal – Domingos Rodrigues’ Arte de Cozinha (1680). The book is a fascinating journey into a world of flavours that combine recently available spices like saffron, cinnamon and cardamon with european cooking methods. Th Portuguese discoveries of the XIV and XV century transformed the larder of not only Portuguese society but all of Europe as well bringing old Portuguese techniques to South America, India, China and Japan!
The sauce presented here is inspired by a combination of almond flour and egg yolk which seems to have been used as a standard technique for providing body and texture to sauces and soups in Rodrigues’ book. We use it here to produce a light and delicate sauce flavoured with mussel juice, served with roast asparagus.
The pungent aroma of garlic makes its way into most Portuguese dishes. From thin raw slices to slow fried minced pieces, this keystone of Southern European cuisine is remarkably versatile in its use. This recipe takes garlic in its most sweet and nutty character to flavour a delicate creamy soup. The recipe is inspired by 18th century Portuguese techniques which provide substance and body to broths by using ground almonds. The ground almonds not only thicken the broth but provide extra flavour. Chia seeds are included as an optional ingredient of their superfood status and to add consistence and texture to the soup. This is a quick and simple yet sophisticated soup you can prepare while making the rest of your meal.
Those who grew up with the yearly autumn tradition of making large quantities of marmelada (quince jam) will not easily forget the sweet aromatic smell that fills the family home as a tick puree of quince simmers in sugar before it is poured in porcelain bowls to set (unless of course it is eaten before it gets a chance!).
This family recipe produces a smooth and rich marmelada which is delicious on the day and develops into a complex, almost cheese like consistency over months. Portuguese marmelada-making families spend a considerable amount of time debating the pros and cons of fresh versus set marmelada. Best thing is to try making it, eat one bowl straight away with fresh bread, crackers and cheese and keep the rest to eat over the winter months.
The jelly is a way of using up some of the quince flavour that stays in the cooking water and can be used for glazing cakes, in gravies and sauces or simply on bread.
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