Portuguese sardine pate (paté de sardinha)

Pate de sardinhaI’m keeping on a Portuguese theme this week, perhaps in an attempt to recapture holiday memories in these early days of autumn.

For me, Portugal is synonymous with sardines, an economical and delicious fish, and best served as fresh and as simply as possible. Although this Portuguese sardine pate recipe uses tinned sardines, it’s simplicity itself.

Paté de sardinha is ubiquitous in restaurants, arriving before a starter, alongside sourdough and salty grey-green olives. We always bulk buy it to bring home but it never lasts more a month in our house because it’s so popular, so making our own makes perfect sense.

This recipe is cheap, quick and easy, and is loaded with lots of healthy omega 3 fatty acids, as well as being high in calcium (if you buy the tinned sardine variety with bones left in) and protein. It’s good for breakfast, spread on toast which has first been rubbed with a clove of garlic and drizzled with olive oil, or for a picnic dip with crackers. Or try it in sandwiches for a speedy lunch.

4 servings

Ingredients

2 tins of Portuguese sardines in sunflower oil, 120g each, oil drained and reserved

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

2 tbsp tomato puree

2 tbsp of sunflower oil, reserved from the sardines

2 tbsp of olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

sea salt and chilli flakes to taste (I used a large pinch of each)

Method

Simply put all the ingredients in a jug and blend with a stick blender, or blend in a food processor.

Serve with toast or crackers.

Portuguese sardine pate

Cockle Tempura

Cockle tempura
Inspired the original and utterly wonderful cockled popcorn on a recent visit to No 1 Cromer, I decided to try recreating it at home with successful results! I can’t justify stealing No 1 Cromer’s fabulous name, though, so renamed it the rather more prosaic cockle tempura. If you’re ever in Cromer, visit No 1 Cromer; they make brilliant seafood dishes. I also had a particularly tasty crab salad.

I adapted a tempura recipe from http://glutenfreerecipebox.com/gluten-free-tempura. As the Gluten-free Recipe Box explains, the secret to good tempura is cold ingredients, hence the rather unusual start to the beginning of this recipe. Of course, you can simply plan ahead (which I didn’t) and put the flour and water in the fridge for an hour or so instead.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

50g rice flour

30g cornflour

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

80 ml sparkling water

sunflower oil for deep-fat frying

200g cockles

Method

Mix the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda together, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes, along the water.

When they’re cold, whisk them together. Heat 2 inches of oil in a saucepan to 190°C.

Add the cockles in batches to the batter, because it’s best not to crowd to the pan when you come to cook them (I divided them into three batches).

Mix well, then use a metal slotted spoon to remove them, placing them in a separate bowl (I found this helped me with the next stage).

Drop the battered cockles carefully in the hot oil using the metal slotted spoon, trying to separate them as they go in, otherwise they will clump together.

Fry for 30-60 seconds, then remove them using the slotted spoon and place them on a plate covered with a paper towel.

Tempura cockles

Mung bean curry

Mung bean dalA change in the weather and the beginnings of an autumnal cold has made me crave warming, nourishing curries this week. I also like to cook a big pot of soup or curry to have for lunch during the week.

This easy mung bean curry recipe is also cheap and very satisfying, either served simply with plain boiled basmati or as part of a thali spread, with lime pickle and yoghurt.

I would like to serve this with chapati too, but since going gluten-free have yet to find a decent recipe. I tried a 100% gram flour one to go with this curry, but the dough was too hard to work with. So please let me know if you’ve got any easy gluten-free chapati recipes!

I made this curry quite dry, but if you’re in a soupy mood, then feel free to add more of the reserved stock to make it more liquid.

Serves 4

Ingredients

200g whole green mung (or moong) beans, soaked overnight

2 tbsp sunflower oil

6 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 green chillis, finely chopped and deseeded depending on heat required

2 tbsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed

1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp tumeric

4 tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

small handful fresh coriander, stalk finely chopped, leaves roughly chopped

small handful (10-15 leaves) curry leaves

Method

Put the mung beans in boiling water in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes, or until just soft. Drain, and reserve the cooking liquid.

Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan.

Fry the garlic, chillis and spices on a medium-low heat, without letting the garlic colour, for five minutes.

Turn the heat up to medium and add the tomatoes and salt, cooking for 10 minutes until the tomatoes are soft.

Add the coriander stalks, curry leaves and mung beans, putting in about a wine glass of the drained mung bean cooking water, or as much as required.

Simmer the curry for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Serve with basmati rice or chapati.

Okra curry

Okra curry with chutney and raita

I fully got into the curry vibe during a weekend visit to Easton, Bristol, this weekend, with an evening at the wonderful Thali Café and a shop at the Sweet Mart.

I stocked up on okra, because as I live in the wilds of Somerset, even in a town like Frome, this vegetable is something of an exotic novelty for me these days. I love their impossibly funky bike wheel pattern when they’re sliced open, and their weird and unique ooziness.

This recipe is adapted from one I learnt at Little Cove Yoga Retreat in Goa. Don’t be deterred by the long list of ingredients; like many curry recipes, there’s really not that much to it once you get started, as most items listed below are spices you can just throw in.

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 tsp sunflower oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

3 medium-sized onions, finely chopped

5 cm piece of ginger, peeled, grated and finely chopped

2 green chillies, deseeded depending on heat preferred

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

300g okra, washed, topped and tailed

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed

1 tsp garam masala

½ tsp salt

25 g fresh coriander, chopped

Method

Heat the oil on a medium-high heat and cook the mustard, coriander and fennel seeds for a few minutes, until the mustard seeds start to pop.

Turn the heat down to medium low and add the onions, ginger and chillies, cooking for 10 minutes.

While the onion is cooking, slice the okra into pieces about 0.5cm thick.

Chopped okra

After the onion has cooked for 10 minutes, add the garlic, turmeric, cumin seeds, garam masala and salt. Cook for a further 10 minutes.

Add the okra and 50ml of water and cook, covered, on a low heat for 20 minutes.

Add the coriander and cook for another 5 minutes.

Okra curry

Caldeirada de lulas (Portuguese squid stew)

Caldeirada de lulasI love Portuguese food, particularly seafood. My favourite dish is sardinhas assadas, preferably served at a rustic seaside bar with a cold Sagres or a glass of Vinho Verde.

I also love the various tiny artisan cheeses, fish pate, chewy sourdough and gorgeous salty olives that come before your starter in restaurants; watch this space for a Portuguese sardine pate recipe.

This summer I had some fantastic squid in both Spain and Portugal, including the relatively unusual albondigas de choco, another recipe that will be featured here sometime soon.

But for the time being, I’ve made a caldeirada de lulas, which I took to my monthly food club this weekend, with Portugal as its theme for September. The key to the delicious rich sauce is to cook the onions until they start to caramelise and to be generous with the wine. I try to get hold of cuttlefish for this recipe as it’s so much cheaper than squid.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 kg squid or cuttlefish, cleaned weight (ask your fishmonger to do this, as this is not a job for the squeamish!)

4 tbsp olive oil

3 onions, finely sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 peppers, sliced

2 small glasses of white wine, preferably Vinho Verde

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 bay leaves, preferably fresh

500g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut slices as thick as a £1 coin

½ tsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped

1 tbsp sea salt

White crusty bread to serve

Method

Preheat the oven to 170ºC fan/325ºC/as mark 3.

Cut the squid or cuttlefish into thick slices of 2 cm by 5 cm.

Heat the oil in a large roomy pan.

Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes on a medium-low heat.

Stir in the peppers, leaving to cook for another 10 minutes, before adding the garlic, and cooking for a further 5 minutes.

Add the wine, tomatoes, bay leaf and potatoes, and bring to the boil.

Stir the squid in the stew.

Once it’s simmering, season to taste and then transfer the stew to a casserole dish and place, covered, in the oven for an hour.

Season, then sprinkle with coriander.

Portuguese squid stew

Zhoug (green chilli sauce)

Zhoug green chilli sauce Zhoug (pronounced ‘shug’, as in the first syllable of sugar) is a green herb chilli paste from Israel and a perfect accompaniment to my wild garlic falafel. The first time I tried zhoug I was hooked, spreading it on toast, to replace olive oil for a Spanish pan con tomate, stirring it through couscous or bulgar wheat or adding a dollop to tomato soup.

It’s important to use good-quality coriander, not the flaccid kind you find in growing in pots in the supermarket. If you see a good bunch of coriander but don’t have time to make zhoug immediately, wrap the bunch in some dampened kitchen roll and keep it in a bag in the fridge to stop it wilting (this method works well with parsley too).

Zhoug is supposed to be fiery, so use the seeds if your chillies aren’t particularly hot.

If you don’t use it straight away, zhoug will keep in a jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks – if you can resist eating it, of course!

Ingredients

50g fresh coriander, including stalks

2 green chillies, seeds left in

1 garlic clove, crushed

1½ tsp cumin

1/8 tsp salt

4 tbsp olive oil

Method

Finely chop the coriander, green chillies and crushed garlic; it’s worth using a mezzaluna for this if you have one. (I prefer the texture of zhoug chopped by hand rather than using a food processor, which can make the end result rather mushy.)

Add the cumin, salt and olive oil.

zhoug with falafel

Gluten-free muhammara

Muhammara I first had muhammara, a delicious Syrian red pepper and walnut dip, at my favourite restaurant, Frome’s wonderful High Pavement Evening Café. They specialise in Middle Eastern and Spanish dishes; I’ve had many a fine meal there and can recommend it wholeheartedly. (Make sure you sample a manzanilla or oloroso on the brilliant sherry menu too.)

It took me ages to remember the name muhammara but once I did, I became slightly obsessed with recreating its intense flavour. The first time I made it I used Turkish red pepper paste, which I bought in Bristol’s Sweetmart. Last weekend I’d planned a Middle Eastern mezze spread but Bristol is a long way to go from Frome for a jar of pepper paste, so I thought I’d have a go at making it with roasted red peppers. But if you can buy a jar of red pepper paste, it does save time, as does using shelled walnuts, although the flavour isn’t nearly as good.

Unlike the traditional version, which uses breadcrumbs or bulgur wheat, I decided to make a gluten-free muhammara, and serve it with bread on the side for dipping. I made the easy yet delicious Eastern-style focaccia recipe from Sabrina Ghayour’s gorgeous Persiana book, cut into fingers, and za’atar pitta bread triangles (see below). If you can’t get any za’atar you can use a sprinkling of smoked paprika and cumin instead, or just brush the triangles with olive oil. You could also serve it with plain pitta bread, flatbread or sourdough.

Ingredients

Muhammara

10 red peppers

200g walnuts

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tsp chilli flakes (Aleppo ones are the most authentic)

6 tsp cumin

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

Chopped flat-leaf parsley to serve

Za’atar pitta triangles

1 packet of 6 white pitta breads

3 tsp za’atar

150 ml extra-virgin olive oil

Serves 8-10 as part of a mezze spread

Method

Roast the red peppers preferably on an open flame on a gas hob, under a grill or in a hot oven (220ºC, 200ºC fan, gas mark 7) until the skin turns black and blisters. This takes about 20 minutes. If you’re doing them on the hob or under the grill, turn them regularly.

Roast the red peppers preferably on an open flame on a gas hob, or under a grill or in a hot oven (220ºC, 200ºC fan, gas mark 7) until the skin turns black and blisters. Turn them a few times during the 20 minutes or so it takes for them to blister.roasted red peppers

Meanwhile shell the walnuts (if necessary) and roughly chop them.walnuts

Slice open each pitta bread carefully so you have two ovals. Then halve each oval and cut each half into rough triangles. Mix the olive oil with the za’atar and brush onto the triangles, laying them out on to some baking trays so they’re in one layer.pitta bread

pitta bread trianglesWhen the peppers are done take them out and turn the oven down (200ºC, 180ºC fan, gas mark 6). Put the peppers in a sieve or colander with a plate over the top, and place it over a bowl to drain.

Put the pitta triangles into the oven (which should be slightly cooler now) and put a timer on for 10 minutes. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel them, remove the seeds and roughly chop them.

Keep an eye on the pitta breads to make sure they don’t burn, giving them a shake after 5 minutes.za'atar pitta triangles

Put everything except the walnuts in a food processor and blend to a rough paste (I prefer muhammara with a bit of texture), or use a blender or stick blender. Add the walnuts and blend again briefly. Taste and add more spices or salt if needed.

Take the pitta breads out when they’re lightly toasted and put on a cooling rack. Sprinkle the chopped parsley on the muhammara.muhummara gluten-free dip

As this recipe is feel-good healthy and has a spicy kick to it, I’m entering it for the current Spice Challenge, with the theme Temple Food.Spice Trail