Monday, April 14, 2014

Portuguese Supper Club - February 2014 Recap

On February 23, 2014, I hosted my first Portuguese Supper Club in Toronto at the Aphrodite Cooks Studio.  24 guests joined me for a night of delicious Portuguese food and wine. It was a fun and emotional night as friends (new and old) helped me celebrate my heritage through food. I'm already planning my next supper club! I couldn't have done this on my own and I'm grateful for my partner Peter's support and help in the kitchen. I also want to thank Peter and Sid Friedman for taking such great photos.

I wanted to share with you the evening's menu and some photos. I've added links to the recipes on my blog.

The Menu

Petiscos ~ Appetizers
Warm Citrus & Herb Olives and Lupini Beans
Sardine Pate on a Crostini with Quail Egg
Rissois de Camarao “Shrimp Turnovers”
Piri Piri Chicken Lolipops

Primeiro ~ First Course
Salt Cod Salad

Segundo ~ Second Course
Caldo Verde “Green Soup”  (Portugal’s national dish)

Prato Principal ~ Main Course
Drunken Pork with Madeira Sauce
Herb & Garlic Green Beans
Potato Puree

Enjoy some of the photos from the night. The music is by Amalia Rodrigues, one of Portugal's best Fado singers.

Portuguese Supper Club - Feburary, 2014 by Slidely Slideshow

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spicy Chicken Meatballs

Recipe by Paula

If you're looking for killer meatballs, look no further. These little darlings are a hit every time I serve them. I even had a husband and wife fight over leftovers. ;) This recipe makes a lot of meatballs, so use what you need and freeze the rest of the meatball mixture in small bags so they are ready anytime you need to make some. Use your favourite hot sauce in the recipe and add as much or as little as you like. I serve these with a creamy Lemon, Garlic & Parsley Aioli (recipe below) but they are also great on their own. Enjoy!

Serves 8-12

2 slices bacon
2 slices white bread
2 tablespoons white wine or beer
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 tablespoons piri piri sauce or your favourite hot sauce (to taste)
2 lbs ground chicken
1 large egg
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
Oil for frying


1. Fry the bacon in a frying pan until it is half cooked. Allow the bacon to cool then chop into small pieces.

2. In a food processor, combine bread, wine, onion, garlic, parsley, oil and hot sauce. Process until smooth and combined.

3. In a large bowl, combine chicken, egg, salt, pepper, oregano, chopped bacon and the mixture from the food processor. Thoroughly combine the meatball mix. Test the seasoning of the mixture by cooking a small amount (microwave for 20-30 seconds). Adjust the seasoning if needed and refrigerate the meatball mix until needed.

4. Form the meat into 1 inch round balls. You can make them bigger but they will take longer to cook.

5. In a deep frying pan over medium high heat, add 2 inches of oil. Bring the oil temperature up to 350°F. Adjust the heat to keep the temperature at 350°F while frying. Fry the meatballs (in batches), until they are golden brown and cooked through (about 1 - 1 1/2 minutes per side depending on the size of the meatballs). Cut one open to check doneness. Place meatballs on a paper towel lined tray to soak up any excess oil.

Lemon Garlic & Parsley Aioli
Recipe by Paula

Makes: 1 1/2 cups

1 egg
1 teaspoon Dijon
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup sunflower oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In blender combine egg, Dijon, garlic, parsley and lemon juice.

2. Process at high speed until completely combined.

3. With bender still on, add the oil in a slow stream and blend until mixture is fluffy and creamy. (If the aioli gets too thick, add a little cold water and continue blending)

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sardine Pate

Recipe by Paula 

Sardines are as synonymous with Portuguese cuisine as salt cod. Enjoying grilled sardines with a glass of wine while sitting at a Portuguese seaside restaurant is something everyone should try in their lifetime. But if you can't get to sunny Portugal just yet, you can always try this way of enjoying sardines. There are many different versions of this recipe but this is my favourite. I love this quick and easy appetizer simply smeared on toasted bread but you can also top it with chopped olives, pickles, pickled onions and hard boiled egg. Enjoy!

Makes: 1 cup

120 grams sardines, canned in olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2-3 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1-2 teaspoons oil from sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of crushed dried piri piri or chili flakes
Splash of Brandy
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Drain the sardines but reserve about half of the packing oil.  

2. In a food processor combine and process, shallot, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes and sun-dried tomato oil. Add remaining ingredients (including reserved sardine packing oil) and process until smooth.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or chill until needed then bring to room temperature (spreadable) before serving.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pao de Milho "Corn Bread"

 Adapted from Carla Azevedo and many Portuguese Moms.

This is the traditional bread of northern Portugal but it is enjoyed all over. This richly dense bread has a fantastic crusty shell. It is traditionally served with Portugal's national dish, Caldo Verde (Creamy Potato and Kale Soup), but I enjoy it on its own with butter or dipped in olive oil. Enjoy!

Note: This recipe calls for corn flour which shouldn't be confused with cornstarch. You can find corn flour in most grocery, bulk or health food stores.

Makes: 2 small loaves


1 1/4 cups fine yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup lukewarm water, divided
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup white corn flour


1. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal and salt. Add the boiling water and stir until smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes until lukewarm.

2. Meanwhile, in a measuring cup, dissolve the sugar in a 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand for 10 minutes to active and get frothy. Stir the yeast vigorously with a fork and then stir it into the cornmeal mixture.

3. Gradually mix in the all-purpose flour, alternating with the remaining 1/2 cup lukewarm water until well combined.

4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

5. Gather the dough into a ball and place it in a large bowl, lightly greased with the olive oil. Turn the dough in the bowl to grease the entire surface of the dough. Cover bowl with a clean tea towel and let the dough rise in a draft free and warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until it doubles in bulk.

6. Punch the dough down. Split the dough in half and shape each piece into a round loaf. Roll each loaf in the white corn flour until well covered. Place the loaves on a parchment paper lined baking sheet that is large enough for both loaves to rise again and bake. Cover sheet with a clean tea towel and let the dough rise in a draft free and warm place for 45 minutes or until double in bulk.

7. At a half hour before baking, preheat the oven to 450F. Slash the top of each loaf to 1/4 inch deep. Bake the loaves in the middle rack for 30-40 minutes or until the loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack and serve.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Salt Cod Salad with Chickpeas & Tomatoes

Recipe by Paula.

This is one of my favourite salads and it never fails to impress my guests. It is fresh and bright and it will wake up your taste buds. It is an excellent start to any Portuguese dinner. The sharp dressing balances the raw salt cod and chickpeas perfectly. If you can't find an aged white wine vinegar, just use a regular white wine vinegar. Enjoy!

Serves: 4


400 grams salt cod
1/2 cup aged white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sweet paprika, divided
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups (1 pint) grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
4 basil leaves, chiffonade


1. Soak the salt cod in cold water for 24 to 48 hours, changing the water occasionally then drain. Remove the skin and bones and shred the flesh into medium size chunks. Set aside.

2. To make the dressing; in a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon paprika and mustard. Continue to whisk and add the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, red onion, chickpeas, parsley, basil and 1 teaspoon paprika. Toss to combine ingredients.

4. Dress the salad with 1/2 of the prepared dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Dress the cod with the remaining dressing and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The cod might not need a lot of salt depending on how long you soaked it.

6. To serve, divide the salad among 4 plates. Top the salads with equal amounts of the dressed cod. Sprinkle the remaining paprika over the cod. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Natas do Ceu "Cream From Heaven"

Recipe by Paula.

The Portuguese have very colourful names for their desserts. For example this favourite dessert of mine is called Natas do Ceu which translates to "Cream from Heaven".  You know what? The name is perfect. One bite of this delicious and simple combination of lemon, cinnamon & vanilla egg cream, mousse and crumbled Maria cookies and you'll think you've died and gone to heaven. Enjoy!

Serves 6

Egg Cream:
6 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 lemon rind
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon unsalted butter

6 egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar

Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar

1 package (roll) Maria cookies, crushed

1. In a bowl, beat egg yolks until frothy. In a saucepan over medium high heat, add milk, sugar, lemon rind and cinnamon stick. Using a small sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthways, then scrape the seeds from inside the bean with the back of the knife. Add the seeds and bean to the pan. 

2. Scald the milk then slowly add milk to the egg yolks, whisking the eggs constantly. Return the milk/egg mixture to the saucepan and reduce the heat to medium. Stir constantly until the egg/milk mixture thickens. Remove lemon rind, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean from the saucepan. Pass egg cream through a fine sieve into a bowl. Stir in butter until incorporated and let it cool.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites in a large clean bowl until they form stiff peaks. Slowly add 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until the mixture (now meringue) is very thick and glossy.

4. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream and vanilla. Gradually add 3 tablespoons of sugar and whip until you get very stiff peaks. Be careful not to over whip the cream or it will become butter.

5. Fold the meringue into the whipped cream, a little at a time and slowly so as to not deflate the mousse mixture.  Chill this mousse until you’re ready to assemble.

6. To assemble: In individual serving glasses or a large serving bowl, add a layer of the crushed cookies, followed by a layer of mousse. Repeat with another layer of cookies and mousse. Smooth the top layer of mousse with the back of a spoon. Top the mousse with the egg cream. Chill for at least 4-5 hours before serving.


Bacalhau com Natas "Cod with Cream"

Recipe by Paula.

They say that the Portuguese have 365 recipes for cod; one for every day of the year. We do love our cod and especially salt cod. This dish takes salt cod and combines it with fried potatoes, onions and a rich cream sauce. This is one of my favourite ways to prepare cod.

Salt cod is cod preserved in salt. It lasts a long time and is very portable but you must prepare it before using it. The first step in using salt cod is to soak it for at least 24 hours in cold water to remove the salt and plump the fish up. Change the water every 8 hours. The only way to make sure you don't have salty cod is to taste it. If it tastes too salty than keep soaking if for another few hours. There are some recipes that suggest you soak the salt cod in milk but I find that uncessary and a waste of good milk. Soak the cod in plenty of cold water and it will be fine.  Enjoy!

Serves: 6


Béchamel Sauce:
 3 tablespoons butter
 4 1/2 tablespoons flour
 3 cups whole milk, hot
 1 teaspoon salt
 1/4 teaspoon pepper
 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

 1 pound salted cod pieces (soaked in water for at least 24 hours)
 Vegetable oil for frying
 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, cut into small cubes
 Salt and pepper to taste
 1 tablespoon olive oil
 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
 2 bay leaves
 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
 1/4 cup dry white wine
 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
 1/4 - 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. First make the béchamel sauce. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add butter and let it melt. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and keep stirring for 2 minutes.

2. Add the hot milk and stir to combine. Keep stirring as the mixture thickens. Take off the heat

3. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Keep warm.

4. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.

5. In a large pot over medium high heat, add cod and enough water to cover the cod by 2 inches. Remove the cod and bring the water to a boil. Add the cod and boil it for 3-5 minutes. Drain the cod and let it cool for 5 minutes or until you can handle it with your hands. Remove and discard the skin and bones. Flake the remaining cod flesh and reserve.

6. In a deep frying pan over medium high heat, add 2 inches of vegetable oil. Bring the oil temperature up to 360°F. Adjust the heat to keep the temperature at 360°F while frying. When the oil is ready, add the potatoes and fry (in batches) until they are golden. They don't need to be fully cooked because they will finish cooking in the oven. Transfer the potatoes to a paper towel lined tray to absorb any excess oil. Sprinkle potatoes with a little salt and pepper.

7. In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and butter and heat for 30 seconds. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes or until they are softened. Add garlic, cayenne, bay leaves, lemon zest, lemon juice and wine. Cook for 5 minutes then add the reserved cod. Remove bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper but remember the cod is salty so you won't need much.

8. To a medium casserole dish, spread 1/2 of the cod mixture onto the bottom. Cover cod with 1/2 the fried potatoes.  Repeat with another layer of cod followed by another layer of potatoes.

9. Pour the warm béchamel over the top. Make sure that the top is completely covered with the béchamel. Pour the cream over the top and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

10. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the casserole is golden. Allow casserole to cool for 10 minutes and top with chopped parsley. Serve with a green salad.