Friday, December 25, 2015

Pumpkin Dreams "Sonhos de Abobora"

Recipe by Paula.

I made these for my family's Christmas Eve celebration this year and everyone loved them. My Mother insists that we make these every year from now on. You can't argue with Mom. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Serves: 8

1 cup water
80 grams of pumpkin puree
4 strips of orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
80 grams unsalted butter
1/4 cup Brandy
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
180 grams all purpose flour
5 large eggs

Walnut Cinnamon Sugar:
1 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1. Start heating your vegetable oil to 350-360°F

2. Heat the water, pumpkin, orange peel, cinnamon stick, butter, brandy, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until just below the boiling point, when small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Keep an eye on it, don't let it boil. Remove the orange peel and cinnamon stick.

3. Add the flour and beat it with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a soft ball and leaves the sides of the pan clean. Reduce the temperature to low and continue stirring for 2 minutes. Don't walk away from the pan, stir constantly.

4. Take the dough and place it into a mixing bowl. Let it cool for one minute. This will let some of the moisture evaporate before you add the eggs. While the mixer is running at medium speed, add the eggs one at at time. Beat well after each egg addition, incorporating as much air as possible.

5. Fill a piping bag with the dough (you don't need a piping tip, just cut a 1/2 inch opening at the base). When your oil is ready, hold the piping bag over the oil and squeeze out a small amount (about a teaspoon) of the dough and use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the dough into the oil. Be careful not to hold the piping bag to far above the oil or it will splash and burn you. Fry in batches until the dough is golden. They will puff up in the oil so don't crowd the pan.

6. Combine the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. When the sonhos are golden remove them from the oil and immediately roll them in the sugar mixture. Serve them warm or at room temperature.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Chestnut Soup

Chestnut Soup
Recipe by Paula.

I have fond childhood memories of roasted chestnuts at family gatherings in the Fall/Winter. It was my job to peel them and I could never resist sneaking one or two. The smell of roasted chestnuts fills the entire house and if I could bottle that scent, I would. This delicious soup is another way the Portuguese enjoy roasted chestnuts. The cream is my addition to the traditional recipe but I think it compliments all the flavours. In a pinch you could use packaged chestnuts but it will pale in comparison to the taste of freshly roasted chestnuts. Enjoy!

Serves: 6

500g chestnuts, roasted (see below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
8 cups chicken stock
3 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons Brandy
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more to garnish
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Peel the chestnuts. Chop 6 chestnuts and set aside to garnish. 

2. In a large pan over medium high heat, add olive oil and heat for 1 minute. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes to soften the onions.  

3. Add the whole chestnuts, stock, parsley, cloves and bay leaves. Season with a little salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45-60 minutes or until the chestnuts are tender.

4. Remove the cloves and bay leaves. Puree soup in batches in a blender (caution hot!) and return the soup to the pot. Stir in the brandy and cream. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

5. Pour the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with reserved chestnuts and a drizzle of cream. Serve with crusty bread.

Roasted Chestnuts
Recipe by Paula. 

Fresh plump chestnuts
Kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Score the chestnuts with an X and place them in a baking sheet with the X facing up.

3. Using a water bottle, sprinkle the chestnuts with a little water. Sprinkle with salt.

4. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until they are toasted and fragrant. Peel and enjoy.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tomato Rice

Tomato Rice

This dish is pure comfort and a standard in all Portuguese homes. The desired consistency of the rice varies based on individual taste; some like it dry, others like it wet.  I like a creamy tomato rice with a consistency similar to a 'risotto'. If you want a wetter rice, just increase the amount of water you add by 1/2 to 1 cup. If you want a dry rice, then decrease the amount of water by 1/2 - 1 full cup. You can always play with the measurements to get the rice that is perfect for you. Enjoy!

Serves 4

    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 large white onion, finely chopped
    2 tablespoons tomato paste
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    3 bay leaves
    1 cup rice
    1 1/2 cups tomato passatta
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    3 cups water
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons parsley flat leaf

1. To a pan over medium high heat, add oil and heat. Add the onions and tomato paste. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cook for 3-5 or until the onions are soft. Add garlic and bay leaves and cook for another minute.

2. Add the rice & stir coating the grains with the oil. Then add the paprika & salt.

3. Add the passatta & water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low & cover. Cook the rice for 20 minutes

4. Stir in the butter and half of the parsley. Serve topped with remaining parsley.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Milho Frito "Fried Cornmeal"

Recipe by Paula.

This dish is based on the original recipe from the Portuguese island of Madeira. There they use white cornmeal and instead of herbs they use finely shredded kale. This is my version. I like the added flavour of the herbs and the bright colour of the yellow cornmeal. Basil is my favourite herb in this dish but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. I serve this with my Lemon, Garlic & Parsley Aioli. Make lots because these little bites are addictive. :) Enjoy!

Serve: 6-8

6 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1 1/2 cups cornmeal (white or yellow)
3 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (thyme, basil, parsley)
vegetable oil for frying

1. In a large pot, add water, oil, garlic and salt. Bring the water to a boil.

2. When the water is boiling, slowly whisk in the cornmeal in a steady stream. Once the cornmeal is added, switch to a wooden spoon and reduce the temperature to a simmer. Keep stirring for about 15-20 minutes until the cornmeal thickens and starts to pull away from the sides.

3. Add the herbs and continue to stir for another 5 minutes.

4. Pour the cooked cornmeal into a greased flat-bottomed 9 x 11 glass dish. Spread the cornmeal evenly and smooth out the surface. Allow the cornmeal to cool down to room temperature and firm up. This should take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. At this point you can cover and refrigerate the cornmeal until you're ready to use it. Just make sure to bring the cornmeal back up to room temperature before frying.

5. Cut the cornmeal into cubes, rounds, sticks or whatever shape you desire. I like cubes.

6. To a frying pan, add about a 1/2 inch of oil and heat it to medium high. Fry the cornmeal cubes in batches for about 3-5 minutes a side or until golden brown and crispy on the outside. Make sure the oil remains hot or the cubes will stick to the bottom of the pan.

7. Remove the cubes to a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain any excess oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve immediately.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Spicy Mussels, Shrimp & Chourico in Wine Broth

Recipe by Paula.

To me this dish is Portugal in a bowl because of the classic Portuguese combination of seafood, pork and spicy heat. This bountiful rustic dish is meant to be shared with friends and family and served with lots of crusty bread to soak up all the beautiful broth. I remember my aunt serving this dish every time I visited Portugal and now I make this dish a home to share with my family and friends. Enjoy!

Servings: 4-6


    2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnishing
    8 oz spicy chourico, chopped
    1 medium yellow onion, chopped
    1 small red pepper, diced
    1 small green pepper, diced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
    1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    Juice and zest strips of one lemon
    1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    2 tablespoons tomato paste
    1 cup Vinho Verde wine or any dry white wine
    Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
    1 pound tiger shrimp, peeled and deveined
    2 pounds mussels, debearded, scrubbed
    2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley


1. In a large heavy pot over medium high heat, add the oil and heat for 1 minute. Add the chourico and cook until it is browned. Remove the chourico into a bowl and reserve. Do not clean out the pot.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and to the flavoured oil,  add the onions, red peppers and green peppers. Saute until the onions have softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, chili flakes and smoked paprika. Cook for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and lemon strips. Stir to combine.

3. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it begins to darken, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a medium. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add shrimp and mussels to the pot and give it a quick stir. Cover and cook until the mussels open, about 8 minutes. Shake the pot occasionally but don't uncover.  Discard any mussels that haven't open and stir in half of the reserved chourico and parsley.

5. Ladle mussels and shrimp into a bowl and top with remaining chourico and parsley.  Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve with lots of crusty bread to sop up the delicious broth.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Orange and Vanilla Biscoitos

Recipe by Paula.

I adore these Portuguese cookies. They are flavourful and perfect for dunking into coffee, tea and even some Port wine. These are traditionally made with lemon but I switched it up with orange and vanilla. Form them into any shape you like such as a log or favourite is the twist. Enjoy!

Makes 24

2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 grated zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl, beat together eggs and sugar for 3 minutes. Add the butter, vanilla, juice and zest and beat for 1 more minute.

2. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix gently until the dough comes together. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

4. Preheat your oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

5. Divide the dough into 24 balls and then on a floured surface, roll each ball into whatever shape you want. I did a twist. I rolled a piece of dough into a rope shape then twisted the dough down the middle.

6. Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes until they are slightly golden brown. I like mine pale. Allow the cookies to cool completely.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Roast Potatoes with Tomatoes, Garlic & Wine

Recipe by Paula.

These are my favourite way to serve roast potatoes. The potatoes have crispy edges but are buttery soft at the same time. The tomatoes, garlic and wine combine with the olive oil to create a beautifully flavoured sauce.  Be sure to have lots of fresh bread on hand to mop up the sauce. Enjoy!

Serves: 4-6

2 lbs new baby potatoes
8 oz grape or cherry tomatoes, divided
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1. Preheat oven to 375F. Cut the potatoes in half or thirds depending on their size. Cut 1/2 of the tomatoes in half and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, cut tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, olive oil and white wine. Season generously with salt and pepper.

3. Add the mix to a roasting pan and spread out into an even layer. Distribute the butter evenly over the potatoes and cover the roasting pan with foil. Bake for 1 hour or until the potatoes are almost tender.

4. Increase the oven temperature to 425F. Remove the foil and stir in the remaining whole tomatoes. Roast, uncovered for another 1/2 hour or until the potatoes are tender and golden and the whole tomatoes are cooked.

5. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Stir the parsley into the potatoes. Serve immediately and drizzle the pan sauce over the tomatoes.