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.


Warm Citrus & Herb Olives

Recipe by Paula.

Once you've tried these olives, you will want no others. Warming the olives really brings out their heady aroma and taste. Addictive doesn't begin to describe them. Trust me, you will find yourself making these olives often. These are perfect when served with a glass of wine before dinner....your guests will fall in love with them too. These olives will awaken your guests' senses and their appetite.

I enjoy these olives with the heat of the peppers but you can leave the peppers out and it will still be wonderful. Enjoy!

Makes: 2 cups


1 cup green olives, not packed in oil, drained
1 cup black olives, not packed in oil, drained
1/2 cup fruity olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried marjoram

(optional) 2 dried piri piri peppers, crushed (or 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes)
zest of one lemon, cut into thin strips
zest of one orange, cut into thin strips
Splash balsamic vinegar


1. Over medium heat, warm oil in a medium saucepan.

2. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes until fragrant.

3. Add the thyme, oregano, marjoram and the peppers (if using). Cook and stir often for 1 minute.

4. Add the lemon and orange zest, cook & continue to stir for another 1 minute.

5. Add olives and a splash of balsamic vinegar, continue to stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the olives are warm.

6. Serve immediately or let it cool and reheat before serving.


Port Kissed Chocolate Mousse

Recipe by Paula.

This is my favourite chocolate mousse recipe. The sophisticated taste combination of bittersweet chocolate, vanilla and hint of Port will make this a favourite in your home as well. It's been a trusted dessert for my dinner parties.....but I most enjoy serving this luscious mousse when it's just the two of us and we can lick the spoons and bowls clean. ;) Enjoy!

Serves 4

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon port
pinch of salt

Strawberry Garnish:
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Port

Whipped Cream Garnish:
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
powdered sugar to taste

1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter over simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks for 2 minutes. Continuing to beat the eggs, add the sugar until the eggs thicken and the batter falls in ribbons. Add the Port, vanilla and cooled chocolate to the egg mixture. Mix until thoroughly blended.

3. In another bowl, combine the egg whites and salt. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the egg/chocolate mixture until smooth. Then fold in the remaining 2/3 egg whites. Blend well but don't over mix.

4. Pour the mousse into your serving dishes, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours but it's even better left overnight.

5. To make the garnish, combine the sliced strawberries with enough sugar to sweeten them and the Port. Let the berries macerate for at least 1/2 hour before serving.

6. In a bowl, beat the whipping cream, vanilla and powdered sugar until you get medium peaks.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
7. Serve the mousse topped with whipped cream and strawberries.


Steak With Coffee Sauce

Recipe by Paula.

I first tried this dish on my last trip to Portugal. Now, the combination of meat and coffee might seem a little strange at first but I fell in love with it. The bitterness of the coffee goes well with the sweetness of beef, especially sirloin. You can always adjust the strength of the coffee to suit your taste. Weaker coffee, milder taste. If you like a strong coffee flavour, use a shot of espresso instead. You can also adjust the amount of cream you use to get just the right flavour combination for yourself. Enjoy!

Serves 2

2 6 oz sirloin steaks, room temperature
2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
1 bay leaf
Good splash of Port or red wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup strong coffee

1. Rub both sides of the steaks with the garlic then season with salt and pepper. Reserve the garlic.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. The frying pan should be just big enough to hold both steaks.

3. Add the steaks and cook on both sides until you achieve your desired doneness. For medium, I do 2-3 minutes per side. Remove the steaks from the pan and cover with foil to keep warm.

4. Add last tablespoon of butter, smashed garlic and the bay leaf to the pan. Cook for 1 minute taking care to not let the garlic burn.

5. Increase the heat to medium high and add a good splash of port or red wine to the pan. Stir and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

6. Add the cream, coffee and any meat juices from the reserved steaks to the pan. Adjust the salt and pepper to your liking. Let the mixture bubble up and thicken to sauce consistency. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve to catch the garlic & bay leaf.

7. Plate the steaks and spoon the sauce over them. Serve with roast or fried potatoes.


Eggs with Peas and Chourico "Ovos com Ervilhas e Chourico"

Recipe by Paula.

Portuguese cuisine is full of comforting dishes and this is one of my favourites. A one pot wonder that will fill your belly and soothe your soul. Chourico is a Portuguese cured pork sausage. If you can’t find it, you can substitute it with Spanish chorizo but it won’t be as authentic. Serve this dish with crusty bread and some white wine. Enjoy!

Serve 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 (7-8 inch) piece chourico (sweet or hot), thinly sliced
1 cup chopped pancetta or thick bacon
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 (27 oz) can canned tomatoes, pureed with liquid
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups peas, fresh or frozen (thawed)
6 eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika


1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add oil and butter and heat for 30 seconds. Add chourico and pancetta and cook until browned and edges are crispy. Remove the chourico and pancetta from the skillet with a slotted spoon and reserve.

2. To the skillet, add onions and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the onions for 5 minutes or until they are softened and browned. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add wine and deglaze the pan. Cook until the wine has reduced by half.

3. Add tomatoes, lemon juice and bay leaves. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add 1/2 of the parsley (reserve the rest for garnish) and red pepper flakes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.

4. Add the peas, increase heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the reserved chourico and pancetta and cook for another 3 minutes.

5. Carefully break 6 eggs into the peas (the eggs will sink into the peas slightly). Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a little sweet paprika over each egg yolk.

6. Cover and cook until the eggs are done to your liking; 6-7 minutes for runny eggs and 8-9 for fully cooked. Remove bay leaves.

7. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and drizzle with a little olive oil. Serve with some crusty bread to sop up all the sauce.

Bolinhos de Laranja "Little Orange Cakes"

Recipe by Paula.

I love the simplicity of Portuguese desserts. These little cakes have a lovely orange flavour and are so moist and delicate. They are perfect for an afternoon tea, wedding or baby shower. These little cakes are easy to make and be sure to make lots, they won't last long. Enjoy!

Makes 24

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

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 muffin pans.

2. In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest.

3. In a separate bowl combine eggs and sugar and beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until the eggs are pale yellow and fall in ribbons. Stir in orange juice, butter and vanilla until well combined.

4. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. The mixture will froth a little. Pour the batter into the muffin cups filling them 3/4 of the way up.

5. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Sprinkle the top of each cake with some sanding sugar and return pans to the oven. Turn the oven off and leave them in there for 2 minutes.

6. Allow the pans to cool 5 minutes then run a knife around the edge of each cake and gently unmold. Let the cakes cool completely.