Sunday, August 31, 2003


I dried my tomatoes, really slowly in the oven, on and off all day, never higher than 120 degrees, dredged with coarse salt. Then when they were really plasticky, I rinsed off the salt, dried them in the oven for ten minutes and now they are in a jar in olive oil waiting to be eaten. hey hey hey. I love it when an experiment works.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

oven-dried tomatoes

Today I am mostly experimenting with oven drying some very large, mature, beautiful tomatoes from my mother-in-law's neighbour's garden. Dona Gloria must be an amazing gardener. Anyway, I will see how my experiment goes, using the oven, since we seem to have lost our super summer, ergo no SUN-drying.
If Lulu at Frittata e Zucchine sees this, do you have any tips for drying tomatoes? Dried tomatoes are unknown in Portugal, strangely, and though a huge favourite it Britain, we obviously don't have the hot summers to make them ourselves.

Sunday, August 17, 2003


This is for my fellow Desalinhada...a basic fish pie, english style (I'm sure my mother will prob have something to add or correct to this recipe)

You need...
half a kilo of any fish, good firm ones (pescada/whiting, corvina, cherne, salmão/salmon, tamboril/monkfish)
half a litre of milk

a glug of olive oil and a knob of butter
a big leek
a couple of handfuls of mushrooms (very finely chopped if the kids hate them)
a clove of garlic (1 dente)
2 large handfuls of grated cheddar or yellow gouda
1 tablespoon of flour.
1 tablespoon smooth french mustard
salt and pepper

lashings of mashed potato (not puré, all starchy á portuguesa, just mashed á inglesa with butter and a bit of salt)

First, in a shallow pan, bring the milk to a simmer then poach the fish gently in the milk for five or six minutes. take it off the heat, pull out as much of the flesh of the fish as you can and set it on one side. Then strain (and keep) the milk to catch the skin and bones. chuck out the skin and bones. Salvage any more of the flesh from the sieve before you throw it all away!

Then, in a larger pan, start frying the leek (sliced finely) in the oil and butter, then add the garlic and the mushrooms. Once these are lightly cooked, the leeks good and translucent, beat in the tablespoon of flour with a wooden spoon then start pouring in the saved milk, mixing well all the time to prevent lumps. Use up all the milk and then start with some fresh milk, bringing it to the boil, until you have a sauce that gloops and bubbles and plops as it boils (!) but not too thick. (as thick as yoghurt, again!). Take it off the boil, and throw in most of the cheese, all of the mustard and salt and pepper to season it.

Turn on the oven, to about 180ºC. smear a dish with butter, spread out the fish, keeping it in some good large lumps, then pour the sauce over it.
Then start putting the mashed potato on the top, working from the edges toward the middle, (then it doesn't sink while you're doing it). Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and bake for another 20 to thirty minutes OR make smaller ones and freeze them, then bake them when they come out of the freezer.

Eat with peas, piles of them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

a good breakfast for ambulante children

In that they can wander around eating it, all morning for all I care, and when they inevitably ditch it in the middle of their toys, not to be rediscovered for another six weeks, it will only shrivel up an dry out instead of making something nasty to make mummy almost throw up when she puts her hand in it during a desperate attempt to make the house look reasonable before mother in law gets here...

so, here are my cinnamon pancakes, desperately easy, no weighing, all by eye (I have been experimenting with my basic pancake mixture and am still to have a disaster, I just chuck it all in, and this is first thing in the morning when all I have on my mind is nappies, need for coffee, screaming children etc etc and no fine tuned delicate recipes..)

Food processor at the ready... chuck in:-
three eggs,
four times the volume of the eggs of plain flour and a tblspn baking powder (or just selfraising flour),
a pinch of salt, two tablespoons of sugar, two teaspoons of cinnamon
either one fifth of a pack of butter melted or equiv of olive or groundnut oil,
start with a teacup of milk

start whizzing up and start adding more milk. just add the milk until you have the consistency of thick creamy yoghurt, so it is pourable, but not too runny.

if you go too far in runniness, you can add a bit more flour.

make sure it is all whizzed until realy smooth.

cook them in a nonstick and you won't have to use ANY butter or oil to cook them. Pour in the mixture, when it starts bubbling on the top, turn it over, cook another thirty secs. done.

eat with bacon, syrup, honey, butter, ANYTHING you fancy, or give them to the small children let them eat them plain. (that's how I eat them, with nothing on... the pancake, not me....ooh, you know what I mean.)

Monday, August 04, 2003


If you think courgettes are the next most boring vegetables to carrots try this.

Grate some courgettes on a coarse grater. Heat some Olive oil in a frying pan. Throw in crushed garlic and chopped mint and stir a bit, then chuck in the courgettes and toss around till warmed through. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice and serve immediately or they'll go soggy.
Variation: Fry chopped up cooked potatoes till brown then add the above ingredients.


Sunday, August 03, 2003

Cozido à Portuguesa

Cozido à Portuguesa - Gastronomia de Portugal:
"oh god, I'd going to have to translate this...
1 frango ou meia galinha ; a small chicken or half a big one
1 salpicão ; one pickled pork sausage
1 chouriça de carne ; pork sausage (as in chouriço, not a banger!)
1 chouriço de sangue ; blood sausage
400 g de costelas (entrecosto) ; ribs
4 a 5 ossos de suã (espinhaço) ; vertabrae (!)
1 orelheira e beiça (focinho) ; pig's snout and ears
1 couve lombarda ; white cabbage
1 couve portuguesa ; green cabbage
5 cenouras ; carrots
3 nabos ; turnips
5 a 6 batatas ; potatoes
8 rabas (facultativo) ; hmmm, will have to get back to this one.
Para o arroz: For the rice..
750 g de arroz ; rice
1 cebola ; onion
2 dentes de alho ; cloves garlic
3 colheres de sopa de azeite ; olive oil
sal ; salt
pimenta pepper "

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Vit's Ma's cooking tips

If one has a semi vegetarian daughter - or sister - and feels it would be kinder to use vege gelatine to set a smoked haddock mousse -don't do it - it doesn't work. SOLUTION: LIE! (Said vege says she prefers the mousse unset anyway)

My newest cooking aid is an electric wok. OK, Chinese cooking purists might be appalled but with no mains gas in this beautiful (cool) spot out in the sticks and a simply divine Aga who's only fault is it won't heat a conventional wok, who cares - it works - we had steamed kippers for breakfast this morning. Is this fusion food - Scottish/Chinese?

Friday, August 01, 2003

What Vit wants but just can't GET, (in Portugal)

This is a list of foodish things I can't get here in Portugal, or rather, that I haven't been able to find. Just so you know. Just so you can feel sorry for me. OR, if anyone out there knows where I can get such things in the Metropolitan Lisbon Area LET ME KNOW, PLLLLEASE! There are some things on the list that I know I'll never be able to find, like decent cream, clotted or double, and that depresses me more than I can tell you.

Lemon grass,
Sichuan pepper,
Thai Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)
Spring Onions (I have found them once, by accident, in the last five years)
Golden syrup (is that corn syrup in US? not sure)
Double cream
Clotted cream
Bacon (like we NORTHERN Europeans eat it, all moist, big and wonderful, so far I have only found it in the El Corte Ingles "Foreign Food" fairs)
Heinz Baked Beans, (I know they're out there, but all my local supermarkets have given them up, all other brands just DON'T cut it)
Brown sauce
OXO cubes of all kinds (I don't care what nigella, nigel, jamie or any of the bloody groovy chefs say, THEY ARE USEFUL!)

That's today's list. There are many more things, but with this heat my brain ain't working. Anyone know, let ME know!