Portuguese food

The food of Portugal is rich, & has a depth of intensity just like its people.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Scrambled Eggs with Chorizo

This is the type of food I enjoy cooking when I'm feeling lazy.
I made this for dinner one night when I didn't feel like cooking. It so easy to make, 10 minutes tops.
Portuguese always have chorizo at hand it's a staple for any Portuguese kitchen.
You can make this for breakfast, brunch, or dinner.

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tab olive oil
  • pinch salt & pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 100g chorizo
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tab chopped parsley, reserving some to garnish at the end
Crack the eggs into a bowl adding the milk, parsley, salt & pepper.
Heat a pan on medium heat adding the olive oil, then fry the onions & chorizo for 3 min till slightly brown, then add the garlic, cooking till the onions are soft.
Turn the heat up to high & then pour the egg mixture into the pan & stirring the eggs with a wooden spoon till the egg is cooked.
Sprinkle a bit of parsley on top of the cooked eggs.
I served the eggs with an olive & onion bread
Serves 2 people 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Codfish Cakes - Pasteis de Bacalhau

Bacalhau (dried salted codfish) to the Portuguese is what soy sauce is to Asians & what pasta is to the Italians. It plays such a huge part in the Portuguese diet & its psyche & without it, a huge part of its identity would go.
Codfish is almost always used dried and salted; the Portuguese invented this form of preserving the codfish long before refrigeration, a way to bring back their catch.
It's said there is 365 ways to make bacalhau, one for everyday of the year.

As a kid I wasn't keen on bacalhau, especially when it was made in the traditional way of boiling it with potatoes & vegetables & dressing it with olive oil & vinegar.
There is probably only about 4 ways that I like to eat my bacalhau & this dish is of course one of them.

Traditionally these cod cakes are made for special occasions, although you find then all over Portugal at local taverns & cafes, eaten as an entree or snack.
I've seen people use fresh fish for this dish thinking it's nicer or are a bit intimidated using dried codfish but try this version first, the taste is unique & well worth it.
These are addictive, there is no way you'll stop at 1 or 2.
Codfish cakes are eaten at room temperature usually on the same day as their made.

There are two ways to buy your bacalhau here in Australia, the first is in cutlet pieces, this comes with skin & bones, which have to be removed, or in a packet, which has the skin &bones removed.
I recommend the packet as it makes it so much more convenient.
Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the dryed codfish still in the packet before it was hydrated.

  •  1kg potatoes
  • 600g dryed cod (bacalhau)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 bunch parsley chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 white onion,peeled & grated, juice squeezed out
  • 1 teaspoon salt

1. Before you use codfish( bacalhau) you need to soak it to remove the excess salt, for 15-20hrs.
What I do is soak the fish the night before, after dinner I rinse the fish first to remove excess salt & then put it in a large bowl with enough water to completely cover it. Cover the bowl & refrigerate.
Then in the morning I remove the water & refill with fresh water & then leave it too soak a further  4 or 5 hours, changing the water at least another 2 times within this period . The way I know if enough salt has been removed is, I taste a bit of the cod.

2. Peel the potatoes & cook them in water until there soft.
Then strain the water from the cod & put the codfish in side a saucepan with cold water & bring to the boil.
As soon as the water has boiled the fish is cooked, strain the fish.
Put the cooked codfish inside a blender with the garlic cloves, grated onion & blend, till it's pulverised.

3. In a bowl add the pulverised codfish & the chopped parsley.
    When the potaotoes are cooked mash them.

4. Add the codfish, potatoes, salt together & then add the eggs, mixing till well combined.

5. With 2 tablespoons shape the mixture into quenelles.
     Fry the quenelles in clean medium/hot oil   

  • Codfish is a firm textured fish, slightly dry, so there is no need to add flour to the mixture to hold it together
  • Squeezing the water out of the onion is necessary otherwise the extra water will make the mixture more watery
  • Frying oil must always be fresh otherwise the mixture will absorb the oil & be oily & horrible to eat
  • Weigh the codfish when it's still salted & not hydrated
  • Don't oversalt the dish, fry a small piece & taste it fist to see if you have enough salt added
  • You can buy you dryed codfish at any deli or if your in Sydney you can go to:
Charlie's Deli
37 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham
Ph: 9560 4037

Monday, April 12, 2010

Portuguese supermarkets

One of the supermarket chains I visited on a regular basis when I was travelling Portugal was the Continente
The continente sells food, alcohol, clothes, dinnerware, books, there's a coffee shop that sells sweets & where you can take a break & have a coffee, everything & anything you could think of, this store has it all, it's Kmart meets Coles.

This store was huge & was located in a local shopping mall close to where my in-laws lived. The first thing that strikes you when you walk into this mall is the smell of dried codfish, amongst all the fashion boutiques, & of course the locals don't notice, it's a really strong smell, a bit like fish sauce.

This supermarket was a foodies dream for me. Sure they had the normal junk food, like any western country, but they also had such wonderful produce.
I'm a huge fan of outdoor markets & specialty food stores, I just love that a supermarket can also give you the choice of really good produce.

The Portuguese are big on their small goods, cheese, & bread.
These items are bought in large quantities, which only last for a few days or for the week.
It's not uncommon for them to buy 1kg piece of prosciutto (prosunto).
There are several ways to buy youre prosciutto in Portugal, you can buy a whole piece weighting up to 20kg, or you can buy a smaller whole piece weighting 1kg.
Slices can be bought, but it's not the most common or traditional way to buy your prosciutto.
Of course their are many who live in small villages that make their your own prosciutto from the pig that was killed in December.

 I just had to take a photo of this trolley. At the time I just thought it was so ingenious, not having to hold my basket but pulling it, it made total sense to me,  I don't know why we don't have these here . Ah, the comfort of just rolling your goods around.
How many times have you gone into a supermarket just wanting to pick up a few things then grabbing a few extra things, before you know it you have too much to carry in a basket & too little to grab a trolley. These could solve that dilemma.

 These are a variety of packaged smoked meats such as chorizo, dry pork sausage(linguica),& blood sausage (chorizo de sangue)

This is something I had never seen before whole prosciutto (prosunto) just hanging  in a supermarket, this is when you know your in Europe.

The cheese variety was unbelievable, most of these where from different regions of Portugal.
Different areas produce a different type of cheese giving a different texture & flavour.
The prices were so cheap between 2 to 12 euros for these peices.

Smaller pieces of prosciutto if you call these small. This would do a Portuguese house hold for a week.
Proscuitto is eaten with bread & fruit & cheese as well as added into cooking.

I get so excited at seeing this quality, especially in a supermarket. This is what you'd expect to see in a specialty cheese shop. The type of cheese more commonly eaten in Portugal is goat & sheep cheese, which is the type of cheese featured in this photo.
Cow cheese is imported & still eaten by the portuguese.

Fantastic wood fired bread. On the left is Broa which is a corn bread from the north & Pao de Centeio which is Barley bread. I loved the barley bread, it has this chewy texture & a nutty flavour, my favourite bread in Portugal.

    Food isles where huge, sometimes double the size of what you find here in Australia.
    Is that a good thing, not sure, could take twice as long to do your shopping.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy Easter - Folar de Pascoa (Sweet Easter Bread)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. It's been a while since I've celebrated Easter, but since my 5 year old nephew has come to live with my husband & I several months ago we seem to celebrate all those holidays that kids love.
When you see easter from a childs perspective it's a time of wonder & magic, a time full of chocolate, as an adult you forget how these days felt.
I awoke on Easter morning to find my nephew eating a chocolate bunny, a smile on his face, as well as chocolate.
I wanted to reprimande him as he's not allowed to eat junk food on a regular basis, but then I thought hey it's easter, if he can't eat chocolate on this day then when, so I left him to it.
My husband & sister in law are happy they tell me, since I started this blog, because they get to taste all their childhood favorites, they devoured this folar.
To be honest I've never made a folar which is a sweet bread, my mum makes them every year, I decided that since easter was here that I had to road test Portugals famous Easter bread, & report back.
Folar is to the Portuguese what hot cross buns are to Australians.
Folar is made differently from region to region, in the north it's made with yeast, like a sweet bread & in the south it's made more like a cake, the similarity are that they all have boiled eggs in them.
Traditionally their made with aniseed but I'm not a fan of this spice so I substituted it for nutmeg.
Because of easter I made the sweet one but there are many types of folar that have different types of meat. I hope to bring you this version in a future post. 


520g plain flour
15g yeast
50g sugar
90g butter
2 eggs
200ml milk, tepid
2 tea cinnamon
2 tea nutmeg whole or ground
1/2 tea salt
4 boiled eggs

1. Warm  the milk till just tepid. In a bowl add the milk, yeast & sugar, leave in awarm place until the yeast bubbles & grows, about 10 minutes.

2. Measure out the flour, cinnamon,nutmeg,salt & combine all together in a bowl.
When the yeast mixture has doubled in size, mix in the eggs.

  3. Combine the eggy yeast mixture to the flour. Combine all together, till a ball forms.

4. Once the dough is combined, knead for 3 min.

5. Put a tea bowl on top of the bowl & leave to rest in a warm place, till it's doubled in size.

6. Once the dough has doubled in size punch it down & knead again for 3 min. Then cut a small piece
of dough, roll 2 rope size pieces.

7. Entwine the 2 pieces together, to make this pattern. Then repeat the process. You will meed 4 of these.
8. Line a cake pan with baking paper, then put the rest of the dough into the pan. With the patterned dough line around the base dough, then add the other two on top to form a cross.
Then place the boiled eggs in the spaces left & brush the top with an egg. Leave for 5 minutes until the dough rises.
Bake at 190 degrees for 40 min.

I've included a photo of my mums version. As my mum gives us one of hers each year I decided to make a folar from the north. My husband & sister in law appreciated this as their parents come from the north.
It was great to have their opinion on my one.

  • The milk should be warm, if it's too hot, it will kill the yeast.
  • You dont have to knead the dough as much as you would normal bread dough
  • If you dont like eggs you can put apples or pears through the dough mix