As promised, i’m back just to let you know that life is much better with good food and too short to drink bad wine!
But first i need to show you some pictures taken recently, outdoors, away from crowds or noisy people. You know, despite the terrible times we’re all going through, i believe i live in Paradise, not only for the weather, yes you can drive for 10 minutes out of the city of Faro and be at the sea, but because of the people.It’s the simplicity of the genuine human beeings that makes me love home, even when i travel out of the country!
So i went to walk Cuca, my lovely female Spaniel Breton yesterday in the neighborhood of Faro. Since she loves the water and the temperature is warming up right now, i made a short cut before Praia de Faro, our island in Ria Formosa. Just before the entrance and the first roundabout with a big statue of a crab, you have the starting of a trail that for more incredible that you may think is private property!! For more than 20 years it has been my route to be in contact with nature and now is one of the most popular trails in Algarve to do bird watching! A stopping place for hundreds of different birds during the spring and autumn migratory periods it is a MUST SEE spot when you visit the region!
Making a long story short, i was enjoying her company and childish plays ( she is only 4 month old ) when a gentleman comes by after beeing with his legs inside the water up to the knee for some time.I had seen him, in a glimpse, at a distance but not knowing what he was looking for. I do know a lot about the activity of ‘’mariscadores’’people who are expertized in seafood nurseries, either as a guide or by talking to fishermen . There are seafood farms ( including grooved carpet shell harvesting ) in this Natural Park, however this man was too far for me to distinguish. Our Ria Formosa has been, undoubtly, along the history, an immense source of seafood and fish. The Ria Formosa is a lagoon, located in the Algarve, in southern Portugal, and works as a system of barrier islands that communicates with the sea through six inlets. Five of these inlets are natural and have mobility characteristics. The sixth is an artificial inlet that was opened with the purpose of allowing easier access to the port of Faro.
So, what was this man carrying out of the water with him? Well, something not to common for the rest of the world..legs of crabs, simply and only one big leg taken out of a crab that stays alive regardless.It’s ok, another one will grow on its place, and many many people will pay good money for this tasty seafood! Each person can only take 3 kilos. I think he was carrying more, therefore he made me promise i wouldn’t catch him on the several pictures i took meanwhile.
A lot of our grandma recipes are based on that: ameijoas ( big black clams ), caranguejos (crabs) camarões ( shrimps ), lingueirão ( seafood in shape of knives ). And they are all coming from this side of the sea ( yes, it is salted water from the Atlantic, not Rio (river) but Ria ( branch of the sea ) that washes our coast from Faro till Cacela Velha ( another MUST SEE spot in the Algarve!)
In this way let’s open the chapeter of traditional dishes of the Algarve that can be included in this Mediterranean Diet. Hope you’ll be able to find the ingredients where you live, otherwise let me know how can i help you.
And the first or perhaps the main dish our region has to offer you is the queen at the table: Cataplana! The cataplana is traditionally made of copper and shaped like two clamshells hinged at one end and able to be sealed using a clamp on either side of the assembly. Cataplanas can also be made of aluminium.However when we order one, we have a long list to choose from as we cook several recipes on it.In this way, before you order, make sure which are your favourite ingredients and if you have no allergies to seafood.Most of them are based on seafood.
Also, if it is coppermade you can use it on the stove ; otherwise for glass-ceramic you need to buy one made of steel.
I will not talk about the item itself, that i usually show you on my tour ‘’Meet the artisans’’ https://precious-time.pt/grupo3-1.html. It is definetly with pride that i walk you to the artisans working place and let you travel back in time, to see and understand how some arts and traditions should be kept alive.
I will share with you my way of cooking it! I just made two the past week- end for relatives from the north who die for it!
CATAPLANA ‘’a la Rose’’
Ingredients for 4 people :
( Please buy fresh, not canned )
3 big onions
6 well ripe tomatoes
2 red fresh peppers
400 grams of chicken brest chopped in cubes (you can change it for pork meat if you prefer)
500 grams of clams
500 grams of shrimps ( size 60/80 from Nigeria or Mozambique )
1 red sausage
1 black sausage
White wine – 1dl
The way to cut the veggies is always the same: rings.
Start by placing the onions at the bottom.This is going to be done on layers:first onions,then tomato and finally red pepper.Upon them, a full hand of clams, the freshest you can get as this is the sea taste you want to have on the meat.Shrimps come after.
Meanwhile i season the chicken meat with garlic and black pepper and a few drops of lemon.In small cubes you can add it row.Otherwise you would have to pre frie the chicken to put in the cataplana. After this last layer of chicken you just have to start it all again, adding here and there the aromatic herbs.
The top should have a nice set up of shrimps, as this will show how artistic you became when you open the cataplana in front of your guests.
Take it to cook slowly for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare a sauce with white wine, tomato sauce and maizena.Open the lid 20 minutes after cooking and pour this sauce on the top.Shake, shake, shake and leave it cooking for another 10 minutes.
Voliá! It’s ready to eat!!
You can also cook a vegetarian Cataplana, with veggies, mushrooms and tofu.
Any doubts please ask me filling up the form on this blog.Always available!
If you ever come to Faro let me know that i can take you to a cooking experience where you’ll learn by cooking it yourself.
Sparkling Quinta dos Abibes sublime
PAPAS DE XARÉM
Do you happen to know italian cusine? If yes, you must know polenta for sure! We are not imitating but xarém is a very algarvian dish result of the marriage of land and sea. Probably dishes based on corn and bread like xerem and açorda, so popular nowadays, are a result of difficult times, crisis or wars when people had not much more choice to eat than what they were planting. Later on, and believing human beeings were more fair and generous in trading, farmers would negociate their products with fisherman and splendid and rich dishes came real.This is one of them. Earlier, only people from inland Algarve would cook corn. Until someone started using their creativity to add suasages or clams . Xarém or Papas de Milho can even be a side dish of grilled sardines.
Here goes my favourite recipe:
Ingredients for 4 people :
- 1 kg of clams;
100 grams of smoked bacon;
100 grs of chorizo;
100 grams of ham;
200 grs of corn flour;
1 dl of white wine;
salt to taste;
Wash the clams carefully to to free them of impurities they may contain. Normally i bring sea water from the market that the sellers are so happy to hand me. However you can cover them with salted tap water for 4 or 5 hours.That should be fine.Here in the Algarve all the fresh ones sold in markets have been in specific facilities for that purpose so that work is done.
- Cut the bacon and ham into small strips and the chorizo slices.
- Fry them in a frying pan over low heat.
- Remove the clams from the water.
- Bake them in a pan, covered with water, for about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Drain the liquid where you cooked them, taking care to pass it through a fine strainer.
- Take the kernels out of the clams.
- Pour this into a pan, add the cooking broth, add the wine and bring to the heat, letting it boil a little.
- Sift the flour using a sieve.
- Remove the pan and, outside the heat, add the flour to avoid lumps.
- Bring to the heat again and let it cook, stirring occasionally.
Add the meat and serve very hot.
- If one day you’re hanging around doing nothing and feeling hungry please call me that i will take you to the closest lovely village to enjoy a full plate of xerém.
What about wine to go along? Still white is the best choice, may be a dry young white.
V.R. PENÍNSULA DE SETÚBAL
As far as starters is concerned we love ‘’azeitonas’’ black or green olives.When we have a
friend owning orchards we volunteer to help on the harvesting season, around November, with the guarantee that we’ll return with a full bag of them to prepare. Algarvian people are known for their skills on making a special preparation that we call: Azeitonas Britadas
- Olives “manzanilha’’ – green
- Bay leaf
Preparation Crush the olives (it means crushing the olives lightly, without breaking the wagon, with a stone. Then wash and place the olives in a container with water. The water must be changed every day to remove the bitter taste of the olives. Then season with oregano, bay leaf, lemon and salt. The olives are kept in a cool place and last for about two to three months.
AND FOR DESERT ?
HONEY, ORANGE & OLIVE PUDDING
- 8 eggs
- 500g of sugar (I used sugar cane yelow )
- 1 c. (soup) of orange zest
- 1 c. (soup) of lemon zest
- 100 g of honey
- 0.5 dl of extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Butter a cake pan with flour and set aside. In a bowl place the eggs and sugar and incorporate with your hands so that the sugar is completely broken (alternatively use a mixer and a wire stick and beat at low speed). Add the orange and lemon zest, honey and olive oil and mix until all the ingredients are well connected. Pour the preparation into the pan and bake about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan.
You see, we portuguese love to socialize, specially around a big table .It is a lot of work you may say, but the pleasure of chatting and eating, and drinking is for sure worth it!!
Hope you’ll have as much fun as i do on your gastronomic experiences! Take your time to prepare everything and put your love and care on it!
There is no way you can fail!