Sunday, April 24, 2005

Torta de Laranja - IMBB # 14

Thanks to Foodgoat and Ladygoat for hosting this month's edition of Is-My-Blog-Burning and the theme is orange.

This was an easy one for me. Mom's Recipe Book has plenty of recipes featuring oranges, not to mention the orange colour and the one I chose is an orange-based rolled pudding she used to make quite often.

"Torta de Laranja," can be translated maybe as Orange Roly-Poly. In Portuguese a torta is the name given to any confection baked in a low baking sheet and then rolled from one of the sides. In Italian and Spanish the word torta means pie. In Portuguese, like in French, we use the word tarte to mean pie and torta for the rolled confection. By the way, the Brazilians sometimes use rocambole instead of torta. According to my dicttionary, in Brazilian Portuguese a rocambole is a spirited dance. In mainland Portuguese we do not have the word rocambole, but we do have rocambolesco, which means entangled. Anyway leave it up to the Brazilians to come up with the cuttest expressions.

This recipe looks very involved but is really quite simple to make and the rolling gives it a very polished apearance. Tortas can be sweet or savoury and can have a filling or not. The texture of this dessert torta is pudding-like and it has no filling.

The trick with this recipe is to cover the bottom of the greased baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and them grease again. This will ensure that the pudding will unmold. Once baked this pudding will be slightly less than 1/2-inch in height and very fragile. Unmld it onto a clean piece of cloth or paper that has been well sprinkled with sugar. This cloth will then help you roll the pudding.

This dessert it is very sweet, so I recommend that you serve it with crème fraiche or maybe a little chantilly made with very little sugar.

Torta de Laranja

  • 250 gr. sugar (1 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp Port wine
  • Juice of 2 oranges (about 1 cup liquid)
Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking sheet and cover the bottom with parchment paper and grease again.
Mix well the butter and the sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. In the end add the Port wine and the orange juice and mix until well blended. The batter will be very liquid.
Put the pan in the pre-heated oven and cook for about 40 minutes or until you insert the tip of a knife in the pudding and it comes out clean.
While the pudding is cooking, prepare either a clean kitchen cloth or a sheet of parchment or wax paper to receive the cooked pudding. The cloth or paper has to be slightly larger than the pan you baked the pudding in. Sprinkle with sugar.
Take the pan out of the oven and wait about 5 minutes to let it cool a bit. The sides of the pudding should separate from the pan, but you can pass a knife around the sides of the pudding, just to make sure. Unmold ont the prepared cloth. Carefully, peel the parchment paper off. Choose the side you want to roll from. I rolled mine from the shorter side. With the help of the cloth, carefully roll your pudding. At the end, tighten the cloth a little bit around the roll, to help it keep its shape. Sometimes, as the puddingf cools it has a tendency to break at the sides. Keeping the cloth or paper around it for a while will help it keep its shape.
Carefully, peel the cloth off and transfer the torta to the serving plate. This quantity is enough for 4 people.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Cake de Macau

Again another of my mother's recipes for this mont's Sugar High Friday, and thanks to Derrick from An Obssession with Food for hosting this event and coming up with the theme.

Now molasses is not an ingredient that is very much used in Portuguese cookery so I thought that I might have to go somewhere else for my entry this time.

To my surprise, I found this recipe, named literally "Cake from Macao." The usage of the English work Cake in the name of the recipe is a dead give away that probably this recipe was British at one point in time, and just traveled from Hong Kong to Macao and then, as recipes get shared among friends and canasta parties, it ended up being called the cake from Macao.

I was intrigued by the usage of both brandy and anisette liqueur in this cake (I used Napoleon Cortel and Marie Brizard Anisette Liqueur), but the flavours were not discernible in the final product. The blackstrap molasses I used might be the culprit, its intense flavour overshadowing the other subtler flavours in the cake. I will have to try this recipe with a lighter molasses; it might prove to be less overpowering.
The cake is fine textured and very flavourful. The original recipe did not include baking powder but I did add some. Was afraid the cake would be too dense without it.

Cake de Macau
  • 200 gr. butter (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 200 gr. sugar (3/4 cup sugar + 2 tbsp)
  • 100 gr. raisins (1/2 cup)
  • 100 gr. mixed candied fruit (1/2 cup)
  • 250 gr. all-purpose flour (2 cups)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/8 cup anisette liqueur
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Add about 1/4 cup flour from the measured quantity and add to the fruits, mixing well to coat. Add the nutmeg and baking powder to the remaining flour and mix well.
Beat together butter and sugar until you get a pale cream. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the molasses, spirits and mix well. Finally add the flour mixture and mix until blended. Add the fruits.
Pour the batter into a well greased loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until done.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Mom's Recipes

In January 2004 I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer. Although mom did not consider herself a good cook (she always compared herself to my grandmother who was an excellent cook) she really was. Mom believed that food should be done leisurely and flavours should be allowed to develop and mingle. Supper in your plate in 20 minutes was not in her vocabulary and it showed. The food was carefully prepared, with ample time for flavours to develop and cooked slowly.

One day, when she was a young newlywed, she bought a plain lined book and started lovingly to write down the recipes that she gathered from friends and acquaintances, the newspaper, magazine, dishes, cakes, puddings, anything that she thought tasted good enough to write down. On the inside cover, she wrote her name and the date - 1957.

I now have that recipe book. Many of those recipes I saw mom make over and over again. The pages have smudges, drops of hastily cleaned sugared mess, notes over the recipes showing adaptations she introduced, or how the dessert/cake/dish looked.

I have decided to test all of mom's recipes and the events of the food blogs are a nice way to present them. Not only will I be able to follow her steps in the kitchen, from a young bride to a beloved grandmother, but will also be an opportunity to share her recipes with friends and family who remember the flavours.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Soupe d'orge et d'agneau avec des légumes

Today's recipe is my entry into blog appétit the French equivalent of IMBB and today's theme is lamb and peas. Since this is an entry for a French event I will proceed with the recipe in French. The English version, follows right after.

Celle-ci est une de mes soupes favorites, pleine de saveur et nutritive. Je la fais souvent. La recette originale a été conçue para Anne Lindsay et publié dans la revue Canadian Living, en janvier de 1999.

Soupe d'orge et d'agneau avec des légumes
  • 320 gr. d'épaule d'ageau sans os, coupé en morceaux
  • 1 litre de bouillon de boeuf
  • 1 litre d'eau
  • 125 ml d'orge perlé
  • 1 feuille de laurier
  • 1/2 chou-navet moyen, épluché et coupé en petits morceaux
  • 1 grosse carotte, coupée
  • 1 gros oignon, émincé
  • 1 grosse pomme de terre, épluchée et coupé en petits morceaus
  • 250 ml de petits pois fraîches ou surgelées
  • 3 gousses d'ail hachées
  • sel et poivre au goût
  • 1 cuillère a thé de thym
  • 1 poignée de persil frais haché
Coupez la viande en morceaux d'environs 2cm. Dans une casserole metez la viande, l'orge perlé, le liquide et amenez le tout au point d'ébullition; baissez le feu et laissez mijoter pendant 1 heure. Ajoutez le chou-navet, la carotte, l'oignon, la pomme de terre, les pois, l'ail et le thym. Continuez à mijoter pendant environ 20 minutes ou jusque les légumes sont tendres. Ajoutez du sel si necessaire, le poivre et le persil. Avant de servir, tirez la feuille de laurier. Ingrédients pour 8 personnes.

This is one of my favourite soups flavourful and nourishing. This recipe is an adaptation of an original by Anne Lindsay, and was published in the January 1999 issue of Canadian Living magazine. If I have a large rutabaga I usually use the whole vegetable and increase the portion of lamb by a little bit.

Lamb Barley Soup with Vegetables

  • 3/4 pound boneless lamb shoulder
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pot barley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups rutabaga, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
Trim fat from lamb and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. In a large soup pot combine lamb, stock, water, barley and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Add rutabaga, carrot, onion, potato, peas, garlic and thyme, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add salt if necessary, add the pepper and stir in the parsley. Before serving, discard the bay leaf.
Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Ground Beef with Mushrooms

Granted, this dish is not much to look at, but it is very tasty and very easy to do. Honestly, I don't know what to call it. I made it one day, many eons ago, and it started innocently enough as a possible pasta sauce.

In an attemp to cut the calories, I decided against using oil. So I freed the ground beef from the shrink wrap and dropped the whole thing in the hot pan. It sizzled as it was supposed to and, as the meat cooked and released some of its juices, I added the chopped onion, garlic, celery, a little wine, a bouillon cube, and finally some sliced mushrooms. By this time it smelled divine and I thought it would be a crime to smother it in tomato sauce. I tasted a bit and was won over.

Ever since, I have made this recipe often, every time I don't want to or have no time to do a more elaborate dish. You can serve it with potatoes, rice, or just some bread and butter. I decided to go low-carb today and served it with sliced tomato sprinkled with oregano and a green salad.

Ground Beef with Mushrooms

  • 1 pound extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (or less if you think I'm overdoing it)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 to 5 ribs celery, sliced (1 1/2 cups thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
Heat a medium-sized pan and drop the ground beef in it. As the beef browns, it has a tendency to clump together. Break the clumps with a wooden spoon to allow the ground beef to cook evenly. As the meat looses its pink colour, add the chopped onion, the garlic and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to moderate and let the meat cook stirring every now and then. As the liquid disappears, add the wine and the bouillon, let cook until the bouillon cube melts and then add the mushrooms. Season with freshly ground pepper. I do not use salt because I find the bouillon provides enough. Let cook gently for about 5 minutes or so, just until the mushrooms wilt.
This recipe makes 3 servings.

Monday, April 11, 2005


Almost 10 years ago I found this jewel of a cookbook on a garage sale. It cost me 25 cents. I love old cookbooks. This one "The Art of Coking and Serving", by Sarah Field Splint, Editor Food Department of McCall's Magazine, was printed in 1929.

The book has 549 tested recipes and was published as a vehicle for Crisco shortening. I do not use Crisco but have tried and adopted several reciped using butter instead of Crisco.

It is an excellent reference book. For instance, the recipe for white sauce is displayed in a table showing the ingredients on the vertical side and the quantities for thin, medium, thick, and very thick sauce on the horizontal side. Very useful. The same applies for muffins. The recipes for 8 types of muffins are also displayed on a table. It also has a chapter on large quantity cooking, featuring recipes for 50 servings.

Again, this is a small book, 5 x 7.5 inches, with 252 pages. A beautiful little thing.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Potato and Tuna Salad

Several weks ago I purchased a small cookbook on sale at Loblaws, our biggest supermarket here in Canada. Loblaws carries about 3 or 4 shelves with magazines and cookbooks and every now and then they place a big bin in the middle of the store where they throw all the books on sale. When the bin is there this becomes a popular spot at the supermarket, crammed full of shopers searching for a bargain.

The book I bough is from the series Super Cookery from Parragon Publishing in the UK and, as far as I can see, does not have an author. It measures 5 x 6 inches and it is about 2-inches thick. I love these small books. It is called "Potatoes and Vegetables" and, of course, it features potatos in every recipe. It has a recipe per every two pages: the recipe on the left and the picture on the right. Most recipes also include two or three smaller pictures showing the steps.

The first recipe I tried was this one. It is full of flavour and it is excellent for lunch. My picture does not do it justice.

Potato and Tuna Salad

  • 1 lb new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup canned corn, drained
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 10oz canned tuna in water, drained and flaked
  • 2 tbsp chopped and pitted black olives
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • lime wedges, to garnish
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • finely grated rind of 1 lime
Serves 4

Steam the potatos por about 15 to 20 minutes or until done. Drain and set aside to cool.

Gently stir in the green pepper, the corn and sliced red onion. Spoon the potato mixture into a large serving bowl and arrange the flaked tuna and chopped black olives over the top. Season the salad with salt and freshly ground pepper.

To make the dressing, mash the garlic in a mortar with a pestle and add the remaining ingredients. Spoon the dressing onto the tuna, garnish with lime wedges and serve.

I did use fingerlings and did not use the green pepper. Also, I did not bother with the lime wedge. Instead, I mixed the salad with micro-greens. What you see in the picture is a salad in the plastic container that I use for work. At this state everything was already mixed and it does not look as pretty as when first put together.

The book includes a "Cook's tip" that reads: Served with acrisp white wine, this salad makes the perfect light lunch for summer or winter.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Yesterday's dessert: Orange Jelly with Lemon and Cardamom

Niki from Esurientes - The Comfort Zone submitted this wonderful gelatin pudding for Sugar High Friday's #3. I love gelatin puddings but do not like your garden variety Jell-O brand which is nothing but sugar and food colouring. I n the picture below I was planning to put creme fraiche around it so that the yellow pudding could shine through. Unfortunately I dropped a blob of creme fraiche on top and that's what you see.

The difference between my recipe and Niki's I used President's Choice Organic's 100% Pure Orange Juice with Pulp, instead of going through the trouble of squeezing the juice out of the oranges, I used powdered gelatine and did not add water to the juices.

Orange Lemon Jelly with Cardamom

  • 4 cups of 100% pure orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons powdered gelatine
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 1 pink grapefuit
  • 1 lemon
Squeeze the grapefruit and the lemon, mix both juices and set aside. Put about 1 cup of orange juice into a small stainless steel pan, sprinkle the gelatine over it and set aside to soften. Pour the remaining orange juice into a saucepan. Break open the cardamom pods by pressing on them with the side of a large knife and add the whole lot to the orange juice. Heat the juice over medium heat, but do not allow it to boil. As soon as the juice is about to start bubbling, cover it with a lid and turn off the heat. Leave it to cool for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime heat the gelatine over gentle heat until melted. Add to the large pan of orange juice and add the grapefuit/lemon juices. Divide the mixture into 1/2-cup size gelatine containers, let cool completely and refrigerate for about 2 hours or until set.

Makes about ten/eleven 1/2 cup servings.

This gelatine has no sugar added and the grapefuit and lemon juices make it rather tart. I did not remove the cardamom pods. In fact I left the whole thing to float into the small containers. Once unmolded, the cardamom pieces could be seen inside the gelatine. Of course, if making this for company I would remove the cardamom bits. The flavour of cardamom is subtle and guests might not be able to identify it, but there is a difference from straight citrus juice that is extremelly appealing.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Dinner tonight - Jennifer's Roast Chicken

Today I had a wonderful dinner, courtesy of Jennifer from "Roast Chicken Reasoning" blog for the main course and Niki (Esurientes - The Comfort Zone) for dessert. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of the whole meal as I intended, so tomorrow I'll write about Niki's Orange Jelly. It certainly deserves a full entry.

Jennifer's recipe for the herb/salt rub caught my attention. I had made roast chicken before, a little salt, a little freshly ground pepper, some dabs of butter, some wine for basting and that was it. Althought I use herbs often in my cooking, I have never used them in roast chicken. The concept of a rub was not something I was familiar with. So I decided to give it a try and let me tell is out of this world.

I prepared the rub as per Jennifer's instructions but I did increase the garlic content. For a bona-fide Portuguese, 12 cloves of garlic for 1 pound of salt just ain't enough. I used 20 cloves instead. The kitchen smelled divine and below you can see how the rub looked.

I roughly followed Jennifer's instructions for preparing and roasting the chicken. In the end, the only thing I did before taking the picture of the roasted bird was to brush it with some of the oil pooled in the roasting pan. It was all that was needed to give it a little shine.

I was in a rush when I got home and did not wait for the chicken to warm to room temperature and I had to give an extra 10 minutes to the cooking time. Letting the chicken rest for 15 minutes was also a novel concept for me, but it was worth the wait.

I certainly learned how to roast a chicken and, after tasting this bird, I cannot go to my old way of preparing roast chicken. It will just not do.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Favas Guisadas (Braised Fava Bean)

Braised fava beans stew is one of my favourite dishes. It is easy to make, redolent of the garlic, chorizo, and fresh coriander leaves that go into it and shock-full of flavour.

There are many recipes for favas guisadas. Some use the dark blood sausage as well as the chorizo, some do not use onion, only garlic, and some spoon the prepared stew into slices of bread. When I make this dish I can either use the blood sausage or not, depending on availability. This recipe does not use it. I served it with a slice of buttered sourdough bread, a simple salad of micro-greens and a glass of Mateus Rosé I had languishing in my fridge.

Fava beans are available in the fall and they are like giant green beans, with large, flat seeds inside. Fava bean season is not a long one and very often I use frozen fava beans, which I find quite acceptable in taste and texture. Use fresh fava beans early in the season when they are at their best and very tender. Good quality frozen beans are also tender. In the picture below you can see the ingredients used in this recipe.

Chouriço (shore-EE-so) is a Portuguese sausage made with pork. The meat is cut into chunks and marinated for about fifteen days in a marinade of red wine, lots of garlic, salt, pepper and sweet paprika, then stuffed into casings and smoked for about three months or until cured.
Toucinho, as you can see in the picture, is like bacon but prepared without the sugar.

Favas Guisadas

2 oz toucinho or bacon, cut into small cubes
1 onion, chopped
4 to 5 large cloves garlic finely sliced
750 grs of frozen fava beans (about 4 cups shelled beans)
About 4 to 5 inches of chouriço, thinly sliced
1/4 small bunch fresh coriander (I did not have, so I used parsley)
1 large bay leaf or 2 small ones

Put a dutch oven on the stove and switch on the element at a very low setting (mark 3). Cut the bacon into small cubes and drop it into the dutch over. The bacon fat will be rendered slowly. Once rendered, add the onion and the garlic. Continue cooking over gentle heat for about 15 minutes, until the onion is transparent and limp.

Add the frozen favas, two tablespoons of water, the sliced chouriço and the coriander or parsley, well washed. The herbs do not need to be chopped, but you can do it if you prefer. Add the bay leaf. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Cover the dutch over and let cook slowly. Every now and then shake the dutch oven to move stuff around but do not open, before at least 45 minutes have passed.

The stew is ready when the favas have lost their bright green colour and the skin is wrinkled. Stick you fork into one. It should be very tender. If you fell resistance the favas are not ready.

This dish can be done a little faster, by increasing the heat. You must add 1/4 cup water and you will need to use a wooden spoon to mix the stew and avoid it being scorched or have the favas stuck to the pan. The mixing with a spoon will result in the legumes being broken and some mashed at the end of the cooking time.

Update note on April 7, 2005: I just realized, by reading on cooking terms, that "guisado", something usually cooked slowly with little liquid added should be called "braised" instead of "stew". Stews usually have lots of liquid added to the peparation.