Aletria recipe

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This is a lovely rich dessert that’s served in Portugal at festive times of the year. So simple, you might even already have the ingredients in the cupboard or fridge.

 

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Ingredients

 

90g thin rice noodles, broken into 5cm pieces

110g caster sugar

300ml milk

3 egg yolks, beaten

30g butter

1 dsp cinnamon

2 pieces of lemon rind, try not to include the pith

 

 

Method

 

• Place milk, sugar and lemon rind in a heavy-based saucepan.

• Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

• Add rice noodles, keep stirring until mixture goes creamy.

 

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• Add butter and wait for it to melt.

• Add egg yolks, stir once and immediately take off the heat to avoid curdling.

• Pour mixture onto a flat dish or onto a plate or two.

• Sprinkle cinnamon on the top, as creatively as you like!

• Slice cold and serve on a plate with a fork.

 

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Ossobuco recipe

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Literally “hollow bone”, this Italian dish is braised veal shank simmered in a rich tomato sauce.

Ossobuco is special occasion food – a treat for Christmas or Easter – or something you might order in a restaurant.

Or you can make it at home, like this:

 

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 pieces of veal shank per person, or 1 piece each if they’re large (the veal shanks, not the person…)

500ml home-made tomato sauce (see previous post, “How to make tomato-based sauce”)

250ml water (more if necessary)

3 or 4 tbsp plain flour

A good pinch of seasalt

A good pinch of white pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1 bayleaf

 

Method

• Put the flour on a plate and mix the salt and pepper into it.

• Roll each piece of veal shank in the flour and shake off any excess.

• Heat olive oil in a flame-proof ceramic casserole dish (as shown below)

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• On a medium heat, fry each piece of veal shank until lightly browned. You might need to press on it with a fork or some chefs’ tongs.

• Remove the veal shanks and put them on a plate.

• Leave juices in the casserole dish and add sauce, water and a bayleaf, then give it a stir.

• Add the veal back into the casserole, put the lid on and leave on a low heat for 1 to 1½ hours.

• Serve with rice or mashed potato and some green vegetables.

 

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Buon appetito!

 

PS. Here is a picture of some random ingredients left to erm “rest” by Piripiri chef number 1, as we shall call her. Perhaps we should explain that Piripiri chef number 1 will start cooking a recipe then leave it half-finished for the flies to nibble at while she  makes a phone call / has a bath / goes shopping / goes on holiday and then comes back to finish it later. Don’t do this at home, kids, as Piripiri chef number 1 has the constitution of an ox and NEVER GETS FOOD POISONING.

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How to make tomato-based sauce

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Tomato sauce is the base of many a Mediterranean meal – pasta dishes, vegetarian dishes, osso bucco or fish stew to name a few.

In the summer, make the sauce from fresh tomatoes (boil them up, sieve out the skin and seeds) if you’re lucky enough to grow them or have access to a cheap supply.

This one’s made from tins and packets though…

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 measure of soffritto (onion, carrot and celery mix; see previous post)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 400g tin tomatoes

1 400g box passata (sieved tomatoes)

1 bayleaf

A dozen basil stalks, chopped finely

A good pinch of seasalt

A good pinch of white pepper

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Before reducing ↑

Method

 

• Pour the oil into a large heavy based saucepan (20cm or more in diameter, with a lid).

• On a low heat, add the soffritto, and fry for around 8 minutes.

• Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

• Add the tin of tomatoes and stir for a minute.

• Add the passata, stir for a minute more.

• Add the basil stalks, bayleaf, salt and pepper.

• Cover the pan with a lid and cook on a very low heat for 25 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by half.

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After reducing ↑

If you want, you can double the quantities, make up a large batch and freeze it for later use.
 

How to make soffritto

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The way to start preparing many an Italian meal (and those from other Mediterranean countries too) is by making soffritto.

It consists of onion, celery and carrots. And that’s it.

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Just kidding. We’ll tell you how to make it:

Ingredients

1 ½ celery sticks

1 large carrot (or 2 medium ones)

½ a medium onion ( or 1 small one)

2 tbsp olive oil

Method

• Chop all three ingredients really small. Some people even mince them, but we don’t.

• Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan.

• Cook on a low heat for around 8 minutes.

• You can cook the mixture for longer if you need the texture to be really soft (but no longer than 15 mins).

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This is how “The Italian Chef” as we shall call him (the dad of one of the Piripiri chefs) started cooking many a meal in his restaurant, be it fish, meat, or the tomato sauce we’ll show you next. A quick search on the internet reveals this is the Tuscan soffritto method, and guess what? The Italian Chef was from Tuscany! Salute!

No fuss mussels

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Serves 6 as a starter, 2 as a main course
 

 

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Ingredients

1 kg mussels, prepared (see below)*

200ml fish stock, bought or home-made (see below)**

Half a medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

 

* How to prepare mussels

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Half fill the kitchen sink with water. Throw the mussels in. Go through each mussel, de-bearding (pulling out the green hairy bit). You do this by grabbing the beard between finger and thumb and pulling it with a sawing action up and down the line of the mussel so all of it comes out. Scrub any barnacles off the shells. Rinse each mussel under the cold tap, then gently tap each mussel, discarding any that don’t close when you tap them (It’s cos they’re dead. Allegedly). Now the fresh ones are ready to cook!

** You can buy fresh fish stock at a supermarket or you can use fish stock cubes. Or make your own by saving fish bones and heads from previous fish dishes, covering them with water in a large saucepan, Add 10 black peppercorns, 1 stick of chopped celery, 2 carrots cut in half, and half a bayleaf to the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 12 minutes. Strain, discard the solids and cool the clear liquid. Freeze for later or use straightaway.

Method

• Choose a heavy-based saucepan that has a lid.

• Pour the olive oil into the saucepan and fry the onion for 8 minutes.

• Add the garlic and fry for 2 more minutes.

• Add the fish stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

• Add mussels, cover with a lid immediately, give the pan a little shake and leave on the heat for around 6 minutes.

• The mussels are ready when they’ve all opened.

• Lift the lid and scatter the mussels with the chopped parsley.

• Divide the mussels between bowls, adding some cooking liquor to each one.

• Remember to dip your bread in the liquor, and eat with a loud slurping noise.

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Tip: Scour the bargain shelves of well-known supermarkets for these little beauties. The great British public are afraid of them, so they tend to leave them for you, or me, to pick up from the “hurry up and eat me” counter.

Flourless chocolate brownies

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These are called “flourless” as if they are somehow healthier than your average chocolate brownie…

makes 16 or 20

Ingredients

200g 70% dark chocolate

225g butter

2tsp vanilla extract

200g caster sugar

3 eggs

150g ground almonds

150 walnuts, chopped

Method

• Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius / gas mark 4

• Grease a 24cm baking tin (a disposable foil one will do)

• Melt the chocolate and butter in a heavy based saucepan over a very low heat. Some people use a bowl over a pan of hot water to do this.

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• Take the pan off the heat and mix in vanilla, sugar and let cool for 10 minutes. This should stop the eggs curdling in the next step.

• Break the eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork.

• Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture and stir.

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• Add almonds and walnuts and stir mixture until mixed in.

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• Pour mixture into the baking tin and spread it to the edges.

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• Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30 minutes.

• Don’t panic even if it looks undercooked when you take it out – the brownies will firm up as they cool.

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• After 20 minutes, cut into slices.

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• After a further 20 minutes (if you can wait) eat!

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Is this strictly a Mediterranean recipe? Not sure, but we love chocolate so what the heck!
 
 
 

Arroz de cabidela

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A traditional Portuguese rice and chicken dish

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Serves 4

Ingredients

4tbsp olive oil

8 pieces of skinless chicken (thigh or leg is best)

1 medium onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

1 cup of Basmati rice

1 chicken stock cube

2 large carrots, sliced into 2cm pieces

2 sticks celery, sliced into 2cm pieces

250g brown chestnut mushrooms, cut in half

1 bayleaf

2 sprigs thyme

Salt

Pepper

Method

• Put the oil in a large saucepan (about 25cm diameter) on medium heat for 2 minutes, then add the chicken and lightly brown it for about 10 minutes. Take the chicken out of the pan and put it to one side.

• Turn the heat low and, in the same pan, fry the onions for 10 minutes.

• Add garlic, carrots, celery, mushrooms and cook for a few minutes.

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• Place the chicken and juices back in the pan.

• Crumble the stock cube into a cup of boiling water, stir and pour into the pan.

• Add the bay leaf and thyme sprigs to the pan.

• Put a lid on the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes, checking to see that the mixture doesn’t burn.

• Add the rice and 2 cups of water.

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• Add salt and pepper to taste.

• Give the mixture a quick stir, replace the lid, and cook for 12-15 minutes on a low to medium heat.

• Towards the end, check whether the rice has absorbed all the liquid.

• Leave pan to stand for 5 minutes, remove lid and serve. Delicioso!

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NB. Strictly speaking, you should add chicken blood to this recipe to give it more pungency and a lovely dark mud colour. But we won’t put you through that this time.