Stuffed squid – Algarve’s Middle Eastern inherited recipe

Stuffed squid – Algarve’s Middle Eastern inherited recipe

While in London last summer, I had the pleasure to meet Bethany Kehdy at her book launch – The Jewelled Kitchen. This Middle Eastern cookbook was my travel companion back home, and I found quite surprisingly that the traditional Portuguese cuisine still honours on it’s repertoire at least two Middle Eastern inherited recipes: The Tomato soup with poached eggs (an Alentejo typical soup) and the Stuffed squid (a typical dish from Algarve).

The Jewelled Kitchen cookbook
The Jewelled Kitchen – a collection of Lebanese, Moroccan & Persian Recipes by Bethany Kehdy

The Portuguese versions of these two dishes are much lighter on spices. Spices were gold back then and only available at noble houses or convents, therefore I believe that the recipes were adapted to what was available to peasants.

While the Portuguese tomato soup with poached eggs (shakshoukah for the North African) keeps it’s inherited recipe untouched, the stuffed squid (stated by Bethany as an “example of the Levant’s flair for stuffing”) changes slightly by taking all spices out. The Portuguese version doesn’t use red chilli, dill leaves neither the lebanese seven spices, instead use as the only aromatic herb parsley. As per the stuffing we prefer the rice while the Middle Eastern recipe uses bulgur wheat.

With this recipe in mind and after several weeks roaming to the farmer’s market fishmonger for fresh squids and with the right size, I finally made it.

Serves 4 people
16 small squids
1 dl of olive oil
1 big onion
250g of ripe tomato
Fresh ground black pepper
16 wooden cocktail sticks

For Stuffing
1 big onion
2 garlic cloves
1 dl of olive oil
150 g of chouriço (portuguese chourizo)
250 g of ripe tomato
1/2 cup of rice
1 bay leaf

Clean the Squids
1. Separate the tentacles from the bodies of the squids. Keep the tentacles.
2. Remove the guts from inside the bodies, and the coloured skin from outside.
3. Remove the two membranes from outside. Keep the membranes.
4. Rinse the squid under cold run water.
5. Rinse the tentacles and the membranes.
6. Chop the tentacles and membranes. Set them aside.

Squid tentacles and membranes
Set aside the squid tentacles and membranes for stuffing.

1. Peel and chop the onions.
2. Peel and chop the 1 garlic clove.
3. Peel and chop the tomatoes (keep the juices, do not drain the tomatoes)
4. Remove the skin and chop the chouriço.
5. Rinse the rice.
6. Chop the parsley.
7. Put a heavy saucepan on low heat, add the olive oil, the onion and the garlic clove, let it soft.
8. Add the tomatoes, and the bay leaf and let it cook, on a low heat.
9. Add the chopped tentacles, membranes and chouriço. Let it cook on a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Check the seasoning. Add fresh ground black pepper and salt if needed.
10. Add the rice, the parsley and stir for a few minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
11. Remove from the heat, let it cool before stuffing the squids.

Squid Stuffing
Preparing the squid stuffing
Uncooked stuffed squids
Uncooked stuffed squids

Assembling and cooking the squids
1. Stuff the squid with the mixture and secure using a wooden cocktail stick. Leave around 1/4 of the squid empty, otherwise while cooking the squid will crack.
2. Put a heavy saucepan on low heat, add the olive oil, the onion and the garlic clove, let it soft.
3. Add the tomatoes and let it cook, on a low heat, for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Add the stuffed squids, sprinkle with parsley and cover with a lid. Let them cook for about 1 hour on a very low heat. Shaking the saucepan occasionally.
5. Check seasoning. Add salt if needed.

Serve with boiled potatoes, chips or rice.

Bom Proveito! (Enjoy!)

Stewed Pig’s Heart

Stewed Pig’s Heart

On a recent visit to my local butcher my eyes just glowed when I saw a pig’s heart. My food memories brought me to my mother’s recipe, full of a beautiful and tasty sauce. Someone please hand me the bread?
I know that there is some parts of the animal that most people would not consider to eat, but if an animal is killed to become your meal, then you should honour it with a no waste “policy”. That was what I tried to explain to the children at lunch time, and after they tasted it they really enjoyed it.

Ingredients for 2 people:
1 Pig’s heart
1 large onion
1 large tomato
2 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
5 Tbsp of Olive Oil
5 Tbsp of water or white wine

1. Ask your butcher to remove all the fat and thin slice the heart. If you do it at home you need a very sharp knife.
2. Slice the Onion.
3. Chop the garlic cloves.
4. Peel and chop the tomato.
5. On a saucepan add the olive oil, half of the onion, half of the tomato, half the garlic.
6. Place the sliced heart.
7. On top of the heart add another layer of onion, tomato, garlic, and the bay leaves.
8. Season to your taste with salt and fresh ground pepper.
9. Add the water or white wine.
10. Cover the saucepan with the lid. And bring it to a low heat for about 40 minutes to 1 hour.
11. After 20 minutes check if any additional water is needed.
Serve the Stewed Pig’s Heart with rice, pasta or mashed potatoes.

Bom proveito! (Enjoy it!)

Pasteis de Massa Tenra – The First Recipe

Pasteis de Massa Tenra – The First Recipe

This was the first “real” recipe I made with only 7 years old (not all by myself), after learning the basics my father thought me one of his favourite recipes: Pastéis de Massa Tenra – a kind of deep fried dumpling.
I recall of beating the dough, tasting the filling and cutting the dumplings with a glass, all the other tasks were more of a watch and learn cooking class. At the end there was flour all over the kitchen! I believe it’s one of the joys of cooking with children.

Even with me helping, we managed to keep some of the dough to make a very special treat – little dumplings filled with tomato jam (my mom’s idea to not trash any dough). Nowadays I always add 1/2 recipe to be sure I have enough dough for the sweet version.

Pasteis Massa Tenra
Deep fried Pasteis Massa Tenra
A sweet treat: filled with tomato jam.
My sweet version: filled with tomato jam.

This is a very flexible recipe, as you can do the “pastéis” smaller and serve them as a snack/tapas at a party, or you can do the regular size ones and serve with a salad or rice to have a complete meal. It’s also one of many ways to use meat leftovers.

Roll up your sleeves and let’s get started!
I always thought that the way you feel reflects on your cooking, on a bad day your recipe will not come as good as on a good and cheerful day. However in this recipe we do need some of that bad day anger, there’s a dough that needs to be beaten.
For the dough:
250 gr of Flour
150 ml of Water
2 Tbsp of butter

1. Place the flour on top of your kitchen counter, open a hole
2. Warm the water enough to be tepid
3. Dissolve the salt in the water, add the butter.
4. Pour the water inside the hole and gently mix with the flour
5. Beat the dough for 5 minutes. (punches are allowed)
6. Let it rest for 1 hour

For the filling (made from scratch):
500g of beef
200g of chouriço (portuguese chorizo)
1 big onion
50 ml of Olive oil
200 ml of milk
2 Tbsp of flour
Salt and pepper

1. Peel and cut the onion
2. On a press cooker place the onion, the olive oil, the beef and the chorizo (remove the skin). Let it cook for about 45 minutes.
3. Let it rest. As soon as it is at room temperature, process the beef, chorizo and onion on a food processor.
4. Keep the meat juices in the press cooker. Add the meat mixture. Stir in the flour. Add the milk.
5. Take it to a medium heat and let the mixture become ticker.
6. It’s ready when it loses itself from the pan.
7. Let it cool.

For assembling the dumplings:
1. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough.
2. Place a small spoonful of the filling into the center, fold over, cut using a glass (or a biscuit cutter). And press together with your fingers.
3. Repeat procedure with the remaining dough and filling.

For frying:
Oil to deep fry the “pastéis”.

You may know another kind of Portuguese deep fry dumpling – Rissóis – but only the shape it’s similar; the dough, the filling and the breadcrumb crust makes it very different.

Do you remember what was your “first” recipe?

Beldroegas Soup – a weed on your plate

Beldroegas Soup – a weed on your plate

This week at the Farmer’s Market Mr. João had a few bunches of beldroegas for sale. In the Portuguese cuisine the beldroegas, a succulent weed that grows easily in the fields or in our gardens, is added to salads or cooked in soups.

I believe that you may know beldroegas by one of these names: Purslane, Verdolaga, Pigweed, Little Hogweed, Pursley or Moss rose (any other? Let me know and I will add it, or correct it). Maybe the picture will help:


I was not carving for a salad but for something with poached eggs in it. Like my friend Isabel at Family Foodie says: this obsession for eggs is a Portuguese thing!

But then another question needed to be asked: should I go for the beans or the cheese soup? There are both delicious, and made with the same broth base so what’s the difference? The cheese soup has this unique way of combining a hot soup with fresh cheese, something that I only recall of seeing on Mexican cuisine – the Caldo de queso.

I was willing to make the fresh cheese soup, but family wanted the beans soup and my “customers” always have the final word. I will make the fresh cheese soup on another time because it’s one of that many fun childhood memories I have and want to revive.

In fact not only the Alentejo’s beldroega and the fresh cheese soup is on my to-do list but also the “tomatada” soup. Tomatada is a tomato soup with poached eggs (again), let the tomato season reaches it’s peek and sweetness (which occurs around August/September) and I will share the recipe with you.

By this time you should already realise that there is a poached egg in every soup I mentioned, well that’s a characteristic of many of the Alentejo’s soups, the soup is the meal, and the egg would replace the lack of meat or fish at many households.


You will need for 4 people:
2 bunches of beldroegas (purslane)
800 g potatoes
150 g onion
1 head of garlic
200g white beans – optional (I used pinto beans instead – it’s called “feijão catarino” here in Portugal)
4 eggs
Bread (Alentejo’s bread)
Olive oil
Sea salt to season

1. Peel and slice the onions
2. Wash the beldroegas, handpick just the leaves
3. In a pot add the olive oil and cook the onions until soft
4. Add the beldroegas leaves and let cook until soft
5. Add 2 liters of hot water
6. Add the head of the garlic (remove all the white skin, but leave the skin of each garlic clove)
7. Bring to boil
8. Add the diced potatoes
9. Add the beans (already cooked)
10. Season with salt to your taste
11. As soon as the potatoes are cooked, poach the eggs in the soup. Cover the pot and cook until whites are cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.
12. Assembling the soup: cut the bread in very thin slices, cover the bottom of the bowl with the bread, spoon the soup and carefully place the poached egg. Serve immediately.
Bom proveito! (Enjoy it!)