Red Sangria with a spicy kick

With the temperatures reaching the 38ºC/40ºC this Summer, Sangria soon became my favourite drink for Saturday night. Most of the recipes for sangria include wine and another alcohol beverage like a fruit liquor, vodka or any other of your taste. I prefer in this case a more plain recipe with the wine being the only alcohol and get the extra flavour from the fruit and by adding 2 or 3 spices.

I tested the recipe over the past two weeks, using new ingredients from my recent travels: The Indonesian long pepper by PepperMongers, from a trip to London, and preserved cherries from a visit to Casa de Juste farm in the North of Portugal.
The Indonesian long pepper, has a sweet taste and combines beautifully with cinnamon, when added to the Sangria it will leave you with a warm and spicy taste, after the first refreshing kick of any sangria. The preserved cherries add the sweetness of their syrup.

Peach, cherry syrup, cinnamon sticks, Indonesian long pepper catkins and preserved cherries.
Peach, cherry syrup, cinnamon sticks, Indonesian long pepper catkins and preserved cherries.
Chao das Rolas 2011, Portuguese Red Wine from Setubal Peninsula
Chao das Rolas 2011, Portuguese Red Wine from Setubal Peninsula

The ingredients:
500 ml of a good fruity red wine (I used Chão das Rolas, a portuguese red wine)
200 ml cherry syrup
1000 ml of lemon-lime flavoured soft drink (chilled)
1 big peach, peeled and diced
14 cherries preserved in syrup
3 cinnamon sticks
2 Indonesian long pepper catkins

1. Place the peach, the cherries, the cinnamon sticks, the pepper catkins and the cherry syrup in a large jug.
2. Pour the wine into the jug. Stir the ingredients.
3. Let it rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours, to allow the flavours to develop.
4. Add the chilled lemon-lime flavoured soft drink and some ice. Stir and serve immediately.
5. If you like strong sangria reduce the soft drink quantity to half. If you find it too strong you can keep adding the soft drink until it reaches your taste.

As you probably noticed there is no mint on this sangria, and there is a reason why: I’m not really a big fan of mint.

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!)

Runner beans side dish – Esparregado

Runner beans side dish – Esparregado

A couple of weeks ago a friend asked me what to do with runner beans, I personally like them in cold salads, in soup or in tempura after they are parboiled, but then it came to my mind another great recipe, a Portuguese one from the region of Beiras called “Esparregado de Feijão Verde”. It’s a side dish that goes in perfection with meat. It’s very easy to make and full of flavour. Even if you don’t like vinegar don’t take it out of the recipe, just use it to your taste, even if it is only a few drops, otherwise the recipe will end insipid.


Serves 4 people
1 Kg of runner beans
15 ml of olive oil
2 Tbsp of flour
1 garlic clove

1. Wash and chop the runner beans very thin.
2. Parboil the runner beans in water.
3. Place the olive oil in a pan and add the peeled garlic glove.
4. Add the runner beans. Stir.
5. Sprinkle with the flour. Combine the mixture.
6. Add salt and vinegar to your taste and combine the mixture always in medium heat, until the flour cooks.

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?