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:

beldroegas_mini

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.

beldroegassoup_makingof_mini

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!)

 

From the marriage of Orange and Eggs

From the marriage of Orange and Eggs

orangerollCalling out all Orange lovers, this recipe is for you! The amazing power a single orange can bring to this roll is way beyond my capacity to describe it. And you can add it to your list of “I can’t stop eating it”.
Once more it’s heavy on eggs and sugar (well it’s Portuguese, you couldn’t be expecting something else) and it’s typical from the Estremadura region (where Lisbon is located). Although the orange flavour cuts the extreme egg taste that some other Portuguese desserts have, which I understand isn’t much appreciated by some of you.

You will need:
8 eggs
500g sugar
1 Orange (juice and zest)
2 Tbsp of flour

1. In a large bowl place the eggs and sugar. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Add the orange juice and grated zest. Whisk heavily.
3. Sprinkle the flour. Whisk one more time.
4. Butter and flour a jelly roll pan, or you can line the cake pan with parchment (baking paper).
5. Pour the mixture into the cake pan.
6. Cook in a preheated oven at 200ºC for around 20 minutes.
7. Take a cocktail stick to poke the top of the cake slightly in the middle. If it is dry the cake is done. Don’t over cook it, otherwise it will break when rolled.
8. Let it rest and cool for 5 minutes. Loose the edges of the cake from the pan with a knife.
9. Line a kitchen towel over your kitchen counter/table.
10. Sprinkle the kitchen towel with sugar (or icing sugar)
11. Turn out the cake on top of the towel. Peel the parchment (if you used it).
12. With the help of the towel roll the cake.

You can find similar orange rolls in cafés, supermarkets and at the Farmer’s Market. Like in all issues related to food some are good others are made of glue (they are heavy and flavourless – you are not able to even spot the egg flavour and the orange is only in it’s name). How to know before you buy? There are three signs you should be aware: if it seems to you too dry, if it doesn’t shine or if doesn’t have a similar consistency to a pudding/cake.

At my house this is the kind of dessert that only lasts for a couple of hours. I hope you enjoy it that much too.

Bolinhos Bacalhau – Salt Cod Cakes

Bolinhos Bacalhau – Salt Cod Cakes

One of the most emblematic portuguese dishes that you are able to find in any cafe or restaurant without season restrains. It’s a flag dish from the Minho cuisine and especially for Porto city. Known as “bolinhos de bacalhau” in the North of Portugal and named “pasteis de bacalhau” in the Centre and South of the country.

An excellent recipe for codfish leftovers, therefore one that is always on my mind for Christmas Day or the day after.

Ingredients for 4 people:
250 g desalted salt cod
200 g potatoes
1/2 onion
1 tbsp of fresh parsley
15 ml of Port wine
3 to 4 eggs
Salt
Pepper
Nutmeg
Oil to deep fry

How to:
1. Boil the potatoes until fork tender.
2. Peel the boiled potatoes; use a fork or a food processor to mash the potatoes.
3. Poach the salt cod in water for 5 minutes.
4. Remove skin and bones from the boiled salt cod.
5. Shred the cod with your hands, with a help of a kitchen cloth, or you can even use a kitchen pestle.
6. Chop the onion.
7. Chop the fresh parsley.
8. In a bowl combine the mashed potatoes, cod, chopped onion, chopped parsley, Port wine. Season with salt, fresh ground black pepper and grated nutmeg.
9. Add the eggs one at a time. The number of eggs will change accordingly with the quality of the potatoes.
10. With the help of two soup spoons form the cakes, and deep-fry them in oil.

pasteis_massa

codfishfritters_deepfry

codfish_pasteis

Serve the bolinhos de bacalhau with a green salad and a beans rice for a complete meal. Or simple as tapas or a snack.

You can also find them in the Brazilian cuisine, one of many Portuguese recipes that was merged into other cultures. It’s named “bolinhos de bacalhau” , but the way of doing it changes slightly: the desalted salt cod is used raw, and the mixture is done only with egg yolks, the whites are whisked into stiff peaks and then folded gently into the mixture.

Bom Proveito! (Enjoy it!)

Pão de Ló

paodelo

A celebration.
Pão de ló is a celebration cake, an Easter tradition on every Portuguese table.

At my house it was more than an Easter cake, it was the happiness cake, always associated to the same kind of events, if we had something to share with the family, when we wanted to say thank you or I love you or just because it felt right to share your plans while eating a piece of pão de ló.
This rich egg sponge cake belongs to the Portuguese conventual recipes, which means lots of eggs and sugar. Depending on the region or convent, the baking process can change slightly, and the end product could be a dry cake or a moist cake top.

When eating it plain I prefer the second, and I would use the dry one instead of a simple genoese sponge to serve with whipped cream and strawberries or pineapple.

It was also my father’s favourite cake, and the one he would choose for he’s anniversary every year.
I stopped making this cake 13 years ago, but today, because it’s a special day to celebrate all the good memories that a single piece of cake can bring you back to, I went to the kitchen and made it again to celebrate “saudade” and to share it for the first time with my kids.

I used my great grandmother recipe, and I had bake it on a regular oven with a regular cake pan. Some of the conventual recipes requires the use of a special cake pan and the use of multiple layers of baking paper. But I am not making that process this time, I am sharing something very easy for you to try at home.

After whisking for about 15 minutes the yolk and sugar mixture will look like this
After whisking it for about 15 minutes the yolk and sugar mixture will look like this

Ingredients:
6 eggs
7 tbsp of sugar
5 tbsp of flour
It can’t get more easy than this.

1. Butter a cake pan.
2. Separate the whites and the yolks
3. Add the sugar to the yolks. Whisk the mixture until it becomes thick, pale and foamy (15 minutes).
4. Add the flour: one tbsp at a time and very gently.
5. Whisk the whites into very stiff peaks.
6. Fold in the whites into the mixture.
7. Pour the mixture into the buttered cake pan.
8. Cook in a preheated oven at 175ºC (350ºF) for around 15/20 minutes.
Don’t overcook it, you want the top be the slightly creamy.

Enjoy it! With a glass of Port wine.

 

No To Food Waste: Pão de ló leftovers are suitable to make triffle.