25 May 2011

Dark Chocolate Peach Crumble

Summer has hit Lisbon, and it will linger like a socially inept houseguest well into October.

Yes, I understand that this is an ungrateful attitude toward a warm climate. And I'll be the first to admit, coming to Portugal for a beach holiday and enjoying the heat and constant gorgeous sunshine is a spectacular way to spend a week or two.  But commuting via crowded bus, lugging home bags of groceries, doing the vacuuming, and finding business attire that covers nakedness but does not bring on instant sweating?  All less than awesome realities of life in sunny climes.

23 May 2011

Bacalhau Burgers

After a week of boring meals (hello again, roast chicken) and not-terribly-successful-meals (homemade empanadas, I am looking at you!) I am diving back into the pool of bacalhau experimentation.

The inspiration for Bacalhau Burgers came from King Arthur Flour's blog, which suggested this week that I master my recipe for homemade burger buns in anticipation of Memorial Day.  Great idea, KAF!  This is why you are a valued member of my email inbox.

Once I had it in my mind that I was going to make some tasty burger buns, I immediately thought of putting bacalhau inside of them.  I have made salmon burgers and tuna patties, and they are tasty enough.  But when a woman decides to make her very own burger buns, it requires a burger which is nothing short of WOW, you know?  I had to seek out something different, something with exclamation points.

18 May 2011

Frango na Púcara at Frei Bernardo

Alcobaça is a town with an amazing monastery.

Stunning, right? One of the best examples of gothic architecture in Portugal, it was founded by the first king of Portugal in the 12th century and back in the day used to house over 300 hard-drinking, big-eating monks.

But do you know what else Alcobaça is famous for?

Frango na Púcara.

17 May 2011

The Immortal Love of Pedro and Inês

Bacalhau Boy had a birthday last week.

Because I am a clever girl who will use any excuse for luring him away from his workaholic tendencies, one of his birthday presents was a romantic weekend road trip to find the footsteps of Portugal's most famous star-crossed lovers, Dom Pedro I and Inês de Castro. 

And because I am also an excessively share-y and excitable girl, here is a little of what we saw from this extraordinary (and TRUE) love story which began almost 700 years ago... and is still waiting for its happy ending.

(If you are not a fan of tragic and haunting love stories, stop reading now. No judgement.)

07 May 2011

Vinho Verde Poached Fish

If I were Keats, or Byron, or Camões, I would write an ode to Vinho Verde.  Sadly I cannot, since I would never do it justice.  It is a bubbly, tangy Portuguese white wine, best when served very cold on a very hot day.  And as luck would have it, there are many hot days in Portugal.  So, while there can be no ode, I will find every reason I can to have a bottle in the house now that the 82-degree weather that is spring in Lisbon has arrived.

One of those completely justifiable, not-at-all fabricated reasons?  To play around with Julia Child's white wine poaching of fish.

02 May 2011

The Biggest Loser: Bacalhau Style?

About six months ago, I saw my first episode of the Biggest Loser.  I had never wanted to watch it before, but as is the nature of living abroad, when you find English-language shows, you give them a try.  And in this case... I was promptly addicted and I dragged Bacalhau Boy right down with me.  (You're welcome, BB)

So, how thrilled were we when we found out that Portugal was getting its own version?  (Answer: MUITO.)

Last night was the premiere episode of Peso Pesado (Heavy Weight).  Bacalhau Boy was looking forward to seeing the presenter, Júlia Pinheiro-- a woman he claims has more in common with the Weakest Link's Ann Robinson than with sweetheart Alison "Sami" Sweeney.  I was looking forward to seeing if they could find a Portuguese Jillian to be both psychologist and sadist extraordinaire.

In the end:

  • Júlia was not (very) scary, and it was too early to tell if the trainers were, either.  
  • The first challenge was exciting, humiliating, and had an "oh, TWIST!" moment, which was excellent.  
  • There is a new element of the show called the Comando who took aside two contestants and made them do push-ups while he splashed them with buckets of cold water.  That was pretty awesome.  

All-in-all, we will likely be as addicted to this show as to the original.

What surprised me the most, though, was the first Temptation. Júlia led the contestants out to say farewell to their "best friends"-- and there was a buffet of Portuguese food at its finest.  (Skip ahead to 3:00 minutes to see the food--)

Now... at this point in the evening, Bacalhau Boy started to make noises.  Noises like, "Uhhhh... Ooooo... Ohhhh... Mmmmmmm."  I was rather startled.  These are the noises that I usually make whenever the Biggest Loser tempts their poor contestants with delicious and fattening food.  Not Bacalhau Boy.

"Ohhhh, that looks so good to me, I can really feel the temptation. I never feel that way when they show those nachos and cheeseburgers and crap on the other show."

I was stunned.  "Nachos and cheeseburgers and crap"??? A sério?  I guess the sliced meats and cheeses and olives looked lovely and if I were at a party I would try some, but suffice to say I would not have to work hard to resist them, either.  Not like a cinnamon roll.  Or a big plate of mac and cheese. Or nachos...

At this point, the cholesterol really hit the fan.  The producers began to unveil plates of the contestants' favorite dishes. (Starting at 5:30" on the video)

And this-- this is when you know you are living in a different country.  The Biggest Loser morphed into a scene from Fear Factor.  The favorite dishes of the contestants include (in the order in which they are revealed):

Picanha with fries and rice: Picanha is the sliced rump-cap of beef, very popular in Brazil and Portugal.
Bacalhau à Brás: Saltcod with eggs and fried potatoes
Bacalhau com Natas: Saltcod with heavy cream and fried potatoes
Lasagna: Errr, you know this one, right?
Cachupa: A pig's foot, sausage, and bean stew from Cape Verde
Dobrada: Tripe (pig intestine) and chickpea stew typical of Porto
Beef in Mushroom Cream Sauce and fries
Migas: A kind of bread stuffing served with fried pork

Somehow, I don't think that Peso Pesado is going to torture my natural apetite instincts the same way the Biggest Loser does.  But what a way to get to know the food cravings of Portugal and pick up some new ideas!

Bacalhau com Capa de Broa

Things happen when you have parties.  You might attempt some brown sugar cupcakes with fig filling, and maybe they end up looking like the Bad News Bears of baked goods.  And maybe your honey marscapone frosting curdles and has to be binned.  You might even be up at 2 am on a Saturday night praying that your yellow layer cake doesn't go the way of the more ambitious cupcakes, while you watch Vampire Diary reruns to stay awake until the cake is cool enough to come out of the pans.

Or it might just happen that you decide to try out a new bacalhau recipe on your Portuguese in-laws for Mother's Day (May 1 here this year), and while you are up to your elbows in shreds of bacalhau and cornbread crumbs your in-laws show up an hour before you expect them.

Wine, anyone?