17 September 2011

Bem-vindo, Férias!

Bacalhau Boy and I are just a few hours away from hopping a flight to see my family in the United States.  I am anticipating too much awesome board game playing and cupcake baking and historical sightseeing to actually have time to post anything to the blog until our return.

So while we are off having family fun, I am sharing two of my favorite new Portuguese foodie diversions to keep you entertained.

1. BLOG: Eat Portugal.

Sounds familiar, you say?  That could be because this blog is by the authors of the recently released book, Eat Portugal.  It is perfect if you are visiting Portugal and want help navigating menus so you can be adventurous and yet not get stuck with, say, roasted pig snout. (Unless you are into that...)

The blog has some great features on typical Portuguese foods, many written by one of my favorite bloggers, Lucy Pepper.  So until my bacalhau pan is back in action in a couple of weeks-- try this out!

2. TV SHOW: Masterchef Portugal

This show has me hooked!  The original Australian version has intrigued me for years, mainly because there are an outrageous number of contestants, overly complicated rules, and what seems like eight shows in between each elimination.

On the other hand, the contests they devise encourage creativity that is actually achievable, and all the more interesting as a result.  The Portuguese version is even more up my alley since the ingredients used are not the ones I would gravitate to normally.  I can say it has taught me a lot about getting in a "Portuguese cuisine" state of mind.

See you again in October, refreshed and ready for more bacalhau.

Até logo!

14 September 2011

Bacalhau com Amêijoas

I feel like I should apologize.  I have nothing much to say about this cod and clam and crunchy potato dish.

Not that it wasn't great!  It really was.  But right now, all I can think about is packing for my annual trip to visit with my family in the US.

Have I gotten presents for everyone?  
What will the range of weather be-- jacket, or just sweater weather?
What if I save space by leaving all my toiletries here and stopping at Target to pick up necessities right after arriving?  
All the sightseeing-- have I gotten tickets for the high-demand museums yet?  OH!  That reminds me... walking shoes...

But in fact this dish WAS good and I have the picture to prove it.  I really want to share.  So here is the most important info, via a brief packing parable:

12 September 2011

Applesauce Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

This is not a cake to wheel out for a flashy dinner party.  This is a cake which will happily sit on your counter, beckoning to you throughout the week.  It will say things like:

"Care for a morning snack with your coffee?"
"Oh, what a tough day you had a work, let me console you!"
"Come on-- curl up with me and a glass of milk before bed. You know you want to."

This cake is a simple pleasure to enjoy a whole week long.  Because it is made with apples, it only gets yummier and more moist as the days pass.  And since it is made with apples, you can believe that it is healthy enough to eat every day at any hour.

11 September 2011

Louisiana Bacalhau Cakes with Corn Relish

If there were a book about my eating life in Portugal, the first chapter would undoubtedly be called, "Jen versus Fish Bones."  

In the US, I had only ever eaten fresh fish in fillets.  They were every bit as fresh as the fish I get here, but they were prepared.  As in, let the fishmonger do his job and make the fishes all pretty and easy to cook at home.  As in, let the restaurant fillet your fish so that they do not risk provoking a lawsuit when you swallow a rogue bone.  As in, why let the fish stare at you with that fishy head and eyes if you don't have to?

I have since made peace with the espinas of the peixes here in Lisbon, and can now eat a grilled whole fish more or less neatly in a restaurant setting.  Because BB is a huge fan of grilled whole sea bream I cook that for him whenever I am feeling particularly sweet.  But at my core, I am always more comfortable when I can enjoy a fish dish without picking through bones.

In other words: it is not accidental that these Louisiana Bacalhau Cakes are the second fish patty recipe I have posted.

05 September 2011

Chocolate Yellow Plum Cake

Happy Labor Day weekend, America!  Time to welcome the best season of the year-- fall.  Okay, so it may not be time for sweaters or foliage just yet, but Labor Day picnics means crisp air and the triple threat of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas won't be far behind.

Here in Portugal this weekend is not a holiday, but it does mark the transition back into normal work mode and out of August.  For BB, it means his commute just got harder thanks to the extra traffic of people taking their kids to school every morning. (No school buses.)

For me, a grateful telecommuter, it means reintroducing myself to my baking equipment and fiddling around with after school-- errr, after work-- snack cakes.

02 September 2011

Macho Linguini Caprese

Summer in Portugal hearkens back to a time I... really don't remember.  Ever.  For the first decade of my working life, I counted myself lucky that while I didn't exactly have time for "vacation", I got to travel quite a bit for my job.  That counts, right?

As I pass through my third summer in Portugal, I am finally learning how to blend into Southern Europe in August.  Basically, it is best not to plan on getting anything done.  If you are not off to the beach for the month (why aren't you?), then everyone else is.

Our butcher shop and one of the local groceries are closed until... who knows?  They each forgot to put up a sign.  The bakery that delivers our bread twice a week was closed down for the whole month.  Cafes throughout the tourist district are shuttered up.

And since my main client is a university which (you guessed it) completely shut down their administrative offices for August, I have had an enforced vacation the likes of which I have never experienced.  Even in my high school and college days I had full-time summer jobs.  This was utterly disorienting to someone raised with an American work(aholic) ethic.

So when I wasn't busy feeling guilty about my own sloth, I had time for the summer things I always wanted to do.  One of those things?  Growing balcony vegetables.