09 April 2013

Bacalhau à Vasca

Warm spring weather gives me an itch to eat the beautiful green veggies showing up at the market. It is a temporary but powerful urge, driven by both the beautiful look of the produce and the knowledge that I will have to wear fewer layers of clothing very soon. A great opportunity to make a greens-filled, springlike bacalhau recipe to welcome the new season, wouldn't you think?

Yes and no. The typical bacalhau dish in Portugal only has one green component: parsley on top. The rest of the dish is nearly always beige: onion, garlic, olive oil, and potato. Sure there are green olives sometimes, spinach or a green pepper here or there. But on the whole, bacalhau recipes suffer from a lack of color.

So just imagine my excitement when I came across this recipe for Bacalhau à Vasca. Asparagus and peas and bacalhau? It may as well be called Bacalhau á Springtime!

04 April 2013

Healthy Chicken Feijoada

I was a confirmed carboholic for most of my pregnancy. No regrets there-- I will always have the fond memory of leveraging my son's metabolism to eat ice cream and french fries with abandon. I kept my weight healthy and on track for all 9 months, which is the first time in my life I have been able to say that. I was a lucky gal.

Continuing the carb-fest for three months afterwards? Errr, my pre-baby wardrobe is seeming more unlikely with each passing day. So unless I want to embrace my maternity pants for another year or two, it is time to stop the madness and put down the fried potatoes.

Enter this dish, an easy, nutritious, and homey meal with no potatoes or refined carbs.  It takes the delicious Portuguese feijoada and spins it into a healthy weekday meal which could even help me lose some of my baby padding.

29 March 2013

Páscoa = Easter = Candy

Easter as an expat can be a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, there are new traditions and treats to try on for size. Here in Portugal, I fight through the crowds at the grocery store to buy almonds. Chocolate almonds, jordan almonds, candied almonds, you name it. There is no Easter in Lisbon without covered almonds, Easter bread with an egg on top of it, and a big piece of lamb. (But mostly-- almonds.)

Alas, here is the double edge I mentioned: as much as I enjoy almonds, the Easter candy of my own youth is nowhere to be found. In particular, do you know what they don't have? Peanut butter eggs.

Easter without peanut butter eggs. It looks sad, as I am typing it.

So what is a girl to do but figure out how to make her own? And in the meantime, why don't I give these almonds a try?

(Bonus: all three recipes are insanely simple.)

28 March 2013

Torresmos de Vinha d'Alhos

Although technically spring has sprung, it seems that the weather has not chosen to cooperate yet. For me, this is not unwelcome since:

a) I thrive in cooler weather and can maintain a happy mood for longer periods of time;
b) The baby has many cute long sleeved outfits and sweatshirts which he is getting good use out of; and
c) Comfort food tastes better when there is a chill in the air.

Case in point: this Marinated Pork in Wine and Garlic, known in its native Açores as Torresmos de Vinha d'Alhos.

25 March 2013

Bolinhos de Bacalhau

Whenever Portuguese family and friends are gathered together, little fried balls of bacalhau and potato-- bolinhos de bacalhau-- are likely to show up on a table nearby. They are a type of snack called salgados, a subset of petiscos that describes a variety of similar fried savory bites.

I have attempted bolinhos de bacalhau once before, the night I did petiscos.  Those are not featured on the petisco blog post because they were horrid, bland, lead balloons. Bacalhau fail. But not being one to give up easily, one rainy Saturday I decided to try again. I threw myself into the task of making these light on the inside, crispy on the outside bacalhau and potato fritters.

Bacalhau success!

Custard with Port Wine Sauce

Oh my, how things have changed. When I created this blog, it was in large part to give myself a challenge. Things are slower here in Portugal than they were in my action-packed workaholic US life, so cooking Portuguese food, taking pictures of it, and writing about my attempts was a fun new hobby and filled many quiet hours.

Now, as the mother of a ten-week old, I shake my head nostalgically at the thought of those quiet hours.

Bottles and blender... Port and high chair.  Counter space has suddenly gotten tighter around here.
We have a brand new baby in the house, an adorable tiny boy who keeps us in constant motion and fills our kitchen with things like bottles and play chairs with five point harnesses. He is also adept at filling my hours from dawn until dusk and through to dawn again, making it hard to carve out time to cook new things and even harder to find time to take pictures and thoughtfully blog.

This weekend, though, Bacalhau Boy took charge of the baby for a few hours while I shut the kitchen door and-- like any good Portuguese mom-- pulled out a bottle of Port wine. (For cooking purposes only, of course.)