çorba, சூப், ស៊ុប, well back to Europe actually and a Portugese national dish, Caldo Verde (Soup)!

WP_20141003_18_21_45_ProI promised I would venture back closer to home with my food, and this weeks post is just that. One of the wonders of organic veg boxes are the surprises you get as the seasons change, this week had one of the those surprises Cavolo Nero. An Italian cabbage used in the dish ‘ribollita‘ it can also be used in one of Portugal’s national dishes Caldo Verde (green broth).

WP_20141003_18_44_31_ProI have been off work all week with Flu and completely out of kilter food wise, so the arrival of the veg box was as excuse to try to find something simple and healthy to eat, which was also quick and would not take too much effort, even doing the simplest of tasks was exhausting.

A chance trip to buy some of my favourite bread, (which does not cause my stomach to grumble due to too much yeast and chemicals), and a well know supermarket magazine found its way into the basket. (Begins with W!). Leafing through the pages and staring me in the face were the dark green leaves of Cavolo Nero, and some dishes to make it more interesting including Caldo Verde, from Portugal. A quick search on the Internet and I had all the details I needed to have a go, and here is how it went.

WP_20141003_18_52_26_ProLuckily, all the ingredients were to hand, including some Chorizo from our local farm shop which is very good.  Making the dish is easy, chop the Onion, into a pan with a good glug of Olive oil, followed by Garlic and a couple of Chorizo Sausages (with their skins on). Cook on a low-medium heat for 5 – 10 mins until the Onion is translucent. Then, add some quartered Potatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes or so. I believe the original dish used water to boil the Potatoes, I used a light Chicken Stock (750ml for 2 people), to add some subtle background flavour.

WP_20141003_19_13_48_ProThe Potatoes, Onions and Chorizo cook, covered in the stock for about 25-30 minutes until they are falling apart, remove the Chorizo and blitz with a stick blender or food processor and you are nearly finished. I used a whole head of Cavaolo Nero to finish the dish of, which was sliced finely as a Chiffonade. You can see the blended Potato, Onion and Garlic mixture below and the chopping above!

WP_20141003_19_37_43_ProAdd the Cavalo Nero and simmer gently for another 30 – 45 minutes, depending on how thick you want the end result. The Soup gets greener (and thicker) the longer you cook it.WP_20141003_19_38_47_ProWhilst your Soup is gently simmering you can finish off the Chorizo. Remove the skins, slice into 3-4mm pieces and fry in some Olive Oil until crispy. Put to one side keeping the Red Spicy Oil and Chorizo together as it will add a final flavour burst to the dish.

WP_20141003_20_03_24_ProThis dish was a bit of a gamble, ‘Cabbage Soup’, thickened with Potatoes and some fried Chorizo!

Believe me, its knockout. I am not really a soup fan but sitting down to eat this with the missus was just fantastic. The combination of flavours and textures was beautiful, the Chorizo kick, the slightly bitter Greens, the balanced flavours of the broth and occasional piece of Potato, where I had not done a thorough job with the blender.

WP_20141003_20_22_16_ProOther than peeling and chopping, the mise en place is negligible and the Caldo Verde took little effort to make, but packed a massive hit of flavours (and is cheap to make). So if you get struck down withe Flu, or fancy trying one of Portugal’s national dishes have a go at this one, you will be pleased you did.

It went perfectly with Richard Bertinet’s ‘proper’ bread. Yummmmmmmmm

Until next time…………..L8ers……………

Sardinhas em brinde, meu caminho or Sardines On Toast, my way!!!!

There is a heady aroma in the house this evening, Garlic, Thyme, Rosemary, Lamb, Wine, Red Currant Jelly & Port, braised Lamb Shanks are on the menu with ‘Butter’ Mash and Green Beans wrapper in Pancetta.

Last week was hectic, manic and downright crazy with lots of travelling, eating, workshops and courses so the energy levels were rather low this weekend and cooking was not on the agenda.  The benefit of travelling was the chance to try some great food, Meze in Darlington is really worth a visit and my review is already on Tripadvisor. Pauline and Cem made me most welcome, they don’t normally open on Monday evenings but my booking was accepted over the internet and the restaurant was all mine for the night. After a delicious starter of Feta stuffed filo ‘cigars’ with a selection of side dishes the main of Izmir Kofte returned fond memories of our two holidays to Turkey, eating proper home cooked food.

The Delicious Starter of Feta stuffed Filo, Yummy!

A real treat was when being cheeky, and mentioning I was ‘into’ food, could I see the kitchen and meet the chef, within minutes I was sitting with Cem, drinking coffee and talking food, a lovely end to a fantastic evening, thank-you both for your warm Turkish hospitality.

Another treat was some ‘posh nosh’ at the 5* Rockliffe Hall Hotel just outside Darlington, imagine Wild Garlic and Smoked Potato Veloute with crispy Frog’s legs, it was beautiful. The main was a difficult choice as there was lots to choose from, in the end it was the Sea bream ‘French style peas’ Pancetta & Parmesan Dauphine that got me, beautiful cooked. Dessert was ‘Rhubarb and Custard’ you will have to eat their to try it, it was fab.

So back to this weekend, feeling rather ‘zonked’ the only outing was a trip to the New Forrest to get some fresh air, see the Ponies and surprisingly, find a fab Fish and Chip shop in the centre of Lyndhurst which was just brilliant.

On getting home, a snack was in order but not feeling up to much a quick look in the cupboard to see what could be thrown together quickly.

Sardines, what could we do with a couple of tins and some half decent Rye Bread and a few brain cells kicking into action, so here goes!!!!

Take some Ras-al-Hanout and Dukkah spice (about a tea spoon of each) and stick into a cup with some olive oil and mix to make a marinade, you will need to adjust the quantity depending on how many people you are making this for.

Put the marinade into a flat dish and add some sliced Tomato for 30 mins or so.  Empty the Sardine’s and Oil into a dish, add some chopped Garlic and sprinkle over some Dill, Thyme and some Black Pepper from the mill. Grate some lemon zest over the top, and squeeze half a lemon’s juice, turning the Sardines over to ensure both sides get the treatment.

Butter the bread (or brush with Olive Oil), and bake in the oven until crispy (about 7 mins at 180 deg fan). Remove from the oven and lightly spread some tomato paste (the stuff in the tube) over the bread, you need about 2 inches worth for each line.

Layer the marinated Tomato over the tomato paste on the Bread and bake for another 2 mins.

Split the Sardines into two, removing any eggs and place 2 slices on each piece of bread and bake in the oven for about 5 – 7 minutes.

The end result is just delicious, crispy buttery Bread, soft Tomato with a kick of spice and added flavour from the Tomato paste, and the Sardines with a hint of Lemon, Dill and Garlic.  Good food does not need to involve expensive ingredients, I have added this one to the memory banks for later.

Hope you all have a great week, until next time.