I finally have my kitchen back and it’s about time! I decided to cook something comforting as it was the weekend and being in the new kitchen with the family around just begged for comfort food. Braised beef cooked in a pot roast was just the perfect winter warmer and I knew it would make the house smell gorgeous for hours.
The other day, a friend and I were discussing making rice. I get the impression that rice is often touch and go for a lot of people. They have heard lots of different versions of what works and what doesn’t work and often don’t understand why it never turns out quite right. Even on Masterchef, a cooking TV competition with super-skilled contestants, I have seen rice fail.
Because I cook it often, over the years I managed to perfect a way to make a loose, fluffy and tasty rice that doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, without thinking too much about it (even though my skills do not come close to any of the talented people that cook on TV!).
This meatloaf is as simple as can be – it is all about the meat (and butter, and Port Wine). And as a lot of the dishes I cook and love, it comes from my Mum’s endless repertoire of yummy homely foods.
If I want to make a fancier version I use herbs (parsley and oregano work well), chopped onions and/or garlic, grated parmesan and sometimes a tiny bit of chorizo (not too much as it can overpower the other meats). Feel free to add any combination of these until you have your favourite version. But trust me, the simple version is divine just as it is and it is dead simple to make. I wanted to post this version because I stand behind it flavour wise and didn’t want to complicate the recipe for the sake of it.
This is a traditional Christmas dessert I have grown up with. It’s a kind of Pain Perdu (or French Toast), soaked in a sweet syrup with cinnamon. The main difference is that Pain Perdu is soaked in egg and ‘Rabanadas’ are soaked in milk and then coated in egg. And one is mostly eaten at breakfast, whilst the other is a dessert. They are usually fried and the syrup is mainly made of sugar and cinnamon. My Mum and I decided to make some changes and make them slightly healthier by cooking the ‘Rabanadas’ in the oven and adding some interest to the syrup. For this, we took inspiration from a recipe from one of my favourite blogs (As Minhas Receitas) by a wonderful Portuguese cook, called Joana Roque. We made some changes to the syrup, the main one replacing the raisins (because they’re not my favourite thing) with chopped dried figs (which are one of my favourite things).
These potatoes are very simple and they are all about achieving a velvety sweet centre and a crunchy salty outside. I have cooked these without peel and it doesn’t compare (more flavour with peel – less work to do!). The shallots add some sweetness and softness. You don’t have to add them if you don’t want to, but they go really well here.
I serve this dish at barbecues, especially if you have lots of people around, or to go with roasted meat or fish.