Lovely Lunch by the River

IMG_8817Bristol is such a lovely city… Especially when it’s sunny!

Today we had a cool sunny day and decided to go for lunch by the river. Went to this really delicious tapas restaurant, The Olive Shed.

I went there four times already and was never disappointed! It’s the perfect place to go for a light lunch or a romantic dinner.

The staff is really nice and, on a less crowded day, you can even chat with them and find out about the products’ origins. They serve a lot of good quality Spanish products and they even have a Portuguese “Green Wine” on their list!

They also offer a vast selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes which is a plus for many people. Additionally, their cocktails are quite nice and typically have a slight twist which make them really tasty.

Today we had Olive Shed Patatas Bravas with Aioli, Caramelised Red Onion Hummus with Bread, Chorizo & Morcilla Cooked in Manzanilla Sherry, Sweet Potato, Spinach & Feta Cakes with Aioli and Harissa Marinated Chicken with Olive Tapenade.

Their Patatas Bravas are a must! We have them every time we go there. The potatoes are freshly and perfectly cooked. Crunchy outside and soft inside, topped with a rich red sauce and aioli.IMG_8740

The hummus was very creamy and full of chunks of caramelised and sweet red onions that removed the hummus typical acidity. It’s a lush and rich hummus that you can eat even without bread… Although the bread was also quite yummi! A mixture of fresh white and cereal bread sprinkled with a bit of olive oil.IMG_8778

The Chorizo & Morcilla are to die for… especially the Morcilla. It’s a rich and grainy black pudding that reminds me of the Portuguese Rice Black Pudding in which, by adding a big portion of rice to the black pudding, you get a rich and less meaty flavour. The Olive Shed’s Morcilla on its own is delicious and enough to make your day but the rich Manzanilla Sherry sauce they put on it really makes it perfect…IMG_8737

The Cakes were also very well cooked. Crunchy outside without being oily. Inside you get a sweet orange filling that is soft but at the same time has consistency, it’s not a cream but something you can bite and let it melt into your mouth. The aioli on the side completes it perfectly with a pinch of acidity.IMG_8732

And finally the Chicken and Olive Tapenade. The chicken was well seasoned and good but the real star there was the olive tapenade! The black olives were chopped finely and you can still feel the resistance of the olives when you bite it… Yummy!IMG_8762

It was a perfect meal by the sun with a glass of Portuguese Green Wine for me and a Gin & Tonic with elderflower and a bit of orange and lemon for Ricky. Do try this place in case you are in Bristol! Five stars!!!IMG_8704

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Green Peas Soup

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I love a good soup! In Portugal it’s quite a typical thing to have before the main dish. I usually make a big quantity and freeze it in small bowls with uni-doses. Quite handy on busy days!

Although I’m used to a rich soup with a lot of solid ingredients, this time I went with a creamy luxurious one.

 

Green Peas Soup (serves 6)

  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 slices of smoked bacon
  • 500 g of green peas
  • 400 g of potatoes
  • water
  • sal and pepper
  1. Chop the onion and the garlic clove. Cook it with the olive oil and a slice of bacon in low fire.IMG_8450
  2. Peel the potatoes and cut them in quarters. Wash well.
  3. When the onion is soft and cooked add the potatoes and the green peas and cover with water. Season with salt and pepper and let it cook for approximately 30 minutes until the potatoes break under slight pressure of a fork.IMG_8471
  4. When the vegetables are cooked, remove the bacon and blend the remaining mixture with a food processor. Season with salt and pepper, if needed, and cook for an additional period of 5 minutes.IMG_8529
  5. Cook the bacon in a non-stick frying pan or grill until it gets toasted and crunchy. Grind the bacon roughly in the food processor. IMG_8654
  6. Serve the soup in individual plates/bowls and sprinkle each one with a tbsp of bacon.

 

Lime Mousse

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I love citric sweets! It always feel like the perfect dessert for a summer day!

I’m having a dinner party tomorrow and decided to get some of the cooking done today. For dessert we’re having a strawberry cheesecake and a less sweet alternative, a fresh lime mousse.

 

Lime Mousse (serves 6)

  • 300 ml of double cream
  • 1/2 can of condensed milk
  • 2 limes juice and zest
  1. Whisk the cream until they start to get thick.
  2. Add in the condensed milk mixing gently.IMG_8475
  3. Wash the limes well. First get the lime zest with a thin zester and after the lime juice. Add it to the mousse stirring gently.IMG_8486
  4. Save in the fridge and serve cool decorated with some thicker lime zest. IMG_8478

Healthy Tapas

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Finally my dissertation first draft is in and I have some time to rest and cook.

Being from a Mediterranean country I love tapas, specially the bad greasy ones… but my husband is Mr. Healthy… so yesterday decided to surprise him with some healthy tapas (exception made to chorizo…). It was really good!

 

Chorizo and Cherry Tomatoes Skewers

  • spicy chorizo
  • cherry tomatoes
  • small wooden skewers
  1. Wash the tomatoes well.
  2. Slide a sharp knife through the chorizo making a slight cut on its skin. Peel the chorizo skin by pushing it from the cut. It should peel easily. Cut the chorizo into thick slices (2.5 cm / 1”).IMG_8300
  3. In each small skewer (you can simply cut a normal one in half) stick a piece of chorizo, then a tomato, a piece of chorizo, and another tomato.IMG_8316
  4. Grill for 5 minutes turning in order to guarantee that it’s properly cooked. The chorizo will cook and release some of the fat and the tomatoes should be soft and slightly toasted outside.IMG_8406

 

Asparagus with Lemon Mayonnaise

  • small/fine asparagus
  • 3 tbsp of mayonnaise
  • 1 tea spoon of lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • salt and pepper 
  1. In a small bowl or a microwave chocolate melting pot (in case you have one), mix a tea spoon of mayonnaise with 1 chopped garlic clove and the lemon juice. Heat in the microwave on medium temperature for approximately one minute (adapt to your microwave potency). You will get a seasoned mayonnaise. Let it cool.
  2. Cook the asparagus in salted boiling water for approximately 2 minutes. IMG_8357
  3. Chop the other garlic clove into thin slices. Heat the olive oil with the garlic slices.
  4. When the garlic is turning gold add the asparagus and fry them for 2 minutes in order for the asparagus to get the garlic flavour.IMG_8371
  5. Add the remaining mayonnaise to the seasoned mayonnaise .
  6. Serve the asparagus with the mayonnaise decorated with some grounded pepper on top.IMG_8373

 

Mozzarella and Tomato Salad with Pesto (see Pesto recipe under)

  • 1 ball of mozzarella
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp of pesto
  • salt and pepper
  1. Cut the mozzarella into slices and than into halves.IMG_8362
  2. Wash the tomatoes well and slice them.
  3. On a serving plate, place a slice of tomato, top half of it with a slice of mozzarella and repeat until you use all the ingredients.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Top it with a drizzle of pesto.IMG_8403

 

Pesto

  • 1 bag of basil (approximately 30 g)
  • 5 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt
  1. Wash the basil well.
  2. In a food processor mix the basil, the olive oil, the pine nuts, the grated cheese and the garlic and process until you get a nice velvety mixture.  You can add more olive oil in case you want it more liquid.IMG_8388
  3. Season with salt.

 

Radish Salad

  • 100 g of radish
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of vinegar
  • salt and oregano
  1. Wash the radishes well. Smash the radishes slightly with your hand by punching them. You can use a spoon  on top of the radish before punching it to help.IMG_8271
  2. In a small bowl mix the olive oil, the vinegar, the salt and the oregano.
  3. Put the radish on a bowl and season with the mixture.IMG_8401

Portuguese Rice Pudding

IMG_8021After another crazy week only focusing on dissertation I decided to celebrate the delivery of my first draft this weekend with some homely dessert…

Sweet Rice, called Rice Pudding in the UK, is a very traditional Portuguese sweet that my grandmother use to make. She didn’t like cooking but she made the best Sweet Rice I’ve ever tried…

 

Portuguese Rice Pudding (serves 10)

  • 250 g of rice for pudding (carolino in Portugal)
  • 0.5 l of water
  • salt
  • 3 pieces of lemon peel
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tea spoon of butter
  • 3.5 cups of milk (4 to 5 cups if using carolino rice)
  • 250 g of sugar
  1. In a pan cook in low fire the rice in the boiling water, seasoned with a pinch of salt, the lemon peel and the cinnamon. Let it cook until the water evaporates.IMG_7892
  2. Add the butter and a cup of milk to the rice and stir gently. Keep the fire low and stir occasionally to assure that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.IMG_7903
  3. When the rice starts to get a bit dry, add some more milk. Repeat this procedure as often as needed making sure the rice never gets dry. You should cook the rice for approximately 30 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the pan and type of stove you are using. If you’re using carolino rice it may take a bit longer for the rice to cook.IMG_7922
  4. When the rice is cooked (try it if needed) add the sugar and stir well. Let it cook in low fire for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Add more milk in case it gets dry. I usually like my Rice Pudding runny so I tend to add a bit more milk.IMG_7918
  5. Take the lemon peel and the cinnamon stick out of the rice. Pour into plates or bowls and serve sprinkled with cinnamon.

Balloon Festival

DSC_0266This last week has been crazy dissertation wise… I hardly had time to eat, let alone cook…

Nevertheless, last Saturday we went to the Balloon Festival here in Bristol. We arrived there around 4p.m. and, after a couple of hours and some air acrobats later, the launching of the balloons started!

I’m typically not a big fan of balloons but this is a really impressive and dazzling event! As the balloons started to inflate and fly, the grey sky was filled with colourful balloons.

I always feel quite small and amazed with the human industriousness every time I see something like this.DSC_0401

Lovely day overall! Also had our picnic and our balloon cake! It was a plain lemon sponge cake decorated with some sugar paste and chocolate paste.

I used an hemisphere cake pan to bake the balloon itself and used a cupcake paper case to fill the down part of the balloon. Covered it with some light pink sugar paste and decorated it with some white and pink sugar paste stars. For the basket I used a small rectangular cake tin. Covered it with some chocolate paste decorated with yellow sugar paste hearts. I connected the two parts with some long wooden skewers covered with white sugar paste. It looked really cool!

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If you like baking and playing with cakes I do recommend that you take a look at these two stores (Squires and Lakeland) which have some really amazing utensils and ingredients!

Picnic Mood

IMG_7374 Since I first moved to Bristol, I’ve been looking forward to the Balloon Festival. After 10 months, Balloon Festival is here!!!

My friends and I decided to take a day off from dissertation and tomorrow we will go there and have a picnic.

To celebrate the so expected festival I’m baking a balloon cake! Can’t wait for the cake to cool so I can decorate it… I will be posting the pictures soon (in case it turns out well…).

Also cooked some picnic food for tomorrow. The recipes I’m presenting under are my mum’s and, although I make them quite well, they still don’t taste exactly like hers… There’s something magic about mum’s cookings…

Chorizo Small Pies (15 pies)

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 200 g of flour
  • 1 tbsp of baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 of a chorizo
  1. Pre-heat the oven at 180ºC.
  2. In a bowl put the flour and the baking powder. Add the milk and the egg yolks progressively while mixing well. You will get a thick dough.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until they get thick. Add it to the flour mixture until you get a fluffy dough.IMG_7301
  4. Grease cupcake or small pie cases with butter. Fill half of the cases with the dough.
  5. Slice the chorizo in thick slices. Place one slice per case on top of the dough.IMG_7328
  6. Place in the oven and cook until the pies grow and get golden. The chorizo will toast a bit and release some of its sauce seasoning the pie.IMG_7354

Cold Cuts Cake (serves 4)

  • 9 tbsp of flour
  • 1 tea spoon of baking powder
  • 2 tbsp of melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • salt and chopped rosemary
  • cold cuts (chorizo, ham, salami)
  1. Pre-heat the oven at 180ºC.
  2. In a bowl put the flour and the baking powder. Add the melted butter, two egg yolks and one egg white.
  3. Add the milk and mix well. You will get a liquid and fluffy dough. Season with salt and chopped rosemary.
  4. Grease a tray and sprinkle with flour removing the excess flour.
  5. Put half of the dough in the tray. Cover with the cold cuts meat cut in pieces making sure it covers most of the dough. Cover with the remaining dough. With a brush spread the remaining egg white on top of the cake.IMG_7347
  6. Cook for approximately 30 minutes until the cake gets a bit toasted on top.IMG_7379