Pizza Thoughts

Lazy Sundays, cozy sunny afternoons and a mind blowing hunger with way too many leftovers going on from the past week.

So I decided to be the extra lazy cook today, and holiday season a part, bring on the calories, the carbs, the cheesy fat of this thing I cooked, plus all the vegetables to feel just a tad less guilty.

One of the leftovers I most adore to play with? Bread. After a day or two, fresh bread takes a hike and turns into a semi dry clump of dough with not much to do about it (except make croutons or something boringly simple). The leftover bread I used was a Chouriço bread, cut in half where each was topped with tomato sauce, cheese and veg (no meat needed, chouriço already present). Portuguese love bread, you can find the chouriço one available at many fairs, events, specially a winter thing as freshly baked warms any soul (and fills any belly). If you want to give it a try, make your fave bread dough recipe, thinly spread it and lay (loads) of slices of chouriço, roll up and bake till crispy. Brioche goes very well with the salty goodness of the cured meat.

sem título-329

Any leftovers for next day’s lunch is a piece of cake (or pizza in this case) – just slightly heat and eat.

sem título-335

This post was inspired by a recipe my friend Daiane Lopes and I made a few months back, homemade roast tomato sauce pizza with veggies and fresh basil. If you are a dough making type of person – this is the starting-from-scratch recipe you should try.

Check out her blog for some delightful recipes and this pizza post that was published in Umbigo Magazine.

sem título-1910



  • 200 grams all purpose flour
  •  7 grams dry yeast
  • 110 grams warm water
  • 30g olive oil
  • Salt


1 kg ripe tomatoes
150 grams green pepper
220 grams onions
4 cloves of garlic
5 grams sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper

Fresh rosemary
Fresh basil

Topping the pizza:

  • 200 grams mozzarella (feel free to mix with other cheeses, like stilton/roquefort/gorgonzola, parmesan or pecorino)
  • Cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Thinly sliced eggplant
  • Fresh basil
  • Oregano

Prepping the dough:

Mix the ingredients with the dough paddle of a stand mixer for 5-7 minutes. Make a ball, set in a bowl greased with olive oil and let rise for 1 1/2 hour, covered, in a warm place.

Prepping the sauce:

Half the tomatoes, season with salt, pepper, oilve oil and rosemary. Roast for 50 minutes at 160ºC.

Slightly fry the onions, garlic and green peppers, add the roasted tomatoes and add a pinch of sugar if the acidity of the tomatoes is too high (and tart)..

Make sure to make an extra smooth sauce with a food processor.

Any leftover sauce can be frozen into ice cube trays and later on used for flavoring several dishes.

Prepping the pizza: 

Pre-heat your oven on max temperature (usually >250ºC). This is highly important for a crispy crust. Most issues with making home made pizza is really the temperature at which it is cooked in the first place – even at 200ºC, the dough can become soggy and bready.

The second step into getting a perfect dough is blind baking it for 5 minutes, before adding the sauce, cheese and diverse toppings.

Note: for extra extra crispiness, making the dough the previous night and letting it cool in the fridge after rising, will relax the gluten and harden the structure once it is cooked.



Fig Cake

Fig picking is coming close to an end here in Portugal, and after a few weeks of eating way too many of them, necessity plus a little out of the box thinking just makes you cook wonderful things. Like this cake.

sem título-1122

fig above

Figs are a big part of Portugal, the south in particular, where you can find a peculiar sweet treat called Queijo de Figo, which literally means fig cheese. It’s like dried fig paste with a mix of nuts and condiments, condensed into a cheese format and texture. Cabrita Neto has developed some tasty concoctions with outstanding ingredients, almonds and cardamom. They even have individual bars, that you can eat as a on-the-go snack. Because, come on, who doesn’t want to eat a tasty piece of fig cheese while walking to work or on a stroll by the coast?

Considering the overflow of this fruit through our lands, plus our cute habit of stopping the car by any road side to pick, we acquired a knack of showing you guys all the ways we love to eat, breath and speak fig.

fig picking

In my home town, at the top near the castle wall close to a garden, there is at least five trees. As soon as summer hits, the fruity smell wonders through the air, and people pop by a branch ever so often to see if any figs are ripe enough to eat. After a few weeks of hot summer heat, beachside adventures and tourist drenched streets, you will find the locals around the trees, with huge poles, that have a sort of tweezer-ish character about it, so they can reach the high branches and pick the out-of-reach fruit. It’s traditionally beautiful.

Not every tree is the same. My grandmother’s tree starts mid August, my backyard trees all sort of begin in September, and a few are still not ready to eat yet.

So, about this cake: it’s a great recipe to add any sort of fruit you wish, and it keeps quite a while considering how moist it is. The lack of dairy provides a sweet treat for a huge group of special dietary people. The original recipe called for only oil, but I have combined half olive oil, so the health benefits are present, without the overwhelming flavor some might not enjoy much in sweets. What sort of olive oil should you use? I prefer to save the extra virgin for salads and bread dipping, use the virgin one for baking as flavor wise it will just combine with the remaining ingredients plus, it will also be cheaper to concoct.

sem título-1090


  • 250 grams brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 ml virgin olive oil
  • 100 ml cooking oil
  • Lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 225 grams all purpose flour (whole grain for you health nuts)
  • 7 grams baking powder
  • 7 grams baking soda
  • 2 grams sea salt
  • 300 grams figs
  • 4 tablespoons Tawny Port wine
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (ghee for lactose intolerants)
  • 2 tablespoons milk (water for lactose intolerants)


  1. Roast the figs, whole, in port wine and a drizzle of honey. No need to add too much sweet, the figs speak for themselves. Let cool and save the sticky port wine syrup. This will be the base for the glaze. sem título-1079
  2. Beat the eggs sugar, oils and lemon zest for 5 minutes on medium, until a smooth paste os formed.
  3. Sift the flour, bicarb + baking powder, and add to the previous mix.
  4. Add the salt, the roasted cooled figs (cut in quarters).
  5. Place in a cake pan with parchment paper and bake at 165ºC for at least one hour.
  6. Cool the cake, remove from the pan and gently remove the parchment paper. It is suppose to look fairly rustic.
  7. Make the glaze with the roast fig + port wine syrup, softened butter/ghee, lemon zest and milk/water.glazing cake
  8. Decorate with quartered figs.  sem título-1113
  9. Eat.

sem título-1129
sem título-1134 sem título-1141

sem título-1150

Any leftovers? Eat it for breakfast, lunch, snack, whenever. It’s just that sort of cake. Goes well with everything and everyone, if you’re wondering.

sem título-1140

My dog also enjoyed gazing at the cake.

Casa Vale da Lama Eco Resort – Pizza Time

In Vale da Lama there is an Eco Resort. Charm full, peaceful, plus, they have a Pizza gathering every so often Saturday through the warm summer evenings. You should call to reserve ahead of time – and make sure you don’t do it the day before, otherwise you will risk not being able to go.

Once you get there, and even if you get lost on the way (I did, at least twice), you will feel at home. Random tables, cozy benches, down to earth puffs, and several relaxed people waiting for a very delicious evening. As long as your stomach can handle as much pizza as it possibly can, you won’t ever leave this place hungry, I even had to stop eating the everlasting flow of pizza, because I just cannot leave a place without having dessert.

sem título-157

sem título-165

sem título-159

sem título-164

So, here’s the deal: you book, you arrive, you pay the 8€ that allow you to eat as much pizza as humanely possible, you buy a drink and you are seated to whichever table was assigned to you and your company. In case of small groups, you also get to know other individuals that will be seated next to you – it’s all about sharing a space, having a few laughs, eating pizza. What else cold you possibly want to enjoy on a summer saturday evening?

sem título-169

sem título-170

The pizzas, from what I gathered, are a mix of available ingredients: mushrooms, eggplant, onion, peppers, cucumbers, feta cheese and fresh herbs.

sem título-175

sem título-171

Besides the comfort food, the setting, the people, the whole event is an amazing experience. Whoever is preparing the pizza’s have the best mood ever – because pizza making is fun, ain’t it? Plus, you get to make a bunch of hungry people happy. That’s awesome just by itself.

sem título-178

Happy people – happy food!

sem título-181

sem título-180

sem título-188

sem título-218

sem título-191

The music is also fantastic! Kudos to the DJ for sharing some good tunes. This weekend coming up you can hear some live music from Mariana Root – it starts at 9:30pm. 

sem título-209-2

Even the Pizza People show their moves!

sem título-190

sem título-195

sem título-200

sem título-197

Even if you are not into much socializing, and want to gaze up at the vast star printed sky, you can enjoy such an event on many of their available chairs, puffs, even hammocks. On this night, I saw a shooting star.

sem título-204

sem título-226

The dessert: carob brownie with figs. You’re not gonna find a more traditional dessert like this one, with regional and sustainable ingredients. That’s what this place is all about – eco friendly fun and life.

Visit Vale da Lama Eco Resort event here, where you can find details for this Saturday, the 19th, and contact to make your reservation. More info on their accommodation, events, get to know them through their website here.

Alqueva Part 2 – The Food

I am not a travel writer, I am a cook and a food enthusiast. Nevertheless, I think I might start sharing my adventures around a few places, but I assure you it will always include food. If I’ve never been down this road before it’s because of:

A) Up till last year I was a mear culinary student (students don’t usually have much resources to travel – well, me at least).

B) Being from the Algarve, my only time off (summer) was spent working.

C) Surely, through any spare time I could find, I would cook and photograph and plan how to write a blog.

Anyhow, a year has passed, I gained (some) professional experience, saved up (some) money and decided to, instead of enrolling into a masters degree or something that would pin me down (financially and geographically), take interesting short-term courses to enrich my mind, body and soul (oh, and don’t forget, my belly) – I will surely post these whenever I start my adventures through wherever I go. You will find out soon enough! For now, here goes take 1.

This year, my parents were so kind I was actually invited to go on a four day trip to Alqueva. Check out my intro, aka Part 1 – The Trip!

I was bewildered (because they usually travel without the kid) yet grateful for the opportunity. Grabbed my bikini, Anthony Bourdain’s – A Cook’s Tour, my camera and hasta la vista world, here goes Mel to enjoy some silence, on a boat, in Alentejo.

I blame my mother for getting me into this post in the first place (in a good way obviously): besides introducing me to great travel writer such as Bill Bryson and handy Lonely Planet books, I think she knew I knew I had what it took to write an interesting point of view about our adventures on a boat through this unique place in Portugal. Heck, the world! She is also the best travel planner I have ever known. She does it at least twice a year and already has a first-name basis relationship with international airports and airlines (just kidding – but, if this were true, I wouldn’t be the least surprised).

Before you start mouthwatering on the other side of the screen, let me give you some basic info you might find useful:

  1. Amieira Marina is where you rent the boat. They provide a map, a big one. If you lose it, there is one stapled to the inside of the boat. Plus, GPS system is easy to get used to. Big big plus side? You don’t even need a boat license! You get a two hour tops lesson on how to drive it, float it right and, eventually, not sink it.                                            IMG_6923
  2. They provide elevator trolleys so you don’t have to carry heavy baggage. Yes, this means take as much food and booze as you possibly can.
  3. Kitchen completely equipped – even a BBQ you can set up! Stove and oven are gas run. Portable water and separate dam water taps (non consumable). Good sized fridge and regular freezer, plenty of cute plates and bowls, tea towels and table cloths, complementary basket with an Alentejano bread loaf and cured goat cheese. Now this is quality of life people! The only thing I could complain about was the amount of time the fridge took to cool my drinks (very hot, can’t blame floating technology) and the lack of sharp knives. I suppose my cooker self should have anticipated such a fact. Now I know never to travel without my kit again.
  4. PET FRIENDLY! Yes, for a small fee of 40€ you can take your dog. Make sure you buy a float jacket ahead of time and spend your peaceful moments teaching him how to fetch the tennis ball into the vast waters. Just tell him it’s a big pool – it worked for us!

sem título-293

sem título-248

So, as you can imagine, I was the private chef on the boat! I basically cooked and served whatever my dear mother thought we needed most. I can assure you, we could of survived another week, easily and comfortably, without starving. Here you have it:

sem título-44

Petisco lunch: veggies from our farm (cherry tomato, cucumber, green pepper, onion and cilantro with a balsamic + red wine vinegar combination), assorted deli such as Presunto, honey roasted ham, Queijo de Azeitão, healthy seedy crackers, bread, tinned preserved fish and, of course, beer! A 15 minute gathering of ingredients so we could make the best of our first day, with little hassle.

sem título-48

Do you like my smoked mackerel cracker bruschetta?


Waking up to this? Could get used to it, easily.


Breakfast with a view! Eggs, cheese, portuguese bread and butter. Some preserved asparagus – ovinhos com espargos is a very traditional Alentejano tidbit.

sem título-325

Stopped in Campinho on our second day where we found a park with tables, benches and embedded BBQ’s through the so called park. Plenty of friendly families who shared their burning coals so we could make a grilled veggie salad and some chicken breast marinated with pimentão doce (paprika), bay leaf, olive oil, salt, pepper and white wine.


Once we arrived at Monsaraz, so much art and unique features. First of all, if you want to go here, talk to Amieira Marina. They know a guy who knows a guy that owns a B&B who will gladly pick you up at the nautical club (where you will have to park your boat) in his private car so you can have a nice meal, a stroll and will even take you back. For half the price that a regular taxi would charge, this is the best solution as taxi’s will usually come from far away and will rip you off with a 60€ trip (even if it’s 20 min back and forth).

Dinner at Templários Restaurant:

sem título-376

Charcuterie plate with top notch cured pork.
sem título-379

sem título-378Goat cheese gratin with olive oil and oregano. Plenty of bread to dip!

sem título-384

Cabrito assado com batatas – young goat roasted in the oven till tender, with likewise accompanied potatoes.

sem título-382

Octopus with olive oil and cilantro.

sem título-421

Back in Aldeia da Luz, our final day. This town was completely rebuilt somewhere else – they even moved the cemetery and respective carcases. Otherwise, the town council wouldn’t have agreed with the move. Check out their museum for some historical facts.

sem título-417

Traditional Bakery Sign. Got there just in time (before 1pm as it shuts for lunch till 3pm) to buy a loaf and some almond and egg cream pastries.

Translation: The bakery belonged to the parents of the current owner, who still baked bread in a traditional brick oven. When he inherited the bakery, he continued to bake bread in the traditional way, only ceasing to do so when the family moved to the new village. Here you can find regional Alentejo bread and cakes. The bakery owners are Albertina and Manuel Godinho.

sem título-414

Alentejano excursionists arguing what they were going to have for lunch. Out of both options shared through what seemed to me loud roars of hangry (for more info about this human state, click here) they stood for at least 10 minutes discussing the pros and cons of choosing:

  •  carne de alguidar: when we make chouriço, we put everything in a bucket, season it well with salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, bay leaf and paprika, but instead of stuffing the chouriço we can also make a meal out of it. It actually goes by the name of bucket meat.
  • Churrasco – our grilled meat, you can call it our barbecue but without the american sauce. Simple is best with a tad of lemon juice topped after being grilled, to cut the strong flavor of the fat and smoke drenched meat.

sem título-274

Our last evening on the boat.

sem título-453

Preparing some roast veggie salad and local chouriço to put on the grill for our last floating meal.

sem título-470

Once back home, I couldn’t help myself by making a friendly petisco with my edible souvenirs. I brought three cheeses:

Cured sheep milk cheese – Sapata from Reguengos de Monsaraz

Cured sheep milk cheese – Lactobelavista from Rio dos Moinhos

Mixed sheep and cow milk cheese – Belqueijo from Nisa

I also brought back a black pig chouriço. Let’s just say it was too damn yummi, it didn’t survive before the photoshoot.

All in all – one of the best trips ever. Four days isn’t enough to cover the amount of territory you can explore. The people, the food, the peace and quiet, the warm still waters and the everlasting floating. After two days, I would step on land and feel like I hadn’t stopped floating – this is normal and a pretty cool thing to experience!

Stuffed Azeitão Cheese Rind

This post is about cheese, the portuguese kind that if you don’t already know about, you should search for on the internet and order some right away. Besides me talking you into trying some of our greatest delicacies, there will be a recipe, with simple ingredients none the less. Even if your cheese purveyor is not a portuguese fan (which he/she should be), you can adapt and create as you wish, with any other similar cheese you can get your hands on.

cheese tosat side

So, Azeitão cheese has a lovely story behind it, like most interesting cheeses do. One day, this guy (Gaspar Henriques de Paiva) who used to live in Serra da Estrela (highest range of mountains in continental Portugal, which produces a creamy scoopadilic cheese) decided to live elsewhere. He therefore moved to somewhere, called Azeitão, and decided to mimic his beloved iguary. So, that’s how the Azeitão cheese was borne (I am now wishing for more synonyms for the word cheese – which is impossible – so bare with me). It is made from unpasteurized sheep milk, and is coagulated with cardoon (Cynara cardunculus, L – related to thistle and artichoke), an abundantly found herb around the area, which has an enzyme that is responsible for the coagulation of the milk (that only works with goat or sheep’s milk). Later on cured in special conditions for 20 days, so that delicious flavor can maturate, consistency set and rind be developed. This precise way of production, also the breed of the sheep and the geographical location (Serra da Arrábida – District of Setúbal), makes this cheese a DOP product (Protected of Designation of Origin), with a runny spreadable consistency known by every portuguese person on the planet. Marvelous.


creamy goodness

I will warn you now – I eat too much bread. That’s just how the portuguese roll. Bread with everything. I don’t really have a tendency of eating it with a main course (although most PT’s do), unless it is a picky, or there is plenty of dipping sauce, or the bread itself is the meal – with picky snacks. Now, another warning, we don’t appreciate you calling our eating habits tapas, if you ever say that in front of a portuguese, you will get the hatred stare.  We eat and adore petiscos. In every possible way. And that always includes bread. So don’t think I’m obsessed with it or anything, it’s just a part of who I grew up to be. It is obviously a part of this vittle.

So, here is the “recipe” – it is more an idea than a recipe:

First get an Azeitão cheese. Spread that amazing gooeyness on anything you like. But, don’t do it while at fridge temperature – you must let it set at room temperature for a while before it becomes spreadable. Now, to all you health safety freaks out there, this can be a microbiological hazard, as it does have unpasteurized sheep’s milk. So don’t do this too often, as huge temperature discrepancies will increase the risk of a possible upset tummy. Although many studies have shown that raw milk cheese is a safer option, because of the natural flora (which interferes with pathogen survival), you should always store your goods in proper conditions and avoid huge temperature differences.

When you get to that point where you look at your cheese and think “not enough to spread on many crackers, but still plenty not to waste”, then that is when you should think about using that last bit and stuff the rind.

mushrooms and parsley

Now, choose your filling. I decided on mushrooms, parsley, fennel and smoked trout. The idea of fish with cheese never amused me much, but this is smoked trout from a can, which goes well with the mushrooms and combines perfectly with the delicate yet strong Azeitão.

truta pacote

le trout trout inside The mushrooms should be sautéed beforehand, otherwise they will release too much moisture and ruin the cheese. A slight maillard reaction also gives flavor and lets the rest of the ingredients to caramelize a bit. So, add a bit of olive oil to a pan, fry a bay leaf (yes, fry it a bit – it’s just like those indian spices which render best when heated in grease) crush a few cloves of garlic, add mushrooms and let them release all the water, then add chopped up fennel. Refresh with some dry sherry, and finish off with chopped parsley. mushrooms and trout 2

For the trout – this is already cooked, so just add it in with the mushrooms when finished.

Best to scrape all the remaining cheese out of the rind, before filling. Save that last bundle of happiness to scrape on one last cracker, and put the rest aside to top off the filling, so it gently melts in the oven. And top with whatever you have left of the cover (mine broke a bit, but it worked just as well).

ready oven 2

ready oven 1

I advise you to bake it on top of some parchment paper, as to move it will be a non profitable challenge – just cut around the excess paper and move it to a plate to serve (with the help of the parchment paper), so it won’t be destroyed.

The remaining bay leafe and parsley was used to decorate the concoction.

To bake it – 180ºC oven for about 5 minutes, it should end up looking like this:

cheese done outside

top off cheese

cheese and spoon

two toasts cheese back

toast hand

Serve it right away, with thinly sliced bread of your choice. Surrender to the meltiness of the cheese!

I used whole wheat with plenty of healthy seeds, just to make it a little bit healthier (though all the mushrooms, parsley, fennel and garlic already provide so many vitamins, not to mention the trout which is rich in Omega 3 – mega healthy treat).

Roast Tomato and Eggplant Pasta

Tomato season! Yey!

So from now on starts the tomato post shower, as I have too many tomatoes in my farm, more than I can handle. Gaspacho, tomato sauce, tomato salad, you name it. I’ve had enough lycopen intake to last me the rest of the year.

I’ve meant to post at least once the past two weeks, but I’ve been busy learning about reflex camera settings, and trying my best to take better photos, so you can all drool a bit while reading my posts. It’s the least I can do.


close up with eggplant

This dish is actually going to be my lunch for tomorrow, but heck, it was so yummy and healthy, I ended up nibbling on it anyway. It’s supper healthy and vegetarian acceptable (if you are the cheese eating type).

It all started when too many tomatoes gathered in the laundry room basket on the floor. It always does. My favorite way to eat them is roasted in the oven, so one day I cut them in half, and drenched them in blueberry balsamic glaze, olive oil, salt, and plenty of rosemary and thyme. And to the oven they went, until they were juicy and tender.

tomatoes 2 best

Here are the tomatoes, roasted, they are amazingly beautiful with bread. The olive oil and balsamic glaze sauce is the best bread dipper. Ever.

Back to the main recipe, which is dead easy. Bake whole wheat pasta, thinly slice eggplant and grill with little oil. Mix all together, with the previously baked tomatoes. Simple!

Now, a little nutrition expertise. By combining the tomatoes (with the pulp, seeds, everything) with olive oil and heat, lycopen absorption is enhanced. Super healthy to prevent certain types of cancer (male related) and osteoporoses in menopausal women.

side view board with pasta

whole table pasta

And because cheese is always a must, this one is extra special. Queijo da Ilha we call it, typically from Azores, it is ever so cheap and has an extraordinary taste to it, nutty and strong, goes well with any pasta dish.

The funny thing about these vegetarian meals is, I never used to like vegetables. At all. But I found a way to try to eat everything I didn’t like, and turn it into something I adore.


Say Cheese!

This post is about one of my favorite ingredients. I’m crazy about cheese, and I suppose you are too.

Today you will see a summery cheese plate that I gathered up for a family bbq yesterday, but I’m also showing my two previous Christmas’s pictures. I always take a snap because I really take pride and joy in crafting them!

Besides giving some tips about how to build up an amazing platter, I’m sure you are also interested about the content. Some ingredients are international, others are without a doubt, the tastiest portuguese cheeses I so very cherish.


For family events, in Portugal, cheese is a very popular staple picky/starter, always accompanied by some bread, sweety contrasts (honey and homemade jam), oh and wine! Never forget the wine. I will post something on wines in the near future.

The cheese I chose:

  • Alavão (mixed goat and cow’s milk with a paprika covering)
  • Roquefort
  • Strong cheddar
  • Parmegiano Regiano
  • Cambozola
  • Palhais goat cheese

Personally, I feel that more than 6/7 cheeses is pushing it a bit. Keep it varied, but simple! It is never about the amount. Quality above all people.

Flavor contrasting is what having taste buds is all about. Besides the sweet and salty sensation, texture is also important to capture, this is why finding nuts on a cheese platter is so common, yummi and posh (nuts can be quite expensive).

For sweetness, honey is the best. The Algarve offers a huge variety, from rosemary to orange blossom, and if you visit the north of the country (like Trás-os-Montes), Mel de Urze is dark and similiar looking to molasses, with a deep sweet flavor, from the flowers abundantly found through granitic lands.

Another great combination is quince marmalade, well we call it “marmelada” but it’s firm because of the fruit’s high pectine concentration, not exactly the runy marmalade everyone is used to. You can actually cut it into cubes or slithers, without desintegrating. Homemade jam, or any store bought of your preference, will also do.

Recently I’ve discovered a balsamic glaze, an italian product I found in a local supermarket in Praia da Luz (southern Portugal), that ever so often sells peculiar gourmet products. The best thing about these glazes (or the worst for my food budget), is the different flavors! I bought blueberry (my fave), fig, pomegranate, chillie and original (red grape). My next purchase will be lemon and, well, any other flavor I don’t already have! Ever so good with cheese.


Now for the fruit: grapes, the ones in the picture are from my vine, still quite sour but heck, I did not want to go to the supermarket on purpose; figs (the purple ones are good in June, the green ones in September); apples and berries (winter); pears as well (careful to cut only before serving, they will go brown from oxidation).

Nuts: almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pinenuts, cashew, etc. And a pretty herb for decoration.


Last Christmas I tried this cheese log, I bought a goat cheese with honey (the brand is called Palhais), very smooth and creamy. I chopped up some pistachios and cranberries, rolled the cheese to stick, and, wait for it, christmas colors all around.


This was my first cheese plate (2012), some cheddar, parmegiano and two creamy cheeses, where I just cut off the top, so it’s just a matter of spooning the creamy stuff on crackers or bread (this cheese is strong, but so cozy for winter events, and low maintenance to prepare, as you can see).


Last christmas I also made these little puff pastry goodies with cream cheese, cheddar and spinach. Just mix the ingredients, improvise and adjust to taste, spoon in previously fitted puff pastry squares (with a mini cupcake tray), and into the oven (200ºC) until the pastry is cooked.


So, here is last Christmas’s cheese platter, with the previously shown log, glouchester with chives (the orange one), another creamy one from Serra da Estrela, parmegiano, gorgonzola, apple slices, currant (yet again, holiday colors!) and nuts.

Bacon & Mushrooms

One of the best combinations ever, simple comfort goodness of mouthwatering food. The key to this yummy dish is quality ingredients (as always), so make sure to buy the best bacon, and don’t forget some outstanding mushrooms.

This is no low cal dish, however, healthy substitutes are always a possibility, like whole wheat pasta or light cooking cream (turkey bacon is NOT an option, please cook the real deal).


First of all, and most crucial step, is the sauce. No simple matter of engaging cream with sautéed mushrooms, it’s all about blending the ingredients together, none the less, a simple technique that makes all the difference. Just blend the mix and, well, that’s it. Nothing like enhancing flavors by grinding and destroying food’s cells.

First step: fry the bacon. Now this will get you going! Nothing fancy about this process, just pure maillard baconny smell.

Second step: Take the bacon out of the pan, cut it into pieces (not microscopic), oh and try not to eat it all while you complete the following steps. Or just make some extra, in case you can’t help yourself from nibbling.

Third step: Add some olive oil (if previously cooked bacon is not too fatty), chopped onion, let fry. Slivered fresh garlic and a bay leaf. Fry some more. Add mushrooms, fry for 5 minutes and deglaze with white wine (I use dry Sherry).

Fourth step: Separate half of the mushroom mix.

Fifth step: Add cream to the mixture left in the pan. Lactose intolerants, don’t panic! Soy cream is and excellent substitute, I find it quite enjoyable to cook with. Allow the sauce to heat through, never boil.

Sixth step: Blend what is in the pan, but don’t forget to take the bay leaf out first!

Seventh step: Stir in butter (yes, butter, not that I can’t believe it’s not crap, nor margarine), the remaining mushrooms, salt (if needed) and freshly ground pepper. Take off the burner, add some delightful cheese (my fave is cheddar, roquefort or parmegiano) and more cream until desired consistency. Mix everything with the pasta.



Pasta, grate some more cheese and top with chives. Meritoriously delicious.