Algarvian Carrots

Here’s a vegetarian nibble, nonetheless a very Portuguese one, specific to the Algarve, the southern part of the country.

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Our tidbits, or petiscos as we call them, are a reason to mingle and an excuse to have a drink or two. Unlike the spanish tapas, which were born out of necessity, traditionally seen as a slice of bread used to cover glasses of wine to keep the flies away (I have always wondered if there is any truth in this – I would suppose that flies would be more attracted to food than to booze, but the concept does make sense as the verb tapar literally means to cover something).

The Algarve was only conquered in 1249 and considered as a separate part of the country for centuries. Given the fact that Portugal was occupied by diverse cultures for so long and is vastly known for being the main entrance to Europe, the Algarve in particular prospered into a very unique region. Boasting grand monuments like Moorish castles, places named with the “Al” prefix and special ingredients, this region is characterized by its predominant Arab influence – such as the recipe I share with you today.

In restaurants and taverns through this southern part of our country, you will find this simple marinated carrot preserve, made with cumin – one of the many ingredients that has become part of our traditional food.

I posted this recipe on the Portugal Resident a month ago, but I am now posting it on my personal blog in honor of the Rota do Petisco (the Tidbit Route), that has been going on since the beginning of September, and only has one week left. Basically it’s a route where various restaurants and food & beverage establishments have a specific petisco + beverage for only 3€ (sweet and coffe or regional liquor goes for 2€). You adquire a passport for 1€ (money goes towards social programs) that allows you to check out every participant, where it is, what you can eat and till what time the place is open. The specific areas that have been a part of this long lasting gastronomic event in the Barlavento side of the Algarve is Portimão (three areas), Alvor, Ferragudo, Mexilhoeira Grande, Silves and Monchique. Hurry up and be a part of this edible rally until de 10th of October, very well organized and set up by Teia d’Impulsos – next year, expand to Lagos please!

Now about this algarvian petisco:

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– 1 kg peeled carrots
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 teaspoon caster sugar
– 3 cloves of minced garlic
– 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
– 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
– 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
– 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and cilantro
– Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Boil the peeled carrots for 15-20 minutes, with the bay leaf and teaspoon of sugar. They are not meant to be overcooked.

Cut the carrots into large slithers, big enough to be eaten with a toothpick.

Mix in the remaining ingredients except the cumin, which has a special technique associated with it.

By slightly heating the seeds in a non stick frying pan, they become more aromatic. Just make sure not to burn them!

Don’t throw away all of the cooked broth; keep at least half a cup for the marinated concoction and the remaining can be used for a soup or to make some tasty vitamin-rich rice.

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I also made this cheese twisted peanut pesto bread (future recipe to post), in the meantime you can check out one of my oldest posts with the peanut pesto post, special edition made with purple basil.

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For one of those lazy afternoons, I enjoyed the marinated carrots, the cheese pesto bread and some extra virgin olive oil with droplets of homemade balsamic glaze infused with orange zest and rosemary.

This is a great recipe for a nibble evening with friends, or to make a different salad.

Any leftovers? Make a tasty tuna sandwich for lunch, with this veggie as an extra filling.



I simply love noodles, nothing amazing about them, but astonishing if served with the right ingredients.
The Pho is a vietnamese kind of ramen, usually a best seller for street food lovers, also a staple breakfast for locals. It’s packed with all necessary nutrients, a complete meal to start off the day.


Making this oriental classic is all about the broth. A bit labor intensive yet such a cooking lesson! You will soon see why.
First and foremost, go by your best butcher or meat purveyor and get some beef bones, if they like you, best chance you will get them for free. Buy about 2 kilos.

Now, this trick isn’t a novalty, but I guess many people don’t usually use it – cleaning the bones. Boiling them in water for about 10 minutes will extract a large quantity of impurities. Discard the water and wipe off any leftover scum (do not touch the marrow). Set aside, and prepare the vegetables:
– 2 large onions, skin on
– 1 garlic head, cut in half
– 5 slices of ginger (about 1/2 cm thick and 4 cm long)
– 1/2 bulb of fennel

Toast the veggies on an open flame, with some tongs. Careful not to burn the skin of the onion and garlic, if by any chance you find this difficult, use a torch and finish off in the oven (180ºC), do not burn the garlic, and take the ginger out before the other ingredients.



Mix the veggies with the bones, top with water (triple the water to the amount of solids) and add the following spices:

  • 3 cloves star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 tablespoon of peppercorns, corriander and mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of cloves
  • 5 cardomom seeds
  • salt
  • brown sugar


Now, you can grab a beer and relax! Four hours of waiting until this baby starts to smell brothy. The best solution is to make it ahead of time, like the day before, or doubling the batch and freezing for future nosh.
By the end of the cooking process, add the fish sauce, and make sure the flavors are balanced. Look for the sweety, salty, tangy aromatic broth. Now, it will look quite dense, which is normal, the next step is to purify the broth. First strain it, to remove veggies, bones and spices. Then you can do one of two processes: strain again through a kitchen cloth (like a cheese cloth) or use egg whites (gently warm up the broth with raw egg whites, when coagulation point is reached, strain it again with some kitchen towel). I can’t assure which process works best, although I have heard the egg white might remove flavor, but it’s an amusing experience to do, the difference between the before and after broth is outstanding!


The before broth


The after broth – looks like a consommé 

Vietnam, like most oriental countries, uses rice as a primary staple food, this goes for the noodles as well. I advise the ones that kind of look like taglietelli, very yummi and soak up more flavor from the surrounding. Be careful cooking the noodles, it’s a very quick process, so use already boiling water, and as soon as they are done, pass through cold water to prevent mushiness. You will also need to prepare the following:

  • stir fry mung bean sprouts
  • thinly slice some tender beef (against the grain people! Always!)
  • slice fresh chillies
  • pick fresh herbs (cilantro, basil and mint), chop half, keep some whole leaves for decoration
  • cut up one lime into squeezable wedges

Plating: stack some noodles in a bowl, top with raw and possibly cooked meat (leftover from the bones), pore on hot broth, finish with stir fried (or raw) mung bean sprouts, fresh herbs, chilli and lime.

Avocado, cocoa and roast banana cream pie

Yet another recipe developed for class, diet pastry last semester. Such an easy dessert to make, inspired by vegan pinterests I’ve been following, and a huge breakthrough for my eating habits, like incorporating an avocado in a dessert (I don’t even like the damn fruit).

So basically, the first step consists in baking a tart base. Gluten-free if you need it (I did for my project), if by any chance, you are not allergic to gluten, the fact you choose to gluten-free products/recipes/ingredients, won’t make you any healthier. Freakishly disturbing the amount of crazy people out there that think this is true, well, it’s not. (Although lactose is a whole different story, I promise to dish out the info sometime soon)

The filing is the most simple thing I have ever cooked, for a moment I felt quite ashamed about presenting such an uncomplicated technique, but what the heck, whoever is on a diet will never what to make such an effort doing so.

Just to embellish the dish a little, I garnished the plate with some bruléed banana slices, slithered almonds and cilantro flowers. Pretty darn simple, yet beautifully composed.




Tart base (gluten-free):

  • 256 grams gluten-free flour
  • 2 grams salt
  • 100 g margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons cold water

Procedure: mix flour with the salt and incorporate the cold margarine with finger tips, without giving it too mush heat. While using the twirly ends of a beater (if you have a kitchen aid, use the dough hook), add in the previously beaten egg with the cider vinegar, and the cold water, one tablespoon at a time. Mix till combined, cover in plastic wrap and let set in the fridge for about 30 minutes (not because the gluten needs to relax – there is non! – but to firm up the dough before rolling it out).

Roll out the dough, as thin as you possibly can, fill and form a mini tartlet dish and blind bake it with weights (dried chickpeas or beans on parchment paper), at 175ºC until golden and firm.




  • 1 very ripe avocado
  • 1 whole roast banana (with skin, until completely black)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 20 grams low fat, dutched cocoa (the darker it is, higher pH and much more intense dutch process)
  • 1 tablespoon soy/almond/lactose free milk

Procedure: blend all ingredients (just don’t forget to take the banana out of the peel). So simple. Next, you just need to fill the tartlet, add garnishes and voilá.

If by any chance you do not know how to brulé banana slices: cover the surface of the wedge with sugar, use a torch to caramelize it, just beware about doing it to ahead of time, sugar is way hygroscopic, aka absorbing too much moisture from surrounding air, it will get soggy and loose that brulé crunch.