Portuguese food

You may remember a while back that I got a surprise in the mail from my friends Paulo and Ana of Postcrossing fame.

It was a Portuguese cookbook called Piri Piri Starfish and I have cooked from it, but just not had time to document what I cooked the first time and how it turned out.

I chose 2 simple dishes – Calamari with Lemon, Garlic and Piri Piri and Roasted new Potatoes with Tomatoes and white Wine.

I knew that Dave would have the potato dish but not the calamari as he is allergic to seafood.

Calamari  Roast potato


Both were simple dishes to prepare and in a way quite good plain simple food with ingredients that most kitchens have on hand. I did have to go and buy Piri Piri and the closest I could find was Piri Piri seasoning. I also went a bit light on using this as I didn't know how hot it was. The bottle said HOT. I did want to try one of the salted cod dishes but I have been unable to find salted cod in my shopping area.

Potatoes  finished potatoes

I love calamari or squid, which is what we called it as kids, and before it became a yuppie food and not bait. I find it economical to buy and cooked right very tasty. I often have calamari in the freezer for when I want to have a feed.

cooking calamari  cooking with spices

The finished dish was yummy and I realised that I could have been a bit more generous with the Piri Piri as I like hot and spicy foods and I had no trouble with the taste.

Cooked calamari



Lovely and not as scary as I imagined. Yes I went with simple foods and really enjoyed the tastes. Satisfying and filling.


I am continually surprised by the generosity and goodwill that comes from my online friends and today was no exception. When I went to the postoffice to collect the mail there was a card in the postoffice box telling me that there was a parcel inside to collect.

What was in that parcel defied any expectations. There was the most glorious book on Portugeuse cooking "Piri Piri Starfish" from my special friends Ana and Paulo (who are Portuguese). Paulo started the postcrossing project that is a source of much enjoyment and friendship through postcards from around the world that I am a member of.


Book cover

I am a bit of a foodie (my waist-line attests to this) and at times when Ana talks about a particular food she likes or misses from her home of Portugal I will ask her what it is etc. This book is absolutely Portuguese cooking heaven and the pictures in it show so much of not only the food but the way of life and people of Portugal.

pages from book

The author of the book has a running commentary on each page on the history or location of where he ate the food and the recipes as he travelled around Portugal.

bean soup

I now have a dilemma!

Which recipe to try first.

Some of the ingredients are available locally to me and in season. The main staple of Portuguese cuisine ‘salt cod’ isn’t but I am hoping that enquiries at an international grocery shop up in Adelaide may produce some of the missing ingredients. Many of the recipes use everyday food staples like potatoes and eggs and the author does give suggestions of substitutes if they are not available in your country. Chourico I haven’t seen locally but the Spanish chorizo made an appearance in my local town about 12 months ago, so I will use that when called for. Piri Piri oil is used a lot and the author gives a recipe on making this but I have seen in the local supermarket Piri Piri something, will need to have a closer look and decide if it will do.

I am surprised at the amount of pulses used in the recipes and that fits in well with my recent classes on cooking with dried beans. Seafood dominates and not just the expensive seafood but the cheaper types like sardines and octopus and calamari.

And what recipe book wouldn’t be complete without a dessert section. All simple family fare with regional recipes and fresh ingredients.

The rooster in this pic is very common in Portuguese households and is called Galo de Barcelos or Goodluck Rooster.

Thank you Ana and Paulo for thinking of me with this wonderful gift for my birthday. I will have fun trying out the recipes.

Portugal street


Bean Cuisine – Week 3


This week’s class started early. I got there at 9:55am and already the teams had formed up and were in the kitchen unpacking the ingredients. This week only 6 showed up to the class. The teacher again held back a recipe for the celiac man but he never showed up. I am not surprised as he really wasn’t getting much from the class for his money. This was the first time I actually saw some uncooked beans/lentils in the class, there were red lentils for the soup.
Week 3 Menu

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup

Fettucine with tomato and Chick Peas

Vegetarian Kebabs

Tuna Burger


With 6 of us being there we were in 2 teams of 2 and 2 individuals. I was alone and had the Tuna Burger recipe.

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup
500g sweet potato, roughly chopped
1 large onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup red lentils
2 teaspoons Thai red or yellow curry paste
2 teaspoons coriander leaves, chopped
1 stock cube
185ml light evaporated milk
1 heaped teaspoon cornflour
Chilli to taste



Place sweet potato, onion, garlic and lentils in a large cooking pot with 5 cups of water. Bring to boil and simmer gently until sweet potato and lentils are soft (approx. 25mins). Place cornflour into a bowl and gradually stir in milk to form a smooth paste. Combine with curry paste, stock cube and coriander. Add to sweet potato and lentil mixture and mash or blend until smooth.

Sweet Potato cooking

This was absolutely wonderful tasting. I didn’t realise it had curry paste in it until now when I was typing out the recipe. It had loads of flavour and was very nice. Probably the best tasting item we had made in the 3 weeks. I will be making this at home and even bought some sweet potatoes from the fruit and veg shop on my way home.

Vegetarian Kebabs with Tofu
Small block very firm tofu
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
Dash balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Sprinkle sesame seeds
Large clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 large capsicum (red or green or yellow) cut into bite size pieces
Olives (optional)
Pineapple pieces (optional)
Bamboo skewers, soaked in water



Drain tofu and pat the surface dry with paper towel. Cut into bite size pieces. Prepare marinade by mixing the chilli sauce, vinegar, oil, sesame sees, garlic and ginger and coat the tofu pieces in it. If possible leave for several hours or overnight. Thread the tofu, onion and capsicum (and olives and/or pineapple if using them) onto the skewers. Grill, barbecue or bake the kebabs until the vegetables are soft.

Uncooked kebabs

These were quite nice, the marinade gave a nice taste to the tofu, which is quite tasteless otherwise and were very popular with the class.

Fettucine with fresh Tomato and Chickpeas
500g fettucine
1 x 300g can chick peas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons capers (optional)
1 small red onion, chopped
4 ripe red tomatoes, chopped
Cup chopped fresh parsley
Lemon juice, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Olive oil
Cook the fettucine in a large pan of boiling water until al dente (cooked but still firm). Drain and return to pan. Add a little olive oil and toss and coat the pasta. Season with the lemon juice and black pepper and serve with the fettucine.
?????? This recipe seems to be missing some of the instruction? No mention of what to do with the tomato, chick peas, onion etc. The team making this decided that uncooked tomato/chick pea mixture would be too bland and so cooked them in a pot as a sauce before adding to the cooked fettucine.
Tomato fettucine sauce

 The fettucine dish looked good after it was cooked and assembled but was severely lacking in flavour, no fault of the cooks, the recipe was lacking. The cooks were unsure if the tomato mixture should have been cooked and after tasting this with it cooked we all agreed that it needed something like a tomato paste or similar.

Tuna Burger
425g tuna, drained and flaked
¾ cup cooked and drained lentils (or tinned)
1 onion finely chopped
1 egg
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Grated zest 1 lime
2 tablespoons oil
50g rocket leaves
4 rolls, halved and toasted
½ cup plain flour
1 egg lightly beaten with a little milk
1 cup dried breadcrumbs or stuffing mix
Caper Mayonnaise
1/3rd cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon lime juice



Combine burger ingredients in a bowl. (I was unsure if the rocket leaves were burger ingredients or not, so I decided they weren’t) Season to taste. Using clean hands, shape mixture into 4 flattened patties (I was told to make double mixture but even if doing the original amount this was going to make many more than 4 patties). Place flour, egg and breadcrumbs into separate bowls. Coat patties in flour, dip in egg and coat in breadcrumbs. (This was IMPOSSIBLE to do. The mixture was so moist and kept breaking up into pieces that it was a pointless excercise). Chill for 10 minutes.

Uncooked burgers

Heat oil in large frying pan on medium heat. Cook patties for 2 minutes each side until golden. Drain on paper towel.

Caper Mayonnaise

In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, lime juic and capers. Season to taste. Make up the 4 burgers (or in our case supposedly 8 because I doubled the recipe).

This dish was a failure! Crumbled before even being able to coat or cook. It was reasonable tasteless and was a flop. The class did wonder if mashing the lentils may have helped keep it together. We never made it up as burgers as the cooked mix was just a scrambled stir.

The Finished Dishes







tuna burger

So that’s the last of these Bean Cuisine classes and I have to say that I didn’t learn anything new or become any more confident in buying and using dried beans to what I have already ever used. My favourite recipe from the 3 weeks was the Sweet Potato and Red Lentil soup, I will make that at home. I was disappointed that we never actually saw/used different types of dried beans and everything was canned. I also feel that many others felt the same as many never came back in following classes. As I said in lesson 1, if I hadn’t had to pay for the 3 weeks up front I wouldn’t have bothered going back for the next 2 weeks.

There was a lot of week 3’s food left over and even though we were all encouraged to take some home much got left. I decided that my 2 dogs would appreciate the tuna ‘dish’ so took some of that home. They really enjoyed it!

Ceri & Dimi eating tuna


Read Week 1 blog

Read Week 2 blog