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


Bean Cuisine week 2




Week 2 of the Bean Cuisine class saw 7 of the original 10 turn up. Class started late because the hall where the kitchen we were using was locked and we had to wait until someone came and unlocked the premises. Seems there had been a mix-up with leaving the door unlocked by the hall owners. In the end there were 8 of us with one class member arriving late. He ended up not participating in the kitchen because we were all well into preparations by then.

Week 2 Menu

Butter Bean Dip with Toasted Pitta

Pumpkin and Baked Bean Quiche with salad

Chili Con Elote

Banana Pancakes

As there were only 7 of us there were 3 teams of 2 and one team of 1 (that was me).

I made the Butter Bean Dip

1 x 300g tin butter-beans, drained and rinsed
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 cloves crushed garlic


Puree beans, add olive oil to dip consistency. Add garlic to taste.

Toast pitta bread and cut into pieces for dipping

Dip preparation


Well there was no olive oil supplied so I used Rice Bran oil. 1 or even 2 tablespoons wasn’t enough oil as the beans were too stiff when pureed. I probably added about ½ cup of oil to get a smooth paste. I was liberal with the garlic (I like garlic ). We didn’t have pitta bread but lavash instead. I toasted it in triangles in the oven.

At the tasting the dip was fine but the class decided it needed a bit more flavour in it other than garlic, possibly lemon juice or even some salt and yet everyone kept going back for more. The celiac man bought his own rice biscuits to use with the dip. The dip got finished.

Chilli Con Elote – Beans with Corn

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large clove garlic
1 medium capsicum (red or green) diced
½ cup tomato paste
2 cups cooked kidney or pinto beans, drained
½ teasoon chilli powder (optional)
1 teaspoon dried oregano or basil
1 medium onion
1 cup vegetable stock
2 cups fresh corn or 250g pkt frozen corn
1 teaspoon cumin powder


Saute onion in oil until onion becomes transparent. Add garlic and capsicum. Saute another 2-3 minutes. Add stock, tomato paste and corn. Mash 2 cups of beans and add to pot along with whole beans and seasonings. Simmer 30 minutes on low heat. If too watery, remove cover and cook for another 10 minutes.

chilli on stove

 This had a lot of flavour and was very nice. It was served without any accompanients but would have been further enhanced with either taco shells or corn chips. It was very popular and was a hit.

Pumpkin and Baked Bean Quiche with Salad

1 sheet frozen pastry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
1 cup coarsely grated butternut pumpkin
3 eggs separated
1 tablespoon flour
440g can baked beans
¼ cup pinenuts


Preheat oven to 200ºC. Cut pastry to fit a 20cm x 5cm deep quiche pan and cut away excess pastry. Bake pastry case 5 – 7 minutes. Fry pumpkin and onion in oil until onion softens. Remove from heat and beat egg yolks and flour. Fold in baked beans and pinenuts. Beat egg white until stiff and fold into the baked bean mix. Pour into pastry case. Bake in oven for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 180ºC for 25 minutes until centre is well risen and golden. Remove and let stand for 5 minutes before serving with salad.

Well because there was a member of the class with celiac disease the main teacher prepared at home a base for the quiche made from polenta and so the pastry wasn’t used.

Quiche uncooked

The hype surrounding the quiche was short-lived, the mixture had been thickened with flour and so the celiac man didn’t have any. It also was still runny in the mixture even though the baking instructions had been followed correctly. Neither instructor had actually made the recipe so weren’t aware that the cooking time wasn’t long enough. It tasted fine but was really very ordinary.

Banana Pancakes

½ cup yellow split peas, soaked overnight
1 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
¾ cup milk
1 large banana, sliced
2 teaspoon polyunsaturated margarine


Drain split peas and blend in food processor until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar, milk and eggs. Blend to form a thick batter. Gently stir in slice banana. Heat margarine in a non-stick pan, pour in 2 tablespoons of mixture and swirl evenly over base. Cook for 2 minutes or until bubbles appear on surface. Turn over and cook until golden. Remove and keep warm. Continue with rest of batter. Dust with icing sugar and serve with ice cream.

Pancakes cooking

The banana pancakes were ‘interesting‘ but they really were very heavy because they used wholemeal flour and the banana and cinnamon got lost in the taste. We all agreed in the class that we wouldn’t be making these at home.

The finished items







Next week is the last week and the menu is Sweet Potato Soup, Fettucine with Tomato and Chick Peas, Vegetarian Kebabs (will be interesting to see how they thread beans onto kebab sticks) and Tuna Burger. Well at least there is no dip and the menu looks like it is substantial enough to actually have a lunch. The soup is going to be the longest item to make, with the rest being finished in a shorter time.


Read about Week 1 class

Read about Week 3 class