Portuguese Treasure Revisited

Previously I posted an item about a rice cooker which I found on a visit to Lisbon ( Portuguese Treasure ), however, earlier this year while staying on the Algarve in Olhao I found an even more strange and wonderful kitchen utensil, namely this:

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As those of you who have visited Portugal and tasted their wonderful pastries will know many of these scrumptious morsels have egg yolks as one of their main ingredients; the reason for which dates back to when the nuns in the convents ran laundries and white linens were “starched” with egg whites leaving an abundance of egg yolks remaining for baking!

KG180804607aWeb1Beaten eggs yolks are put in the can and poured into a hot sugar solution to create fine threads of egg called fios de ovos. Apparently the pouring technique is an acquired skill!  Thanks to Portugal’s colonial history fios de ovos is found in many  other parts of the world including Japan (keiran somen), Cambodia (vawee), India (muttamala), Thailand (foi thong), Spain (huevo hilado) and elsewhere, when is often simply called angel hair.

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After buying the initial rice cooker I managed to order three more and used them to create a lighting feature in the corner of the kitchen while still having one spare to use as a prop; needless to say this has yet to happen.

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Jean Anderson’s Sweet Red Pepper Paste (Massa de Pimentão)

Pimentão

This blog was inspired by Food52 and a recipe by Jean Anderson taken from her cookbook “The Food of Portugal” (or is it Brazil given the spelling of pepper?). I suspect that many of you will already be familiar with Food52 but if not be sure to check out their web site with its wonderful recipes, inspirational photography (consistently well lit and styled but never, as is so often the case, over propped) and not to forget the amazing array of kitchen and dining “essentials” that they sell. I count myself lucky that they are not based here in the UK or I would be even more cash strapped than I am today faced with such temptations. I have always been attracted to what can be best described as kitchen paraphernalia but as I have become more and more involved with food photography my collecting of plates, cutlery, glasses, pans, etc, etc seemingly has no bounds! After all, it will all find its way into a shoot sooner or later!

slicing & salting red peppers

But to return to the recipe; peppers have long been a favourite of mine both to photograph and to eat so this recipe was clearly a “must try” all the more because of its simplicity. You can find the recipe here but essentially it involves little more than cutting the peppers into strips and placing them in a bowl with sea salt between each layer and leaving uncovered for at least 12 hours.

Sliced & salted red peppers

Any excess liquid is then poured off and the peppers roasted at 125oC for about two to two and a half hours after which the skins are removed

roasted and skinned red peppers

and the pulp homogenised together with a clove of garlic and a little olive oil.

sweet red pepper paste

By the time all of this was done the air in the studio was heady with the smell of roast peppers and I had a satisfactory stash of paste set aside to use over the weekend as a marinade and sauce as well as a number of new pictures taken along the way.