I owe my passion for the whole culinary process to my dear grandmother Isaura. It is because of her cooking that I love the researching of ingredients, the gathering of inspiration for dishes and the sharing of food with the ones who I most love and care for. I still remember school holidays when I sat at her kitchen table watching her cut the finest of beans, or the smallest of sardines, with the precision of a surgeon. She would then cook these ingredients in her old pans that sat on top of the most gorgeous, albeit fierce, white enamel stove called “Leão” – Lion. She fed the family with her tasty and hearty dishes that came from her own culinary heritage, from which I get so much of my inspiration. I present you today a re-interpretation of one of her dishes, the delicious fresh mackerel that she would normally steam with turnip greens and serve with ‘punched’ potatoes. I have substituted the greens for a delicious fennel, red pepper and red onion stuffing
And for dessert, a cake from the Azores archipelago, made from stout, dry nuts and honey.
Roast fresh mackerel, stuffed with peppers & fennel and “punch potatoes”
2 fresh mackerel (clean, gutted and without heads)
1 red pepper
A half bulb of fennel
1 small red onion
Salt & pepper
1 tbsp of olive oil
500 g of new potatoes
For the dressing:
1 small bunch of parsley (chopped)
1 tbsp of olive oil
salt & pepper
juice of 1 small lemon
Pre-heat the oven at 190 ºC.
Deseed the pepper and put it in the food processor, together with the onion and the fennel. Whizz them together until they are finely chopped and blended together. Cut open the mackerels and stuff with this mixture. Place them in an oven tray, sprinkle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Take the tray to the oven and roast the mackerels for 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile wash the potatoes and boil them with skin in pan with water and salt. When they are ready, drain them well and with your thumb slightly squash every one of them, until they break. In a small bowl mix the parsley with the olive oil and the lemon juice. Season with the salt & pepper. Sprinkle the potatoes with this dressing and place the mackerel on top. Serve immediately.
Stout cake (Bolo de Cerveja Preta)
250g of white flour
200g of sugar
125 ml of stout (Guinness)
2 tbsp of honey
1 tsp of baking powder
half tsp of cinammon powder
half tsp of nutmeg powder
rind of 1 lemon
Pre-heat the oven at 180 ºC.
In a medium size bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until it resembles a white, smooth paste. Mix in well the stout and the honey. Add in the cinnamon powder, the nutmeg and the rind of lemon. Sift in the flour together with the baking powder and beat everything very well.
Transfer the cake mix into a buttered and floured 20cm cake tin. Place it in the oven and bake the cake for approximately 35-40 minutes. Test if it is cooked by piercing the middle with a skewer which should come out dry. Take it out of the oven and let it cool down completely. Dust the top with icing sugar if preferred.