Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Aletria Doce (sweet angel hair dessert)

Aletria is the Portuguese translation for "Angel Hair Pasta"
"Aletria Doce" or Sweet angel hair pasta, is a very popular recipe mainly in the northern regions of Portugal in the area of Tras os Montes and Minho.
There are many variations of this dish as well from region to region as well as family to family.
In other areas of Portugal rice is used instead of the pasta and called "arroz doce", sweet rice.
The recipes are very similar.

The Ingredients are simple,
8 oz of Aletria (angel hair pasta), (the round ones that are made for soup are the traditional)
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 stick of butter
pinch of salt
one lemon or orange (zest or lemon peel)

This is where it changes, some recipes use eggs or egg yolks, more sugar, no water, and in some cases no milk.

Aletria can be made "milk free" and is made that way in some areas. Or try using coconut or soy milk as a milk alternative.

I find it easier to cook the pasta in the water with the lemon or orange peels,
when 1/2 cooked drain the water & add the milk, butter & sugar so it slightly covers the pasta, continue to simmer & stirring to evaporate the liquid.
when the liquid is gone & pasta is a very sticky consistency, spread the pasta thinly onto plates to cool & dry.
sprinkle & decorate with cinnamon.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Roupa Velha (Christmas Day)

On Christmas Day or the day after, everyone is busy from the previous days festivities & usually there are plenty of leftovers. It is traditional to serve the previous days bacalhau meal but transformed into a new meal called "Roupa Velha", which means "Old Clothes"

The bacalhau is boned & broken into smaller pieces, the potatoes are quartered & the cabbage cut into strips. The ingredients are mixed together & warmed on the stove top. New onions are sliced & caramelized in olive oil & spread over the mixture.

The result is a "new" delicious dish made from leftovers
Roupa Velha is a Christmas tradition in Portugal with bacalhau, in Brazil It would be made with the meat & vegetables from Cozido. a boiled dinner.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Traditional Portuguese Christmas Eve Dinner

Bacalhau or "salt cod" has been a major staple & favorite meal throughout Portugal since the 14th century when Portuguese fishermen would make the three month voyage in small ships to fish off the coast of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. There are many variations of Portuguese "Bacalhau" recipes, It is said that there are 365 recipes, one can have a different bacalhau meal every day of the year. It is no wonder that Bacalhau is known to the Portuguese as "meu amigo bacalhau", (my dear friend, bacalhau).

It is no wonder that this simple dish is the favorite to have on this day of celebration.
The bacalhau is boiled along with potatoes and cabbage and boiled eggs. The cabbage in Portugal is a dark green, thick leafed "couve galega" that is grown through-out Portugal and can be seen in almost everyone's backyard. This is the cabbage that would likely be used on Christmas day meal, although any cabbage or broccoli rabe can be used as well.

The bacalhau (salt cod) is bought dried & preserved in salt & must be soaked in water for 24 hrs prior to cooking. The water should be changed several time to extract the salt & rehydrate the fish. Simply boil or steam all the ingredients fish potatoes & cabbage in a large pot for about 20 minutes. The bacalhau should be cut into portions before soaking. In a separate skillet heat 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil & brown sliced onion rings in hot oil. To serve, drain the bacalhau, potatoes, cabbage and eggs, peal the & slice the eggs & pour the olive oil & onion mixture over them, add Portuguese olives & serve with a crusty bread.