ss_blog_claim=2c5faffa5fc090bdfc0171aeb30e392d Santa Luzia

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Pork Stew.

First of all let me wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year. I hope to be meeting many more of my readers here in Santa Luzia during 2014.

Time flies and it is mid January already yet the sun continue to shine here on the Algarve and temperatures during the day are maintaining a very respectable mid to high teens.

Not so for the lovely Joan however, she jetted off to New York for a week on the 6th of January and arrived there just 2 days before the so called "polar vortex" which caused temperatures to plummet to below minus 20.

This sojourn left me  once again fending for myself and as the week went on my experiments in the kitchen got bolder and bolder and culminated in an attempt at a Portuguese style pork stew.
It was to my mind very successful and produced a really tasty dish.
In August I published my recipe for Portuguese style fish stew and a number of readers have asked for further recipes so here goes!!!

Portuguese Pork Stew

·         500g boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
·         Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
·         Half  tsp. hot paprika
·         Half  tsp. cumin seeds
·         1 Tbs. olive oil
·         1 red onion, diced
·         2 large garlic cloves, minced
·         100mls full-bodied red wine
·         250mls chicken stock
·         400g. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
·         1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

Brown the pork
Season the pork generously with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the paprika and cumin seeds.

In a large pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.
Add the pork and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a plate.
 Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and garlic to the pan and sauté until softened.
Stir in the wine and broth and return the pork and any accumulated juices to the pan.

Cook the stew
Bring the stew to a simmer, then cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
 Add the sweet potatoes and carrots, re-cover and continue to cook until the meat and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes more.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the stew in shallow bowls with chunks of fresh crusty bread.

Serves 2.  The amounts of paprika, cumin, salt, pepper etc. are guidelines only and can be adjusted to suit your taste.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Speaking in Tongues.

Christmas is fast approaching and Joan and I have been resident here in Santa Luzia almost nine months now and whilst my Portuguese vocabulary has improved significantly  my grammar has not fared so well.
 The problem is simply too many people speak English and whenever attempts are made to speak the local tongue they obligingly switch and reply in English which normally puts my attempts at Portuguese to shame.
This coming week sees many regular visitors and friends arriving to celebrate Christmas in S.L. and on Friday the celebrations commence in earnest with the opening of  "Santa Luzia- Vila Natal"  the parish council's (Junta De Freguesia) latest initiative.

Fun for all the family over Christmas  courtesy of the Junta De Freguesia.

The traffic however is both ways and many foreign residents here head for their Families and friends "back home". Among those leaving this year are our neighbours and friends Andre and Maryse, bound initially for Toulon and ultimately spending the festivities with family in Paris. As a result of this three week sojourn Joan and I get to spend Christmas with their adorable chocolate Labrador  Hestya.
Since our arrival here Joan and I have become unofficial dog sitters and have a stable of beautiful pets who stay with us regularly whilst their owners attend to matters back in their homelands. 
This arrangement provides us with all the pleasure of dog ownership without any of the considerable responsibility and expense (typical Yorkshireman!).

 Hestya was a particular favourite  with the grandchildren when they visited in September.

In order not to confuse Hestya everyday commands such as "come here", "sit", etc. are delivered in French, the language of her owners, and this has led on a number of occasions to me being viewed as "that slightly barmy Englishman who insists on speaking French to his dog".
The most notable occurrence of this was back in the summer. Along with friends we had decided on an evening in Tavira to enjoy a few drinks and listen to the Algarve orchestra playing in the Praca de Republica. We decided to drive down in the car and leave it there overnight and as Hestya was stopping with us that week make it's retrieval her daily walk. A splendid night ensued, the orchestra played enchantingly and the drinks flowed freely.
The following morning I set off in brilliant sunshine with Hestya to collect the car, electing to walk via the un-asphalted road through the Salinas (the large settling beds that produce the world famous Tavira salt).
The walk was pretty uneventful until we were almost into Tavira where we encountered a couple walking toward us.
 Dressed in expensive and brightly coloured mountaineering type clothes and sturdy walking boots they each had a huge backpack and those walking sticks that look like the things skiers use. It was clear they were dedicated walkers as they pressed forward with that determined stride that but for their garb would have had me convinced they were desperate for a public convenience.
Their unusual attire and gait also attracted Hestya's undivided attention and she adopted that unmistakable gun dog stalk as she curiously approached them.
I could see they were instantly disconcerted as their step faltered and a shadow of dismay crossed their faces as Hestya pressed on determinedly despite my string of french commands to variously and randomly"sit", "lie down", "come here" or "stop".
Finally, and in faithful imitation of her owner Andre, I sternly  and loudly bellowed  "Hestya. Q'est que je dit? Viens ici!" (Hestya. What did I say?  Come here.)
This did the trick and she abandoned her determined disobedience and returned to be put back on her lead.
The couple were visibly relived and as they drew level began speaking.........they were French and clearly thought I was too!!!
Now whilst I understand a certain amount of french (if spoken slowly and clearly) I had no idea wether I was being thanked for their deliverance or berated for not having my dog on a lead.
It is over forty years since my school days but I conjured up my very best schoolboy french and declared
" Je ne parle pas Francais. Je suis Anglais, le chien est Francais." ( I do not speak French. I am English, the dog is French).
The look on their faces was something between non-plussed and slightly worried and they picked up their step and strode on without another word.
 As they disappeared into the distance I had to concede to myself that perhaps had I thought a little longer I could have come up with a better explanation, all kinds of French phrases to explain the situation popping into my head.
 Instead there is a French couple out there somewhere no doubt amusing their friends with the story of the day they met a lunatic Englishman in Portugal who was convinced his dog was French. 
 C'est la vie!!