Saturday, 25 February 2012

Portuguese Octopus Stew

During Lent, it is customary for our family to eat fish or seafood on Fridays.  Since we already had the octopus prepped and ready, I planned to cook it for Friday night's dinner.  This time, we used our trusty Presto Pressure Cooker.  It was a wedding gift from my mother, and to be honest with you, I only started using it on a weekly basis when Mom came to stay with us. 

The Pressure Cooker is amazing.  You can cook meals in literally minutes with this volcanic device.  Now we are comfortable using it, we cook Cacoila, Ribs, Chicken, Pork Chops, Soups, Beans and Potatoes and Octopus in it. Don't cook Pea Soup in it like I did, you might end up with a green ceiling!

We followed my Aunt Filomena's recipe for the Octopus Stew. My aunt is a pro at using a pressure cooker, she always has one on her stove top and can whip up a meal in less than no time.  She is also a great cook.  She makes all sorts of soups, jams, cakes, malasadas, sausages, pickled onions and makes the best home made french fries!

Tia Filomena's Octopus Stew:

You will need:
One Prepared Octopus (you can by it already cleaned and prepped at the store)
1 cup of white wine
1 cup of red wine
1 cup of water
1/2 cup olive oil (light)
1/2 vegetable oil
2 tsp of Portuguese Calda de Pimenta (pepper sauce)
1 tablespoon of Piri Piri or Hot Sauce
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parsley- chopped
Garlic minced
Onion chopped
Potatoes- peeled and quartered

Marinate octopus will all the above ingredients except the onions and the potatoes at least for a day. Save the marinate as it will be the liquid used for cooking.  

Here's what the marinade looked like:

Method using a Pressure Cooker

1. Add a little olive oil to the pot and begin to cook the onion.  Do not top the cooker yet.
2.Once the onion has cooked for a few minutes, add the octopus and the marinade. (The potatoes will be added later.)
3. Place the lid on the Pressure Cooker and cook on medium heat until there is a continuous flow of steam being expelled from the vent.  At this time, add the weight onto the top of the Pressure Cooker.
4.Cook the octopus for 5-8 minutes with the weight consistently rocking from the steam's force.
5. Remove the pot from the stove, cool, remove the top and check for tenderness.
6. If tender, add the potatoes, cover pot- do not add the weight yet.  (If not tender yet, return the pot to the stove with the lid on and weight and cook a little longer and then check for tenderness again.)
7. Once the vent has a consistent flow of steam, add the weight and cook the potatoes for 2 minutes.
8. At this point the octopus and potatoes are fully cooked, turn off the pot, let cool, remove weight and lid and enjoy.

This dish is thoroughly enjoyed with a glass of red wine and some nice crusty bread to help mop up the spicy sauce.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Yesterday's Catch

I feel really lucky to have a husband and son who "would rather be fishing" at any chance they can get.  You never know what will make it home after a impromptu fishing trip down at our neighbourhood dock. Yesterday's catch was every Portuguese person's delicacy...OCTOPUS!
Here's my son holding the octopus before it made it's way inside the kitchen.  Once inside, Mom taught me how to wash the octopus (sorry no pictures as my hands were SO slimy) and how to dissect it and to prepare it for stewing.  It was work! I had to get the cleaver out and use it to chop the tentacles, at one point I had to push the suckers down on the cutting board to help to stabilise the tentacles because they were so slippery. Well, now the pieces are in the freezer tenderising.  My aunt from the Azores says this is the way to tenderise a fresh octopus.  Hopefully we will cook it this week with lots of wine and potatoes!  I'll keep you posted on the final result.

Sunday, 19 February 2012


Pearl Couscous Salad

Last week we had a teacher appreciation lunch at school. Couscous salad was offered as a dish and it was so colourful and enticing.  It was made by Miles Market and was amazing! We bought a sampling yesterday and I was inspired to try a similar rendition today.
This recipe was so easy and is so flavourful! I followed the following recipe: and substituted almonds for the pine nuts (last minute improvisation), used sultanas and added some orange juice and curry. It's chilling at the moment and I think that it will be an perfect match for the minced mint lamb skewers (from Supermart). Happy Sunday cooking, I know I will definitely make this couscous salad again!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Portuguese Biscoitos
Here's another first for me- biscoitos!
This year, I made these with the hope they would be better than last year's disaster batch- the weather was perfect and the timing just right. I found 2 recipes on line and mixed them together. This recipe was from and I did add a teaspoon of vanilla and a teaspoon of lemon juice and substituted the butter with 1 bar of Crisco Butter flavoured shortening. We also bake them at 400 degrees. I am still yet to figure out how to cover them in the home made icing-any suggestions or recommendations?
These biscuits are perfect for dunking in a cup of tea or coffee and are light and crisp.  They are usually made for holidays and parties.  I will definitely make these again!
Blueberry- Lemon Pound Cake
Last weekend we made this lovely cake.  We used real butter, fresh blueberries and lots of lemon zest(more than asked for!) We even froze it and are enjoying it tonight. As you can see, the cake is still frozen and will thaw for a few minutes. This recipe is from

I just love the vintage linen under the plate.  Believe it or not, but the chicken feed Mom and Dad used to buy would come in bags made from this beautiful linen. I really like this one, and Mom says it dates back to the 1950s.  Mom says that back then, many a pretty dress, tablecloth and curtains were made from the recycled fabric.  Recycling at it's best- and so dainty!

Portuguese Doughnuts- Malasadas

Malasadas- A Lenten Portuguese Tradition
After searching for a no fail recipe, I was happy to stumble across this recipe from the Pastry  I added some lemon zest, 1/4 cup of sugar and substituted one cup of flour for pancake mix.  Mom and I fried them up and were please to know that our first attempt was a success.  Happy Shrove Tuesday!