Tag Archives: Recipes

All Aboard The Aperitivo Train!

On my last visit to France I discovered an unusual way to serve my favourite dips hummus, Tzatziki and guacamole.

All aboard the Aperitivo Train - a great way to serve dips!

All aboard the Aperitif Train – a great way to serve dips!

The idea was SO simple yet effective I’m surprised I did not think of it myself! As you can see from the photographs the peppers form the train carriages which hold the vegetable sticks, and dishes are used for the dips.


– Food glue or cocktail sticks to attach the cucumber wheels to the peppers.
– Aluminum foil to cover serving tray.
– An assortment of coloured peppers (red, yellow, orange and green) which form the train carriages.
– 1 cucumber cut into slices for the wheels

1. Cover a flat serving tray with aluminum foil
2. Carefully remove one side of the pepper and remove seeds. Wash inside of peppers and dry.
3. Attach cucumber wheels with food glue or cocktail sticks (cut to size)
4. Arrange peppers in a circle or S shape on covered serving tray.
5. Spoon dips into dishes and add to the centre of the tray.

Vegetable sticks

Cut vegetables, such as carrots and celery, into sticks and arrange in the ‘pepper’ train carriages


Bon Appétit…

Now I just need to invite some friends to marvel at my creative genius… yeah, right. Trots off the find some ‘dip’ recipes and then some friends.

All aboard the 'Aperitif Train'

All aboard the ‘Aperitif Train’


Chocolate Beetroot Cake

The following recipe and photograph are courtesy of Colin, one of my blog followers.

When he first suggested the recipe I thought using beetroot AND chocolate in a cake sounded rather bizarre. But then I thought, why not, so this weekend I’m going to give it a try. Anyone else game?

If you cook the cake please don’t forget to send me your photos and I will post to my blog. Any other beetroot recipe suggestions, please?

Now you may think this sounds really strange, but it works amazingly well. After all we are no strangers to carrot cake.

Beeetroot Cake

Beetroot Cake

Serves 6

75g cocoa powder or powdered drinking chocolate
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
250g caster sugar
250g cooked beetroot
3 large eggs
200ml corn oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Icing sugar for dusting


1. Heat the oven to 180°C and line a 20cm round or square cake tin.

2. Sift the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder into a bowl. Mix in the sugar, and set these dry ingredients aside.

3. Purée the beetroot in a food processor

4. Add the eggs one at a time to the purée, then add the vanilla and oil and whiz until it is smooth. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the beetroot mixture and mix it all lightly. Pour into the prepared cake tin.

5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean (cover with a loose sheet of foil if it starts to brown at about 30 minutes).

6. This cake will not rise a great deal, and the top will crack. After removing from the oven, leave it for 15 minutes before taking it out of the pan. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Or you could make a chocolate or orange butter cream for the top.

Thanks Colin for sharing the recipe – I can’t wait to try it!

Simple Yummy Nougatine

During one of our visits to France I discovered an addictive sweet biscuit called nougatine. It’s a wafer thin almond concoction eaten with coffee/tea or used as a decorative wafer when serving ice cream. Or if you are like me, and a real pig, you could munch your way through this addictive creation in one serving! No, I didn’t on this occasion as I made this batch for a friend. But believe me it’s SO delicious it took all my will power to restrain myself…



My first attempt to cook nougatine proved disastrous; cooking like gardening is all about using the right utensils for the job. I’d been told to use a flexible baking tray but as I did not have one of these I decided to use a standard ceramic dish lined with grease proof paper instead. Not a good idea – the paper stuck to the nougatine as if it were super-glue which I then had to meticulously pick off bit by bit.

During my next trip to France I invested in a proper flexible cooking tray which is made from a certain type of rubbery-plastic the name of which escapes me at the moment.


200gt caster sugar
150ml water
125gr sliced almonds

Add the sugar and water to the saucepan and heat until the sugar has melted and forms a light syrup.
Spread almonds as evenly as possible on the shallow flexible non-stick cooking tray.

Flexible baking tray

Flexible baking tray

Spoon the hot sugar syrup carefully and as evenly as possible over the almonds.
Cook in oven at approx 165C until starting to brown and syrup mixture starts to bubble(approx 25mins).

Leave a few minutes to cool. Gently releasing the cooked nougatine form flexible try, slide on to cooling tray and cut (well try) into squares. I found this nigh on impossible to cut through the almonds – the edges are a little uneven!

Cut in to squares (sort of) and left to cool

Cut in to squares (sort of) and left to cool


Mediterranean Chicken – Piglet Style!

I discovered this one-pot recipe when we went to a friend’s house for dinner one evening. I loved it – not only is it delicious, but also simple to prepare and cook. Over time I discovered other favorites and it slipped from the weekly menu plan. However, a couple of week’s ago reading “Out with the Old and In with the New – Broad Beans, Garlic and Chicken” over at Chica Andaluza’s blog set my taste buds racing and reminded me of this delicious and simple recipe!

Mediterranean Chicken

Mediterranean Chicken

Chicken pieces complete with skin
Sweet potatoes
Red Pepper/green peppers
Onions (cut in half)
Garlic cloves
Aubergine (optional)
Black olives (don’t forget to remove the stones)
Fresh Rosemary
Olive oil
(Quantities are flexible depending on the number of people you are cooking for!)

Preheat oven to 175C
Add a small glug of Olive oil to a large open dish or tray and put in the oven for about 5mins to heat.
Remove from oven and add chicken pieces, potatoes (cut into large chunks), onions (cut in half) and garlic cloves. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the chicken and add the remaining lemon halves to the dish. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary and
olive oil.

Cover and seal the dish with tin foil and return to the oven to cook for about 1-1½ hrs. I usually check progress after an hour and turn vegetables and chicken.

Cut the peppers into quarters (remove seeds) and the carrots into chunks. If you are including aubergines prepare just before cooking. Last time I prepared these in advance they discoloured. Don’t forget to remove stones if you are adding olives!
Set these ingredients to one side.

After 45mins add the sweet potatoes and carrots to the dish (I’ve discovered when roasting they do not take as long to cook!)

Once the potatoes start to soften, remove the tin foil turn the chicken and add the remaining vegetables. Return to oven so potatoes and chicken “brown” and finish cooking.

You can cook this recipe as slowly or quickly as you like simply by adjusting the oven temperature or when you remove the tin foil.

Transfer to heated serving dish so people can serve themselves at the table.


Tarte de Pascoa (Easter Tart)

This traditional Easter recipe is courtesy of a friend in Northern Portugal.

Tarte de Pascoa

Tarte de Pascoa - Easter Tart

Tarte de Páscoa (Easter Tart)

Filo pastry (18 circles). I used 2 x 230g packets of *PÂte Feuilletée which I think is ready-made filo pastry.
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
500gr Spinach
4 Hardboiled Eggs
2 Uncooked eggs
70gr Parmesan Cheese
30gr Butter
A little milk

*When I opened the packet of pastry I was disappointed to discover there was only one sheet, instead of the several I’d expected. Maybe I bought puff pastry instead!

Sauté chopped onions in butter until soft. Allow to cool
Cook spinach until soft and drain well.
Beat 2 eggs in a bowl with a little milk.
Add the grated Parmesan, cooked spinach and sauted onions.
Season well.
Add half of the *filo pastry to the bottom of tart dish making sure it come up the sides.
Pour in half the spinach mixture.
Place the hard-boiled eggs whole in a circle and cover with the remaining spinach.

Pour in half of the spinach mixture the place the hard boiled eggs in a circle

Pour in half of the spinach mixture the place the hard-boiled eggs in a circle

Add remaining *filo pastry, folding the edges in towards the middle.
Brush the tart with a little milk.. Place on a baking tray in a preheated oven of 400F

Tarte de Páscoa

Tarte de Páscoa


If anyone knows the history behind this recipe and why it’s considered a traditional Easter dish, I’d love to know more!

Unfortunately, I found this tart a little bland for my taste. What extra ingredients would you add to give it more zing!

I have listed further recipes on my Portuguese recipes page.

I’m participating in Jake’s weekly photo competition. This week’s theme is “Recipe”

Chocolate Chouriço (Morcela de Chocolate)

Chocolate Chouriço

Chocolate Chouriço

Or perhaps better known as Chocolate Salami!

Chocolate Salami is very popular in the Algarve and is a great biscuity-cake to serve with tea or coffee. It’s extremely rich so it’s wise to cut the slices as thin as possible. I can only assume the name comes from its chouriço sausage-like appearance. So after my recent visit to the Feira dos Enchidos Tradicionais de Serra de Monchique (Sausage fair) I thought it would be great fun to make a chouriço sausage, but a ‘Chocolate Chouriço’.

It’s extremely simple to prepare and requires no cooking!

175gr cocoa or chocolate powder
200gr soft brown sugar
125 gr butter
4egg yolks
200g plain biscuits

Lay the biscuits on a board or flat dish and break into pieces, but not crumbs. (I used the end of a wooden rolling-pin)

Add the sugar, chocolate powder and butter to large mixing bowl and beat well. (I did not pay attention to the chocolate powder and when I started to beat the mixture with my whisk, the powder blew into the air and went everywhere, and I mean everywhere!

Stir in the egg yolks and biscuit pieces. The consistency should resemble a reasonably firm paste. Carefully roll mixture into a sausage and wrap firmly in greaseproof paper. (Like the skin of a Chouriço the sausage)

Roll in to a sausage shape and wrap in grease proof paper

Roll in to a sausage shape and wrap in grease proof paper

refrigerate overnight to harden.

Remove greaseproof paper and cut into 1cm slices to serve.
Store for up to three days in the refrigerator (if it lasts that long).

Perfect to share with friends with tea or coffee.


1. I made far too much so I cut the chocolate sausage in half, sliced into 1cm slices and then wrapped in individual portions before freezing. Not sure if it freezes well, but would have been sick as a pig if I’d eaten all of this so it was worth experimenting!

The only downside of this recipe is that I’m left with four egg whites. Any suggestions please how I can utilize these in other recipes?

Couve Roxa Com Cominos – Red Cabbage with Cumin

From plot to plate – I grew the red cabbage used in this recipe in my vegetable plot!

Couve roxa com cominos - Red cabbage with cumin

Couve roxa com cominos - Red cabbage with cumin


Small Red Cabbage (sliced finely)
1 Onion (chopped)
1 Packet of smoked lardons (bacon pieces)
Knob of lard or splash of olive oil
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds or cumin powder
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste

Put lard or oil in frying pan and heat. Add lardons and onion. Cook until golden brown. Add sliced red cabbage, cumin, bay leaf and salt to taste. Stir. Cover pan with lid and cook gently for about 30 minutes or until tender. Stir occasionally.

Delicious served hot with chicken or pork

I grew this red cabbage!

I grew this red cabbage!

View more delicious Portuguese recipes: https://pigletinportugal.wordpress.com/portuguese-recipes/

Savoury Pear Delight Piglet’s “Foodie Friday” Recipe Challenge

OK, OK so I win no prizes for my food photography!

Savoury Pear Delight

Savoury Pear Delight

I promise it tastes far better than it looks in this picture so any food photography tips gratefully received!

One of my New Year’s Resolutions
is to research and cook one new recipe each week.

This weeks recipe “Savoury Pear Delight” was kindly supplied by “Knight” a fellow Expat in Portugal. The sweet pear and the blue cheese made an interesting combination to tease Piglet’s taste buds. The verdict; absolutely delicious and so quick to prepare!

Savoury Pear Delight

1 Ripe Dessert Pear
Danish Blue Cheese
Philadelphia Soft Cream Cheese (or similar)
2 lettuce leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
pinch of paprika.

Take the ripe pear and remove skin. Cut in half. Remove core.
squeeze lemon juice on pear to prevent going brown.
Place on flat dish on top of lettuce leaf
Fill core with generous portion of blue cheese.
Mix soft cheese to creamy consistency with milk and pour over filled pear
Put a pinch of paprika on top.

ENJOY – it is a great starter for a dinner party!

If you enjoy something a little “quirky” you may also enjoy
Sweet Potato Chilli Mash: https://pigletinportugal.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/simple-sweet-potato-chilli-mash/

Come on folks please don’t forget to share your recipes for me to try.

Jalapeno “Chili Virgin” – Piglet’s “Foodie Friday”

Are you a Chili Virgin?

Are you a Chili Virgin?

A few months ago a friend in Northern Portugal kindly sent me some Jalapeno Peppers which were excess produce from her veggie garden. She also included a simple recipe on how to pickle Jalapenos plus a variety of chili seeds so I could grow my own. I thought Christmas had come early and I’d have great fun “experimenting” so with my usual enthusiasm and quest to try new things I launched myself into yet another culinary adventure. However, “Fun” proved not to be the operative word as I failed to notice that the recipe said “Wear Gloves”! If you’ve ever handled chili peppers you will probably understand, but as a “Chili Virgin” I was completely oblivious to the consequences! Let’s just say when you cut chilies and they come into contact with your bare skin the juice permeates said skin – DON’T rub your eyes, touch your lips or touch any body parts that could be considered remotely tender! Trust me if you do you will spend the next hour on the bidet! So armed with this knowledge if you are a Chili Virgin proceed with caution and do not forget to wear gloves!.

1lb of Jalapeno Peppers
20 fluid oz water (I used bottled water)
20 fluid oz of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sea salt
12 black peppercorns

Sterilize jars in hot oven for a few minutes. If the lids have rubber seals I usually just sterilize these with boiling water. (I put the lids in the oven once and all the rubber seals melted – we learn by our mistakes!)

1. Wear food preparation gloves!
2. Wash the peppers and slice them into rings and put into sterilized jars.
3. Put white wine vinegar, water and sea salt into saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for a couple of minutes and pour over the peppers.
4. Put the lids on immediately and leave to cool.
The centre of the lids will “pop” in, which indicates they are airtight. You will need to repeat the above process for any jars that are not airtight otherwise the peppers will not keep.

Leave a couple of weeks before eating but a maximum of a year. Refrigerate after opening and eat within one month.

My next project is to plant the seeds and grow my own!

Please share your recipes and chili experience!

Soup from a Stone! – Piglet’s “Foodie Friday” recipe challenge

You can’t get blood from a stone but apparently in Portugal you can get soup!

Stone Soup (Sopa de pedra)

Stone Soup (Sopa de pedra)

The legend surrounding the recipe for Stone Soup (Sopa de pedra) has been passed down for generations. It made me smile so I thought I would share the story.

Many many years ago in the Ribatejo area of Portugal a hungry friar knocked on the door of a rich farmer and asked for some food. The farmer told him he could not spare any food as he was also hungry and to go away! The friar then took a stone from his sack and told the farmer he could make a delicious soup from the stone which they could share – all he needed was a large pan of water and a fire. The farmer duly obliged intrigued by this “miracle” soup.

The friar added the stone, boiled for several minutes and then dramatically tasted the “soup”. He had noticed a large piece of smoked bacon hanging from the fireplace, so asked the farmer for a small piece of bacon to add more flavor to the soup. Intrigued, the farmer agreed and gave the friar a slice of bacon. The friar boiled the soup for a few more minutes, tasted it, paused and then told the farmer that the soup tasted good but a piece of sausage and a carrot would really make it delicious. The friar continued to dupe the farmer in this manner until he had all the ingredients he needed to make a delicious soup.

After eating the soup the friar removed the stone and put it back in his bag.

1 smooth round stone
1 large slice smoked streaky bacon
2 finely sliced carrots
1 large finely diced potato
1 chopped onion
½ shredded cabbage
1 tomato
3½ oz precooked brown beans
1 pork sausage
1 pig’s trotter
1 hog’s ear
2 pints of water

Place stone in a large pan, add water and bring to the boil and “taste”.
Add the onion, tomato, slice of smoked bacon, pig’s trotter, pig’s ear and sausage and cook until meat is cooked.
Set aside a few tablespoons of stock; purée half the brown beans and mix with the stock and add to pan.
Add remaining vegetables and beans and simmer until tender.
Remove the meats and sausage, cut into small pieces and add to soup bowls. Pour remaining soup over meat and serve.

If you have read down to this point I bet you are wondering did Piglet really cook this soup. No, I have to confess I was more intrigued by the legend and not the gastronomic “experience” of the soup itself. I feel sure (she says unconvincingly) that the soup is absolutely delicious but trotters and hog’s ears are just a little too “rustic” for me. Could you eat them?

Please share your favourite recipe…