Portuguese Cornbread



My bread-making skills were a little rusty, so I approached this recipe much more methodically than I would normally. I needn’t have been nervous. It was easy as could be, and my family declared it the best bread I’d ever made. Of course, if you don’t want to make it yourself, you can easily get cornbread at a Portuguese bakery.


I couldn’t find corn flour, so I put some cornmeal in the food processor and that worked just fine. And since it’s only for the outside, cornmeal will do, too.


Cornbread (Pāo de Milho)




1¼ cups (310 mL) fine white or yellow cornmeal

3 tsp (15mL) fine salt

1¼ cups (310 mL) boiling water

2 tsp (10 mL) granulated sugar

1 cup (250 mL) lukewater water

2 packages active dry yeast (2 Tbsp/30mL)

3¼ cups (810 mL) all-purpose flour

½ cup (125 mL) white or yellow corn flour (approx.)


In a large bowl, blend the cornmeal and salt. Add the boiling water and stir until smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes until lukewarm.


Meanwhile, in a measuring cup, dissolve the sugar in lukewarm water. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand for about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir the yeast mixture vigorously with a fork and stir into the cornmeal mixture. Gradually mix in the all-purpose mixture, until well combined. Turn out onto a well-surfaced surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.


Gather the dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased ball, and turn to grease all over. Cover and let rise in a draft-free place for about 1½ hours or until doubled in bulk.


Punch down the dough. Shape into a round loaf or two small ones. Roll the dough in the corn flour until well covered. Place the loaf on a well-greased baking sheet or 8-inch (20 cm) cake pan. Cover and let rise in a draft-free place for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Sprinkle with additional corn flour just before baking.


Recipe excerpted from Pimentos & Piri Piri (Whitecap Books) by Carla Azevedo.


Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 7.13.49 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 7.15.31 PM


Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 10.22.48 PM

This recipe is slightly more involved than the simple clam dish Carla showed me on the video, but she was teaching me the very basics. For those of you ready for something more interesting, this dish promises a hearty meal, and a more unusual one. To be served with Portuguese cornbread, of course. (Recipe follows.)


Photo by Ryan Szulz, from the Pimentos & Piri Piri (Whitecap Books).

Clams in Cataplana with Pork, White Wine, and Coriander


A cataplana, a hinged clam-shaped cooking vessel, is so popular in the Algarve beach resorts that dozens of dishes have been named after it. If you do not have a cataplana, use a wok or a large pot with a tight-fitting lid and carefully cover the lid with a kitchen towel; do not uncover the pot while cooking.


• 2 lb (1 kg) Manila clams

• ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil

• 4 oz (120 g) pork tenderloin,

• 1 onion, chopped

• 3 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 ½ cups (375 ml) peeled, 
seeded, and chopped tomatoes

• ½ red bell pepper, seeded,
 cored, and diced

• 4 oz (120 g) chouriço, sliced
 into ½ -inch (1 cm) pieces

• 1 bay leaf

• ½ tsp (2 ml) fine salt

• ¼ tsp (1 ml) coarsely 
ground black pepper

• ½ tsp (2 ml) dried oregano

• ½ tsp (1 ml) piri-piri sauce
 or Tabasco sauce

• ½ cup (125 ml) dry white

• ¼ cup (60 ml) chopped
 fresh coriander

• 2 slices prosciutto, chopped

1. Using a stiff brush, scrub the clams under cold running water to remove any surface sand and grit. Discard any clams that are not tightly closed. Set aside.

2. In a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat; cook the pork for 2 to 3 minutes, until browned, and transfer to a dish; reserve. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, until softened. Add the tomatoes, red pepper, chouriço, bay leaf, salt, pepper, oregano, and piri-piri sauce; simmer for 7 to 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.

3. Transfer half of the tomato mixture to bottom of cataplana. Arrange the clams overtop and cover with the remaining tomato mixture. Tightly secure the cataplana lid and simmer over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Flip the cataplana over and unlatch it; add the reserved pork and the wine and sprinkle with the coriander and prosciutto. Tightly secure the cataplana lid and cook until the shells open and the pork juices run clear when pierced with fork, 5 to 8 minutes (check for doneness after 5 minutes of cooking and continue cooking if meat is still pink). Discard any clams that have not opened. Serve.

Recipe excerpted from Pimentos & Piri Piri (Whitecap Books) by Carla Azevedo.



Strawberries Marinated in Port



My Healthy Valentine

I didn’t think I’d love this recipe, since I rarely sugar strawberries, and I rarely drink port. I’ve marinated strawberries in Cointreau, Amaretto, Limoncello, and rum in the past. All were met with the complaint that the fruit essence and sometimes the alcohol content were overpowering. This recipe surprised me with it’s harmonious melding of flavours. The port drew out the strawberry aroma without drawing attention to itself.


There is just a little port used in this. The taste is mostly the strawberry juice, and even using the full amount of sugar, the strawberries were not too sweet. You might try less or more, according to your taste. And the flavour of the port was nicer than any other liquor I’ve tried.


I didn’t reduce it, but instead poured it onto vanilla ice-cream for the kids, and sponge cake for the adults. Okay, fine. Sponge cake AND ice-cream.


If you select a nice port, you can keep it a few weeks rather than needing to drink it right away.

Strawberries Marinated in Port

Excerpt from Pimentos and Piri Piri by Carla Azevedo (Whitecap Books).


  • 5 cups (1.25 L) hulled and thickly sliced strawberries
  • 3 Tbsp (45 mL) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) port and additional port for serving
  • 6 fresh mint leaves

It is well worth waiting the required 24 hours for the strawberries in this dessert to take on the delicate, not-too-sweet finish of the port marinade. Served over ice cream or with sweetened whipped cream or mascarpone, they are fit for any special occasion.


In a large decorative serving bowl, place about 1½ cups (375 mL) of the strawberries in an even layer. (NOTE: I just covered the bottom of the bowl until there were no gaps – Mama T) Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of sugar. Repeat the layers until all of the strawberries have been used up.  Pour the ¼ cup (60mL) port over the strawberries (the port will not cover the strawberries; the strawberries will extract during the marinating). Cover and set aside for 24 hours. Do not disturb the layered strawberry dish.


To serve, spoon the fruit into dessert cups and drizzle with some of the sauce. Garnish each serving with a mint leaf.


To make a thicker port sauce, strain the strawberries and port and set the strawberries aside. Place the marinating liquids in a small saucepan over medium heat and boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until reduced by about one-third or it reaches the desired consistency. Set aside to cool. Pour the sauce over the strawberries and serve immediately. 

Porter Gingerbread with David Ort

Sick of winter yet? Don’t fight it. Just give in. Let’s bake something cozy and nice.

I love gingerbread, but I tend to think of it as a Christmassy thing, or perhaps something you eat in the fall with your pumpkin spice latte. For those of you who are sick to death of the myriad ways in which pumpkin spice/chai latte/apple pie spice mixes have permeated all winter baking, here comes some simple relief.

The ginger in this gingerbread cake is the only spice you’ll find in the recipe – well, there’s a little hint of cinnamon, but it’s very much a subtle background taste. The porter beer has all the complexity you need to round out the flavours in this cake. The dark malt has a roasted coffee flavor that stands up the molasses. Neither overwhelms the ginger, but together they contribute to an undercurrent of caramel.

This is just different enough and yet just familiar enough to be the perfect not-too-sweet treat for the several snowy days yet to come. Best part is that you get to finish your beer with it, but I’ll be sipping aged rum with mine.

One last clever bit: you don’t need spices to hide the bitter taste of the leaveners, because the beer does a lot of the work of rising the batter. Porter Gingerbread would make a fantastic accompaniment to baked or roasted pears. With whipped cream, of course.

Recipe is listed here: http://ciaodownwithmamatheresa.com/recipes-4/