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If You Only Do One Thing In Lisbon, Make It A Market Tour and Cooking Class at Mesa Luisa




Meet Luisa.

Luisa grew up in Portugal, went to school in Belgium, lived in Spain and France and spent a large chunk of her life travelling the world while she worked in advertising before she quit to become a dressmaker, working out of her stunning former ship part warehouse space directly facing the Tagus River in Lisbon. Then, this past February, Luisa decided to change course yet again, built a beautiful kitchen in her warehouse and launched her newest venture, Mesa Luisa. Offering her version of the more typical market shop followed by a cooking class and lunch, upcoming workshops and private evening dinners by appointment , Luisa has reinvented herself as a chef, hostess, guide and story teller in her hometown of Lisbon.

Lisbon and Porto in Photos

Sunset over the River Tagus

I just got back from a ten day trip to Portugal - okay, it was actually eight days in Portugal and 2 days in Paris. I did things a little differently this time as I was taking my big sister with me to experience Europe for the first time and didn't want to be a slave to my notes. I was there in 2014 so I wanted to let her kind of set the tone and let's be honest, I will be back another time. Or two. Or three.

Feed Your Freezer With A Big Batch of Meatballs



More Meatballs!
My last recipe was for these crazy delicious Korean Meatballs and this time, I am showing you how to whip up a big batch of tender meatballs that you can bake off and then freeze because, I know you don't want to hear it, but SUMMER IS ALMOST OVER. Time to stock the freezer for September when life goes back to the daily grind and nobody has time to come home from work or school and make these puppies.

Why Spicy Koreanish Meatballs Should Be One of the Seven Deadly Sins



Oh my, what a spring/summer I have had. For the last year I have been working as a hired gun, cooking for a local caterer, teaching classes as well as hosting pop ups and private dinners around Toronto.


Basque Potato Leek Soup with Cod and Crispy Serrano Ham



I am Back!!

I have been sick since mid April, hence my absence from the blog. I bet you thought I had quit, didn't you?

A Spanish Feast to Usher in the Spring For My Toronto Friends


Okay my people, if you are in Toronto, you are in for a treat this month. I am going to make big, family style meal for 20 at The Kingston Social that is inspired by my recent trip to Barcelona. As always, Tanya will be on hand to whip up her amazing cocktails with a lovely wine and beer list available as well.



Come and join us for a night of fun, delicious food and drink and if you are really lucky, some table top flamenco dancing by yours truly



Reserve your spot by buying a ticket here

Adventures in Spanish Cookery at Cook & Taste Barcelona




I don't know about you, but the first thing I do when I get to a new country is visit a grocery store or outdoor market because I truly feel that our first connection to other cultures and their people is through food. 

Spanish Tortilla At Last




I lived in Madrid a million years ago when I was in my twenties and I admit it - I was a tortilla addict. I ate tortilla in the morning. I ate tortilla mid morning. I ate tortilla at lunch, at dinner and again in the evening as a tapa.
I also gained an alarming amount of weight which only made sense AFTER I watched somebody making it. Potatoes cooking away in a big pan of simmering oil was all I needed to see to understand why my steady diet of tortilla and beer was also responsible for my waist white wall tire.
DOH.

My Travel Notebook: Day Trips from Barcelona - Girona and Tarrogona


brightly coloured facades of the houses overlooking the Onyar River


If you are in Barcelona more than a few days, you are missing out if you don't plan at least one day trip, depending on your interests.


My Barcelona Notebook: Ten Days Of Joyous Eating, Drinking and More Eating





It would be an understatement to say that we probably ate some of the best food in recent memory while we were in Barcelona. Unlike Paris, where I found that between the fabulous sandwiches that we would grab from any old boulangerie and some bazillion dollar 2 Michelin star restaurant, the food was inconsistent and often not very good although always expensive. Sorry people, you can send me all the hate mail you like, but all three of us agree on that point - the restaurant food was expensive and disappointing more often than not.


Pressure Cooker Thai Red Curry Beef




I've gotta be honest, I have not loved my attempts at making Thai beef curries in my pressure cooker up until now. It just always felt like the sauce was a little too thin and it lacked body but I didn't want to add more coconut milk and then dilute the red curry flavour.

What to do?

This time, after it was done the initial pressure cook, I threw in some potato and sweet potato and when it was done, much of the sweet potato had kind of broken down and melted into the sauce, thickening it up nicely without diluting the intensity of the red curry paste. I also really like the sweetness it adds - it really balances out the heat of the red curry beautifully and kind of mellows it slightly without diluting the flavour, which is exactly what it was missing.

BAM

Another recipe finally converted to work in the Instant Pot (you can make it in any brand of electric pressure cooker, of course). This curry usually simmers for at least two hours on the stove top so cutting that time by about 60% is a pretty nice bonus too. Feel free to leave out the broccoli and substitute some green beans or frozen peas if you don't have any broccoli, just make sure that you add those delicate vegetables after the pressure cooking is over and let them cook gently in the residual heat of the curry for a few minutes with the lid on before you serve it.






Pressure Cooker Thai Red Curry Beef




serves 6-8

1 tbls of vegetable oil
2 small or 1 large onion, cut in rough wedges
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2" piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into coins
1 piece lemongrass, smashed and cut into 3" pieces
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 can of coconut milk (don't shake as you will use the cream from the top of the can)
4 tbls of red curry paste
1 tbls fish sauce
1 tbls soy sauce
1 kg (2 lbs) stewing beef
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 or 4 small waxy potatoes, cut in large bite size pieces
1/2 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into large bite sized pieces
2 tbls lime juice
about half a head of broccoli cut into flowerets

cilantro, lime wedges, rice


Salt the stew beef and set aside.

Heat the pot using the saute button until it says hot before you add in the oil and cook the onion, garlic and ginger for a few minutes, until starting to get a bit of colour.

Push the onions to the side, scrape the solid cream off the top of the can of coconut milk and add that to the pot. Stir in the red curry paste and fry in the coconut cream for about 5 minutes, slowly incorporating the onions into it and keep cooking until it starts to turn a much darker brownish red.

Add in the lemongrass, lime leaves, coconut milk, chicken broth, fish sauce, soy sauce and the beef and stir until everything is well coated.

Lock the lid on and either hit the meat/stew button or cook on manual HP for 35 minutes.
When the time is up, do a quick release, add in the potato and sweet potato, lock the lid back on and cook for 3 minutes at HP.

Do another quick release, throw in the lime juice and the broccoli, put the lid back on and let it sit for five minutes while you get the bowls, rice and garnishes together so the broccoli can cook in the residual heat.

Serve over rice, garnished with chopped cilantro and serve with a lime wedge or two.



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