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Booking some holiday catering is a great way to give “mum” an extra special vacation!

At some of our luxury villas, you can get meals delivered to your holiday rental ready with instructions how to finish it off, have it all prepared in your own kitchen by the villa’s private cook or you can also book a chef-at-home service.

Going food shopping in local markets and getting in the kitchen with your private cook or chef is also a great way to learn a little about how some of Portugal’s more traditional dishes are prepared.  We have picked two favourite dishes and will tell you a little more about them:

“Bacalhau Espiritual”

The history of Bacalhau (dry salt cod) can be traced back to Portugal’s discovery era on the 14th century as dried salt cod could be kept for long periods of time inside the ships hold. Fresh supplies could also be obtained during the voyage, with the codfish doused in vast quantities of salt and dried out in the hot sun – an ancient method of preservation that stops bacteria or mould to grow. Today there are allegedly 365 different ways to cook codfish, and although the Portuguese consider it a delicacy (it is one of the main dishes cooked at Christmas time), it is somewhat an acquired taste!

Bacalhau
SantaMafalda medium
Santa Mafalda Dining Terrace

Santa Mafalda is a sumptuous luxury villa for 8 guests with infinity pool and Jacuzzi enjoying spectacular views of the Douro Valley. Breakfast is included daily and one week rentals (or longer) also benefit from a complimentary “local gastronomy” meal, a visit and tasting at one of the Port producing Quintas, as well as a few other extras.

Eugenia the cook, particularly excels at making Bacalhau Espiritual (spiritual cod) and has kindly shared her recipe for 8 people:

The Ingredients

3 Thick pieces of dry salt cod (soak overnight and change the water several times to remove the salt)

1 Kg of potatoes (peeled & boiled)

4 Carrots (grated)

3 Onions (1 chopped, 2 sliced)

1 Leek (chopped)

Mild cheese (grated)

2 Soupspoons of corn flour

0,8 Litre of milk

Butter & olive oil

Salt & pepper / grated nutmeg / bay leaf / 1 clove of garlic

The Method

Boil the cod slices. The cod slices will split into smaller bits but that is normal. Remove skin and fish bones; keep to one side.

Mash the boiled potatoes into a puree adding a little butter and the milk, then a little nutmeg and black pepper to taste; keep to one side.

To make the white sauce, fry 1 chopped onion and the leek in a little olive oil. When golden, add the milk and 2 spoons of corn flour. Add a little nutmeg to taste. Use a hand blender to make a thick smooth sauce; keep to one side.

In a saucepan fry the 2 remaining sliced onions, a clove of garlic and the bay leaf, plus the cod and cook till golden. Add the grated carrots and then slowly stir in the white sauce. Taste again and check if a little more pepper and nutmeg are required. You can also check for salt at this stage, but leave it till the end in case the cod is still a little salty after soaking.

Layer the potato puree inside a pyrex dish; then add another layer of cod. Cover all with the white sauce and grated cheese. Put inside the oven at 180º till golden and crispy.

Serve with a salad.

“Cataplana de Peixe e Mariscos”

The Cataplana is the symbol of Algarve’s cuisine in Southern Portugal. Traditionally made of beaten copper in the shape of a clamshell with a handle, it may have originated from the Morrish occupation between the VIII and XIII centuries: it uses a similar cooking process to a tagine and both dishes use whatever it is cooked inside, named after the cookware. Hunters and fisherman could easily carry it filled up with essentials like garlic, onion and other seasonal vegetables to wherever their fresh game or seafood was caught and cook it right there, over a fire.

cataplana
Cataplana
fishmarket
algarve market
villalagos exterior

The Chef Affairs (www.thechefaffairs.com) based in the Algarve is run by husband and wife team Roberto and Arianna, and they offer private catering and chef services to many of our villas spread over the region. They can also organise a private cooking lesson at your own holiday home, as they did so recently at Villa Lagos  – an exceptionally spacious villa with private sauna, gym, massage room, pool and jacuzzi located close to beaches and golf on the Western Algarve, as well as a great modern kitchen ideal for organizing such events!

If you want to try it at home here is the recipe for a Cataplana de Peixe e Mariscos (fish and seafood) for 6 people:

The Ingredients

6 Pieces of white fish (boneless)

1 Kg of mussels

6 Prawns (large)

4/5 Tomatoes (chopped)

6 New potatoes (boiled)

1 Glass of white wine

Fresh Coriander (1 tablespoon, chopped)

Garlic (2 cloves)

3/4 Onions (finely sliced)

½ Green pepper (chopped)

1 Bay leaf / turmeric / curry powder

Salt & Pepper

Olive oil

The Method

Fry the onions with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until they become nicely brown and soft, add the crushed garlic and the chopped tomatoes and leave cooking over a gentle flame for 10 minutes. Add the white wine and a pinch of salt, continue cooking until the liquid is evaporated (about 20 minutes). In the meantime, clean the fish, mussels and prawns. Add a bay leaf and the chopped green pepper to the tomato sauce; and after 5 minutes add the potatoes as well. Cover the pot and cook over a slow flame for another 5 minutes. Finally, add the mussels and prawns as well as the coriander, cover and cook over a gentle flame until the mussels are ready (open).

Ask us about our staffed villas in Portugal, if you want to organize a one-off occasion or book cook service for the full length of your holiday…