Corn Porridge

Sweet Corn Porridge

When I was 12 or 13, my favorite band was KoЯn. I don’t know why is this important, but I thought it would be interesting starting this post about corn porridge with a paranomasia between the words corn and korn.

It was not funny, I know, but it’s a good way to make the post larger, even when I’m not inspired. And it’s also true.

Xarém

Xarém is one of the most characteristic dishes in my region, in the south of Portugal.

If you’re not portuguese, you probably never heard of xarém in your life. Even some portuguese never heard of. Well, if you’re portuguese and you’re reading this in english for some reason and you don’t know what xarém is, I’ll explain it to you. But don’t miss the opportunity to feel ashamed of yourself for being stupid.

When I was a kid I would feel excited just by thinking about eating xarém. My grandpa would come home with small-spotted catsharks (yes, I just googled the name in english for you) and I knew we would have xarém for lunch.

There are several forms of cooking xarém in the Algarve. The most common is xarém with clams, but at my place, my grandma used to make xarém out of the fish stew stock.

Coarse Cornmeal

Xarém is cornflour based dish – this is probably the definition you will find online if you search for it. But my grandma insists that xarém is made out of coarse cornmeal and not cornflour.

When my grandma was a little girl, the islanders (in case of you being a new reader, I am natural from Culatra Island, the most beautiful piece of land in the planet) would trade fish, shellfish and seafood with the farmers from Olhão and closer cities. In exchange they would get potatoes, cabbage, fruit, rice and other vegetables and cereals.

The coarse cornmeal I’m talking about, is a very simple milling of the corn, a thick one, which is normally not even sieved through. It’s a cheap and simple process and the cereal is normally milled like this to feed chickens and other animals.

The old islanders say people used to have livestock in the Island. It’s not like nowadays. The islanders would buy coarse cornmeal to feed the chickens and ducks, but they wouldn’t be the only ones eating it. Coarse cornmeal used to be (and it still is) cheaper than cornflour. And it was good for the chickens to eat, it would certainly be good enough for the islanders.

I never heard this from my grandma, she just says that xarém is made out of coarse cornmeal and not cornflour. But I’ve heard these stories from other old islanders. These stories about food trade. The rest I just assume. Not very difficult to conclude.

The truth is that coarse cornmeal makes a just as good xarém as cornflour, if not better. Actually MUCH better, in my opinion. But my opinion is compromised, as I grew up eating xarém made out of coarse cornmeal.

To this very day, if my mum or grandma goes to the farmers market and can’t find coarse cornmeal, there is no xarém.

Corn Porridge

I swear I’ve never heard of sweet corn porridge until a few years ago. For me, corn porridge was xarém! I remember my grandgrandma eating maizena porridge with sugar when I was a kid, but I didn’t even know maizena was cornstarch back then.

I’m always writing about stuff I learnt in cooking school. Of course I learnt a lot about food just because I was in cooking school, but that wasn’t the only reason. I learnt a lot, culturally speaking, specially because of the school’s environment.

‘Til then, I was just attending to school with people from the same town or close villages, but that school was different. There were students from all over the country. The great majority were from the Algarve, of course, but people would come from everywhere in Portugal to study there. And the cultural difference were huge, of course. You learn a lot in such environment. And that was how I found out that corn porridge could be sweet.

I love oatmeal porridge. It’s almost a daily staple in my diet. I also like quinoa, millet and rice porridge, but this recipe is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I wanted to make a corn porridge, but I didn’t want to use corn flour or cornmeal, first because it takes a long time to cook and also because I wanted to make something healthier with less processed foods.

I would say this corn porridge will please a lot of my readers.

Ingredients:

570 gr. of Sweet Corn (canned)
6 Dates
2 Cups of Vegetable Milk
2 TBSP of Grounded Flaxseeds
1 TSP of Turmeric
1/2 TSP of Grounded Cardamom
1/2 TSP of Grounded Ginger
1/4 TSP of Grounded Cloves

Instructions:

  • Prepare yourself, mentally and physically, for some hard work;
  • Pit the dates;
  • Drain the corn;
  • Throw the corn, dates and milk into the blender jug;
  • Blend it into a smooth mix;
  • Pour the liquid into a pan;

Corn 1

  • Add in the turmeric, cardamom, ginger and cloves;
    • If you don’t like any of the seasonings, you could just die;
      • Or maybe don’t use it;
  • Also add in the flaxseeds;
  • Cook it on low heat, always stirring;
    • The corn tends to violentaly bubble, if you don’t stir;
    • If you’re a masochist, place your face as close as possible to the pan and wait for the geysir of hot corn porridge to explode;
  • When it’s thick and warm, serve in bowls, with your favorite toppings;
  • Alternatively, you can also let it cool down and enjoy it cold – it gets kind of a pudding consistency;

corn 2

corn 3

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corn 5

Caloric Breakdown:

(Per Portion = 1/2 of the Recipe)

Blue – 74% Carbs

Red – 17% Fat

Green – 9% Protein


Note:

  • The nutritional label refers to a portion (half the recipe) without any toppings;


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Carrot Muffin with Orange Frosting

Carrot Muffin with Orange Frosting

Muffins 0

In Portugal we have a lot of words. We have way to many words. We have a thousand words for the same thing and a thousand meanings for the same word. We don’t need more words. We’re fine. We got it covered.

So do you know what madeleines are? If you were born after the 90’s, you probably don’t. But muffins are just the new madeleines. When I was a kid there was no muffins in Portugal. We had madalenas (which is the portuguesation of the french name) and queques (which is the portuguesation of the english word cake), but they were just the same cake. Some people will say this isn’t true. But they’re stupid. It’s the same fuckin cake. Trust me.

Queques? But who the hell still have queques? Such a jurassic thing! Nowadays people want muffins and cupcakes!”

First time I baked muffins was in chef school. It was a nice recipe indeed, with shit loads of fat and oily as fuck, just as a good traditional muffins recipe should be. The kind that people see as healthy because muffins are just sponge cakes.

After baked, the cakes were removed from the silicone forms. And my bakery chef says “And here you have your muffins.” And I say “That look exactly like queques.”. And he says “Exactly like queques? These are muffins! Totally different!”. And I was just thinking to myself “If you weren’t my teacher, I would punch you a fuckin queque down your throat.”.

If you live in Portugal,

Muffins are just another snobish name for queque!

Let’s make it clear – queque is fuckin’ stupid name. It sounds ridiculous, even for a portuguese. Sounds like if some elitist wanted to use the english word for cake, but thought that queque would sound much better for a portuguese. But it’s okay, we still can call the it madalenas. We don’t need more words!

“Oh, but those are not muffins, those are cupcakes.”

Don’t even start! Just don’t! Some clown just thought a muffin would look much better with some frosting and glitter and there you go – cupcakes! Like if someone even have cooked the fuckin’ cake in cups! It was a terrible joke, I know. But if you want good jokes you may start reading a decent blog.

On Saturday there was a gay parade, here in Bergen. I saw people with t-shirts saying:

Cupcakes are just gay muffins

Muffins 0.1

I don’t know in what does this sentence helps with fighting for the gay rights, but I believe it’s something like – a man is still a man even if he’s homosexual. Maybe the t-shirt was just a joke and I just came up with this metaphor, but I like finding logic in everything, what can I do?

So, but did you understand what I mean or not?

A CUPCAKE IS JUST A FUCKIN’ MUFFIN WITH FROSTING ON THE TOP!

Ingredients:

Cake:

Wet:

6 Carrots (medium size)
10 Dates
2 TBSP of Coconut Oil
2 TSP of Lemon Juice
2 TBSP of Grounded Flaxseeds
1 TBSP of Chia Seeds
1/8 Cup of Raw Sugar
1/2 Cup of Applesauce
Fresh Ginger (to taste)
1/2 Cup of Vegetable Milk

Dry:

1/2 Cup of Buckwheat Flour
1/2 Cup of Almond Flour (or almond meal)
1/2 + 1/4 Cups of Oatmeal Flour (or grounded oatmeal)
1/4 Cup of Potato Starch
1 TSP of Baking Powder
1 TSP of Baking Soda
1/8 Cup of Raw Sugar (powdered)
1/3 Cup of Raisins
1/3 Cup of Barberries or Goji Berries
1 TSP of Cinnamon (grounded)
1/2 TSP of Ginger powder
Pinch of Nutmeg
Pinch of Cardamom (grounded)
Pinch of Flor-de-sal

Frosting:

3/4 Cups of Cashews (pre-soaked)
3 TBSP of Water
2 TSP of Lemon Juice
2 TBSP of Date or Maple Syrup
Orange Zests

Instructions:

Cake:

  • Turn on the oven on 180ºC;
  • Start by shredding the carrots;
    • We shredded 3 carrots a bit thinner and the other 3 a bit thicker;
  • You can also shred the ginger, or chop it, if you prefer;
  • In a big bowl, add in the chia seeds, flaxseeds and raw sugar;
    • Yes, these ingredients were in the wet block for a reason;
  • Mash the dates together;

Muffins 1

  • Also add in the lemon juice, coconut oil, shredded carrot, shredded ginger, applesauce and veggie milk;
    • Mix it well, until you obtain a thick paste;

Muffins 2

  • In another bowl, add in the buckwheat flour, oatmeal flour, almond meal and potato starch;
    • You can make your own oatmeal and almond meal in the food processor or coffee grinder;
    • Don’t blitz the almonds for too long, or it will turn into butter;
  • If you have a coffee grinder, grind the raw sugar into powdered sugar;
  • Add in the baking powder, baking soda, sugar, seasonings and salt to the flour mix;
    • Mix it well;
  • Sieve this mix through a sieve that shouldn’t be very fine;
  • Add it to the wet mix;
  • Stir in the raisins and barberries;

Muffins 3

  • Pour the batter into a silicone muffin pan and bake it for about 45 minutes / 1 hour;

Muffins 4.1

Frosting:

  • Blend the cashews (previously soaked in water) with the orange zests, water, lemon juice and date syrup in the food processor;
    • Blend until you get a creamy frosting;

Muffins 4

Rest of the scene:

  • Allow the muffins to completely cool down before you cover them with the frosting;
  • Decorate with some orange zests;

Muffins 5

Muffins 8

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Muffins 6

Caloric Breakdown:

(Per Muffin = 1/11 of the recipe)

Blue – 58% Carbs

Red – 35% Fat

Green – 7% Protein


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Carob and Orange Moist Cake

Carob and Orange Moist Cake

carob 1

I don’t know where you from, but you’ll probably disagree with the next paragraph.

The best oranges in the world come from the Algarve.

Many aromas and tastes remind me my country, but very few foods are best representative of the south of Portugal than the orange.

Orange is on of my favorite fruits. Even living in Norway, where basically all the fruit tastes like crap (yes, sorry to inform you, my norwegian friends, but it’s true), I’m still eating oranges on a daily basis. Unfortunately, and just as the great, great majority of fruit in Norway, it’s imported. Normally from South Africa, sometimes from northern Spain. And just like almost all the imported fruit, it’s crap. This have nothing to do with the country where it comes from, of course, but simply with the fact of being harvested too soon to be exported.

Everytime I go home and I taste an orange it’s like I remember the true taste of the fruit. “Oh yeah, that’s true, this how oranges taste like!”.

My region have many fantastic products, namely ALL the fruit. But some of my favorite are, undoubtedly, orange, carob, almonds and figs.

Food for donkeys

When I was in elementary school, I had a collegue grandson of a great farmer. They produced, among other things, carob. I know this because he used to tell us. But I had no ideia what carob was. He used to tell us that his grandfather used to feed the donkeys with it.

I never tried carob ’til I got into cooking school.

Unfortunately, and like many other products from my region, it’s not that popular over there. The great majority of it’s production it’s for exporting and the lack of popularity makes us pay more for it than we actually should. Fortunately this seems to be changing. Nowadays it’s starting to be more well known among the portuguese and having a shining place in our gastronomy.

Here, in Norway, it’s not a famous product at all. Most people never heard about it.

Tastes from the Algarve

When I attended to cooking school, I became a fan of these regional products. In one of my exams, I even made this thing we call queijo de figo (portuguese fig cheese) with carob, roasted almonds and medronho (everything from the Algarve), sided by papo de anjo (angel’s double chin) in orange light syrup and honey and medronho ice cream. Yes, very fashion, very gourmet. And really good for your health, if you’re planning to die from heart disease any time soon.

Ingredients:

Dry:

2 TBSP of grounded Flaxseeds
1 TBSP of Chia Seeds
1 Cup of Chickpea Flour (Besan/Gram Flour)
1 Cup of Oatmeal Flour (grounded oatmeal)
1/2 Cup of Carob Powder
1/4 de Cup of Raw Sugar
1 TSP of Baking Powder
1.5 TSP of Baking Soda
1/2 Cup of Roasted Almonds

Moist:

6-8 Dates (soaked)
1+1/3 de Cups of fresh Orange Juice
1 TBSP of Olive Oil
1 TBSP of Fig Compot
Orange Zests

Frosting:

1/2 Cup of Water
3 Dates (soaked)
3 TBSP of Carob Powder
1/4 Cup of fresh Orange Juice
1 TBSP of Fig or Orange Compot
1/3 Cup of Almond Butter (or grounded almonds)

Instructions:

  • Pre-heat the oven on 180ºC;
  • If you couldn’t find oatmeal flour, you can start by doing it yourself;
    • I use to grind the oatmeal in the coffee grinder, but you can also do it in the food processor or blender (if you have a high speed one);
  • In a big bowl, mix the oatmeal flour, chickpea flour, carob powder, baking powder and baking soda;

carob 2

  • Since you’re already using the coffee grinder, you can use it to turn your raw sugar in powdered sugar;

carob 3

  • Chop the roasted almonds with a knife;

carob 4

  • Rinse one or two oranges and zest it with that thing… to zest oranges… that thing that you can also use to shred carrots… you know;
  • Squeeze the orange’s juice;
    • I won’t tell you how many oranges do you need because not every orange have the same amount of juice. Instead, you have the amount of juice you need in the ingredients list. I’m a genius, I know;
  • In another bowl, mash the dates (pitted) with a fork and mix it with the chia seeds, flaxseeds, olive oil, orange juice and compot;
    • I used an all-natural fig compot, made solely with figs, apple juice and lemon juice;
    • You can use a homemade compot or any other you may fancy;

carob 5

carob 6

  • Sieve the flours mix and start adding it, little by little, to the liquid mix;
  • At last, fold in the chopped almonds and orange zest;
    • I saved some of the almonds and zest to decorate the cake, but that’s not really necessary;

carob 7

  • In the meanwhile, you can start with the frosting;
  • Throw all the ingredients in the frosting list in the blender jug;
  • Blend it until you have a creamy texture;

carob 8

  • Pour the cake mix to a baking tin you like;
    • You can use a loaf tin or a spring form;
    • I used a small springform and wrapped it with parchment paper because I wanted to make sure the cake was not gonna stick to it;
    • If you’re not using a silicone tin, I recommend wrapping it in parchment paper, as the cake tends to be very moist;
  • Bake it in the oven, 180ºC, for about 1 hour;
  • Allow the cake to cool down before you remove it from the form;
  • Cover it with your carob frosting, orange zest and chopped roasted almonds;

carob 9

  • Happiness is a piece of cake;

carob 10

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carob 11

Caloric Breakdown:

(1 Service = 1/8 of the recipe)

Blue – 52% Carbs

Red – 38% Fat

Green – 10% Protein


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Apple and Molasses Cake

Apple and Molasses Gluten Free Cake

Cake 1

If you’re a usual reader, you know I love fruit cakes, specially candied fruit. My favorite cake is the portuguese bolo-rei, so you know my peculiar taste.

I’m that guy that never enjoyed fast-food. Believe it or not, I’m sure I could use my 20 fingers to count how many times I had food on a McDonald’s. And from those 20 times, I could probably use my 10 hand fingers to count how many times I had burgers. I used to be that guy who orders a McFlurry or an apple pie, just to join the others.

Tarte Tatin

I love apple pies. Well, any time of apple cake, actually. But it was just after joining the hostelry and cooking school that I realized how crappy the McDoanld’s apple pies were. There’s nothing better than a homemade apple cake. Specially tarte tatin with crunchy puff pastry. Even if tarte tatin is a stupid name. Just like any other french name.

When I would go have dinner at some friends place, I would make apple or banana tarte tatin for dessert. Everybody would love it and be super impressed with my baking skills, but, in fact, I would just caramelize some pieces of apple or banana. Puff pastry and ice cream would be store bought. Do you really think I would waste my time baking pastry and making ice cream for a bunch of drunk people? Now that I think about it, that’s actually what is all about being a professional chef.

I am an idiot

I started my first chef internship at the bakery of Pestana Palace, Lisbon.

At Pestana, we used to use these huge convection ovens, that you could fit some sort of car in to carry the trays. It was the first time I saw that in my life. On my first trainee day, I was in a dead angle, and I crossed with a girl carrying one of these cars. So, as the gentleman I am, I helped a turning the car. What I didn’t know was that that car had just came out of the oven. I burnt both hands.

At Pestana Palace, the pool was the old lake of the palace and, for that reason, people use to call the Lake House to the pool bar. Every morning we would serve a different cake at the Lake House. In a certain morning, I got the task of baking an apple pie to serve there. When the pie was ready and nicely packed, I took to the Lake House. On my way there, I slipped and fell in the middle of the floor. Me and the apple pie.

And this was my first week as a trainee.

Ingredients:

Dry:

1/2 Cup of Buckwheat Flour
1/2 Cup of Almond Flour
3/4 Cup of Oatmeal Flour
1/4 Cup of Potato Starch
1 TSP of Baking Powder
1 TSP of Baking Soda
1/4 TSP of Salt
1/4 Cup of Raw Brown or Coconut Sugar
1 TBSP of Cinnamon
1 TBSP of Chia Seeds
2 TBSP of Grounded Flaxseeds
Pinch of grounded nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and cloves

Wet:

10 Dates
2 TBSP of Coconut Oil
1 TPS of Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup of Applesauce
1/2 Cup of Vegetable Milk
1 ou 2 TBSP of Blackstrap Molasses

Cake 2

Instructions:

  • If you don’t have almond or oatmeal flour, you can just make your own on the coffee grinder or food processor;
    • If you grind the almonds too much, you’ll get almond butter instead of flour;

Cake 2

  • Since you’re making such a great job using the grinder (I know you also use to grind weed sometimes, but I won’t tell), just grind your brown sugar;
    • Yes, I kid you not – grind the brown sugar until it becomes like powdered sugar;
    • Make sure to use raw sugar, not the soggy brown sugar;

Cake 3

  • In a big bowl, mix all the dry ingredients, except the chia and flaxseeds;

Cake 4

  • Rinse the apple (yes, you’re supposed to rinse your food before you eat it) and cut it in four pieces;
    • Dice 3/4 of it;
    • Slice the remaining 1/4 for decoration;

Cake 5

  • Pit the dates;
    • If you’re using less juicy dates, I would recommend you to soak them in water for a couple hours;
  • Mash the dates with a fork;
  • Add in the ramaining wet ingredients and also the chia and flaxseed;
    • It is a good ideia to melt the coconut oil in the microwave before adding in;

cake 6

  • Mix it well;

cake 7

  • Fold in the diced apple;

cake 8

  • Sieve the flour using a… a sieve…;
  • Keep adding in the flour, a little at a time;
  • Pour the content of the bowl into a bread tin;
    • I recommend using a silicone tin, as it doesn’t require using fat;
    • If you’re using a metal or disposable tin, I recommend greasing it with some coconut oil and dusting it with some flour;
  • Top the cake with blackstrap molasses and sliced apple;

cake 9

  • Bake it in the oven on 180ºC, for about 1 hour;
  • Allow the cake to competely cool down before removing it from the tin and slicing it;
  • The feast is on;

cake 10

cake 11

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cake 12

Caloric Breakdown:

(1 Service = 1/15 of the recipe)

Blue – 56% Carbs

Red – 36% Fat

Green – 8% Protein

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Instant Blueberry Jam

Instant Blueberry Jam

 

Compot, jelly, jam or marmelade? You could never tell the difference? You’re not alone. And believe me when I say thism working as a chef wouldn’t help you either. Beside all the compots, jellies, jams and marmalades, people are gonna start talking about all of these but with french or italian names for it, until it comes  to the point where gelée, jelly or confettura are all completely different things. So, to make things easier for everybody, we’re gonna call this recipe a jam. And before you start crying and telling me I’m wrong, remember this is my blog and I call my food whatever the heck I want. If I wanted to call this a Blueberry Kamehameha, this would be a Blueberry Kamehameha. Period.

Jams were never a part of my childhood. Contrary to many countries, jams are not a thing in Portugal. In some regions of the country pumpkin jam or quince marmalade used to be quite popular, but not nowadays and not for most people. Marmalade comes from the portuguese marmelada, by the way, in case of you didn’t know. I remember I wasn’t a huge fan of marmalade when I was young. Besides, I think the only jam I tried when I was a kid of tomato jam, that someone would ocasionally give to my mom. I think I actually enjoyed the flavor, but who knows the amount of sugar in it.

It was just when I started studying cooking that I became more interested in marmalades, jams, jellys, compots and all the possible combinations one could have with these fruit stuff. I remember that I bacame a fan of fresh cottage cheese with pumpkin compot (something very popular in Portugal back in the days) the momment I tried it.

Light

When I started exercising and taking care of my physical condition (more like taking care the way I looked, actually), I started wondering if jams would actually be healthier than butter. By that time, every item on the groceries shops shelves would have a light version of it. And I just played along. I replaced my refined sugars with artificial sweetners. Not the smartest choice, I know. In fact, I also knew it at the time, but I was more worried about the way I looked outside than the way I looked inside.

If you’ve been following The Real Green Scene on the social media, you know, for sure, that here at the house, we try to stay away from highly processed foods. Refined sugars and artificial sweetners are just some of those products.

This instant jam is something that we make every single week. It’s one of our favorite pancake toppings and it goes also really well on the bread or with yogurt, nana ice cream or your breakfast fruit or cereal bowl!

Ingredients:

4 Juicy Dates
300 gr. of Frozen Blueberries
1 TBSP of Chia Seeds (Optional)
Pinch of Vanilla (Optional)

Instructions:

  • Pit the dates;
    • If you’re using a not juicy variety of dates, I would recommend soaking it for a couple hours;
  • Mash the dates with a fork;
    • Add in 1 TBSP of water, if necessary;
  • Mix the frozen blueberries with the mashed dates;

jam 1

  • Transfer it to a pot and cook it on low heat, just until it starts boiling;
    • This could also be done in the microwave;

jam 2

  • At last, add in the vanilla and, if you desire a more consistent jam, also add in the chia seeds;
    • We normally don’t use chia seeds, as we like it a bit more liquid to soak the pancakes 😀 ;
  • Let it cool down completely before storing it in a closed jar;
    • It lasts two or three days in the fridge;
    • It could also be served warm;

jam 3

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jam 4

Caloric Breakdown:

(1 Service ~ 1 TBSP)

Blue – 80% Carbs

Red – 15% Fat

Green – 5% Protein

Note:

  • This process could also be applied to other berries, like strawberries, raspberries or blackberries, for example;

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