Creamed Bacalhau

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To follow up on my last post, no trip to any Seabra’s is complete without a visit to the bacalhau department. Bacalhau (pronounced ba-kal-Yow) is dried, salted cod that’s used in purportedly thousands of recipes in Brazilian/Portuguese cuisine and I recommend that you try it even if you’re not a fan of fish (an afishionado, as it were). As a rule, the larger the Seabra’s, the bigger the seafood department, hence the wider the assortment of bacalhau varieties, provenance, and sizes from small chunks to whole fish. It goes without saying that it has a seriously long shelf life.

I generally purchase enough to make a few dishes like brandade and the creamed bacalhau shown here. It’s simple to execute, doesn’t require much time in the kitchen (i.e., not including a 2–3 day soak in the fridge to rehydrate and desalinate the fish), and is deliciously rewarding.

Here’s an oversimplification of what I did after soaking, rinsing, and draining the fish: Simmer the cod in water until it’s tender (it will break up). While that’s going, sauté chopped onions, garlic, and bell pepper in butter and set aside. Cook the softened cod a bit in more butter – it doesn’t take long. Add some half and half and continue to cook as the fish absorbs the liquid; you may need a few additions until it’s nearly saturated. The idea is to completely soften the fish and have no liquid remaining.

Add the aromatics back to the cod along with some thawed frozen peas and enough heavy cream to reach the consistency you desire. Add freshly ground black pepper, a bit of salt and any other seasonings you like as the spirit moves you. Cook to heat through.

I garnished it with chopped scallions and petits poivrons and plated it with glazed carrots on the side.

Sometimes I think that I could do an ethnojunket to the Ironbound just for Seabra’s, Nasto’s Ice Cream, and Teixeira’s Bakery (all posted on my website if you’re curious). Just a thought. 😉

Cooking in the Time of COVID – Feijoada

Instagram Post 4/22/2020

👨‍🍳 Cooking in the Time of COVID 👨‍🍳

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The fifth and final sausage from Seabra’s in Newark’s Ironbound District was morcela, a blood sausage, which was relegated to the freezer without a second glance when I realized how much I had overbought. Now, some months later, the idea of making feijoada, the rich Portuguese/Brazilian stew, as a means of using it up along with the black beans and other ingredients I had on hand seemed appropriate.

I prepped the beans, cooked the rice, chopped the onions, chunked up a few hunks of ham and smoky, fatty, porky charcuterie I had left over from the amazing Muncan, and freed the morcela from its icy prison. My mise was en place. But slicing into the unlabeled link, I realized it was actually morcela de arroz, a blood and rice sausage, and not what one would expect in a proper feijoada. Okay, fine. So it wouldn’t be the real deal. I would make fake-joada.

But it wasn’t just the star of the show that was understudied. Even the supporting cast had stand-ins. The dish should be served with sautéed greens, collards specifically, but lacking any (and since going out shopping was against the rules), I stripped the thickest leaves from some leftover uncooked bok choy, julienned them, and sautéed them with some onions.

And of course, the crumbly bits you see sprinkled on top of the feijoada is its traditional accompaniment, farofa, ground dried manioc.

The hell it is. You think I have ground dried manioc in my pantry? I had some cornbread in the freezer, so I knocked off some crumbs and toasted ’em up.

So there you have it: fake-joada with faux-rofa. (Just don’t ask about the orange slices, okay?)

Cooking in the Time of COVID – Alheira

Instagram Post 4/10/2020

👨‍🍳 Cooking in the Time of COVID 👨‍🍳

Alheira: another Portuguese sausage that followed me home from Seabra’s in Newark. In this case, I didn’t repurpose it into some wits’ end adaptation of authenticity but rather prepared it in the traditional fashion – not to mention that doing so required precious little time in the kitchen 😉.

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Originally, alheira was a bready, herby, garlic-heavy (alho means garlic in Portuguese) wily subterfuge reputedly cooked up by Portuguese Jews during the Inquisition; sometimes containing chicken or other meats, it looked the part when hanging in the smokehouse, but was porkless and therefore kosher, allaying any suspicion of non-Christian religious activities behind closed portas.

The inner workings.

This one had no detectable meat other than in the form of fat – think Portuguese kishka – but brought a strong vinegar component to the plate. Often accompanied by a fried egg (a perfect foil to be sure) and sautéed greens, I tried to keep it real.

So that’s four sausages down, one more to go!
Stay safe, be well, and eat whatever it takes. ❤️

Cooking in the Time of COVID – Chourico & Kale Soup

Instagram Post 4/6/2020

👨‍🍳 Cooking in the Time of COVID 👨‍🍳

Months ago, when I last visited Newark’s Ironbound district, I paid a visit to Seabra’s flagship market at 260 Lafayette St; appropriately, it’s the size of a suburban supermarket and is the motherlode of all Portuguese and Brazilian food cravings. I bought too many varieties of Portuguese sausages (my standard MO when I can’t make a decision), did some snackin’, and stashed the rest in the freezer for another time.

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That time, obviously, has come.

Therefore, with an eye towards preparing the iconic Portuguese kale and chouriço soup, kale and potatoes topped the list on my now highly sporadic local shopping trip; I had the other ingredients on hand (chicken broth, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs and spices). If you’re curious about the sausages, there’s smoky Transmontano and two kinds of Chouriço Caseiro (home style), a dry one and a darker, softer number, both made from pork and wine.

So now, instead of too many sausages in the freezer, I have too much soup. 😕 Wouldn’t it be great if that were the worst of our problems? (Or should I say the wurst? 😉)
Stay safe, be well, and eat whatever it takes. ❤️

Dining for Justice Benefit for Immigrant Families

Sometimes we’re granted an opportunity to take part in an event that joyously fills the heart. And sometimes we’re granted an opportunity to take part in an event that joyously fills the tummy. But rarely are they the same event. Until now.

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On September 22, Don Rodrigo Duarte, “The King of Hams”, will roast a prize-winning Portuguese Alentejano hog and showcase other pata negra charcuterie at a Dining for Justice benefit for immigrant families seeking asylum. The proceeds go directly to Immigrant Families Together, an organization committed to the reunification of families separated at the US/Mexico border.

The event will take place along the waterfront at Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill, 4-40 44th Drive in Long Island City, Queens from noon to 3pm. Farmstand sides will be provided by Chef’s Consortium and Brooklyn’s Betty Bakery will whip up desserts. A cash bar will be made available by the venue, Anable Basin.

Tickets are $40 (children under 12 are admitted free with parent or guardian) and may be purchased at\

Dining for Justice:
Immigrant Families Together:
A couple of bonus photos from my recent visit to Don Rodrigo Duarte’s Gourmet House, Caseiro E Bom, at 70 Pacific St, Newark, NJ:

Nine year old Pata Negra!

Charcuterie stalactites.
(Promotional consideration tickets provided by Dining for Justice.)

Teixeira’s Bakery

Instagram Post 4/2/2019

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Another of my favorite neighborhoods for food exploration is Newark, New Jersey’s Ironbound District. Possibly named for the web of railroad tracks that surround the area or possibly because of its significant metalworking industry, it’s home to a large Portuguese and Brazilian population and, naturally, their cuisines. Since our primary destination was a Burkinabé restaurant in Newark (which I’ll post about soon) and the Ironbound lies at the foot of Newark Penn Station, it begged a quick side visit (is that even possible?) to Teixeira’s Bakery at 186 Ferry St.

[1] Portuguese pastries are multitudinous in diversity, eggy and delicious.

[2] The annotated version:

• Bolas de Berlim, also known as Berliners, are a sweet, filled, pillowy yeast donut. The doce de ovos filling is a typical Portuguese sweet egg custard that figures into many desserts; Teixeira’s also makes a vanilla custard (crème pâtissière) variety because, I was told by the delightful person behind the counter, “some people don’t like the egg”. IMHO, they don’t know what they’re missing.

• Lencinho means handkerchief or napkin; a square of fragile Portuguese sponge cake – practically a thick pancake – is slathered with doce de ovos and folded into a triangle as a napkin might be; the least sweet of the lot.

• Ferreirinhas start with a square of sponge cake spread with chopped almond filling (not almond paste), rolled up, and topped with more eggy goodness and sliced almonds.

• Torta Morango, a slice of strawberry jellyroll, egg-rich and supple.

• Queijada is a type of cheese cake, but not quite cheesecake, amêndoa (almond) and laranja (orange) shown here. The crusty, spare outer shell is rigid, the filling a little curd-like, too grainy to be considered a custard, but appealing nonetheless.

[3] Inside a ferreirinha and a better view of its crispy edge.

[4] On the left, a bola de Berlim filled with doce de ovos, on the right its vanilla custard sibling. Compare and contrast.

So much more to explore in the Ironbound District; I’m planning a return trip very soon when I can actually spend some time! Have I tempted you yet?