Last week we had a wonderful holiday in Portugal staying in a villa with family. Our villa was located near Moncarapacho, about a 45 minute drive east of Faro towards the border with Spain. In contrast to the well known resorts in the western Algarve with their hotels and golf courses, the eastern half is relatively undeveloped and comprises traditional fishing port and charming sleepy villages. The weather was gloriously sunny for the whole week and it was nice just to relax and mess about around the pool. The setting was beautiful and all around were citrus groves heady with the scent of blossom.
I didn’t cook all that much as it was cheaper to eat out but we had couple of barbecues including some fantastic local fish (sea bream, sardines) and tasty, toothsome quail.
There is also a Portuguese speciality where you cook your own steak. The stone is heated to extreme temperatures and you cut pieces off the joint, cook to your liking and thoroughly enjoy.
Lazy lunches were had on the terrace by the pool … we grazed on ham, chorizo, antipasti, potato salad, and some amazing local breads and cheeses.
I made brioche rolls for breakfast which was a real hit with C. The texture of the bread was very open compared to normal brioche as I had the dough prove all afternoon and overnight before baking.
Lazy Holiday Brioche Breakfast Rolls (posted to Yeastspotting)
75 ml warm water.
3 eggs (+ another for brushing over the rolls if required).
200g butter chopped in cubes.
500g strong white bread flour.
4 tablespoons honey (we were low on sugar!).
1 sachet (6-7 g) dried active baking yeast.
pinch of salt.
- Mix the flour, salt and yeast into a bowl. Make a well in the flour and add the eggs and water. Mix to form a stiff dough (adding more water if required). Knead lightly in the bowl until the dough is smooth.
- Add the butter to the dough and mix until well incorporated, this will be messy as the dough will be very sticky (I used a fork to do this). Cover and leave to rise in a warm place (a pool terrace in Portugal is ideal!)
- When dough has doubled in size knock back and knead in the bowl 5-10 times. Recover the dough and leave to rise again. I didn’t need the dough till much later so I put it in the fridge at this point.
- Generously grease a muffin tin with butter (grease the whole upper surface of the in as the dough is likely to rise over the edges of the cups).
- Turn the finished dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead 5 to 10 times. Separate the dough into thirds. Portion each third into 6 even pieces and place each piece into a cup in the muffin tin. Set aside to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (I left mine overnight).
- Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4. For a glossy finish brush the top of the rolls with beaten egg (I didn’t bother).
- Bake in the preheated oven until deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.
- Leave to cool in the tray then pop out and enjoy!
When we ate out I gorged on seafood which was abundant, especially the most sweet baby clams. The local speciality dish is Cataplana which is a big one pot shell fish stew served with rice and plenty of vino tinto! Eating out at the local restaruants was tremendous value, 3 courses costing typically around €2o per person including wine.
There is also a Portuguese speciality “steak on the stone” where you cook your own steak. The steak is served barely seared on a stone tile heated to an extremely high temperature and you cook to your liking. Mrs W. was a big fan!