The authenticity of Cascais

The varied and vibrant food market in Cascais, Portugal (photo credit: AYA MASSIAS)
The varied and vibrant food market in Cascais, Portugal
(photo credit: AYA MASSIAS)
Aya and I recently visited the Portuguese coastal town of Cascais, 30 km. west of the capital, Lisbon. Formerly a fishing village, Cascais is now a wealthy cosmopolitan suburb and a popular holiday destination. We immediately set off to explore the local delicacies and food markets of the area.
My first reaction was amazement at the beauty and magnificence of the region. With its white beaches and its cliffs, the small village reminded me of Andalusia 50 years ago. It was all so authentic. And there is something very welcoming about the friendliness of the Portuguese people. At one point Aya looked at me and said, “Let’s move to Cascais!” I would like to share three recipes I came across there.
Chanfana de Borrego is a variation of one of traditional Portuguese cuisine’s signature dishes, and is also served in the towns surrounding Lisbon, such as Cascais, Sintra and Estoril. The desserts, both the apple, mango and banana crumble and the baby coconut and almond cakes, are typical of the renowned Portuguese expertise in sweets and cakes.
The writer is a trained chef, former owner of restaurants in New York and Jerusalem and runs Yaya Food & Travel Ltd (gourmet kosher Jewish heritage and culinary tours in Spain, Portugal, Provence, Gibraltar, Sicily and Morocco).
Serves 6
■ 1 kg. boned lamb (cut into medium-size pieces)
■ 2 onions (cut into medium-size pieces)
■ 8 garlic cloves (chopped)
■ 2 carrots (sliced)
■ 4 bay leaves
■ ¼ cup fresh parsley (chopped)
■ ¼ cup fresh mint (chopped)
■ 1 Tbsp. semi-hot paprika
■ ½ cup fried tomatoes (chopped)
■ 2 cups dry red wine
■ ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
■ 1 liter chicken or vegetable stock
Combine the meat, garlic, bay leaves, mint, parsley and wine. Make sure the wine covers the meat. Refrigerate covered, for 5 hours.
Preheat your oven to 125° C. In a large steel frying pan heat the olive oil until very hot. Remove the meat from the herb and wine mix, and set the mix aside. Sauté the meat, and when all the pieces are dark brown, add the onion and carrot and cook for another 30 minutes. Then add the fried tomatoes, the wine and herbs mix, and the chicken stock, and cook for another 30 minutes. Place everything in a ceramic bowl and into a hot oven for a further 45 minutes. Serve it with quinoa or roast baby potatoes.
Serves 6
■ 3 Granny Smith apples (peeled and cubed)
■ 2 bananas (cubed)
■ 1 mango (cubed)
■ 150 gr. raisins
■ 150 gr. hazelnuts (crushed)
■ 200 gr. butter
■ 2 Tbsp. coconut cream
■ 175 gr. brown sugar
■ 200 gr. whole wheat flour
■ 3 tsp. powdered cinnamon
■ ½ cup water
■ ½ cup white Muscat wine (semi-sweet)
Put all the fruit, raisins, hazelnuts, coconut cream, 100 gr. of the sugar, 1 tsp. of the cinnamon, water and wine into a pot. Cook until the apple is soft and you are left with a nice dense mixture. Set aside to cool. For the crumble Place the butter, the remaining 75 gr. sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon and flour into a bowl and mix with your hands, until you achieve a nice crumble. Fill 6 small ceramic bowls up to 3/4 full with the fruit mixture and cover them with the crumble. Place in a medium to hot oven (190° C) until the crumble is browned and you can see that the mixture is starting to bubble. Serve hot with ice cream or whipped cream.
Serves 12
■ 250 gr. butter (or margarine)
■ 1 cup dry coconut
■ 1 cup baked grated almonds
■ 1½ cups sugar
■ 4 eggs
■ 1 cup milk (or coconut milk)
■ 1 tsp. vanilla essence
■ 1 tsp. cinnamon
■ 3½ cups self-rising flour
Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer. Once a creamy mixture is achieved, add the eggs one by one. Then mix in the coconut and almonds followed by the milk. Finally, with a wooden spoon or palette, mix in the flour. Grease a muffin tray and fill it up with the mixture (but only half full). Bake in a medium hot oven for 40 minutes until the baby cakes are a lovely color. Preferably serve hot with a nice creamy custard and fresh fruit.