Gamboa, Almancil Portugal

Vixxy P rating:  P P P P P

I am one of those spoilt brats who are lucky enough to have parents who live abroad. They live in a beautiful part of the world, which I am very well aware does not fit in to the ‘authentic’ box, but boy have I loved growing up there – Quinta do Lago in the Algarve Portugal.

One of the great thing about the area being a resort based area, is that there are so many restaurants in the area to cater to the tourists that come from over Europe as well as the local residents. As much as I love fine dining, I do love the Portuguese way of ‘eating out’ – canteen style.

There are a few of these restaurants in the area that my parents frequent but their favourite (and now mine) is Gamboa. The main attraction as well as the food is the staff. Riu, Michelle and the team are so friendly, helpful and always happy to see you and squeeze you in where they can! The menu is varied and simple, easily a great place for those who don’t want to get all dressed up to pop out for a bite to eat.

If you have hungry men who are eating you out of house and home, I suggest you get them to order the Picanha here, the amount of food you get per order will satisfy (if not.. challenge) any one who orders it! Their Chicken Piri-Piri is another good order, none of this ridiculous Nandos stuff, proper Algarvian piri-piri.

One thing I would say is that you don’t need starters! If you accept the bread when you sit down, what they will bring you more than just bread. Cheese, Pate, Olives, Carrots all are more than enough to get your stomach working in preparation for your main course (and if you are particularly hungry, ask for some of the boiled prawns – they are divine!)

Prices: Starters 1.50€ – 7.50€ Main Course 5.50€ – 25.00€ Desserts 5.50€

Great for: Low key, casual, flip-flop dining

Vixxy P’s Menu faves: (unfortunately no photos here – however I am sure on my next visit I will get a few 😉 )

– Picanha

– Lamb Chops

– Chicken Piri-Piri

– Grilled Seabass

– Grilled Sole

IMG_2135

Contact Details:

Address: Rua Manuel dos Santos Vaquinhas, Almancil, Portugal

Telephone: (+351) 289 048 733

Website: http://www.visitou-ganhou.pt/index.php/web/106

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/restaurantgamboa

Twitter: n/a

Google +: n/a

Sylvia’s Super quick Stir Fry recipe

One of those dishes that your mum does that you can never get quite right. I have had this recipe in my possession for more than a few years now, and after countless tries I still can’t get it as good as I remember my mum’s being when we were younger!

It’s not an authentically accurate dish, but it is a wonderfully tasty one.

Sylvia's stirfry

Nevertheless this is still such ridiculously simple recipe, so easy for a weekday dinner and so tasty (it is also great the next day as something you can take to work for lunch!). This recipe will serve 6 people.

You can use any kind of meat or fish for this dish- cooked shredded chicken/strips of cooked steak/slices of grilled pork or cooked prawns/cooked flaked salmon.

Ingredients

450g Long grain rice

1ltr water

Meat/Fish (I used leftover Roast Chicken shredded)

1 Medium Onion (peeled and chopped)

2 Carrots (peeled and thinly sliced into Juilenne style slices)

0.5 Small Broccoli (chopped up into small sprigs and chunks)

5 White Mushrooms (chopped up)

1 Red Chilli (chopped up finely)

1 bottle of dark soy sauce

1 tbsp oil (I used vegetable)

Handful of raw cashew nuts

Method

1. Cook the rice as per your preferred method, I use my trusty steamer from Lakeland

2. Put rice aside

3. In a frying pan or wok add the oil and gently fry the onions till soft

4. If you are using raw meat or fish add this to the wok/pan now and use a little bit more oil to help coat the meat or fish

5. Once the meat has cooked through add the carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, and chilli and stirfry until everything is tender (if you are using already cooked meat or fish, add this with the vegetables)

6. Add the cooked rice to the stirfry and start adding soy sauce

7. Mix the stir fry with the soy sauce tasting as you go. Some people prefer a little bit of soy sauce, others prefer a lot. Add some, mix it through the stirfry and then taste it, keep adding bit by bit till you are happy with the taste. It should be just salty enough from the soy but not too much you can’t taste the rest of the ingredients.

8. Enjoy!

Easy Gingerbread cake

Although the weather in London this week’s has become fairly mild, we are officially in the depths of Autumn. I know this as my craving for sweet deep and warming flavours like ginger, nutmeg and other spices has started creeping in to my mind.

This recipe I worked on with my fellow baker Sam and I have to say is now a firm favourite. This tray bake is a winner not only because of the taste but also it is  multi-purpose! Hot, cold, fresh or a few days old it still tastes wonderful. The rich flavours are so warmly wonderful you almost want it to be cold outdoors so you can snuggle up with a hot drink and a slice of this gingerbread cake.

Image of Gingerbread cake

Gingerbread cake I made for Halloween 2012

Last year I prepared these for my annual Halloween party and used ready made icing to cut out little ghosts to put on top which were very popular! This is definitely also something you could do for Christmas, and replace the little ghost with a little christmas tree or holly leaf. I love versatility in a bake!

Ingredients

425g Golden Syrup

115g Unsalted Butter

65g Dark Brown Muscavado Sugar

50g Orange Marmalade

2 Large Eggs

160ml Milk (I used semi skimmed)

115g Self Raising Flour

115g Wholewheat Flour

1.5 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

4 tsp Ground ginger (This is for quite spicy gingerbread cake, if you don’t want it quite as spicy use only 2 tsp)

0.5 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

A pinch of salt

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160c

2. Line a traybake tin or any tin you have (I used a foil traybake tin from Lakeland) with greaseproof paper or parchment

3.  Put the butter, sugar, golden syrup and marmalade in a pan together and heat over a medium/low heat until well mixed. Put this aside to cool for 10mins.

4. Whisk in a bowl the eggs and milk and add* to the liquid mixture whisking these both together. *Make sure the liquid mixture is cool enough other wise the egg mix will scramble!

5. In a large bowl or alternatively in your food mixer mix together all the dry ingredients – all flours, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt

6. Add the liquid mix to the dry ingredients mix thoroughly till fully combined and smooth

7. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin

8. Bake for 50-60mins, check after 50mins just in case. You will know when it is ready as the cake will be springy and when prodded will come out clean

9. Keep the gingerbread cake in the tin to cool on a wire rack, it may shrink away from the sides of the tin, don’t worry that is ok!

10. Whilst this was cooling I rolled out some ready made icing, cut out the ghost shapes and then used black icing colour to dot on the icing to make the eyes.

11. Once the gingerbread cake had cooled I cut the cake into 15 pieces

12. I used orange marmalade to brush on the back of the cut out ghosts and then fixed one per square of cake

After a few days if you still have some of this cake left, I recommend taking off the icing shapes, placing in a dessert bowl, heating up in the microwave for 1 minute and serving with custard! YUM!

Vixxy’s Secret Valentine Cupcakes with Champagne Frosting

Secret Valentine Cupcakes with Champagne Frosting recipe

With the annual gushy-lovey day approaching and a spare rainy Sunday I decided to attempt a recipe I have been thinking about for a while, trying to work out how to get a secret little cake within a cake (inspired by The Great British Bake Off, and also that well known baker of cake Lauren Conrad!)
Have to admit, my man and I do enjoy an excuse to go out for a nice meal and some time together but we don’t really ever celebrate on the day itself. I’m a bit of a miser with money and hate the inflated for one day only prices and also gushing love really does put me off my meal when I am surrounded by couples declaring their undying forevers to each other whilst I’m tucking into something utterly delicious… bleurgh.

Anyways, on with the recipe and not my ranting!

So here they are in all their glory.

Image of Secret Valentine's Cupcakes with Champagne frosting recipe

Secret Valentine’s Cupcakes with Champagne frosting recipe

I was rather chuffed with the outcome and hope yours will turn out the same.

Secret Valentine Cupcakes with Champagne Frosting recipe

Secret Valentine Cupcakes with Champagne Frosting recipe

The recipe I used for the batter mix was from another post I made The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

Method

1. Prepare sponge batter mix as per the recipe in the link above till no. 8 in the method.

2. Divide the batter mix. I separated a third of the mixture in to a separate bowl, and the other two thirds I put to one side (even in the fridge if your kitchen is quite warm)

3. Then add red food colouring. The density of the colour is up to you, but I definitely think the more you dare, they more you are rewarded as the stark difference in colour of the sponges really adds to the secret heart in the cupcake!

4. Prepare and line a baketray (one that you would use for making flapjacks or brownies)

5. Pour the red batter mixture in to the baketray, smoothing the batter down. The aim is to have batter mixture of about half an inch or less.

6. Pop in the pre-heated oven at 180c for 15/20 mins, keep checking on it as it will cook a lot quicker than you think! (it will be slightly under cooked so will feel quite ‘wet’ but make sure it is cooked through by using a clean cocktail stick or a skewer in the middle of the tray

7. Bring the red sponge out the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely

8. Once this has cooled completely, you can either buy a mini heart shaped cutter or you can use a knife and cut out round a heart template you can cut out from paper/card

9. Cut out 12 hearts and place to one side

10. Get the plain sponge batter you have set aside

11. Set out your cases in a cupcake tray and spoon 1 spoonful of the plain mixture in each case

12. Place your red heart sponges in the middle of each cupcake case, standing up to attention rather than flat down with the pointy bit of the heart at the bottom. Press the sponge carefully down into the batter mixture. It should hopefully hold in the middle as the wet batter will hold it in place

13. Once you have placed all 12 of the hearts in the centre of the cupcake cases, divide the rest of the mixture around the all 12 of the hearts in the cases

14. Put the cupcakes back in the over and bake at the same 180 for another 20 mins. This was a little tricky as I left mine in for about 5/10 mins longer after I checked them, but use a skewer/cocktail stick to check after the initial 20mins first.

15. Once they are fully baked, place on a cooling tray. The top of the hearts may be peeping out the top of the cupcake but that is ok

16. Prepare a buttercream made up of icing sugar and unsalted butter, I don’t really have a recipe for this as I just whip room temperature/soft (not too soft!) butter and then add icing sugar till I like the taste!

17. I used flat room temperature champagne and added it very slowly so I wouldn’t ‘curdle’ the buttercream. I used about 3 ‘generous’ tablespoons! 😉

18. Once mixed together use a teaspoon to decorate the top of the cupcake, I used just enough on each one so they covered the little peeping hearts in the cupcakes.

19. Chill for half an hour so the buttercream sets, then enjoy these little surprises or give them as gifts to your Valentines ( there are 12 so I am not judging anyone on how many people they give one to!)

My Grandma’s incredibly moist Christmas Fruit cake

So slice up that fruitcake and get ready to argue over the bit with the biggest helping of icing!

Grandma's fruit cake recipe

Grandma’s fruit cake recipe

I love Christmas cake, the rich flavours and plump fruit nestled under a beautiful blanket of marzipan and icing. I’m part of a wonderfully large northern family and a great tradition that orginates from up nurrrf is Christmas cake and cheese! Yes! I kid you not. It has to be tried to be believed. Take a slice of a beautiful christmas cake and take a slice of a hard british cheese like a cheddar or a leicester and try it. I don’t have a scientific or logical explanation on why it works, but it does! Just put it down to a taste sensation!

Grandma's fruit cake recipe

Grandma’s fruit cake recipe

Ok… so onto this recipe. I don’t know where Grandma got this from, it could be from Be-ro, Delia, Mavis or anyone else! But all I know is it works, it is beautifully moist and it is so soft and tender. The fruit are still plump and juicy and the sponge is perfectly spiced. You can add a bit more variety by adding different nuts, cherries or slices of stem ginger, but on to the recipe!

This makes a 1x 21cm round cake.

Ingredients

850g Sultanas

225g Raisins

225g Currants

100g Stoned Prunes chopped

100g Mixed chopped peel

210ml Dry sherry

50ml Orange cordial

1 Large orange – rind and juice

1 Lemon – rind and juice

275g Softened unsalted butter

225g Dark soft brown sugar

275g Plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp grated nutmeg

5 Large eggs

2 tbsp Apricot jam

1 tbsp Black treacle

Method

1. Pre-heat over to 140C/275F Wash and dry dried fruit if needed

2. Put all the dried fruit in large pan with the prunes and peel

3. Add 110ml of the sherry, cordial, rind and juice of the orange and lemon

4. Stir the mixture over a medium heat till the fruit steams (about 5-10mins)

5. Turn into a bowl making sure no juices are wasted, cover immediately with cling film and leave overnight!

6. If you are going to add anything extra like ginger, nuts or cherries add them after leaving them overnight

7. In a large bowl cream softened butter with sugar till fluffy

8. Beat eggs together and put to one side and add 4 tablespoons of the beaten eggs to the butter and sugar, beat ensuring everything is fully mixed

9. Sieve all dry ingredients together then add 4 tablespoons of the dry ingerdients to the creamed mixture

10. Gradually add the rest of the egg mixture, beating after every addition. (Add a little flour from the dry ingredients if it starts to curdle)

11. Beat in the jam and the treacle

12. Fold in the remaining dry ingredients till well mixed

13. Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, mix in fruits until completely mixed through

14. Turn cake mixture into a greased or lined tin

15. Smooth top and bake for 4 hours. Test cake, by skewer in middle, if not cooked try 15 more minutes and test again

16. Remove cake from over, while still warm sprinkle over 100ml of sherry and leave to cool in the tin, leaving cake uncovered for 24hrs

17. After 24hrs wrap the cake in foil or parchment paper and store in an airtight box until you are ready to decorate. I would leave it at least 2 weeks in the box so it has time to settle and all the fruit can fully take in all the extra sherry.

18. Merry Christmas!

Sylv’s Savoury Fish recipe

Elsie's Savoury Fish recipe

Everyone loves that one dish they used to have when they were little. The meal that makes you feel like you are getting a big snuggly hug off your mum.  That is this dish for my sister and I.  This recipe is from my mum and one of our firm faves. Something so tasty but unbelievable simple. You have to try this.

Sylv's Savoury Fish recipe

Sylv’s Savoury Fish recipe

This is a perfect dish for those chilly evenings where you just want something so easy to make and to make you feel all warm inside.  With the addition of some fluffy mashed potato and some beautifully crisp green vegetables this makes a perfect midweek meal.

Sylv's Savoury Fish Recipe dish

Sylv’s Savoury Fish Recipe dish

Ingredients

700g white fish (I used coley and pollock)

200g grated cheese (I used mature cheddar)

2 tomatoes (sliced)

300ml milk (for a more creamy flavour use full fat)

2 eggs (I used large eggs)

salt and pepper

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c/350F/gas 4

2. Grease an oven proof ceramic or pyrex dish

3. Whisk together the eggs and milk and add a couple of pinches salt and pepper, then put to one side.

4. Pat dry the fish with kitchen towel and lay in the dish evenly

5. Pour most of the eggs and milk liquid over the fish

6. Sprinkle the cheese over the dish and then pour over the rest of the liquid

7. Lay the sliced tomatoes ontop of the dish and season

8. Put in the oven and bake until the cheese is golden brown and it feels firm/bouncy to touch.  This is about 40 mins I think.

9. Serve with some lovely fluffy mash and green veg.

10. Heaven in a meal! Enjoy!

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

I have to admit straight away this is NOT my own sponge recipe!  But I have to share this. Cakes are my passion and you can’t get more classic than a vanilla sponge. With the classic and simple comes complication. The more simple the sponge the tricker it is to get right as you can’t hide a not-so good cake behind textures and flavours.

This has to be the best recipe I have tried and tasted so far! If you have one to rival it I would love to know!

Mary Berry - photo by Megan Taylor for The Telegraph Online

Mary Berry – photo by Megan Taylor for The Telegraph Online

The recipe is by the cake goddess herself Mary Berry. My mother had the fortune of taking an AGA course with her at her home many moons ago, and said she is the sweetest and most gentle soul who loves cakes, baking and sharing her experience with others. What a lovely lady!  Her sponge recipe is taken from:

Great British Bake Off: How to Bake: The Perfect Victoria Sponge and Other Baking Secrets

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

So here is my recipe for a wonderful vanilla sponge topped with sweet buttercream and fresh strawberries. The key thing about baking is technique, you don’t have to have top quality ingredients if you can’t get them or afford them. It is the technique and process you follow. You can do this, I promise! Just have a go!

Ingredients

Sponge

225g Unsalted butter (*important* room temperature, soft to touch but not melted)

225g Caster sugar

225g Self-raising flour

4 large eggs (*important* room temperature)

1tsp Vanilla essence

1tbsp milk (*important* room temperature)

Topping

150g Unsalted butter

300g Icing sugar

140ml whipped cream

1 punnet of fresh strawberries

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350F/gas 4 and grease your chosen tin(s). Put the soft butter into a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or electric mixer for a minute until very smooth and creamy.

2. Gradually beat in the sugar, then keep on beating for 3 or 4 minutes or until the mixture turns almost white and becomes very fluffy in texture; scrape down the bowl from time to time.

3. Break the eggs into a small bowl, add the vanilla and the eggs into a small bowl, add the vanilla and beat lightly with a fork just to break them up.

4. Slowly add to the creamed mixture, a tablespoon at a time, giving the mixture a good beating after each addition and frequently scraping down the bowl. This will take about 5 minutes.

5. If the mixture looks as if it is about to curdle, add a tablespoon of the sifted flour and then continue adding the last portions of egg.

6. Sift the flour again, this time onto the mixture and add the milk

7. Gently but thoroughly fold the flour into the mixture using a large metal spoon. Do this as lightly as possible so you don’t knock out any of the air you have beaten in.

8. Stop folding when there are no streaks of flour visible in the mix and no clumps at the bottom of the bowl.

9. Spoon the mix into a tin (mine was a silicone Mickey Mouse shaped one!), or into two tins if you want to create a sandwich cake

10. Spread the mixture evenly in the tin(s) right to the edges

11. Bake for 20/25 mis or until a golden brown and the sponges are springy when gently pressed with your fingertip. They should almost double in size during baking.

12. Whilst the sponge is baking take the butter, icing and cream and mix thoroughly in a bowl with a metal spoon. Once mixed pop in the fridge to chill

13. Remove the tins from the oven and leave for a minute – the sponges will contract slightly. Run a round-bladed knife around the inside of each tin to loosen the sponge, then turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.

14. Once the sponge has chilled spoon and spread the buttercream on the sponge, spreading to the outside of the cake

15. Hull the strawberries and slice them in two so they have a flat surface to place on the icing

16. Stick the strawberries to the buttercream icing on the cake to cover the cake. You could also sift icing sugar over the cake if you wish.

17. Enjoy!

Tasty Cheesey Sausage Pasta recipe

Tasty Cheesey Sausage Pasta recipe

Sounds peculiar I know. When I came home tonight after a week of attending lots of incredible London 2012 Paralympic events my fridge was a bit of a sorry sight.

Vixxy P at London 2012

Vixxy P at London 2012

Usually bursting with colour and choice the fridge consisted of a few ingredients that possibly would not even satisfy Ainsley Harriott and the Ready Steady Cook gang! So this is what I put together, and for my sister, my boyfriend it was something they both claimed was a triumph! It was really quite easy and lovely and comforting.

Try it and see!

Tasty Cheesey Sausage Pasta recipe

Tasty Cheesey Sausage Pasta recipe

Ingredients

6 chipolata sausages (ours were pork and free range from Waitrose)

50g Butter

5 tbsp Plain flour (heaped)

200ml Chicken stock

100ml milk (I used semi skimmed)

4 tsp Honey and Whisky Wholegrain Mustard (You can add these all separately ingredients)

50g Gruyère cheese (Leave a couple of pinches aside for to sprinkle on top)

100g Extra Mature Cheddar cheese

170g Double cream

100g Frozen peitis pois (you could also try adding any other green veg like courgette/broccoli/spinach)

350g Pasta (I used amori but you can use any of your choice)

Salt and Pepper (add to taste)

Method

1. Grill the sausages till golden brown, put aside to cool and then chop into chunks

2. Bring some salted water to the boil and add the pasta (cook for the recommended time on the packet or just taste test it as you go!). Drain the pasta and set aside

3. You can either do this after the pasta or prepare the ingredients before and make whilst the pasta is cooking.  Make a roux from melting the butter in a pan on a medium heat and whisking in 3 tbsp on flour gradually so it becomes paste like.

4. Add half the chicken stock and whisk till thoroughly mixed through.

5. Add the whisky, mustard, milk, cheese, salt and pepper then continue to whisk till it is fully combined and heated through (don’t let this boil!)

6.  Add the petit pois and gently heat through till the peas are cooked

7. Add the pasta and sausages to the sauce

8. Pour in the cream and mix well so that all the pasta and ingredients are covered in sauce! Add more salt and pepper if needed!

9. Dish up and sprinkle some of the Gruyère on top before serving

10. Enjoy!

Raspberry Mango Sorbet recipe

Raspberry and Mango Sorbet recipe

For something a little different and refreshing why not try this amazingly simple recipe for sorbet?!  I made this last week when the weather was very humid and we needed something to cool us all down!

Raspberry and Mango Sorbet recipe

Raspberry and Mango Sorbet recipe

This is such a simple recipe you have to try it!

Ingredients

150g caster sugar

50ml Water

600g fresh raspberries

1 fresh mango, diced into small chunks (pat dry)

1 tbsp lemon juice

Method

1. Pour the sugar and water into a pan and place over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then remove and let it cool

2. When the sugar syrup is cool, add raspberries and lemon juice to the syrup in a food processor and puree.

3. Strain the pureed mixture through a fine sieve and transfer to a freezable container

4. Put the container in the freezer for half an hour

5. Take out the container, break up the mixture that will be slowly freezing, take the mango and slowly stir it into the mix

6. Place the mixture back in the freezer for about 4 – 6hrs

7. Enjoy!

Fresh Sweet Chilli dip recipe

Fresh Sweet Chilli Dip

Phew! London has been a sweltering bath of humidity this weekend, lovely to have the weather, but us Brits are never quite sure how to cope with it! Very few residential homes have air con here in the UK, so countless cold showers and wafting the nearest magazine or leaflet as makeshift fans seem to be the best ideas we seem to have come up with!

Our Roof Terrace with paddling pool - perfect way to cool down!

Our Roof Terrace with paddling pool – perfect way to cool down!

When the weather is hot and humid food needs to been fresh, light and cool. This is a light, tasty and versatile dip which can be served with carrot sticks, broccoli florets, mange tout, crisps, tortilla chips or anything you can dip! Try it, it is so fresh especially when it is lovely and chilled. Perfect with a chilled glass of rose!

Fresh Sweet Chilli Dip

Fresh Sweet Chilli Dip

Ingredients

4 tbsp Creme Fraiche

3 tbsp Thai Sweet Chilli sauce

Method

1. Mix the creme fraiche and chilli sauce in a bowl and chill for at least half an hour or so before serving.

2. Serve with crudités, tortilla chips or anything you can dip in it! Enjoy!!

*N.B.* If you need more dip just increase the quantities in ratio. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days