Monserrate: a must-see palace in Sintra

Sintra has some of the most beautiful places in Portugal.

Salt of Portugal

Monserrate - ©mariarebelophotography.comSintra has many romantic palaces but each has something unique to offer. One of our favorites is Monserrate, a palace surrounded by luscious gardens built in 1856 by Francis Cook, a famous British art collector.

When the Portuguese government bought the estate in 1949, the palace was in disrepair. The costly restoration work started in 1999 and only finished recently. It was worth the wait. We now have the privilege of seeing how the palace looked when the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen visited it in 1866. Here’s what he wrote:

“Large white bell-flowers hang from one tree; pearl-shaped, rose-colored berries from another, juicy fruits and sun-filled colored flowers grew here. Down over the smooth velvet lawn rippled the clear spring water. Above this fresh green, the castle rose in Moorish style, a fit subject for the Arabian Nights or a romantic fairy picture. The sun sank into the sea, which became rose-colored; the brightness of the sea and…

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Sopa da Galinha (Canja) Re-posted especially for Lucy who has a thing for soup.

Have you ever said, “It’s easy as pie.”? If you’ve ever made a pie from scratch, you know it isn’t as easy as it sounds. The Portuguese saying is, “É canja!” It’s as easy as making chicken soup. I think making chicken soup is  than making a pie from scratch (let alone one made from flour, shortening, and all the rest). It does, however, take time to do it right. This is not a microwave recipe. But it is good. Additionally, a popular proverb states: “Cautela e caldos de galinha nunca fizeram mal a ninguem.” (“Caution and chicken broth never did anyone harm.”) This is a basic recipe. Most cooks have their own signature touches they put in their Canja.

Ingredients:
1 large stewing hen (You can make chicken soup with a fryer, but it does not come close to the rich flavor of a stewing hen.)

2 quarts of water
1/2 cup of rice
Salt and pepper to taste
My special touches: Italian parsley, garlic to your taste, one whole onion stuck with four or five cloves, a whole turnip or yellow turnip (also goes by rutabaga or swede) (not sliced or diced), a handful of fresh herbs tied in a bunch and dropped into the broth.

Wash the hen in cold running water. Remove the eggs (found inside the hen), liver, gizzard, feet and heart, and reserve them on the side. Put the hen in a large pot, and add the chicken’s feet, the water and salt or other seasoning you may like. Bring it to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the chicken is tender. This may take several hours. Skim off any foam that forms.

When the broth has reduced to   1/2 quarts, put the gizzard, liver, feet and heart into the broth. After 10 minutes, slowly add the rice. Cover the pot, and let it simmer for approximately 20 minutes, then add the chicken’s eggs and cook ten more minutes.

Take out the gizzard, heart, feet and liver. Put the feet to the side, and mince the rest with a knife. Put some in each soup plate along with some of the hen’s egg(s)  and some minced parsley before you add the broth and rice. Serve with fresh bread.

The Portuguese often use a soup as the first course of a meal, so there is no need to have the meat in your soup, though if you want it for a main dish, you may certainly add more meat. Or, you can use it to make something else.

For many of the older Portuguese women that I knew in Portugal, having a chicken was a rare Sunday treat under Salazar’s rule. That being the case, one would wish to make it stretch as far as possible. I never actually ate any chicken feet, but I was given to understand that it was an honor to be offered one of the feet.

Do you have a special recipe for chicken soup? Is this recipe easy?

Canja de Galinha

Silent inspiration

Portugal has many kinds of bread and sweets, but this is one I have never eaten. Love the story that came with the food.

Salt of Portugal

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Carmelite nuns lived most of their days in silence and solitude. The local peasants offered them agricultural products, including numerous eggs. The nuns used the egg whites to starch their clothes and the egg yolks to make desserts.

One day, the nuns received a bag of the finest, whitest wheat flour they had ever seen. They decided to try to make something special with this gift. The flour was combined with water to create a “virgin dough” that was left to rest. The nuns then stretched the dough and let it rest again. To get the most out of the rare flour, they repeated this stretching-resting cycle until the dough was so thin they could read the bible through it.

The dough was cut into rectangles and used to wrap a delicate mixture of egg yolks and sugar. The nuns used a feather to spread some melted butter over the dough and baked the…

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A treasure hunt in Lisbon

Portugal has many treasures that you might like to see. This post from Salt of Portugal features some of the things and where to look for them.

Salt of Portugal

Cpmposot Embaixada“Where did you get that?” people used to ask when they saw someone wearing an interesting piece of clothing or jewelry. This question is now rarely asked. Shopping centers all over the world carry the same goods made by the same brands. In a world of abundance, the thrill of the new has become hard to find.

But you can find it at Embaixada, a new shopping center in Lisbon’s Príncipe Real neighborhood.  Housed in a sumptuous palace built in 1857, it features a collection of unique stores that sell original clothing and decorative pieces. Visiting Embaixada is like going on a treasure hunt. Take home a few prized possessions and people will ask: “where did you get that?”

Embaixada is located on Praça do Príncipe Real, n. 26. Click here for their website.

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The Marquês de Pombal

 Marquês de Pombal
Marquês de Pombal

“The Marquês de Pombal was born in 1699.The Portuguese statesman Sebastião Joséde Carvalho e Mello, Marquês de Pombal (1699-1782), one of the most important men in the history of Portugal, became virtual dictator of his country during the reign of King Joseph I. He used his powers to introduce much-needed reforms.” (http://biography.yourdictionary.com/marques-de-pombal)

Pombal became a consummate statesman and had his fingers in every pie he could reach. He is most appreciated and best known for his work after the The Great Lisbon Earthquake. He was a far thinking man and  way ahead of his time which was clearly seen the process of rebuilding Lisbon. During that time, he became virtual dictator. Though  He tried to curb the British from having so much to say in Portuguese economics. In that effort, he was largely unsuccessful.

Eventually, he was put out of office and banished to the town of Pombal. Eventually he received pardon. He died May 8, 1782 at 82 years old.

If you would like to read a little more about this interesting man, follow the link.

What do you think? Was he a patriot or a glory grubber?

The Praça de Pombal
The Praça de Pombal in downtown Lisbon