m'hanncha (moroccan almond and orange blossom phyllo pastry)

moroccan almond and orange blossom pastry on millys-kitchen.com

We’re all moved into our new home. The whirlwind of the holidays and closing on the house and packing is behind us. I continue to explore the neighborhood: I know which butcher and grocery store I like. The best route for walking to the park. Where the post office is. 

moroccan almond and orange blossom pastry on millys-kitchen.com

I expected moving to a new neighborhood would bring a lot of change. The piece I hadn’t foreseen was how adrift I would feel without all the small rituals that anchored my days. My afternoons at the coffee shop where I was greeted with a smile and where I knew all the baristas' names. The public library just a stone’s throw from my house. The running trail I knew like the back of my hand. Chats with my neighbor out the kitchen window. 

And though we’re still in Seattle, we’re no longer just a ten minute drive away from most of our friends. Less able to meet up for a spontaneous cocktail or after-work walk.

moroccan almond and orange blossom pastry on millys-kitchen.com
moroccan almond and orange blossom pastry on millys-kitchen.com

The good news is I’m finding new rituals and making new friends. That’s where this cake comes in. 

It's made of layers of phyllo dough wrapped around an almond filling infused with orange water and honey. It’s flaky and nutty and just the right amount sweet. This is my kind of dessert. Once I had baked it though, I realized it was definitely too much for Beau and I to finish on our own. So I took it to my photography class. 

moroccan almond and orange blossom pastry on millys-kitchen.com

There’s something about sharing food that makes people open up just a little bit more than they otherwise would. As we sat around the table before class eating sticky slices of cake, people talked about their work and their partners and their interests for the first time. We laughed and shared photography tips and commiserated over our darkroom blunders. 

I’m not going to chalk it all up to the m’hanncha. But I am going to say it helped. And I’m officially counting Thursday Night Photography Class among my new rituals. There will very likely be more cake.


moroccan almond and orange blossom pastry on millys-kitchen.com

M'hanncha (Moroccan Almond and Orange Blossom Phyllo Pastry)

  • 4 oz. (8 tablespoons) butter, melted, plus additional for brushing phyllo
  • 4 oz. (1 c.) blanched slivered almonds
  • 4 oz. (2/3 c.) granulated sugar
  • 11 oz. (2 3/4 c.) almond meal
  • 2 oz. (1/2 c.) powdered sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons orange flower water, divided
  • 6-8 sheets phyllo dough
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • ¼ cup mild-flavored honey

*Notes: If you can’t find almond meal, make your own. Place whole, sliced or slivered blanched almonds in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until they form a fine meal. You will be able to get a finer meal in the blender. Adding a tablespoon or two of sugar will help keep the almonds from turning to almond butter. If you add the sugar while making almond meal, be sure to subtract it from the amount in the recipe.

- This pastry is also delicious with pistachios. When I make it with pistachios I reduce the amount of cinnamon and add a pinch of ground cardamom.

moroccan almond and orange blossom pastry on millys-kitchen.com

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the melted butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the blanched almonds and cook until light golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

When cool, place the browned almonds in a food processor with the granulated sugar and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. 

Add the almond meal, powdered, sugar, the rest of the butter, the whole egg, cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of the orange flower water to the food processor with the almond and sugar mixture. Process until the mixture is homogenous, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Unroll the phyllo dough and place it on a large work surface. Cover the phyllo with plastic wrap and then a barely damp towel to keep it from drying out. Remove one sheet of the phyllo and place it on your work surface, with a long side closest to you. Brush the phyllo with melted butter. You want it lightly and evenly buttered (not dripping with butter).

Take a golf ball sized piece of dough and roll it into a log about ½ -inch in diameter. Place the roll of filling on the buttered phyllo, about 1/2 inch from the edge in front of you. Continue to form rolls of the almond paste and place them end to end, gently pressing them together, until you have a log of filling that extends across the long side of the phyllo sheet.

Gently roll the phyllo sheet around the log of filling. Brush the top and sides lightly with melted butter to keep the phyllo roll flexible. Coil the first roll around itself in the center of a parchment-lined sheet pan.

Continue rolling logs of filling in the buttered phyllo and placing them end to end to form a tight coil until you have used up all of the paste. Brush the top of the pastry with the egg yolk and water mixture. Bake until crisp and golden brown (about 30 minutes).

In a small saucepan heat the honey to loosen it slightly. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon orange flower water and stir to combine. Pour the honey mixture over the warm pastry.

Cool slightly and dust with powdered sugar. Slice into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8-10 servings.

moroccan almond and orange blossom pastry on millys-kitchen.com

wanderlust guide: porto

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

Hello and Happy 2016!

We’re slowly settling into our new house--endlessly rearranging the furniture, unpacking the mountain of boxes in the garage and wandering further afield in the neighborhood. The kitchen is more-or-less back in place and I’m ready to start cooking again. But before I go into full-on recipe testing mode, I have another Wanderlust Guide for you! 

This time I’m sharing my go-to spots in Porto, one of my very favorite cities. Porto boasts a picturesque harbor, fantastic food and wine, and a decidedly down-to-earth vibe, due in part to its working-class roots. Porto is also home to a burgeoning community of young artists and designers, who are busy pushing the boundaries in fashion, architecture, food and art. 

I’m head-over-heels for Porto. I think you will be, too. 

xo,

Olaiya


P.S. I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be taking another small group of food lovers to Portugal for 8 days of cooking classes, wine and cheese tastings, farm dinners, market visits, cultural walking tours, and meals out at my favorite restaurants! 


Food + Drink

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

Pedro dos Frangos is an unremarkable looking rotisserie chicken restaurant. If this place had not been recommended to me, I never would have stopped. But as is the case with many local gems, this unassuming spot served one of the best meals I ate on my last trip to Portugal: Porto-style tripe. Let me explain. I too, thought tripe was disgusting and deplorable and utterly repulsive before my conversion experience at Pedro dos Frangos. Tripe was, in fact, the only food that I categorically refused to eat. But since tripe is a specialty of Porto, I decided to give it one more chance. The tripe at Pedro dos Frangos is decidedly un-tripelike. It is meltingly tender and delicious. Ours came in a tomato infused sauce with velvety-soft white beans and crispy pieces of pork and roast chicken floating alongside. It was delicious. The crispy fried sardines and bottle of vinho verde we ordered to start the meal off were equally wonderful. Pedro’s is well worth a stop. And don’t worry, there’s charcoal-grilled chicken and towering plates of french fries for less adventurous eaters!

P.S. There are actually two Pedro dos Frangos restaurants located across the street from each other (???). We ate upstairs at the one on the east side of the Rua do Bonjardim. Also, this is a locals-only spot. We heard nothing but Portuguese while we were there. So be prepared to pull out your Portuguese phrasebook or a translator on your phone to navigate the menu. 

 

Photo: Espiga

Photo: Espiga

Espiga Cafe + Gallery. This cafe/bar/gallery/concert venue/creative space is the perfect place to stop for a coffee or a meal after a long day of exploring the city. The seating is comfortable, there’s a chill vibe, and the (inexpensive) food served by the young couple who run the space is solid. On my last trip, I often slid into one of the soft leather sofas here after a long day of walking the cobblestone streets and found myself revived with a hot bowl of soup and a glass of wine. They are open from 1pm to 1am, but when I was there, they never got busy until late in the evening. So if you’re looking for a mellow afternoon spot to work or read, stop in and take advantage of their strong WiFi connection. If you’re looking for a hip place for a late dinner or a drink, head over after 9pm.  
 

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

Much like Espiga, Café Vitória is a great space to stop in for coffee, a cocktail, an afternoon snack, lunch or dinner. The beautifully designed interior and open-air courtyard in the back are full of hipsters, young and old, throughout the day. Students come here to study. Creative professionals come for business meetings. Older locals stop in for lunch. It’s a wonderful slice of Porto and a centrally-located spot to stop and take a break, work or just people-watch. 

P.S. Stop into Galerias Lumière, the hip, design-centered shopping space across the street while you’re in the neighborhood.

 

Cantinho do Avillez is Michelin-starred chef José Avillez’ cosy spot for traditional Portuguese food executed with the precision of a classically-trained chef. You’ll find tender grilled octopus with silky olive oil poached potatoes, Alentejo black pork with black beans and crispy fries, crunchy cod fritters and other traditional dishes served with an upscale presentation. The wine list is excellent, too. This place is popular with locals and tourists, so be sure to call ahead to reserve.

 

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

Rota do Chá. This tea house located in the up-and-coming arts district of Porto boasts a charming interior, a large plant-filled courtyard in back and a wonderful list of teas from around the world. And it’s open on Sundays! (A rare occurrence in Porto.) This tiny place can get busy on weekends and sunny days, which leads to rather leisurely service. Take a book and be prepared to wait a little while for your pot of tea to arrive.

 

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

Comer e Chorar por Mais. If you’ve been following along on the blog, you know that I’ve been amazed by the quality of the cheese and charcuterie in Portugal. This 100-year-old shop tucked away just around the corner from the bustling Bolhão Market is the absolute mecca for Portuguese cheese, charcuterie and wine. The selection of products they manage to fit into this little deli is mind-boggling. And everything we tasted here was delicious! I especially recommend their Alheira (traditional Portuguese sausage made with bread). Their staff speak English and are incredibly knowledgeable, so ask away if you’re looking for something in particular or have questions. 

 

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

Leitaria da Quinta. Ok. I am not a huge lover of eclairs. (Despite the fact that they are becoming the new macaron in terms of trendiness. Or maybe eclairs are done already and cream puffs are the new macaron? Who can keep up?) Anyhoo...Leitaria da Quinta, founded in 1920, makes one stunner of an eclair. Unlike it’s restrained French cousin, the classic Leitaria da Quinta eclair is stuffed full of whipped cream and topped with a dark milk chocolate glaze. It is ridiculously good. It’s the type of sweet that leaves you wanting to eat about 10 more. Which might lead you to opt for an assortment of their mini-eclairs. But don’t be fooled; as cute as the little lemon and caramel-coated eclairs are, the classic is where it’s at. 
 

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

Right beside Leitaria da Quinta, you’ll find my favorite bakery in Porto: Padaria Ribeiro. Unlike the eclair situation next door, however, I advise diving into their dozens of bite-sized pastries. I’m going to be honest: I have no idea what most of them are. There are SO many. And I don’t know the names of the ones I like best because Padaria Ribeiro is always busy and the staff is a little brusque and not exactly in the mood to explain to me in English the nuances of all the various traditional Portuguese pastries they serve. But they’re all good. Some are sweeter than others. Some are filled with coconut. Some with apple. Some with egg cream. I recommend pointing out several in the case that look good, ordering one of their excellent espressos and taking a seat on their sunny patio to figure out which ones you like best. 

 

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

Port Houses. While not in Porto, strictly-speaking, the port houses of Gaia right across the river are definitely worth a visit. I recommend both Sandeman and Ferreira. Both were established in the 18th century, are still Portuguese-owned and produce world-quality port wines. Join one of their daily tours (available in English, check their websites or call ahead for details), which finish with a port wine tasting. 

Pro-tip #1: book well in advance if you’d like to do a tasting of vintage ports.

Pro-tip#2: Walking across the upper level of the Luís I Bridge (just past the cathedral) yields spectacular views of Porto and Gaia. Bring your camera.

 

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

Roasted chestnuts. If you’re in Porto in the fall, order a cone of roasted chestnuts from one of the street vendors. Smoky, subtly sweet chestnuts make a great snack when you’re out exploring the city.


Shops

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

Founded by a world-traveling journalist, A Vida Portuguêsa is home to an assortment of nostalgic and 100% made-in-Portugal goods for the home. You’ll find everything from locally-sourced olive oil to cleaning products in vintage-inspired metal tins to old-school canvas and rubber sneakers. I always opt for the inexpensive woven rugs and pretty soaps in art-deco wrappers, which make fantastic gifts (Claus Porto is my favorite brand). With it’s hardwood floors, vintage shelving and views out towards the Clerigos Church, the store is beautiful as well. Not to be missed. 

P.S. Be sure to climb the stairs to the second floor of the building that houses A Vida Portuguêsa. The first floor is home to store selling more touristy and lower quality goods. It can be a bit confusing the first time you visit; just climb the huge wooden staircase in the back of the store and you’re there!

Coração Alecrim is another gem of a shop. Selling a delightful mix of vintage and hand-crafted housewares, clothing, jewelry and art, this magical shop will make you want to stuff your suitcases to the brim with their carefully curated selection of goods. (I actually had to buy another suitcase to take home the last time I was in Porto!) Another store I never miss when I’m in Portugal.


 

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

Patch Lifestyle + Concept Store. I discovered this little concept store right around the corner from my hotel on my last trip to Porto. The front serves as a shop and display area for the artists and designers whose studios are located in the back of the building. The selection of handmade clothing, jewelry and accessories changes frequently. Their jewelry selection is especially amazing!

 

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

With its long history, famed art-nouveau staircase and Harry Potter associations (J.K. Rowling frequented the bookstore when she lived in Porto), Livraria Lello is one of Porto’s most popular tourist attractions. It was so overrun with (non-shopping) tourists that it was, until recently, teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. There is now a kiosk across the street that sells tickets to the bookstore for 3€. In addition to helping preserve an historic landmark, this keeps things a little more orderly inside. The view from the top of the staircase is well worth the 3€, in my opinion. And the bookstore will apply the price of your ticket towards any purchases you make.


Accommodations

Pensão Favorita. Ema and Margarida, who run this guesthouse in a converted 19th-century town home, are two of the warmest, most gracious women you’ll ever meet. They make booking a breeze, attend to every detail of your stay with a smile, and are available to provide recommendations for what to see and do in Porto. The rooms themselves are spacious, clean and bright. The larger suites have lovely tile flooring and sunrooms with views over the courtyard or the city. The common spaces include a cool, art deco inspired breakfast room, a mid-century lounge area, and a sunny and plant-filled back patio. You will love your time at the Favorita!


porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

Rosa et al Townhouse. Right around the corner from the Pensão Favorita, you will find Rosa et al, another charming guesthouse in a 19th-century town home. The wonderfully eclectic mid-century decor will delight design-lovers and the serene back garden is perfect for introverts who need a calm sanctuary at the end of their day. Whether you stay at the Rosa et al or not, I highly recommend stopping in for the fantastic weekend brunch or enquiring about one of their seasonal pop-up dinners. 


Other Sights

There are many, many tourist attractions worth checking out in Porto. My personal favorites are:

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

The 18th-century Carmo Church with it’s beautiful tile facade.

 

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

The Porto Cathedral with its soaring views over the river.

 

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

The Centro Português de Fotografia, which is home to a series of rotating photography exhibits and a fun collection of antique and vintage cameras.


I hope you enjoyed this guide to my favorite spots in Porto. Don't forget to leave me your thoughts in the comments below as well as any spots you think I should add!

porto wanderlust guide on millys-kitchen.com

cracked crab with three sauces

cracked crab with three sauces on millys-kitchen.com

I am currently knee deep in boxes and bubble wrap. On Monday, Beau and I signed a stack of papers that was at least two inches thick, which made this whole house buying business feel awfully real. The keys to our little bungalow will be in our hands tomorrow.

As you can imagine, I haven’t had much time to cook. Beau and I have been subsisting on scrambled eggs with whatever vegetables we have rolling around in the fridge and a couple tablespoons of Boursin thrown in. On a side note: If you’re going to eat the same meal over and over again, I highly recommend this one. Scrambled eggs with Boursin is pretty sexy, even if it only takes five minutes to make!

So, as I was saying, packing and paper-signing and calling movers and selling a ton of crap because our new house is smaller than this one hasn’t left me a ton of time to cook. But tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and I couldn’t imagine leaving you without a recipe for ringing in the new year!

cracked crab with three sauces on millys-kitchen.com

May I propose the Cracked Crab Supper. This is our annual Christmas Eve meal, but it would make an equally fine New Year’s Eve spread. I look forward to cracked crab all year. We cover the table in newspaper, boil up a huge pot of Dungeness and serve a variety of sauces alongside. Everyone gets a crab cracker and a pick. Plates are strictly forbidden. After the meal, we roll the whole glorious mess into the newspaper and trot it out to the compost. Done and done. (Did I mention I love this supper?)

cracked crab with three sauces on millys-kitchen.com

Fresh Dungeness bathed in melted butter feels quite luxurious. There’s also something about having permission to eat with your hands that feels  just a little bit naughty. Throw in a bottle (or ten) of champagne and you have the perfect meal for a New Year’s Eve gathering!

I wish you all a delicious end to 2015. And I look forward to writing you next from a new house and a new year!

xo,

Olaiya


Cracked Crab with Three Sauces

  • 6 Dungeness crab, 2-2 ½ lbs each
  • 1 recipe Sauce Verte (see below)
  • 1 recipe Spicy Smoked Paprika Aioli (see below))
  • 1 recipe Drawn Butter (see below)
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • Several pounds of ice

*Notes: For everything you ever wanted to know about cooking and cleaning Dungeness crab, I refer you to my friend Becky’s excellent tutorial. She is a fantastic chef and knows pretty much everything there is to know about sustainable seafood. 

- If you would rather not cook live crab, you might be able to sweet talk your fishmonger into killing and cleaning it for you in the shop. Take it home and cook it immediately as the meat deteriorates quickly. Of course, you can always buy pre-cooked and cleaned crab from the store, but it's never as delicious as freshly-cooked. 

- Some people serve whole crab and have their guests clean them at the table. I find this a little off-putting (read: gross) for those who are not die-hard crab lovers and seafood aficionados. I prefer to clean the crab and remove the innards before serving.

- The crab can be cooked up to 6 hours in advance. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it.

cracked crab with three sauces on millys-kitchen.com

Heat a large pot of generously salted water over high heat. If you do not have an extremely large pot, you will need to cook the crab in batches.

While the water is heating, fill a large bowl or pot (or a clean sink) with ice. If you are cooking the crab in batches, be sure to save some of the ice for the rest of the crab.

When the water comes to the boil, place as many crab as will fit in the pot. Be sure they are completely submerged. Bring back to the boil and cook for 15 minutes. Transfer the crab to the ice and cover with cold water. This will stop the cooking. Once completely cold, remove the crab from the ice water. Clean the crabs if you didn’t have your fishmonger do it. Dry thoroughly and store in the refrigerator if not serving immediately. 

If you want to eat your crab cold (like we do), just take it out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes before you plan to serve it to let it warm up a bit. 

If you want to eat it hot, steam the crab for 5-10 minutes just before serving. The time will vary depending on how large your crabs are and how cold they are when they go in the pot. Taste the meat often as you steam the crab to be sure you don’t overcook it.

Serve crab accompanied by sauces and lemon wedges.

Serves 6-8.


cracked crab with three sauces on millys-kitchen.com

Sauce Verte

  • 1 cup parsley, chopped fine 
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer to small bowls and serve alongside the crab. This sauce doesn't hold particularly well, so I recommend making it no more than an hour or two before you intend to serve it. 

Makes about 1 cup.


Spicy Smoked Paprika Aioli

  • 1 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane or minced
  • 1 -3 teaspoons lemon juice, depending on whether your mayo already has lemon or vinegar in it
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • Pinch fine grain sea salt

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer to small bowls and serve alongside the crab. This aioli can be made up to 2 days in advance and will get spicier as it sits. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Makes about 1 cup.


cracked crab with three sauces on millys-kitchen.com

Drawn Butter

  • 8 oz (2 sticks) high quality salted butter 

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, the butter will foam. Skim the foam then pour the butter into a clear heatproof container like a Pyrex measuring cup. Wait for the milk solids to fall to the bottom then carefully pour off the liquid butter, leaving the solids behind. You can use cheesecloth if you want your drawn butter to be extra clear. I usually don’t fuss with the extra step since it wastes some of the butter. Heat the drawn butter in a small saucepan just before serving. Transfer to small serving bowls and serve alongside the crab.

Makes about ¾ cup.