Authentic Portuguese Cooking, written by Ana Patuleia Ortins, is a delicious introduction to the mild in spice, but rich in flavor Portuguese cuisine with a collection of over 185 authentic, homestyle dishes from Portugal, the Azores, and Madeira. It is the follow-up to Ortins’ first book: Portuguese Homestyle Cooking. While a few featured recipes may be familiar to some outside of Portugal (Asas de Frango Piri-Piri/Chile Chicken Wings, Pasteis de Nata/Custard Tarts Belem Style, Papo-Secos/Crusty Puffed-Up Rolls), the majority of the book includes recipes new to readers not previous well-versed in Portuguese cuisine (Espetada de Peixe em Vinho d’altos/Garlic and Wine Infused Fish Kabobs, Grão de Bico com Chouriço/Chickpeas with Chouriço Sausage, Galinha com Caril e Leite de Coco/Curried Chicken with Coconut Milk, Queijadas à Moda de Vila Franca do Campo/Cheese Pastries Vila Franca Style).
Ana Patuleia Ortins was born in Peabody, Massachusetts and now resides there with her husband. She cites her parents as inspiration for her love of cooking and Portuguese cuisine. Her father immigrated to the United States with his family in the early 1930s from Galveias, Portugal. Her mother, Filomena, died when Ortins was young, but led her to learn more about her culinary roots and to document recipes from Portuguese immigrants. Ortins has an Associate’s Degree from the Essex Agricultural and Technical School in Culinary Arts. She has been featured in Fine Cooking magazine, Portugal Magazine, Seabourn Club Herald, and The Cook’s Cook. She also teaches culinary classes.
Chapters are divided based on course: Meats and Poultry (Carnes e Aves); Seafood (Peixe e Marisco); Legumes, Vegetables and More (Legumes e Hortaliças e Mais); Little Tastes (Petiscos e Salgadinhos); Breads (Pães); and Desserts (Sobremesas).
In addition to the amazing collection of recipes, Ortins also includes family memories and a look into the cuisine and cooking related history of Portugal. I love the little tidbits added throughout the pages like Portuguese home remedies, salting meats for use as a preservation method for long voyages and winters, and how to work with seafood. You will also learn about special equipment used for preparing meals in Portugal, such as the Forno de Lenha (wood-fired oven), Alguidar (orange-red, flat-bottomed clay pot with flared sides), and Caçoilo (round black clay pot).
Photography is provided by Ted Axelrod. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a beautifully styled, full page glossy photograph of the finished dish. A few of the recipes include step-by-step photos, such as Leitão no Forno (Roast Suckling Pig), how to prepare a whole fish and octopus, and homemade cream cheese (Requejão Suave).
The name of the dish is listed in English and Portuguese (underneath the English name in cursive). Measurements are in US Customary and Metric. Each recipe includes a headnote with background information, serving size (generally 4-6, occasionally 8-10) and tips.
This book is a great choice for those interested in authentic Portuguese homestyle cooking. There is a little something for everyone, from meat and seafood to vegetarian meals and sweets, though there are no beverages. Bakers will enjoy the abundance of breads, cakes, and pastries. Most of the ingredients are easy to access for the average American cook. For the few ingredients that may be difficult to locate (St. Jorge cheese, Beirão liquor, Bolacha Maria Cookies, Chouriço sausage), a substitution is generally provided. Ortins describes the steps in a clear and concise manner that is perfect for the amateur cook. Recipes range from easy to prepare weeknight meals to the more complicated and lengthy.
Filhós (Fried Dough Pastries) are popular during special occasions and holidays such as the current Carnival season. I made the Filhós à Alentejana (Crispy Orange-Flavored Alentejo Pastries). These particular pastries have a rich egg dough flavored with orange juice and brandy. They are rolled thin and fried until crisp and golden. After frying, they are immediately coated in cinnamon sugar. Other Filhó recipes in the book include Filhós de Cenoura da Tia Leta (Aunt Leta’s Carrot Fritters) and Filhós da Graciosa (Fried Dough of Graciosa).
I hand-rolled the pastries, but you can also use a pasta machine. You want the dough to be very thin, about 1/16th of an inch. If it is too thick, then the pastries will become too dark and not have the desired crisp texture. I fried the pastries to a light golden color for personal preference, but a deeper medium golden will create a richer taste.
The fried Filhós will keep in an airtight container for up to a month.
This recipe makes about 2 1/2 dozen pastries, but you can also halve it for a smaller group (or double if desired).
I also made Carne Assada à Moda do Pico (Pico Island Pot Roast with Allspice), Camarão na Cataplana (Shrimp Cataplana), Sopa de Espinafres com Arroz (Spinach with Rice Soup), and Pão Caseiro à Madeirense (Madeiran Homestyle Bread).
I prepared the Carne Assada à Moda do Pico the night before a huge snowstorm that yielded over 2 feet of snow. It was perfect as leftovers for the next couple of days we were stuck in the house. This dish is easy to assemble, but is slow roasted for 4 hours to create a melt in your mouth texture. The meat is seasoned with onions that caramelize during the cooking process, garlic, paprika, allspice, vinegar, cinnamon, white wine, and chile pepper. I served the roast with buttered rice and sautéed spinach.
Camarão na Cataplana is a variation of Clams Cataplana. Shrimp and sliced linguiça (or chouriço) are cooked in a garlicky tomato wine sauce seasoned with paprika, chile, green onions, cilantro, and black olives. It is named after a traditional copper pot that is shaped like a clam shell. Since I did not have one, I used a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid.
The Sopa de Espinafres com Arroz is another dish that I made on a snowy, cold day. This vegetable-packed soup was a particular favorite with my daughter. Carrots, potatoes, onions, and tomatoes are simmered in water until tender, then pureed until smooth. The resulting broth is used as a base to cook the rice and spinach. Overall, it was a simple and easy dish, but full of flavor.
The Pão Caseiro à Madeirense was the favorite for my son. This rustic bread from Madeira Island gets its color from the addition of pureed sweet potato. This also adds moisture and a nutritional benefit to the bread, a definite plus for my carb-loving son.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and statements are my own.
Filhós à Alentejana (Portuguese Crispy Orange-Flavored Alentejo Pastries)
Adapted from Authentic Portuguese Cooking: More Than 185 Classic Mediterranean-Style Recipes of the Azores, Madeira and Continental Portugal
~2 1/2 dozen
3 teaspoons (1/4 ounce, 9 grams) active dry yeast
1/4 cup (60 millilters) warm water, 100-110 degrees F (37.8-43.3 C)
6 cups (720 grams) all purpose flour, divided, plus extra for rolling
5 large eggs, lightly beaten and at room temperature
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) orange juice
1/3 cup (80 milliliters) olive oil, warmed
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) aguardente, whisky or brandy
1 teaspoon (6 grams) table salt
Vegetable, grape seed, or corn oil for frying
1 cup (600 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (8 grams) ground cinnamon
In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over the warm water. Stir in with the sugar, then allow to sit until frothy, about 10 minutes.
Place 5 cups (600 grams) of the flour in a large bowl or stand mixer with a dough blade. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast with water, eggs, orange juice, olive oil, aguardente, and salt. Mix together to form the dough. If too wet, slowly mix in the remaining 1 cup flour. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then a large kitchen towel. Allow to rest until doubled in size, 2-3 hours.
Lightly dust work surface with flour and surround the area with kitchen towels dusted with flour. Remove a walnut sized piece of dough, re-covering the rest, and roll into a oval about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) wide and 1/16th of an inch (1/5 mm) thick. Use a sharp knife to cut 4 parallel slits 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the edges and about 3/4 inch (2 cm) apart. Place on the flour dusted towel. Repeat with remaining dough.
Fill a medium saucepan with 5-6 inches (12.5-15 cm) of oil and heat to 350 degrees F (180 C). In a wide rimmed plate, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.
Once the oil is heated, pick up one of the prepared discs. Pull every other loop away from the center and the remaining loop in the opposite directly, then gently place in the oil. Fry until crisp and golden, turning as needed.
Transfer to the cinnamon sugar covered plate and coat all over. Repeat with remaining pastries.