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. A few highlights include Asas de Frango Piri-Piri (Chile Chicken Wings), Espetada de Peixe em Vinho d’altos (Garlic and Wine Infused Fish Kabobs), Grão de Bico com Chouriço (Chickpeas with Chouriço Sausage), and Galinha com Caril e Leite de Coco (Curried Chicken with Coconut Milk). I will also be featuring her recipe for Filhós à Alentejana (Portuguese Crispy Orange-Flavored Alentejo Pastries) following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Ana Patuleia Ortins
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 Ana was young, but led her to learn more about her culinary roots and to document recipes from Portuguese immigrants.
Ana 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.
Authentic Portuguese Cooking
Authentic Portuguese Cooking is the follow-up to Ana’s first book: Portuguese Homestyle Cooking. In addition to the amazing collection of recipes, she 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).
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).
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.
Filhós à Alentejana (Portuguese Crispy Orange-Flavored Alentejo Pastries)
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.
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.
Looking for more Portuguese recipes?
- Raivas (Portuguese Cinnamon Cookies)
- Cogumelos Marinados com Bacon (Marinated Mushrooms with Bacon)
- Encharcada (Portuguese Soaked Eggs)
Authentic Portuguese Cooking 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. Ana 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 à Alentejana (Crispy Orange-Flavored Alentejo Pastries) Recipe
Excerpt from Authentic Portuguese Cooking
Filhós à Alentejana (Crispy Orange-Flavored Alentejo Pastries)
For the sponge:
- 1 package (1/4 ounce, 9 grams) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) warm water 100-110˚F (37.8-43.3˚C)
- 1 tablespoon (12 grams) granulated sugar
For the dough:
- 6 cups (720 grams) all-purpose flour divided, plus extra for rolling
- 5 large eggs lightly beaten, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) orange juice freshly squeezed or store-bought
- 1/3 cup (80 milliliters) olive oil warmed
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) aguardente (whiskey or brandy)
- 1 teaspoon (6 grams) table salt
- Vegetable, grapeseed, or corn oil for frying
- 3 cups (600 grams) sugar
- 1 tablespoon (8 grams) ground cinnamon mixed with the sugar for coating
For the sponge:
- In a cup or small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water, then sir in the sugar and cover. Let stand for 10 minutes to proof.
For the dough:
- Dump 5 cups (600 grams) of the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast sponge, eggs, orange juice, olive oil, whiskey, and salt.
- Using one hand, with fingers curled like a claw, mix all the ingredients until they come together into a dough. If necessary, add the remaining 1 cup (120 grams) flour so that the dough is not so soft that it will stretch to easily or too sticky.
- Knead for 10 to 15 minutes. It should be smooth and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then cover completely with a large towel. Place the bowl in a draft-free spot and leave the dough to rise until doubled in size. It will be a slow rise and could take between 2 and 3 hours. The dough is ready when an indentation remains after you have pressed the dough again with your index finger.
- Lay out kitchen towels near your workspace and lightly dust them with flour. Use some of the remaining flour to dust your workspace and roll out walnut-size pieces of dough into 6 to 8 inch (15 to 20 cm) disks (trimming if necessary and about 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) thick.
- Better still, if you have a ravioli machine, use it. To roll the dough with a pasta dough machine, flatten a piece of the dough, lightly dust it with some flour and pass it through the cylinders four times, cranking the level thinner each time, to achieve 1/16 inch (1.5 mm). Give the disks a slight stretch and place on the very floured towels.
- After all the disks have been rolled, or working in batches, place the disks one at a time on a cutting board and, using a sharp knife or baker's razor, cut 4 parallel slits 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the edge and evenly spread about 3/4 inch (2 cm) apart. Transfer back to the towel. Repeat with the remaining dough. If you have someone helping you, he or she can roll and cut while you fry. Set up the sugar and cinnamon on a tray or large plate.
- Heat 5 to 6 inches (12.5 to 15 cm) of oil in a medium saucepan to 350˚F (180˚C). When the oil is quivering, pick up a disk with one hand. With the other hand, take every other loop and pull it away from the center. Then with the first hand, pull the remaining middle loop in the opposite direction, away from the center of the disk. Holding the loops out, horizontally in opposite directions, carefully lower the dough into the hot oil.
- Fry until golden and crisp. You might like these light golden, but there is a richer taste when the pastries are fried to a medium golden. (If they are not crisp and are very golden, the dough is too thick).
- As they become done, transfer the pastries to a plate with the cinnamon-sugar topping and gently use your fingers to coat thoroughly. The topping will not stick as well if they are too cool. The shape will look like tangled ribbons.
- These are fragile and break easily. Stored in large tins, they will keep for at least a month.