My Lisbon: A Cookbook from Portugal’s City of Light, features an assortment of incredible and vibrant recipes inspired by the dishes Nuno Mendes grew up with in Lisbon. Highlights include Frango na Brasa com Piri Piri (Grilled Piri Piri Chicken with Potato Chips), Travesseiros (Almond Pillows), Cenouras com Mel e Avelãs (Carrot Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts and Honey), Caldeirada (Portuguese Fish Stew), Caldo Verde (Kale Soup with Chouriço and Potatoes), and so much more. I will also be sharing his recipe for Cogumelos Marinados com Bacon (Portuguese Marinated Mushrooms with Bacon) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Ten Speed Press 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.
Born and raised in Lisbon, Nuno Mendes spent time working in America, Japan, and Spain before settling in London. He is the executive chef of Chiltern Firehouse, Taverna do Mercado, and also the co-author of the Chiltern Firehouse cookbook.
The chapters are divided according to course: Lisbon Food Stories, The City of Light, Cooks’ Notes, Pastries, Snacks, Lunch, Small Plates, Dinner, Desserts, and Sandwiches.
As an often overlooked cuisine in Europe, Nuno has done an amazing job of sharing the culture and spirit of Lisbon along with the beautiful recipes and photography. He begins with the history of Lisboa (Lisbon) and how it has risen and fallen over the years from the oldest city in Western Europe to becoming one of the top cities for visitors in the last six or so years. He shares his favorite things about the city from its calming peace in the mornings to the little details in the architecture and even a map of the best cafés, pastelarias, restaurants, tavernas, tascas, bars, quiosques, and food shopping for those interested in visiting the city in person. In each chapter, you will also find a smaller booklet with a closer look at the culture surrounding the food.
The photography is provided by Andrew Montgomery. Many of the dishes are accompanied by a half to full page photo of the finished dish. I especially love all the gorgeous photos of the scenery and people of Lisbon. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Each recipe includes a headnote with background information, preferred ingredients, serving size, and helpful tips. The names of the dishes are written in English and Portuguese.
This book is a great pick for those interested in the cuisine of Lisbon and Portugal. Recipes range from quick and easy to more advanced pastries, stews, and seafood. Fish lovers will find an abundance of recipes to choose from with Portugal only falling behind Iceland and Japan in yearly consumption at almost 137 pounds per person. For those new to Portuguese cooking, Nuno has explained some specific techniques and preparations he uses to maximize the flavor of the ingredients. He also includes guide to favorite ingredients such as salt cod, chouriço, morcela, queijo da Serra, aguardente velha, and piri piri. Having a Portuguese or Mediterranean market nearby will be helpful for locating these ingredients and others such as farinheira sausage, live clams, Madeira, Ibérico ham, rendered pork fat, queijo da Ilha, octopus, pigs’ ears, blood oranges, and port.
Cogumelos Marinados com Bacon (Marinated Mushrooms with Bacon)
Cogumelos Marinados com Bacon (Portuguese Marinated Mushrooms with Bacon) are quite the delicious and simple snack. Nuno mentions that he was in Lisbon once with a friend who was vegan and was assured this dish was meatless. The waiter stated that it didn’t have any meat, only bacon. Well it may not be vegan, but the bacon does add such a wonderful flavor to this dish.
Whole mushrooms are simmered gently with onion, bacon, red chile, olive oil, Chardonnay vinegar, and sherry vinegar for about 25 minutes before cooling to room temperature and resting for a few hours to marinate. The mushrooms were especially perfect paired with slices of a crusty bread. Nuno also mentions that they would be great for serving with his recipes for Marinated Pot-Roasted Chicken and Kale Migas with Mushrooms.
I also made Pastéis de Nata (Custard Tarts), Bolinhas de Chouriço com Batata (Chouriço and Potato Balls), Barriga de Porco Assada com Laranja (Roasted Orange-Rubbed Pork Belly with Fennel), and Batatas à Murro com Cebola e Queijo Fundido (Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Melting Cheese).
One of the most well-known treats from Portugal, Pastéis de Nata are little creamy custard tarts lightly flavored with cinnamon and lemon. For this particular recipe, Nuno uses puff pastry as the base and cuts out slices to fill individual muffin tins. Each pastry is filled with the smooth and creamy egg custard and baked until the tops are darkened. Right before serving, the tarts are sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. They were quite addictive and none of us could stop at just one.
Bolinhas de Chouriço com Batata are little walnut-sized balls (Bolinhas translates to “marbles”) filled with diced chouriço and mashed floury potatoes. The mixture is held together with egg and breadcrumbs and fried until golden. They are best served warm.
The Barrage de Porco Assada com Laranja (Roasted Orange-Rubbed Pork Belly with Fennel) was Chad’s favorite. An almost 2 pound slab of pork belly is marinated with a spiced orange paprika mixture, scored across the skin, and slowly cooked over a bed of fennel and onions. It can be difficult to locate slabs of pork belly, but I have been able to find it in markets with East Asian ingredients and certain specialty butchers.
Batatas à Murro com Cebola e Queijo Fundido (Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Melting Cheese) was such a delicious and fairly easy way to prepare potatoes. Smallish Yukon gold potatoes are boiled until tender, smashed lightly, and baked until crispy. They are finished off with a topping of sweet caramelized onions and queijo de Serra or other soft cheese.
Cogumelos Marinados com Bacon (Marinated Mushrooms with Bacon) Recipe
Excerpt from My Lisbon
Cogumelos Marinados com Bacon (Portuguese Marinated Mushrooms with Bacon)
- 8 ounces (250 grams) cremini mushrooms
- 8 ounces (250 grams) button mushrooms
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small white onion thinly sliced
- 4 thin slices smoky bacon thinly sliced
- Flaky sea salt and ground white pepper
- 1 long red chile halved lengthwise
- 5 tablespoons Chardonnay vinegar or other good quality white wine vinegar
- 5 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- Extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle
- Handful parsley leaves finely chopped
Rinse the mushrooms under running water and drain them (they don't have to be perfectly dry, as a little excess water will help steam them).
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook for a few minutes, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms, chile, and vinegars and stir well. Cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and stir in a generous glut of extra-virgin olive oil.
Once cool, mix in the parsley leaves and leave to marinate for a few hours at room temperature before eating. Drain off some of the liquid, if you like (the mushrooms can release quite a lot of liquid), and taste to check the seasoning.