Portuguese Home Cooking, written by Ana Patuleia Ortins, features authentic Portuguese homestyle meals paired with beautiful photos, detailed recipes, and personal memories. A few highlights include Bacalhau Estufado (Salt Cod Stew), Empadas de Galinha (Chicken Pies), Arroz de Marísco (Seafood Rice), Aletria (Pasta Pudding), and Sonhos (Dreams). I will also be sharing her recipe for Papo Secos (Crusty Rolls) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Interlink Books 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 and raised in Peabody, Massachusetts. She is a first-generation descendant of Portuguese immigrants and developed her love of cooking and Portuguese cuisine from her family.
Ana has a degree in Culinary Arts from the Essex Agricultural and Technical School. She has been featured in Fine Cooking magazine, Portugal Magazine, Seabourn Club Herald, and The Cook’s Cook. She also teaches culinary classes and is the author of Authentic Portuguese Cooking.
Portuguese Home Cooking
Ana begins with an introduction into her family history (paired with photos) from their origins in the Alto Alentejo province to learning how to cook by her father’s side in the kitchen. I absolutely love the personal stories and memories that Ana has written among the recipes. She states, “This book preserves and shares the everyday food of my heritage, introducing it to those who are interested in exploring this soul-comforting, understated peasant food of Portugal.”
Beginners will appreciate the overview of basic ingredients with descriptions and a guide to helpful equipment to make the steps a little easier. Tips throughout the book show how to wash greens, clean fish and clams, and even make homemade sausage at home with safety notes.
There is a wonderful collection of sauce, seasoning, and fresh cheese recipes to add more flavor. Ana has also shared the best ways to prepare a meal, plus a guide to Portuguese wines and wine pairings.
Chapters are divided according to course: Ingredients, Methods & Equipment; Soups (Sopas); Seafood (Frutos do Mar); Poultry & Meats (Aves e Carne); Sausages (Salsichas); Vegetables & Grains (Vegetais e Grão); Sauces, Seasonings & Cheese (Molhos, Temperos, e Requeijã); Bread (Pão); Sweets (Doces); and Wines & Cocktails (Vinhos e Coquetéis).
The photography is provided by Hiltrud Schulz. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a beautifully styled, full-page photo of the finished dish. Titles are written in English with the original Portuguese name underneath. Measurements are listed in US Customary. Each recipe has a headnote with background information, personal stories, menu ideas, serving size, and ingredient notes.
Papo Secos (Portuguese Crusty Rolls)
I have tried making Papo-Secos a couple of times in the past, but they just never turned out quite right. I usually ended up failing miserably in the shaping or the texture was off. With Ana’s recipe, I finally got a much better result! Her incredibly detailed and meticulous instructions were just what I needed.
For the cookbook, Ana converted the recipe from her father’s bakery with the help of a former baker, Manuel Galopim, to make it more suitable for the home kitchen. The original method takes at least three days to develop, but this recipe comes together in about 12 hours (mostly hands off). The crusty rolls are often paired with grilled sausage, presunto (salt-cured ham), meat medallions, fresh sardines, or cheese.
The Papo Secos do take some time to form, but the results are so worth it. A sponge is created at least 6 hours ahead of time, then blended with a high-protein bread flour, lard, sugar, more yeast, and salt to create a smooth and elastic dough. After some more resting, each roll is formed into a disk, creased in the center using your hand (a deep crease, but do not cut all the way through), then gently folded over to create an oval shape with pointed, twisted ends.
The resulting rolls are baked in a hot oven (preferably on a stone) until golden with a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.
If possible, use a high-protein (12%) bread flour to help add to the texture.
Placing the pan of hot water on the bottom shelf of the oven will develop the crust on the rolls as they bake.
Ana states that she and her father never used rice flour, but it can help maintain the center crease of the rolls.
I also made Sopa de Cebola (Onion Soup), Camarões de Caril (Curried Shrimp), Linguiça Grelhada (Grilled Linguiça), and Batatas à Murro (Punched Potatoes).
The Sopa de Cebola (Onion Soup) was such a comforting meal. Onions are sautéed until lightly golden, then simmered with tomato, paprika, potatoes, and parsley. It is paired with a slice of toasted bread and an egg is carefully added to the center to poach in the hot broth.
I love how much flavor was packed into every bite of the Camarões de Caril (Curried Shrimp)! Rice is cooked until tender in a broth made of shrimp shells, wine, and onion, then topped with shrimp that has been gently sautéed in a spiced tomato curry sauce. Overall, everything came together in about 30 minutes for a delicious weeknight meal.
I had recently visited our local Portuguese market (Portugal Imports in Artesia for those in the Los Angeles area) right before receiving this book and happened to have Linguiça on hand. I immediately put it to use by preparing the Linguiça Grelhada (Grilled Linguiça) to pair with the Papo-Secos. So easy and so good!
The Batata à Murro (Punched Potatoes) was a fun dish to make with the kids. Small to medium waxy potatoes are baked with olive oil and salt until tender, then gently punched in the center enough to crack open a little. They are served with chopped garlic, an additional drizzle of olive oil, and a little vinegar.
Portuguese Home Cooking is a great pick for those interested in authentic, homestyle Portuguese cuisine. I particularly appreciate the focus on the the regional differences and how they have developed over time. Ana has put together an incredible variety of recipes spanning from soups and vegetables to seafood, meat, bread, sweets, and drinks.
Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store. A few items that may require further searching include chouriço, linguiça, allspice berries, salt cod, fresh seafood, Portuguese hot pepper sauce, saffron, liver, and Thai bird’s eye chili peppers.
Papo Secos (Portuguese Crusty Rolls) Recipe
Excerpt from Portuguese Home Cooking
Papo Secos (Portuguese Crusty Rolls)
- 1/4 ounce (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 cup room-temperature water 65 to 70˚F
- 1 cup (4 1/2 oz) high-protein bread flour
- 6 1/4 cups (1 3/4 lb) unbleached bread flour (12% protein) plus extra for dusting
- 2 tablespoons lard or shortening
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz) sugar
- 1/4 ounce (2 1/2 teaspoons) active-dry yeast
- 1 1/2-2 cups room-temperature water 65 to 70˚F
- 1 tablespoon (1/2 oz) table salt
- Rice flour optional, see note
- Fine cornmeal for dusting
Make the sponge at least 6 hours ahead:
- In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the measured water. Mix in the flour until blended. Cover with plastic and set aside at room temperature for a minimum of 6 hours, or up to 8 hours.
- If you plan to start the dough in the morning, mix the sponge just before you retire the night before, cover, and chill overnight. Bring the sponge completely to room temperature (it will take about 2 hours), before using.
To make the dough:
- Place the flour in a large bowl. Use your fingers to rub the lard or shortening into the flour to distribute evenly.
- If using a free-standing mixer, transfer the mixture to the bowl of the machine; if mixing by hand, continue in the same large bowl.
- Add the sugar and yeast, and whisk until evenly distributed. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the sponge, along with 1 1/2 cups of the room-temperature water.
If you are using a mixer:
- Attach the dough hook and mix on low speed until the dough seems stiff, add some of the remaining room-temperature water, a little at a time, and mix at medium speed until you see the dough ease up.
- Gradually increase the speed to high, and continue to mix for about 10 minutes, adding in the salt as soon as you start to see the dough pull away from the sides of the bowl.
If you are mixing by hand:
- Use your fingers in a claw-like formation to incorporate the water and sponge into the flour. Mix well until it comes together in a ball and starts to leave the sides of the bowl.
- Add the salt and continue to mix, turning the dough onto itself, until the sides of the bowl appear clean. If the dough seems stiff, add some of the remaining room-temperature water, a little at a time, and continue to mix until you see the dough ease up.
- Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and mix by hand for 10 to 15 minutes. The dough is ready when smooth and elastic, springs back when pressed with a finger, and has a slight sheen. To test, pull off a small piece of dough and stretch it until it is so thin you can almost see through it. If it tears, mix for a few more minutes and test again.
- Place the dough in a bowl (or keep in the bowl of your mixer), and cover with a kitchen towel, followed by plastic wrap. Set in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours. When the dough is ready, an indentation will remain when it is pressed lightly with your finger. Punch down to redistribute the yeast and let the dough rise for 1 more hour.
- Punch down the dough again, then turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 24 to 36 equal-sized pieces, 2 to 3 oz each, or the size you prefer.
- On an almost flour-free work surface, use the palm of your hand, with slightly curled fingers and medium pressure, to rotate the pieces of dough against the work surface until each piece is a smooth, fairly tight ball. Set 2 inches apart on a floured surface, cover with a towel, and let rest for about 30 minutes.
- On the floured work surface, flatten each ball into a disk about 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter. Dust the surface of the dough facing you with some all-purpose or rice flour (see Note).
- Using the outside edge of your hand, press a crease into the dough, as if you're going to cut it in half, but don't go completely through.
- Fold the disks in half along the crease and pinch the ends firmly, giving the dough a slight lengthwise stretch while twisting or rolling the ends to a point.
- Arrange the rolls, smooth side up, and the crease opening down, on lightly floured towels, 2 inches apart, in rows. Pull the towels up slightly between rows, so the rolls won't touch. Cover with another towel, top with plastic wrap, and let rise until nearly doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, place an oven stone on the middle shelf of the cold oven and a shallow pan on the bottom shelf. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
- Lightly dust the wooden peel or a baking sheet with fine cornmeal. Remove 6 rolls from under the towels and place them on the peel, facing up, with the smooth side down, forming two rows towards the edge farthest away from the handle.
- Or place the rolls on a baking sheet and place this on the middle rack of the oven.
- Pour hot water into the pan on the lower shelf, then quickly place the tip of the wood peel at the far edge of the hot stone. Using smooth, small jerking motions, pull back the peel while sliding the rolls gently onto the stone. They should stay upright.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are a rich golden color and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Remove, shoveling them up with the peel. Repeat, baking the remaining rolls 6 at a time.