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October 2013 Cookbooks of the Month, THE FOOD OF PORTUGAL and THE NEW PORTUGUESE TABLE: Vegetables, Rice and Salads; Eggs, Vegetables and Rice

Please use this thread to report on the following chapters from the October Cookbooks of the Month:

Vegetables, Rice and Salads (The Food of Portugal), pages 201 – 222

Eggs, Vegetable and Rice (The New Portuguese Table), pages 155 - 186

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  1. Seared Broccoli Rabe with Garlic, The New Portuguese Table, page 169.

    This dish is pretty much what one might throw together without a recipe. The broccoli rabe is steamed for just a couple minutes. While it steams, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes are sizzled in hot oil for 3-5 minutes, until the garlic is golden. The broccoli rabe is then tossed into the pan, and cooked until just tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

    A bright and easy dish with fresh flavor. The big chunks of garlic are particularly tasty, and the chile flakes add a nice little bite.

    2 Replies
    1. re: L.Nightshade

      Seared Broccoli Rabe with Garlic, The New Portuguese Table, p. 169.

      I love LN's description - "A bright and easy dish with fresh flavor". I agree, as I made this the other day to serve with Grilled Chicken Breasts with Spicy Coconut Sauce from the same cookbook (just forgot to review!). It was a very nice side for the chicken. I've made regular broccoli in a similar way - cut each stalk in half, steam for a few, then sear them in the oil until caramelized.

      1. re: lesliej

        This would have been great with the chicken in coconut sauce! Good choice. I made peas with leeks and saffron with the chicken, and did the broccoli with Mr. NS's flank steak stuffed with onions, bacon, garlic, chiles, thyme, and rosemary. I have to say this straightforward treatment of rabe could pair with many main courses.

    2. Black Olive Risotto, The New Portuguese Table, p. 182

      I love risotto and olives, so I thought this recipe would also be a big hit, but it didn't add up to the sum of its parts. The risotto itself was good, but the olives seemed a little out of place.

      To make, it's a fairly standard risotto recipe. He instructs for 7 minutes to soften minced onion. Mine was ready much sooner. Rice is then added (I used arborio) and cooked, then a bit of white wine. Then chicken stock is added by the ladleful until the rice is cooked. I used homemade stock that I had on hand. His recipe seems to have more aromatics in it that mine, so that might've helped the dish a bit. Once the rice is ready, a final ladleful of stock is added with parmesan, mascarpone, and sliced black olives. Garnish with parsley, more olives, and curls of cheese. The end result is a very creamy risotto. I was just hoping for a little bit more magic from the dish.

      4 Replies
      1. re: TxnInMtl

        TxnInMtl, what would you consider more magic?

        1. re: TxnInMtl

          TiM, I've made a risotto with green olives and lemon zest. The lemon really lifted it up and made it special. Might that have helped?

          1. re: LulusMom

            I think so. Also, chopping the olives instead of slicing them might further integrate them into the dish.

            (And sorry, David, for not responding to your question. I've been travelling quite a bit for work lately and haven't had much time to login!)

            1. re: TxnInMtl

              Not a problem. I think LuLusMom might have a point with the lemon. I never tried it, but will. Chopping the olives would help; it gives more surface. It also has to do with the olives themselves. Some are more flavorful than others. If the oil isn't too salty, that could be drizzled in a little at a time.

        2. Punched Potatoes, New Portuguese Table, p. 173.

          For my mussels/shrimp cataplana dinner last night, I wanted something of substance to pair with all the rich tomatoey sauce, and David Leite said "there's not a meat of fish dish I know of that can't benefit from sharing the plate [or bowl, in our case] with a few of them" (p. 173). And they are indeed easy and delicious! Plus, the title sounded fun and the children in my kitchen loved punching them just before serving!!

          Basically, you just roll 1 1/2 pounds of slightly moist golf-ball sized Yukon Gold potatoes in a bit of Kosher salt and then roast them until tender in a 425 F oven for about 50 or 60 minutes. Meanwhile you have simmered 1/2 cup of olive oil with 3 thinly-sliced garlic cloves until the latter are golden (6-8 minutes). When the potatoes are done, you punch them in the kisser (as my grandson said) with your fist or a mallet to split them, pop them into a serving dish, and drizzle with the garlic oil.

          At serving time, my guests and I chose to put a punched potato or two into our large soup bowls containing the mussels, shrimp, and tomato-sauce. The potatoes held their shape, but were fork tender and went very well with the richness of the cataplana recipe.

          This will be a fun addition to my roasted-potato repertoire.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Goblin

            Punched Potatoes, Pg. 173, New Portuguese Table
            Batatas a Murro

            Well, I got the garlicky olive oil and the Kosher salt (and pepper) right but instead of roasting G steamed golf-ball sized red potatoes. When the potatoes were tender G opened them by pressing with the back of a large fork, the garlicky oil was poured over, then h sprinkled Kosher salt and ground Tellicherry pepper over. These were delicious and I can just imagine how they would have been roasted. That will happen next time. I also served the Pork in Prune-Port Sauce on page 138, and sauteed spinach from The Food of Portugal.

            1. re: Gio

              Punched Potatoes, NPT, p. 173 (continued)

              Ya know, Gio, I'm not surprised that these were delicious just as Mr. G prepared them! Sounds marvelous with the Pork in Prune-Port Sauce.

            2. re: Goblin

              Punched Potatoes, New Portuguese Table, page 173.

              Last night was my turn with these. We had red potatoes, quite a bit larger than called-for. I sliced them in half and put the sliced side down on a faintly oiled baking dish. Proceeded as written from there.

              Why are these potatoes so creamy? Leite mentions the creamy texture in the intro to the recipe, but I wasn't expecting anything different from a usual roasted potato. Does the salt on the skin do something? Anyway, I don't know the answer, but I loved these potatoes and the technique.

            3. Green Beans with Coriander (Cilantro) and Garlic, Food of Portugal, p. 202.

              An uncomplicated recipe that tosses 2 pounds of cooked green beans (boiled in a large pot of salted water) with 2 large cloves of minced garlic and 2/3 cup of chopped coriander (see Anderson's refinement on this process described in my last paragraph below) plus 5 TBS of olive oil. Refrigerate this mixture in a covered container for several hours or "better yet overnight." Just before serving, toss with an acidic dressing of 1 TBS lemon juice and 3-4 TBS of cider vinegar. Add a little more EVOO to taste and s & p of course, and serve.

              What I liked about this particular treatment was the pairing of garlic, coriander, and the lemon juice and cider vinegar. My guests remarked that the beans were very fresh and "green tasting." I served it with a cataplana-recipe and the simplicity of the beans went well with it.

              I also liked that the recipe could be made ahead, up to the addition of the acidic dressing. Anderson says the dish should be served at room temperature. I briefly nuked the beans to make them somewhat warmer before I added the dressing.

              Finally, Anderson's recipe suggested a simple process that I had never tried before, but liked: After the beans are cooked to your taste in the boiling water, you are instructed to drain them, return them briefly to the large cooking vessel and "shake the pan [over moderate heat] for 30 - 40 seconds to drive off all excess moisture." Then dump the dried, still-warm beans on top of the minced garlic and cilantro in a big bowl and let them stand together for 10 minutes. This softens the garlic and cilantro a bit, which seemed to meld their flavors agreeable without sacrificing the fresh taste and textures. The beans did not turn gray or mushy in this period, which I have always been convinced would happen if I didn't shock freshly-boiled or steamed green beans immediately in cold water to stop their cooking. I think it would also be a good idea with minced shallots, for instance, and other herbs.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Goblin

                Green Beans with Coriander and Garlic - The Food of Portugal, p. 202

                I needed a brightly flavored green vegetable dish and had a pound of green beans from the CSA, so with Goblin's report in mind I made a half recipe of this dish, and indeed, it was very fresh and bright tasting. My slender beans needed far less cooking time than Anderson recommends. I refrigerated them overnight, then took them out a couple of hours before dinner. I didn't have a lemon on hand, so used only the cider vinegar.

              2. Batatas Palhas (Straw Potatoes)
                The Food of Portugal, page 209

                The last month has been about making food that doesn't involve much knife work. Long story, but last night's meal I decided to investigate how much of my prep work could be done with the food processor. For some cole slaw, I shredded cabbage [very unsatisfactory], carrots [better], and then prepped the potatoes for this dish using the 3x3 julienne blade.

                The potatoes are then placed on a dish towel and covered with another towel, rubbing them to dry. No rinsing, no water. You then heat oil, half olive and half peanut, to 375º to fry.

                He instructs you to separate the potato strands with a long-handled fork after the potatoes go into the oil. I ignored this instruction and immediately saw the error of my ways. Since the potatoes had not been rinsed, the starches wanted to cling to each other in a large mass. I don't own a long-handled fork, so instead I used a metal pasta tool to coax the potatoes into submission. After 3-4 minutes, the potatoes are removed onto a paper towel lined dish, and salted.

                My first batch had quite a few clumps of potato but the next two batches were very successful, producing long strings of potato. These little suckers were GOOD! Yes. They are fried potatoes. They are crunchy and salty and delicious. We were all reminded of Puerto Rico where everything seemed to come with these potatoes. The difference? These were so much better than the ones that come in a can.

                If you are required to make a green bean casserole for T-Day, I would highly recommend these as the topping.

                I won't make these often. Fried food is really an occasional item in this house, but these will be on the list when we want a homemade chip.

                1. Black Olive Risotto, page 182. With apologies to David Leite, let me say that I was attempting to accomplish two missions with this dish - try a COTM recipe and adhere to my sequester budget. I had everything on had except for oil-cured black olives. I substituted good black kalamatas that I drained, sliced, and let marinate for a bit in olive oil. I know, not the same thing, but in my mind, an acceptable swap as I love pretty much anything olive.

                  The dish was easy to prepare and was enjoyed by everyone at the table. I didn't think it was terribly different than other risottos I've made in the past but I will definintely try it again with the oil cured olives. I served with roast chicken thighs and a big green salad.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tcamp

                    Is risotto even portuguese? It sounds like it's an attempt to provide unfamiliar food with familiar terms. Same with the broccoli rabe dish upthread which is pretty Italian in fact.

                  2. Sauteed Chestnuts, Onions, and Bacon - p. 170

                    Leite says this would make a good Thanksgiving side dish and I had some fresh chestnuts from the farmer's market, so I decided to give this one a go for our small Canadian Thanksgiving dinner. This was a very easy, tasty addition to our eclectic meal.

                    Strips of bacon are fried until crispy and then set aside. I skipped blanching the pearl onions in favor of using frozen to save time on peeling. The onions are then browned in the bacon fat until tender. Chestnuts, crisp bacon, and honey are added in and warmed. I realized after the bacon had crisped that we were out of honey, so I substituted maple syrup which seemed more appropriate for the holiday anyways. Season with s&p, garnish with parsley, and serve.

                    Salty and sweet, it was a great little side dish for very little effort.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: TxnInMtl

                      Thanks for reporting on this TiM, it's just the kind of recipe I like for Holidays.

                    2. Spinach with Toasted Bread Crumbs, The New Portuguese Table, p. 166.

                      A very nice way to "eat your spinach, dear!" ;-) The dish is really just an uncomplicated melange of wilted spinach, olive oil, slices of garlic, and toasted bread crumbs, seasoned with s & p and a hint of ground nutmeg. The 7 and 10-year-olds at my table enjoyed it as much as the adults there. I'll make it again.

                      The prep is simple: first, roughly grind about 2 1/2 cups of Portuguese corn bread OR a "dense rustic loaf" (my choice) in a food processor till you have about 1 3/4 cups of coarse irregular crumbs. Dry-saute these in a large frying-pan for about 5 minutes; then drizzle with 2 TBS of olive oil and continue sauteeing the crumbs until they are deep golden and very crisp. Season with s & p and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Remove from the pan and reserve. Then add 4 more TBS of olive oil to the pan and toss in 5 garlic cloves cut into thick slices. When these have sizzled to a golden brown, add 2 pounds of thinly-sliced baby spinach.

                      Cook and stir with tongs all this until wilted (as advised, I worked in batches); pour off any accumulated liquid and season well with s & p. Toss in half the reserved bread crumbs and then place all in a serving bowl and sprinkle the remaining crumbs on top. Serve.

                      I left most of my bread crumbs in larger irregular shapes--ranging from 1/4 to 1/2 inch --and I liked the crunch they gave. This is a rustic-looking dish, yet it can accompany a relatively refined recipe like the Sea Bass [Cod] with Fennel and Orange on p. 80 to good effect. Which is how I served it.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Goblin

                        Spinach with Toasted Bread Crumbs, The New Portuguese Table; p.166.

                        I prepared this to accompany some simple skillet pork chops and it was also enjoyed by all. I used a basic rustic loaf as Goblin did, and thought tossing the toasted cubes with fresh nutmeg was a nice touch. Using Portuguese corn bread (or corn bread of any style) for the crumbs also sounds tasty, as that would make it an especially nice dish for the upcoming holidays.

                      2. Baked Rice, The Food of Portugal, p. 214.

                        This recipe is designed to use chopped onions and minced turkey or chicken giblets to flavor the rice. What's different about this recipe from the usual method that I ascribe to is that the rice is not first sauteed in fat till translucent and THEN cooked, covered, on the stove or baked in the oven. Rather, this is a "slide the rice and onions/giblets and very hot liquid uncovered into the oven and then forget it for 45 minutes or so" recipe.
                        There is a certain amount of sauteeing first: a chopped yellow onion and a set of minced chicken or turkey giblets are lightly browned and then cooked, covered, over low heat for 20 minutes, presumably to cook the giblets thoroughly. I did NOT have any giblets, though I tried to get some at my market--no luck, so I just subbed a rich chicken broth for the water prescribed in the recipe. Meanwhile I did steam the onions over low heat for 20 minutes after sauteeing them, and they became lovely and soft and flavorful.
                        The rice, the sauteed and steamed onions, and the hot chicken broth cooked away in a 400 F oven for 25 minutes until the top of the rice was lightly browned and all the liquid was absorbed. My guests all said it was a really flavorful dish, one that they would like to have again. The 7-year-old went back and had some for dessert even! That tells you that this is a satisfying and savory baked rice dish.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Goblin

                          I just Loved reading about the 7-year-old and her/his dessert preference. A Chowpup without even knowing it.

                          1. re: Gio

                            You know, Gio, I hadn't actually thought about it but after reading your comment, I think that our grandson Charlie just may have the makings of a Chowpup (love the term.) Ever since he was first propped up in his high-chair at the dinner table he has been a reflective eater who enjoys his food in an unhurried, considering fashion. He particularly enjoys rice dishes: Ottolenghi's Rice with Orzo is a favorite, but he thought this one was good, and dessert-worthy.

                            Every Thursday evening I cook a sit-down dinner out of the current COTM for my family, and it's been really fun to watch Charlie's reactions to the various foods/cuisines. He also likes to help me cook. . . hmmmm, I always thought it would be his older sister who would inherit the mantle ;-) but now I'm not so sure.

                            1. re: Goblin

                              What a wonderful story, Goblin. Great chefs exhibit the same interest in food at an early age. Most 7- year olds don't even know, or probably care, about different ways to cook rice. Can you imagine what answers we'd get if we asked them what an Ottolenghi is?

                              Both my children were helping me in the kitchen as early as 4. Although I think my son wanted to help because he was much more picky than my daughter.

                        2. Sauteed Spring Greens with Olive Oil and Garlic, Pg. 206, The Food of Portugal

                          The menu for the meal for which this dish was cooked sounds like a paean to garlic but when presented for tasting the three dishes played off each other beautifully: Pork in a prune and port sauce, punched potatoes, lastly this leafy greens saute.

                          Any delicate early shoots of greens can be used here such as turnip tops, mustard greens, non-heading broccoli. In my case it was tender baby spinach. It's a standard garlic in oil technique, adding rinsed/drained greens, coating with the garlicky oil, stir-frying a few minutes, seasoning with S & P. At the end I included a pinch of red pepper flakes. Nothing we haven't done a hundred times but worth acknowledging in case someone is at a loss for a simple tasty side dish.

                          1. Coriander Potatoes, The Food of Portugal, p. 210

                            This recipe is a good example of how a modest ingredient can be taken up a notch with an extra cooking step! Small new potatoes are boiled until cooked through, drained, peeled, then lightly browned in equal amounts of olive oil and butter. Freshly chopped coriander leaves are sprinkled over (or mint, in the variation), then another few minutes of saute time. Salt and pepper to taste, then serve. I did let the potatoes rest for a couple of minutes to dry out after removing the skins, which eliminated any spattering when they hit the pan. The potatoes develop a light, golden crust, which along with the flecks of green herbs make for a very attractive side dish. I served them alongside Cheese-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin from TNPT.

                            Here's a pic of a few still left in the pan (they look a bit like scallops in the photo!)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: lesliej

                              Coriander Potatoes, The Food of Portugal, page 210

                              We also enjoyed these potatoes. A simple, but tasty, side dish that was nice with our broiled chicken, but would be just as nice with fish.

                            2. Pureed Greens with Garlic, Onion and Olive Oil, Food of Portugal, p. 207.

                              Very simple and flavorful--a dark-green spinach (in my case) puree that sort of shouts "besides being really healthy I am also delicious!" It went nicely with my chicken cataplana recipe and the bay-scented potatoes on p.211. This is not a prepossessing recipe--in fact, it looks rather unadorned in its serving dish, but it is a rich dark green and it absorbed the sherry sauce of my chicken cataplana recipe very satisfactorily

                              Basically, three pounds of "greens" (Anderson suggests 2 pounds of baby spinach leaves plus another pound of tender turnip or mustard greens) are steamed/wilted until tender. Meanwhile two minced yellow onions and two minced cloves of garlic have been gently sauteed in olive oil and unsalted butter until "limp and lightly browned." Press out excess water from the drained greens and then "mellow" them briefly with the onions and garlic mixture in the pan. Make sure all is well seasoned with s & p and then whiz everything in a food processor until pureed. Rewarm before serving (I nuked it.)

                              I thought this had surprisingly great flavor, onion-y and garlicky and buttery. In fact I just now realized while typing this that I had inadvertently increased the proportions of garlic and onion to the greens, due to the fact that I only used two pounds of spinach--I had no access to turnip/mustard greens, just spinach -- and I completely forgot that the original proportions were for three pounds of greens. But I liked the final result so much that I'm going to keep the proportions to two pounds greens + 2 onions + 2 garlic cloves when I make it again. The recipe as I made it served four adults just fine. It would also be good (and certainly very decorative) served in baked hollow-out tomatoes, as Anderson suggests in a variation on p. 208.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Goblin

                                Pureed Greens with Garlic, onion, and Olive Oil, Food of Portugal, The Pureed Greens in Baked Tomato variation, pg. 208.

                                Goblin's "not a prepossessing recipe" is spot on, as are her summary of the prep, and yet we too thought it had "surprisingly great flavor". I also made mine with just spinach, although it seems chard or other greens would be very nice here. As we were having it as a side dish with meat, I skipped the butter and just used olive oil. Made the greens in advance and then stuff halved plum tomatoes just as I was ready to finish cooking the other parts of dinner, popped the tomatoes into the small convection oven and 15 minutes later they were good to go. In a meal that also included steak, and if I may be so bold perfectly cooked potatoes, this was the dish that stole the show, go figure.

                                1. re: Goblin

                                  I did serve this last night in halved plum tomatoes. Made the pureed spinach greens ahead, chilled and well-covered overnight. Set up the tomato halves, cored and seeded, which I also seasoned with s & p, and drained them upside down on paper towels for an hour. Then just filled them with a large scoop of pureed greens and baked for 30 minutes in a 367 F oven until slightly tender and hot. Oh yes; I sprinkled a TBS of grated parm cheese on top just before baking. Would have used Manchego if I'd had it. The dish is very pretty for a dinner party.

                                2. Bay-Scented Potatoes, p. 211, The Food of Portugal.

                                  A pleasant, if not particularly inspired potato dish, which boils new potatoes (in water in which a whole onion studded with two cloves has been added) and then glazes them in two TBS each of olive oil and butter, in which 4 crumbled bay leaves have been steeped. The cooked potatoes are meant to be peeled before their final 5-minute glazing process in the fat--I didn't bother--and the crumbled bay leaves are supposed to be strained out before as well. This I did do. I then felt that the final dish needed some color so I sprinkled with minced Italian parsley before serving.

                                  I say "not particularly inspired" because I couldn't really taste either the onion-clove, nor the bay leaves in the final preparation. My Turkish bay leaves were newly-purchased but perhaps one needs more than four of them? The potatoes did provide a nice starch addition to the chicken cataplana recipe, but not much excitement.

                                  1. Puréed Potatoes - The New Portuguese Table, p. 174

                                    These are really simple, but rich, whipped potatoes. No fancy seasonings, just plenty of butter and milk, and delicately seasoned with salt, pepper and a touch of nutmeg.

                                    Leite has you boil yukon gold potatoes in salted water. Once cooked, the drained potatoes are put through a ricer, and then returned to the pot and whisked with a large amount of butter and a fair amount of milk. I held back on the milk just a bit, because I wanted the potatoes to be firm enough that they didn't completely dissolve into the soupy dish I served them with.

                                    I need to say that I am not a big fan of mashed potatoes. When I make them, I usually just barely smash them together, leaving mostly whole chunks. These are smooth, which is what I usually do not prefer. This version, however, is perfectly rendered, and delicious, even to a non-mashed potato eater like me. While the butter has a lot to do with that, I think the technique is just as important. I've always found the ricer the best way to get fully mashed potatoes without over beating them, and Leite recommends that gadget for best results here. In the headnote, he says not to "even think of using a food processor", to which I applaud! If you love a simple, rich, and perfecty smooth potato purée, this recipe offers a foolproof version.

                                    1. Scrambled Eggs with Asparagus and Fresh Cod, The New Portuguese Table, page 160.

                                      I made this for a late Sunday brunch, and it garnered rave reviews. It does have quite a few steps, and uses a few pans, but the techniques are all quite simple.

                                      Spears of asparagus are blanched and shocked, then set aside. For each diner, four spears are saved for the plate, the remainder are thinly sliced and will go into the eggs.

                                      A potato is cut into matchsticks, rinsed and dried, then fried until golden, and set aside. Onions are thinly sliced and sautéed with a bay leaf, garlic is added near the end. The bay leaf is removed once the onion is soft and golden.

                                      The cod is seasoned with salt and pepper, and dredged in flour. It is then seared in hot oil until done, then set aside to keep warm.

                                      The reserved asparagus spears are then quickly tossed in the oiled pan, and cooked just enough to warm them through, then set aside and covered.

                                      The onion mixture goes back into the pan, and the sliced asparagus is added. Eggs are beaten with salt and pepper to be scrambled with the onion/asparagus mix. Just when they are beginning to set, the fried potatoes get incorporated.

                                      Creamy eggs with onions, garlic, asparagus, and fried potatoes are placed atop the spears of asparagus, and make a soft landing for the seared cod. I drizzled all with the suggested herb oil from page 40, which consisted of a bouquet from the garden heated in olive oil for 8 to 10 minutes. This was a very nice addition and I used more of the oil for roasting vegetables at dinner time.

                                      All in all, a lovely meal for brunch, or any time.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                        That looks great. Just the kind of thing I would love to eat for breakfast. Or dinner.