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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.