October 2013 Cookbooks of the Month, THE FOOD OF PORTUGAL and THE NEW PORTUGUESE TABLE: Breads; Sweets; Sweets and Liqueurs
Please use this thread to report on the following chapters from the October Cookbooks of the Month:
Breads (The Food of Portugal), pages 223 – 248
Sweets (The Food of Portugal), pages 249 - 288
Breads (The New Portuguese Table), pages 187 – 202
Sweets and Liqueurs (The New Portuguese Table), pages 203 - 230
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Yeast-Raised Corn Bread (Broa) p. 239 from The Food of Portugal
This recipe begins with a sponge of yeast, corn meal and water. Milk, water, corn oil, salt, flour and more corn meal is added to the sponge. Knead and proof twice, knead again, shape and put in a cake pan. Bake until done. This made for a very hearty and dense loaf of bread. It is not something I would eat by itself, but it was the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of caldo verde.
Portuguese Country Bread (Pao) p. 224 from The Food of Portugal
This recipe also starts with a sponge of yeast, water and flour. Additional flour, water and salt is added to make a dough that is kneaded and proofed twice, knead again, shape and put in a cake pan. Bake until done. This made a loaf with a tight crumb, but less dense than the broa. The flavor was fine, but not amazing. Even though, it requires more effort, the flavor of the country bread from My Calabria is more to my liking. Nonetheless, the bread tasted much better when I used it to sop up the juices in the clam soup.
Very nice of you to say. I think my husband's photography skills have been improving. Have you received your book yet? I'm curious to get your take. At first blush, many of the recipes remind me of some Spanish recipes I am familiar with, but the use of cilantro and hot peppers (piri-piri), definitely make it distinct from Spanish cuisine.
Leite's book just came in over the weekend, and the library called me to say the Anderson was in last night, so I should be good to go soon. But I've had them each out before, the Leite book recently, and I agree it is interesting how the recipes are similar to Spanish, but decidedly not the same.
I grew up in eastern MA where there are substantial Portuguese/Azorean/Cape Verdean-American communities, and lots of this food seems very familiar from menus in Portuguese restaurants, or in the case of your breads, they really do look like the bread from a Portuguese bakery (of which there are quite a few around here).
Portuguese Orange Olive Oil Cake (Bolo de Laranja)
From,The New Portuguese Table.
This cake is WONDERFUL,it comes together very easily but, has very complex, deep flavors. David Leite says to let the cake age and, as difficult as this was,it improved daily,until the very end.
As for the book itself,I love the photography and, I love the thoughtful journey that Mr. Leite shares with us. Delightful.
Portuguese Orange Cake, The New Portuguese Table; p.220
The book's photo of this cake, as well as Chowyunfood's above have been on my mind for days, and after finally making this I agree that it is fabulous. It's richer and more moist than a regular pound cake, with a wonderful citrus flavor, and is not as sweet as it may seem given the amount of sugar. It makes a very tall cake; in fact, as I was filling my Bundt I grabbed my cupcake pan and filled six liners, with enough batter still remaining to turn out a beautiful cake.
Portuguese Orange Olive Oil Cake, NPT 220.
We are now also big fans of this one. It was a great hit with guests over the New Year holiday as well. Not a crumb left.
My first take, in a bundt pan was a bit of a disaster--I must have one of the bad bundt pans that Leite mentions--everything stuck and the crust was way overdone before the cake had cooked through. Teach me to try a new recipe the evening before guests are arriving. Anyway, round two was done in a plain old 8x13" parchment lined pyrex, and it came out swell. Perhaps not as eye pleasing as the tube shape, but we all really enjoyed the slightly crunchy top crust a lot, and it cut very well into squares for serving.
Fried Cornmeal, The New Portuguese Table; p. 193
Delicious, comfort food here - it was hard for me to refrain from cutting out "just one more slice" to sear and eat!
Instant polenta, (which is what I used, vs. fine cornmeal) is cooked with chicken stock, cream, butter, and water. Ricotta and sliced wilted greens (I used kale) are stirred in, and the mixture is then spread into a baking pan to set up. The recipe specifies an 8"x 8" pan but 9"x 9" would be fine.
When the mixture is firm, slices are cut, brushed with a bit of olive oil and fried. There was a bit of spattering going on so I would advise using a spatter screen, and I did need to increase the heat a bit to get a nice sear, but I was impressed that the pieces maintained their shape after being turned several times.
I used a commercial, low-sodium chicken broth, and a store-brand "part-skim" ricotta and the pieces were still so tasty - a creamy, rich interior with a golden crunchy crust. The cakes were served with my dinner of Grilled Beef Kebabs and Madeiran Griddle Bread, also from TNPT..
Madeiran Griddle Bread, The New Portuguese Table; p.190.
I made these little breads to accompany the book's Grilled Beef Kebabs, and also made the Roasted Garlic Butter with Madeira to serve with them.
To begin, a small sweet potato is cooked and 1/2 cup is set aside to cool. In the meantime, a generous amount of yeast (1T) is proofed with sugar & warm water. The cooled potato is then pulverized in a food processor with flour, butter, sugar, salt, the yeast mixture, and additional warm water. I did need to add additional flour to get the dough to form a ball, probably a good 1/3 cup. It was still sticky, probably from the potato, but I was hesitant to add more (although I now think I could have with no negative effects).
The dough goes into an oiled bowl and set aside to rise. The recipe estimates a 1 1/2 hour rising time to double but it only took my dough one hour (maybe even less). The dough is then placed on a floured work surface, divided into six pieces, flattened a bit and covered again to let rise ("puff") for about 30-45 minutes (again, my rolls puffed in less than 30 minutes; maybe as little as twenty).
The next step is browning the breads on both sides in a non-stick skillet, then popping them into the oven for 15 minutes to finish baking. Because of the stickiness of my dough I had a hard time lifting the breads from the floured surface and onto the skillet, and they even deflated a bit in the process, but they did puff up again while being browned, and maintained their shape on the baking sheet while I finished the rest.
I wasn't sure what to expect, but the breads had a moist, fluffy interior and a slightly chewy crust (they reminded me of a large English muffin but with a softer crumb). I also could detect a bit of sweetness from the potato. They were quite wonderful spread with the garlic butter and served with the kebabs, but I now wish I would have saved one to toast for breakfast the next morning!