Last Friday, we visited Portugal via its delightful cuisine. I borrowed a fantastic book from the library called The New Portuguese Table. If you click the link, you can actually preview some of the recipes on Amazon. For strict vegetarians and vegans, I do not recommend buying the book – most of the recipes are meaty. However, I would highly recommend requesting it or borrowing it from your library.
Portugal is also a rather meaty country, but after close inspection of the book, I selected “Chilled Fava Bean Soup with Apples”, “Goat Cheese, Walnut, and Honey Triangles”, “Sweet and Sour Carrots”, and “Rosemary Creme Brulee” for our meal.
I’ll start off with our soup.
I ended up making the soup with lima beans, as I could not find the fava beans, and the cook book recommended limas as a good replacement. This soup reminded me very much of cold split pea soup. Basically, onions, garlic, potatoes are sauteed, then simmered in broth. The limas are added once the veggies are softened, you cook a little more, puree, and then chill. Though the book said I could do so for a smooth texture, I skipped straining the soup. I find it to be fussy, and I like my soup to have a texture. I made this this night before, and then I garnished with sliced apples, fried shallots, and lima beans to serve.
Next, I made the carrots.
The carrots peeled and sliced into rounds and then were boiled for 2 minutes. After boiling, I garnished with parsley, thyme, anise seed, sweet paprika, minced garlic, salt, pepper, cider vinegar, and olive oil. I then let it marinate in the fridge while I prepared the rest of the meal. I took it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. These carrots were nice and tangy.
After the carrots, I went to work on the goat cheese triangles.
These were amazing. Basically, the filling is made up of a small log of goat cheese, a handful of toasted walnuts, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs (sage and parsley). After mashing that together, you add a little milk to make it creamy. The recipe called for wrapping the filling with puff pastry. If that’s your thing, go for it. I, however, prefer lighter foods, and I had extra filo dough, so I used filo dough instead. Basically, I folded a sheet of filo in half twice (once lengthwise, once crosswise), then I put about 1-2 tablespoons on filling on the square and folded it up to enclose the filling. You can fold in any shape, really. I then sprayed the filo with olive oil, and I followed the baking directions that were on the filo package (10 minutes at 350F). To serve, I let cool slightly and then I drizzled with honey.
Lastly, I made a rosemary infused creme brulee.
You start our by infusing whole milk with rosemary. You put it all in the sauce pan, bring the mixture to just below boiling (you should see small bubbles and steam), and then you cover the mixture, shut off the heat, and let it steep for 10 minutes. You then remove the rosemary, and mix the milk with a sugar-cornstarch-egg yolk mixture with just a touch of salt. You cook it in a sauce pan until it looks like pudding, then you pour it into heat proof dishes (ramekins). Let it sit outside the fridge until it’s cooled down some, and then put in the fridge for a couple of hours until the puddings are set. To finish, sprinkle with sugar and either use a brulee torch to caramelize the top (easier) or put the puddings in the broiler for a few minutes (harder cause you can’t watch as closely). If you’ve made creme brulee before, I would use your favorite recipe, but just infuse the milk or heavy cream first with the rosemary.
I hope everyone enjoyed reading about the food of Portugal. I’ll be posting a quick meal idea on Friday with a detailed recipe, so please check back then!