COOKBOOK REVIEW: The New Portuguese Table

Categories:  Cookbook Reviews

CookbookSOME OF THE BEST local home cooks I know are of Portuguese ancestry — and I’m lucky enough to live in California’s Bay Area where we have a robust Portuguese community offering great restaurants (Sousa’s), bakeries, historical sites, festivals and museums.

Living in the Bay Area, I’ve already sampled a few of the cuisine’s high points:  Linguiça (a cured sausage seasoned with onions, garlic and paprika), hot red Piri-Piri pepper sauce, salt cod (aka bacalhau) and baked custard tarts (Pastéis de Nata). Yet I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Portugal.

Flipping through the pages of David Leite’s recent cookbook, The New Portugese Table, I felt like I’d arrived in Lisbon.

I had no idea the country consisted of eleven historical provinces with their own local food stuffs. Nor did I equate Portugal with the use of plums/prunes (Pork Tenderloin in a Port-Prune Sauce), duck (used in the Minho region), or kale (used in the Azores).

Photographer Nuno Correia’s photos are outstanding, and each richly illustrated page left me eager to recreate the dish — in fact, this is one of those rare cookbooks where I want to try every recipe.

Author Leite’s instructions are equally enticing — and annotated with helpful instructions for cooks who may not be as experienced as a practiced avó (Portugese grandmother).

Over the next few days I’m moving on from the fried cornmeal dish show above (which was studded with bits of kale and quite divine!) to Sweet Lemon & Black Olive Wafers, Seared Broccoli Rabe with Garlic, and Lemon-Mint Chicken Soup.

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