My quest to become a decent Portuguese chef continues! It’s going to take me a while, but I’ve got just the thing to get me started. It’s my favorite thing for July: Nelson Carvalheiro’s The Portuguese Travel Cookbook. In honor of the recent launch of the English edition of his travel cookbook, of which I got a copy, I decided to host a dinner party. The catch: all the food I served was taken from his recipe book.
This was a daunting task for me. I had never made any of these dishes before and I was expecting company. Fortunately, I had a trusty husband/sous-chef to help me out so I could throw an authentic “Nelson Carvalheiro dinner party”. Before I get into the delicious details, let me give you a quick background on this book: Nelson travels continental Portugal from top to bottom, learning about and photographing different types of food and styles of cooking. He gives you recipes from each region, so you can sample local specialties from the comfort of your own home. In my next post, I’ll be giving away a signed copy of this book, so stay tuned!
For starters, I made conquilhas Algarvias, Algarve-style clams. They were delicious and my guests couldn’t get enough of them. We even soaked bread in the juice, as we ate. The Portuguese flavors of lemon, cilantro and the sea really came through in this dish. I can’t wait to make this one again because it was so easy to make and such a hit with everyone. It’s a recipe that I plan to make all summer long.
To accompany our meal, I took another recipe from Nelson Carvalheiro’s book, for a port wine cocktail. I’m not usually a port drinker, but this was an incredibly refreshing way to drink it. We ate cozido de grão, chickpea stew, for the main. Everyone had second helpings and the chouriço cooked this way was a huge success. I love chick peas and they’re very much a part of traditional Portuguese cooking, so I was excited for the opportunity incorporate them into a meal.
And what would a Portuguese meal be without dessert? You may not know this, but some of the best cherries in the world come from Portugal. And although I couldn’t find Portuguese cherries in the US, I did follow the recipe for a Portuguese cherry pie and, miraculously, it turned out wonderfully. Cherry is one of my favorite pie flavors but never had I tasted one this good (if I do say so myself!). I had some leftover for breakfast this morning… don’t judge me, it has plenty of healthy cherries in it.
So there you have it: a dinner party using only recipes from Nelson Carvalheiro’s The Portuguese Travel Cookbook, which is available to purchase on Amazon now. I’m ecstatic that I look the challenge and by how it turned out, and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.