Você fala Português?: Guest Blogger Johanna

My friend Johanna has been living the life in Lisbon since last summer, learning Portuguese, working on her dissertation, and hanging with her husband who’s on a Fulbright scholarship. This quarter, she’s found herself with the great good fortune of having to come back to Chicago to teach. During the winter. Did I mention her new husband is still in Portugal?

To help her through, Kristian and I have graciously offered to watch True Blood with her and make dinner at least once a week. You know, for moral support. This week, we decided to make a Portugal-themed dinner to get us in the mood for sexy vampires. It was remarkable. Here are Johanna’s thoughts on Lisbon and the yummy food she is missing. If you happen to be stuck in Chicago, like me, this will transport you for a bit. Plus, these recipes are phenomenal.

Since August, we’ve lived in Lisbon. Lisbon is a city where the streets are mosaic black and white marble cobblestones, set to look like waves or checkerboards or flowers. It’s a city that was supposedly founded by immortal ravens that piloted St. Vincent’s ship there in the fourth century. It’s a city where the Moors are a fairly recent memory, like something your grandparents might talk about, and their 700 year stay is felt in the brilliantly colored tiles that cover the buildings and the way Arabic shows up in the vocabulary — almofada, pillow; alface, lettuce; alfandega, customs; algemar, handcuffs. In Lisbon, Vasco da Gama is everyone’s wealthy uncle, but please don’t mention much about the past 500 years since he found the sea route to India. The earthquake of 1755 is still felt like a scar: the ceiling of the second biggest church collapsed and was never repaired, and going to the Convento do Carmo makes one wonder why all churches aren’t arches framing the sky. The language sounds like Russian spoken by someone with a bad head cold. It’s beautiful.On the edges of buildings, parakeets chirp in cages suspended from windowsills. The coffee is strong and smooth, and every tiny cafe — and there are tons of tiny cafes that don’t even have names lining every street and square — has a few old men wearing caps and reading one of the newspapers devoted to soccer. Most of those cafes also will serve you pasteis de bacalhau (fried dried codfish and potato dumplings), a nice caldo verde (green stock), and a bolinho de laranja (little orange cake). We didn’t make the pasteis de balcalhau, but here’s a recipe if you’re inspired. http://www.salon.com/food/francis_lam/2010/01/08/portuguese_cod_cakes_recipe/index.html
We did make a fantastic caldo verde and bolinhos de laranja. Sentia-me ja voltada para Lisboa. I felt like I had returned to Lisbon already.

Caldo Verde

from foodandwine.com

2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
6 ounces chorizo, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 quarts water
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound kale, stems discarded and leaves finely shredded

  1. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the garlic, onion and half of the chorizo and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 8 minutes. Add the water, potatoes and a large pinch each of salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Using an immersion blender, process the soup to a coarse puree. Bring the soup to a boil. Add the kale and simmer until it is wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining half of the chorizo and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve in bowls, drizzled with olive oil.

And we finished with some olive oil cupcakes.

Portuguese Orange-Olive Oil Cake
by David Leite
from The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe’s Western Coast

(Clarkson Potter, 2009)

Nonstick baking spray with flour
4 to 5 large navel oranges
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
5 large eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups mild extra-virgin olive oil
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above, and crank up the heat to 350°F (175°C). Coat a 12-cup Bundt or tube pan with baking spray and set aside.

2. Finely grate the zest of 3 of the oranges, then squeeze 4 of them. You should have 1 1/2 cups of juice; if not, squeeze the 5th orange. Set aside.

3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the granulated sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and oil, starting and ending with the flour, and beat until just a few wisps of flour remain. Pour in the orange juice and zest and whirl for a few seconds to bring the batter together.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 1 1/4 hours. If the top is browning too much as the cake bakes, cover lightly with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.

6. Turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely, then place it in a covered cake stand and let it sit overnight. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

Here are some pics of Lisbon from Johanna, just to get you in the mood:

If you want more of Lisbon, check out Johanna’s blog.


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About Kate Soto


One response to “Você fala Português?: Guest Blogger Johanna”

  1. pauline says :

    Eu gostaria de ir para Portugal! muito obrigada por compartilhar suas histórias e fotos do delicioso jantar

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