I can already tell you this meal is making me work outside of my comfort zone. I started picking things that sounded good, but not realizing what I was getting into. Definitely not the first time that’s happened. But it usually takes the form of buying “fancy” alcoholic drinks at restaurants, the kind where you get to keep the glass, but didn’t realize each drink was $10 apiece until you got the bill.
|This might be really good with ice cream. I'll have to test this.|
So the first thing I started with is the Portuguese Sweet Bread. In a saucepan, I heated up ½ c milk, ¼ c of butter, 1/3 c sugar and 1 ¼ tsp salt just enough until the butter melted; then I took it off the heat. In a large bowl, I mixed together 3 ¼ c of all-purpose flour, 1 packet of yeast, and the zest of 1 lemon. Then I poured my milk mixture into the flour mixture and stirred everything together. I added in 2 eggs plus the yolk of another egg (keeping the egg white for later) along with 2 tsps of vanilla extract (ok, I used 2 ½ tsp because I love vanilla). I stirred and kneaded the dough until it became a smooth bread dough. I lightly oiled the bottom of a bowl and put my dough ball in it, covered it, and let it rest for about an hour and a half. After punching it down, I transferred it to a lightly greased 9” round cake pan and covered it loosely in plastic wrap that I rubbed with a little bit of oil (to keep from sticking to the dough). I let it sit for another hour. Toward the end of this time, I take my egg white that I reserved and mixed it with 1 Tbsp of water and brushed the top of the bread. I baked it for 15 minutes and then lightly covered it with aluminum foil. Then I put it back in the oven for another 25 minutes until it looked golden brown on top. This was really good. You can definitely smell the lemon zest in there. It kind of reminded me of lemon cake, but I wouldn’t put any icing or frosting on top—it was sweet enough. The kids absolutely loved this.
|This turned out way better than I thought. And I thought they were pretty good. Not as "fishy" as I thought they'd be.|
So now, it’s the dish that makes me nervous: Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato, or clams with lemon and garlic. I bought clams still in their shells, something I’ve never done. It just seems like one of those dishes that’s really easy to get food poisoning from if you screw this up. Anyway, I found them at Kroger for $2.99/lb and bought 3 lbs (I got 8 clams, so each of us could have two). I have never done this before, and I really didn’t know what I was getting into. Then the lady added a bunch of ice on top of them and said, “This is so they don’t die of dehydration. They’re still alive, you know.” Um, no I didn’t fully put that all together in my head yet. But now I know. Of course, then the kids wanted to “babysit” the clams on the ride home, talking to them, and being generally creepy (“Hi, clams. We’re gonna eat you tomorrow. Enjoy your last night with your friends in our fridge.”). Anyway, I digress. When I was ready, I soaked the clams in a large bowl for about 2 hours in salted water before cooking them. I did rinse them off first. In a skillet, I heated some olive oil and sautéed some minced garlic for a few minutes. Then I added in my clams and covered the skillet, shaking the skillet every now and then until the clams open up. I imagine that’s them screaming from being cooked alive. It took about 10 minutes or so. Once the clams have all opened up, I turned off the heat and seasoned it with pepper, lemon juice (from the lemon I used the zest for), and chopped cilantro. I actually really liked this and was amazed they turned out really good. I’m still checking myself for signs of food poisoning, but as I write this, so far so good. I did have to tell my daughter not to eat the part of the foot that attaches the meat to the shell. She says, “Oh. Well, it was still good.”
|I liked this dish, but next time, not with the olives. I just learned that olives and fish are not one of my favorite food combinations.|
This was one of those weird days where I made two main dishes. The other one I made today is Portuguese Traditional Cod. I washed some small potatoes (they were literally the smallest potatoes I have ever found) and boiled them for about 20 minutes. No need to peel them. When they were done, I drained my water and set them to the side. I took my cod filets and cut them into large pieces (I roughly cut each filet into 3”x3” squares). In my skillet, I heated my olive oil and sautéed some diced onions, sliced red bell pepper, and some minced garlic for a few minutes, until the onion looked translucent. Then I added my cod and seasoned it with pepper and paprika and cooked it on both sides for 10 minutes. After the cod is cooked through and flaky, I added the potatoes into the skillet as well and cooked for 3-4 more minutes. Then I took it off the heat and garnished with chopped cilantro and sliced black olives. I actually liked this pretty well, although it probably needed a tad bit more salt.
|The best veggies are fried. It's thought that the Portuguese introduced tempura to the Japanese when they were exploring Asia.|
Finally, to go with this, I made Peixinhos da Horta, or fried green beans. I bought some fresh green beans and snapped the ends off of them. In a saucepan filled with salted water, I boiled my green beans for 10-15 minutes. When they were done, I drained the water. In a small bowl, I mixed about ¾ c flour, 3 eggs, pepper, parsley, and a little salt and whisked with a fork until it’s a creamy consistency. I had to add in a little water because it was too thick. When my oil was heated in my skillet, I dipped my green beans in the batter and fried them until the sides are golden brown. Then I placed them on a plate with a paper towel. I liked these, but the kids weren’t really fans of them. Maybe if I had a sauce or something to go with them, they might’ve liked them better.
|Definitely a half-glass, after-dinner, sipping kind of wine.|
I also bought a bottle of Madeira wine and a bottle of Port wine. However, both bottles of what I bought are American versions of its Portuguese counterpart. Madeira wine is from the Madeira Islands, which are off the coast of Africa while Port wine is exclusively made in the Douro Valley in northern Portugal. I definitely like the Port more than the Madeira because it’s a little sweeter. I do like dry wines, but these are fortified wines that have brandy added to them, and I’m not so much of a fan of brandy. Brandy tastes musty to me; it’s the same reason I don’t like raisins. (I’ve always said raisins and prunes are the farts of the fruit world.) But the upside is that both of these come in at 18% alcohol by volume, and I’ll be damned if I waste some high-alcohol wine.
|Overall, I'd give his a thumbs up. Now to get over there for real.|
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