"Come join me! Lets' s share recipes, learn how to cook traditional Portuguese dishes, or chat about our cuisine, culture and traditions. I want to share these recipes to preserve our Portuguese passion for great food and pass them along to the next generation. So come along, Let's cook Portuguese."
Portugal Mediteranean Diet
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“Feliz Natal” or “Boas Festas” translates to “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”! The Holiday season in Portugal is celebrated as a time for family, of giving and sharing.
Towns and homes are decorated with lights and with “Scenes of the Nativity”, or the Presépio which is the main focal point of the Christmas decorations in the Portuguese homes. Some towns mount a living Nativity Scene, with locals and live animals playing the roles at scene at the birth of Christ.
The creche scene was the idea of St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th Century to re-create the stable where Jesus was born at Christmas.
According to the gospels, the crib represents the stable where Jesus was born, a place that is still worshiped in Bethlehem today, at the Basilica of the Nativity.
Based on the interpretation of the Old Testament gospels, the Nativity was represented in the 4th century by the image of the Baby Jesus lying on the ground, accompanied by figures representing the ox, the donkey and the shepherds. The representation of the Crib began to spread from the 8th century onwards.
In Portugal, many creche scenes have locally crafted clay figures. In the cribs at Estremoz and Barcelos, as well as to the baroque cribs designed by the sculptor Machado de Castro at theLisbon cathedral or by the sculptor António Ferreira at theBasílica da Estrela.
The nativity from the 18th century is centered around the Nativity and the arrival of the Three Wise Men at Bethlehem, but it also recreates Portuguese rural settings, crafts, professions and clothing worn at that time that are now longer used.
Crib sculptor by Machado de Castroat Lisbon Cathedral
Crib Sculpture by António Ferreira at the Basílica da Estrela
Christmas Nativity Portugal
Consoada – Christmas Eve Dinner
On Christmas Eve, a family dinner known as the night of the “Consoada” is celebrated. The word Consoada refers to a small meal that is taken at the end of a day´s fasting and derives from the Latin word consolare, meaning “to comfort”.
For most Catholics, (Advent) the period of preparation for Christmas, begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas.
Advent is also refereed to as “little Lent,” because, like lent, it is a time of repentance and fasting. Fasting during Advent used to be universal, most Western Christians today treat Advent as a “Before Christmas Day”.
In the North of Portugal (Minho, Porto and Guimarães), it is the custom for people to reserve places at the table set for the Consoada supper for those relatives who have recently passed away, or else to leave the table laid and a candle or lamp lit throughout the night to comfort and warm their souls. Some families light a “Christmas log,” or cepo de Natal, a piece of oak that burns on the hearth.
Traditionally, the Christmas Eve supper consists of abstaining from meat dishes. The traditional fish, is Bacalhau (salted cod), but other regions eat Polvo (Octopus), or another fish. Many appetizers such as, Bolinhos de Bacalhau, Rissois de Camarao, and many other treats are served. Christmas day meals usually consist of meat dishes such as roast Pork, chicken, or lamb.
Bolos de Bacalhau – Cod Fish Cakes
Rissois de Camarao – Shrimp Turnovers
Polvo – Octopus
Bacalhau – Salt Cod
Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa – Salt Cod
Traditional Christmas treats such as Portuguese cheeses, nuts, and fruits and many desserts adorn the Christmas diner table. The most popular desserts are: “filhoses or filhós“, “Sonhos“, “Rabanadas”, “Aletria”, “Arroz Doce”, and “Pao de Lo” are some of the favorites. Many other regional desserts are prepared according to ancient recipes that are passed on from generation to generation.
The Bolo Rei (literally the King Cake) is a cake made in the shape of a crown, filled and decorated with dry and crystallized fruits. Hidden inside the cake are a broad bean and a surprise gift. The person who ends up with the slice containing the broad bean is traditionally the one who should provide the next cake. The cake is eaten on Christmas and also on “Dia de Reis” the 12th day of Christmas – Day of Epiphany, when the Three Wise Men arrived at the Nativity and brought gifts to baby Jesus.
Bolo Rei – Kings Cake
Sonhos – Choux Pastry Puffs
Rabanadas – French Toast
Aletria – Sweet Angle Hair Dessert
Pao de lo – Sponge Cake
Arroz doce – Sweet Rice Pudding
Filhos – Fried Pastry Dough
Pasteis de Nata – Custard Cups
Missa do Galo – Midnight Mass
Missa do Galo or midnight mass, is a custom among Catholics who celebrate Christmas. The Missa do Galo was first included the Christmas celebrations during the 5th century. It is celebrated at midnight, which is the time referred to as being “in galli cantu” (at cock crow), and it was originally the first of three masses comprising the liturgy of Christmas Day.
During the Missa do Galo, people can admire the crib, which has been specially prepared for the occasion, and, after communion, everyone moves up to the altar to “kiss the Baby Jesus”, an act that is sometimes accompanied by songs of worship.
In the regions of Bragança, Guarda or Castelo Branco, a Yule log is burned in the atrium of the village church after mass. It helps keep everyone warm through the night and to wish family and friends a Merry Christmas.
Santa Claus is named “Pai Natal” (father Christmas). Some families open the presents on Christmas Eve at midnight, while others wait until after Midnight mass. Many open the gifts after the Christmas Eve diner. Others open them in the morning of the 25th, Christmas Day. Some families put one shoe of each child next to the chimney or fireplace instead of a stocking. Children right letters to baby Jesus asking for gifts rather than Santa Claus.
Ano Novo – New Year
Traditionally, people go out to the streets to sing “Janeiras” (January songs) between December 25 and January 6. The Janeiras (January songs) is a Portuguese tradition consists of a group of people strolling the streets of a town singing in the New Year.
To the modern eye, Janeiras is like Christmas caroling as this tradition involves a group of friends or neighbors going from house to house singing and sometimes playing instruments. While singing, they review the most important events of the year with a spirit of happiness and great humor. They sing traditional songs and those who pass by are wished a Happy New Year full of luck.
Once the song is done the singers are rewarded with chestnuts, nuts, apples, and cured sausages. These days, chocolates are often offered too. The Janeiras tradition varies from region to region.
In the Algarve, residents form charolas, which are spontaneously formed groups that join together to sing songs of both a religious and a secular nature.
Also in the Algarve, singers receive traditional alms such as one of the seasonal sweet fritters or a glass of brandy. Every year, the municipality of Silves has a festival in January to welcome in the New Year by singing.
New Year’s Eve in Portugal is filled with celebrations. People get together in the 31st December, usually for dinner, and celebrate all night long, saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming the new one — hoping it will bring only good things.
The party in Madeira is renowned for being the most dazzling, with a display of light and color over the whole island you can even see from the ocean. At midnight, there’s a fireworks display in every town.
Everyone eats 12 raisins, with one wish for each month, and drinks champagne to bring in the New Year.
Dia de Reis – Kings Day – Day of Epiphany
“Dia de Reis” known as the day of the Epiphany is on the 12th day of Christmas. Children put out their shoes, with carrots and straw to attract the camels of the Three Wise Men hoping that the shoes will be filled with gifts in the morning.
Bolo Rei (King Cake) is a particular favorite of the Portuguese during Christmas and is traditionally eaten on January 6, day of Epiphany. The date when the three kings arrived in Jerusalem to greet the newborn baby Jesus. The legend is that the three kings were disputing which one of them would be the first to give their gift to Jesus. Upon their travels they met a baker who baked a cake with a bean inside it. Which ever one of them got the slice of cake with the bean would give their gift first. Through the years coins and trinkets were added to the cake instead of the bean which would bring good luck upon the bearer. Whoever gets the bean has to buy the “Bolo Rei” (King Cake) in the coming year.
New Year in Madeira
During the family reunion on Christmas Eve it is customary in each madeiran household to have chicken broth, apart from other meat dishes. Also, families usually drink the typical homemade tangerine, orange and anise liqueurs or even a glass of Madeira Wine.
On Christmas Day, generally one chooses pork loin marinated in wine and garlic dish or stuffed turkey.
Other common sweets delicacies of this holiday season are the “family cake”, the Madeira Honey Cake, apart from the popular butter rings or honey or butter biscuits.
Meat in Wine and Garlic
1 kg porkloin (with some fat)
2 cups of wine vinegar
Rock salt, to taste
10 garlic cloves
Bread slices, as needed
Pepper, marjoram, savory
Cut the meat in cubes and season with salt. On the following day, make a marinade with the vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, pepper and herbs. Place the meat in the marinade for at least three days, in a clay pot. Fry with the marinade and serve with the bread, fried in the grease, baked sweet potatoes, fried cornmeal and orange slices.
Family or Black Cake
500 g flour
500 g sugar
250 g butter
125 g lard
6 teaspoons of sugar cane molasses
Ground cinnamon, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 L milk
1 wine glass of Sweet Madeira wine
Dried fruit (raisins, nuts, etc.)
Mix well all the ingredients. Pour in a greased pan and bake in a very hot oven.
Secret: the drier the fruit, the longer the cake lasts, up to 5 days. This cake is initially beaten vigorously by hand.
Madeira Honey Cake
Ingredients for the leavening:
500 g unleavened flour
30 g leavening (baker’s yeast)
about 3 dl water
Knead the flour with the yeast, make a ball, cover with plastic and let rise for 2 to 3 hours.
1000 g unleavened flour
350 g sugar
300 g butter
150 g lard
clove (about 1.5 g)
fennel (about 1.5g)
15 g cinnamon
50 g nuts
50 g chopped almonds
400 g mixed crystallized fruit
150 g sultanas
15 g baking soda
juice of 1 orange
8 dl Madeira molasses
2 dl Madeira wine
Mix the butter with the sugar until creamy, add spices and juice of an orange and a little lemon zest. Melt the molasses and lard together and add to mixture. Add the flour and baking soda and mix for about five minutes. Add to this dough the leaven previously kneaded and continue to mix for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Lastly, add the crystallized fruit and mix for an additional five minutes. Let rise for 24 hours. Place the dough in greased and wax paper-lined pans (only the bottom of the pan) and decorate the cakes with almonds and nuts on top. Bake them in a 190o degree oven, for 25 minutes. Honey cake is broken by hand.
NOTE: Use pans with removable bottoms, with a diameter of 15 cm and a height of 4 cm and place dough 3 cm high.
1 l sugar cane rum
1 l water
Rinds of 6/7 tangerines (large and ripe)
Finely cut the tangerine rind, with no white so as to not be bitter. Steep the rinds in the sugar cane rum for 15 days. Once the steeping time has passed, add water and sugar and heat to make simple syrup.
Add simple syrup to the sugar cane rum, removing rinds and filtering the liqueur. It is now ready to serve.
I posted this recipe today before the turkey was cooked but I’ll post pictures of the finished recipe tomorrow!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
2 tablespoons of Salt
1 large onion
1 large celery stalk
3 large sprigs of parsley
1 large carrot
1/4 cup of Olive Oil
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup of vinho verde or any white wine
Steps to prepping your turkey
Remove packaging. Remove the neck and giblets from both cavities of the turkey.
Wash the turkey, the neck and giblets in very cold water.
Rub the inside and outside of the turkey evenly with the salt.
Slice the lemon in half and rub the inside and outside of the turkey with the lemon half squeezing the juice as you rub.
Place the used lemon halves inside the cavity.
Place the butter underneath the chicken skin over the breast
Sprinkle the paprika, pepper and garlic powder evenly over the chicken leaving a small amount to marinate the cavity.
Place the neck and gizzards inside the turkey. Add the wine and remaining spices into the cavity to marinate.
Place the celery, onion and carrot inside the cavity.
Drizzle and rub the Olive oil over the Turkey.
Place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 48 hours before cooking.
Take the turkey out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.
*Remove the neck and gizzards from the cavity and save in the refrigerator until you are ready to make stock for my Portuguese Stuffing.
Cook the turkey with the remaining vegetables inside the cavity to add flavor.
My roaster is over 50 years old and it makes a perfect turkey every time!
Cook in Roasting pan, or cover with heavy aluminum foil. An average turkey of about 15 pounds will take about 3 hours to cook at 350.
*Even if your timer pops up, it may not mean its fully cooked, test the turkey with a thermometer which reach 165 degrees.
*Marinate the turkey with the pan juices every hour.
*If you like your turkey skin dark colored remove the foil during the last 30 minutes.
*My simple test to see if the turkey is cooked, is this; Try to pull the thigh away from the body, if the thigh bone doesn’t break off easy, then continue to cook the turkey longer.
*Let the turkey sit at least 20 minutes before carving.
*Warm the turkey with a little bit of hot chicken or turkey broth.
** Do not discard the cooking juices. Simply strain it, let it sit for a few minutes, remove any excess grease from the top and cook it in a few tablespoons of flour for at least 5 minutes on low heat.
Pumpkin Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting is a delightful dessert for those of you that want something different instead of pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving.
This cake is moist and full of flavor! Perfect addition to your Thanksgiving pot luck dinner, or as an add on to your dessert table!
It uses no oil and only 2 tablespoons of margarine for those of you on a low fat diet.
2 cups of flour
1 + 1/2 cups of sugar
1 (15 oz can) of pumpkin
3 large eggs
5 oz of fat free vanilla yogurt
2 tbsp of butter or margarine (melted)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 +1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
3 oz cream cheese (soft)
1 + 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar
1 tbsp butter (soft)
1 tbsp milk
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until light and lemony colored.
Add the yogurt, butter and pumpkin and beat for a few minutes.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the pumpkin mixture and mix for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Combine the nuts if desired.
Pour into an into a greased (15 x 10 x 1) baking pan or a deeper cake pan if you want a cake like dessert.
Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until creamy. Set aside until the cake is completely cooled and frost.
Filhoses de Abóbora, are similar to Italian Zeppole (fried dough) but pumpkin puree is added to the dough to give it a golden orange color and mellow pumpkin favor.
The dough is deep fried and then dipped in sugar and cinnamon! I made mine bite size for a tasty little bite of sweet pumpkin and orange spice!
Start a tradition by adding this classic to your Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert table. Enjoy!
(1) 15 oz can of pumpkin puree (not with spices)
5 cups of flour
1 oz f any whiskey
2 packages (.75 oz ea) or (4 tsp) of active dry yeast
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp of grated orange zest
1 tsp salt
Oil for frying (vegetable or canola)
1. Dissolve the yeast in the orange juice and mix with the pumpkin in a large bowl.
2. Add the eggs, whiskey, sugar, salt and orange rind and mix well with mixer.
3. Add the flour and knead until a soft dough forms. Add more flour if the dough seems to runny.
4. Cover with a clean cloth or plastic wrap. Cover with a warm towel and let it sit in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
5. The dough should be very soft but not runny. Add more flour and mix very well. Heat oil to medium high heat.
6. Spoon out large teaspoon size of dough into the oil and fry until golden brown, turning over as they fry.
7. Place onto paper towels to absorb excess oil and coat with sugar and cinnamon.
*Cook on medium, 375 degrees, not high heat or the dough will brown too quickly and remain raw on the inside. Adjust heat as needed. Test the first few donuts to adjust your cooking time.
Recipe adapted from, and photo credit: http://www.saborintenso.com/f23/filhoses-abobora-1289/
Salted Cod or Bacalhau as it is known in Portugal is a major ingredient in the Portuguese diet since the discovery ofNewfoundland in 1497.
Fisherman began fishing its cod-rich Grand Banks and Bacalhau was nicknamed Fiel amigo (faithful friend).
The fish became popular in Portugal and other Catholic countries, when it was substituted on days of fasting from eating meat on Fridays, Lent, and other festivals.
Today, the legend is that the Portuguese have 365 or more recipes for bacalhau, one for each day of the year.
The recipe originates from the city of Porto, Portugal, and is named after its creator, Zé do Pipo, who owned a famous restaurant in that city during the 1960s. He won a national cooking contest with this dish. Since then, many restaurants have adopted it in their menus which has it made it extremely popular!
Bacalhau à Zé do Pipo
1 lb Bacalhau (de salted – cut into 4 portion loins)
8 large potatoes
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 large sliced onion
1 diced garlic clove
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp butter
1 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 small roasted red pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup flour for frying codfish
Peel and cook potatoes in boiling salted water for about 25 minutes. Remove from heat, drain potatoes, add the milk, butter, egg yolk and pepper and mash. Set the potatoes aside.
Coat the codfish in flour and fry in the olive oil on medium – low heat until golden brown. Place on paper towels to soak off excess oil.
Saute the onions, garlic and bay leaf in the same olive oil that you cooked the fish in, until lightly browned. Remove the bay leaf.
Place the codfish portions in a large oven safe casserole dish or in individual serving size dishes.
Coat the codfish with the onions and surround with the mashed potatoes.
Coat the codfish with a few tablespoons of the mayonnaise, the top each with a slice of red pepper.
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the mayonnaise is golden brown.
Garnish with olives and parsley.
Watch this video for the preparation instructions.
Don’t through away those lobster shells before making this delicious chowder with them!
I used my favorite wine; Vinho Verde to enhance the flavor of this soup instead of regular white wine. If this recipe seems difficult, believe me it’s easy.
This chowder is perfect for your Holiday celebrations! Your friends and family will go crazy and love for it!
Save some Vinho Verde to serve along with it!
Lobster shells from 3 lobsters
Meat from 1 lobster or 1-2 cups
1 cup of Vinho Verde wine (or any dry white wine)
2 tbsp of Brandy (I used 1920 Portuguese Brandy)
2 cups fish or chicken stock
1 small onion cut in half
1 small onion finely diced
1 celery stalk
1/2 celery stalk finely diced
3 ears of corn
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup of flour
2 cups of light cream
1/2 gallon of whole or light milk
Remove any tomalley (green part) from inside the lobster.
Cut the kernels off the corn and reserve for later. Save the cob for the stock.
In a medium stock pot, place the lobster shells,corn cob, stock, Vinho Verde, Brandy, 1 celery, 1 small onion, and salt.
Cover, let the stock come to a boil, and continue cooking for 20 minutes on low heat.
Remove the cooked onion and celery from the pan and discard. Add the milk and cook for another 10 minutes on low heat. Strain the broth through a fine stainer into a separate bowl to remove any lobster shells. Save the milk broth and discard the shells and corn cob.
In a separate heavy soup pan, saute the diced onion and celery in the butter until translucent.
Add the flour to the butter and cook for about 1 minute on low heat.
Add the reserved broth, cream, paprika, corn, and pepper to the soup.
Cook the chowder on low heat for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add the diced lobster and cook for about 5 minutes longer.
Add more seasoning to taste if desired.
*If you want the soup thicker, mix 1 tbsp of flour with a little milk, add to the soup and let the soup cook for about 5 minutes.
This is an easy project that will cost you virtually nothing to make since they’re made from natural branches, evergreens and any decorations you have on hand from last year.
The best part is that you use solar lights so you don’t waste electricity!
My daughter and I felt crafty this weekend so we decided to make our own Christmas planters to decorate our front porch.
We went for a long country drive looking for evergreen trees that were easily accessible for us to be able to cut off branches for the planters.
We weren’t successful since most of the trees were either too far into the woods or on private property so we decided to head home and try again next weekend.
The next day, while visiting my sister we noticed that there were beautiful varieties of evergreen growing all along her backyard all along.
You can also find the branches for Free at Home Depot or Lowe’s garden centers which are leftovers from their Christmas tree trimmings.
3 or more varieties of evergreen branches about 2 feet long.
Get enough foliage to fill your planters. You’ll need a lot so if you think you have enough, you don’t!
1 bunch of any fake poinsettias
I used my leftover flowers from previous years
6 or more dry cat tails, wheat branches or any dried flower stems that you prefer
12 long dried tree branches about 2- 3 feet long
Such as birch, small driftwood, or any you find
Solar outdoor lights (1 for each planter)
I found my Santa and candy cane lights at Home Depot but you can use any you prefer
Christmas bows (Optional)
Take your leftover outdoor potted plants and trim off any dead foliage, leaving the dirt inside the pot. If you don’t have leftover plants, simply use any dirt from your garden.
This will serve as anchor to hold the branches. My planters had foliage that was still green so I left it as a filler.
Don’t worry about using green foliage that you may have since if it dries out later it will only add depth and natural dried look to the planter.
Begin arranging the planter by sticking the larger pieces of evergreen into the dirt back edge of the pot. Add the larger pieces of wood in the back. Add more evergreen branches overhanging on the sides and the smaller ones in the front.
Stick poinsettias into the pots in the front. Fill any empty spots with dried flowers, sticks or branches. Place the solar light in the front where it will get sun to charge the battery every day. Add bows or ornaments if you desire.
This planter will last you all winter long. Just remove the Santa and the Poinsettias after Christmas and add regular solar lights!