Jean Anderson – The Food of portugal Cook Book Writer – Winner of; IACP 2014 Food Writing Award

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Congratulations to Jean Anderson Winner of; IACP 2014 Food Writing Award  – Saveur Magazine for “Food I Dream Of” 

In the article, Jean Anderson writes about her love of the “Alentejo” region of Portugal!

When I bought The Food of Portugal many years ago when it was first published, I found it fascinating in its approach at introducing and teaching the reader about Portuguese cuisine to someone like me who loved the food, but had little knowledge about the origins and the history of the many dishes that I had loved since I was a child.

The book begins with the following quote;  “For thirty years now, I’ve been in love with Portugal. And no matter how often I return or how long I stay, my passion shows no sign of cooling. It’s not just the Portuguese people I warm to, or Lisbon (to my mind one of Europe’s loveliest capitals). It’s the look of the land”.

The cook book begins with part I,  “The Food and Wine of Portugal” where she gives us a brief history and a translation of the language of Portuguese food, Drink and Dining. Part II is titled; “The Best of Portuguese Cooking” with detailed recipes of the classic traditional dishes from the various regions of the country.

According to her website, Jean  has traveled to Portugal 89 times since her trip back in 1964. It’s evident that when you read this cook book you get the sense for her and passion, for the food and the country.  Jean’s last visit was two years ago when she was on assignment for “Gourmet Magazine” but she’s planning to return again soon. “My favorite “food cities” are Lisbon and Porto”, Jean said to me during her interview. “But I have a particular fondness for the food of Alentejo province because it’s so earthy and honest. There’s some mighty good eating in Evora, particularly a Fialho Restaurant”.  (photo below)

Jean’s talents go beyond her cooking genius. Her creative photography skills are evident in the photographs that she personally shoots for her award – winning cook books. The Food of Portugal has stunning photos of the food, land and the people of our beautiful country of Portugal. Here are two examples; Still Life in Evora, and Sopa de Pedra, Palmela, Portugal.

In the past Jean has won six best cookbook awards (Tastemaker, James Beard, IACP) and a member of the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame, Jean Anderson writes for Bon AppÉtit, Food & Wine, Cottage Living, Gourmet, More, and other national publications. Jean has written many cook books.  Her latest “Falling Off the Bone” is full of recipes for simple and nourishing comfort food with techniques for braises, pot roasts, soups, and stews for meats so tender that it falls off the bone!

When I asked Jean how Portuguese cuisine has influenced her cooking, she responded by saying;  “The Portuguese technique of “refogado” the technique of slowly sauteing onions and garlic in oil – preferably a good fruity olive oil, until translucent which intensifies the flavor, has been a major influence in my own cooking”.

As far her grasp of the Portuguese language Jean says; “I wish I could say that I am fluent in Portuguese but, alas, only speak what I call “kitchen, highway, and hotel” Portuguese”. But, I think those basic language skills which she mentioned is all anyone needs to enjoy the flavors of Portugal!


 The Food of Portugal Reviews:

“Jean Anderson is probably the food world’s greatest authority on Portuguese cooking, having made 54 trips there in the past 25 years. This fascinating and beautiful book (also photographed by the author) is the culmination of 10 years of research and testing. It is a valuable contribution to the realm of ethnic food.”
The Pleasures of Cooking
“Ms. Anderson has written many good cookbooks, but this one surpasses the rest. It is the result of a 25-year passion for the land, people, and food of Portugal. Such books are rare; buy this one and read it– even cook from it.”
Vogue Magazine
“Portugal, as much as Portuguese cooking, is the subject of this book, which is enlivened by veteran food writer Anderson’s familiarity with the country’s people, regions, rivers, and markets. The narrative is buoyed by historical notes, reminiscences, and tips on the best inns and restaurants in Portugal.”
Publishers Weekly
“Anderson breaks new ground here with a big book on a cuisine that is virtually unknown outside its own country. . . Portuguese food is not at all what most people think: ‘just like the Spanish’ . . . It deserves, and now it has, its own major cookbook.”
Library Journal


Visit Jean’s website to see her What’s New  posting with two recipes from the book. On her website, Jean says;  “Because I’ve yet to receive review copies of the cookbooks now being published for the 2012 Winter List, I’m breaking precedence here to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the publication of my Portuguese cookbook, which has never been out-of-print and continues to sell briskly. I’d also like for more people to sample what’s been called “Western Europe’s least known cuisine.” It’s unique, it’s gutsy, it’s delicious.

It was quite difficult to select which recipe to use in this article since there are so many great choices in the book, but with Jean’s approval, I’m giving you the recipe for Bolinhos de Bacalhau, undoubtedly Portugal’s most popular hors d’oeuvre!

The following recipe for Jean’s Bolinhos de Bacalau is taken from;

Anderson, Jean, The Food of Portugal. William Morrow Cookbooks, 1994. Print.
Here’s a recipe from her book which Jean personally gave me permission to use when I wrote this article a few years ago.

Bolinhos de Bacalhau

1/2 pound dried salt cod

2 medium Maine or Eastern potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and minced

1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced

4 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons finely minced parsley

1 large egg, separated

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable shortening or oil for deep-fat frying


Soak the salt cod in the refrigerator 24 hours in several changes of cold water. (Keep the bowl covered so that the whole refrigerator doesn’t smell of fish.) Drain the co, rinse, and drain well again. Place in a small saucepan, add enough cold water to cover, and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Adjust the heat so that the water barely trembles, cover and simmer the cod 15 to 20 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in enough water to cover about 20 minutes until soft, drain well , return pan to low heat, and shake well to dive off all excess moisture. When the cod is tender, drain well, then flake with a fork, removing any bones and bits of skin, mince fine and reserve.

Ina small heavy skillet set over moderate heat, saute the onion and garlic in the olive about 5 minutes until limp, mix in the parsley and set off the heat. Mash he potatoes, then mix in the reserved minced cod, onion mixture, egg yolk,  cayenne, and black pepper. Whisk the egg white to soft peaks, then fold into the cod mixture, cover and refrigerate until ready to shape the balls. (It’s best not to hold the mixture too long because it’s apt to adsorb moisture an soften too much to shape.)

Place the shortening in a deep -fat fryer, insert a deep-fat thermometer, and set over moderate high heat. Shape the cod mixture in 1-or 2 inch ball; then, as soon as the fat reaches 370 degrees F., fry in batches, about 4 large balls at a time or 6 to 8 small one, until golden brown -1 to 2 minutes. As the balls brown, lift with a slotted spoon to several thickness of paper toweling to drain then; then set uncovered in a very slow oven (250 F.) to keep warm while you fry the balance. Raise and lower the burner heat as needed to keep the temperature of the deep fat as near to 370 F. as possible. Serve the codfish balls piping hot, or , as they do in Portugal, serve at room temperature -they are especially good this way.



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