7 February 2009

Take a Culinary Tour Around the World with Portuguese Bolo de Queijos (Savory Cheese Loaf)

Portuguese Bolo

Joan of Foodalogue, is helping to promote hunger awareness through a new event, A Culinary Tour Around the World. Joan will be travelling virtually wherever her imagination takes us until April through food, sights, and cultural diversity. Why not join Joan on her culinary tour around the world!!!!! How about meeting her in any one of her itinerary stops and presenting your interpretation of the cuisine from that destination. Who wouldn't enjoy taking a journey around the world even if it is from the comfort of your favourite armchair??

Joans fifth stop on your culinary adventure is Portugal!!!!

Portugal is an amazing country!!! I was amazed at the diversity of the landscapes, the history and beauty of the people in this very small, but very abundant country. Joan...as soon as I catch my breath after this whirlwind week I will be downloading pictures. Portugal has a very authentic atmosphere where I was very hard pressed to find a tourist trap. The people are genuine, helpful and friendly. The rolling hills of grapevines, the ancient villages with their cobblestone streets, shepherds tending their flocks against a backdrop of castles and wildflowers have become permanent memories.

I feel that there is so much more to discover so I am staying on to discover the country that discovered two-thirds of the world " once upon a time". Portugal was once the most powerful and the wealthiest country in the world. Two thirds of the world were discovered by the explorers and sailors of Portugal, and the Portuguese founded the first modern empire. Despite its turbulent past Portugal is a stable country. After a peaceful military coup in 1974 Portugal saw the start of a rebirth. With the oldest national boundaries in Europe, this country is both ancient and newborn.

Portuguese cuisine is often confused with neighbouring Spanish cuisine however it is actually quite distinct due to its cultural isolation and historical background. With such a large coastline, it should not come as a surprise that the sea has always been one of the main sources of food. The quality of the seafood and freshly caught grilled fish is beyond compare!!! I tried one of the mainstays of the cuisine "bacalhau" which is dried and salted cod. In the days of the explorers Portuguese cod was caught close to Canadian waters off the coast of Newfoundland. I prefer fresh fish but when in Portugal "do as the Portuguese do"!! The Portugese wines are of exceptional quality as well. The Port and Madeira wines are already world famous, whilst the table wines are one of the best kept secrets in Portugal.

Portugal was by far one of my best European experiences. Traditional Portuguese recipes combine a blend of flavors and techniques of many other cultures dating back centuries. The ingredients common to other Mediterranean countries are also essential to Portuguese cooking including olive oil, onions, bay leaves, garlic, fresh coriander, paprika, chili peppers and red sweet peppers. However, the way in which the ingredients are used together makes Portuguese fare unique.

To immerse myself in the culture and make new friends instantly I once again chose to spend a week with a group at Active Gourmet Holidays. Located just one hour from the Spanish border and 90 minutes from Lisbon, lies the romantic Refúgio da Vila Cooking School. I spent my week indulging in the delicious Mediterranean cuisine of Portugal while learning hands-on cooking techniques using the local flavors and herbs of the Alentejo. Because life is so unhurried here, I savored the beauty of this unspoiled region. The specially designed kitchen, with a fireplace for baking Portuguese breads and curing sausages, was an ideal atmosphere for cooking instruction. My exquisitely furnished room only complemented this spectacular escape where I learned to love this hidden treasure of a country and its kind and friendly people.

They also have a course through the same company in Lousada, Portugal called Cooking with Port Wine in Portugal . Here you will learn about the famous Port wines as well as using them in your cooking lessons. Stay in gorgeous accommodations!!!The Manor House dates back XIV century and has remained in the same family since then. It is one of the few architectural examples that have resisted in the region. and enjoy excursions where you will be immersed in this wonderful country, visiting renowned points of interest and getting a true feel for this secret of a country.

My stay in Portugal was absolutely perfect! I honestly can't think of one thing that I would have changed... everything was so well done! The accomodations were beautiful, comfortable and conveniently located both in Lisbon and in Portel. The food and wine were spectacular. The cooking instruction was perfect, relaxed in an intimate setting and at a level that was easy to replicate at home. Sofia and Angela were wonderful, they made sure everything was taken care of and they allowed me to experience Portugal through the excursions, the cooking, and just getting to know them in a way that I couldn't have done on another trip. It is one of the best vacations I've ever experienced.Other cooking holidays would be available through Holiday on the Menu in Portugals heartland.

Joan has linked her virtual journey with our Social Network http://bloggeraidmarketing.ning.com/. Hopefully this trip to Portugal has increased your hunger and thirst for knowledge of a different culture you may never have the good fortune to know. It makes us realize how lucky we are and perhaps are motivated to participate in the fight against hunger via BloggerAid-Changing the Face if Famineor the World Food Programme .

I will be hanging out in Portugal with Paulo and L'il Burnt Toast for the next little while. I have had such a perfect time getting to know everyone. I will meet up with you in Romania on February 16th.

For my culinary journey into the cuisine of Portugal I chose a Savory Cheese Loaf from Elvira Andre who is a prolific food blogger in Portugal and featured also at Leites Culinaria. I served it with fruit and cheeses such as the marinated cheese (recipe below)but it would also make a nice accompaniment to other delicacies such as Camarão com Piri-Piri (Grilled Shrimp with Hot Sauce) or Pastéis de Bacalhau (Codfish Fritters) or Portuguese Fisherman's Stew .Gostos nao se discutem!!!!

"This dense, cakey bread is a favorite of Elvira André. Perfect for picnics or a lunch, it also pairs well with a freshly tossed salad or a bowl of light soup. The recipe calls for a firm, yellow Cheddar-like cheese called São Jorge, which comes from the Azorean island of the same name, and for presunto, a dry-cured ham, similar to prosciutto. Spanish Manchego and Italian prosciutto can, respectively, be substituted, though we suggest them reluctantly. We're rather bullish on the Portuguese originals."

**Bolo de Queijos(Savory Cheese Loaf)**

3 large eggs
1 tablespoons milk, more if needed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced herbs, such as chives, parsley, cilantro, or oregano
Black pepper, to taste
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
4 ounces Queijo São Jorge, Manchego, or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated on the medium holes of a box grater
4 ounces creamy, mild feta cheese, or other fresh cheese, drained and crumbled into 1/2-inch pieces
One 1/8-inch-thickslice (1 ounce) presunto or prosciutto, cubed

Preheat the oven to 350°C (180ºC). Line a 4-by-8-inch rectangular loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs on medium until thick and lemon yellow, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the milk, olive oil, herbs, and pepper and mix until combined.

In a small bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together. Add the Queijo São Jorge and feta and toss to coat. Fold the flour-and-cheese mixture into the egg mixture until no traces of flour can be seen. Add a bit more milk if the dough appears dry. Fold in the presunto.

Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a rack and let cool in the pan until just warm to the touch before turning out. Serve warm or at room temperature.

**Maria Moreira's Garlic-and-Herd-Marinated Fresh Portuguese Cheese**

Since the cheese is quite perishable, it is best eaten in this recipe after 1 or 2 weeks at the most in the refrigerator.

1 (12-ounce) round fresh Portuguese cheese
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil leaves
Olive oil (2 to 3 cups or more)

Place the cheese in a cheesecloth-lined strainer over a bowl. Drape the cheesecloth over the cheese (to protect it) and place in the refrigerator. Let the cheese drain overnight -- about 12 hours.

The next day, cut the cheese into bite-sized cubes. Layer them in a clean jar with a few pinches of salt, the garlic, red pepper flakes, and basil. Pour enough olive oil into the jar to completely cover the cheese. Tighten the lid and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

To serve, let the oil come to room temperature. Remove the cheese and serve as desired.

Serves 4 to 6

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. That bread looks really good! A great recipe...



  2. Val, what an interesting and informative post! Loved the diary aspect of Dear Joan... P.S. Also love pao de queijo though I've never made it. Thanks so much for continuing the journey with me.

  3. Val this is definitely something I gotta try.

  4. Portugal is one of those places I've always wanted to go, but never actually gotten to.

  5. I always wanted to go to Portugal and now I want to go even more. What a great post Val.

  6. Good post Val and as always great looking bread.

  7. Portugal is definitely one of those places where I'm dying to travel. Lovely recipes, too!

  8. my real good Brazilian friend recently introduced me to a cheese bread she grew up eating. it's sooo good! Obviously, this reminds me of it! Nice recipe and i like the Dear Joan letters.

  9. I love cheese, so I was instantly hooked! The bread sounds gorgeous too! But, more than that, I now want to go to Portugal on holiday. My parents went there last year and have been trying to persuade me ever since.

  10. This is a beautiful picture and the recipe sounds like it would be very good. Nice to see you in Portugal;)

  11. Cheese in bread - what could possibly go wrong?? And I have jsut decided to put a culinary themed holiday on my birthday wishlist :)

  12. Cheese in bread - what more could you want? Sounds delicious, and now you make me want to go on a cooking holiday!

  13. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.




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