The start of a new month means that I'm cooking from a new book for Cookbook Countdown, a cooking event organized by Emily and Joyce of Emily's Cooking Foray and Kitchen Flavours respectively and a great way to dust off those underused or ignored cookbooks.
I chose The New Portuguese Table by David Leite of Leite's Culinaria. As much a travelogue as it is a cookbook - I dare anyone to view those gorgeous photos and not immediately want to plan a trip there - it makes for a great read. David explains that he wasn't particularly enamoured with Portuguese food as a child in America and didn't develop an appreciation for the cuisine until much later in life. This compilation of recipes for traditional dishes, modern food with its foundation in the traditional and some of his family favourites is a result of his eventual "journey of discovery". I'm quite unfamiliar with Portuguese cuisine, so cooking from this book will be a journey of discovery for me as well.
I started with a warming soup, Sopa de Abóbora com Pevides Picantes. Since the book is written for a North American audience, the ingredients are based on what's readily available here. The author explains that our butternut squash is the best substitute for Portuguese pumpkin.
I've made butternut squash soups before but never this easy or with such incredible flavour. Key to this was roasting all of the vegetables first. Puréed with stock, strained, heated and served, the soup was a velvety smooth bowl of savoury-sweet goodness with a splash of vinegar adding a tangy lift.
Good though it was, the author wasn't quite finished with it. David credits his father for the garnish of Spicy Pumpkin Seeds, a recipe in the "Little Bites" chapter. Smoky, salty and just a little bit sweet with a kick of heat from some cayenne, I could have eaten these by the handful. Actually, I did, but stopped myself in time to garnish the soup! They brought extra flavour and texture to an already delicious dish.
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.