Vila Joya MenuLavish Lunch
While many gobble down a deli sandwich during their lunch break, the Portuguese enjoy a two-hour feast. The meal, which usually features regional favorites like bacalhau, vegetable soup and rice pudding, is as much about the food as it is about relaxing. Sitting down to an elaborate dinner is always a treat, but Cooling Your Jets is taking a midday break with this banquet inspired by Portugal’s only two-star Michelin restaurant, Vila Joya.
Cod is Portugal’s national fish and while it’s only on Vila Joya’s dinner menu, it’s always welcome at any lunch table. Bacalhau is the salted version and often used in stew, confit and fritters.
Makes about 24 fritters
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Soak dried cod in cold water for 24 hours, changing the water several times to help remove a majority of the salt. Once soaking is complete, rinse the cod well and put in a large stock pot. Add milk, garlic and bay leaves and enough water to cover the cod by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until cod is tender and flaky. Drain the cod and rinse again. Be sure to squeeze out any excess water from the cod. Place in a large mixing bowl and flake the fish with a fork, checking for pieces of skin and bone. In a separate pot, cover the potatoes with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, or until very tender. Drain, peel and mash or pass through a ricer. Add the cod to the potatoes along with onion, garlic, parsley and eggs. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until it’s stiff. If it appears to dry add 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk. Season with a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.
Shape the cod into golf ball-sized rounds. Heat about 1 inch of canola oil in a deep skillet to 370 degrees. Add three of the fritters to the oil and cook until browned all over. Drain on paper towel. Repeat with the remaining fritters. Serve hot or at room temperature with a pile of lemon wedges.
Soup finds its way onto restaurant and household menus for both lunch and dinner. While potatoes are one of the most popular ingredients for soups, Vila Joya’s acclaimed chef, Dieter Koschina, uses celery for his course.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes (chilling time: 20 minutes)
In a large pot, add olive oil over medium heat and cook leeks, celery and onion until softened, about 12 minutes. Add potato, water and salt and simmer, covered, until celery and potatoes are very tender. Using a blender, puree in small batches until smooth. Pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Place bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice and cold water to cool. Stir occasionally until cold. Season with salt. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche and chives.
With everything from octopus to sardines swimming near Portugal’s shores, it’s not shocking that the fishing industry is huge and, in turn, creates many culinary opportunities to enjoy the Atlantic’s bounty.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Heat grill to medium-high. Brush fish with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill until just opaque in center, about 5 minutes per side.
For barley: In a sauce pan bring barley,water, 1 teaspoon butter and a dash of salt to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently until barley is plump and the water has been absorbed, 20-25 minutes. Turn off heat and keep covered for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in remaining butter. Season to taste then gently fold in the fava beans. Serve fish and barley with lemon wedges.
Most Portuguese desserts feature eggy custards, but Vila Joya goes off course with a cottage cheese soufflé. Our version offers a sweeter fromage topped with muddled cherries.
Prep time: 15 minutes (5 minutes for cherries)
Cook time: 15 minutes (inactive time for cherries: 1 hour)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Whisk the ricotta and sour cream until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl mix half the sugar and the cornstarch and then whisk into the cheese mixture. Whisk in zest and egg yolks.
In a separate bowl combine the egg whites and a pink of salt and whisk until very soft peaks form. Add the remaining sugar a little at a time and continue whisking until peaks hold their shape. Fold cheese mixture into egg whites. Fill ramekins leaving1/4-inch from the top. Place ramekins in a deep roasting pan and fill the bottom of the pan with about ½ inch of hot water. Bake until soufflés are risen and golden, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately with a spoonful of muddled cherries.
For cherries: Place cherries and sugar in a large bowl and smash with a muddler or potato masher until juices are released. Add hot water. Let stand for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Chill in refrigerator for about 30 minutes before serving.