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For the Kitchen Bookshelf : Cookbooks. Big books, little books, showy cocktail table books . . . all arrive in time for holiday shopping each year. The Times' Food staff took a look at some of this year's offerings, many of which will make excellent gift choices for last-minute shoppers. Here's a rundown on some we found interesting.

December 21, 1986|MINNIE BERNARDINO

The Food of Portugal by Jean Anderson (William Morrow: $24.95, 304 pp., illustrated).

The book promises interesting reading about a cuisine that's supposedly "lusty," as Jean Anderson puts it, yet relatively unknown to Americans. The author first traveled to Portugal in the early 1960s and has since made more than 50 return trips, poking about country kitchens, lifting lids of cooking pots and prowling markets. The 37 color photographs of food, people and places are quite impressive, taken by the author, a free-lance photojournalist.

Anderson's style of thoroughness in recipes from her past cookbooks is carried through in this new book. To help the reader understand various regional specialties, she provides a chapter titled "The Language of Portuguese Food, Drink and Dining." The section is an alphabetical listing of local ingredients, popular types of food as well as Portuguese restaurants and hotels. Included in this section are brief discussions of Portuguese specialties, including dry soups that are spicy and bread-thickened; richly aromatic coffees; egg sweets; home-cured hams and sausages; fish and shellfish; herbs; olive oils; beers and bottled waters, and superior Portuguese wines.

A selection of the best 165 Portuguese recipes highlight the book. A few worth mentioning include Portuguese stone soup of beans, vegetables, macaroni, ham and pepperoni; pork dishes with wine and garlic; roast stuffed chicken made in the old Portuguese manner with pork and hard-cooked egg stuffing, and crab in a cart, a crab salad served in blue crab shells. Not to miss are the sinfully rich egg and flan desserts, puddings and fruit cake with sweet Madeira.

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