Portuguese cuisine is characterised by rich, filling and full-flavored dishes and is a prime example of a Mediterranean diet. The influence of Portugal's former colonial possessions is clear, especially in the wide variety of spices used. These include piri piri (small, fiery chili peppers), as well as cinnamon, vanilla and saffron.
There are also Arab and Moorish influences, especially in the south of the country. Olive oil is one of the bases of Portuguese cuisine both for cooking and flavouring meals. Garlic is widely used, as are herbs such as coriander and parsley.
This recipe for a favorite Portugese treat, Raivas, uses cinnamon as its main flavoring. They are a specialty of the Beira Litoral region of Portugal.
Raivas (Cinnamon Butter Cookies)
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon (more to taste if desired)
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbs sweet, unsalted butter
3 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cream the flour and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the flour and cinnamon together. Beat the eggs into the butter sugar mixture. Add the flour to the butter mixture gradually, mixing well after each addition.
Turn dough onto a floured surface, and knead once or twice until smooth. Do not over handle this dough, or it will be tough. Form dough into a log and divide into 6 equal pieces. Divide each of these into four pieces -- one piece for each cookie.
Line baking sheets with parchment or silpats. Roll each piece of cookie dough into a long thin snake on the floured surface. Join it into a circle, and set it on the covered cookie sheet. Then push the sides of the circle into the middle, making squiggly shapes.
Bake six to a sheet, for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack.
Yield: 24 cookies
Recipe adapted from Maria deLourdes Modesto's Cozinha Tradicional Portuguesa, c Editorial Verbo, Lisboa/Sao Paulo, 1982