6 Top Pick Recipes from Portuguese TV Chef José Avillez – There’s a Reason He Wins So Many Awards

You walk into a Portuguese bookstore and you inevitably see Chef Avillez' photo in the cookbook section. Photo: Peter Kachergis


Sampling his fare at Café Lisboa- one of the six restaurants in the Grupo Avillez family—it comes as no wonder that Chef Avillez was sought out to be a TV Chef in Portugal.  In conversations about his fame and popularity he implies he was just in the right place at the right time—but tasting his food you think there’s a bit more to the tale than that.  (Read the full story and review of Café LIsboa here.)


Book Cover "Cantinho do Avillez"


Walk into the historic bookstore in Porto and you see Chef José Avillez smiling at you from a book cover.  Walk a few steps and you’ll see his smiling face on yet another book. 


Book Cover - Combinações Improváveis


Walk into a historic bookstore in Lisbon and you’ll see the same thing!


Chef José Avillez has now sold many thousands of cookbooks in Portugal, a country with a population roughly the same as that in the state of Pennsylvania.  Now he has books in English too.


Here are six recipes the Chef has graciously agreed to share with Splash readers—three from his TV show and most recent book, Combinações Improváveis - (Improbabilicious), which seem to have children of all ages in mind; three others from his award winning restaurant, Cantinho do Avillez


Hazelnut Trio. Photo: Paulo Barata


Cantinho  do Avillez' HAZELNUT TRIO

(Serves 4)


Hazelnut foam :

300 g hazelnut praline

50 g semi-skimmed milk

250 g cream


200 g quality hazelnut ice cream

50 g peeled hazelnuts

Salt flower


To prepare the hazelnut foam, place all the ingredients in a recipient and mix with a hand blender until creamy.


Place in a siphon, add two cartridges and keep in the fridge. You should remove the siphon from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving.


Toast the hazelnuts in a 140 ºC oven until golden. Cool and reserve. Place a ball of hazelnut ice cream at the bottom of each glass. Put a little hazelnut foam on top of this. Top with freshly-grated hazelnut and salt flower.


Serve immediately.



Vitela de comer a colher. Photo: Paulo Barata



(Serves 4)


Veal cheeks :

800 g veal cheeks

100 g onions

100 g leeks




100 ml white wine

8 black peppercorns

4 bay leaves

2 sprigs of thyme

4 garlic cloves

Olive oil



Curry sauce :

70 g red pepper

2 Granny Smith apples

2 onions

3 garlic cloves

10 g Madras curry powder

7 g red curry paste

30 g lemongrass

200 ml coconut milk

200 ml milk

40 g fresh ginger

40 g coriander

Olive oil



Vegetables :

200 g carrot cut into strips

150 g courgette cut into strips

150 g red onion cut into strips

100 g mangetout

Olive oil



Red Onion and Granny Smith apple salad:

50 g red onion cut into strips

50 g Granny Smith apples, with peel, cut into strips

Coriander leaves

Olive oil

Lemon juice


Season the veal cheeks with black peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme, garlic and white wine. Put in the fridge and leave to marinate for 24 hours.


In a non-stick frying-pan with a little hot olive oil, sear the well-drained cheeks and set aside. Fry the onion and leek in a little olive oil. Add the veal cheeks and a little of the marinade. Cover and leave to stew over a low heat for 3 to 4 hours or until really tender.


To prepare the curry sauce, fry the onion, garlic, lemongrass, pepper, unpeeled apple broken into pieces and two or three pieces of ginger in a little olive oil. Add the Madras curry powder, red curry paste, milk and coconut milk. Stir well and cook uncovered. Once the vegetables and apple are cooked, remove the ginger and the lemongrass, add the coriander and blend. Adjust the seasoning and set aside.


In a non-stick frying-pan, heat a little olive oil and add the red onion. Allow to cook for about a minute and add the carrot and a pinch of salt. Cook a little more, stir well and add the courgette and another pinch of salt. Finally, add the mangetout. If necessary, add a little more olive oil and salt. Stir well.


Combine the red onion, the apple and coriander leaves in a bowl. Season with a drizzle of olive oil, a few drops of lemon juice and toss well.


To serve, put the vegetables on the plate with the veal cheeks on top. Pour the curry sauce over the cheeks and finish with a little of the salad. Serve with Thai rice.



Marinated Scallops. Photo: Paulo Barata



(Serves 4)



12 scallops

3 tablespoons of lime juice

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

4 tablespoons of olive oil

10 coriander leaves chopped into fine strands

1 diced red chili





800 g ripe avocados

15 g small plum tomatoes, finely chopped

15 g white onion, finely chopped

10 g red pepper, finely chopped

3 g lemon juice

2 g cumin

10 g fine-grain salt

5 ml Tabasco sauce


Bread crumble:

50 g Alentejano (rustic) bread without


Oil to fry


Prepare the avocados (peel and remove the stone). Mash the avocado with a fork in a bowl, add the lemon juice, tomato, onion and the red pepper. Check seasoning with cumin, fine-grain salt and Tabasco. Refrigerate.


Put the Alentejano (rustic) bread through a food processer, fry in hot oil, drain and reserve.


Clean the scallops. Cut the prepared scallops into slices and season with the lime juice, lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. Add the fine strands of coriander and red chili (diced and seeded). Refrigerate for 10 to 30 minutes.


Put some avocado cream in the centre of your serving plate and place the marinated scallops on top. Garnish with a little bread crumble and serve immediately.



Strawberry Ice Creams for Kids. Photo: Boa Onda


Combinações Improváveis' - (Improbabilicious)


(Serves 4)



300 g frozen strawberries, no stalk

2 unpeeled ripe bananas, frozen

80 g coconut milk

3 tablespoons honey



Cut the frozen bananas into pieces and carefully remove the peel.

Put the banana chunks, the strawberries, the coconut milk, the honey and some mint leaves in a blender. Grind at maximum speed until the mixture is soft and creamy. Fill ice cream moulds and place them in the freezer for at least 4 hours.

To unmould the ice creams, dip the moulds in hot water for two seconds and remove the ice cream carefully. Serve immediately.


Strawberry Gazpacho. Photo: BoaOnda


Combinações Improváveis' - (Improbabilicious)


(Serves 4)



For the strawberry gazpacho

300 g Roma tomato

45 g cucumber, peeled and deseeded

20 g red bell pepper, deseeded

30 g red onion

15 g of Alentejo bread breadcrumbs, without crust

200 g strawberries, without stalk

13.5 ml red wine vinegar or sherry

30 ml tomato juice

20 ml olive oil

2 large ice cubes

Squaw mint

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


For the finishing

1 burrata

Alentejo bread, squashed and fried

Squaw mint

Olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Cut the tomatoes into pieces and slice the cucumber, the red bell pepper and the red onion. Place them in a large bowl and add the bread, the vinegar, the tomato juice, and the strawberries. Season with freshly ground black pepper, sea salt and olive oil. Add a few leaves of squaw mint, the ice cubes, and mix thoroughly. If you wish to intensify the flavours, leave to marinate, up to 6 hours (in that case, don’t add the ice right away).

In a mixer, blend all the ingredients thoroughly.

Break the burrata into small pieces and season it with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Serve the gazpacho with small pieces of burrata and some squashed and fried Alentejo bread. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and a few leaves of squaw mint. Serve immediately.



Strawberries with Whipped Cream. Photo: Boa Onda

Combinações Improváveis' - (Improbabilicious)


(Serves 4)



20 strawberries

16 cinnamon biscuits

200 ml fresh whole cream

3 tablespoons sugar

2-3 tablespoons Port wine

Small basil leaves


Thoroughly wash the strawberries, dry them, remove the stalk and cut them in half, lengthwise.

In a hot non-stick frying pan, without adding any fat, caramelize the 20 strawberry halves with the flat side down. When they are caramelized, put them in a bowl and add the remaining 20 strawberry halves (still fresh).

With a knife, chop the cinnamon biscuits roughly and set aside.

Whip the cream, adding the sugar little by little. Add the Port wine and whip the cream until you get the consistency of a chantilly cream.

In a serving bowl, make a first layer of whipped cream, then add another one made of chopped biscuits, then one of strawberries and a final one of baby basil leaves. Repeat this two more times. Finish off with a bit of chopped biscuits and small basil leaves.


***BONUS RECIPE -- Brás Style Cod with “Exploding” Olives can be found at the conclusion of our review of Chef Avillez’ Café Lisboa here.


Chef Avillez books can be purchased at each one of his restaurants: Belcanto, Mini Bar, Cantinho do Avillez  (Lisbon and Oporto), Café Lisboa, Pizzaria Lisboa and soon at Bairro do Avillez.   Also, you will find them in Portugal's book stores.  For more information about chef Avillez's books, visit the Grupo Avillez web page about his books.  


Two of Chef Avillez’ restaurants were recently selected by a leading concierge in Lisbon as top pick restaurants to try when you tour Portugal.   Read the full story about “Lisbons Top Pick Restaurants…” here.



Want to do your own review? 


If you can get to New York City on October 15, 2016 easier than you can get to Portugal you can sample Chef Avillez food at the 2016 Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival.






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