If you´re not Portuguese you might not know this, but tempura was actually born in Portugal. The Portuguese call it “peixinhos da horta” aka little fish from the garden/farm and brought it to Japan in the 16th century. There it evolved into what they today call tempura. At its origins, peixinhos da horta remains a beloved dish, usually made from deep fried green beans in a flour and egg batter. It´s one of my favourite finger foods to add to a brunch as it´s super easy to make and goes heavenly with any sauce you might have at hand. I felt it appropriate to post as this week´s #homemadeMonday as a selected dish for the #brunchseries. Here´s how I make it.
July has been the live testimony that while other people read a whole library during summer, I am an utter failure at it. I have not finished one single book which I started in July and I could kick myself for it. After months of confinement, July has finally been a super sunny month of friends´ visits and even a small getaway to Évora . Unfortunately for the monthly book club, that meant little time for books. In all fairness, I do prefer reading when it´s dark, rainy or cold outside, so my failure is somewhat justified. As such, this month´s book club will be a bit different and it won´t have neither ratings, nor proper reviews (except for Pessoa´s Forever Someone Else with I am on the last pages of and as such feel comfortable reviewing it). The theme of the book club has been Portuguese classics and here are the books I´ve wanted to read and partially started, and what I thought of them or why I chose them.
For Choice of Magic´s second chef series edition, I´m bringing you someone really special. Nonna has been my foster grandma for over two years and she is the single most remarkable woman I´ve ever met. Thins tiny 96 year old fairy grandmother lives in a castle, speaks six languages, has been a WWII spy and is one of my best friends. Every Sunday morning for the past two years Nonna and I have sat down in her room or her garden, having tea and speaking about everything. She´s taught me Renaissance art, I´ve taught her about escape rooms, and we have never run out of subjects. Recently I asked her about the dinner parties she used to throw in her youth (nowadays it´s mostly lunch parties) and I tried to imagine what they would look like in that palace. That´s when she gave me her secret beetroot starter recipe. It´s as simple as it gets, and yet I couldn´t find anything similar to it on the whole wide web. With her permission, I decided to share it with you for this #homemadeMonday.
Three cancelled trips later, along with the painful realisation that COVID-19 is here to stay, I (like many others who are privileged enough to even be able to travel during these times) had to rethink the idea of travel for the near to distant future. Out the window with visiting Turkey with my mom, Spain with my best friend or Madeira with my boyfriend, and hello continental Portugal with all it has to offer. And so, after quite a bit of research, this summer´s first trip turned out to be a girls´ trip to Évora, an ancient city about 1,5h from Lisbon. This post is not an ode to Évora though, but a chronicle of how travelling felt like to me during a pandemic.
Upon last week´s dinner vs breakfast poll, I realised that this community is really big on breakfast! I personally prefer big dinners or at most, brunches, but for this #homemadeMonday I forced myself to come up with a breakfast recipe that would make even me get out of the bed earlier so I can enjoy it on the balcony.
I am going to go ahead and state the obvious: travelling has taken quite a turn this year. For the ones privileged enough to travel at all, it´s mostly meant shorter and more local getaways. It´s meant rediscovering their areas, or at most their countries, and while I understand some feel constrained by this, I think (re)discovering one´s roots is quite magical. So this pandemic´s first travel article had to be about a place very dear to me, the little coquette town of Cascais – one of the first places I ever discovered in Portugal.
From the series of “things we cannot do because of COVID-19” comes: going to the cinema. I don´t know about you but I miss going to the cinema soooo much! The getting dressed up, the choosing the movie, the nachos with cheese sauce. But since humans are creatures of habit, just like home-thrown brunches, I´ve adapted and have thrown now some pretty nice movie nights. As such, I´ve been perfecting a homemade flavoured popcorn recipe that I thought of sharing with you today for #homemadeMonday. Even if, as per Murphy´s Law, I kind of burned this batch. Because if this year has taught us anything, it´s that things rarely work out the way we want them.
Hummus is one of those magical dishes that I crave regularly and always make enough of so I can eat it for days. I can´t quite remember who taught me how to make it but i remember when I first made it for my parents. My mom was quite a fan already, but my dad was shocked at how delicious it was. He immediately asked my mom why she doesn´t make such dishes. My mom rolled her eyes as hard as she could while saying “I make it regularly and you always say you don´t want to try it.”
And since by itself it might seem too bland for some of you, this #homemadeMonday I made hummus toast with three easy toppings. To spice up your life.
This month´s book club theme kind of unveiled to me only towards the end of the month, when I started drawing a line through the books I had read. I intended them to be books by strong women, about strong women. As I was finishing the fifth book of the month, it dawned on me though, that I had somehow chosen books about strong women and their journeys. The journeys transcend geographical borders as well as emotional phases of these women´s lives. They are journeys of self-discovery, a process that sometimes goes unnoticed by our heroines, but never seizes. A couple of the books are extraordinary, a couple are really good and one is just plain bad. There´s fiction and non- fiction, there are American writers and a Turkish one, there are white writers and a black one. I tried to keep it diverse, in an effort of educating myself. I hope you enjoy it and if you read any of these books, I would love to hear your thoughts on them in the comment section.
This #homemadeMonday is an ultra special one as it kicks off a series of recipes from magical guest chefs. Because the food section of this blog seeks to bring you magical dishes, and not just recipes I took from Pinterest, I decided I´ll be inviting a friend/family member to cook us a a delicious dish once a month. This way you´ll get dishes and stories from people with different and fascinating backstories. And I get yummy food and fun dinner parties! Because to me, food is magic. And it´s not nearly half as fun if you cook and eat alone.
The first of its kind guest chef is my friend Ana Paula. I met Ana Paula while surfing on Portuguese beaches, and she became one of my dearest friends since. Ana is Mexican – which incidentally is also one of my favourite cuisines. She cooked these shrimp tacos for me while telling me stories of Mexican beaches and hot summer nights, and they were seriously some of the best things I´ve eaten in a while. It is not a recipe she connects to home cooking, but rather with days spent with friends on the magical Acapulco beach. And to be honest, that sounds simply dreamy to me, as the closest I´ve gotten to Acapulco is listening to this classic. Read on to make your own shrimp tacos!