Coming from a country with winters as cold as Romania, I find soups an incremental part of one´s nutrition. In fact, we would rarely not have a soup before the main dish in my house. That changed slightly as I moved away, but I still find soups super comforting. Nowadays, in Portugal we´ve been eating a lot of carrots in our house – I have a hunch it´s because carrots are Yoshi´s favourite healthy snacks. Add almonds and maybe some chilli peppers to the equation and you have yourself a perfect creamy carrot soup for these cold winter days. So here goes this #homemadeMonday – a simple spicy carrot almond soup for cold winter days.
Gnocchi – my love and the star of this #homemadeMonday recipe. I discovered gnocchi way too late in life and am making up for it by eating them regularly and twisting and turning them into a million different recipes. In today´s recipe they´re creamy, come with mushrooms and sundried tomatoes and are seasoned with nothing else but salt and pepper. Not exactly revolutionary, I know, especially since this does not teach you how to make the gnocchi themselves, but they are to-die-for. Read along for the full recipe.
Looking back at 2020 is quite a chore in itself – a year filled with unknown, ambiguity and anxiety, in which the expectations were as low as just surviving it. When the pandemic hit, I, like many others, set some goals for myself and remarkably enough, I actually met them – every single one of them, indeed. I divided them in a couple of categories: emotional goals (closely related to my family and friends), intellectual ones (related to my career, the blog and my self development), financial ones (related to my savings and debts) and physical ones (related to my eating and working out habits). My reading goal falls in the intellectual realm and is a thing that I have been setting for myself every year for the last couple of years, if not decade. This year I aimed to read 40 books – a goal I achieved a couple of days before 2020 ended, but what made this year special is the fact that all year long I stuck to monthly themes and every month I came to the blog with an article reviewing what I had read. This was most fun and will culminate into this article showcasing my absolute favourite books of 2020. As for next year, I plan to set a more ambitious goal as well as have some goals related to reading both classics but also contemporary writers more frequently, as well as poetry and plays. And now, let´s look back on the books I most loved during this most hated year and the reviews I wrote upon finishing them.
It´s been almost nine years, but I still vividly remember the first club sandwich I ever ate. It was on the Spanish coast, on a clod but sunny winter day and it was monstrous. I felt the size of it defied the laws of gravity and that at the same time it was too much of a work an art to be eaten. I did, however eat it, and loved the combinations of flavours. I still order it every now and then again but somehow never chose to make it at home. Until this #homemadeMonday – because I think we all need a little bit of break from fancy holiday dishes.
How fitting is it that this year´s last blog post is a book club – one of the things that brought me most joy in a most erratic 2020? This post is also the 50th post on this version of the blog (I am still missing about 100 posts that I haven´t transcribed from the last version of the blog but I will be tackling that throughout 2021.). And to wrap up this insane year, what better topic than magical universes? I read three books this month, hereby concluding my 40 book in 2020 reading challenge. I´m thinking of setting an ambitious goal of 50 books to read next year and to focus more on plays and poetry while also balancing the classics with new contemporary authors. 2021 will hopefully be yet another year of learning and growth and I cannot wait to take you along this reading journey through next year´s monthly book clubs!
This #homemadeMonday should come just in time for you to get inspired for a NYE dessert. I´ve been holding off on publishing André´s carrot cake recipe for over a year – a year of iterations and testing, and gaining weight slice by slice. But it´s now finally here, for this #guestchefseries and it will blow your socks off. To quote Nonna “I absolutely adored it, it is perhaps the best cake I have ever eaten”. So put on your aprons, and let´s cook the best cake ever to end what was to many, the crappiest year ever.
Just in time for Christmas – this #homemadeMonday brings you the perfect Christmas dinner recipe, especially if you´re having just a small get-together, or even just having dinner alone or with a partner. This drunken pear risotto is a consequence of a dish I once ate at a restaurant but couldn´t find anywhere on the internet. Drunken pears (as the Portuguese call them) are pears poached in red wine and they make for a terrific dessert. But guess what – they make for an even more delicious risotto topping, and man, does it look fancy! The drunken pear recipe was taken from the Pingo Doce site and translated, while the risotto and the general combination is my invention. I labelled this dish as Portuguese simply because drunken pears are such a thing here, but keep in mind you will probably not find this in Portuguese restaurants – just at my house.
Years ago, my friend Will shared with me a cookie recipe that, coming Christmas, I have done over and over again (just last week I did three rounds of it). Will got this recipe from Carol, one of his friends´ mom and I think I would kiss her if I ever met her. As someone that sucks at baking sweets, I am just so grateful that this recipe has few ingredients, is ready in 10 minutes and there´s pretty much nothing (except for overbaking) that you can do to mess it up. My secret add-on? Sea salt. I use a pinch of chunky sea salt and every single cookie that retains a grain of salt has this delicious salt – chocolate flavour that will knock your socks off. Oh and did I mention these cookies are the perfect Christmas present? #biscuChallenge accepted!
I regularly find myself drawn to books written by great women – just today I started a book just on magnificent women´s work habits. And so, November has been a month where I immersed myself into three memoirs of some of my biggest contemporary role models – Maya Angelou, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Michelle Obama. Their books, all different and wonderful, have definitely inspired me through a period that hasn´t been exactly easy to navigate. I think this November´s #monthlybookclub might as such be the first book club where I rated all books I read a 5/5 without batting an eye. Here´s what I thought about each of them.
For someone that doesn´t bake, or prepare many sweets herself, it might seem like I chose a quite complicate one this time. The word ganache alone makes it sound like I´m aspiring to be the next Julia Child. But fear not, this recipe is fairly easy to nail, even for the most inexperienced bakers out there (possibly because it does not involve baking). I first learned about it from my friend Violeta (yes, the same Violeta with the udon noodle soup) and I thought that with the holidays coming up, you might love it as much as I did. So, prepare for the most decadent #homemadeMonday yet, an Oreo base, chocolate ganache and raspberry tart. With a delicious Lindt chocolate addendum.