Chestnut season is here and normally that would mean running up and down Lisbon streets chasing for the cart with the perfectly roasted dozen. But we´re in a pandemic, and that means 1. I´m staying at home much more and 2. I´m cooking much more. So I got my hands on 2kg of chestnuts – one kilo fresh and one kilo frozen, and set myself to find some Pinterest inspiration. And I can´t quite believe I am saying this – but Pinterest disappointed. The horror, right? There seem to be super few chestnuts recipe besides the traditional roasted ones out there. And so I chose to experiment for myself. There´s a breakfast hash recipe @mihai.gateste keeps making and I always thought those tastes go well together. I decided to keep the egg out, not peel, nor cut the potatoes, add the chestnuts and bake it exclusively. That´s how this chestnut and chorizo casserole got born. I find it the perfect blend of flavours, it´s super easy to make – needs minimal prep – and is great for a dinner party – *wink* *wink* to the friends who are invited for my Halloween party in two weeks. So keep on reading to read more about this autumn-y #homemadeMonday.
This #homemadeMonday is somewhat special to me, as it marks 101 days without fast food. Not that I am a big fast food fan, but a girls´d gotta have a double cheeseburger every now and then, am I right? Well not for 101 days she hasn´t. 101 days ago I embarked on a journey of eating healthier, working out more and being more mindful about my body. They´ve gone by in a jiffy, I have to say. What hasn´t gone by though is my love for burgers. And so I thought the best way to celebrate this achievement was by giving the homemade burger a try. From scratch. Two reasons this burger is special: 1. I made the buns. Read that again – I MADE THE BUNS. I love cooking but man, do I suck at baking. And so I followed @anchacheregi´s burger buns recipe to the core and I am sooo happy with the result. I am adding it here, but the credit is all her´s. 2. I followed Chris Morocco´s tips for how to get the best umami flavour out of onion instead of bacon – and they´re sheer genius. So keep on reading to learn how to make the best homemade burger.
A recipe that might seem a bit too exotic and out of place amongst my prune and pumpkin full Instagram feed – this pineapple and cottage cheese breakfast toast does not feel very autumny, but it is de-li-ci-ous AND it doubles as a dessert. I confess I had to do quite a bit of research to understand what pairs well with pineapple, and I will definitely try some other combinations, but this one turned out quite nice so I´ll be doing it again soon enough. The recipe is one of the simplest I´ve ever posted, but then again we rarely have much time before breakfast so I am sure you´ll all appreciate the brevity implied. Here goes this week´s #homemadeMonday.
If you´re reading this, I bet your first question is: how did she come up with the young angst theme? Well, as always, it kind of came to me. I actually intended this month´s book club to be dedicated to Romanian authors. I started off with a classic – Romanul adolescentului miop and quickly finished it in the Frankfurt airport on my way to Romania. Once in Romania, I intended to read some more classics, but then life happened. I raided my best friend´s grandma´s library and took home no less than 29 novels that I cannot wait to read. And while there were plenty Romanian once, I actually decided to start reading Colette´s End of Chéri. Just when I thought I had broken the theme, I realised I had stumbled upon another. Both novels explored young angst – the first, of a teenager who won´t quite fit in at school, the second of a youngster that won´t find love and fit in with women his age. I loved both books and sped through them super fast, so I am a bit confused about how I didn´t get to read more books this month, but I am determined to catch up in the upcoming cold months. In the meantime, here´s what I thought about the two books I read in September.
I truly believe that no food, no matter how many Michelin stars on it, quite compares to our grandmas´ recipes. So when my best friend, Flavia, discovered her grandmother Nana´s plum dumpling recipe, written on a yellowing piece of paper in the back of her recipe book, we decided she just had to try it out and if we were going to be happy with the result, we´d share it with you. Flavia slightly tweaked the recipe and as such we can no longer call it Nana´s Plum Dumplings. It has become, even if she´s no longer here to taste it, Flavia and Nana´s Plum Dumplings recipe. And while we´re quite big in Romania on plum dumplings (my Instagram is full of them lately!) – these are no doubt, the best I have ever had. My friend Flavia is a master baker and runs a super colourful food account with her friend Sabina where she also posted the recipe in Romanian there, find them on Instagram at @povesti.aromate . So without further ado, this #homemadeMonday ´s #guestchefseries brings you the most phenomenal Romanian dessert of all.
Last night I ate some of the best pasta of my life. You can find them at one of Sibiu´s best restaurants – Max. Just order the tagliatelle paglia e fieno in salsa di tartufo e misto di funghi. The name alone makes me drool. I actually wanted to attempt making them at home today, for this #homemadeMonday, but truffles are really difficult to find in my hometown and as much as I loved the dish, I am not sure my teenage brother would have. So I asked him what pasta to make and he immediately told me about my dad´s amazing spaghetti with sausage and mushrooms. We´ve been eating Italian in our home for as long as I can remember since my dad often went on business to Italy. I think I remember this particular dish from when I was little but I wasn´t quite sure. So I bought some things, took some tomato sauce from our cellar and watched my dad in action. We cooked as a family and what came out were some super easy to make spaghetti to comfort your rainy days.
After July´s failed book club, I was determined to get back on track with my reading challenge and nail August. I figured July´s challenge failed so miserably because the books i chose were not light enough for the beach, which I found myself often on. So this time I chose some fiction – mostly science fiction. Soon on I also discovered a common denominator in the books´ themes – wickedness, the idea of evil. Despite the heaviness such a theme brings, the readings were light enough to devour about a book a week, so August brought me back on track towards this year´s reading challenge – which stands at 40 books (I read 27 so far). Here´s what I thought of these month´s books and which kept me awake at night.
This #homamadeMonday´s #guestchefseries brings you the most Romanian food ever – eggplant salad. The way my friend Adina learned it from her mom, who learned it from her own mom. And while usual eggplant salats are quite fatty due to the mayonnaise, this one is a healthier version with egg yolk instead. Essentially, the Romanian eggplant salad is a smokey spread that we love eating on bread all year long. It might not be the first thing you think of when picturing brunch, but I feel it´s a spread that is right up there with hummus, so I catalogued it as brunch food and made it part of my #brunchseries . It´s not my favourite dish, but its cultural value to Romania is so significant that I just had to share it with you. That, and it was tons of fun having Adina teach me and Sara how to make it.
My best friend and I were talking the other day about how much we started loving peaches lately. We´re both avid cooks and realised we´re trying to incorporate peaches in any dish that makes sense. So needless to say that I was super excited to see a recipe with brie and peaches in Chrissy Teigen´s Hungry for More recipe book. I switched it up a tiny bit (as I always do) to bring you this absolutely delicious #homemadeMonday recipe. Use it as picnic, brunch or breakfast inspiration and join us in our love affair with peaches.
I still remember the first time I made a couscous salad for André. As he took his first bites, I expectantly stared at him waiting for an “ooh” and an “aah”. When nothing came, I nervously asked: “So? Do you like it? Should I make it again?”. He thought about it for a second and replied “Uhm, sure, baby. It´s nice. You can make it again. And I can make the food we really love, like fajitas and lasagna”. Disappointing to say the least, considering how much I love experimenting in the kitchen. My couscous adventure didn´t stop there though. I kept experimenting until my couscous salad actually became André´s favourite meal. And so, the time has come for me to share it with you on this #homemadeMonday.