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.
I´d like to start off by apologising to any Spanish readers that might be seeing this and yelling “blasphemy!”. The Spanish gazpacho will forever remain my favourite, but after recently travelling to Alentejo and seeing the reinvented version of this cool summer soup, “gaspacho Alentejano” I really wanted to give it a try. I made a big enough portion to share with everyone reading this and will be eating this for the next week. And so, I´ve adjusted the measurements a bit and decided to make it this #homemadeMonday.
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.