February is Black History Month in the US and Canada and so I chose for this month´s #bookclub three colourful books by Black and coloured authors, telling stories of identity, heritage, belonging and one´s roots. Noah´s autobiography follows his South African upbringing as a coloured person, while Wayétu Moore´s fictional story accompanies three Africans reuniting from different parts of the world in what will one day be Liberia. Bernardine Evaristo traces the story of twelve black women in Britain. And despite two out of three being fiction writings, I found all three books highly educational, touching in their own way and essential to anyone seeking to become an ally and educate themselves on this matter.
PS: I am still finishing a fourth book of this month, but since it will be the topic for this Sunday´s digital book club conversation, I am not adding it here, and instead reserving it for a future article perhaps.
I know what you must be thinking – not another banana bread, hasn´t this pandemic had enough of them? I realise I´m a bit late to the game and you might not want to read yet another banana bread recipe, but I absolutely swear by my friend Hollie´s being the best one you´ll every try. Even Nonna, my adoptive grandma, who does not like bananas at all, absolutely loved it. It has just the right intensity of banana flavour and the perfect degree of softness and moisture. So let this #guestchefseries guide you through the perfect banana bread recipe.
Living in Portugal with easy access to great seafood really makes me realise I have no excuse for not adding more seafood recipes on here. The truth is, I let the Portuguese boyfriend do most of the seafood (and red meat, and fish) cooking and so I don´t always put those recipes on here. So this time I decide to at least photograph and film him as he made a delicious seafood pasta recipe for this week´s #homemadeMonday.
I suspect curry is one of my top 10 favourite dishes. And while I´ve never actually followed an official recipe, I believe I make a pretty mean one. You´ll quite possibly identify some missing or extra ingredients, but I personally love the taste and find my way to be the easiest way to make a delicious curry with pretty much anything you have at hand. This time, I had some cauliflower, shiitake mushrooms and a zucchini. Add to that a can of chickpeas that I always have in the house, some dehydrated figs and cashews and you´ve got yourself a kick-ass curry. But really, the point is you can put anything you like in there – sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, let your imagination run wild. So keep reading through this #homemadeMonday and let it inspire you to improvise your own curry.
I admit that the whole concept of “winter salads” sounds a bit strange, especially coming from someone who was brought up in a place where winters are so cold, you basically have to have gravy three times a day to survive them. But upon moving to Portugal and experiencing milder winters, I admit to have become more open to the idea of more salads and less gravy. On top of that, I feel that this year my whole Instagram has been bombarded with beautiful winterish salads. And so I went on a quest to create my own for this #homemadeMonday.
I can imagine what you´re thinking upon reading that title – Choice of Magic has gone avantgarde and this month´s topic makes no sense. Well there´s little I can say to defend myself. January started off with two murder stories – Robert Galbraith´s Troubled Blood and Richard Osman´s Thursday Murder Club. I loooooved both of them, as I love pretty much any good crime novel, and I would have continued with the theme, if only I had had more crime novels around the house. But I did not, so I went for a book on marriage. My boyfriend should be concerned, I know. Marriageology is a book I read a couple of years back and reread now because I just love the author´s sense of humour so much, and the content of the book will never seize to be useful. As I am writing this I realise how it´s going to sound, but next I went for the heartbreaking classic Sense and Sensibility. I reread Austen every couple of years and this one I read in 2016 for the last time, but since my memory is just awful, it was wonderful to reread it now. And finally, I ended the month with some poetry (so far keeping to my resolution of reading more poetry and classics this year) and I read a beautiful bilingual edition of Pessoa´s TaBaCaRia. Here´s what I thought of them all.
You know all the jokes they make about mother in laws. Well they might be partially true, but all I can say of mine is that she is lovely and kind of goofy, and boy, can she cook! She always improvises, always changes something about perfect recipes, sometimes accidentally ruining the meal (and what a tragedy it is when said meal is the new year´s eve meal!), but she also has some signature dishes which just melt in your mouth – one of them, this pumpkin risotto. Now I´ve been cooking risottos for a long time, but this one is indeed something special. For once, the rice is only added towards the end and does not get “drowned” in wine, as per usual. This results in a super creamy and cheesy risotto, with a very poignant pumpkin taste. Secondly, it implies some herbs I am not used to add to risottos – like ginger or bay leaves! Thirdly, well, you´ll discover it yourself as you read through this #homemadeMonday´s #guestchefseries…
For when it´s safe to travel again…
Raise your hand if you love weekend trips. I, for one, could easily give up my early vacation and take instead a million small weekend or even day trips. And while given the current circumstances flying off to London or Paris for a weekend is impossible, I love discovering Portugal trip-by-trip. Typically, I see a picture of a place that looks interesting, or even hear a story of a place that is still undiscovered, and plan my way there. This time though, it was a picture of a hotel that guided me yet again to Alentejo – specifically the Ribatejo area this time. The Salvaterra Country House is a small hotel, an hour away from Lisbon and it is serious #nexthouse goals. I discovered it on an Instagram account that aggregates Portugal´s most beautiful hotels for your inspiration – @getawaygoto_portugal and I have been dreaming of it for about a month before finally booking a night there. And so, the day came and we left Lisbon early in the morning, drove up the Tejo river and returned late the next night. Here´s where we went, what we saw, what we ate and what we loved most.
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.