Cakes and pies – my nemesis. I love them (albeit I am generally I crave salty stuff more), but I generally suck at making them. The dough won´t rise, the cream will be too liquid-y, something´s bound to always go wrong. Unless. Unless we´re talking about my grandma´s strawberry cake which is suuuuuper easy to make, or Esther´s wonderfully simple nut cake, which is even easier. I´m not quite sure of the origin of this one, I just copied it from one of Nonna´s handwritten notes, with her insisting it´s actually her niece Esther´s recipe and not hers. I upgraded it with a simple chocolate cream, and voilá one of the easiest #guestchefseries editions ever.
Perhaps one of my most prized family possessions is this old cooking book which 40 years ago must have been present in every single Romanian household – Silvia Jurcovan´s Carte de Bucate. It was initially my grandma´s, then my mom´s and when I turned 27 my mom gave it to me. Inside its yellow pages, I found more yellow pages, with short and simple dessert recipes, hand written by my grandma and collected from her various friends and relative. That gave me the idea to make my grandma this month´s honorary #guestchef. In her honour I made a simple strawberry cake and improved on it with a cocoa cream and some decorative strawberries. It is so simple to make, tasted deliciously and looked so great, my grandma would have surely loved it. I hope you do too.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Our home has slowly developed an obsession for elderflower, ever since I first took André to Romania and he tried elderflower lemonade. He absolutely loved it and that made me regain a love for it too. Because what´s more magical than having your partner fall in love with your heritage? As such, every time we go to Romania, we end up drinking all the elderflower lemonade we can. And if we find ourselves there in summer, we´ll fill our car trunk with the flower and make our own back in Portugal.