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.
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.