Friday, 26 January 2018

December Monthly Round Up

LIFE LATELY: After the excitement of Christmas and New Year, the month of January arrived with a lot of hopes… I love the idea of doing the Monthly Round Up. It is great to look back on and it is fun to put together the highlights of each month. I hope you enjoy reading the summary of the highlights of December.

HYGGE LIFE: During the festive holidays, there is nothing better than to put on pyjamas, read a good book, listen to music - this CD of Rod Stewart Christmas songs did not stop playing... and of course drinking tea and having a chocolate or two...

WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: Here’s what I’ve been reading in December.

At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks Do you like romantic stories? Then you’ll like this. It’s about a young married couple dealing with the apprenticeship of getting to know each other and facing tragedy. Personally, I didn’t find it to be a heart breaking story and it didn’t bring tears to my eyes. However, it was a pleasant read.

Lusitania by Erik Larson I love Larsons’s novels and I really liked this historical novel that tells the tragic story of the luxurious British liner, the Lusitania, a crucial and troubled episode of the First World War. I will review it soon.

Johannes Vermeer by Norbert Schneider I am fond of art books. This one is very rich in information on the works of one of the great masters of the golden age of Dutch art. I will review it soon.

STYLE: Claude Bernard Christmas isn’t Christmas without presents in the stocking…. I love this Claude Bernard watch from Switzerland where master watchmakers have perfected their craft, making each timepiece a masterpiece.

MAKE UP: Dior Addict Lipstick I’m completely in love with this lipstick called “Not Shy, No. 623” which is brown with a slight pink undertone; it has a superb mirror shine effect. My lips are well hydrated and the look is long lasting.

Wet N Wild This is the perfect palette to have me glowing on special occasions. These colours are just gorgeous; I’m so pleased with it!

BOUTIQUE LOVE: Heritâge Neroli Cosmétiques, this shop is an invitation to Marrakech. It sells high quality body and face products. You can also come here for a pampering break and buy handmade objects. I really enjoyed this place where I picked some Christmas gifts (Heritâge Neroli Cosmétiques - 7, Rue du Marché, Carouge).

CAKE LOVER: I cooked a lot during the Christmas holidays, a panoply of desserts whose recipes I will be delighted to share with you over the next few months.

NEW YEAR’S EVE: We popped the cork of this bottle of champagne because we deserved to live it up fabulously as we rang in this New Year. The past year I have had ups and downs, but I needed to finish it on a high note. I didn’t dress up to go out to a glamorous place, we simply enjoyed quality time at home.

STROLL:  During the Christmas holidays, there was hardly a soul to be seen in the streets of Carouge. There was such a sense of tranquillity in this Mediterranean-like village.

On New Year’s Day it is mandatory to stop at the pretty Eglise Sainte-Croix in Carouge to light a candle. 

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Chocolate Mousse

Hello ladies and gents!

Did you know that the most popular dessert in restaurants is chocolate mousse? That inspired me to suggest this recipe (my mum’s recipe) to you. I hope you enjoy this pure delight - it’s rich and yet not too sweet. I made these ones on the last weekend in May (I know, I am always late posting…) for a family dinner at home.

200g excellent dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa, I used Nestlé) 
100g sugar 
6 egg yolks
6 egg whites 
50g butter
Cherries to decorate

1. Break the chocolate into bits, place chocolate, butter and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Melt over a pan of simmering water (bain-marie). Mix everything with a spatula.

2. When the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the heat. Add one egg yolk at a time to the warm chocolate. Whisk quickly and vigorously, until thick and well combined.

3. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form firm peaks.

4. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, using a spatula, until all of the egg white has been completely incorporated into the chocolate. Don't overmix.

5. Spoon the mousse mixture into ramequin glasses or martini glasses. Chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours, or until set.

6. Decorate with cherries before serving.

Serves 7-8

Monday, 22 January 2018

Portuguese Bread Pudding (Pudim de pão)

This super easy and super delicious Portuguese Bread Pudding has a thick consistency, but it is not too heavy, nor is it as light as custard. I made this in December with leftover bread called “papo seco”, a sort of bread roll. You can find it in any Portuguese bakery. Here in Geneva there is a large Portuguese community, so it is quite easy for us to find such products.

250 g of 3 day old bread (papo secos)
750ml semi-skimmed milk
1 lemon
220g sugar
50g butter
5 eggs
Liquid caramel to coat mould

Preheat oven to 180ºC.
Add a thick coat of caramel to the sides and bottom of the pudding mould.
Cut the bread into very thin slices then set the milk to boil with the peel of the lemon
When the milk begins to boil, remove from the heat and pour over the bread, through a strainer.
Leave to stand for a few minutes so the bread soaks.
Fold the bread into the milk and add the butter. Stir until melted.
Add the eggs, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice.
Blend all ingredients with an immersion blender until it is a homogeneous cream.
Pour this preparation into the caramelised pudding mould and bake at 180ºC in a bain-marie for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Allow the pudding to cool before refrigerating. Finally, remove the pudding from the mould and serve it.

Note: The original recipe includes 100g of raisins, which I chose not to use.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Life and Soul by Helena Sacadura Cabral (2013)

Today there is a great need to rediscover values and emotions that most of us would consider lost. They are not. They just lie dormant. It is maybe this realisation that sparked in me the will to rethink them. This led to this compendium of feelings, one for each day of the month. At this difficult time for many, should we all not try to refocus our priorities in order to feel a little less unhappy and empty?

Author: Helena Sacadura Cabral was born in Lisbon in December 7, 1934. She is an economist, journalist and Portuguese writer. She was the first woman to join the Bank of Portugal. Since 2005, she has published over 10 books. She is divorced and mother of two boys.  One of her sons is the politician Paulo Portas.

My thoughts: I bought this beautiful book in the bookstore of El Corte Inglés in Lisbon a couple of years ago. As I was running early on my way to see a movie, I went downstairs to the book department to pass the time. To be honest, it was the cover that attracted my attention: tiny and girly. I read a few lines and I found it wise, inspiring and genuine. “Life and Soul” is a great little book that invites reflection, it banishes the superfluous noise that invades our everyday lives. 

I choose this daily maxim at random: “The worst betrayal is to our principles, because it is committed by us, against us” Think of what you owe to yourself in the defence of your dreams and be faithful to the principles you have chosen. I strongly think we should not use masks; we should love and accept ourselves even when we fail. Happiness can only come from authenticity.

Monday, 15 January 2018

A Sunny Day in Caxias

Wanting to escape the city, we headed to Caxias, about 20 minutes journey from Cais de Sodré in Lisbon. The Caxias beach is only 5 minutes walk from Caxias train station.

That morning, it was nice and mild, so we walked along the small beach of Caxias, which is clean and neat, quiet and perfect to unwind. This place was a beautiful discovery, its neglected air gives it all its charm.

The Fort of São Bruno de Caxias is right in front of Caxias beach.

Although not visible In the photo, with the naked eye you can see the Cristo Rei (Christ the King statue) and the 25 de Abril Bridge far on the horizon.

I did not wet my feet, but I was able to breathe the fresh, salty air of the sea. It did me good. I cannot wait to swim here this summer.

The old train station decorated with graffiti.

Before we left, we wandered across the beach and discovered Quinta Real de Caxias which is a pleasant walking space created around the gardens of the Royal Palace of Caxias. It is also of a great architectural and historical interest.

Caxias is an incredible place and well worth a visit.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Christmas Time in Lisbon - Part II

Hello ladies and gents!

As promised, I am back with Part II. For those who missed my earlier post and who want to catch up and have a few precious minutes to spare, please check out Part I first.

Now, if you thought that was a treat, wait until you finish reading this final part. Anyone who has been to Lisbon or lives in Lisbon can tell you that there is no other city like it. So, without further ado, let’s continue to stroll around the city during the Christmas holidays. I like to think that I made the most of it.

I love the look of the gorgeous Christmas Market at the Praça do Rossio, which is in the middle of the city! It’s the perfect place to buy pretty Christmas gifts and sweets.

Some of the stalls at Rossio Christmas Market. We wandered around admiring the craft and food stalls.

We saw tuk-tuks (3 wheeled taxis) good for sight-seeing everywhere, very elaborate male statues… What a life!

Downtown Lisbon was completely rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake which had destroyed most of it. Since then, each street is named after different trades (shoemakers, saddlers, goldsmiths, silversmiths...).

Some of the streets are pedestrianized and connect a number of iconic squares, from Rossio and its cafés to the waterfront Praça do Comércio, overlooked by a triumphal arch, to the attractive Praça do Município.

…another very elaborate male statue…

Beautiful arcades at the Praça do Comércio, a square which is said to be the largest in Europe!

Praça do Município

We saw boats coming and going at Cais de Sodré... The Sodré Wharf is a terminal for the ferries that link Lisbon to Cacilhas and Almada across the river. The Sanctuary of Christ the King is situated in Almada.

We saw a procession of the famous tramways

Igreja São Antonio de Padua is the most popular and most visited little church in Lisbon.

Mouraria, I loved getting lost in the narrow alleys and corners of this quaint medieval district. The traditional houses scattered on the hills was stunning…Here time seems to have stood still.

Praça da Figueira indoor market, delightful!

Lots of tourists walk around in Lisbon’s Chiado area and the elegant shopping street, Rua Garett. The bronze sculpture Portugal’s famous writer Fernando Pessoa is extremely popular. He is mobbed by lots of tourists, all day long!

The impressive Rossio Train Station seen from the side. From here you have a lovely view over São Jorge Castle which stands on top of the hill.

Et voilà, job done. I really hope you enjoyed this tour. Have a good weekend ahead!