Sunday, August 14, 2022

Bolos Levedos - A recipe from Summer Reading


 JENN McKINLAY: My next women's fiction romcom SUMMER READING will be out next June but in preparation for it, I needed to do some cooking because my protagonist is a chef whose specialties are the family dishes she learned from her Azorean Vovo (grandmother).

Because I'm a baker, I went right for the bread--because of course I did--so I'm sharing a recipe for Bolos Levedos (Portuguese sweet muffins - like an English muffin but better). Before we get into that, here are a few things I learned about Portuguese food along the way.

1. The Portuguese are actually credited with inventing tempura. Yes, Portuguese explorers brought batter dipping and frying to Asia. The Portuguese specialty? Peixinhos de Horta - batter fried green beans! Yes, they're mentioned in the book.

2. The Azorean secret ingredient for their savory meat and fish dishes, as well as potatoes is pimenta moida. Also known as pepper sauce, which is ground red peppers (fresno chili peppers), seasoned to taste. Yes, there is a recipe for this in the book, too. 

3. Codfish -- bacalhau -- is a national obsession dating back to the days when Portuguese fisherman would catch cod in the cold water off New Foundland and salt it for the journey home. They have 365 ways to prepare codfish. Yes, also mentioned in the book!

There are many other facts to share but much of it is -- you guessed it -- in the book. In the meantime, here is one of my favorite new things to bake!

(This recipe makes 32)

Bolos Levedos (sweet muffin cakes)

 

1 package dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

pinch of sugar

4 eggs, room temperature

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups warm milk

7 1/2 cups flour

1/4 butter, melted

 

Using a small bowl, add the yeast to the warm water with a pinch of sugar. Set aside. In a standing mixer, blend eggs, sugar, salt, and warm milk. 



Add in flour, rehydrated yeast, and butter until fully incorporated. It is a wet dough and will be sticky. 



Knead the dough for five minutes. Let it proof (rise) until it has doubled in size. This will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours.



Dust the countertop with flour and knead the dough for another three minutes. After kneading, shape the dough into discs about three inches in diameter. 

Place them on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Cover them with a cloth and let them rise for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Using a large frying pan, brown the bolos over medium-low heat for a few minutes on both sides. 

Transfer back to the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes.


Perfection!

Do tell, Reds and Readers, what have you ever cooked because you read it in a novel (not a cookbook)?






71 comments:

  1. Yum! This is definitely on my “must try” list, Jenn . . . thanks for the recipe.

    The first thing I remember hunting up a recipe for and making because I read about it in a novel was a Lane Cake [in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”] . . . .

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    1. Oh, I'd forgotten that reference, Joan. Must go look up the ingredients!

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  2. All of this sounds yummy, but I don't cook with yeast. I mean, LIVE stuff in my kitchen? I'm too much into science fiction, I guess.

    I've always wanted to grow a milk-fed pumpkin, which I read about in one of the Little House books. Cooking? I tend not to follow alien recipes until I try the food first in a store or restaurant. (Besides, it would cut into my reading time.) But I'm still, after six decades, curious about the garlicky roasted chick peas the sisters bought on a Lower East Side (of New York) on a shopping excursion in All of a Kind Family.

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    1. I read all those books at least twice through, and, as a goy child, learned so much about the Jewish holidays while I was at it.

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    2. LOL - I've never worked with yeast before other than in the bread machine. I see what you're saying. :)

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    3. I LOVED those books when I was a kid! I grew up in New York, so they spoke to me more than any other series. The family of my grandmother on the Jewish side (Dad was Jewish, Mom is Italian) had a business on lower Broadway, which was a Jewish section then. It's now Chinese. My brother and I found the address of the family business and it's now a Buddhist temple!

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  3. Those sound great, Jenn! I lived in Brazil for a year at 17 and have been to Portugal a couple of times, so I'm familiar with that history - and have loved the foods my entire adult life.

    But I've never made those rolls. Do you oil or butter the pan for the browning stage? Do you eat them with jam and cream cheese or with a savory stew (like bacalhoada?) Thanks for the recipe.

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    1. No butter or oil needed for browning. I did use a nonstick frying pan. They can go either way with eggs and chorizo or I covered them in fresh peaches with a brown sugar butter sauce.

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    2. Jenn, you're killing me! That sounds so good! Time to hit the farmer's market for some fresh peaches, then check my yeast.....

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  4. PS I always knew where the Azores were, but have read almost nothing about them. Now I'm really curious.

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  5. Yes I have. In one of the many books I've read, there was a recipe for Spanish rice and it was easy peasy to make.

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  6. I've made recipes from Lucy's Key West Food Critic series, and a couple from Diane Mott Davidson's Goldie Bear series. But I've also been inspired to cook from books that don't even have recipes. In fact, our book club potlucks often include dishes inspired by our book choice for that night. It's always fun to see what everyone chooses to bring when the book we've read has a lot of food description.

    The bolos levedos sound delicious, Jenn!

    What made you choose this background for the book?

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    1. Lucy's key lime pie, am I right?

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    2. When I decided to set the book on Martha's Vineyard, I discovered that Oak Bluffs used to be called Little Portugal (back when it was Cottage City) because of all the Azorean fisherman who came to the area for work and settled there. My SIL is from the Azores (she came over when she was seven) so I have her, her sisters, nieces, and her mom (Vovo) who all spent a weekend teaching me Azorean cooking last fall :)

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    3. Believe it or not, no, no Key lime pie. My husband isn't a fan. More on the lines of shrimp tacos. Yum.

      How wonderful, to have a family member with that kind of exotic background.

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    4. thanks for trying the tacos Karen! I cannot wait to make these rolls...

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  7. Fried green tomatoes, natch.. Shogun led me to try some nabemono (food cooked in clay pots). I had tried the then known dishes like sukiyaki and tempura when I lived in Okinawa before Shogan was published. The food was so tempting, that I began to try the recipes.

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    1. I think that is a great motivator. How fascinating that you loved in Okinawa - it's on my list of places to visit.

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  8. Some of my favorite recipes are from Diane Mott Davidson's books. Your muffin cakes look familiar. I wonder if they're available on Cape Cod and in SE Massachusetts where people from the Azores settled.

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    1. I'm sure they're available in any Portuguese bakery along with pimento mood and those egg custard tarts that I could eat by the truck load - LOL.

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  9. Ellen, I also love the "All-of-a-Kind Family" series, and I haven't thought of the books in a while; I'm so glad you reminded me. (I eat garlicky chick peas all the time because I often make hummus, but I guess the chick peas I use aren't roasted first, just boiled.) As for food in books, I read lots of English children books when I was growing up, and one I loved was Elizabeth Goudge's "The Little White Horse." One of the many dishes served in that book is syllabub. Just the name made it sound delicious to me as a little girl. But when I finally looked it up, it didn't sound too exciting (sweetened whipped cream flavored with white wine?!), so I've never made it. Scones, which I read about before I ever tasted them, I've gone on to make many times. I'm an especially big fan of oat scones.

    Jenn: Those rolls sound delicious. I might corrupt them by adding raisins. What do you think?

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    1. Celia - goodness, another Elizabeth Goudge fan (not the mystery writer), how lovely to meet you. Syllabub is delicious. Use the best heavy cream you can get and flavor it with good sherry. You won’t be disappointed.

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    2. I say go for it! I put raisins and caraway seeds in my Irish soda bread to punch it up a bit :) If you do it, report back!

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  10. Jenn, those look amazing. I am eager to hear more about the book! Tell us about your inspiration!

    I am sure that I have made actual dinners because of a book but I have baked recipes from your books and from Roberta's Key West series. Often! The other thing that has definitely gotten into my head while reading Deb's books, is the NEED to join Duncan Kincaid in sampling some good Scotch. Especially if it is after 5 o'clock here;-)

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    1. I'm with you on the Scotch! Mostly, the setting informed the book - discovering that Martha's Vineyard was Little Portugal as the Azorean fisherman brought over to work settled there. It's been quite the epicurean adventure!

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    2. I am planning a visit to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society on my next visit!

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  11. Your recipe looks very good Jenn but I admit that I have been cooking more simply in the last years, recipes with fewer steps.
    Loving plums, I once tried a plum’s cake from one of Diana Mott Davidson’s book.
    I still read the recipes and sometimes, it gives me ideas on what I could cook and eat.

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    1. Sorry it was Danielle

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    2. Oh, I love plums. I had a plum tree for several years but the AZ desert beat it into submission - there is nothing as good as fresh fruit.

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  12. Those look amazing! I live in Bristol County, RI, which was originally part of Bristol County, Massachusetts. I believe those are the only two counties in the US with primarily Portuguese ethnicity, so we have quite a few (yummy!) Portuguese bakeries and little restaurants. One dish on many menus around here is Mozambique (not sure why the name -- originally from Africa??) and lots of recipes with chorizo. Looking forward to your book, Jenn. The Azores are definitely on my bucket list of places to visit!

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    1. Yes, MV, Cape Cod and most of SE Massachusetts are where the fisherman settled. So much good food - kale soup, linguica, egg tarts...now I'm hungry.

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  13. JENN: Those bolos levedos look really tasty! Yes, I read a lot of culinary cozies so I have made plenty of recipes found in the back of books written by authors such as Leslie Budewitz, Leslie Karst, Diane Mott Davidson, Katherine Hall Page and Maddie Day (aka Edith Maxwell)..

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  14. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 14, 2022 at 9:52 AM

    Those look absolutely delicious! Delicious! And tempura green beans are my favorite thing in the world. Truly—
    that is such a surprise about their origin!
    I have to admit, or I guess, confess, I don’t think I have ever cooked anything from a recipe in a novel. I read the recipes, but… That’s as far as it goes. Jenn, why did you choose this particular culture? Tell us more! Yaayy!

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    1. I hadn't planned on it but when I started researching the history of Martha's Vineyard, I discovered that it had been known as Little Portugal because of all the Azorean fisherman who settled there. My protagonist is a dyslexic chef so...going back to her family's roots was just a natural progression. It helps that my SIL is from the Azores and her family has always treated me like family, too. They spent a lot of time teaching me recipes. Best ladies in the world!

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  15. Well, those look good. Perhaps my first foray into bread making with my brand new stand mixer.

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    1. My mixer is new, too! A dear friend gave it to me for my birthday. It definitely makes it less labor intensive.

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  16. Those look super yummy! I will have to try them.

    I have a lot of cozy mystery dishes in my repertoire. Brownies and cookies from Diane Mott Davidson, pancakes from Maddie Day, appetizers from Kathi Daley, way more that I can't recall offhand because they've become staples in my kitchen. It's a great way to gather new recipes

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  17. Jenn, those sweet muffins look so good! I can almost taste them; I will have to make my own and taste them for real. I'm sure I've made many things from what I've read about in books but can't tell you anything offhand. That was something my mother often did and when i told her I had found the recipe for Esther's Orange Marmalade cake from the Mitford series, she had to make that one!

    When I was a sophomore in high school I made an apple strudel, the old-fashioned way, stretching the dough over the entire sheet-covered table. It was delicious and I'm sure the recipe must have come from a book I was reading. Although I suppose it could have come from a magazine at the time.

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    1. I have my grandmother's old recipe box - an absolute treasure trove from the 30's-70's of recipes in her handwriting, clippings from newspapers and magazines. I'll have to share that one day. It's awesome.

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  18. Celia - you hooked me Jenn, if nothing else your pics are amazing. I think I have to try them, though as you know I’m not a baker. Cant wait to get the book and like several other requests I want your origins story please.

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    1. You could do this blindfolded, Celia! I promise.

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  19. I rarely try out recipes from culinary cozies, but I have looked up recipes to make dishes described in books I've enjoyed. Can't think of any offhand, but my favorite is older nephew and his son reading AMELIA BEDELIA BAKES AN APPLE PIE, then baking their own pie from the recipe in the book.

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    1. I love that. The Hooligans aren't cooks by any means (yet) but I didn't let them leave home until they each had a signature dish. Even if you loathe cooking, I believe everyone should have one recipe (at least) in their back pocket to trot out when needed :)

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    2. Around the table one day my mother mentioned a man who could not (would not?) cook for himself so when his wife was away, she had to make plans for how he would be fed. My kids were very young at the time, but I looked at them and said do not leave this house until you know how to cook something you like. My little son looked at me with fear, so I had to explain what I meant. I guess he thought he couldn't even go out to play after dinner. He is now a fine cook who enjoys cooking.

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  20. I've cooked to many things to list!
    I know how marvelous homemade English muffins are, so I can imagine how lovely these must be.
    With the extra sweetness, how are they best used?

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    1. They can go savory or sweet. I had fresh peaches on them with brown sugar butter sauce one day and then with eggs and chorizo the next. Very versatile -- freeze and toast well.

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    2. Freeze and toast! Okay, I'll definitely be trying these!

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  21. They look delicious! My cousin technically has dual citizenship because she was born on an Air Force base in the Azores but I don’t think she even remembers living there.
    Surprising no one, I have made some of your Cupcake Bakery recipes. Oz’s Dark Chocolate Orange Cupcakes are one of the best things I’ve ever had.

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    1. Oooooooh, from a professional baker that's high praise . Thank you.

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  22. Jenn, these look SO good. Dang, wrong time to be on Jenny Craig. Yes, I've made recipes from mysteries I've read, and not just my own, lol. (Apologies to readers for leaving the occasional ingredient or measurement out. Gah!) One stands out for me. Years ago, I discovered the most amazing gingerbread in the Lake District of England, Mrs. Nelson's Gingerbread. It's hard - not like traditional here. Maya Corrigan has a recipe for gingerbread in her mystery Ginger Deadman. We talked at a Malice convention and she said it's inspired by the gingerbread from Mrs. Nelson's!

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    1. I have loved that title Ginger Deadman since I heard her talk at that Malice - LOL!!!

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  23. Those bolos look delicious! I've been inspired to travel to places I've read about but cook something? I'm wracking my brain trying to remember if I've been that daring. I have made cranachan and tasted specific brands of Scotch in bookish inspiration. I'd always been curious about Victoria sponge cake but never made one. I got lucky a couple of years ago when my granddaughter made me one for my birthday.

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    1. I'd be more than happy to go to the Azores for "research".

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  24. Sign me up as one of the folks who has used recipes from Lucy's books. But I'll definitely give the ones from SUMMER READING a try, because I've never met a Portuguese-origin dish I haven't liked (although, admittedly, I've asked to have the heat turned down on some of them.)

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    1. I'm working on my pimenta moida (pepper sauce) as we type! Spain gets all the notice but I think Portugal is equally culinarily gifted.

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  25. First, Jenn, congrats on your mixer!! Fabulous color! (Mine is cobalt but I lust after the pastels.) The book sounds wonderful and I'm so looking forward to learning more about Azorean food.

    I've definitely been inspired to cook things I've read about in novels (scones, anyone?) but the most recent recipe I tried was Lucy's Coronation Chicken. Delish!

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    1. Scones - yes. A good scone recipe is like gold.

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  26. JENN: I love this post. I feel inspired to go out and buy a KitchenAid after seeing these gorgeous photos.

    There are many recipes that I wanted to bake after reading in a novel. Ellie Alexander's the Bakeshop mysteries have many great recipes.

    And I baked a Donut Bundt Cake, which was really yummy!!!

    Diana

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    1. I love bundt cakes - add in donut - and I am in!

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    2. JENN: I can send you the recipe via DM on Instagram? Diana

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  27. I will definitely look forward to reading your book. My husband and I just returned to Sacramento after living 15 months in Portugal, where we ate, among other dishes, the Peixinhos de Horta you mentioned. And, of course, lots of bacalhau. We have always wondered where the tradition of salting it came from, so this was nice to learn. Those rolls look pretty good, too (I'm a bread person). I've written two cozy mysteries set in Braga, the city in northern Portugal where we lived. Portugul is just lovely, and the people are wonderful. So openhearted and welcoming.

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    1. My sis-in-law and her family are the very best big hearted people. I feel so lucky that she married my brother.

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  28. Jenn, those sweet muffin cakes look like something I'd love. I've never made bread, but these have me wanting to now. My son and daughter both cook, but I have to say my son enjoys it more. I will have to credit his ex-fiancee with a lot of his enjoyment of it, as they would cook together. Also, he worked as a food prep in a couple of restaurants, one just a regular restaurant and one winery where the food was stunning.

    The biggest thrill I got from the recipes included in books was when Edith included my mother's jam cake recipe in Strangled Eggs and Ham, one of her Country Store Mysteries. Edith and Lucy always have recipes I want to try in their books, and Jenn, well you have desserts to die for, of course.

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    1. LOL! So long as they're to die for I guess we're on the right track.

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  29. I have Joanne Fluke's cookbook so have made several from that. I made pretzel salad from one of Joyce Tremel's. I know I've tried some recipes from other authors. If it stays cooler, I want to make Ellen Byron's coconut patties. Even if I don't make the recipes, I love reading them.

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