*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Pastéis de nata, I provide you with a brief summary about the recipe, other food ideas, tips and a recipe in that order!
The novel follows two women – one in Nazi occupied France who works at a newspaper for the Resistance and an American librarian in war-neutral Lisbon who collects war propaganda in hopes of finding coded messages.
Eventually, the women cross paths in an effort to save Jewish lives.
Half of the novel is set in war-neutral Portugal, where pastéis de nata is a common pastry treat!
With flaky layers made easy here by use of puff pastry and a custard filling, pasteis de nata is both an airy and rich dessert at once. You’ll love Madeline Martin’s take on the Portuguese treat, as well as her new novel.
Don’t forget, you can check out my full review of her novel, The Librarian Spy, with a complete book club kit HERE.
For other Portuguese Food Ideas:
There is actually quite a bit of specific food mentioned in this novel, which is unusual for a WWII novel. This is primarily due to the setting of war-neutral Lisbon, which didn’t have as strict rations or shortages like other places. If you are wanting to create a menu for your book club, I think you’ll find plenty of options in this list.
- Chapter 6 – lentil sausage, rutabagas and bread
- Chapter 7 – Capile – the drink she and James share
- Chapter 11 – sausages at the farewell concert
- Chapter 19 – a visit to a castle with James – sausage and vegetable soup, roasted venison, crème meringue
- Chapter 23 – pork-free sausage (poultry, potatoes, and breadcrumbs), sardines and crackers, grilled fish, sweets when Noah and Sarah comes to Lisbon
- Noah’s strawberry jam
Madeline Martin was kind enough to provide us with a pateis de nata recipe that she loves. The pastry is mentioned many times throughout the novel and is a fitting dish with Portuguese influences.
This pastry would pair perfectly with a strong cup of coffee and good conversation!
Whether you choose something from this list or try your own option, I hope you’ll indulge in these delicious foods while reading The Librarian Spy.
A few tips on making Pastéis de nata :
Here are a few tips to help make your cooking experience the best it can be!
- Make sure you lay your puff pastry out to thaw plenty of time in advance. Usually puff pastry is found frozen, so you will need to thaw it before using.
- Watch your milk mixture closely. You want it to boil but not curdle! Once boiling, remove from heat and stir in the sugar and flour until dissolved.
- Do not overfill each cup. The custard should be enough to fill 24 pastry cups. About 2 tbsp in each cup is the perfect amount.
Don’t forget to check out The Librarian Spy!
Pastéis de nata Recipe:
Pasteis de Nata
- 2 cups whole milk
- A couple strips of Lemon rinds
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp flour
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 puff pastry sheets
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Boil milk, lemon rind and cinnamon together over med-high to high heat.
- Remove lemon rind.
- Add sugar and flour to milk and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Set mixture aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- While this is cooling, roll one sheet of the puff pastry shell and cut into 12 equal pieces of dough.
- Spray cups of muffin pan with cooking spray.
- Squish-flatten the 12 pieces of dough on a flour surface as thin as you can get them without holes and fit them into the cups of the muffin pan.
- Return mixture to stove and add egg yolks and vanilla, heating over med-high heat until thick.
- Once the mixture is like a pudding texture, scoop 2 tablespoons of mixture into each muffin pocket. Don’t fill any cup more than halfway!
- Cook at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 22 minutes.
- Repeat steps, cutting second pastry shell, lining the muffin pan, and filling with the remaining custard to make the second dozen.
More Fun from Madeline Martin:
Please insert a short description of your recipe and why it relates to your novel. Include any information you think readers would enjoy!
Custard is an important part of Portuguese history originating back in the 17th century, when egg whites were used to starch clothes at the monasteries, leaving all those egg yolks—which were ideal for making delicious custards. Pastéis de nata originated in the 18th century, made by monks who used the recipe to keep monasteries and abbeys from closure. They are a hugely popular treat in Portugal (especially for breakfast) and very delicious! This recipe took me several attempts to perfect, which means it’s Madeline-proof (which means probably anyone can make it because I’m not the best cook 😁).
Good food and a good book go hand-in-hand. What is your favorite food to enjoy while reading?
Does wine count? If not, cheese (because it pairs well with wine…) 😀
Did you sample any interesting food while researching this book? Or experience anything exciting while researching?
Absolutely. I try to travel to the country I’m writing about and eat the food I mention in my books. It really enriches the experience and helps me bring the reader along the journey with me in the book. I traveled to Lisbon, Portugal and Lyon, France for research for this novel.
Find Madeline Martin:
Madeline can be found online!
Have you read The Librarian Spy? What did you think? Did it satisfy you or were you left wishing for more? What are some similar books you’ve read?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
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Bookish gifts for you or your reader friends!