Babyccino Kids YouTube Channel (and our first video!)

Broad Bean recipe
pod the beans
broad bean salad
As we’ve hinted over the past few weeks, we’ve been working behind the scenes on some videos for a new Babyccino Kids YouTube channel! It’s something we’ve been talking about doing for ages now, but were just not ever organised enough to make happen.  Last month we finally mustered up the courage, lined up the right crew, and then all met up in Amsterdam to work on our first videos. It was both hilarious and encouraging — being on film is not something any of us are particularly good at (or fond of), but we had so much fun together and managed to make a few videos we feel proud enough to share (and we’re hoping our on-camera skills will improve over time!).

We’re so excited to share our channel with you (which you can subscribe to here) as well as our very first video!!  We share a really easy and delicious summer recipe for Broad Bean Salad which is one of my favourite things to make this time of year.

We hope you enjoy!

Courtney x

Video footage was shot by Esther Verkaik and edited by Chee-Han Kartosen-Wong. A big thank-you to both of them for their patience with us as we navigate this new space. 

The Furoshiki, a Japanese wrapping cloth

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Have you heard of furoshikis? They are square fabric cloths used in Japan to wrap everything from lunch, presents, picnics, pillows, groceries, you name it! Made from gorgeous printed cotton fabric, furoshikis are as beautiful as everything coming from Japan.

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furoshikis japanese wrapping clothBesides the primary use of a wrap, furoshikis are also great to be used as scarfs, napkins, picnic blankets, table cloths… The biggest size can even be used as a beach bag and once on the beach, it doubles as a perfect beach sheet. The uses really are endless!

Furoshiki japanese wrap cloth
You can find a lovely range of gorgeous furoshikis in different sizes at Musubi London, and here you can learn about the different wrapping techniques. (Don’t you love the wine wrap? What an awesome present to bring to a dinner party!)

xxx Esther

Foraging (or collecting edible weeds)

wild_chives

Have you ever gone to your local park, forest or garden to collect edible weeds? My kids and I love to go out and pick our dinner in ‘the wild’. It’s fun, and I think it teaches them something about food and nature. Also, it motivates them to help prepare dinner (and eat it).

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nettles
edible weeds, foraging, stinging nettle

We’ve been making quiches from stinging nettles, salad from dandelion leaves and wild rocket, pesto from nasturtium, we’ve picked and eaten chickweed and wild garlic. All of which we’ve picked in the park, forest, or uncultivated parts of the garden. Isn’t it intriguing how much of the plants and flowers growing around us (and are considered weeds) we can actually eat?

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wild_garlic

Our biggest discovery this year has been the bishop’s weed (elder) in the the garden of my parents-in-law. It’s absolutely delicious in a quiche or stir fried with some (wild) garlic. Do you know of any other delicious weeds you can eat, or maybe you have a good recipe to share?

xxx Esther

Ice pops!

ice pops
ice pops

We’ve been enjoying some tropical heat here in Europe so all the tricks to keep cool are coming out of our sleeves. The other day, Sara made some delicious ice pops, and they were really so super good I thought to share the recipe (which she found in the booklet that came with our pop molds).


ice pops

Here’s the recipe that Sara used (although I think she used more strawberries and three bananas):

  • 6 cups fresh strawberries (she left the green hat bit)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • juice of 1-2 lemons
  • 3 tbs honey

Puree everything in the blender and pour into your pop molds. Freeze overnight, or until frozen.

Stay cool!

xxx Esther

A summer picnic!

La Coqueta summer picnic

LaCoqueta summer picnic 12

I’ve said it before, but one of my favourite things about being in this business is meeting so many inspiring women, many of them mums (most of them mums, in fact) who run a business of their own which somehow connects to ours in one way or the other. It is an industry where women support each other and where small brainstorm sessions turn into exciting collaborations. It is a world where a group of friends can plan an after-school picnic, and because of the talent behind it, it turns out to be one of the most memorable summer garden parties — including delicious food, happy children, a dreamy garden and a water fight finale to end the day!

This past Friday, Celia from La Coqueta invited us over for a picnic in her beautiful back garden, the talented Skye McAlpine offered to cook the food, and Emma Donnelly came over with her camera to help document the day. It was a merging of different talents and good friends. Together we spent the day prepping for a picnic (by ‘prepping’ I really mean watching Skye work her magic in the kitchen!), and then, after picking the kids up from school, we all sat down to enjoy.

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LaCoqueta summer picnic 10

The kids, all dressed in coordinating outfits from La Coqueta, played so well together — like one big family. They played games, picked flowers and berries from the garden, did cartwheels in the grass… and kept returning to the picnic blanket for a sip of mint lemonade and another slice of cake! Meanwhile, we mums had the chance to talk motherhood, careers, food, photography, and everything in between. I felt so lucky to spend the day with such inspiring women, and the kids keep asking if we can do it again!

I hope you don’t mind me sharing so many photos from the picnic. Emma managed to capture the day so beautifully, don’t you think?

Courtney x

All photos above are taken by Emma Donnelly (except the last two, which were snapped by Skye).

Cordials from Belvoir Fruit Farm

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Do you know the fruit cordials from Belvoir Fruit Farm? We have recently discovered them and are all hooked! We love the interesting, grown-up taste combinations, like spiced apple & ginger, rhubarb & strawberry, elderflower & rose, raspberry & lemon…

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I try to give my children water or tea for as much as possible, but in the afternoon I’m ok to give them a glass of juice. These ones from Belvoir are so nice, and not overly sweet. We all love them — the ginger cordial is my personal favourite. Super fresh!

xxx Esther

PS I’ll be making my own rhubarb cordial this week, so easy and another lovely fresh drink, especially in combination with sparkling water.

Yvestown in the Kitchen

Yvestown in the kitchen

Do you ever take cookbooks to bed? I do! I just love food — eating it, preparing it, looking at it, and yes, even reading about it.
Yvestown in the Kitchen,  written by Yvonne of the beautiful blog Yvestown, is the kind of cookbook which is just the perfect read. It is the combination of a cookbook, a portfolio of beautiful food styling and photography, and it shows the most gorgeous interiors of some of the writer’s enormously creative friends.


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Yvestown in the Kitchen was first published in Dutch but has recently been translated to English, so if you’re looking for a nice present for a food-loving friend (or for your food-loving self!), you can now pick up a copy on Amazon (UK or US) .

xxx Esther

Quiche on my mind…

Quiche1It’s spring, and my mind is set on quiche. I’m not exactly sure why — is it the combination of the flaky puff pastry crust with the creamy filling and the salty cheese melted on top? Is it the fact that it is so easy to prepare? Or is it just because it’s the perfect dish for these warmer days, when it doesn’t really matter what time you eat, or where you eat…

Quiche can be served hot, luke warm, or cold, and it’s so informal — it’s lunch, it’s dinner, it’s a picnic, it’s a left-over… it’s whatever.

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I always have puff pastry in the freezer, and usually have eggs, cream, cheese and bacon in the fridge as well. A quiche is quickly made. Many different fillings are possible — rucola, spinach, mushrooms, watercress, endive, peas, peppers, asparagus, courgette — you name it! Combine with grated gouda or cheddar or be more creative with goat cheese, ricotta, or camembert. As a basis, for the creamy bit, and depending on the size of your dish, I like to stick to 2 to 4 eggs per quiche, in combination with about 50 to 100 ml crème fraîche or double cream. Actually, the exact amounts can be played with — it’s always a bit different!

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The other day, I preheated the oven to 200°C and buttered three quiche dishes and lined them with puff pastry. Using a fork, I pricked little holes in the bottom of the quiches and set them aside while I made three different fillings.

Quiche one became a ‘quiche lorraine style’ onion/leek quiche. My kids’ favourite. Here’s the how-to:

Gently fry 100 g bacon in it’s own fat. Once brown, add two large onions (diced) and one leek in thin slices. Sauté gently until soft. Divide the mixture over the prepared pastry. Beat eggs with crème fraîche and some freshly ground black pepper. Divide egg mixture over onion mixture, and sprinkle with 100 g of grated cheese. (This is my smaller dish, so I used two eggs and 60 ml of cream.)

Quiche two became a broccoli quiche. Here’s what I did:

Cook the florets of one head of broccoli in salty water for about 5 minutes. Drain well and divide over the prepared pastry. Divide approximately 150 g unsalted cashew nuts over the broccoli. Cut a 250 g camembert cheese in slices and spread over the broccoli. Prepare egg mixture (I mixed 4 eggs and 100 ml of crème fraîche with some salt and pepper) and divide over the quiche.

The third quiche is an old favourite — tuna quiche.

Drain 2 tins of tuna. Prepare egg mixture (4 eggs, 100 ml cream), and mix the tuna and 100 g grated gouda (or cheddar) with the egg mixture. Pour the tuna / egg mixture in the prepared pastry dish. I like to put cherry tomatoes on top — I love the taste of roasted tomatoes and it looks so pretty!

The three quiches bake for about 25 to 35 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and brown on top and the pastry is cooked. Eat hot, warm, or cold, for lunch, dinner, tea, or whatever.

Quiche4Bon appétit!

xxx Esther

PS Tarte à la tomate et à la moutardeis also deliciously easy!

Recipe: Healthy Chocolate Without Sugar!

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Recently I found a passion in creating healthy versions of the not-so-healthy treats. For instance, our whole family loves dark chocolate, even Talan who is not even 1.5 years old loves 85% cocoa chocolate because frankly he never even tried any other kind but I wanted to make an even healthier version of it by substituting sugar with dates.

Dates also contain sugar (fructose) but contrary to plain sugar they are also a great source of many vitamins, minerals and fibers. They contain oil, calcium, sulfur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and magnesium. They are also very well known to help with health issues like constipation, anemia, diarrhea and many more. Just like with any other food, overeating is never a good idea but if eaten in normal quantities dates can do you only good.

And there is also cocoa, which is only one of the healthiest foods on the planet – did you know that? Just google Cocoa health benefits.

So this recipe is a definite win-win! My kids love it and I love looking at them while having their faces (an unfortunately also half of our dining room furniture) covered in it.

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Here’s the recipe:

-1 cup cocoa butter
-1 cup raw cocoa
-date paste by taste

First, to get the date paste simply mix whole pitted dates in your food processor until smooth in consistency.

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Then slowly melt the butter in a pan (or a heatproof bowl) by sitting it over another pan of barely simmering water and stir frequently.

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Once melted remove from heat, add cocoa and dates (I used about a table spoon of paste but we like bitter tasting chocolate) and stir well.

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Pour the mixture chocolate into a flat dish lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with roasted nuts, raisins, cranberries… or leave as is.

Put in a refrigerator for a couple hours, brake into pieces and enjoy!

Ps. the chocolate is much sweeter once hard so take that into consideration while tasting the liquid mixture 😉

-Polona

To read more from Polona, go to her cute blog Baby Jungle!

Delicious Cantuccini (or almond biscotti)

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My friend Erika from Mikodesign brought me a jar of homemade Cantuccini cookies recently, and they didn’t last longer than a day. They are SO good! She told me they are super easy to make, so I asked her for the recipe which thankfully she was happy to share. Here goes:

350 gram flour
3 eggs
200 gram castor sugar
2 t.sp. vanilla (or two sachets of vanilla sugar)
250 gram nuts and almonds (no peanuts), unsalted and not roasted
1 t.sp. baking powder
1/2 t.sp. salt
1/2 t.sp. baking soda
1 table sp. grated orange peel
2 table sp. liqueur, f.e. Grand Marnier

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Sift and mix the flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, vanilla, the grated orange peel and the liqueur together with the eggs until slightly foamy.
Combine the dry and the wet ingredients to a heavy, sticky dough. Knead in the nuts.

Shape the dough into two logs and place them on the baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned and still a little soft.
Take the logs of the baking tray and allow to cool (minimal 2 hours — it’s important for the logs to be cold enough in order to be able to slice them well!).

Now preheat the oven to 150°C. Cut the logs with a good bread-knife in 1 cm thick slices. Lay on an oven rack and dry for another 8-10 minutes until golden-brown.

You can (try to) keep these cookies in a closed jar for up to 3 to 4 weeks.

xxx Esther

PS this recipe originates from the Foods and Photos blog (in Dutch).

Tuesday Tips: (trying to) raise good and healthy eaters

kids healthy eatingHow come some children are good, healthy eaters, and some are super picky and have a difficult relationship with food? Is it a matter of nature, or of nurture? I was recently chatting with my girls’ ballet teacher, a lovely lady of sixty-something, and she was telling me about her baby granddaughter, who basically refused to eat anything from the day she was born. She’s been in and out of hospitals, being fed with drips, feeding tubes in her nose, and all sorts of astronaut kinds of food. There doesn’t seem to be a physical reason that the baby is refusing to eat — the little girl simply has no interest, probably even an aversion, to food. (I can only imagine how difficult this must be for the baby’s parents.)

So we can’t say that difficult or picky eaters are always a product of their upbringing. I do however think that very often, our own attitude to and relationship with food is of an enormous influence on our children.

My own four children happen to be very good eaters. They are interested in food, they try new things, and are not overly picky or fussy. Probably my husband and I have partly been lucky, and we’ve partly been doing some things right.

Eating is a much debated and quite sensitive topic amongst parents. This weekend I was talking with some girlfriends after we just had lunch with our families. We were discussing how we raise our children, and what parenting choices we have made to help our children become the good eaters they are today. I thought this would be an interesting (but difficult) topic for our Tuesday Tips series, so I have made a list of tips that in my experience can help make eating a positive and fun part of the day. Here goes:

Involve the children in the dinner preparation. They can start helping at quite an early age. Tell them what you are doing, let them try the ingredients. Trust them with a knife — Ava has been making a really good Caprese Salad from the age of 4. Even Casper (2) chips in with cutting the mozzarella! Also: grow your own veggies if possible (even on the windowsill). Take your children shopping (f.e. to the (farmers) market), let them choose some food and prepare that food that evening. When your children have been actively involved in the dinner preparation, they will be more open to try and enjoy the food.

Eat with the children as often as you can. Sit at the table, and have a proper family dinner experience. Don’t turn the tv on (you could even argue to turn the music off). Dinner is a social experience, it’s about connecting with each other and sharing the pleasure of each other’s company and good food. Set the scene, make a nice table, use little bowls, napkins, light candles, etc

Don’t allow negativity about food, instead be positive and adventurous about food. Set the right example; don’t ‘dislike’ food yourself. If you love food, your children will love food. I’ve had children at my table who started to be negative as soon as I served the food on the table. ‘Oh, tomatoes! I hate those! Eeeks, I don’t eat brussels sprouts, they are disgusting!’ I personally don’t allow my children to use those kind of strong associations in connection with food. In general, I want my children to understand that the food that I buy, prepare and serve on our table, is good, healthy and delicious food. I don’t allow my children to be disrespectful to this food, or to the cook (me!) who has done her best to prepare a yummy meal.

Be relaxed about food. When introducing a new food — don’t overhype or over-react, be casual about it, make it a part of the regular eating experience. I also have experienced that some foods, which I expected my children not to like (sauerkraut, for instance, or olives), have been received with great enthusiasm. So instead of being doubtful (‘you can try, but you probably won’t like it’), be casual. You might be surprised!

Always encourage your child to try everything on the table. Don’t let them get away with ‘not liking’ something too easily. If my children, after positively trying the food, don’t like it, I ask them why they have difficulty with it — for instance, the food can be too spicy, too bitter, too salty, etc. I then try to get where they are coming from, and most often understand, but maybe we talk about how ‘too salty’ can also be good in combination with other things. Overall, this has made eating and trying food a more positive experience and a fun interaction.

If a certain food is disliked, just let it pass, but don’t ban it from your kitchen. Positively offer it to them again at other times. Encourage them to keep trying; their taste might change and chances are that at some point, they will (learn to) like it. Especially if they see other people enjoying that food!

When your kids don’t want to eat their dinner, that’s ok, but don’t offer a substitute.

Expose your children to different varieties of food from a young age. Don’t generally cook ‘child-friendly’ dishes for your children, serve them regular adult dishes with regular herbs and spices. (I personally believe that even during pregnancy it’s important to eat a variety of dishes!) Take your children to restaurants, and choose from the main menu (most restaurants will be happy to serve half of a main dish to a child, or split one main dish on two plates). Emilie told me that she encourages her children to be flexible in their eating so she can take them to friends places and she can travel with them and experience different cultures. She told me that she refuses to be a guest in someone’s house and have her child turn their nose up at a meal, so if her girls want to come, they will have to eat without making a fuss!

That’s it! I realise this is a tricky subject, so please remember that these are tips that stem from my own experience. I’m curious to find out what your family’s relationship with food is. What’s your attitude? What are your tips and routines?

xxx Esther

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

eating cake

After eating delicious American breakfasts in NYC last week (pancakes, huevos rancheros, doughnuts, scones, bagels!) I came back inspired to spruce up our breakfasts a bit. Conveniently, I had pinned this buttermilk-blueberry breakfast cake on Pinterest a couple weeks ago so I already had in mind what I wanted to try first.

Marlow and I spent the morning trying out a couple new breakfast recipes, and this blueberry cake was definitely our favourite.  Here are some very grainy iPhone photos from this morning with my little blueberry snatcher…

blueberry thief
marlow sneaking blueberries
blueberries and lemon zest
buttermilk blueberry cake
blueberry breakfast cake
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The recipe is from a website called Alexandra’s Kitchen which I discovered from Pinterest. The cake is delicious — moist and light at the same time, and I like the combination of the lemon zest and blueberries.

Perhaps something to try over the weekend? Have a good one, everyone! (And happy Mother’s Day to all in the UK.)

Courtney  xx

P.S. Marlow’s dress is from the new collection at Milou & Pilou! x

Instant Apple Crumble

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At the moment, mostly governed by the cold, dark nights, we feel like we deserve something nice and warm, and apple crumble is a firm favourite. I have developed a little technique about making a super easy apple crumble. We make a huge batch of crumble and then freeze most of it. Then it is all ready to use! We just cut up an apple or two into some ramekins, sprinkle on the crumble and bake them while we are eating – seriously simple.

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Here is my recipe (if you can even call it that):

300g of plain flour
200g of unsalted butter cut into small pieces
150g of sugar

Put it in a bowl and rub the ingredients together until it resembles bread crumbs (some people use a mixer but I use my children because they love doing this). You can also add 2 teaspoons of cinnamon or replace some of the flour by almond powder. Some people like adding oats to the crumble, though I am not such a big fan of this!
I bake my crumbles at 180° until they are golden brown. Honestly they are mostly golden just when we have finished our main course, it is almost like magic 😉

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A healthy and yummy start of the year, with brown rice and lentils

healthy kedgeree

This recipe has it all: it’s made from ingredients you can probably find in your pantry. Also, it’s super healthy, it’s extremely yummy (my kids love it!), and it’s super easy to make (albeit not extremely quick, unfortunately). I made this for Courtney & co when they visited us in Amsterdam last month, and she has practically been begging me for the recipe ever since. Instead, I just bought her the cookbook (Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘It’s All Good ‘) but I thought I’d post the recipe here nevertheless, as it’s the perfect meal to start the new year healthily!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • A cinnamon stick
  • 1/3 cup Puy green lentils
  • 2 yellow onions
  • olive oil, sea salt

Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet — add rice and spices and gently cook until the rice grains turn opaque, about 3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and about 1 ¾ cups of water or vegetable stock. Turn heat low and let cook for about 45 minutes. Check regularly if you need to add more water! (You can also use quinoa, in that case, let cook for 20 minutes. I prefer the rice version though!)

In the meantime, cook the lentils in salted water for around 25 minutes. Drain and set aside. Peel the onion and slice thinly. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring now and then, until totally soft and caramelised. This takes a good half hour. Set the onions aside as well.

When rice has cooked, turn off the heat and let mixture sit for 10 minutes. Uncover, fluff with fork and fold in the lentils and onions.

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I like to prepare a spicy vegetable / tomato dish along the side (this is where Gwyneth is loosing me — she doesn’t eat tomatoes!), for which I generally use:

  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 chilli pepper (or according to taste)
  • 5 small carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 courgette, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 4 to 5 ripe fresh tomatoes, or one can of good plum tomatoes
  • (feel free to add aubergine, mushrooms, beans, leek, fennel, cabbage, etc etc)

Just sauté the onion, and chilli pepper and start adding the veggies one by one. Add the tin of tomatoes, bring to a boil and let simmer for around 20, 25 minutes. Add Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Bon appetite!

xxx Esther

PS The recipe for the kosheri is taken from Gwyneth Paltrow‘s book It’s All Good, a book I recommend! It’s available through Amazon (UK  or US ).

Fish Cakes, an easy recipe

Fish Cake Recipe

I start the New Year every year with great resolutions, one of them being to always have a kitchen full of prepared, healthy, delicious food, so that I don’t need to think about cooking from scratch in the evening when we walk through the door at 6.30pm on a cold winter night. I manage to stay organised for about 3 weeks and then my enthusiasm starts to wane a little bit, BUT I have to say, for the first part of January, we eat fabulously well and early(ish)!

Fishcakes are something I have always loved and they are so easy to prepare in advance and freeze.  There is no hard and fast rule in making them; you can use any kind of fish (even tinned tuna or salmon at a pinch) and so the recipe is easily adaptable to each family’s taste. I served them with a nice green salad or peas or kale – basically anything nice and green.

Here’s what you’ll need:

-500g floury potatoes
-300g fish (salmon and cod are great, but you can even use a tin of salmon or tuna if that is all you have)
-1 leek or spring onions or chives or even capers (whatever your family likes, I like the little taste of leeks with fish)
-a handful of  chopped parsley
-salt and pepper
-table spoonful of flour (or a wee bit more)
-1 egg

Peel and boil the potatoes until they are soft. While they are boiling, gently fry the thinly sliced leek and let it cook down. Blanch the fish until it is just cooked and let it cool down, then put it in a mixing bowl with the leek and break it up with a fork. Add the egg and the flour, salt and pepper to taste. Once the potatoes are ready, make them into mashed potatoes with a potato masher. Let the mash cool off a little and add to the fish mix. Mix it all together with a wooden spoon. Put some flour on the kitchen surface and into a plate. start forming the fishcakes and once they are formed (you might have to add a bit more flour at this stage, depending on how wet the mixture is), toss them in a bit of flour on the plate until they are coated. (I like to make quite small cakes so this mixture makes about 16 cakes for me).

This is the point you can freeze the cakes (I lay them out on a small baking tray and freeze them like that so that they don’t stick together. Once frozen I then chuck them into a bag, which takes a lot less space in the freezer).

Whenever you need the cakes, defrost them, panfry them in a bit of oil and serve with a nice green salad or whatever you fancy!

– Emilie

Christmas recipes from the archives

We’re going through flour, eggs and butter at an impressive rate here in our house right now. There are just so many yummy treats to make (and lots of little helpers around the house to help lick the spoons clean!). Here are some of our favourite Christmas treats from the archives…

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My mom’s Butterhorns (cinnamon rolls). We make these on Christmas morning and eat them while they’re warm, straight off the tray!

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Æbleskivers (Danish pancakes)! We eat these throughout the year, but I think they are traditionally eaten at Christmas time.

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Emilie’s ginger biscuits — spicy, crunchy and perfect to dip into a cup of tea!

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Kristina Kringle — the taste of Christmas!

View More: http://maudfontein.pass.us/tlt2

Esther’s Dutch Pepernoten recipe. So fun to make with the kids!

chocolate mint patties

Chocolate mint patties (or ‘mint patios’ as we call them in our family).

cranberry muffins

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread (or muffins). So good!

cinnamon swirl buns

Cinnamon swirl buns!

sugar cookies

Our favourite sugar cookie recipe! We’re planning on making these today. It’s my family’s Christmas tradition!

Which recipe tempts you the most? My mouth is literally watering as I type… !

Courtney xx

A Bag Full of Goodness, and hearty soups

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It’s the last day of school for the children here in Amsterdam before the holidays! I just took them there, it was still dark, and so stormy and cold and wet. In two days it will be the shortest day of the year here in the Northern hemispheres, and then, we’ll be counting down again to warmth and light.

This Bag Full of Goodness will be transformed in hearty and warm soups over the weekend, and will keep us healthy and happy! I really desire soups this time of year, and I’m always on the lookout for new, delicious recipes. Here are some soup recipes we’ve posted over the years and that have become family favourites, but I would love to get your suggestions for your favourite recipes, so please share!

  • My minestrone — full of veggies, one of my favourite soups and super healthy.
  • Pumpkin soup — my favourite pumpkin soup, the recipe comes from Courtney’s grandmother.
  • Turkish Bulgur and Red Lentil Soup — a recipe from The Guardian, delicious and healthy and I can always find the ingredients in my pantry.
  • Simple Tomato Soup — again, from the cupboard. Great for lunch, or for an easy dinner with good bread or a toasted cheese sandwich.
  • Celeriac Soup — this soup is delicious and healthy and perfect for a cold winter day. And so easy to make!

xxx Esther

PS That perfect Bag Full of Goodness is from Children of the Tribe, a cool Australian based lifestyle shop.

Wonderful Weinreich wines (and a free taster at the ShopUp)

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My friend Nina (who I’ve only met quite recently but feel I’ve known forever) is not only one of the coolest and sweetest people I know, she also has an amazing occupation: together with the family of her husband Marc (whose last name, very suitable, is ‘Weinreich’ — ‘rich with wine’) she runs a vineyard in the Bechtheim region in Germany.

The Weinreich vineyards are located in the Wonnegau district of the Rheinhessen wine region, the largest German wine region located on the left bank of the river Rhine. Using the traditional methods already used by Marc’s grandfather, and respecting the natural conditions of the local soil and vineyard, the Weinreich family creates powerful Rieslings, Silvaner and Burgunder wines (without additives).

The Weinreich wines are really very very beautiful in their character, strong, individual, and full in their taste. I’m not at all an expert, but I love a good glass of wine and the Weinreich wines truly are amongst my favourites.

Weinreich3

Nina and Marc have two little boys, Henri and Toni, and they live a fairytale life surrounded by beautiful nature, the vineyards, and with super cool tractors to play with all day long. We visited our friends earlier this year and our kids loved it there so very much. We hope to be able to go back soon!

Sooo… If you would like to have a taster of these beautiful wines and fall in love with them like I did, then do come to the ShopUp tomorrow evening where we’ll be serving a complimentary glass of Weinreich Riesling Brut (festive bubbly bubbles!) to each visitor. Oh, and to compliment that glass of bubbles… we will also serve yummy macarons from La Dinette and cool crunchy cookies from Bee’s Bakery. Another fantastic reason to come to the King’s Road tomorrow, isn’t it? Hope to see you there!

xxx Esther

 

My Minestrone soup recipe

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Minestrone soup is one of my favourite dishes for this time of year. It’s not the fastest thing to make, as it involves lots of cutting, but I always make loads so I have enough to feed two families or I have plenty of leftover for another day. It’s good to freeze portions as well!

I love the fact that it’s so entirely full of goodness (I took the above photo of all of the ingredients yesterday before I started cooking, just to show you how good!), and the little pasta shapes inside make it one of my kids’ favourite meals as well — Sara calls it ‘pasta soup’.

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 to 4 onions
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • A red chili pepper (you can use only half if you want to make sure it’s not too spicy for the kids)
  • 4 to 6 medium carrots (or a bunch of summer carrots without the green)
  • A bunch of celery
  • One fennel
  • Two medium courgettes (zucchini)
  • One large aubergine
  • A big handful of green beans
  • 3 to 4 peppers in different colours
  • 1 or 2 leeks depending on size
  • Mushrooms
  • One or two potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 white cabbage
  • Two tins of mixed beans (like kidney beans, boretti beans, I always like chickpeas as well), drained
  • Two tins of tomatoes (you can add some fresh tomatoes as well if you have them)
  • A squeeze of tomato puree
  • A few hands of small paste shapes (I use macaroni)
  • A bunch of (fresh) thyme
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • s&p

To serve / for topping:

  • A bunch of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Fresh parmesan
  • Olive oil, s&p

Wash the celery, carrots, cabbage, leek, fennel. Cut of the ends — the parts you would normally throw away — and put them in a pot with water on the stove. Bring to a boil and let simmer while you’re chopping and slicing all the veggies. (This is part of my newest no-waste policy — I try to minimise waste and to use as much of the vegetables as I possible can. Our rabbit helps as well by eating the green of the carrots!)

Clean and finely chop the onions, garlic and the red chili pepper. Chop celery, slice carrots, slice leek, and chop fennel. Chop tomatoes, aubergine and courgette (zucchini). Clean beans and cut in pieces. Finely slice the cabbage. Peel and chop potatoes. Clean mushrooms and cut in pieces (you can leave the small ones in one piece).

In a (very!) large stock pot, heat a generous amount of olive oil over low heat and gently sauté the onion, garlic and chilipeper. After 10 minutes, turn the heat up to medium low and add the celery and carrots. After a few minutes, start adding the other vegetables one by one: the leek, the fennel and the cabbage, the potato and pepper, the aubergine and courgette and finally the mushrooms, the tomatoes, and the green beans. Each time let the new vegetable sauté for a few minutes before adding the next.

In the meantime, take the pot with the vegetable stock off the stove and remove and discard all off the vegetables with a slotted spoon. Pour the stock through a sieve in a bowl.

Add the tins of tomatoes, the tomato puree and the vegetable stock to the veggies. Add more water if necessary — the liquid has to cover all of the vegetables by a few cm’s (at least an inch). Add the beans and the pasta shapes to the pot, and the thyme and bay leaves. Add salt and pepper.

Bring everything to a boil and let simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the green beans, potatoes and carrots are soft and the pasta is cooked. Stir regularly and add water if necessary. I like it if the veggies still have a bite, but I also like it when it’s cooked a bit longer (or the the next day) when the veggies are all soft and the pasta is slightly overcooked. Yum.

Add more salt and pepper to taste, and to serve, sprinkle with good olive oil, basil and freshly grated parmesan. We always have crusty bread and salty butter on the table as well.

Bon appétit!

xxx Esther

 

New in at Donna Wilson!

donna wilson plates
I’m not very adventurous with tableware — I think it’s my OCD qualities (!) that likes my kitchen cupboards to be filled with big stacks of matching plates, bowls, mugs, etc. My kids use the same tableware as we do (this range from Ikea!), that way we don’t clutter up our cupboards with different stuff for the kids.

But… I just couldn’t resist these beautiful ceramic plates from Donna Wilson! I can’t decide whether to let the kids use them for meals (and hope they don’t break them!) or to hang them on the wall like in the photo below. Don’t they look so pretty like that?

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I love everything in the new Autumn collection at Donna Wilson: beautiful scarves and bags (how fun is this coin purse?), colourful lambswool cushions, and a whole range of playful items for kids.

Donna Wilson accessories
Donna Wilson scarves
donna wilson kids
I love how the Donna Wilson products always have an element of playfulness about them. They’re always beautiful, but also quite quirky and fun too.

Courtney x

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