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

What kids around the world eat for breakfast

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I am sure a lot of you have come across this article in the New York Times but I still wanted to post it, as I think it is so interesting to see how differently children eat. At my flat we are so used to eating sweet things in the morning, be it cereal, porridge (very unusual for France) or tartines – the idea of  miso soup and soy sauce for breakfast would not even cross our mind. And yet it would feel completely natural somewhere else…

I remember Esther staying with me one day and telling one of her kids off for having grabbed something sweet to eat before eating something savoury. Only then did she realise that there was nothing savoury on the table! It is funny how we all have our breakfast traditions. I think it is the meal that we are the least adventurous about, possibly because adventure is the last thing on our mind when we are still waking up.

I also love the photos in this post, the children look so cute, still sleepy with ruffled hair and preparing themselves for the day.

– Emilie

My First Opinel

h23143003-1My grandfather once told me that every good French woman had a pen knife in her handbag. Now, that might have been a slight exaggeration, but a lot of us do have a couple of Opinels, the ubiquitous French pen knife. I have a small one to slip into my handbag to slice apples and divide cakes for snacks. I also have a bigger one for picnics!

I think it is so cute that Opinel is now doing a pen knife for kids, with a rounded blade. It not a toy but a fully functioning knife that is relatively sharp and can be used to help out at picnics and possibly cut down a couple of twigs. I guess I am teaching my kids how to become good French woman from a young age. My grandfather would be proud. ; )

– Emile

Scones!

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Last week I was thinking of something new for breakfast (the children had a few days off from school), and suddenly the idea of scones came to mind. Scones are not a traditional Dutch dish, but I’ve learned to appreciate a good scone in the years I lived in London. Here’s the recipe I used (this BBC Good Food recipe but with a few modifications). A grand recipe, we all agreed on! (And it makes your kitchen smell heavenly, if anything!)

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Ingredients:

  • 350g flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 85g butter (cut into cubes — didn’t bother)
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 175ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • beaten egg, to glaze

Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix. Add the butter, use your fingers to rub the butter in the mix until it looks like fine crumbs.
Put the buttermilk into a jug and heat in the microwave for about 30 secs until warm. Add the vanilla and sugar, stir, then set aside for a moment. Put a baking sheet in the oven.
Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and combine it quickly with your hands – it will seem pretty (really!) wet at first. Scatter a royal amount of flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother. Pat into a round about 3 to 4 cm deep.
Take a 5cm cutter and dip it into some flour. Plunge into the dough, then repeat until you have four to six scones. By this point you’ll probably need to press what’s left of the dough back into a round to cut out another four. Brush the tops with beaten egg, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.
Bake for 10 to 15 mins until risen and golden on the top. Eat just warm or cold on the day of baking, generously topped with jam and clotted cream (or butter).

Bon Appetite!

xxx Esther

 

Peanut butter cookies dipped in chocolate

peanut butter cookies and chocolate
marlow making peanut butter cookies
chocolate covered peanut butter cookies
Remember the super easy peanut butter cookies I blogged about a few months ago? The recipe with only three ingredients?! Well, last week I decided to add one more ingredient… and oh my goodness it was a good decision! I melted down some dark chocolate and dipped the cookies half way in. Yummmm !!

x Courtney

p.s. Marlow’s cute skirt is from Lalé. Available here.

In løv with this tea!

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When I was in Paris a while back I noticed this supercool shop in Le Marais, filled with beautiful candy-coloured tins filled with… tea! Løv Organic is a French tea brand, and offers beautiful tins filled with amazing tea blends, all certified organic.

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I’ve gotten so into this tea lately — the flavours are so exquisite and it’s just such a pleasure to go through the tea making ritual with such a beautiful product.

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We love the Apple Cinnamon Fruit Tea, the Vanilla Rooibos, the Løvely Night, and the Wild Berry Fruit Tea. The great thing about these teas is that they are tannin-free, so my kids can enjoy them safely — they really love drinking tea! Plus — these teas make wonderful iced tea too. Perfect for this time of year, when some days are cold and some days are hot!

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So, now back to work with a nice cup of Spicy Citrus Fruit Tea… : )

xxx Esther

This post was kindly sponsored by Løv Tea, a brand we have always loved and respected.

A market in France

market_viewWhen we stay in our house in France, we always make sure to make the trip to the local market which takes place in Maurs, every Thursday morning. The ride by itself is worth it — the beautiful hills with the fog still hanging over the valleys…

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The market is a ‘farmers market’ in the true sense of the word — there still are farmers who will come to town, display their wares on the grounds in front of the medieval church and sell their beautiful products like eggs, vegetables, flowers and tools made from wicker or carved out of wood.

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market_avaProduce are fresh and abundant, and local. We love all the different cheeses and sausages, the artisanal bread, the wonderful fruit and vegetables… There’s even a woman with a giant water bucket full of trouts — she will catch the one of your liking and, uhm, clean it on the spot (the kids find this especially intriguing)!

market_garlicAnd every summer, I stock up on purple garlic that lasts almost a full year!

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market_fountainThe market is very much a social affair as well — people come to town to buy fresh produce, but also meet up with friends and family in one of the cafés (and drink café au lait of course).

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market_mandelaMarket day is a busy cay, because back home, we have a great lunch, a productive afternoon… and a delicious dinner! ; ) Ah, summer holidays — I can’t wait until next year!

xxx Esther

PS Yummy Puy lentil salad

Blackberry season. Time for pie!

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girls eating blackberries

And just like that… it’s blackberry season! In just the past week the blackberries on the island have ripened… and they are abundant! We’ve been picking blackberries daily and eating them for every meal.  Yummm. Last week the girls and I decided to make a blackberry pie. To be honest, Ivy decided she wanted to make a pie and I decided to be a good mama and help her make it. Pies are not my favourite thing to make — I’m always turned off by the trickiness of pie crust (the making, the rolling, the precision of pie crust pinching!). Cakes and cobblers are so much easier for this reason. But, Ivy wanted pie…

I’ve recently discovered the baking blog Bakers Royale, and the few recipes I’ve tried have been really good so we decided to make her Blackberry Lime Pie, despite my worries that it might be too sour for a little girl’s palette.

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blackberry lime pie, last piece

The pie turned out really well (despite the not-so-perfect pie crust design!). The blackberry and lime combination is really interesting, and the crust is a bit sweeter than most crusts so it’s the perfect combination of sweet pastry and slightly sour filling. Really yummy! We will definitely make it again.

x Courtney

A yummy salad from green (Puy) lentils

green lentil salad

We’re currently staying in our family house in France, which is located in one of the most beautiful parts of France (if you ask me): the Cantal. Part of the Auvergne, it has a stunning nature, amazing architecture, and wonderful local food. I’ve been coming here for over 25 years, my husband for over 14 years, and now we bring our children here every year as well. We all love this part of the world so much! (I will share some photos of our vacation here soon.)

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The Auvergne is also home to the Puy green lentils — they have been produced on the volcanic grounds of this area for over 2000 years. They are very tasty, and super healthy as well. I make them quite often in summer, and always a royal amount as they easily keep for a few days and are super to have around as a side dish, for lunch or picnics. And usually everybody really likes them, including the children!

Here’s how I prepare them (please adjust all quantities to your taste — I never measure them myself!):

  • 250g green or blond (Puy) lentils
  • half an onion or one shallot, finely chopped
  • a royal cup fresh herbs, finely chopped (parsley, coriander, mint, basil, chives, etc — whatever you have handy)
  • 3 tbs. good olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • fresh ground pepper and sea salt

Pick over and rinse the lentils, and cook them in salty water for about 20 to 25 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain, run cold water over them, drain again and transfer to a large bowl. Mix the lentils with the rest of the ingredients. Stir gently to combine. Taste, and add more olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Eat lukewarm, or chilled from the fridge. They’re arguably even better the next day!

Bon appétit!

xxx Esther

Apple Eve Pudding

Eve Pud

Now I know the French are known for their fancy pastries and cakes, but the English are hard to beat at simple, wholesome, easy-to-make desserts. One of my favourites is Apple Eve Pudding, a variation on Apple Crumble. Instead of crumble you add a sponge batter on top of the apples. I love the way the sponge slightly soaks up some of the juice from the apples. It makes it wonderfully moist.
The funny thing is, Apple Crumble is still being served all around the country, and I think Eve Pudding has almost been forgotten in England (correct me if I am wrong)! Here’s the recipe:

6 apples
200 g of butter
150 g of sugar
4 eggs
200 g of flour
1 teaspoon baking power
1 slug of milk

Peel the apples and cut them into chunks and put them in a oven proof dish. Heat the oven to 180°C.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour with the baking powder to make a batter that can just about be dropped over the apples (it you think it is a bit too stiff and a slug of milk to get the right consistency). Drop over the apples making sure they are all covered and bake in the oven until the top of the pudding is golden. Serve warm – we usually add a good spoonful of vanilla ice cream.

P.S. different recipes call for raisins and cinnamon to be added to the apples, others for vanilla to be added to the batter. We like the simple version of the recipe but I think the variations are endless (blackberries mixed in with the apples? Could be delicious, no?)

– Emilie

P.S. Oh, I forgot to mention: best served with custard, ice cream or a good dose of single cream.

Simple Stone Fruit Tart

stone fruit tart
I stumbled upon this image on Pinterest a couple days ago and knew immediately what I wanted to do with the bowl full of peaches and nectarines on my kitchen counter and the ready-rolled puff pastry in my freezer. So easy! I quickly wrote down the  simple recipe and decided to make it that evening with all my little kitchen helpers. It was really a team effort – Easton helped fold the sides of the pastry and painted on the egg yolk, Quin sprinkled the sugar and helped cut the peaches, Ivy poured the honey and Marlow snuck bites of fruit while we worked. : )

Marlow making fruit tart

peaches, nectarines and apricots

Here’s the recipe:

-1 puff pastry sheet
-3 cups of stone fruit, sliced (we used peaches, nectarines, and apricots)
-3 tablespoons of honey
-1 tablespoon of lemon juice
-1 egg, lightly beaten
-granulated sugar for sprinkling

Heat oven to 190° C (375° F). Place baking sheet in oven to heat up. Place the puff pastry on parchment paper. Fold in edge of puff pastry towards center to create a half inch border; set aside. In a bowl toss fruit, honey and lemon juice. Remove heated baking sheet from oven. Place puff pastry on bake sheet. Pour fruit mixture on top. Brush border with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle sugar over the egg.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown. Enjoy!

fruit tart, eaten

We ended up eating the tart before dinner because none of us had the willpower to wait!

xx Courtney

p.s. Recipe based on this one found on Bakers Royale.

A recipe for pickled cucumber — so good!

pickled cucumbers by Babyccino KidsMy family has been making these pickled cucumber for as long as I remember. I used to LOVE them as a child, and now my kids (and all of our friends) eat them with relish too. They’re great as a side dish for dinner, but also wonderful to serve at cocktail hour. Plus, a homemade jar of pickles makes a nice present too!

pickled cucumberHere’s the recipe:

  • 3 kilo cucumbers
  • 0.75 l white wine, cider or herb vinegar
  • 0.25 l water
  • 1 kilo sugar
  • 2 sticks cinnamon (about 5 cm each), broken in pieces
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 or 2 cm fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
  • grated zest of a lemon
  • 1 t.sp. white peppercorns
  • 2 t.sp. mustard seeds

Have sterilised jars and lids ready — depending on the size of the jars, I would say you need about 10 of them. (I like to use slightly bigger jars.) Peel and halve the cucumbers lengthwise and scoop out the seeds using a spoon. Cut in chunks of about 2 to 3 cm (1 inch). Pack the raw cucumber tightly into jars (you can really press them in!). Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil an cook for about 3 minutes. Poor the hot liquid over the cucumbers using a funnel — fill jars to about 1 cm (1/2 inch) of the top. Screw lids on tightly.

pickled cucumbers

Now can your jars your preferred way. You can can by placing them in boiling water for 5 minutes, but I use the oven for canning: I put the jars on a roasting tin and place them in an oven of 150ºC. When the liquid in the jars is boiling (keep an eye on them!), I turn the oven off and let the jars cool down in the oven. There’s a lot of controversy on (oven) canning, but this is what I’ve been doing for ages and I’ve never had a problem with it. I use regular jars, but you can use special canning jars too. After canning, make sure the lids are closed well / popped down. If in doubt — eat those pickles first! You can keep the pickles at least for a year, but once opened you have to keep them in the fridge.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do — please let me know if you end up making them and if you find them delicious too!

xxx Esther

 

Simple tomato pasta

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chopped tomotoes for pasta
One of my favourite things about summer time is how much easier it is to make dinner! I’m not a very good planner, so in the winter time when you need time to make soups and stews, I often fail to get dinner made on time.  In the summer, with fresh produce on hand, it’s so much easier to make simple, delicious meals.

One of the easiest summer meals we make is a simple pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil. The only actual ‘cooking’ required is to boil the pasta. Other than that, it’s a bit of chopping and that’s it. Here’s what you’ll need:

-fresh, ripe tomatoes (preferably vine ripened)
-fresh basil
-garlic (usually 3-4 cloves, and I like to use fresh garlic this time of year)
-olive oil
-sea salt & pepper
-pasta (spaghetti, linguine or something similar)
-parmesan cheese

tomato pasta

Chop the garlic finely. Sprinkle a bit of salt over the garlic and crush garlic a bit to make it more of a paste (the salt helps to do this). Add garlic to bowl. Chop tomatoes and basil and add to bowl. Add a bit of olive oil and stir tomatoes to create a sauce with the tomatoes, garlic and basil.  Boil pasta and drain. Add fresh tomatoes. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese. Enjoy! (So easy, right?!)

x Courtney

 

Tarte à la tomate et à la moutarde

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I recently got back in touch with a friend who I lost sight of for a few years, and in the meantime she divorced her Dutch husband and married a lovely French man, moved to another part of town, and is pregnant with their first (her second) baby. Things can change! Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is that when we went over to their lovely house for lunch last week, we were served a ‘Tarte à la Tomato et à la Moutarde’, an utterly delicious quiche made with only 4 ingredients: puff pastry, mustard, tomatoes, and herbs. Apparently every self-respecting French housewife knows how to make this tarte, and takes pride in perfecting it to the sublime. Funny I had never heard of it before!

Tarte à la tomate et à la moutarde

Yesterday I was preparing a picnic with my girls, and we decided to try to make the Tarte à la tomato et à la moutarde — and it was indeed so super simple to make and just as delicious as the week before. Here’s the how-to:

  • Puff pastry
  • Mustard (Maille original works great)
  • About 5 ripe tomatoes
  • Herbs Provençal (a mixture of dried thyme, oregano, basil, sage, rosemary, and savory)

Cover a greased quiche bottom with puff pastry and pre-bake about 10 minutes on 175ºC (450ºF). In the meantime, slice your tomatoes thinly. Take crust out of oven and cover royally with mustard (they say you shouldn’t see the puff pastry anymore but I used a bit less, about 2 to 3 tablespoons). Layer the tomatoes over the mustard and sprinkle the herbs on top, together with a bit of sea salt and a sprinkle of olive oil.  Bake in oven for 45 minutes (cover with aluminium foil halfway).

Bon appétit!

xxx Esther

Fantastic food from Mikodesign

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 10.52.44 Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 10.52.23I’ve raved about the boundless creativity of my friend Erika from Mikodesign before. Her dolls are simply beautiful (and so fun to put together yourself if you like sewing). But the surprise food plates she creates for her two teenage daughters are something else!

Check out the ‘fast food’ lunch above: with mango french fries, a peanut butter sandwich ‘cheese burger’, strawberry ketchup, and a strawberry banana smoothie milkshake. Or don’t you love the fun summery afternoon vegetable snack with googly eyes?

Mikodesign_flowersHere’s a flower themed surprise breakfast with mango flowers, a boiled egg with a flower garland, a pink smoothie, and a peanut butter sandwich flowerpot with a real mint plant… A day started with a breakfast like this can only bring smiles!

Mikodesign_cats mikodesign_kahlo Above a ‘cats’ surprise breakfast made with a peanut butter sandwich, fresh mango, pink smoothie, egg and edible paper. And a ‘Viva Frida’ surprise breakfast with a Frida Kahlo pancake, strawberry margarita smoothie and an apple/peanut butter sandwich cactus. (I think this one is my all-time Mikodesign Breakfast favourite!!)

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 17.23.53 Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 17.24.04How cool is this Instagram snack? Or the surprise breakfast with a hardboiled egg-face on a stick (the eyes are made with simple black sesame seeds), apple, peanut butter sandwich, green smoothie and a chocolate cookie for dessert…. Amazing, right?

I find Erika to be one of the most inspirational people I follow on Instagram. I can definitely recommend her feed — all she does is simply amazing!

xxx Esther

 

Frozen watermelon lollies

I saw an image of iced watermelon lollies on Pinterest last week and thought that was about the best idea ever! How simple and perfect for summer. Since we’re having a ‘mini’ heat wave here in London this week, I decided to make them for the kids as an after-school snack.  The kids agree — best idea ever!

x Courtney

p.s. I love how 22° qualifies as a heat wave in England : )
p.p.s. Come join us on Pinterest! We’re addicted — so much inspiration all in one place!

A simple recipe for Madeleines

I don’t know if you are like me, but I sometimes have a favourite recipe that I make almost every day and then totally forget about it. I was recently tidying up a kitchen shelf and on it I found a long forgotten Madeleine pan ! Violette and I got straight to work and the results were delicious.

My Madeleine recipe is possibly one of the simplest I know:

-125 g of sugar
-125 g of butter
-150 g of flour
-2 eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 180° C. Butter the Madeleine tray. Cream the butter with the sugar until it becomes light, then mix in the eggs and the flour alternating. Fill up your Madeleine tray and cook until light brown.

Voila, there is nothing better with a cup of tea!

-Emilie

World’s easiest peanut butter cookies!

My mother-in-law made these peanut butter cookies for us when we were visiting over Easter, and I think I ate five in one go. They are delicious! So moist and chewy and crazily addictive. And the best bit? They consist of only THREE INGREDIENTS! How simple is that?!

Just:

-1 cup of peanut butter
-1 cup of brown sugar
-1 egg

In a large bowl, mix the three ingredients together until you have a smooth, consistent dough. Using your hands, roll dough into small balls and place on a baking tray, evenly spaced. Press a fork into the dough balls in opposite directions making a criss-cross pattern. Then bake at 350° F (175° C) for 8-10 minutes. And that’s it. So easy!! I’m planning on making them for my mom when she comes to visit — she can’t eat gluten, but loves cookies. She is going to be so excited about this recipe!

And here’s a photo of sneaky Ivy stealing a warm cookie straight off the tray! Yummmm….

x Courtney

Hokolo

Hokolo is a London-based design label started by Jen Taylor, who has set out to create a brand that represents the style of her two favourite cities: Hong Kong and London (hence the brand name). Her collection features a blend of iconic British objects with a bright & modern design aesthetic.
I love the English Breakfast collection which plays on strong graphic qualities of fried eggs, tomatoes, blueberries and orange slices set against colourful backdrops and gingham-inspired patterns. The designs are bright, modern and playful and can be found on soft, lambswool blankets, placemats and coasters, cotton tea towels and other homewares.

Jen is offering Babyccino readers 15% off the entire Hokolo collection. Click here for details.

x Courtney

Weekend brownie baking and cute aprons from Odette Williams


The lovely Odette Williams sent over a couple of her cute apron sets for my kids and they arrived just in time for some brownie baking over the weekend. I managed to snap a couple photos of my little helpers and thought I would share.

If you haven’t yet discovered the Smitten Kitchen brownie recipe, you should do so immediately. It’s my go-to recipe! And if your kids need some aprons to encourage them to help you in the kitchen, you should check out these great sets. (They also make good gifts I think!)

x Courtney

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