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.

Quiche2

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!

Quiche3

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)

cantuccini

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
eating cake2

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.

cutapples

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 ;)

emilie_crumble

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.

kedgeree2
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…

butterhorns
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)

Weinreich1 weinreich2

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

my_minestrone

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?

DonnaWilson

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

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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

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