My family comes from the Limousin region in France, which is known for 2 reasons: for being the name sake for big, long, black cars with darkened out windows and also for being the originator of the clafoutis, one of the most delicious desserts ever made in France!
Now, I have to admit that for the last few years I had pushed clafoutis to the back of my mind, possibly because of having reached a clafoutis overload after many years of abuse. I am happy to say that clafoutis is back in my life and so far I have rolled out a cherry version, a plum and a pear version and it only has been 2 weeks!
Here is the recipe which is based on my grandmother’s original recipe:
300 ml milk
75 g of sugar
75 g of flour
40g of melted butter
vanilla extract or a pack of vanilla sugar
around 600 g of whatever fruit you fancy (traditionally cherries are used and the stones are always left in. My guess is that it means that there is less fruit juice mixing in with the batter, as the cherries are still intact, but this is only a guess…)
I usually whisk together the eggs and the milk with the butter and then add in the sugar and the flour. I then, if I possibly can, let the batter rest for 30 minutes or so, as I read somewhere this lets the flour absorb the fluid. Meanwhile I heat up the oven to about 180 degrees and butter a dish. I then place the fruit in the dish pour the batter over and bake for about 30 minutes or until it is nice and golden. Enjoy!
PS in the Clafoutis for the photo above I used Mirabelle plums, which are some of my favourites
It’s courgette season! A good excuse to make these delicious muffins… They are yummy — crunchy on the outside, and because of the courgette, lovely and moist inside.
Here’s the recipe:
- 225 g grated courgette
- 125 g sugar
- 1 egg
- 125 ml vegetable oil
- 200 g flour
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- the grated zest and juice of one lemon
Preheat your oven to 160° C (320° F). In a mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar, oil and courgette. In a separate bowl sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Fold the combined dry ingredients into the courgette mixture. Add the lemon zest, juice and salt. Don’t overmix the batter! Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (You can also make a loaf — in that case, cook for about 50 minutes.)
We Dutchmen love our pancakes! We eat them for lunch or dinner, but never for breakfast. We like them savoury, with cheese or bacon, or sweet, with apple, raisins or banana and with topping like icing sugar or treacle. We even combine the salt and the sweet — we poor treacle over our bacon pancakes. Yum!
In summer, I like to serve Dutch pancakes with sugar and lemon wedges. Here’s my recipe, which I think is the best:
- 250 g flour
- 500 ml or 2 cups of milk
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 bag baking powder (or 8 grams, or 2 teaspoons)
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- a good pinch of salt
Beat the eggs. Combine flour with baking powder, sugar and salt. Add eggs to flour, combine, and add a third of the milk. Whisk to get rid of lumps, add rest of the milk in parts. Get rid of all the lumps. (You can leave the batter to stand for up to an hour to improve, but don’t bother if you’re in a hurry.) Heat up a large frying pan. Melt butter in the pan, and pour in batter (I use a ladle). Evenly cover the bottom of the pan, trying to make the pancake as thin as possible. This is easiest if you pick up the pan and swirl the batter around. Flip pancake over when golden — try to throw it in the air and flip it over that way! Cook other side as well. Stack up pancakes and serve with sugar and lemon for a yummy summer lunch! Enjoy!
PS For the stack in the photo above I doubled the ingredients.
I’ve already shared this recipe on my blog but it’s so amazing I just have to post it here as well. I’ve tested it during the hot summer days and it works like a charm. It’s natural, organic and like I said – it’s a recipe but it’s not food, in fact it’s deodorant! Yes, organic and home made from things you probably already have at home and it really, trully works. That’s something I had problems finding – a natural deodorant that actually does its job.
But if you’re skeptical you can simply try the baking soda first, since coconut oil is an ingredient that only makes it easier to apply and to help moisturize the skin and the essential oil is optional and you can easily skip it – it only makes it smell nicer.
About two empty deodorant containers or small glass jars
6 tbs coconut oil
4 tbs baking soda
4 tbs of arrowroot or cornstarch?a few drops of essential oil (if you’d like to add a little fragrance)
Melt the coconut oil on a small fire and add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, wait so it cools down a bit pour into jars or containers and wait for it to cool down completely (you can put them into a fridge).
Voilà! That is all!
Have you heard of Rachel Khoo of Little Paris Kitchen? I have to admit, I am a little obsessed by her. I love the idea of a cute English girl cooking French dishes in a tiny kitchen in Paris.
I think what won me over was her video I found on Youtube of how to make Croque Madame Muffins, (probably the best ever combination of French and English fusion cooking). Also check out the choquettes which are possibly my favourite French pastries in the world and the Madeleines with raspberries and lemon curd.
There is something very re-assuring to see someone make complex French dishes on two hot plates and a tiny oven. It makes me feel like I could do it too!
A superette in France is a corner shop. Now, we do pride ourselves over here on our fabulous food but, secretly, most French do like a bit of junk: biscuits, chocolate, a frozen Lasagne — it is not all croissants and oysters over here!
Now, the good thing is that all this superette food has inspired 2 girls to come up with a genius blog: La Super Superette. They try and recreate all of this crazy food in their little kitchen, thus rendering the food from junk food to home made delicacies without any preservatives. Ever tried to make your own Kinder Egg? Ever had a craving for a Tuc biscuit? The answers are all on their blog.
There is now even a cookbook, which, unfortunately, is only in French at the moment. The blog is also only in French, but is pretty easy to read with google translate.
After baking it, cut it into layers and fill with your favourite filling. It was soo much fun to see the cake grow inside the tin can. And really, it was very easy. We think is a nice and different way to bake! Hope you like it!
I had my 21st birthday (a girl can dream, right?) last month and decided to gift myself with my favorite cake – carrot cake with yoghurt icing. I wanted to come as close as possible to the one they sell in Starbucks here in Germany (it is to DIE for!!!) and I think I kind of did (next time I just need to add walnuts).
I found this amazing recipe, made a few of my own adjustments and the outcome is one easy-to-make, super delicious and one of the moistest cakes I ever had! Plus it’s much much healthier than the one from Starbucks. It goes something like this:
2 cups (300 g) whole spelt flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1?2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon (or even more if you love it as much as I do)
1 tsp. ginger
1 cup sugar
3?4 cup applesauce
1?2 cup olive oil (or any other kind)
400 g finely grated carrots
600 g cream cheese
400 g Greek yoghurt
100 white chocolate
Powdered sugar to taste (I used about 3 spoons)
Preheat the oven to 175°C. In one bowl mix all the dry ingredients minus sugar (flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger). Now in a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients except for the carrots (eggs, sugar, apple sauce and oil). Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until combined. Add the grated carrots.
Bake twice – so use only half of the batter first and bake for about 13 – 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let cool for a minute or two and turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
For the frosting first melt the white chocolate and set aside. Then beat together cream cheese, yoghurt and powdered sugar. Make sure the chocolate is lukewarm and slowly mix it in. Put the frosting into a refrigerator for about 2 hours.
Layer the bottom and the side of the cake pan with parchment paper like this. Cut one cake on half horizontally and put one half into the pan, spread about 1?4 of the icing, put the other half on, spread another quarter of icing and repeat the same with the other cake. Leave in a refrigerator over night then put the cake on a cake tray and spread the rest of the icing over the top of the cake.
My kids and I are really into making rice paper rolls these days — a very fun and healthy cooking activity, which they love! Dried rice paper is available from the Japanese store (you get about one hundred sheets for a few euros). The fillings can vary — we’ve tried cucumber, carrot, avocado, celery and crab sticks. Other good filling are: red pepper, prawns, tofu, bean sprouts, spring onion, Chinese cabbage, egg omelette, fresh herbs (coriander, mint) and chicken strips. They can be completely veggie or kosher, depending on the fillings you choose, and are gluten free!
Place the fillings in little bowls on the table, together with a bit of (Japanese) mayonnaise. My kids love cutting veggies (and are pretty good at it!) so I slice them in fairly big chunks and let them do the rest. Soak a sheet of rice paper into a bowl of lukewarm water until it’s soft, about 15 seconds, and place on the table. Spread a little bit of mayonnaise onto the paper, and choose the topping you like to use. Fold over sides of paper and roll up to close. Done!
You can make a quick dip sauce (combine rice vinegar, lime juice, sping onion and a bit of fish sauce, minced red chilli, mint and coriander) or serve with sweet chili sauce.
We discovered Jamie Oliver’s vegetarian chili recipe a couple months ago, and have made it nearly once a week since. It’s so yummy, and so easy to make. And it’s one of those meals you can make at the end of the week when your fridge is empty and you can’t think of anything else to make. Most of the ingredients are canned ingredients you’ll have in your pantry, or spices you’ll probably have in the cupboard. The fresh ingredients you’ll need are sweet potatoes, peppers, chillis and coriander (unless, like us, you have a stash of frozen coriander in your freezer). Give this recipe a go — I’m certain you’ll love it too!
Image taken from the Jamie Oliver website.
This bulghur lentil salad has been a huge success in our house lately. It’s easy to make, easy to keep, easy to take along (picnics!), and easy to eat as well. Our kids love it! And I imagine it’s quite healthy too.
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 cup Puy lentils
- 1/3 cup bulghur
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (like parsley, basil, coriander, mint)
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- fresh ground pepper, maldon salt
Cook Dupuy lentils according to instructions (don’t overcook, it’s nice when they still have a bite to them, I cook them for about 25 minutes and rinse them with cold water immediately after), and prepare the bulghur acording to instructions as well. Leave to cool. Mix all of the ingredients well. Add more salt and pepper, olive oil, herbs and lemon juice to taste.
PS I often double the recipe and keep some in the fridge for a lunch, picnic or side dish later that week.
My sister recently suggested I read Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko. She said the book had changed her life! (How’s that for a recommendation?!) Ms. Boutenko is a raw foods pioneer and natural health advocate. She writes about the immense health benefits of eating more greens — how they eliminate toxins in the body and correct nutritional deficiencies. She suggests that the easiest way to consume sufficient amount of greens is to make and drink green smoothies.
And thus began our addiction to green smoothies!! We make them every day. It’s such an easy way to eat spinach, kale, chard and other extremely healthy green vegetables. She also argues that we should be eating more of the green parts of vegetables — the green bits of strawberries (just throw the whole strawberries, stems included, into your blender!), the greens of carrots, beet greens, etc. I don’t think I’ll ever toss those green bits away again! Plus, it’s so much easier to throw it all into your blender without removing the stems.
In addition to the greens, we also add sweet fruit like bananas, mangoes, strawberries, apples, etc. So the smoothies are not only extremely healthy, they’re super yummy! My kids are as addicted as I am! Here is one of our favourite sweet green smoothie recipes from the Green for Life book:
1 cup chard
1 cup spinach
10 strawberries, stems included
1 mango, peeled
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups water
And another recipe we also like (a bit less sweet – more healthy tasting!) is this one which we’ve sort of created ourselves:
1-2 cups of spinach
1 bunch of mint, stems included
1 bunch of parsley, stems included
1 cup apple juice
Try it! It’s delicious! And please share your green smoothie recipes. We would love to have more options!
These Indian eggs were quickly made using a black marker, some masking tape and a little feather or pipe cleaner. I put them in my kids’ lunch boxes as a surprise, but I thought it would also be fun to make them for Easter. So easy, and so cute!
My sister recently discovered this recipe for homemade chocolate mint patties on Design*Sponge and we were intrigued for two reasons: the first being that they look SO tasty (and who doesn’t love mint patties?!) and the second being that you get to make the mint filling, roll it out flat, cut shapes, and then dip the shapes into chocolate. Fun!
My sister and Ivy decided to make them (again, thank goodness for my sister!) and it was a relatively easy and fun recipe to follow… and they are the most delicious mint patties I have ever eaten. SO. DARN. GOOD.
p.s. Ivy started calling the them ‘mint patios’, so now mint patties are officially called ‘Mint Patios’ in our house. (I nearly wanted to title this post ‘mint patios’, but figured you all might be confused.) : )
Crystal, one of our readers, sent us this beautiful image of a giant cookie she made with her 2 children a few weeks ago. It’s a lemon poppy shortcake that was carved before baking, and the photo was used for their Christmas cards this year. What a great idea!
Crystal was so sweet to write down the recipe / method for us — so here we go. Thank you, Crystal!
Lemon-Poppy Seed Shortbread (from Claudia Fleming, The Last Course)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth, about two minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla and beat well. In a bowl, combine the flour, poppy seeds, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Form the dough into a disk and, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours (and up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.) Preheat oven to 170° C. Roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper to a 1/2-cm thick rectangle. Return dough to refrigerator for an additional 30 minutes.
For normal cookies: Cut the shortbread into shapes with a two-inch cookie cutter, or use a knife, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. The original recipe says not to re-roll the scraps, but my kids didn’t want to stop, and it seemed like a waste of potential cookies, so we kept re-rolling and cutting until we had used everything up -to no noticeable effect on the baked cookies. Prick shortbread with a fork and bake until pale golden all over, 23 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
For a giant cookie: After rolling it out to the rectangular shape I wanted, I popped it onto the baking tin, covered it with cling film and popped into the freezer for around 10 minutes. I kept doing this each time during the cutting to ensure that the cookie mixture was firm enough to carve/cut. I used a toothpick to sketch out the main shapes and then used a small sharp paring knife to cut out fuller shapes out around the toothpick lines. I then used a wooden chopstick dipped in water to smooth the inside of some of the cut lines that hadn’t cut so well. The cookie definitely cut better when it had just come out of the freezer, so I kept popping it in and out quite frequently during the process. I actually did this part while my kids were taking their afternoon nap -it would have been quite boring for them to watch this part. By the time they woke up, we gathered the scraps, ruled them into a few extra creatively shaped cookies, and the whole thing was ready to go into the oven! We kept a close eye on it’s cooking, and after about 25 minutes took it out when the edges were beginning to brown. Then we had to be really patient, (ok, maybe not that patient! There were a couple of the extra cookies to nibble on) while the giant cookie cooled down. It slipped off the tray perfectly, and we were able to photograph it right away. Finally we all had fun breaking up our giant cookie to lots of small irregular sizes and packing them away for tea later!
Once every few weeks we come together with a couple of friends on a week night and we cook up something interesting. So far we’ve made anything from pickled cucumbers, spicy red onions jam, red beet chutney, to the original plum pudding (with suet!). Yesterday we made our own mustard, which was a simple project with amazing results that I had to share with you. It would make an easy and lovely gift for the holidays — by itself or paired with a nice piece of great cheese. We found the recipe in ‘Home Made’ by Yvette van Boven, which BTW would also make a lovely holiday gift!
For two smaller or one bigger jar of mustard, just combine the below ingredients in the food processor and whizz for about 5 minutes:
- 100 g mustard seeds
- 200 ml white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kurkuma
- 50 g cane sugar
- pepper and salt to taste
When you’ve reached the consistency you like, spoon the mustard in clean jars and seal. Store in the fridge until use. It is said the taste will improve after a few weeks but I’m sure ours will be gone immediately — it is that good.
Note: We used white wine vinegar with tarragon and it made a lovely mustard with an interesting twist. You can also play around with honey instead of sugar, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, cloves, chilli etc., or roast the mustard seed beforehand for a more nutty flavour.
My sister is visiting us from Seattle — she arrived the day before Marlow was born, and she’s staying with us through Christmas. I can’t even begin to describe how happy this makes me! She is so much help with the kids and with the baby. I really don’t know how I will survive when she leaves.
Another bonus — she bakes! She recently made this delicious Pumpkin and Cranberry Bread for us and it is sooo yummy. It’s so perfect for this time of year. (The recipe makes two loaves — but we decided to make cupcakes for the kids because they’re easier for them to eat.) The recipe comes from Lena Corwin, as featured on Design*Sponge.
My favourite cooking website is, without a doubt, the Smitten Kitchen blog. Deb Perelman’s posts are hilarious and easy to read and she does not take herself too seriously. Just the kind of person I would love to take cooking tips from. You might have noticed that Courtney and I have started linking to Deb’s post lately (and those brownies are really the best ever).
This morning I received the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook in my mailbox and it made my day (is it a sign of the times that a cookbook can make my day?). I have to admit that I am one of those old-fashioned girls who likes to have a book rather than a computer in the kitchen. This is possibly due to the fact that I have a tendency to get flour and butter onto the computer, which is just not a good idea. I cannot wait to try out the recipes and will definitely share my favourites with you!
How nice is it when your child can suddenly read? One day they are in diapers finding it hard to concentrate on Spot the Dog. Next thing you know, they are curling up on their bed with a book; it’s a big milestone!
Years ago we were given, as a present, a copy of “La Pâtisserie est un jeu d’enfants“. I frankly forgot that it was flying around somewhere in the kids room, until Coco came up to me recently and announced that it was time for us to make some gateau à la banane (banana cake). Not quite the thing I had planned that day… but she had read the recipe, had checked in the cupboard if we had the ingredients and there was no stopping her.
This book is a classic over here in France. It was first published in 1964 and is full of traditional French children’s gouter cakes, for example choquets, crèpes, marble cake and, my personal favourite, Madeleines. The illustrations are charming and super simple to follow. There is also a cut-out pattern for the measuring cup, which is a fun extra activity.
It only exists in French, but it is very simple so you will be able to decipher it, even if your French is very basic.
If you enjoy this book you might also enjoy it’s precursor called “La cuisine est un jeu d’enfants” (Cooking is a child’s game).