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:
200 g of butter
150 g of sugar
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?)
P.S. Oh, I forgot to mention: best served with custard, ice cream or a good dose of single cream.
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. : )
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!
We ended up eating the tart before dinner because none of us had the willpower to wait!
My 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!
- 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.
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!
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)
-garlic (usually 3-4 cloves, and I like to use fresh garlic this time of year)
-sea salt & pepper
-pasta (spaghetti, linguine or something similar)
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?!)
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!
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).
I’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?
Here’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!
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!!)
How 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!
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!
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!
One of my childhood friends always had the best cake at her birthday parties. Her mum would make (or buy?) the most ordinary cupcakes, and set the table with different sort of custards, frostings and toppings. I loved to pile up my plate with candy, and create the most enormous cupcake possible.
For Sara’s birthday party last year, I did a similar thing. I made cupcakes, and cream cheese frosting (simply mix cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar), and used my vintage fondue plates for the table setting. Chocolate sprinkles, heart sprinkles, mini m&m’s, candy… It was all there. And it was funny to see how the children enjoyed themselves (and how in the end, lots of the candy was left un-eaten on the plates, but all of the raspberries, blueberries and strawberries were gone)!
It was Pim’s 7th birthday last Monday so I’m planning a little birthday party for him, and I realised that I never posted about the cooking party we had for Sara’s birthday last year!
Sara has enjoyed food since she was a baby, and she loves helping me in the kitchen. So it was no surprise when she asked for a cooking party for her 8th birthday! She invited 8 of her girl friends, and like always, party preparations took place the day before the party (let’s just say, I’m at my best the very last minute).
I bought a huge pile of cheap, unbleached cotton at the market, and together with my mother-in-law sewed 11 aprons out of it (of course Pim and Ava were invited too). I also bought cutting boards, knives, notebooks and pencils. I made a triangular stamp out of a simple eraser, and decorated everything with triangles. I also stamped the children’s names on all of the items.
We set the table with the different veggies and toppings needed for the healthy Vietnamese Style Rice Paper Rolls I blogged about earlier. The children loved cutting everything on their own cutting boards, and writing down the ingredients and recipe in their little notebook. And even very picky eaters found ingredients on the table that they loved!
Afterwards, the notebooks and pencils came in handy for the treasure hunt we had organised in the neighbourhood. And of course, they could all take home a little party bag with the items we had made for them. It was a really fun party!
Æbleskivers are a type of (delicious!) Danish pancake… and while I don’t have any Danish roots, my family has been making Æbleskivers for as long as I can remember. My mom even remembers her grandmother making them for her. I believe they are traditionally eaten around Christmas time, but in my family we eat them whenever we are all together. Usually in the summertime!
Santa gave me an Æbleskiver pan for Christmas this year and we made them twice over the Christmas holiday. They’re so yummy — like a cross between a donut and a pancake. What’s not to love?! Here’s my family’s age-old recipe:
Æbleskivers (approximately 40):
- 3 eggs
- 1 pint of cream
- 2 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 Tablespoon of sugar
Beat the eggs until they’re light in colour. Add the flour and the cream alternatively and mix well. Add the salt, baking powder and sugar and mix until smooth and creamy. Batter should pour easily into pan.
Heat your Æbleskiver pan over high heat. Add a bit of vegetable oil (or butter) to individual holes and fill the holes ¾ full with batter. Turn the æbleskivers (we do this with a fork in each hand) when they are getting dry and golden on the bottom (you might need to turn them in three rotations to get them to be round in shape). When they are round and golden on all sides, dump from the pan onto a plate of powdered sugar.
Enjoy with powdered sugar and/or jam. (If you’ve made too many, save for later! My kids love them even when they’re cold.)
Gratins have been around since the invention of the stove I reckon. If you think about it, a lasagne, cauliflower and cheese and a haché parmentier are roughly the same thing: some carbohydrates or vegetables mixed in with a béchamel and potentially some cheese, stuck into an oven until it all turns into a beautiful melting pot of a dish, covered with a bubbling crust.
A good gratin is a staple dish in our house, as it gives new life to leftover pasta, potatoes or vegetables. I mostly use either single cream for my bakes or a tomato sauce to bind the main body of the dish together and then top it with grated cheese. I then stick it in the oven, which has been preheated to 180° and bake it for 30-40 minutes until it is golden brown on top and bubbling.
I don’t think I have ever eaten a bad gratin and, eaten with a crispy green salad, it is a really lovely meal.
Above is a gratin I made the other day with broccoli, potato and some lardons!
You probably have heard of the talented Paul Lowe Einlyng, better known to most people as ‘Sweet Paul‘. His blog and quarterly magazine are an accumulation of wonderful craft projects, yummy recipes and creative decor ideas, all photographed in the most stunning and inspiring way. I’m a big fan of Sweet Paul!
Sweet Paul is sharing some ideas below that were published in his 2013 Sweet Paul Holiday Kids issue. I’m pretty sure they will inspire you to do something crafty with your kids the coming weeks! (Or if not, you can just gaze at the pretty pictures.) The entire magazine, full to the brim with inspiring activities like the sneak peeks below, is available as a PDF download here (for iPad click here). And it’s beautiful!
Makes 20 sticks
1 sheet puff pastry (I love to
½ cup grated cheese of your choice
1. Preheat then oven to 375°F.
2. Cut the puff pastry into half-inch strips.
3. Twist them gently and place in a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
4. Sprinkle with cheese.
5. Bake until golden. This will take about 10 minutes.
needle and thread
1.Start by drawing your animal on the fabric.
2.Emboyder it using small stitches.
3.Cut around the animal so that it follows its shape, you need a front and a back.
4.Sew them together right side against right side, turn inside out and stuff with stuffing.
5.Sew up the hole.
And here are the instructions for the adorable Peanut Snowman at the top.
This is a great kids project. Looks awesome on a small tree.
white craft paint
hot glue gun
1.Start by painting the peanuts white.
2.Once dry use a marker and make eyes and mouth.
3.Hot glue a acorn top to the top of the peanut and fasten a piece of wool string around the neck.
Thank you Sweet Paul!
This week for The Little Things, Ava and her cute little friend Juul are showing you how easy and fun it is to make your own pepernoten, and how tasty they are to eat afterwards! Pepernoten (the literal translation is ‘peppernuts’) are a typically Dutch delicacy that traditionally is eaten this time of year, when Sinterklaas is in the country. They are actually crunchy mini cookies, and taste a bit like gingerbread… Super delicious!
Here is a wonderful how-to recipe card for you, drawn by Sara Mush, and which of course can be downloaded for free here. Making pepernoten is a perfect afternoon activity for children of all ages — it’s fun and easy to do, with fast and delicious results!
PS – This is the fourth post in a series which is called ‘The Little Things’. Thank you Maud Fontein for taking beautiful photos in your wonderful house, and Sara Musch for the beautiful download. Ava’s dress is from La Coqueta, and the aprons are made from a dishtowel, check the recent post here for the how-to.
With autumn, and being cosy and warm in our minds, Ava and her little friends Juul and Kate helped me make a delicious pumpkin soup for lunch. They cut carrots, potatoes and onions and were great little kitchen assistants! (If you would like to do this at home with your kids, just click here for your free PDF download!).
Cooking with children is a lovely activity, and they can learn so many things about eating healthily and seasonally and about fresh ingredients… and of course, cooking their own meal will motivate them to eat it as well! Juul, Kate and Ava sat down at a beautifully set table and very proudly ate their own soup… A true little lady luncheon for the three little girl friends!
PS – This is the second post in a series which is called ‘The Little Things’. Thank you Maud Fontein for taking such gorgeous photos, Sara Musch for the beautiful download, and Bianca from A Day With Kate for letting us use your super stylish house! Paper Straws, Wooden Cutlery and Mae Engelgeer Tea Towel are available from A Day With Kate.
My daughter Violette is going through one of these major no-food phases. She isn’t eating anything, and mealtimes are taking a life and a day.
I know I should ignore it, but it is difficult, especially when I have gone to great lengths to cook something special. (I think she took the biscuit when she announced she did not like bread anymore: because baguette was too crusty and normal bread too soft!)
She did, however, eat her body weight in a bowl of the best Pad Thai I have ever made, so I quickly wanted to post about it, just in case anyone else has a non-eater in their midst. I left out the radish, the dried shrimp (as I did not have any), and the chilli (I added some chilli sauce for myself and Coco later). I also used spring onions instead of Chinese chives. Even this simplified version was delicious and easy to whip together.
I always forget how much children (and adults) enjoy eating with chopsticks and slurping noodles – the novelty factor never wears off!
Have you ever tried these beauties in the photo? They are called plum dumplings and I think they originate in Austria (correct me if I’m wrong). They are also very popular in Slovenia where they are made in every household. My mom made them at least once every week or so and now I carry on the tradition. It’s one of those dishes that no one leaves a bite behind.
My favorite are plum but you can also fill them with other fruits like strawberries or apricots and I use spelt flour instead of plain white one and there’s truly no difference – except for making them a tad healthier.
And the great thing about them is that if you make to much dough you can use the extra to make gnocchi! If you don’t know them either that’s an Italian pasta that goes amazing with any kind of sauce – Tila can’t get enough of them ever since she was a baby.
I have tried a few recipes by now, but this is the one my boyfriend ordered me to stick to:
250 g spelt flour (half fine and half coarse)
1 tbsp butter
20 pitted plums (or any other fruit )
For the topping:
sugar (I use coconut sugar)
Peel and boil the potatoes in a slightly salted water then drain and mash well along with one spoon of butter, a pinch of salt and nutmeg. Add the eggs and flour and shape the dough.
Now roll a quarter of the dough on a generously floured surface and cut to 5 equal pieces. Pat them flat and place one pitted plum on each, pinch together and roll in flour to shape the dumpling (there is a great demonstration by Tila on my Instagram).
Boil slowly until they pop up to the surface and then for about 15 minutes more.
Finally melt the butter in a large frying pan, stir in the breadcrumbs wait until nicely browned then roll the dumplings in the mixture until completely coated (straight from the water as the breadcrumbs stick on best this way).
Before serving sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon! Yummm I wish I has some in the freezer right now…
To read more from Polona, go to her cute blog Baby Jungle!