Bringing Autumn into the home

Autumn in ScotlandHaving lived overseas in places where the sun shines warmly every day (sigh) and there are only two seasons to live in, there were times when I really missed seeing the four seasons. Here in Scotland the seasonal changes seem so beautifully apparent. Perhaps it’s because the countryside is so breathtakingly stunning here or maybe it’s because we’re living closer to nature. We certainly enjoy the slower pace of life where we can watch the leaves change colour, where the light is golden and the air is crisp.

We’re loving autumn and I’ve noticed that the girls have really embraced the season here so I wanted to share with you some of the ways we’ve brought autumn into our home through the books we read, the food we bake and the crafts we’ve made from some of our forest foraging collections.

Nature's DayI discovered the book Nature’s Day at The ShopUp last year and was thrilled to see a book which captures the magic of the seasons so well. The intricate bright sketchings by Danielle Kroll and the gentle writing by Kay Maguire encourages children of all ages to enjoy nature everywhere. We’ve been enjoying cosy days reading this book together pointing to the mushrooms in the book which we spotted on our walks.

Nature's Day falling leaves

One Sunday we made a special cake and chose autumn fruits and edible flowers to decorate it. The smell of pumkpin, cinnamon and cloves drifted through the house and it was super delicious. The recipe was adapted from Amy-Beth Ellice’s spiced pumpkin bundt cake found here.

Autumn prettiness 1I love foraging with the girls and although it’s on a very simple level we manage to gather some pretty collections. One of my favourite books is The Wreath Recipe and it was there I found the inspiration to make a sweet woodland garland with the girls. It was so super simple to make; just with a needle and some thin twine we threaded through leaves, mushrooms and moss and hung it in our living room using washi tape. It was so effective and has lasted a while. With the rest of our findings I made a small bouqet for the fireplace.

Autumn in my flour potWith these small and quick crafts we brought autumn into our home and continue to enjoy those cosy slower days.

Vanessa xx

Little Dish Cookbook

I have to say Bethie’s post a few weeks ago did inspire me! I am not at all the kind of person that plans ahead, it just does not even occur to me, but the thing that struck a cord with me was sitting down with the kids and choosing the menu for the week together. I love that idea, especially as we are in a bit of a cooking rut, making the same things again and again and again.



So I decided to put this meal planning thing to the test and I sat down with my girls and a cookbook and gave them free reign to chose the menu for the next week. That responsibility was exactly what they needed and every evening they have been super keen to help out and cook. As they are quite big now I do tend to let them get on with it themselves and intervene only when asked. The book we used for this little experiment is ideal for this: the Little Dish Family Cookbook. It is full of easy, good, healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most of them are pretty fast to put together, which is essential for us if we are going to start cooking from scratch on school nights. The girls have made everything from Birchner Musesli to Stir Fry Chicken Noodles and Lamb Burgers and I am very much looking forward to the next few concoctions they come up with.


My goofy helpers who at the moment cannot keep a straight face whenever a camera is pointed at them.

– Emilie

Vegetable Lasagne


We have spent the summer enjoying ourselves and indulging in saucisson, paté, sausages, cheese and bread — as you would if you are on holiday in France. But I am now craving vegetables so badly!

I have spent bit of time browsing the internet for new recipes (as I am a little bit bored of my usual dishes) and stumbled across this recipe for a Vegetable Lasagne. I am a massive fan of Felicity Cloake’s recipes, and was excited to discover this one.

I like the fact that there are not massive chunks of vegetables in it, but rather a lovely, slightly smokey vegetable sauce. It is seriously good, perfect with a big helping of salad!

I am actually going to continue experimenting with different types of Vegetable Lasagnes; I would love to try this one and this one!

– Emilie

Jamberry, by Bruce Degen

reading and eating berries

We have very recently moved to Scotland and we are so lucky to have a wonderful plot of strawberries and a few raspberry bushes in our garden. We have picked so many berries our fingers are stained pink and our bellies are bursting! But what I’ve loved most is that it reminded me of one of our favourite summer time books, Jamberry by Bruce Degen.

reading in the garden
Florence helping in the kitchen

Jamberry is the sweetest of board books. It’s about a young boy and a bear who merrily play through the land of berries. Their adventures are surreal and the word play Degen delights us with makes for a delicious classic. The characters sit in a canoe of blueberries with their hats bursting of berries and they lay in a meadow of strawberries with dancing lambs and ponies. Florence giggles all the way through this book, whilst Helena enjoys making up more crazy berry words!

Bruce Degen, who also illustrates this book, is said to enjoy combining humour with art and it’s his bright images together with a mix of literary rhyme and alliteration that make us want to read this book over and over again.
Having read Jamberry so many times last week, Florence and I decided to make some batches of jam with our collection of berries. She was such a great helper, picking the berries, plucking them clean, and squashing them into the sugar!

Berry jam

The recipe we used is River Cottage’s strawberry jam with sweet scented geranium leaves which I discovered last summer. The geranium leaf really compliments the flavour of the berries and the jam is even more delicious in a Victorian sponge cake with freshly whipped cream! Perhaps that’s something else I’ll make before the girls go back to school.
The book is available from all good bookstores or online from Amazon (US and UK).
Vanessa xx

Our newest YouTube video is now live!

Babyccino Kids YouTube channel Babyccino Kids YouTube Babyccino Kids YouTube

Come join us over at YouTube where we’re sharing our newest video — a delicious and super quick and easy-to-make dessert that everyone is going to love. Maybe something to prepare this weekend??


xxx Esther

PS If you’re not subscribed to our channel yet, you can do that here.

Hugo Champagne Spritzer


In the summertime I am very, very partial to having a refreshing drink to nicely finish off the day (one of my favourite drinks is this one). But this summer’s favourite is a Hugo, which I discovered in Berlin a few weeks ago. Sooo very good!

Now this is a very inexact recipe as it really depends on how sweet you like your drink – just have fun testing!

You will need (per glass):

  • Lemon, Lemon juice and mint
  • 100 ml Champagne, Prosecco or and other good sparkling wine
  • 100 ml Perrier
  • Elderflower syrup (cordial)
  • Ice cubes

Put some ice cubes in the bottom of a glass. Gently crush a few mint leaves and pour the prosecco and Perrier into a glass, add a slug of elderflower syrup, a a little bit of lemon juice. Finish off with a wedge of lemon, and one or two ice cubes and enjoy!

– Emilie

PS. Esther and I were making these in jam jars as we were camping last week. Turns out that Bonne Maman jam jars are an excellent size for a cocktail 😉

Babyccino Kids YouTube Channel (and our first video!)

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

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

We hope you enjoy!

Courtney x

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

Ice pops!

ice pops
ice pops

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

ice pops

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

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

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

Stay cool!

xxx Esther

Yvestown in the Kitchen

Yvestown in the kitchen

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



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

xxx Esther

Quiche on my mind…

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

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


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!


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 😉


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

Delicious Cantuccini (or almond biscotti)


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).

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


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.


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 😉


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.

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…

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!


Kristina Kringle — the taste of Christmas!

View More:

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


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.

My Minestrone soup recipe


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




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!)



  • 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


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