Three days till Christmas! For me, a holiday that is not only about presents and wonderful food, but about spending time with my family and celebrating the birth of Christ. To me that is the real meaning of Christmas. Family, faith and love.
It’s been quite an eventful day today, the day before our Christmas break starts. I spent a good part of the morning chasing a stray dog with cheese and a spare leash, after no one bothered to do a thing. Not even the animal ambulance. I called them and they said they would only come if I managed to catch the dog. So I tried my best, enticing him with cheese, but I failed. After begging them to come and saying the dog wasn’t going to let me put him on a leash, they agreed. But at a certain point, he swiftly ran away and it was too late. I hope with all of me that he’ll be found. He was old and in pretty bad shape, I walked home in tears feeling defeated.
A Christmas card from our dear friends Marit and Kelvin put a smile on my face though, so I put on some Christmas music, cleaned the house and whipped up a batch of festive breakfast cakes for tomorrow morning. I really think you will love them. They have cranberries, apple, crisp pecans and a hint of almond.
It will be a busy day tomorrow, by the way! We’ll be driving to the organic butcher for our holiday meats and I still need to do some last minute shopping to take care of. I will also be meeting a lovely woman I met on Instagram a while ago — exciting!
But about those breakfast cakes… here’s the recipe!
Have a wonderful Christmas!
PS: You will need a large muffin tin of 3 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. Though this should work perfectly well in a normal muffin tin. Just start checking for doneness after 18 minutes or so.
Christmas Breakfast Cakes
Makes 4 cakes
- 80g all purpose flour
- 50g coarse cornmeal (polenta)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 50g cranberries, chopped
- 40g pecans, chopped
- 1 small green apple, or 1/2 large, chopped
- 100ml whole milk
- 40ml mild olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 80g granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- a glaze made with lemon juice and powdered sugar, or just powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 200C and grease 4 holes of the large muffin tin. Sprinkle with flour, shaking off any excess. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cranberries, pecans and apple. In a small bowl, whisk the milk, olive oil, almond extract, granulated sugar and egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently combine. Divide the batter over the muffin holes and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Unmold and make the glaze the way you like it. Drizzle over the cakes. You can also just dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!
Last Friday I decided to take the day off and spend it in the kitchen, listening to Christmas music and making some holiday treats to enjoy with my family during the weekend. The last few weeks have been hectic, and this was truly a much needed break.
I am always amazed at how therapeutic cooking can be. The act of creating something that not only looks nice but tastes good (and will make people happy) is so rewarding. I cooked from early in the morning until about 6:30 p.m. in the evening when Hans showed up. By that time, I was just putting the final batch of mince pies in the oven and the house smelled of Christmas! I think I may do this every Friday from now on, at least for the rest of this festive month!
My first mince pies! The crust recipe is by Dutch food writer Yvette van Boven (in this month’s Delicious) and the filling is the cranberry mincemeat in Nigella Christmas. I made them a little larger than normal because I didn’t have a mini-muffin tin. They were made with my mother-in-law’s aluminum molds, which made them extra special.
A cranberry, cinnamon & cocoa swirl bread. A Dorie Greenspan recipe which I slightly tweaked. The crumb is tender and very delicate. So good! Especially toasted and slathered with real butter! I think it would make good French toast, too. Perhaps I may tweak this even more in the future!
Vin chaud made with Cabernet Sauvignon, dark rum, orange peel and warm spices. Make sure to use good wine. Delicious!
I threw this frittata together between working on a last-minute assignment that came in at 6:30 p.m. It’s an easy and tasty vegetarian dinner (or lunch or brunch) and it’s definitely a recipe to keep in mind when the going gets tough!
Potato, Green Bean & Feta Frittata
- 3 tbsps mild olive oil
- 400g potatoes, unpeeled and cubed
- 2 shallots, halved and sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 7 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- fleur de sel
- freshly cracked pepper
- 300g trimmed & cooked green beans
- 150g feta, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat the oil in an ovenproof frying pan or casserole and fry the potatoes for 8 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Whisk the eggs with the turmeric and salt and pepper to taste. Take the pan off the heat and pour in the eggs. Top with the green beans and feta. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into wedges.
Last Sunday we finally put up our Christmas tree. My Dutch hubby would have rather waited until after Sinterklaas, but that would have meant putting up the tree on the 11th of December! Fourteen days before Christmas? No way! Luckily, I convinced him to make an exception, and he agreed.
Our tree is huge! In fact, I think it’s the biggest tree we’ve ever had. It did fit, though, so there was no Griswold-like scene taking place in our living room, thank goodness. I am so happy and grateful that I work from home because that means I can enjoy the tree every single day. The season (and my fully decorated house) has me longing to get baking, make Christmas chutneys and fudge, or hide under my new Christmas blanket while drinking hot chocolate and listening to Christmas music. My schedule, however, is packed to the brim. Between writing for a new magazine and working on the March/April 2017 issue DUTCH, I barely have time to catch my breath, This Monday, however, the hubs took a day off from work to celebrate Sinterklaas, and I went ahead and treated myself to a day of doing absolutely nothing as well — bliss!
I have been so busy, that I even forgot to share a recipe I tried last week: a beautiful banana-chocolate marbled cake. It’s long gone now, but here’s the recipe!
Enjoy your holiday baking!
Banana-Chocolate Marbled Cake
- 130 g soft butter
- 150 g light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 90g soft cream cheese
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 200 g all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsps pure raw cacao powder
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a rectangular cake pan with baking paper. Using a hand-held or standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs one by one while continuing to beat. Do the same with the cream cheese. Add in the mashed bananas and vanilla extract, and give everything a final whisk. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Fold the dry ingredients through the wet until well incorporated. Add the cacao powder to half of the batter. Pour both batters into the prepared cake pan, marble them with a skewer and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into slices.