My teen daughter is going back to school today, and I think I’m probably just as nervous as she is. How I wish I could keep her next to me forever. Safe, sheltered and with no worries to fill her head. And how I wish I could stop time. She’s 16 1/2 and talk of where to go to school in a few years has already begun. I was looking at a friend’s baby photos this morning and wondered where the time went. How did my little girl grow up so quickly?
This new year at school will probably be tough. She’s going to Dutch gymnasium, which is the equivalent of prep school in the US and takes six years to complete. It’s very challenging and demanding, but it’s the highest and best form of education, and I’m happy and honored that she can take part in it.
While she was home this summer, I always made lunch for us and we would eat it together, sometimes while watching crappy shows on TLC. Most of our lunches consisted of healthy salads, but every once in a while I would take her to a local café for a tuna sandwich and an iced coffee with a ton of whipped cream. Or, I would make her a whopper of an egg salad sandwich. There’s something really comforting about an egg salad sandwich, I think. Here’s my recipe. We’ll probably be eating this sandwich for lunch today as some comforting is definitely in order. Here’s to a new school year… and to all the moms who are in the same boat — much love!
PS: The number one tip I can give you with a recipe such as this one is to use the very best ingredients. That really makes all the difference with simple recipes that don’t call for many ingredients. All my ingredients are organic and as fresh as possible.
Best Egg Salad Sandwich
- 4 small eggs
- 1/4 red onion, minced
- 1 1/2 tbsp each chopped chives and flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 tsp curcuma
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsps mayonnaise
- fleur de sel
- freshly grated pepper
- 4 slices whole wheat bread
- lettuce leaves, to serve
- thinly sliced cucumber, to serve
Hard boil your eggs, let them cool slightly, peel them and put them into a bowl. Add in the onion, herbs, curcuma, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. Break up the eggs using a fork and knife. You want it to be chunky, not smooth. Now, mix everything gently. Layer the slices of bread with the lettuce leaves and top with the egg salad and a few thin slices of cucumber (or pickle, if you like a stronger taste). Cut at a diagonal and serve to someone you love.
I’m spending a rare, quiet Sunday at home, allowing myself the luxury of not working. We started the morning with freshly baked croissants and then headed to Ekoplaza, my neighborhood organic supermarket (PS: Not sponspored). I’ve written about my love for organic food many times on this blog, for example here, so let it suffice to say once again that organic eating feels right for my family and we find the food much tastier, Not to mention that it’s also a pleasure to shop at Ekoplaza.
During our shop, we discussed what to have for lunch, and quickly decided on a Greek salad. Crisp, seasonal flavors and fresh as can be! Everyone has their version of this classic summer salad. The following recipe is the one I like most. Enjoy!
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsps peppery olive oil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp dried garlic
- fleur de sel
- freshly cracked pepper
- a few handfuls of mixed salad leaves
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 4-5 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cucumber, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 3 tomatoes, cut into eighths
- 100g mixed olives (I used green and kalamata)
- 50g feta cheese, crumbled
Make the vinaigrette by whisking the red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Divide the salad leaves over three plates. Top with red onion, radishes and cucumber. Spoon half of the vinaigrette over the salad. Place the tomatoes around the salad. Top the salad with the olives and feta and drizzle with the rest of the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the microgreens and serve with a cool rosé.
I love eating out in France (who wouldn’t?!), especially at lunchtime and preferably at a modest brasserie in a very typical French village, somewhere deep, deep in the French countryside. I do not really enjoy eating at stiff, fancy restaurants where plates are made to resemble works of art. Keep the art for the museums and bring on the real, honest food prepared with love! Though to be perfectly honest, I feel there is much more artistry in a well-made, simple meal than there is in a snobby chef’s masterly food arrangement skills. In fact, I have been moved to tears by a perfectly cooked steak — just as I have by a Rembrandt! And, I have been bored and aggravated to tears while sitting at a pretentious restaurant that served decorative food in tiny portions and where stark faces looked at every move I made, literally following each forkful to my lips. Ugghh…
I recently ate at a restaurant most tourists would pass by (except for coffee or a drink on market day). It’s a hangout for locals run by people some (and, no, I am not one of them) would call ‘arrogant’. Though the restaurant has recently changed management and adopted a new name, not much has really changed. You still have to do your best to get their attention if you want a drink, the locals are still sitting in the exact same spot (God forbid you happen to forget that and take their table — the looks!), and the only thing served from 12-2 p.m. is a straightforward menu du jour consisting of a starter buffet, two main choices and a few dessert options. Don’t even bother asking for a menu. This is it. Take it or leave it.
Never, not once, have I been disappointed. It’s home cooking served with carafes of good local wine, to the sound of French conversation and — sorry — the smell of Gitanes. Because after all, when I go to France, I want to be right in the middle of French culture, trying to blend in as much as possible.
One day, I walked over to the starter buffet and helped myself to a flavorful terrine (with chorizo!), some cold vegetables, grilled aubergine and a verrine of thick, ice cold beet gazpacho. You can see the photo here. Oh the taste in that little glass of soup! It was fragrant, peppery, tangy and just beautiful! I have made beet gazpacho in the past, but it wasn’t as good as the one I had that day. So I took note of what I was tasting and vowed to recreate that recipe when I got home. It’s been gloriously HOT here in the Netherlands — no better time to make it than now! Here’s the recipe, which yes, tastes just like the one I had at that perfect and utterly French restaurant. Enjoy!
Peppery Beet & Tomato Gazpacho
- 3 tomatoes
- 500g cooked, vacuum packed beets (with juice)
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, bruised
- 1 tsp pink peppercorns. bruised
- 1 tsp dried coriander
- 4 tbsps rosé vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp piment d’Espelette
- 320 ml water (or more, if you like a thinner soup)
- fleur de sel
- freshly-cracked pepper
- good olive oil, to serve
Make a small X with a sharp knife on the bottom of each tomato, and plunge them in boiling water for 3 minutes. Rinse with cold water, and remove their skins. Chop the tomatoes roughly, and put them in a food processor or blender together with the rest of the ingredients. Blend well but make sure the mixture is still nice and thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning or add extra water if you like. Leave in the fridge for a few hours before serving. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and an extra grinding of pepper.
During the warmer months, salads are not only healthy, but also deliciously refreshing. If you allow yourself to be inspired by nature and use fresh ingredients you will see that the variations in taste, color and texture are as big as your imagination. Served with bread and paired with a good wine, they make the perfect light meal. Pure, fresh and bursting with vitamins!
This salad is truly summer on a plate. The delicate flavor of the baby greens combined with the sweetness of the dressing form the ideal base for the rest of the ingredients: fragrant, crunchy walnuts, crusty bread topped with a creamy layer of grilled goat’s cheese, paper-thin slices of raw ham and as a finishing touch, sunny raspberries.
The salad makes a wonderful, light lunch for two, but you can also offer it as an elegant starter for four. If you serve the salad as a starter to a barbecue, follow it with a grilled leg of lamb and round off the meal with a creamy dessert such a crème brulée dusted with a touch of lavender sugar.
Summer Raspberry & Ham Salad
For 2 people (or 4, as a starter)
For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 3 tbsps walnut oil
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 tsps honey
- fleur de sel
- freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
- 50g walnuts, roughly chopped
- 2 slices pain de campagne
- 4 petits chèvre doux (soft goat’s cheese)
- 100g mixed baby leaves
- 100g fresh raspberries
- 6 slices raw ham (approximately 60g)
Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl until they emulsify. Roast the walnuts in a dry frying pan until they release their delicious aroma. This usually takes 2-3 minutes. Spread the goat’s cheese on the slices of bread and place them under a hot grill until the cheese begins to bubble and brown in some places. Place the baby leaves in the bowl with the dressing and toss until each leaf is coated with dressing. Divide the salad among two plates and sprinkle with the walnuts. Top with the fresh raspberries and the ham. Cut each warm slice of bread in half and lay both halves on top of the salad. Serve immediately, preferably with a lively, aromatic Sancerre.