Yesterday was the first real day of spring here in the Netherlands. The temps hit 18C and a coat was no longer necessary. Hubby and I even had our first glass of wine in the garden! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love the two seasons ahead! Spring and summer mean outdoor meals, crisp wines and markets overflowing with color — not to mention trips to France! We’ll be headed to the beaches of the north in just a few weeks, and I’m hoping we’ll have great weather. I am so looking forward to walks on the beach, seafood and sea air!
The gorgeous weather had me craving one of the most beautiful and light desserts ever: a crisp pavlova topped with crème fraîche, berries and shaving of chocolate. The best thing about this dessert is that it is so easy to make! Whisking those egg whites in a standing mixer is the hardest part — and you’re not even doing the work! Another wonderful thing about this dessert is that you can top it any which way you please. Try different fruits or whipped cream instead of crème fraîche. You’ll love it!
Here’s my recipe:
- 200ml egg white (I used Two Chicks liquid egg white ) PS: not sponsored!
- 250g sugar
- 250g crème fraîche
- 125g fresh raspberries
- 125g fresh red currants
- dark chocolate
- few leaves of fresh mint
Preheat the oven to 150C. Whisk the egg whites in a mixer on medium-high speed. Once they start to hold their shape, gradually add in the sugar. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Use a bit of the beaten egg white to hold down the paper (place a small dollop on each corner). Spread the egg white on the baking tray in a rough circle of about 33cm. Bake for an hour and a half at this temperature. After that, reduce the heat to 90C and give the pavlova an extra 15 minutes with the oven door slightly open. Allow to cool. Spread the crème fraîche over the pavlova and garnish with the fruits, shaving of dark chocolate and mint leaves.
What a difference a week makes! Those who follow me on Instagram may have rolled their eyes a few times after seeing some of my photos complaining about the weather (have I become Dutch or what?!). But how could I not? It felt like we hadn’t seen the sun in at least a month! Okay, okay… maybe I was exaggerating just a tad. All I know is I was not amused with the thick cloud cover, heavy rains and the fact that I was walking around in a bulky sweater!
I started to question whether we would have a summer at all. Kicking myself for putting so much work into a garden I wasn’t even able to enjoy (we renovated a few months ago). And yes, every time someone mentioned or posted a photo of beaches, pools, blue skies or ice cream, I turned just a little bit green. Like the weeds that were abundantly growing in my garden thanks to the damp weather. Or this beautiful mint plant, which isn’t doing too bad either…
Luckily, things are looking better this week, and if I am to believe the weather folks (which I will, for the sake of my sanity), the sun will stay for at least a while longer. Good, because I don’t mind the warmth of the sun against my skin at all. Or the long summer evenings in my garden eating good food and sipping cool wine. Or not having to have carry my umbrella everywhere.
Today we were blessed with a sultry 34C, or as they say in Holland ‘a tropically warm day’ — not so sure about the ‘tropical’ part, I’ve seen hotter when I lived in New Jersey or vacationed in France!
To celebrate (and hydrate !), I made a gorgeous and fresh, non-alcoholic cooler. No sugar, all natural and so refreshing!
This is exactly the type of drink I like to serve when I’m being angelic and laying off the wine. Hey! I’ll be in France next Friday so I’m cutting my liver a little slack for the time being!
This is hardly a recipe if you ask me though, but here’s what I did:
Squeeze two limes into a large glass jug (mine holds about 1 1/2L), add some fresh sprigs of mint, about 250g ripe red & hulled strawberries and 1/2 a cucumber (sliced). Now top with a liter of sparkling mint water (the kind with no sugar or calories, just natural mint aroma). Refrigerate for at least three hours and serve over ice!
So pretty, so easy and so deliciously cooling! Here’s to hotter days! 😀
Though they’re available year-round, there’s nothing as delightful as seasonal strawberries. The kind that have had plenty of sunlight and time to grow, and certainly not the imported, golf ball-sized, pale ones you see in plastic boxes at the supermarket in the dead of winter! From the middle of May until approximately the end of July, the beautifully sweet aroma of seasonal Dutch strawberries perfumes many farmers’ markets in the country, enticing all those who walk by to purchase at least a few baskets – one to eat while walking around the stalls, and the rest to take home. It’s best to use them as soon as possible after purchase though; strawberries do not like to sit around for long, especially in a cold refrigerator which will completely ruin their delicate taste and scent.