Tag: summer

Strawberry & Lavender Mousse

mousseWhen I visited Le Touquet this past April, we ate at a lovely restaurant called À Table. It was our second visit to the restaurant. The first time was two years ago, also during the month of April. We had such a positive experience that first time, that we decided to book a table for lunch on our last day there. Luckily, it did not disappoint, as did a few other restaurants we returned to (here’s a hint: stay away from Le Matisse and Le Restaurant du Marché).
Though À Table is small (my chair was literally touching that of the person behind me), it serves gorgeous food and is friendly and welcoming.
My main course that last day was certainly memorable. I was served a tender pork loin with a velvety lavender sauce. Who would’ve thought this would be such an exceptionally beautiful combination! After that wonderful meal, I was reminded about how much I love lavender. In my garden, bath and pillow, but also in my food. In fact, there are three lavender recipes on this blog that can attest to that! Ever tried lavender in jam or in baked treats? Well here’s your chance! The one thing you have to remember is that you must use edible lavender. For those in the Netherlands, I got a bag at Dille & Kamille (not sponsored), but you can also try health food shops or organic supermarkets.
I recreated the pork loin recipe one Saturday evening and it was quite a success. However, I did not write down the recipe. Stay tuned!
In the meantme, here is a lavender creation all ready for you to try your hand at. This strawberry and lavender mousse is an elegant, summery dessert that can be made in advance. In other words, it’s the perfect way to end any dinner party in the months ahead! Enjoy!

Strawberry & Lavender Mousse
Serves 4-6 (depending on the size cups you use)

  • 300g strawberries, plus some extra as garnish
  • 1 1/2 tsps dried edible lavender
  • 4 tbsps sugar
  • 5 sheets of gelatin
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 200ml single cream

Place the strawberries, lavender and sugar in a blender and blitz into a smooth sauce. Pour into a small saucepan and heat while stirring for approximately 5 minutes. In the meantime, soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, squeeze out the gelatin sheets and add them into the hot sauce one by one stirring well after each. Allow the mixture to cool. Whip the mascarpone and cream until the mixture holds its shape. Carefully fold in the strawberry sauce in three batches. Do not stir too hard or whisk! Divide the mousse over 4 or 6 cups and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, garnish with fresh strawberries and perhaps a sprig of mint.


My Greek Salad

greek salad 1I’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!

Greek Salad
Serves 3

  • 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
  • microgreens

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.



Summer Dining: Spicy Lemon Chicken & Grilled Vegetables

Though the first magazines with pumpkins on the cover have hit the shelves, I am not quite ready to let go of summer just yet. I want to enjoy my favorite season until the very end, and I especially want to get the most out of the flavors this time of year has to offer. Summer cooking is as easy and carefree as the season itself. No-cook meals such as salads, beef or fish tartares and cold soups are quick and often very healthy, but sometimes, even on hot days, I will suddenly get the urge to roast a chicken — which happens to be my husband’s favorite food. He still recalls going out for dinner with his parents on their anniversary and always ordering the same thing — roast chicken with fries and mayonnaise. You can imagine his delight when he sees a meal like this on the table!
summermealAnd our delight, too, because last night’s dinner was perfect in every way. From the lemony, crispy-skinned chicken to the conversation and love shared around that table. Because food and eating together as a family, you see, is and should be an immense source of pleasure.
When Hans texted me on his way home from work to ask if I needed anything, I had a chicken marinating in the fridge, and on one of my vintage French plates, a pile of freshly-washed summer vegetables was waiting to be sliced and grilled. The wine, a rosé purchased in Spain just a few weeks ago, was chilling in the freezer. The only thing missing was something for our apéro, so I asked for some olives.
After a day of work and the hurried pace of everyday life, the three of us sat down to our well-deserved drinks and nibbles, while the chicken roasted and French music played softly in the background.
Today I am sharing these two recipes with you. Serve them on pretty plates, savor the moment and enjoy.

Spicy Lemon Chicken
The key to a quick cooking time is to spatchcock your chicken. This simply means removing the backbone and flattening the chicken. You can ask your butcher to do this for you, but with a pair of heavy-duty kitchen shears or a sharp knife, it’s really not that difficult. I always save the backbone for stock, so nothing goes to waste.
Serves 4

  • 1 chicken (of about 1 kilo), spatchcocked
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes, or more, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • fleur de sel
  • freshy-cracked pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small bulb of garlic, sliced in half and torn apart
  • fragrant olive oil

Season the chicken on both sides with the chili flakes, oregano, salt and pepper. Put it in a large Ziploc bag, cut the lemon in half, squeeze in the juice and add the garlic cloves and olive oil. Marinate in the fridge for at least two hours. Take the chicken out of the fridge about half an hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 200C, place the chicken breast side up on a baking tray and pour the marinade over the chicken. Bake for 20 minutes and then flip over to bake for another 20 minutes. Flip the chicken again and give it a final 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before carving.

Grilled Summer Vegetables
This is such an easy way to bring out the flavor of perfect summer vegetables. I don’t think it’s really necessary to write out a full recipe. Just heat up a grill pan and griddle your vegetables, placing them on a serving plate as you go. Once done, sprinkle with roasted pine nuts and fresh herbs, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with good olive oil. For the three of us, I used one large aubergine, one courgette and two red bell peppers.

Cherry Tomato & Grilled Courgette Salad

I won’t be long before I’m back in my beautiful France. I am even looking forward to our fun but exhausting two-day journey, and especially to that much-anticipated ‘Welcome to France’ dinner on the first evening: steak-frites with pepper sauce and a nice bottle of wine. We are all so excited about going back to a place we can truly call our heart’s home.
sunflowerspaolaThere’s still plenty to do before our departure though. We need to round off the September/October 2016 issue of DUTCH, finalize plans for November/December, and I have to finish some articles for a few other magazines. I am not only happy about going back to France, but also about a two-week break — hopefully filled with lots of food and wine inspiration!
But on to today’s post!
Yesterday I promised I would share another summer salad with you today. If you haven’t checked out my watermelon and cucumber salad, make sure you do asap! It is very refreshing, light and great for this weather.
Today I will be sharing a grilled courgette and cherry tomato salad. Also quite zippy and full of summer flavor. I would serve this one with grilled chicken or even a proper steak from the barbecue. Here’s the recipe — have a great weekend!

Cherry Tomato & Grilled Courgette Salad
Serves 3-4

  • 1 courgette, sliced
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • fleur de sel
  • freshly-cracked pepper
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved

Grill your courgette slices on both sides and allow to cool. In a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Add in the rest of the ingredient, including the grilled courgettes, and serve!