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!
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
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
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.
As some of you may already know, I have been turning a blind eye to the end of summer. I had my first pumpkin spice latte yesterday (no, not the sugar explosions from that well-known coffee place, but my own), and I’ve already baked with my homegrown apples twice. What I haven’t done is put away the summer clothes just yet, but there was an unmistakable chill in the air today that gently whispered a dress probably hadn’t been the best option. A chill that also reminded me it was finally time to turn that pumpkin I had purchased a week ago into the first real autumnal soup of the season.
I love pumpkin soup and have many different recipes. The one I made today, however, is probably the easiest of them all. You simply roast your pumpkin with red onions, garlic and spices, add some broth and blitz in a blender. That’s all! Hardly work — tons of flavor, as roasting is known to do.
Here’s the recipe:
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
1 small pumpkin, peeled and chopped
4 small red onions, peeled and cut into sections
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tsp dried cumin
1/2 tsp dried coriander
1/2 tsp dried curcuma
fleur de sel
3 tbsps olive oil
600 ml hot vegetable stock
Preheat the oven to 200C. In a baking tray, mix the pumpkin, red onion, garlic, spices, salt and pepper and oil. Roast for 40 minutes (stirring once) until nice and soft. Blitz the vegetables and stock in a blender; you may have to do this in batches. Serve with fresh pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.