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.
Yesterday afternoon, we officially celebrated the arrival of spring with our first outdoor apéro. Though the day started out decidedly gray and cool, it gave way to warm temperatures and the aroma of the first neighborhood barbecues — something that always signals good weather here in the Netherlands. Instead of cooking outdoors, however, we opted for a nice bottle of wine and a platter of charcuterie, thinly sliced baguette, hummus and garlicky olives.
It won’t be long before we are allowed the joy of making this a more regular occurrence. There is nothing I love more than eating in my garden with the French doors wide open, the sunshine on my face, our little dog Pastis in his wicker basket and the sound of old chansons coming from the living room.
But what excites me most about the warmer months ahead is the abundance of fresh, new produce that will soon start to appear at our local market — not to mention the produce we always enjoy when we vacation in France. From bright pink stalks of spring rhubarb, to delicate, aromatic summer raspberries, I just can’t wait for all that color to fill my plate and lift my spirits!
Looking through old files is a good thing. Perhaps somewhat akin to looking through photo albums in the good ol’ days, except that back then, you didn’t shoot 800 plus photos during a one-week vacation, but two rolls of film at most. Every now and then hubby nags me to clean up my files, and sometimes, when I find myself with a little time on my hands, I follow his advice and do just that. I suppose that’s not a bad piece of advice, considering that I can take an almost obscene amount of pictures when shooting food!
Because it’s almost weekend, and because I’m sure you need a few easy and delicious cookie recipes up your sleeve in preparation for the upcoming holiday season, today I will be sharing my minty chocolate cookie drops with you!