First harvest apple and oat honey crunch

I drag my feet at every change of season. As the long lovely days of sunlight clearly slip away into October, I dig my heels into every Indian summer moment until the arrival of first harvest apples. The entrance of countless sorts of just-picked varieties of this cheerful fruit, neatly organized in bushels and crates at farmers market stalls everywhere simply win me over. Before I know it, autumn feels like my favorite time of the year and I find myself experimenting in the kitchen with colorfully crunchy apples from countryside orchards spread across the low lands of the Netherlands.  Continue reading

Pickled butter beans and marinated mackerel

 

I know that pickled beans might sound a bit strange and most probably not as addictively appetizing as they are in real life. I am convinced that this is the fault of some minor misconceptions. First of all, the process of marinating in vinegar is called “pickling” in English. This word naturally evokes sour thoughts of all sorts,  without doing justice to the wonderful flavor transformation that takes place when vegetables (and beans of course) are bathed in something refreshingly tart like vinegar. Secondly, beans have a bad reputation mostly because when prepared without passion they can be decidedly uninteresting.  Combine both of these words in the English language, and one runs the risk of promoting an unappealing pair on the plate.

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Summer spaghetti frittata

There’s something about spaghetti for breakfast – or eating the crusts of homemade pizza in the morning for that matter –  that remind me of countless carefree summer days living along the coast of Naples. When I was younger, my mother’s best friend and everyday espresso partner taught her how to make use of leftover spaghetti by baking a simple frittata. The following recipe is the perfect example of how southern Italians make something delicious out of a handful of seemingly unimportant surplus ingredients.

Once baked this dish packs well as picnic food.  Served cold – wrapped in parchment paper –  with a ripe red tomato washed in the salty ocean – is how I remember this rustic Neapolitan frittata at its very best.

Served straight from the oven sprinkled with salt flakes – it makes for a wonderfully simple lunch –  even without a view of the Mediterranean.

The crunchy brown curls of the baked spaghetti are the best part by the way . . .

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Rhubarb stalks and rose petals

I never would have imagined that I would grow to love rhubarb but the appearance of bunches of this bright reddish pink stalk at the market every spring have gradually won me over.  I started experimenting with this astringent vegetable a few warm summers ago and I don’t think I am finished understanding its qualities yet. At the moment refreshing drinks with rhubarb are my solution to the summer heat.

Both of the recipes written below involve clean clear water with the simple addition of fresh mint on the one hand and rose petals on the other. It has taken me a while to decide which one is my favorite and then I realized there is no need to choose. . . Continue reading

The makings of migas

I traveled across continents from idyllic Italy straight into the heat of Texas oh so long ago to follow my studies in philosophy. Needless to say this move was a culture shock of massive proportions. One of the things that kept me focused was my fascination for people and for what defines them — despite and absolutely because of cultural differences I might add.

In the midst of a head-spinning number of years at university, I made friends with a couple of true-blue Texans who took me under their wing and showed me the good things in life in this laid-back part of the world. It was at their home that I learned how to cook migas — a Tex-Mex “breakfast-for-lunch” dish filled with savory ingredients as easy to prepare as making a piece of toast.

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Elderflower water forever

If given the opportunity I would probably wander the fields gathering blossoms and greens every single day of the year – only to take my discoveries home to study and create in the kitchen. These delicate elderflower blossoms were foraged for me. I found them at the organic market close to where I live. Once I got my stash of pale golden flowers home I wrapped them in newspaper and put them in a jug of water for the afternoon – just so I could experience their delicate perfume before throwing them in a pot of water.

It didn’t take long before I simply had to get cooking. I always try to work simply, adding more ingredients or complexer techniques only if necessary. I guess that sums up my idea about cooking — the closer I can stay to nature’s flavors the better. The effort required to make elderflower infused water is minimal and the result is more than worth the time. Continue reading

Sweet potato cakes

I learned how to make things stick a long time ago. Although mathematics are not my strong point, I know from experience that any combination  of ingredients requires the right proportions in order to work.  Whether making fresh pasta, gnocchi or polpette — the Italian name for an edible ball of goodness — it’s all about texture.

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