• the missing pinch of salt

    I literally forgot the pinch of salt in my picture of ingredients. Please add one right away. It should not me missing, not in the granola & nowhere else.

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    This small batch of granola will go with me to Switzerland to sit and study on the mountain. I will truly be stuck on a mountain with a bunch of lovely fellow students and teachers. No cars allowed up there and the cable car is still on winter time so the last ride up is at six in the afternoon.

    I somehow imagine it like “The Grand Budapest Hotel” minus the murders.

    I always feel a little off when I am fed in an hotel for a longer period of time. In general my sugar levels are not too happy and a wholesome breakfast can help me to get through the day even if my diet is not ideal & I can not influence it too much either.

    My little survival breakfast:

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    1 bowl of oats

    2 tbsp of chia seeds

    2 tbsp of roasted nuts

    1 tbsp of honey

    1 tbsp of unflavored coconut oil

    pinch of salt:)

    vanilla (as much as you like, which for me is A LOT)

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    Preheat the oven at 180°C and mix everything together in a baking tray. I just wait for the coconut oil to be melted before giving the mix a little stir. Check the granola every ten minutes, stir and take it out of the oven to cool as soon as it’s slightly brown and crisp.

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    Eat well & hope to see you here when I’m off the mountain

  • newly sharpened pencils & prune tart

    Autumn is kicking in…big time. I did spend the end of the summer in Canada where the  temperatures were already half of what they were in little Luxemburg.

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    Traveling seems to be even better when you look back. The same day a couple of weeks ago my face was “burned” by the salty seawater that had been hitting me for three hours straight (I had been warned by the bus driver in charming Canadian french “Aujourd’hui tu vas te faire laver la figure pendant trois heures ;)” while trying to catch a glimpse of a whale…I cought many glimpses & a red face & a little sea sickness;)

    Back home it looks, feels and smells like autumn & every year I think about this “you’ve got mail” movie quote:

    “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

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    Instead of newly sharpened pencils, but filled with the same cosy autumn spirit I send you a newly improvised prune tart. I took the recipe of my “chef pâtissier” from Paris and freely changed it into a coconut oil & coconut sugar version;)

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    180g whole grain spelt flour

    20g cornstarch

    30 g coconut oil (or 100g soft butter)

    30 g coconut sugar (or 100g icing sugar)

    a tsp liquid vanilla

    1 free range egg

    prunes

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    Mix the ingredients together and roll the dough out on a piece of baking paper. I didn’t even use a rolling-pin for this one, I just flattened the dough by hand (when I say improvised….;)) and placed the washed & pitted prunes on top. Bake at 180° until brown & crisp.

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    Eat well

  • shamelessly copied chicken sandwich

    I had a “Nigella moment” coming home after my NY & Canada trip. I HAD to roast an entire chicken. Except for free range eggs and Kefir there is no non-veggie food to be found in my kitchen…usually. But it had to be done, so I bought a free range organic chicken and stuffed it with the quarters of a lemon. Between the skin and the breast I poured chestnut honey (a yearly & perfect gift from Rosa from Portugal) with thyme, salt & pepper. On top a little sweet paprika powder and olive oil. In the oven for one hour at 200°C and the result is perfection.

    I didn’t do this with the intention to have chicken with potatoes or anything similar.

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    The plan was…this sandwich, inspired (copied), from one I had in Montréal. THE place to have it is Olive & Gourmando in Vieux-Montréal. I walked down St Paul O., the quiet side of the street in contrast of the tourist filled opposite side. So quiet I was in doubt about having the right address until I reached a seriously crowded & chatty street corner. The crowd was waiting to be seated in Olive & Gourmando. My name was written down, not at the end of the list but on a new page and I waited…until my name was  shouted out and I got a space.

    I returned for afternoon tea & breakfast, both far less crowded than saturday lunch but just as delicious!

    So in memory to a perfect saturday lunch I processed the flesh of 1/2 avocado, seasoned it with a teaspoon of lemon juice, salt & pepper.

    The same happened to 1/2 mango which I seasoned with a pinch of chili flakes.

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    The rest is assembling. Toast, olive oil, avocado, chicken, mango, toast. This is not the recipe for the original but what I can reproduce from taste memory;) I plan to prepare the avocado and mango more often to have with toast even without the “Nigella moment” chicken.

    Eat well

  • travel bug & rillettes de cabillaud

    I am getting ready for my last trip for this summer, NY, Montreal & Quebec. Not complaining 😉 but I could go on like this forever.

    When I travel I read about…tavelling. Places to go to next;) Right now I have my eye on the french island “Ile de Ré”.

    & I spend the last couple of days on a northern sea side, eating local fresh sea food!

    So inspired the recipe today is “rillettes de cabillaud”. This might be the first non-vegetarian dish I post. I don’t prepare fish at home very often…something to work on.

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    I eat fish mostly when I’m invited or in restaurants. One of my friends is a professional chef. Knowing of my mainly vegetarian diet, he always spoils me with a tasty fish dish. Years ago, when we were neighbours, he wanted to surprise me by guessing my favorite food. So he prepared oysters (not raw but baked in the oven). He watched my face as I was politely trying to get them down and removed the plate immediately. So much for guessing someone’s favorite food! Mine is strawberries! He invited me to dinner and strawberry picking in the garden recently…coincidence?

    Back to the fish. I believe that my food should provide all the nutrients that I need and I am not an advocate for supplements since they are not a whole food which again might create imbalance.

    I do take omega 3 though since my fish intake is limited. This fatty acid is extremely important for the brain and in big parts responsible for our mood & well-being. Chocolate is not the only food that makes you happy;)

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    70g fresh goat cheese (or any other fresh/soft cheese)

    1 diced tomato

    1 chopped spring onion

    1 tsp grated ginger

    1/2 tsp of lemon zest

    1/2 a hand full of chopped cilantro (can be replaced with another herb of your choice)

    150g codfish (or any other fish of your choice)

    a splash of olive oil

    salt & pepper to taste

    Cook the codfish in the oven t 160°C for about 15 min. Make sure it’s done and leave it to cool off. Mush it with a fork. Add the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.

    And that’s it for this extremely easy fish dish. The tricky part in preparing fish is the cooking time & making it look nice on the plate. It should separate nicely but not fall apart. For rillettes, looks don’t matter!

    I did serve this with carrot sticks. The fat in this dish helps the vitamines from the carrot to be absorbed. Rillettes is generally served with some toast.

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    Eat well

  • south of france & new love

    I am writing this in the middle of the night, since it is a sleepless one. That’s a rare thing for me, I am known to sleep anywhere and under most circumstances.

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    I made it home from the south of France this evening and am off again tomorrow, no TODAY around 6.30 in the morning for a couple of days. I just visited a friend who had arrived home from India (home being London) and the same day took her VW bus and drove to Lyon.

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    I should be able to cope with one little sleepless night;)

    We spend our time together at a wine estate close to Nice, belonging to her brother in law and her sister. Lot’s of grapes and 2 vegetable and fruit gardens. Heaven if you enjoy a fresh plant-based diet.

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    & the new love in my life is called Elvis. He woke me early in the mornings, stole my shoes, was full of joy when we came home and drank out of the swimming pool. Just as I had decided against having a dog this pure soul might have changed my mind!

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    He went “zucchini hunting” with me too which is a little more difficult than expected. It’s green underneath green so spotting them is tricky. I also found some shoes…

    I managed to get enough zucchini for a nice late night soup!

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    I’m off again with my head full of recipe ideas , hoping to be able to experiment and write them down soon;)

    Eat well

  • Poor man’s dinner & a challenge

    DSC_0466I arrived well on the island of Crete and at my friend Maria’s beautiful home!
    Dinner at her house, on the wild south side of the island, is what she calles a poor man’s dinner since it represents the diet of the village people.

    Lovely plant-based meal, I say!

    Horta (local greens served cooked with olive oil & lemon), broad beans in tomato sauce, boiled potatoes, zucchini, goat cheese & a shot of the honey raki that Stelios, the loveliest taxi driver ever, has given me on the way here;).

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    Most of the produce were delivered by a neighbor (the honeylady) who is in her 70ies and apparently fitter then I am. Healthy food? Living a tough life in a rough environment? All preserving raki? What is her secret? Ikaria, another greek island is a blue zone, one of the places in the world recognized for the longevity of the inhabitants.

    That same neighbor provided kilos and kilos of green beans.

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    My challenge for the week is to come up with recipes to use them other than “Bounenschlupp”(luxemburgish traditional bean soup). My friend is greek married to a ‘burger’ and having none of that!
    I choose a classical bean salad & find inspiration in the Jamie Oliver magazine, I bought in the airport on my way here. His recipe slightly modified & added to Maria’s Tsatsiki and Pita bread….a winning combination.
    After that we agree on no more beans for the week;)

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    For the bean salad

    On one bean stalk you have older and younger beans. The older ones have a string running along the side that’s tough to eat and to digest. You can easily pull it off while cutting off the ends.

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    Wash and cook for a short while in salted water. I like them to be crunchy and only cook them for a few minutes.

    Crunchy or soft…is totally up to you! After cooking, rinse them in icy water to make sure they keep the vibrant green colour.

    Cut the beans in smaller pieces and prepare the dressing. I used 2/3 olive oil, 1/3 lemon juice, pepper, salt, 1 tablespoon of mustard and a chopped onion.

    Pour the lemon juice over the onion to make the taste a little milder then mix with the other ingredients. Pour dressing over the beans, there is the first part of my challenge completed.

    For the beans on bread

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    This time the beans are not cooked in water but in a frying pan with fresh onions and nuts. Start with the onion, add the beans and finally the roasted nuts. Again it depends on your preference for crunchy or soft beans how long you will leave them in the pan at medium to high teat.

    Season with salt & pepper to taste.

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    In the original recipe this was served with crumbs of goat cheese on top. Since we have the Tsatsiki I won’t add any cheese.

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    Eat well

  • Perrine’s kitchens & not unlike couscous

    I love cooking at a friend’s house when I travel. Shopping for the ingredients is a little adventure in itself and you never quiet get everything that you want. Imposed improvisation brings out a new dish, sometimes ok, sometimes really nice. I obviously hope for nice since I am cooking for a dear friend who welcomed me into their home & kitchen.

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    I am just back from London, a city that positively kicks my creativity and seems to absorb all my energy at the same time. It’s a weird mix 😉 That might be a good thing. I admire all those that manage to find balance between being stuck in traffic, confined in public transport, facing a demanding job and/or family life and possibly trying to make healthy life choices. I come home content that I live in the country, 20 minutes away from town (Luxemburg town would feel like the countryside to a Londoner), in a non-hectic environment until I start finding it so boring again that I will complain to anybody who is willing to listen & have to get away for a while. It’s a kind of balance that seems to work fine for me;)

    At Perrine’s place (she shot the pictures of me in her kitchen) I cooked a couscous with quinoa & veggies. I made up the recipe as I went along and the outcome was tasty. Recipe for 2.

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    2 cups of quinoa (rinsed)

    1/2 a handful of raisins

    1l vegetable broth

    1 tablespoon of tomato past

    1/2 teaspoon cumin (seeds or grounded)

    1/2 teaspoon coriander (grounded)

    pepper & salt

    olive oil

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    2 carrots

    1 fennel

    1 courgette

    1 potato

    1/2 brocoli

    4 small onions

    1 piece of ginger that you cook with the broth & take out before you serve

    I used the vegetables that were available to me, feel free to go for anything you like. Wash and cut the veggies, chuncky peaces are best here. The only trick is to add them to the boiling broth in the right order. Those that need the longest cooking time first (carrots, potatoes act…) continuing with those that need less time to cook, like fennel. I added the onions very early since I want them to get sweet and totally loose the strong onion taste. Trust your feeling;)

    Heat the broth with the tomato past, coriander and cumin. Add your vegetables as described above and season to taste.

    Simultaneously cook the quinoa with the raisins (if you don’t like these you obviously don’t use them. I like to satisfy as many qualities of taste in one dish. Salty, sweet, bitter, sour. That way I feel balanced and free of cravings. I don’t include Umami since I have little to no experience with it.)

    Try if your vegetables are done by sticking a knife through them. In this dish I  like them quiet cooked but again it’s up to you if you want them more crunchy.

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    Serve the quinoa with veggies on top and some broth. I also added a little olive oil, to give the fat soluble vitamins a chance to be absorbed. You can add  Harissa (Tunisian hot chill sauce) which really completes the dish, parsley, fresh mint…

    Eat well

  • onion soup & sun

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    I did get one day of sun, a week ago on my favorite nordic seaside. I even got a slight tan;) As children we used to spend the summer here, eating “crevettes” out of the shell and fishing for “moules”, also cruelly poking stranded jellyfish with a stick while safely sitting on my dad’s shoulders. There were lots of them this time but luckily for them I grew up … a little. What did I bring home except a couple of empty shells….a cookbook and more cooking inspiration that I can tell you right now since I always try to keep my posts short. I am impatient to share post by post!

    I start with onion soup.

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    2 tablespoons of olive oil

    salt & pepper (season to your taste)

    4 medium sized onions (I used red, any other kind is fine too)

    2 tablespoons agave syrup

    2 springs of thyme

    1 bay leave (optional)

    Cut the onions (if you have a good trick to fight the crying here, let me know;)) and caramelize them on a medium heat with the olive oil and agave syrup. When they are nicely colored, cover them with water, add the thyme and bay leave & let simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt & pepper. I served this onion soup with self-made bread with black olive tapenade & plain olive oil. Any dish that comes with good bread is a winner for me!

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    I was out of home made organic chicken stock. I normally have some frozen in an ice-cube holder. I add a couple of cubes to my vegetarian soups  to do something for the strength of my bones.

    This onion soup is inspired by the founder of “le pain quotidien”, Alain Coumont & his cookbook. This is his shopfront…in Brugge. The second day was obviously rainy again and we lingered over breakfast before making it back to the seaside.

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    Eat well & catch some sun…;)

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