In Holland we are spoiled for choice. We have flower shops full of beautiful and affordable flowers. Still, I think your own picked bouquet is a more personal gift.


This bouquet contained daisies, chive flowers, snapdragons and some plants I couldn’t name if I tried. There are some important attention points when you pick flowers:

  • Ask permission first, or pick from your own garden
  • Make sure you wipe of any bugs or little creatures
  • Cut the flowers at an angle
  • Cut flowers before their prime, so they open in the vase
  • Take the leaves off the part of the stem that will be submerged in water
  • Keep the stems moist
  • Use greens to bulk up your bouquet
  • Contrasts make wild flower bouquets beautiful, look for different textures, colors, smells and use different lengths.

Don’t forget to enjoy the process, I know I did!

Father’s favorites

koekjes2In the Netherlands, June 14th will be fathersday this year. Obviously I would like to state that me and my toddler are  daddy’s favorites. However, these cookies also go down well. They are a dutch classic: speculaasjes. The dough should be made beforehand, so the spice mix can flavor the entire dough. I recommend making the dough 2 days before fathersday, then making the cookies with your toddlers 1 day before fathersday.

I have this recipe from a dutch classic cooking book aptly named; “Het nieuwe kookboek“. This is a great book for beginners, let’s call it the “silver spoon” of the Netherlands. My toddler and I tested this recipe for valentine’s day and it was a huge hit!

Getting your hands on some real speculaas might be difficult for you, I do promiss you that this festive spice mix will put a smile on your face, it is like cinnamon for grown-ups (although your kids will love it too). For the UK, check out this site, or make your own blend.

Father’s favorite cookies (40 to 50 cookies)

  • 110 grams butter
  • 90 grams of light brown sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp of speculaas spice blend
  • 1 tbsp of beaten egg
  • 100 grams selfraising flower
  • Almonds, sugar pieces or sugar decoration

Mix all the ingredients and combine into a ball of dough. Wrap the dough in cling film. Let it rest in the fridge for 1 to 4 days. This will allow for the spices to flavor your dough.

Take the dough out of your fridge 1 hour before rolling it out.

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 5 mm. Use flower to prevent your dough from sticking. Cut out any shape you like. Place your cookies on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper. Sprinkle your decorations, sugar and/or almonds on the cookies and lightly press them in.

Bake your cookies for 20 minutes, take them out to cool on the sheet.

Once cooled, the cookies keep for about a week in an air tight container. My son even decorated his own container for daddy.



BBQ favorites : Carrot soda bread

I love making soda bread. It makes the perfect dipping material with a freshly made tzaziki or with plain olive oil and vinegar. I inspired this bread on a recipe by Lorraine Pascale. I was out of olives at the time. Which meant adding sweet carrots to the mix, and a matching herb; caraway.

Remember this is a soda bread: Which means no kneading, just mixing and combining! This creates that light and cake-like texture.

carrot soda bread

Carrot soda bread

  • 450 grams self raising flower
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup of finely grated carrot
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 225 ml water

Preheat your oven at 200 degrees C.

Combine all the dry ingredients and the carrots. Combine the olive oil and water.

Mix all ingredients with fork. When it all seems combined, tip the bowl on your counter and combine into a ball. Place the ball on a baking tray which you dusted with flower against sticking.

Flower the handle of a wooden spoon. Push the handle into your loaf to create, halves, quarters and then 1/8 wedges.

Bake your loaf in the oven for 35 minutes. Leave to cool for 15 mins before eating, bon apetit!


Fabulos five! Edible flowers…

I love flowers and I love eating. In my garden, I try to combine these loves. Here are my favorites.

  1. Pansies – Make these lollipops, or use them in a salad
  2. Nasturtium (Oostindische kers) – This stunning garnish is so easy to grow! Use it in this salad.
  3. Chive flowers – a real pungent tasty treat, your can make your own chive flower vinegar. I like mixing them into garlic butter. The purple specks are tasty and pretty.
  4. Lavender – makes for a subtle flavored sugar for baking
  5. Borage – this used to grow in my mum’s garden, lovely in this salad and such a beautiful blue color!



Perfect Pizza Paluzza

Thanks to a sweet friend of mine, I am the proud owner of the Italian cooking bible “the silver spoon”. The book itself ways several kilo’s, but is worth all the shelf space it occupies in my book cupboard.

My Italian cooking bible

What you notice when you leaf through this book is how delightfully simple the Italian cuisine really is. Few ingredients are used to make the star of the show shine. I would recommend this book to any starting home cook.

One of my favorite recipes from “The silver spoon” is pizza. I use the recipe for making pizza dough but for the toppings I let my guests decide. I knead the pizza dough the evening before. I let the dough proof in the fridge. This means that making the pizza’s takes little time on the day itself.

My toddler loves pizza. From the moment we bought his kitchen stool he has been joining me to “help” with my cooking. And pizza is the perfect opportunity for this because:

  • Your toddler can help you knead the dough. Simply give your toddler a small portion of the dough and continue kneading together. My son loves pushing his fingers or fists into the dough! Simply combine the dough every now and then, and give your toddler a new ball to knead.
  • Your toddler can help dusting your work top and roll out the dough. At this point in time my toddler runs to the kitchen  cabinet container a big and a small rolling pin. My toddler is so experienced now (3 years old), that he rolls out a pizza all by himself, but you might wanna help a bit the first few times.
  • Your toddler can prick holes in the pizza with a fork.
  • Your toddler can sprinkle cheese, oregano and veg on his own pizza.


My son is always extremely proud of his creation and walks to the oven to check on his pizza regularly. Both dad and son are big pizza lovers.

Pizza dough (for 2 adults and 1 toddler)

  • 500 gram plain flower and extra for dusting
  • 7 gram instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 240 ml lukewarm water
  • Olive oil

Mix your flower, water, salt and yeast together. Cover the mixture with a kitchen towel and let this mixture stand for 10 minutes (you can skip this step, but I promiss you it makes the kneading easier.

Knead your dough for a minimum of 10 minutes. Time your kneading, it will seam like forever the first time, but after 10 minutes you will have that smooth, elastic stuff people like to rave about.

tip: knead your dough on a table top, not your kitchen counter. This lower surface makes it possible for you to use your body weight when pushing into the dough to stretch it.

Make sure your dough is covered in oil to protect it from sticking and place it in a large container. The dough (at least) will double in size. Make sure you prevent your dough from drying out by applying an air tight lid or use kling film. Now you have two choices: let your dough proof in the fridge for up to 24 hours, or proof it at room temperature for 1 hour.


When you want to make your pizza, take the dough out of the fridge, knock it back and let it get to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Now you can devide your dough into 2 large balls and one smaller ball. Protect your dough by covering it with a (damp) kitchen towel until you roll out your pizza.

Roll out your dough to form your pizza. Prick holes with a fork where the topping goes.

Place your toppings on your pizza and bake for 10 to 20 minutes at 220 degrees.

I will blog about my husband’s favorite pizza some other day.

Baking Bagels

I am not ashamed to admit  I am a big carb lover. As a student I used to work saturdays in a bakery. This experience instilled in me a devotion to well baked bread. Recently I have  been making my own home baked loaves.


Bread is such a magical thing to make. Basically you take 4 basic ingredients (flower, salt, water and yeast) and after some work, it becomes a completely new entity: dough. This dough that transforms several times while proofing. Dough is almost a living thing, which you created! When you bake it, the dough is again transformed, changing in texture and flavor for the last and final time. I cannot emphasize enough how inspiring it is to be the master of such a process.

I hope I have inspired you! If you have never baked before; start with an easy white loaf. If you would like a fun bread baking challenge, make these bagels! I have watched many video’s and instructions, and this method works for me. If you wander why I added certain steps, you can read the explanation in Italics. Personally I recommend doing step 1 through 4 the evening before. This way, If you are an early riser, you can surprise your loved ones with these bagels for breakfast or brunch.


Bagels (about 10 bagels)

  • 7 g sachet dried yeast
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 450 g bread flour
  • 300 ml lukewarm water
  1. Make your starter mixture – Combine 200 ml of water, the sugar, a large cup of the bread flower and the yeast in a mixing bowl. When combined, cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 1 to 4 hours. Leaving this starter mixture for a while will add flavor to your bread as dough needs lots of time to develop. The starter should have the consistency of a runny pancake batter.
  2. Make your dough – When your starter mixture has developed, combine with the other ingredients. After combining, cover your bowl with a kitchen towel and leave your mix to stand for 15 minutes. Leaving this mix to stand makes kneading easier.
  3. Knead your dough for at least 10 minutes. If you are not used to kneading, just time your kneading, you cannot take any shortcuts with kneading, unless you have a machine to so it for you.
  4. Proof your dough – Place your dough back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and let your dough proof for at least an hour in a warm place, or let your dough proof in the fridge overnight. Letting your dough proof overnight is not only practical but this slow proofing means more flavor!
  5. Shape your dough –  If your dough comes from the fridge, leave it to get to room temperature for twenty minutes before shaping your bagels. Shape your donuts. Find instructions on Youtube for this step. Place your bagels on a baking tray dusted with semolina, flower or bread crumbs to prevent sticking.
  6. Proof your bagels – Cover your bagels with a damp kitchen towel and leave them to rest for 20 minutes.
  7. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees C.
  8. Poach your bagels – This step is what gives the bagels their unique texture. Put a large pot of simmering water on your hub. Gently slide your bagels in the water, let them poach 1-2 minutes on each side. Depending on the size of your pot, you will have to do this in batches as the bagels should not touch. After poaching, remove each bagel with a slotted spoon, and place the bagels on the baking tray.
  9. Decorate your bagels – Your bagels will have grown during poaching and should have formed a skin around the outside. The bagels are now sticky and easy to garnish with seasalt and your favorite topping. You can use sesame, sun flower seeds or poppy.
  10. Bake your bagels for about 25 minutes or untill crispy and golden.



I trust and hope your mother taught you how to bake pancakes. But I have found that making pancake batter is often a mystery to people, and that unfortunately people rely on instant mixes. Master making your own batter so you can make them the way you like your pancakes best:

  • For richer pancakes add extra egg.
  • For thinner pancakes add extra milk. For thicker pancakes leave out some milk.
  • For savory pancakes leave out the honey.
  • Try which pancake you like best: milk or buttermilk.
  • Add vanilla for more flavor.
  • Use spelt flower instead of regular flower for a healthier option.

Pancake batter (feeds 4)

  • 200 gram of self raising flower
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 400 ml of buttermilk or plain milk
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • Butter for frying
  • Optional : 1 tbsp honey for sweet pancakes or vanilla sugar for flavor

Mix the self raising flower and the salt in a mixing bowl. Create a well in the center.

Pour a cup of the milk and the free range eggs in the well. Whisk the eggs and the milk, slowly incorporating the surrounding flower slowly. Gradually add your milk and keep incorporating the flower as you go.

Add the honey and melted butter to your pancake batter.

Your batter is ready for making pancakes!