Author / Geri

Breakfast

American Pancakes & Golden Syrup

American pancakes are something quite recent in out family life.

Last year, while waiting to board the EuroStar train from London to Brussels we have bought some from M&S, and since then they have started to join frequently our weekend breakfast menu.

I have found so many recipes on the Internet, but I must admit, the flavour was always not quite right.

We love Vanilla, and it became only natural that it should be added in the recipe. We love a delicate balance between sweet and salty flavour, so a pinch of salt and a little bit of sugar seemed only fair to be added to our home adjusted recipe.

Serves well with: blueberry jam, maple syrup, golden syrup.

 

Ingredients

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 150g suger
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • Knob of butter
  • Sunflower oil or a little butter for cooking

 

Method

1. Mix the sugar, the vanilla and the egg together. Gradually add the milk to the mixture.

2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and whisk in the milk and egg mixture to make a thick smooth batter. Beat in the melted butter.

3. Heat a teaspoon of oil or small knob of butter in a large non-stick frying pan. Drop a large tablespoonful of the batter per pancake into the pan to make pancakes about 7.5cm across. Make three or four pancakes at a time. Cook for about 3 minutes over a medium heat until small bubbles appear on the surface of each pancake, then turn and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden.

 

Places

A Childhood Memory, Crete

A few days of sea-swimming and sunshine is all that we need to wash away the weariness of the business day-to-day life and to unite, once again with nature. Our hearts are at peace, our minds at rest, our souls radiant with happiness, our adventure spirits eager to venture on the road and discover Crete’s ancient mysteries and secluded country side. Away from the tourism, deep in the country, there where for centuries little has changed. Our mini cabrio is struggling to protect us from the melting heat, but it is offering refreshing breeze and happy music in abundance. Kiss FM Radio makes us lift up hands in the air singing loud. Yes, it is true, we are on holidays!

We are travelling for a while, stopping only briefly to admire the majestic mountains. Tracking a monastery on a faded paper map, proofs to be a real challenge. Are the Creek alphabet road-signs giving us a trouble or is the happy music in the car? We don’t really know and we don’t really care. In reaching our destination, we are completely overtaken by the hill-top monastery view – a wide blue-deep-sea horizon. We envy the monks. How can someone possibly wake up every morning with a view like this? We savour the moment, dreaming of the past, imagining all turbulent soul-seeking solitary confinement within the walls of this sanctuary, their stories untold, yet the marks of their steps still visible, carved unevenly on the surface the church stone floor.

Back in the car we are quiet for awhile. The scenery is changing as we drive down-hill, from bare yellow sun-dried grass to greyish trees, farming fields, luscious green forests, picturesque villages and at last, a sparking smaragd-green yacht haven. A French couple is giving us the thumbs up as we choose our table. “C’est bon”, letting us know that by chance we have entered the most delicious restaurant on the Riviera. The menu is appealing, yet my eyes glide in amazement towards the description “A day old slice of bread, soaked in tomato sauce, topped with feta and fresh parsley”.

Could this be true? The images of bright sunshine, my grand-father sitting on the veranda with a slice of bread in his hand, squeezing a sun-warm garden-picked red-ripe tomato, sprinkling sea-salt, fresh parsley and some feta crumbles on top, fill my heart with fond memories. Has it really been so long? The last time I have tasted this simple, yet full of flavour, peasant dish I must have been no more then 5-6 years old. We order the dish and I try to explain what it means to me. How do you describe a memory? How do you invoke in somebody else, the purest feelings of childhood happiness? The taste does not disappoint. And for a moment, I am a little girl again, running in my grandmother’s garden, picking up flowers, chasing butterflies, sampling raspberries, making a water droplets rainbow and laughing in the sunlight.

Time is a mysterious stranger. Putting on a new coat for every season, yet wearing a familiar smile and a gaze, drawing all your memories back to live, making you remember.

I look into the sparking smaragd-green sea, slowly awakening to reality, while we discuss our next destination – one of the major Minoan excavation sites. We smile, and Indiana Geri is ready for the road again.

Mains

Chestnut Mushroom Tagliatelle

Spring is a special season. Its tender freshness carries all the promises of a new beginning. The light, the first green leaves, the first delicate flowers, the first bird songs, all reach out to the summer celebrating the new life, the new day, the new season. Yet, while all creation longs for the coming spring, winter lingers in releasing its commanding grip and for a while we enjoy the two. Spring gently pulls the sleeves of our winter jackets and whispers in youthful cheerfulness “I am here”, while Winter proudly walks on the earth with her hand tugged underneath one of our arms whispering “I will never leave you”. And we smile at one and we bow to the other, walking together with the two, thankful for their beautify and presence in our lives.

This mushroom tagliatelle dish is a celebration of the crossing over from winter to spring. The depth and the earthiness of the mushrooms and the comforting richness of the pork, contrasted with the delicate flavour of the fresh thyme leafs tastes like the blissful caress of two kisses, one from winter and one from spring, both placed at the same time on each cheek.

 

Ingredients

  • Tagliatelle
  • 10g cooking butter
  • 250g chesnut mushrooms (cut into pieces)
  • 250g speck
  • a handful of fresh thyme
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 150g cream cheese (like Philadelphia, for example)
  • 50g cream

 

Method

1. Heat plenty of water adding a pintch of salt and a few droplets of olive oil. Once the water is boling add the tagliatelle and let them boil. Usually, depending on the description on the package, they should be ready between 12-15 minutes.

2. On a medium heat, melt the butter in a  pan and add the muchtooms. Let them soften for 5-6 minutes and when ready take them out, preserving all the liquid the mushrooms have released and set them aside in a separate dish.

3. In the same pan add the speck and let it gradually become golden brown. Should any fat be released, take it out of the pan. Whinin 6-10 minutes the speck should be ready.  Add the mushrooms together with their liquid in the pan together with the speck and mix well. Add the cream cheese and the fresh cream until a smoth sauce has been formed absorbing all the flavours. Season with salt and pepper and add the fresh thyme leafs.

4. Ones the tagliatelle has boild, drain the water and add the tagliatelle to the pan containing the muchroom, speck and cream sauce. Season each plate with addtional fresh thyme leaves.

Restaurants

Voltaire, Heverlee Belgium

As much as we love cooking at home, there are those moments when nothing compares to going out, sharing intimate time together and enjoying a meal. Luckily our hometown offers quite a variety of restaurants – from the classic French and Belgian cuisine to cosy Italian, intoxicating Moroccan, Greek, Spanish, Portages, Thai, Chinese, Japanese… the list is really long and the possibility to be pleasantly surprised endless.

After the long dark winter days today spring has reworded us with a first glimpse of what a sunny day really looks like. We have walked for hours in the forest, we have caressed the new fresh green moss, we have picked up flowers, we have smelled the new-born leafs, we have spoken deeply, we have laughed heartily and we have ended a beautiful morning in a near by restaurant. Voltaire did not disappoint. All shines away, we have chosen to go for a three course menu with a glass of champagne, white wine and red wine accompanying every meal.

Our Menu

  • Cheese croquettes, dry ham, fig marmalade, grapefruit and lettuce
  • Piepkuiken (spring chicken) and rosted potatoes in calvados sauce
  • Lemon cheesecake

&

  • Toni-fish tapanade rolls
  • Victoriabaas (Lake Victoria Perch), rosted cheery tomatoes, terragon potato mash and hollandaise sauce
  • Speculoos ice-cream in hot caramel sauce

Breakfast

French Toast

French toast for breakfast on Sunday morning.

This is such a nice alternative for pancakes, especially when there are a few days old left over slices of bread.

My family adores these toasts drizzled over with brown sugar, but powder sugar, any type of fruit jam could be an equally tasty alternative as well.

Ingredients

  • 4 Slices of white bread (a few days old)
  • 1 Vanilla suger
  • 20 ml milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 10g Butter

 

 Method

1. Beat the eggs, milk and vanilla together until they form a foamy consistency.

2. Melt the butter in a hot pan.

3. Dip both sides of each slice of bread in the egg mixture and put it in the bettered pan.

4. Bake until crispy golden.

5. Serve with dusted cinnamon or powder sugar.

 

Restaurants

Dining at BVLGARI, Milan

Resent business trip to Milan.

Only hard work and no time for sight seeing, yet a last minute purchase from the airport is letting me take Italy home with me. The choice was not easy. Do I buy a well-rounded and well-rested piece of ham? Do I go for the tempting varieties of chocolate delights? Butter cookies, espresso coffee or wine?

Isn’t it amazing how we all want to take all of Italy home with us. The gentle voices of the elegant women speaking beautiful Italian, the chivalrous gentlemen opening the door and insisting on carrying my suitcase. The harmonious splendour of the medieval buildings. The summer taste in every strawberry… And the food and the wine and the warmth in the people’s eyes and the liveliness and the cheer and the beauty that is all around.

Places

Moroccan Breakfast

M Breakfast Riad Luna

Roof terrace. Sunny embrace. Quiet morning. And the world is hidden beneath a roof top horizon. Our Moroccan hostess is stepping lightly, caring a tray of food and greeting us generously with a smile. The day begins, not yet inclined to reveal its mysteries, delighted at our eager anticipation, but like a welcoming host as well, it is inviting us to follow with a vivid gesture. And we are ready to follow, wherever the day may lead. Through the colourful souks, through the dusty roads, through the crowds of warm hearted people, through the age old history of the old medina. But before we start, our senses are bathed with sumptuous delights: fresh orange juice, mint tea, Moroccan pancakes, flat bread, eucalyptus honey, orange marmalade, dates, home made yogurt. A heart-warming breakfast for a heart-warmth seeking traveller.

Marroco

 

Books

Favourite Cookbooks

Reading a book about cooking and getting inspired to learn a new technique or a new dish that I would usually never ever dream of attempting at trying seems like only the beginning of a life-long loving adventure. In moments like this, I am profoundly thankful to all those people who have paved the road ahead of me, who have tried and failed and who can tell with an experienced certainty what will and will not work. All that it takes for me is just to listen and to dare to try by myself, ready for kitchen disasters but for moments of triumph as well. And it usually works. After every kitchen disaster I am more confident in myself. After every moment of glory my loving passion for cooking is burning even stronger and nothing, absolutely nothing can be compared to seeing my loved ones sampling my cooking creations with glowing joy and delight.

Mains

Quiche with leek and ham

Crusty underneath, soft and flavorsome in-between and bitty and cheesy on top – that’s a Sunday lunch.

Baking pearls, make an incredible difference in baking crusty pastry or quiches. Yes, it maybe a luxury, but I enjoy using them in making the perfect base for sweet and salty pastries.

 

Ingredients

  • 350g puff pastry
  • 1 leek
  • 200g ham
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g cream
  • pinch of salt
  • pepper
  • 100g rasped cheese
  • 1 tbsp plain flour

 

Method

1. Take the puff pastry out of the fridge, roll it out and let it rest for 20 minutes.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Carefully take the pastry and lay it together with the baking paper underneath over into the baking form. If possible cover the base of the pastry with baking pearls to keep the pastry down from raising. Before putting the baking pearls over the pastry, cut a round disk of baking paper in the size of the base of the pastry form. Put the paper on top of the pastry and add the pearls. In this way, when the pastry bottom is baked, you can easily take away the baking paper disk and the pearls. Put the pastry into the oven and let it bake for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cut the leek into small pieces and let it soften in a pan over medium heat for no more then 10 minutes. Cut the ham into small pieces and when the leek has softened mixed the two together.

4. Whisk the two eggs, the cream and the flour into a smooth mixture and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

5. Once the pastry has firmed take it our of the oven and remove the baking pearls. Pour the leek and ham mixture over the pastry, scatter randomly half of the rasped cheese, pour the egg mixture and cover generously with the remaining rasped cheese. Put the quiche back into the oven and let it bake for additional 20 minutes until golden.

 

Desserts

Coconut Pink Cookie Hearts

There is something so sweet and nostalgic looking at the Victorian Valentine cards. I can see the anticipation, I can see the longing and the shy expression of affection, peeping though the frozen doors of etiquette to offer the unmistakable “I love you”.

Thankfully, nowadays we are liberated from such formal restrictions. Yet, I wonder, why are so many people so shy in saying their “I do”s?

Whether we are extravagant with exuberant bouquets of red roses, delicious gourmet dinners or little signs of affection like home made coconut pink cookie hearts, all that really matters is our hearts reaching the other’s with this unspeakably beautiful mystery called Love.

 

Ingredients

For the Royal Icing
  • 1 medium free-range egg white
  • 225g powder sugar
For the Cookies
  • 100g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 300g plain flour
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 packages vanilla sugar essence Dr. Oetker
  • Pinch of salt
  • 10 drops of red food colouring
  • 100g coco powder
  • 1 tsp backing powder
  • 3 tbsp clear honey

 

Method

1. Cream the butter, caster sugar and vanilla together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Mix the eggs with the honey, and sift the flour with the baking powder and a pinch of salt in separate bowls. Add the flour and enough of the honey and egg mixture to the creamed mixture to make a soft dough. If it seems a little sticky, mix in a little more flour, but don’t let the dough get too stiff and dry. Add to the mixture the food colouring.

2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, divide into 2 and knead each piece briefly until smooth. Shape into flat discs, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Using 1 piece of dough at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick. Cut out hearts, using a floured cutter, and lift onto baking sheets lined with baking paper. Re-knead and roll the trimmings to make more biscuits.

4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden around the edges. Carefully lift onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

5. For the decoration, put the egg white into a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to break it up a little. Sift in the pouder sugar and mix to give a slightly stiff but still pipeable mixture. Spoon the mixture into a small nylon or baking paper piping bag fitted with a number 3 or number 4 plain nozzle. Pipe heart designs around the edge of the cookies and dip them into the coconut mixture. Leave to set.