Friday August 15th, it is 8:30, and we are setting off through the deserted streets of Luxembourg city (it is a holiday, it is early, it is raining and it is Luxembourg), friends on the back seat, in the direction of an inspiring weekend in Amsterdam. The plan is to travel the city up and down via all the best ways: on foot, by bike and by boat, as long as the weather permits us to do so. And if this is not the case, we know we can take shelter in one of the numerous cosy cafes and find comfort in a slice of delicious “Appeltaart”.
One of my favorite cafes in Amsterdam is De Bakkerswinkel. It is always extremely busy, so you need to arm yourself with patience until you are finally seated either to a large table shared with other groups or to a tiny table surrounded by worn out cloth chairs. And then… you find yourself faced with a dilemma: the attractive quiche of day or the warm “broodjes” filled with combinations of ingredients that delight the taste buds; the apple pie (which ranks 2nd or 3rd on our list of best apple pies in Amsterdam) or the delicious scones with homemade lemon-curd and clotted cream? I finally had a lentil, spinach and goat cheese quiche which inspired the vegetable and fresh goat cheese “quiche without crust” that I baked this week.
The quiche is one of my childhood standards. My mother, always anxious to keep her dishes light (she is a Dietitian) would prepare it without crust. The base is extremely simple and for the filling you can unleash your creativity! Presented with a side salad, it always pushes the right button.
Another breakfast option often seen in Amsterdam cafes and which usually hits the spot is the muesli. When home over the weekend, I like to give a twist to my breakfast with a homemade fruit muesli, so simple and yet so attractive. Over the last few months, I have collected all sorts of seeds, nuts and dried fruits. I feel like a painter when adding a stroke of cranberries here, another one of sunflower seeds there and finishing off with halved almonds.
Our friends had never set foot in Amsterdam before, thus, for dinner, we decided to take them to places which honor the water component of the city. The first night was on a platform in the IJ river: REM Eiland. This platform was built in Ireland and used to host pirate radio and TV stations. The second night, we chose a cosy trattoria by Keizersgracht (Emperors Canal): Pastini. We all ordered pasta, and it all looked amazing. I highly recommend the Crespelle Capra, a pancake of pasta filled with spices, lemon, goat cheese and green peas.
On our way back to Luxembourg, we stopped at my boyfriend’s parents for what we thought would be a quick bite. But Kjeld’s mother surprised us with a savory avocado cheese cake and a strawberry pavlova. Both looked absolutely stunning! I had been thinking about baking a pavlova for a while and it was so good that I decided we just had to have it again this weekend. Meringues are really fun to bake. I made them with slightly less sugar than indicated on most recipes. I can’t wait to try other versions, more or less crunchy, with different flavors (orange flower, rose, vanilla) or in different sizes!
Amsterdam is a truly inspiring city! Kjeld, when are we going back? 😉
Homemade fruit muesli
100 g / 1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt or fromage blanc 20% fat
50 g / 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced (or any other berries)
1 tsp dried cranberries
1 tsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp pumpkin seeds
3 almonds, halved
1 tsp honey (optional)
Pour the yogurt (or fromage blanc) in a small bowl. If you prefer it sweet, add the honey and mix well. Cover with the other ingredients, one after the other, in the order indicated above.
Vegetable and fresh goat cheese “quiche without crust”
For the base
100 g / 3/4 cup flour
100 ml / 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp milk
For the filling
100 g / 1/2 cup coral lentil
100 g / 3 oz green beans (frozen or fresh)
100 g / 3 oz green peas (frozen or fresh)
100 g / 3 oz carrot, grated
100 g / 3 oz fresh goat cheese
30 g / 1 oz emmenthal cheese, grated (any other grated cheese will do)
1 onion, sliced finely
1 garlic clove, sliced finely
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Cook the coral lentil in 1 cup of water (two times its volume) with a pinch of salt between 5 and 10 minutes (they should stay firm). Sauté the sliced onion in a large frying pan with a tbsp of olive oil. Once soft add the garlic and stir. Add the green beans and the green peas, stir and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, until the vegetables are defrosted. Add the grated carrot and the cooked coral lentil, season with salt and pepper, give it a good stir and cook for 1 or 2 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, mix the eggs and the flour until smooth. Add the fresh goat cheese and mix until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Then gradually add the milk and mix well.
Butter and dust a mold (about 20 x 25 cm / 8 x 10 inches). Pour in the vegetable mix, then the base mix, add the chopped mint and gently stir to evenly spread the ingredients. Sprinkle the top of the dish with grated emmenthal cheese and bake in a preheated oven 180°C/ 350°F for 45 minutes or until the top turns golden.
For the meringues
3 egg whites
100 g caster sugar
1/2 tsp white wine or cider vinegar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
For the topping
150 ml / 2/3 cup whipping cream (lighter option: 75 ml / 1/3 cup whipping cream and 75 g / 1/3 cup fromage blanc)
2 tbsp icing sugar
A handful of strawberries, currants, blueberries (or any other berries)
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Gradually add the sugar while mixing. Mix the vinegar and cornstarch through. Spoon a quarter of the foam on a lined baking sheet to a kind of heap. Repeat the operation for the 3 other meringues.
Bake in a preheated oven 130°C/ 266°F for an hour and a half. It should be crunchy on the outside and marshmellow-like on the inside. Let is cool down in the oven with the door open.
Slice the berries and when you are close to serving, whip up the cream with the icing sugar. For the lighter option gently fold the whipped cream in the fromage blanc. Place a meringue on a serving plate, tap it gently to break the center. Finally add the cream and the fresh berries on top and enjoy!