Rain and treats

Luxembourg is a charming city but Sundays tend to be very quiet. They are great for meeting with friends around a copious brunch, going for long walks in the woods or laying down in the park. But what if it is a mid-July Sunday when most of your friends are away and for some reason it is constantly raining? I find myself stranded at home with plenty of time on my hands. This is the perfect opportunity to try out new recipes! For lunch, I want to bring Summer back with a fresh quinoa salad. I love the bitter-sweet of grapefruit in salads. An avocado, smoked salmon and grapefruit quinoa salad with a light “fromage blanc” sauce it will be! I had some salmon left, so I accompanied my quinoa salad with smoked salmon potted eggs.

IMG_1641 (2)

When the sun starts setting, I feel like a warm and comforting dish. My coral lentil, chicken and coconut milk soup did the trick. Finally to please my Dutch boyfriend with a reference to his national color, I decided to go for a full blown orange dinner with a carrot cake, an all time favorite. I sometimes cook a gluten-free version of it for my gluten sensitive friends. Without giving in to the recent gluten-free or all-organic crazes, I like the challenge of baking with unusual ingredients and discovering new flavors and textures. My cupboards are now well-stocked with different types of flour: coconut, chestnut, corn, rice, buckwheat. I am not done experimenting!


Avocado, smoked salmon and grapefruit quinoa salad

(serves 4)

200 g / 1 cup quinoa
2 avocado
150 g / 5 oz smoked salmon
1 grapefruit

For the “fromage blanc” sauce
200 g / 1 cup fromage blanc (can be replaced by fromage frais or quark)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chives, chopped
1 tbsp dill (fresh and chopped or dried)
salt / pepper

Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of water (two times its volume) with a pinch of salt until all the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). When ready let it cool down for 10 minutes or so.

Dice the avocados and slice the salmon. Cut the grapefruit in half crosswise and remove the pulp with the help of a thin kitchen knife while keeping the grapefruit on top of a bowl in order to collect the juice. Keep the juice aside and mix all the other ingredients in a large bowl.

To prepare the sauce: Mix the fromage blanc, the Dijon mustard, the grapefruit juice, the chopped chives and the dill. Season with salt and pepper.

When cooled down, pour the quinoa and the sauce in the large bowl together with the other ingredients and gently stir.

Smoked salmon potted eggs (Oeufs cocotte)

(serves 4)

4 eggs
50 g / 1.5 oz smoked salmon
20 cl / 7 fl oz light cream
1 tbsp chives, chopped
1 tsp dill (fresh and chopped or dried)
salt / pepper

Chop the chives. In a bowl mix with the cream and the dill. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the cream and herb mix between four small pots. Thinly slice the salmon and divide between the four pots. Add an egg on top of each pot. Season with salt and pepper. Heat in a bain-marie either in a pan or in the oven for 10 minutes or until the egg white turns solid.


Coral lentil, chicken and coconut milk soup

(serves 4)

220 g coral lentil
1 carrot, diced
3 chicken breasts, sliced
20 cl / 7 fl oz coconut milk
1 onion, sliced finely
1 garlic clove, sliced finely
1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
75 cl / 25 fl oz chicken broth
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Sauté the chicken slices in a medium pan with a tbsp of olive oil. Once golden, set aside. Sauté the sliced onion in the same pan on medium heat with some extra olive oil. When softened, add the garlic and the spices and stir for a minute or two. Add the lentil, the diced carrot and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then cover and lower the heat. Leave it to cook for 10 minutes. Add the chicken slices and leave it to cook for another 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and give it a good stir. No need to blend. Sprinkle with fresh coriander before serving.


Carrot Cake (gluten-free option)

(serves 8)

3/4 carrots, finely grated
95 g / 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
60 g / 2 oz walnut halves, finely chopped
45 ml / 3 tbsp olive oil
45 ml / 3 tbsp colza oil
175 g / 1+1/4 cup plain flour (for gluten-free version mix 75 g / 1/2 cup chestnut flour and 100 g / 3/4 cup rice flour)
1 package 16 g / 2 tsp baking powder (make sure to chose it with maize starch for gluten-fee version)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch of salt

Cream-cheese frosting (optional)
50 g / 1.5 oz butter at room temperature (salted or not)
100 g / 3 oz cream-cheese (Philadelphia)
50 g / 3/4 cup icing sugar
1 package 7.5 g / 2 tsp vanilla sugar (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F.

In a mixing bowl, whip the eggs and sugar energetically until creamy and fluffy, then add the oil and mix well. In another bowl sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture and blend well. Add carrots and chopped walnuts and blend well.

Butter and dust the cake mold with flour. Pour in the dough and bake in a preheated oven 150°C/ 300°F for 1 hour. You can also use muffin molds, in this case only bake for 45 minutes.

Let the cake cool on a wire rack. When cold, you can ice the cake if you wish. In this case mix the butter and the cream cheese until smooth. Then add the sifted icing sugar. Mix well and cream your cakes with the icing. Hold 15 minutes in fridge before serving.