October Already – Birthday warm Fuzzies, Roasted Almond Pesto, Favourite Things, November 9!

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I’ve been working on developing some new recipes for an exciting new shop (www.dewandelaar.nl – but more on that later!) and thinking about food, food, food. There was yet another birthday to celebrate in our house (mine!) and this year I invited my friends to cook their current favourite food or bring a tried and tested recipe to afternoon tea. It’s so lovely to share beautiful food with wonderful friends!   It all ended way too soon for me so I have decided to do the same for next birthday. I made my usual carrot cake, with half the amount of sugar but with lots of pineapple, decorated with dried cranberries and fresh berries.

And delicious it was

And delicious it was

I also made some curried egg sandwiches, jazzed up with roasted almond pesto, and some of Jenny’s Tamarind Pickle (from Waiheke Island) and garnished with broccoli cress. My, but the spread was grand, Antonio surpassed himself with a Spanish style aubergine tortilla, Basma made Cheese Fatayer, a sort of yeast pastry with olives, feta, herbs and spices, Jilly made a beauteous banana cake, Fanny  baked a light as a bee’s wing, honey cake, Anna prepared some fresh tasting hummus laced liberally with loads of flat-leafed parsley, Sharyn made a carrot souffle, Ute stuffed dates with walnuts and cream cheese, Johanna, a pumpkin and walnut loaf, Nancy some coconut date balls, and Michele, a lime and lemon tart that everyone raved about, Carolyn,  a plum cinnamon cake – and I could go on and on!! Please forgive me if I have missed anyone out – all I can say was thanks, thanks and more thanks!

The food was varied, delightful and delicious, the conversation brisk. And really that’s what life is all about isn’t it: honest homemade food, good company, love and laughter! More please, more sharing and caring!

On a more serious note, it was Buy Nothing New month so I asked everyone NOT to bring a present or buy anything new. Thus Lily-Anne had “borrowed” some peppers, and roasted them, Elske had raided her garden for a magnificent bunch of flowers and I even received some used teabags for my composters!  Thanks Helen!

Red peppercorns, paua shells, cooking mags, sumac & flowers

Red peppercorns, paua shells, cooking mags, sumac & flowers

The Buy Nothing New Month began in Australia (check the expatsincebirth.com October 9 blog post) but is starting to catch on here in The Netherlands and I am a firm follower. Of course food may be purchased, in fact I positively encourage it, but like everything, it must be brought with care. I am asking myself constantly “Do I really need it? Will I use all of it? How can I best utilize it? I will admit I have a bit of a siege mentality and find myself shopping as if an impending disaster may happen at any moment!  Yes, the amount of lentils in my cupboards would see my family (and quite a few others) through quite a few weeks of any siege.  I’m working on changing that!

I am also developing some Kiwi style recipes for a new shop, selling a taste of the South Pacific without having to go the whole 18.000 kilometres to get to the land of the long white cloud! Happily, it’s all about food and wine –  it will sell  the very best of New Zealand’s artisan products which will marry well with local products. If you are keen to come and sample what’s on offer – and have a chat with me – I will be cooking! – then do join me on November 9 at 14.00 in the Oude Zuid of Amsterdam. See http://www.dewandelaar.nl for more details.

Now, a new discovery (for me at least) and a simple one, it’s already a new favourite in this house.

Roasted Almond Pesto (to serve with pasta, egg sammies, cheese toasties, on crostinis etc)

Half a cup of blanched almonds, roasted carefully in a fry pan until golden and aromatic – use a tiny spray of olive oil if you like!

A good bunch of fresh basil or flat-leafed parsley or a mix of both.

Some mild flavoured olive oil or half and half of lemon infused olive oil – use about half a cup

2-3 cloves of garlic depending on how strong you like your garlicky flavours, peeled

parmesan or percorino cheese (or frankly whatever cheese you fancy using that’s been hanging around the bottom of the fridge for a while!) – use half a cup chopped or grated, depending if you have a good hand blender.

Blitz the lot with a hand held blender. Taste, and season with salt if needed and freshly ground red peppercorns. I am buying some slightly soft but still crunchy red peppercorns and the flavour is surperb!  It will keep for a few days if you top it up with oil and keep it in the fridge in a covered jar.

I sent this to school with some pasta and Jack said it was the best lunch ever!

I leave you with some of my favourite things for the Autumn

Loving making simple quick Thai style soups with onoff spices (from the Ekoplaza, the Massaman is excellent!) So easy and uses up all sorts of bottom of fridge veggies.

Loving the feta roasted cauliflower recipe from Flash Cooking

Adoring using the Lime infused Avocado oil in my Mexican style Friday Night lentil soup (testing some NZ products for dewandelaar.nl – infused oils are some of them!)

Loving that my kids cooked me a secret “morning glory” birthday cake with fresh strawberry cream cheese frosting  – yah, they can cook! It has all been worth it then!

Laura Santtini's gorgeous Flash cooking cookbood!

Laura Santtini’s gorgeous “Flash Cooking” cookbook! Beautiful!

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