We recently hosted an intimate family dinner party for my partner’s 40th birthday – a dinner of 18 guests which while not a fabulously large number of guests it was still a reasonable group to have, and the most we’d had for dinner so far. It was a dinner where champagne was probably going to be flowing so plenty of delicious food and a generous serving of dessert was a must. I felt that a big, decadent yet nourishing (and not overly sweet) chocolate cake of several layers would work well.
At this time of year, a delicious, creamy and refreshing smoothie can be hard to resist! Every cafe appears to have a few pretty amazing concoctions on offer. But, it’s also nice to make your own at home as this allows you to create a flavour, texture and thickness that you love. I’ve finally started to make a lot more smoothies at home (yes, a little late I realise, we’re well into summer!).. and why? Well, apart from loving smoothies I recently bought us these nifty stainless steel straws (highly recommend!).
Creating a nice balance of flavour, sweetness and texture is really a matter of playing and experimenting but if you love smoothies, don’t make them often and are not sure where to start the below flexible recipe (which makes a nice amount for two) is easy and works every time. Sometimes I’ll make this amount, pour myself a glass or jar and store the rest in the fridge for the following day or I use leftover smoothie to make little ice-blocks – perfect for snacking and desserts.
Mr Bircher-Benner was a wonderful Swiss scientist, doctor and nutritionist who after falling unwell claimed that raw apple and then his simple raw muesli played a significant role in enabling him to heal completely. Well, back in those days his famous muesli, which we now see various fancy versions of in cafes across the globe, was a mix of pre-soaked rolled oats, grated apple, chopped nuts (either walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts), a little lemon juice and sometimes a little condensed milk too – and that’s it. Nothing else. So when I make ‘Bircher muesli’ which has many more ingredients than Mr Bircher-Benner’s original I often give it a special name, for example, mixed grain Bircher muesli or Summer Bircher muesli. Mum would be grinning if reading this, as she has reminded me on a few occasions that “grated apple really does make it” and no, “if it’s soaked natural muesli with dried fruits, yoghurt and honey added that’s not really Bircher Muesli, but it’s lovely too!” (Mum being Swiss German, who has since we were tiny, made the most divine Bircher muesli). By the way, Mr Bircher-Benner’s story is very very interesting, if you’re interested in reading more I’ve provided a link further below.
Zimtsterne (‘Cinnamon Stars’).
These magical little biscuits have a very special place in my heart. Baking these is a family tradition, so Christmas just wouldn’t feel like Christmas without them! The process of making the dough (and.. tasting the dough of course), cutting the biscuits, icing them and then eating a few biscuits just out of the oven brings me just as much joy as giving little goodie bags of these to loved ones.