Looking for a start

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It’s been such a long time since I last chatted in this space that I don’t even know where to start to resume a conversation. So perhaps the easiest way is simply to write down words, however they come to me, the way I’m just doing now as I am sitting at the dining room table with a cup of white tea in one hand, and a lemon cookie in the other.

It feels easier already now that I’m past the first paragraph! I wonder why I waited for so long for this to happen.

The truth is that I know well why.

So hi! I am glad to be here. I am so behind on knowing what’s going on in the blogosphere

I hope you are all well.

We are.

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The past year has been full.

Filled with beautiful things (a baby son, a new cookbook completed and already available on pre-order) and hurdles to go over too while I’ve been adjusting to our life as a family of four.

There isn’t a day going by when I am not reminded that I am really lucky to find myself in this spot now though. Despite the sleepless nights, the days when I wonder how I can cope with everything that is going on.

We wanted a second baby so much. A sister or brother for Lulu. And now we have two amazing children. So yes indeed, the simple truth is that I’ve made a priority of enjoying every minute of this fleeting moment of their young days.

No matter how I look at it, this time passes way too fast.

Lulu has turned seven in late December, and continues to grow into a fun creative spirited girl. Rémy turned one a few weeks ago, and is an amazingly happy baby with always a smile on his face. I often wonder why I am so blessed to have such an easy going baby.

With both of them, we’ve traveled a lot over the past year (and if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen snapshots of our trips). Some time in the future, I will write more about each one of them, I promise to myself. I know you’ll enjoy.

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Unlike last year when I was nine month pregnant, winter has been gentle in Boston too. In many ways it makes me happy to imagine Spring is already at the corner; and in other ways I miss the usual colder days we have been used to getting in New England at this time of year.

So that when snow finally came down and covered the ground with a pristine coat of white, I was one to clap my hands with excitement, the way Lulu and her friends, and Rémy too, did at the prospect of going sledding in our park down the road.

It felt magical. And emotional for me too, as I vividly remembered the days that followed Rémy’s birth last February.

Naturally, I was inspired to rush to the kitchen to cook comfy foods to feed us well.

Between chocolate granola, nourishing pots of soup (check my curried broccoli and spinach soup recipe below for inspiration), hearty salades composées assembled spontaneously, and family-style cakes.

These foods have the word snow and winter and cuddle up by the fireplace written in capital letters on them.

Take my lemon and olive oil cake, for example.

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After baking it a number of times, I knew I would return to it when I was looking for a birthday cake for Rémy’s first birthday.

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It’s a light down to earth cake (literally five minutes to prepare before you bake it–so what’s not to love about that?), perfectly balanced with the right amount of sweetness and lemon flavor.

A genuine crowd pleaser, for children and adults alike.

I know for a fact that I will keep coming back to it. Who knows? Maybe even for Rémy’s second birthday.

Although I know well that there will be many cakes between now and then.

I have one year to change my mind…

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Lemon and Olive Oil Cake, or Rémy’s First Birthday Cake

You need:

For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil (or grapeseed oil) + more for the pan
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup blond cane sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 to 4 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon oil extract

Steps:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C) and brush a cake pan (8 1/4″ x 3 1/4″–21 cm x 8.5 cm) with olive oil–for convenience, use a cooking spray if you have one; set aside.
  • In a bowl, combine the almond meal, millet flour, oat flour, cornstarch, baking powder, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt; set aside.
  • In another bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar.
  • Add the olive oil, lemon juice and lemon extract.
  • Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ones, and beat until homogeneous.
  • Pour into the pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the blade of a sharp knife inserted in the middle comes out dry. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before unmolding. Let completely cool.

For the lemon icing:

  • 5 1/4 ounces (150 g) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water
  • Squeeze of lemon juice, to taste
  • Berries (raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)

Steps:

  • In a bowl, add the confectioner’s sugar. Stir in the water, and lemon juice to reach the texture you like. It should not be too runny, but enough so that it spreads on the cake.
  • Pour over the cake and let drip on its own.
  • Add berries to taste and decorate and let completely cool. Keep in the fridge to set. Slice and serve.

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Broccoli and spinach soup with curry

For 4 people

You need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + more to drizzle
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 leek, white part only, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 pound 2 ounces (500 g) broccoli
  • 3 1/2 cups (830 ml) water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup (235 ml) coconut milk
  • 5 1/4 ounces (150 g) spinach leaves
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • Sea salt and pepper

Steps:

  • In a pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the leek and shallot and cook for 4 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally and without browning.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute before adding the broccoli. Cook for 2 minutes and the water and bay leaf. Cover and reduce the heat to simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender.
  • Discard the bay leaf. Add the coconut milk and cook for 1 minute.
  • Stop the heat and add the spinach and parsley; stir until the vegetables are all soft.
  • Transfer the soup to the bowl of a food processor in a few batches and purée finely. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve warm with a drizzle of olive oil and microgreens, if you like.

36 comments

  1. Thank you for this beautiful come back ! I follow you on social networks and I am really glad to read your words today on your blog. I can’t wait to discover your new book, I am sure full of yummy recipes and amazing photos. May I ask you which brend of gluten free flour do you use (for almond millet and oat) ? Thanks in advance.

  2. Le soleil se lève ici en Bretagne. Nous n’avons pas eu d’hiver non plus ici. Heureuse de te retrouver ce matin avant de me mettre à cuisiner pour notre dimanche en famille. Mes enfants sont grands maintenant, comme je comprends que tu aies voulu profiter à fond de cette année! Et en même temps tes posts m’ont un peu manqué…

  3. I haven’t visited your blog before this year but the spring spirit and colorful scene got me right to read your post. I am totally ready for spring even though I love winter. Love the soup and the cake idea. Have a lovely Sunday and welcome back!

  4. Quelle joie de lire un nouveau blog post de toi! Et je penses que c’est un cadeaux d’avoir la conscience que le temps avec les petits est singulièrement! Et les photos – magnifique comme toujours!

  5. Glad you are taking the time to enjoy your beautiful children! You will never regret that. Blessings.

  6. How wonderful to see you again. There is no better reason for taking time, than your children. My youngest just turned 21, and I can say absolutely–everything, anything can wait–except the time you have when they are young. For yourself–but also to teach them by example what is important.

  7. Oh, it is so wonderful to “hear” your voice again, after so long. I am looking forward to your new book, and all of the delicious meals that will come out of kitchen because of it. That being said, your absence is completely understood, family takes the top priority in my world as well. I hope you and your lovely family are doing well, and that we can continue to see your adventures documented here, in this space. Much love and peace to you all.

  8. It is good you are back. I haven’t checked in in awhile so it’s lovely to find you writing again and content.

  9. Your photos pulled my attention in. Your attention to recipe detail kept my attention. I am a holistic health coach and a chef who specialized in pastries in another life. Eating ‘clean’ the past 3 years, your beautiful green soup post grabbed my attention. Your “berries on cake’ photo pulled me in even further. Being gluten-free, trying to bake with the finesse I came to know and love living in Belgium, I believe your new cookbook will be added to my other fabulous cookbooks. Thanks so much!

  10. Dearest Béa,
    This was well worth the wait!! I was so excited to indulge in this latest post with my breakfast this morning… Thank you for sharing all of your inspiring adventures and recipes with us here. I am so happy for your success this year and can’t wait to see your new book! With love, Shelby

  11. What a lovely post. Thank you for catching us up on your life.

    Lovely, clean photos to match the food. I so enjoy your blog!

  12. I completely understand where you are right now with family affairs and a new baby to cuddle! It’s nice to see you back, your work is an inspiration to us and your images are like poetry from the soul. Thanks!

  13. Welcome back. I’ve missed you. I’m looking forward to your new book. I’ve given your last book as a gift three times. Now I have a new gift to give.

  14. Lovely to read a new post from you, amazing photos and recipes, as usual! Been following your travels on Instagram but also looking forward to reading about them here!

  15. I was lucky enough to meet and speak with you briefly at ALA in Boston and get a preview cookbook. The recipes are fantastic! Just had the kale and pea latkes last night, and Lulu is right; goat cheese is the best topping! I am ordering the book now that I know it’s ready. I’m in RI but looking forward to joining a cooking class in Brooklyn – or wherever! Your food, photos, and blog bring such joy to your followers. Thank you.

  16. Welcome back! Congratulations on baby #2 and your new cookbook! Very nice to see your gorgeous photos, words and recipes here again. Thanks for making time. xo

  17. So very happy to see your blog and your beautiful photos, They brightened the day and brought spring into my spirit. Question re cake recipe: I don’t have millet flour — can anything else be substituted? Thank you.

  18. I have quinoa so perhaps I’ll grind that up fine to use instead of millet. Thank you!

  19. Hi Bea,

    welcome back. You introduced me to the world of food blogging many years ago and I’ve missed your voice. I find IG deeply unsatisfying…

  20. Yea, how nice to see you and your beautiful boy!! Yes ! I’ll be buying your new book, thank you!!!

  21. Merci Gaëlle. Oui il devrait être distribué sur Amazon.fr, comme le premier.

  22. Great to have you back, Bea. Glad all is well with you & yours. You’ll appreciate this old rhyme-
    Cooking & cleaning can wait til tomorrow,
    For babies grow up, as we’ve found to our sorrow,
    So settle down cobwebs, dust go to sleep,
    I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep!
    PS. Thanks for the lovely photos & recipes!

  23. Hi Bea and welcome back! It is always a nice surprise to see a new blog post from you. Such beautiful photos of beautiful food, and that cake is so pretty. Happy birthday to Remy! xoxo

  24. Ca me fait beaucoup de plaisir de lire que ton deuxième livre paraîtra au mois de mai. Est-ce que tu sais peut-être quand le livre sera publié aux Pays-Bas (en traduction néerlandaise)?

  25. Glad you found the time to write here again, you shouldn’t be affraid of having a wonderful family life, just keep doing exactly what you do, you seem perfectly happy :-)

  26. Marguerite, merci. Je ne sais pas encore. Cela dépend de l’éditeur néerlandais….je l’espère!

  27. Merci de m’avoir répondu si vite. J’ai pris contact avec l’éditeur néerlandais, Fontaine Uitgevers, qui m’a dit qu’il n’était même pas au courant que tu as écrit un deuxième livre …. Est-ce qu’il y aura une édition en français?
    J’ai hâte de l’acheter – ton premier livre m’a tellement plu, je l’utilise pratiquement tous les jours.

  28. Hi Bea,

    So good to have you ‘back’. Really missed your posts. Best wishes to you and your family!

  29. Hey there! I’ve got your soup cooking on the stove and I’m wondering if the parsley needs to be processed before I add it to the soup. Do I just throw the whole bunch in or just the leaves?

  30. Linsey,

    Add it to the soup, let rest for 1 minute to soften and then purée together.

  31. Just wanted to say thank you for the inspiration. Planning to follow your lead and make this for my son’s first birthday next week. Your photos and food are always so so lovely. :)

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