Sunday, 11 December 2011

Pearl brooch

I've decided to try my hand at making a brooch... I bought a few brooch pins and some pearls at Veritas, and used some "fishing line" pearl thread I already had.

Then I just threaded through the pearls, wrapping around the brooch pin in between the pearls a few times to secure them. Triple knotted at the end. That's it!
Really not hard, and I love the look of it:)

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Gâteau au Yaourt (Yoghurt Cake)

This is a childhood favourite... and the only thing I could bake until recently:-D
It's dead easy, I'd say "suitable for ages 6 and up";-)
You don't even need a kitchen scale or measuring cup as everything is measured in a yoghurt pot...

I usually follow this French recipe. Here's an English translation:
  • 1 yoghurt
  • 2 (yoghurt) pots of flour
  • 2 pots of sugar
  • ½ pot of sunflower oil (or melted butter)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ pack (5.5 g) of baking powder
  • 1 pack (11 g) of vanilla sugar (optional)

1. Preheat the oven at 200-220° C.
2. Pour the yoghurt in a mixing bowl.
3. Clean the yoghurt pot and use it as measure to add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl.
4. Mix well.
5. Butter your dish, pour the dough and bake in the oven for about 30 min.
To check whether it's cooked, stick a knife in the thickest part. If it comes out clean (wet but with no dough on it counts as clean), the cake is ready!


So... I haven't posted anything for over a month (oops!), but I do have some recipes and pictures and stuff in store!!
Let's start with some latkes that I just made (I have the day off today, yay!). That was my first attempt at latkes and I was without a grater, but they still turned out quite nicely:-)
I used a recipe from yumsugar (one of my fave websites for food-related stuff), but didn't all do the keeping in water/keeping warm in oven stuff as I was only making a small batch for myself...

So I took:
- 2 potatoes
- 1 medium shallot
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon flour (I didn't want to bother converting to metric so I just used what I thought looked like the content of a tablespoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (idem, but it's trickier for really small quantities!)
- some rosemary, salt and ground black pepper

The works:
1. I mixed the egg, baking powder, flour, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
2. I cut the shallot into pieces as small as possible (since I didn't have a grater handy, I used multi-blade scissors I got in the food area of a lifestyle fair recently).
3. I peeled the potatoes and gave them the knife + multi-blade scissors treatment too (disclaimer: they needed to be sliced pretty thin... anything over half a cm thick gave me trouble with the scissors).
4. I mixed the shallots + potato pieces with the rest.
5. I heated some oil in a pan and formed little pancakes, which I regularly turned (I think they took about 10-15 min to cook).
This gave me 5 latkes.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Savoury Turnovers

I love savoury pastries... Quiche, steak&kidney pie, pot pie, pizza, petits fours... Love them all, and they make great comfort food!

Yesterday night I tried to make turnovers, based on a recipe from (didn't know the name, just recognized it as yummy stuff from the photo!).

So my version included (for 4 turnovers):
- 2 store-bought pie crusts (the puff pastry kind)
- 350g beef&pork mince (I used 450g, but I found that was a bit much) - it would work well with 100% beef mince as well
- 2 carrots
- 4 shallots
- 250g fresh spinach (which is really a lot nicer than the canned version imo)
- 50g parmesan (add more if you want it really cheesy, I just wanted a hint of taste)
- 1 egg
- some rosemary
- salt & pepper

So here's how you go about it:
1. Slice the carrots and soften them in a bit of olive oil. Let them color a little.
2. Slice the shallots and add them to the pan. Season with rosemary. It will start smelling very good:)
3. Add the spinach little by little, and stir well each time.
4. When the vegs are cooked but still crunchy, transfer to a big mixing bowl and put the meat in the pan.
Season with salt and pepper (skip the salt if you're going to use a lot of parmesan, as it'll get too salty otherwise), and cook through.
5. While it's cooking, preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
6. Add the cooked meat and the parmesan to the mixing bowl. Correct the seasoning if needed.
7. Cut the pie crusts in 2, spoon the meat&veg mix onto one side of each half-circle, leaving a 1cm border.
8. Wet the borders with a little water, fold the dough over to form a quarter-circle, and press firmly to seal (I crimped it with my fingers).
Cut 3 slits in each turnover.
9. Beat the egg and brush it over the turnovers (so they get nice and golden in the oven).
Transfer to a baking sheet with baking paper (I used the baking paper that came with the pie crusts) and cook for 15min (or until risen and golden brown).

There you go :)

Monday, 31 October 2011

Future "upcycling" projects

So, as I mentioned before, I'm a big fan of the New Dress A Day blog. I'm almost finished reading through it (1 year = 365 posts, and I still have to go through the new blog that has special projects and tutorials).

In fact, every time I read it, I am itching to try it myself...

So on Saturday I decided to go for it and pay a visit to my local Kringwinkel (2nd hand shop). There I discovered treasures of vintage furniture for very low prices, that just needed a bit of TLC... But that wasn't what I was there for (and I came on a bike!).
The clothes section (what I did come for) had about a dozen racks, sorted by clothes type and color (hey, at least they're organized!).

So among the uglier-than-thou stuff, I did manage to find quite a few items with potential... So I went home with 10 pieces of clothing and 1 handbag (all for under 30e!!) hanging on the side of my bike:-)

Here's my stash:

The plan is to wash and then alter them, so they fit and look better (and I can strut around showing my handiwork;-) ).

Definitely won't be bored on those long winter nights...

Project Tablecloth

My tablecloth is complete! :-) I made it with the gorgeous "wine label" fabric I got at the Stoffen Spektakel, and burgundy-colored bias tape. 
Since the fabric was wider than I originally thought, I had quite a bit left, so I'm making matching napkins from the rest of it!!

Pic of the completed tablecloth coming soon...

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

From 2nd hand to awesome!!

Haven't posted in a while, as I've been completely engrossed in a blog I found by accident. It's called New Dress A Day, and it's absolutely brilliant!!
Basically, this girl picks up clothes for 1$ at second hand shops/flea markets/garage sales, and with a sewing machine, scissors and sometimes some dye, makes them into something a lot nicer, that she then wears. Pure talent :-)

Needless to say, it's a great inspiration (and a really addictive read!), and I can't wait to try this myself when I'm a bit handier with the sewing machine :-)

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Brood Pudding (Bread Pudding)

On Friday I discovered that the "healthy" biscuits I eat for breakfast on workdays have 450 kcal/100g, which is about as much as chocolate!!! Tiny shock of the day!!
So I decided to make cake for breakfast instead!! It feels decadent, but can't actually be worse calorie-wise (I'm talking about the wholesome straight-from-your-childhood home-made variety, not the colorful-and-sugary type...).

I was going to make my trusted "gâteau au yaourt" (yoghurt cake), but when I got home I saw a loaf of bread that was going to expire today. So I decided to go for a "brood pudding" (a Belgian classic that turns old bread into comforting yumminess).
It's the first time I'm making this, but I think it turned out pretty OK - I'm not sure if the texture is 100% right, but the taste is amazing!! And that's what matters, right? ;)

I used a recipe from, and adapted it for the ingredients I had, that is:

- 300g multi-cereal bread
- 60g liquid margarine (margarine in a bottle for cooking and baking - I find that a lot easier to work with than a chunk of butter, although it doesn't smell great)
- 150g brown sugar (as part of this I used some cinnamon sugar I got as a gift from my sister, but you can just use plain brown sugar and add some cinnamon)
- 3 eggs
- a handful of sultanas
- vanilla extract
- a little honey

So this is how you go about it:

1. Cut or tear the bread into pieces and soak them in water (the original recipe said water, I'm sure milk would be better but I just didn't have any).
2. Mix the liquid margarine, sugar, eggs, honey and a dash of vanilla extract. Add the sultanas and mix some more.
3. Drain the bread, add it to the sugar mix and stir well. It doesn't need to be completely homogeneous but you shouldn't be able to see the bread color anywhere.
4. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
5. Butter a baking dish and pour the bread mix in it.
6. Cook for 60 min. A crust will form but it will still be pretty soft inside.

So here's what it looks like:

And it's yummy :-)

Friday, 23 September 2011

Stoffen Spektakel loot!!

Just back from the Stoffen Spektakel, and I had a pretty good time :-)
I have to say, I expected lots of colorful silly prints (not quite my cup of tea, I'm more of a neutral-and-metallics kinda gal), but I did see lots of fabrics I actually liked!

Unfortunately, my first "Ooh, this is nice!" moment involved a 50e/m, pure silk, "original Chanel" roll... but I was good and walked away! I guess a taste for beautiful stuff is not always a good thing :-D

I kept reminding myself that I can't make much yet, so there's little point in buying all those nice fabrics and having them gather dust in a corner for months, or mess them up trying my luck... Although lots of them I would have loved to have as skirts!

I did find some nice things that fitted what I had in mind though, so here's my loot:
- The fabric with the wine labels is for my tablecloth (I was originally looking for something stripy in sunny yellow and white, but I didn't find it, and this really caught my attention!) I do love food and drinks after all;-)
- The tartan is for my couch's pillows (I've been obsessing over tartan for a week or two, and this is one thing I might hopefully be able to make soon).
- The cream waterproof fabric is to replace the old ugly blue striped shower curtain on my bathroom window.
- The grey pinstripe is for a future pencil skirt (the only "future skirt" fabric I allowed myself, as it was really cheap, and got a nice slightly shiny finish - and I'm a sucker for grey and pinstripes :-D ).
- The black pearl detail buttons are to replace some very blah grey buttons on my grey cardigan.
- The wine colored ribbons (bias tape) are for the tablecloth too, the small orange one to practice finishing.
- The rest are "tools of the trade" I guess: new seam ripper (a solid looking one this time!), thread to hold stuff together before sewing, bracket for angles, etc.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Pheeew! So much better...

Had my 3rd class yesterday night (well 2nd "actual" class as the 1st class was more of a meet & greet).
I was fairly nervous as last week's class was a bit of a disaster for me, but fortunately this one went a lot better :-)

The top thread automagically picking up the bottom thread thing actually worked this time (it was a nice change after many frustratingly unsuccessful attempts last week).
And I can sew parallel lines no problem, straight, or following curves or angles :-) Yaaay :-)

I almost caught up on the class I missed last wednesday (working with bias tape: sewing a ribbon with folds over the edge of fabric as a finish). I got the explanation and started doing the wide ribbon. I'll try and finish it tonight.
If that goes well, I need to find a narrow folded ribbon and try with that (more difficult as you got to be more precise).

Then the next step is another type of ribbon finishing over the fabric (need to get details for that one next week).

Now I'm seriously considering taking a half-day off to go to the Stoffen Spektakel on Friday...

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

I get a sewing machine... Destruction ensues...

Just out of my 2nd class... I should have brought my sewing machine but I thought it was still going to be theory for now (too many years in academia will do that to you...). Anyway, I used one of the machines from the school instead... Didn't quite go as smoothly as I would have liked!
Spent ages trying to get the bottom thread to meet the top thread for it to actually do something... And what it mostly did was knots... Big, huge, very stuck knots!! So I tried to cut the knots... And broke my mini scissors... Then tried to undo them with a seam ripper... And broke my seam ripper. After quite some fighting, I finally managed to get rid of them using scissors and a needle. Then I got some more knots... And more knots... Until finally the machine's needle got bent and was unusable.
I did manage to sew some straight lines when the teacher did all the thread prep for me, but when the thread ran out and I had to change it I made more knotty messes... I think I may have bent a 2nd machine needle too :S

So result: 3 or 4 straight lines, for a pair of scissors, a seam ripper and 2 machine needles totalled !!! Lock up your sewing machines when I'm around !!!

Anyway, the teacher said not too worry, it will come, I just have to keep at it... I'll try with my own machine at home, hopefully it'll be easier (and less destructive:) ).

Monday, 12 September 2011

2nd sewing class + busy week

So the first class went well... Didn't quite get everything, but most of it... Have to make a list of vocabulary now I guess: Dutch sewing terms and what they mean in English/French! Second class tomorrow night, and I've got most of my supplies already :) I was very efficient this week-end:) I shopped and packed for the sewing class tomorrow, the dinner party on Wednesday and the dress-up party on Friday (quite a busy week!). Good thing I have tonight and Thursday to chill :)

Monday, 5 September 2011

First class tomorrow!!!

1st sewing class, I'm excited but also pretty nervous!!! About how much I'll be able to follow in Dutch, about the schedule (18:30 to 22:00, so 3 1/2 hrs, after a full day's work, and every second week, that 2 days in a row... I'm gonna be knackered!!!), and about already missing a class next week (co-hosting a dinner that could only happen that day... for 12 people! But that'll be another post).

I hope the class atmosphere is gonna be nice!!!

Mini Bruschettas

Here's what I'm making tonight (well it should be "bruschette" to be correct Italian but hey...).

Ingredients for 6 small bruschettas:
200g "passata" (tomato puree)
125 g mozzarella, sliced
6 slices of bread (I used medium slices of brown bread, but you can use anything)
A small tin of anchovies
Black olives, pitted
Olive oil
Herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
2. Toast the slices of bread (to prevent them from getting too soggy from the tomato sauce).
3. Make the tomato sauce: in a bowl, mix the passata with olive oil, the herbes de Provence, pepper and salt.
Use about 2 or 3 times the amount of olive oil and herbs you think you need (it will give a nice taste).
4. Place the toasted bread slices in an oven proof tray and spoon the tomato sauce generously over them.
5. Garnish with an anchovy or 2 (depending on the size of the bread slice and your taste for anchovies), a slice of mozzarella and some black olives.
6. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the mozzarella is melted.


Very Simple Courgette Soup

I made this on Friday night, it's comfort food but healthy... and easy to make too!

You will need:
- 2 courgettes
- 1 broccoli
- 1 big onion
- 75 cl water
- a stock cube

1. Boil the water and dissolve the stock cube.
2. Wash, peel and dice the courgettes (big chunks are ok but they should be roughly the same size).
Add them to the boiling water.
3. Peel and cut the onion (wet it and the knife regularly to avoid those pesky onion tears!).
Add it to the boiling water.
4. Wash the broccoli and cut the florets.
Add them to the water and discard the rest.
5. Let everything cook for 5-10 min.
6. Blitz the veg and water in a blender (I have a tiny blender so I did it in batches).
Taste, season and serve!!!

Told you it was easy;)

Yummy Cheese and Chive Biscuits

I found this recipe on The Purple Foodie.
It's a-ma-zing!!! I'm no baking whizz, but these turned out perfect the first time around... which means there will definitely be a second time;)

The only thing I changed is I replaced the cheddar, garlic powder and parsley by emmental, parmesan and chives (so for the same quantities as the original recipe, that was 100g emmental, a few handful of parmesan flakes, about 25g, and about half the contents of my dried chives shaker, so 2-3g, a third of that reserved to add to the melted butter to drizzle on the biscuits at the end).

We had a few right out of the oven, and it was very very difficult to eat only a few, even on a full stomach... I brought the rest to lunch the next day and reheated it in the microwave for my colleagues... I was still very good, although not as fantastic as right out of the oven.

I'm actually salivating just thinking about it... I'll definitely be making this again!!!

Friday, 2 September 2011

So here I go...

I've loved cooking for years, and have always loved the idea of crafts too, but so far that has consisted in:
missing doing craft stuff like when I was a kid,
reading about crafts projects on websites/blogs,
imagining stuff I could to to make my appartement look better but never actually doing any of it...

Meaning that my only "creative outlet" has been cooking :-D Mostly seeing what I can whip up with what's in the fridge/pantry ;)

So now I'm going for it:)

One of my new years' resolutions was starting to bake, and that turned out pretty fun, and sometimes yummy (not to mention it's one of the rare new years' resolutions that didn't go down the drain!). So that encouraged me :)

So I signed up for a sewing class!
Full disclosure: I actually wanted to be a fashion designer in high school, but my dad persuaded me to go to uni, which turned out pretty well since it was fun and I got a job I really like, but I haven't completely given up on the idea... Which meant, until now, vaguely planning to follow a fashion design course once I'm retired :D

But now I'm going to do something more concrete about it:) Not that I'm planning to switch careers or anything, but at least I'll get to see if I actually like making clothes (well, probably just pockets and small bags for the first while...).

On to new beginnings!!! :)