Quick and easy, fragrant bread

Quick and easy, fragrant bread

The other week I got a mysterious souvenir gift: a little jar labelled “Charoset”. I had to go by the picture of dates on the front to guess at its content as all the other words on the jar were in Hebrew. This little mystifying jar had travelled half-war round the world. Not only that, it had to travel most of the way all on its own: It started its trip comfortably nestled in the safety of the suitcase my friend CL was carrying on her way back from Israel. At the airport however security was suspicious of this little vessel with its dark content. So this little jar was packed off all on its own for the long trip to Europe. How foreign that little parcel must have looked on the baggage belt amongst all those huge and well travelled suitcases.

This weekend I was holding this little jar in my hands, impatient to discover its content. But after it had travelled all this way I could hardly just dive in with a spoon for an unceremonious quick taster. Bread was needed! But I had none, not even a single slice was to be found in the freezer. And I certainly did not have the patience to bake a loaf. So I pulled out my favourite recipe for super-fast, emergency skillet bread.

This bread comes together in minutes. It takes no more than a quick stir to make the batter and then a few minutes in a skillet on a stove. The combination of buckwheat and quinoa give this skillet bread a strong nutty flavour.  It is a great side for a cheese plate but just as nice with a spoon full of jam – or as it turns out, charoset. When I make it to go with something sweet I often throw in a teaspoon of nigella seeds to enhance the fragrant flavour of the bread. But this time I left it plain as I wanted the charoset to take the star role.

But I had no need to worry, the charoset was one powerful combination of flavours: deeply sweet with a hint of earthy spices. The taste made me even more curious to find out what I was eating. A quick search in Wikipedia revealed it to be “a sweet, dark-coloured, paste made of fruits and nuts eaten at the Passover Seder. Its colour and texture are meant to recall mortar (or mud used to make adobe bricks) which the Israelites used when they were enslaved in Ancient Egypt. The word “charoset” comes from the Hebrew word cheres “clay.”

A big thank you to CL for this lovely gift and amazing discovery that doubled as a good excuse to share my recipe for this humble but ever so versatile and tasty skillet bread.




(found on the blog ‘Natural Noshing’)
Serves 1-2

40g (1/3 cup) quinoa flour
40g (1/3 cup) buckwheat flour
80ml (1/3 cup) water
80ml (1/3 cup) unsweetened rice milk*
1 tsp lemon juice
1 egg
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
optional: nigella seeds (DE: Schwarzkuemmel, NL: zwarte komijn)


  1. Combine the quinoa and buckwheat flour.
  2. Make a well in the center. Add in the water, milk, lemon juice and the egg. Use a fork or whisk to beat together the egg and the liquid and then the mix with the flour.
  3. Allow to stand for 5 min. While you heat a skillet (20 cm / 8 inch) over medium heat.
  4. Sift the baking powder into the batter.
  5. Grease the pan with a little oil.
  6. Pour in all the batter.
  7. Cook for 6-7 minutes.
  8. Flip and cook for another 5-6 minutes.
  9. Serve warm and cut into wedges.


Tips & Variations

  • instead of the rice milk you can of course use regular or other grain based milks
  • the original recipe also suggest replacing the milk and lemon juice with yoghurt, but I have not tested this
  • besides nigella seeds you can experiment with other spices or fresh herbs

Serve with

  • cheese and fresh grapes
  • butter and jam

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Breakfast- (lunch-, high-tea-, snack-) muffins

Breakfast- (lunch-, high-tea-, snack-) muffins

This post is one big thank you to my dear friend MJ!

What for, you ask?

She was the one who got me blogging. She introduced me to the site “Tastespotting” – a real smörgåsbord of food blogs. And reading blogs inspired me to start my own.

Blogging made me discover that my passion for food is broader than just cooking. At some point I realized that I was really having fun styling food pictures and now I am learning that I might actually get pleasure from writing as well (“might” as sometimes stringing together words seems the hardest thing J ). Such a fabulous journey, so many hours spent doing something I enjoy.
….and she is the one who triggered this.

What is the occasion, you ask?

This week, for the first time, Tastespotting published a picture of mine. The result: 258 views in one day (and 200 the next). I was totally caught off guard. (Exactly as I was the first time somebody, who was not a friend, “liked” one of my posts.)

When I started this blog I had no clear goal in mind; one day I just found myself posting. The blog was about keeping a food dairy and about sharing my discoveries with friends; I never thought about any other visitors. By now I have made some lovely blogging friends and I have actually had responses from total strangers that have cooked recipes I shared (Can you imagine someone in Australia actually cooked my mum’s Ethiopian Lamb Stew?!).

What recipe could be good enough for the occasion, you ask?

How about one more thing that I am thankful for:  the recipe for those amazing muffins that MJ baked when I last visited her in Finland.

Just imagine: you are a house guest. You get to sleep in, but then the sweet scent of baking lures you out of bed and to the breakfast table where you are greeted with a tray full of fresh, golden muffins. And there you are, sitting at a kitchen table in sunny Finland digging into freshly baked muffins.

I’ve made these muffins several times since – gently sweet and brimming with goodness. They are just as fabulous with a quiet cup of afternoon tea as they are with a strong cup of morning coffee.


(slightly altered from ‘BBC Good Food‘)
12 muffins (around 180 kcal each)

1 ripe banana
2 large eggs
150ml low-fat yogurt (I use Total % Greek Yoghurt)
50ml canola oil (DE: Rapsoel, NL: Koolzaadolie ) alternatively you could use sunflower oil
100g apple sauce or puréed apples (I use my simple freezer apple sauce for this -about 1/2 apple)
4 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g spelt flour (the original recipe uses wholemeal)
50g rolled oats, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tsp baking powder
1  tsp baking of soda (NL: zuiveringszout, dubbelkoolzure soda, natriumbicarbonaat, DE: Natron)
1½ tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
100g (frozen) blueberries (or use raspberries as my friend MJ did)
2 tbsp mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower and flaxseed)



  1. Heat oven to 175C.
  2. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with cup cake liners.
  3. In a bowl mush the banana with a fork.
  4. Heat oven to (180C) 160C fan/gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with 12 large muffin cases.
  5. Mush the banana with the fork.
  6. Whisk in the eggs.
  7. Then add the yoghurt, oil, apple sauce, honey and vanilla. Mix well.
  8. In a separate bowl combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  9. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and bring together quickly, but do not overwork.
  10. Fold in the (frozen) blueberries.
  11. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin.
  12. Sprinkle with the extra oat flakes and seeds.
  13. Bake for 25-30min until they are golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  14. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little.
  15. They taste fabulous hot or cold (the next day)


Thank you M, for amazing memories of Finland, friendship and food ;-)

Thank you M, for amazing memories of Finland, friendship and food 😉

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My first guest post invitation!
….and  then I drew a blank…. ….. …..

Dhans invite to share a recipe on her fabulous blog- Skinny Chef De Cuisine-had me stumped for ages. What recipe to choose? What to make? What?

Lately my focus has been on experimenting with veggie dishes. It is a challenge my sister and I set ourselves  to introduce some new healthy habits to our dinner tables. The deal is that we pick a ‘vegetable of the week’ which we then both have to cook. As I have been having so much fun with this, I knew I had to spread the idea by sharing a vegetable recipe.

But it would hardly be appropriate to show up for my guest post with a bunch of crudités.

Some baked goods on the other hand… now who would turn away a guest bringing muffins; even if they were made with vegetables.

So, for my first guest post I present a plate of Beetroot Muffins.

For the full recipe, just click here to pop over to Dhans’ blog.

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And if you want to known about the heath benefits of beet –  below a quick wrap up

  • Did you know that having red urine after eating beets can be a sign of low stomach acid?Low stomach acid can mean that you body is not able to process and absorb essential nutrients.You can take easy measures like drinking lemon juice before a meal, drinking more water. (Source: Body enlightenment) Apparently red urine can also be a sign of iron deficiency (Source: Worlds Healthiest Foods)
  • Reduces blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and strokes
    Research has shown that beetroot can help reduce blood pressure as well as its associated risks such as heart attacks and strokes. This is because the high content of nitrates in beetroot produces a gas called nitric oxide in the blood which widens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. A daily dose of 250ml of beetroot juice or 1 to 2 cooked beetroot (approx. 100g) can help dramatically reduce blood pressure and its associated risks. For more information on heart health, help, facts and lifestyle advice, visit the British Heart Foundation.
  • Powerful antioxidant properties Betacyanin, the pigment that gives beetroot its colour, is also an antioxidant. Antioxidants are believed to help reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, in turn protecting artery walls and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Folic acid Beetroot contains folic acid which is essential for normal tissue growth. Folic acid is crucial to the development of a baby’s spinal cord during the first three months of pregnancy and can help prevent spinal cord defects such as spina bifida. Beetroot also contains iron so is a fab pick-me-up for mums-to-be suffering from fatigue during pregnancy. Expectant mums must remember though that cooked beetroot has lower levels of folic acid than raw beetroot.
  • Reduces risk of osteoporosis Beetroot contains the mineral silica. This helps the body to utilise calcium, which is important for musculo-skeletal health and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Lowers cholesterol Beetroot contains soluble fibre, which has also been shown to have cholesterol lowering capabilities. It also contains carotenoids and flavonoids, which help prevent LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol from being oxidised and deposited in the arteries.
  • Stabilises blood sugar Beetroot is virtually fat free and low in calories. Although it has a ‘medium’ GI (Glycaemic Index) of 64, It has an extremely low GL (Glycaemic Load) of 2.9 which means it’s converted into sugars very slowly and therefore helps to keep blood sugar levels stable.
  • Treats anaemia and fatigue Beetroot’s iron content means it’s good for those with anaemia and fatigue.
  • Helps slow progression of dementia A recent study by Wake Forest University in North Carolina, USA has shown that the high content of nitrates in beetroot may also help fight the progression of dementia, as nitric oxide in the blood (produced by the nitrates in beetroot) also helps increase blood flow to the brain. Beetroot’s folic acid may also play a part as studies suggest it can help protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia. (Source: Love Beet Root)
Golden fall sunshine on a plate

Golden fall sunshine on a plate

Don’t get me wrong, I love living in the city, but I was hit with a twinge of jealousy when I was visiting a friend up north the other week and I realised that I would never be able to say, as she did: “a neighbour dropped off a few wheelbarrows full of pumpkins, do you want to take some home?”

I do not have much experience with preparing pumpkin, but that did not stop me from filling an entire shopping bag. Although it was very humbling to see that I hardly put a dent into that huge pile at the bottom of their driveway.

Back in my tiny city kitchen I roasted the pumpkins, threw them in a blender and froze the puree in small portions. I now have a freezer full of little parcels of rich golden puree I cannot wait to experiment with. The first recipe I tried (and have made a few times since) was a total hit. These pumpkin pancakes are wonderfully light and airy, gently fragrant and packed with nutritional goodness (fiber, iron, vitamin A and E and that is only from the pumpkin, the quinoa flour is one of the healthiest foods you can find).

Thank you so much, H&J for a fabulous weekend, your wonderful hospitality and these amazing pumpkins!


(hardly altered from the blog ‘My Natural Family‘)
Serves 2

3 large or 4 small eggs
110g (1/2 cup) pumpkin puree (see below for how-to)
125g (1 cup) Greek yoghurt (I use Total 0% fat)
1 tsp baking powered
60g (1/2 cup) quinoa flour
1tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
maple syrup or honey to serve
optional: pecan nuts


  1. Whisk the eggs lightly.
  2. Add pumpkin, yoghurt and stir to combine.
  3. Stir in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Wipe you pan lightly with oil.
  5. Fry little pancakes, flipping them when bubbles appear and the edges turn golden.
  6. Serve with a generous drizzle of maple syrup or honey and maybe a few pecan nuts..


Tips & Variations

The original recipe uses canned instead of fresh pumpkin.

How to roast pumpkin

  1. Heat the oven to 180C.
  2. Cut off the top and bottom of the pumpkinS.
    (Why would you only bake one – make as many as fit your tray and freeze the puree.)
  3. Cut the pumpkins in half.
  4. Spoon out the pumpkin seeds
    (these make a great snack when roaster – recipe will follow when I can restrain myself from eating them all before taking a picture)
  5. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  6. Rub the inside of the pumpkin with a little oil.
  7. Place the pumpkin cut side down on the paper.
  8. Roast in the oven for about 40-60 minutes until the flesh is soft.
  9. Allow the pumpkins to cool so you can handle them.
  10. Spoon the flesh into a blender.
  11. Puree the pumpkin.
  12. The puree can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days of can be portioned and frozen.


Sunshine on a plate

Sunshine on a plate

Some weeks are such a roller coaster ride that by the time the weekend arrives you just want to curl up at home and rest your weary bones. When I woke up this morning the week was still with me like a nasty hangover.  I knew I needed a day of pampering myself.  So first I turned around and dozed a little longer…

Then I slowly eased myself into the day with a little reading and some yoga. But to me a beautiful slow morning is not complete without a plate piled high with heartwarming pancakes.

Pancakes must be one of my favourite foods. It’s fabulous how you only have to stir together a few simple ingredients and within no time the house fills up with a soothing aroma.

But I think what really does it for me is the endless amount of healthy variations you can experiment with: oats, rye, rice – and now my newest discovery is a buckwheat pancake with cottage cheese. The outside is lightly chewy, the center light and wonderfully moist.

Flip them onto a plate and smother them with hot blueberries. Or serve them savory with some fried bacon, tomato and mushroom.  Granted, the grey clouds outside were still grey, the cold rain still ruthless, but hey, I was inside enjoying my weekend and my nourishing pancakes.

(hardly altered from the blog “Jul’s Kitchen“)
Serves 1

1 egg
100-125g cottage cheese (or ricotta)
100ml milk
100g buckwheat flour
1 pinch of salt (or 2 for the savory version)
1 tbsp stevia (or a little black pepper if you are going savory)
1 tsp baking powder
(Frozen) blueberries


  1. Separate the egg. Whisk the egg yolk together with the cottage cheese and the milk.
  2. Stir in the buckwheat flour.
  3. Season with salt and pepper (or stevia).
  4. Whisk the egg white until light and stiff.
  5. Stir the backing powder into the batter.
  6. Fold the egg white into the batter.
  7. Heat a frying pan and fry small pancakes (about 10-15)
  8. Whilst the pancakes are cooking stew the blueberries until hot


Tips & Variations
Instead of a sweet version with stewed fruit fry some bacon until crispy, sauté 100g of mushrooms and fry some tomato halves.