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Véronique’s crêpes with salted butter and raspberries

Today I’m loving myself. A lot, indeed! I’ve carefully combed my hair – despite the fact that I look like Marge Simpson as soon as I wake up -, I’ve put on a little make up, a touch of mascara and lip gloss, I’ve chose the clothes that I usually save for my special occasions. I didn’t want to talk about Valentine’s Day today, I admit it. Why? um, because I feared to resemble a sad martyr (anybody loves me, I won’t find anybody to share my life with, I will be found three weeks later half-eaten by Alsatians*…) or, on the opposite side, I was afraid to sound false speaking of love when love is not here.

Wait! Wait! a bell rang, or rather it was a gong! Of course love is here! I love myself, I really love this little Juls who decided to live her life following the LOVE! Which love? Whatever! Love for what she does, love for her family, love for her friends.. isn’t it just another shape of love? It’s so nice to be in love with love!

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Dobos Torte, the 127-year-old Hungarian dessert

Dobos Torte

It was August 2006. We went there for the European Swimming Championships, to follow the steps of the Empress Sissi, to visit the spas, the Imperial palace and the zoo. We returned from Budapest totally in love, drunk with so many gold medals and fascinated by the Hungarian cuisine.

There are many moments carved in my heart from that holiday: beautiful gardens, elegant spas with affordable prices, friendly people, a well-organized subway with the longest and steepest escalator I’ve ever seen, the most hot fresh paprika salad (Laura still cries thinking back at that salad!), colorful markets overflowing with products, where we are also able to explain us with signs and buy three whistles to cheer at the competitions, breathtaking night views of the Danube.

Beside this, we lived the most exciting sport experience ever (obviously as spectators): gold medals won scream after scream, encouragement after encouragement, painted faces and posters designed with markers on the hostel floor. The stands were shaking beneath our jumps when we were singing out national anthem with tears in our eyes. We were suffering from supporter’s fever, and we did our best not to recover from it!

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DB Challenge: crostata with 2 fillings {chocolate & tahini and chestnut pastry cream}

Short pastry and crostata were the first sweet recipes I tried when I was just a child. During my long summer breaks, I used to spend my whole time with Chiara, a classmate from the elementary school who soon had become one of my best friends and my summer joyride mate. We used to ride our bicycles from morning to evening, exploring nearby countryside. We had to do our summer homework tough, but we shared the duty, sitting on a table under honey scented linden trees in her garden, drinking iced tea and nibbling at cookies and fresh fruit.

Our passion were picnics! We started with simple ham and cheese sandwiches and fruit salad to reach the highest levels of refinement and creativity the year we decided to organize an English party in the middle of the field! We even asked our sisters and friends to come with fancy dress costumes! Every year, there was a constant: short pastry cookies and crostata.

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Dutch cocoa cupcakes

Winter is approaching, with its dark and cold nights, with the wind blowing through the bare trees branches. Even Christmas is coming with long strides, along with the desire for rich and sumptuous food, food full of stories, tales, spices, and faraway travels, food loaded with fantasy, adventure and excitement.

For me, Dutch cocoa is all about this. It has its own romantic fairy tale elements, as the cocoa aroma takes me back in a blink of an eye to Vianne’s kitchen, to foretell your life into hot chocolate whirls. But Dutch cocoa has something more inside: the sense of adventure and exotic, the luscious food of the seventeenth century European courts, the fragrant treasure in the hold of the Dutch navigators.

These cupcakes were born with the shameless intention to celebrate Dutch cocoa, to intoxicate with the deep aroma from the very first bite, to win – with a hidden charm – even the most reluctant heart. Hence the wanderer cupcakes, with Dutch cocoa and Swiss meringue. The recipe takes inspiration for the chocolate cupcakes made by Sigrid – Regalini Golosi book – and the Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting from Smitten Kitchen.

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