Van Boven has a knack for taking basic recipes and making them more appealing, yet hardly fussy. A summer tomato salad gets a sprinkle of homemade coriander-speckled goat's milk ricotta, a classic crumb cake takes on a new look with fresh berries and a coconut crumb topping; she serves a country Italian chicken stew with generous triangles of grilled polenta amplified with goat cheese (the polenta has a little cheese stirred into it).
Revolutionary? Perhaps not. But a revolution is not what most of us want for breakfast, a lazy weekend supper or when we are craving those "Cakes and Sweet Things for Tea Time" (an entire chapter). A rhubarb pie charged with hazelnuts and almond paste, cinnamon-laced banana crumble muffins, or that simple bundt cake with lemongrass syrup sound just fine, though. Get more, and that negroni ice pop recipe, after the jump.
Other simple, and pretty great, ideas include carrot "pie" with apple and goat cheese (essentially a tart with a puff pastry crust), quinoa patties with feta, zucchini and corn (leftover quinoa and veggies shaped into balls and pan-fried), and baked sea bass with a "crouton crust" (homemade croutons tossed with Pecorino, cayenne, oregano, garlic, lemon zest, anchovies, oil).Even recipes we've seen too many times to count come across as new finds, or at least worth dusting off again, in Van Boven's hands. Those quirky sketches (she is a quite a talented illustrator) and Verschuren's snapshots do wonders to instill new life in crispy fried chickpeas with paprika and the white bean hummus, minty yogurt dip and eggplant "caviar" recipes (among her classic suggestions for spreading on crusty loaves).
Flipping through the pages feels a bit like stepping into a fantasy land, one with jars and jars of citrusy-tomato mayonnaise awaiting crab cakes and stacks of powdered sugar-dusted "ultimate puffy pancakes" (topped with crème fraîche and berries in lieu of syrup). "I know: There are hundreds of recipes for pancakes...but this is truly the Ultimate Recipe," she promises in the recipe header. "And you know I never lie."
Among the recipes we will be trying -- a handful of intriguing vegetable breads that Van Boven calls "savory cakes," including an arugula version with pine nuts, mustard and pepper ("crumbly and spicy") and a feta-olive oil-Parmesan cake speckled with mixed olives ("moist and rich"). She advises serving a slice with soup or salad, or "just as they are, with a glass of cool wine at the end of the day."
And afterwards, perhaps a negroni pop -- for now, sans those summer figs. Happy almost zomer.
Negroni Fig Ice Pops
From: Home Made Summer
Makes: 4 to 6 ice pops
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 ml) red vermouth
2 ½ tablespoons (40 ml) gin
½ cup (125 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
3 fresh figs
1/3 cup (75 ml) golden syrup or clover honey
1. Put everything in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour through a sieve into a bowl with a spout and then pour into 4 to 6 ice pop molds.
2. Place in the freezer and push wooden sticks in after 2 hours. Freeze for at least another 4 hours, but ideally for 1 day.
4. Run the ice pops under hot running water for 3 seconds to unmold them.