For much of my young adult life I used to be embarrassed by a curious trait of my Greek mom. Whenever we would go out for dinner, she would get this slightly sour look of displeasure. While we all were happily emptying our plates, she would appear rather dissatisfied and mumble, “this tastes so much better when I make it at home. It’s fresher, and it’s cheaper too!” And I felt like hiding, pretending I didn’t know her.
Today, both of us have changed a little. While I eat out only on occasion, she enjoys a restaurant meal more than ever. Yet, homemade is still a high priority for her. My mom cooks often, even though standing has become challenging as she ages. And as her hands have become shakier, she now appreciates when someone serves her a freshly grilled fish with crispy skin. Or when an arugula salad with tomatoes is put in front of her in a restaurant near her home. She doesn’t even complain when the tomatoes are not fully ripe. Something that makes me cringe — we are in Greece, the country of tomatoes I scream inside my head. But I keep quiet as I’m certain she would still prefer juicy sweet slices from a bursting summer fruit.
So when the new HOMEMADE summer landed in my lap recently — the third book by the immensely talented Yvette van Boven — it was easy to say, yes, of course I will write about “homemade”. I talk about home-cooking and the numerous benefits it brings to our lives all the time. Yvette’s new book makes an appealing case. There are accessible fresh modern takes on classics such crab cakes with fresh citrus-tomato mayonnaise or grilled goat cheese polenta. And playful recipes such as artichokes en cocottes with a soft-cooked egg and béchamel sauce in its heart, or the warm molten chocolate cakes with a spoon of chilled raspberry in the center.
Saying yes was also easy because I would like to support a wonderful cookbook author who ended up in town in April, when the city was shaken to the core during the Boston Marathon. And when so many of us ended up in a lockdown, closed up at home, cooking and baking against the angst.
Last but not least: Yvette made me swoon over her recipe for quark, a German fresh cheese I have missed since moving to the US. Hello quark, I’m making you soon. Because you make the best cheesecake. For you, dear reader, I prepared Yvette’s cava sangria as the recent heat wave and high humidity led to a certain sluggishness in my kitchen. Cheers!
For 1 big pitcher
2 peaches, sliced
1 orange, thinly sliced
handful of strawberries, raspberries, or grapes, halved if large
2 cups (500 ml) freshly squeezed grapefruit or orange juice
3 cinnamon sticks
a few sprigs of fresh mint
½ cup (125 ml) brandy (optional)
1 bottle cava (Spanish sparkling wine)
Combine all the fruit and the citrus juice in a big glass pitcher. Add the cinnamon sticks and 2 sprigs of mint, cover, and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Once your guests have arrived, remove the cinnamon sticks and stir in the brandy (if you wish). Then pop open the cava and pour it on top. Garnish the sangria with some extra fresh mint and top it off with a heap of ice cubes. Serve the sangria as an apéritif on a warm summer night.
And when the nights are hot and humid — it tastes even better.
This post is part of a Summer Solstice Blog Party for Homemade Summer.
Read and get inspired with these beautiful recipes:
Jane Ward: Eggplant Tatin and Mint Lemmo
Lady Gouda: Strawberry Shortcakes