We got back from our month-long trip to
Greece and , and I must admit it has
been a bit of a challenge to adapt back to “real life”. Probably because this
intense month of bonding with friends and (re)discovery and experience felt
more real than our so-called “real life”. Most of our time was spent
focusing on things that really matter, and very little time on menial things.
It just always makes me wonder, “What if life could always be this pure and
intense?” Part of me feels energized and motivated from the trip, and another
part feels sad, nostalgic and daunted by the mountain of things to do. I
must start cooking and writing in hope my spirits will lift. France
In the meantime, I shall reminisce about a week in
spent with our
friends Christelle and Jean-Max and their children, Calista, 9 and Philéas, 5. Normandy
These children are what I would consider very French children (the kind Karen Le Billon talks about in her book). While they love pasta and sweets and French fries, they are also quite the foodies. I was delighted to hear them critique their school lunch menus (which are amazing by American standards, but considered mediocre by most French parents), saying the food left to be desired, the pasta was too greasy, and the meat overcooked. Philéas declared he only liked a particular brand of Camembert cheese (he also went through a phase where he declared himself a “cheese vegetarian”). And Calista professed her love of cooking. When I asked what they liked to cook, they mentioned one of their favorite desserts: the Speculoos trifle. At my puzzled look, they asked, “What, you don’t know what a Speculoos is?” I was soon initiated. It turns out a Speculoos is a very simple, yet tasty, cinnamon spice cookie, as widely known as Oreos in the
It's from US
originally, but has become a favorite of the French (and of Amélie Poulain in the French film, Amélie). Belgium
Watching Philéas getting so excited about making tonight’s dessert, and Calista licking the bowl of cream, I feel thrilled at the idea of paying homage to their gourmet spirit in this space. Their mother is a dear childhood friend of mine, we’ve known each other since we’re 11, and the thought of our children cooking and eating together couldn’t make me happier.
This dessert is very easy to make for children, and it is a wonderful refreshing treat for the whole family. The cookie softens under the yogurt and the fruit adds a splash of sweetness. It is a reasonably healthy treat, which I will make in
if only to be transported back to Philéas and Calista Land, for a trifle in time. Los Angeles
Calista & Philéas' Speculoos trifle
(Original recipe found here)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup (100 g) butter, melted
1 pinch of salt
In a large bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, salt and baking powder.
Make a well (hole) in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the lightly beaten egg and melted butter.
Cut into ¾ inch slices. Place them on a baking sheet over parchment paper.
For the trifle
(Recipe invented by Calista, 9, and Philéas, 5)
3 cups of Greek yogurt (use the creamiest you can find, and avoid 0% fat)
2 tbsp of crème fraîche
(*Alternatively, you can easily find and use whole milk plain yogurt with cream on top)2 tbsp Brown sugar
4-5 cups of cut-up fresh fruit (For us, it was 5 peaches and nectarines. Use what’s available in season, pears and apples in winter, stone fruit in summer. Organic canned fruit could also be used)
In a bowl, mix the yogurt and cream. Then add the brown sugar and mix.
Pour the yogurt mixture on top of the cookies, and use a spoon to spread it evenly.
Place the fruit on top and place in the fridge until ready to serve.