Monthly Archives: June 2013

VW Cuisine- blog post one

I once went traveling in Europe in a VW Camper van for several months.  What a trip, and it called for a lot of ingenuity to cook meals with local products on a little two-burner butane stove. Here are some notes from that trip, I hope you enjoy them!

Cooking in a Kombi can be extremely challenging. I had some spectacular successes and some truly awful failures. I once cooked a two-course meal for eight while parked on a  street in Athens. We bought our VW Kombi, soon to be known as “The Wanderer”, in London, England. My husband was in charge of navigation, advance notice of lane changes, and calmly reminding me every single time that a right turn was into the far lane, because as you know, in England they drive on the left.

In England we discovered Gammon(ham), crisps (chips to us) and orange squash drinks. We moved on to Scotland for a tour of the Scotch refineries. Did you know you can get tipsy just from standing in a distillery and inhaling the fumes?

Here was our most successful meal in the British Isles:

Beef Stew

The trick to making a beef stew in a Kombi is to buy an already-tender cut of meat. You don’t want to use up all your butane tenderizing a tough cut, which can take hours.

1/2 lb. tender beef, cubed
1  10-oz can beef consomme
2 potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, sliced
1 small onion, Chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup red wine

Brown the beef in a little oil in a large pot. Dump in the consomme and a can of water, stir in the flour and bring to a boil while stirring.
Add the rest of the ingredients and lower the heat. Simmer until vegetables are cooked, stirring often.(Or makes an awesome beef stew!)


Romania was a country I would only recommend to the bravest travelers 20 years ago. Amenities may have been updated since then. But either way, I would still recommend it whole-heartedly. It will sweep you back in time as you visit medieval towns such as Sighasoara, where Vlad Dracul was born (and where you can have a beer and a meal in the building where he was born.) The discomforts we encountered included a scarcity of food, which leads to this recipe. One ingredient here can only be found in the Alps of Romania, and the charm and flavor of the cheese is directly related to how long you’ve gone without a substantial meal. Keeping in mind that we lost ten pounds in two weeks in Romania, I present to you:


Bark Cheese Sauté

2 tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 hot peppers, diced
1 sweet pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp oil
4 Tbsp bark cheese (This is a crumbly, sharp goat cheese with a strong resin taste from the tree bark which is the container)
1.5 cups hot cooked rice

Note that any of these vegetables can be changed to whatever catches your eye at a roadside stand. Sauté the vegetables in the oil until soft, pour them over the rice and sprinkle with the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I’ll leave you with one more easy standard:

I Don’t Care Eggs

A kombi is almost never parked level. That’s how this recipe came about.

4 eggs
1 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

Ask your husband how he wants his eggs. If he replies, correctly, “I don’t care”, then melt the butter into the pan and crack in the eggs. Since the van slant will inevitably run the eggs into one mass, impossible to separate, give up on your plan of over easy and just scramble them all together. Serve with fresh local bread.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these memories, I have more VW Kombi recipe to come in future blogs.

Melody, blogger



How to serve Champagne-Fresh Flavors Sure to Delight Your Party Guests!

Image: Velo Steve

You might think that “cold” and “in a glass” would be the perfect serving suggestions for this festive, sparkling libation and – for the most part – you’d be right. But, if you want to give your guests a real treat be sure to take notes on these fun and fabulous ways to serve up a cool glass of sheer class!

Peach Splash

This is fresh and fruity take on the classic Bellini. It makes a delicious brunch cocktail and a gorgeous party piece.

Blend fresh peaches with Schnapps and a hint of lime juice. Freeze the mixture for about an hour until it has a slushy consistency. Decant the mixture up to the halfway point of a tall glass and top up with chilled champagne. Stir and serve for a perfect peach of a cocktail!

Red Stockings

For a cheeky pink cocktail that will bring a flush to your guests’ cheeks this burlesque-inspired serving suggestion was served at Dita Von Teese’s variety show for Valentine’s Day. This hopelessly romantic cocktail is crisp, tart and perfect for an evening of indulgence.

Tip 50ml of Cointreau into 30ml of cranberry juice. Add a squeeze of lemon and shake the blend with ice. Strain the mixture into a flute glass and top up with freshly popped champagne. Serve with a garnish of fresh cranberries and a smile!

Champagne Floats with Raspberry and Lychee Sorbet

This decadent treat is a sensory revelation, combining the sharp chill of sorbet and the tingle of bubbles! This cocktail is a little more time-consuming but doubles up as a dessert that’d be a perfect end to a meal.

Puree 280g of frozen raspberries and a can of lychees until smooth. Press the puree through a fine sieve to get rid of any seeds and stir in a couple of drops of rosewater. Pour the mix into an ice cream maker and freeze until set for around twenty minutes and then transfer to the freezer for another hour or so until firm. Add a scoop of the sorbet into a glass of champagne and garnish the top with fresh raspberries

Menning Mimosa

This cocktail is a favorite of foodie guru Martha Stewart and combines the traditional sunny mimosa recipe with tangy orange liqueur.

For each glass combine a squeeze of lemon juice, two tablespoons of orange liqueur and about six tablespoons of orange juice. Mix together in the base of a Champagne flute and top up to the brim with sparkling white wine. Garnish with a couple of mint leaves and serve!

Image Source: Istelleinad

Garnishes: the final flourish!

For fun, fruity garnishes you could consider try topping your Champagne with a skewer of frozen fruits and berries, or for those with a sweet tooth wrap strawberry licorice laces into tightly coiled spirals and push a damp wooden skewer through the center to set.

Fresh strawberries and raspberries are wonderful in any instance and will soak up the flavor of the champagne beautifully while keeping a burst of their summery fruitiness intact.

Do you have any alternative serving suggestions for Champagne? Share your recipes and favorite garnishes by commenting below!

Elise Lévêque writes for Tanners Wines and loves nothing more than an excuse to get dressed up and host a dinner party for her nearest and dearest.


Healthy Recipes and Essentials for your Summer Picnic

One of my favorite things to do in the summertime is picnic. Whether it’s by myself on a lunch break at the park or sitting down on a blanket with my friends, family and a jug of sun tea, I love picnics. Here are a few ideas to make your picnic fun and healthy this summer.

1. When packing your basket, make sure you are packing smart. Glass containers are an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic Tupperware and while they are a bit heavier, you can’t beat the earth friendly factor. Plus, when packed with a few ice packs, they keep their cool better than plastic.
2. Stand-up spreads. We all love creamy spinach dip, but don’t always love the calories. Try this healthy alternative (and believe me, you won’t even know there’s tofu in it):

Healthy Spinach Spread

11 oz.    Silken Tofu (one package)
6 oz.       Neufatchel Low Fat Cream Cheese
2 Tbsp.  Reduced Fat Ranch Dressing
1 ea.      Garlic Clove
10 oz.    Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and well drained (one package)
½ tsp.    Black Pepper
1 Tbsp.  Lemon Juice
¼ cup    Green Onions, sliced

In a food processor, blend the tofu, cream cheese dressing and garlic clove until creamy. Add the spinach, lemon juice and black pepper and blend until everything is combined. Pour into a container or a whole wheat bread bowl and top with green onions. Serve with pita chips or a whole wheat bread.

3. Fresh lemonade may seem silly when you can either buy lemonade or make it from a powder, but taking the time to make it fresh is always worth it and you are able to control the amount of sugar. I bet you even have a bunch of friends with way too many lemons that would be glad to give you a few.

4. Blankets are obviously a necessity, but don’t even consider leaving pillows out of your picnic. Better yet, fill a bud vase with a few foraged blossoms, set them on a small cutting board next to your pillows and you basically have a living room in your favorite park.

5. Dessert is my favorite part of a picnic! Serve fresh peaches with fresh raspberry sauce and vanilla Greek yogurt and you have a super-healthy Peach Melba.

Fresh Raspberry Sauce

2 pints   Fresh Raspberries, rinsed
1 Tbsp.  Sugar
1 Tbsp.  Honey
Juice of ½ a lemon
¼ cup of water

In a blender, blend all of the ingredients until all of the sugar has dissolved. Strain out the seeds with a sieve into a container and chill. Pour raspberry sauce over sliced peaches and top with vanilla flavored Greek yogurt. Go ahead and crumb a few ginger cookies right over top.

Pack cutlery, napkins and a dish towel and have yourself a fun, healthy little picnic in the sun. Don’t forget to always wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water too.

Mariel, blogger
Read my blog, Original Cinn Desserts