Happy Birthday Cake: Oranges & Polenta

orange and polenta cake

orange and polenta cakeorange and polenta cake Last Saturday was my birthday. I turned 28 and I find it hard to believe. I’m no longer in the younger part of my twenties. I don’t mind getting older, but it does feel weird. It doesn’t feel like I’m 28 at all. But I am. This 28th year of my life is going to be the most awesome year so far. I have nothing planned, but I’m absolutely positive it will be spectacular.

Last week was quiet on the blog. We moved house, sort of. We’re staying with friends until we can move in to our new house in the beginning of December. Sometimes I wonder how we do it. We’ve been living like gypsies the last couple of years. Three years ago we started saving to fund our travels. We moved house 5 times in 1,5 years, each time to a cheaper house. Then we left to travel the world for a year. We never stayed anywhere longer than a month, most of the time only staying for a week. When we got back to Europe, we lived with a great family in Vienna for a week and a half, before moving in with Nick’s dad back in Holland. And now we’re sleeping on two mattresses on an attic without a door or shower. I would lie if I said it’s easy. But I also would be lying if I said I hated it. Maybe because I know it’s not forever.

Back to my birthday: Nick made me a pretty bad ass cake and gave me this book I’ve been eyeing for months. I picked out a recipe and got baking today. It’s not my birthday anymore but it’s not like you need a birthday to eat cake.

For all the Dutch people reading this: you can try this cake today at the awesome Meneer Paprika in Haarlem (where we also work!). Their new website will be online soon, made by us. We’ll share it with you once it’s ready.

Orange and Polenta cake

adapted from Home Made


for the cake
2 oranges
juice of 1 lemon
100 grams of polenta
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar
100 grams of almonds, finely chopped
6 eggs
250 grams of light caster sugar

for the garnish
4 oranges
100 ml of apricot marmalade

The baking of the cake

Pre heat your oven to 180°C.
Put two of the oranges in a pan with enough water and boil them for an hour. When they’re done let them cool completely.

Get out your food processor and put the two oranges in whole. Add the lemon juice and pulverize. Stir in the polenta, baking powder and vanilla sugar by hand. When it’s mixed, add in the almonds as well.

Get another bowl and whisk the eggs with the sugar until you have a white foam. This takes a while so I suggest you don’t do this manual. Make sure the bowl is fat-free before you start.
Gently mix the polenta mixture with the airy egg foam and pour it into 26 cm cake pan.
Bake the cake for 35 minutes. Let it cool for 5 minutes, put it on a cooling rack, and let it cool completely.

Now start with the oranges for the topping.
Cut off the top and bottom of the orange, making sure you cut off the white part. Now you can cut off the sides from top to bottom easily. Slice the oranges into neat slices.
Cover the cake with the slices overlapping. Heat the jam in a small pan on medium heat and when it’s warm gently smear it over the oranges. Put the cake in the fridge for a couple of hours before eating.

A Vietnam Favorite: a Pho Recipe

pho recipe

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We first made this recipe  a couple of weeks ago and even though it was tasty, it wasn’t as good as the Pho we had in Vietnam. So we made it again. And again. Until it was just right. It looks like a lot of work and it isn’t the easiest recipe in the world. You need to put aside some time to make this, but you won’t regret it.

I remember ordering Pho for the first time. It was in a small restaurant in Ho Chi Minh/Saigon. We went there early in the morning, as we heard they had good wifi. We really needed to finish a project for a client. All day long I had been eyeing the Pho on the menu. As you can imagine, I was super excited when dinner time came around. Pho taste unlike anything I have ever tasted before. It’s salty, fatty, full of spices, light, warm, refreshing, filling. I wanted to share this Pho recipe with you because it started my love for Pho and I hope it starts yours too. Next time I’m making this, I’ll try to control myself and make a picture before I eat it.

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup or Pho recipe

slightly adapted from Inspired Taste
Serves 6

For the broth
2.5 kilo of beef leg bones. We got them for free at our local butcher
5.5 liter of cold water
2 medium onions, cut in quarters
a 10 cm piece of ginger, cut in half lengthwise
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
6 star anise
6 whole cloves
1 black cardamom pod. You can buy this at most Asian stores but if you can’t find it, leave it out.
1,5 tablespoons of salt
1,5 tablespoons of sugar
60 ml of fish sauce

Soup ingredients
700 grams of pho noodles. You should be able to find these at your local Asian supermarket.
450 grams of beef sirloin (entrecôte)
1 onion, sliced in very thin slices (see-through thin)
a load of cilantro leaves

Fresh mint and Thai Basil sprigs
a handful of bean-sprouts
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 limes, cut in quarters



Pre-heat your oven broiler on the highest setting and line a baking sheet with aluminium foil. Take your quartered onions and halved ginger and place them on the baking sheet and put it in to the oven. Make sure to turn them occasionally so they become charred evenly on all sides.

While your onions and ginger are in the oven, boil the bones to remove impurities. Add the bones to a large stockpot and just about cover the bones with cold water. Bring to a boil on high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Skim off the scum and foam that rises.

Drain the bones into a colander and rinse them well with warm water. Scrub the pan with soap to remove any residue and fat. Place the bones back in the pan and add 5.5 liters of cold water. Bring to a slow boil.

Put a dry frying pan on low to medium heat and add cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, cloves and the black cardamom pod. Leave it to roast for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the spices are starting to smell really good, place them in a cotton muslin bag/herb sachet/piece of cheesecloth and tie it up into a bundle with butchers twine.

Add the ginger, onions and the pouch of herbs to the boiling bones. Add the salt, sugar and fish sauce and let it simmer for about 3 hours. If any foam rises to the surface, scoop it off with a skimmer.

In the meanwhile, put your beef sirloin in the freezer for about 15 minutes. It will harden a little, making it easier to slice. Thinly slice the beef across the grain into thin slices and put them in the fridge.

Take the onion you sliced and place it in some water for about 20 minutes. This will tone done the raw flavor of the onion.

After 3 hours, get pliers to take out the bones, onions, ginger and herbs. Take your pan and strain your broth through a fine mesh strainer, optionally lined with a cheesecloth. Skim the fat from the top of the broth with a spoon. This is easier if you let the broth cool, as the fat will solidify. Nick is not too bothered with fat, so he just left it because it adds a lot of taste. Put the broth back on the stove and let it simmer on the lowest heat.

Get your pho noodles out and let them soak for as long as needed according the instructions on the packet.


Fill each bowl for about 1/3 with noodles. Add some slices of the raw sirloin. Top with hot broth and add some sliced onions and cilantro. (I like a lot of onions in my Pho).

Serve with well stocked plates of garnishing. Squeeze over the lime and enjoy this perfect soup.

If you’re really hungry, make these as a side dish

Through our Eyes // 11

Through our eyes

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  1. I really want a donkey
  2. This is a five-minute drive from our house
  3. Fall forest walks
  4. My little maniac, running around on the beach and eating seaweed
  5. That smile
  6. I love signs like this
  7. Yes, there is a giant papa smurf in the background
  8. Our friends came over for a weekend of fun

We’ve been doing a lot of hiking in between work lately. We’re enjoying the amazing nature of the Frisian island of Texel until we move back to the city in a few weeks. We visited the beach, the dunes and the forest this past week, and the calm this island radiates works wonders for our creativity. Texel has a unique ecosystem in the Slufter, a dune valley where sea water comes in on the tides. All kinds of rare plants grow here, including statice and glasswort. If you visit in the right season, you can pick it and eat it right away, or use at home in a salad. Make sure not to stray too far, or you’ll disturb some nesting birds, and get yourself a fine to boot.

We’ve been super productive lately, and one of the reasons for it are these moments of blissful recharge. Also, we just got Basecamp, and it’s awesome. If you do any project-based work we can highly recommended it! (not sponsored by Basecamp, just really loving it).

Have a great weekend, take a walk, eat some plants and enjoy.

A Dutch Classic: Endive with Mashed Potatoes

endive mashed potatoes recipe

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When I first told Nick I wanted to shoot this dish for the blog he straight up laughed in my face. ‘You don’t even like it’. He was right. But I had a plan. ‘What if we make a better, tastier version’. Nick, who is always up for a challenge, looked at me and said ‘Challenge accepted’.

It took us a whole day in the kitchen, but I think we did it.

As soon as it gets cold, Dutch people huddle together and cook winter classics such as Boerenkool stamppot (kale with mashed potatoes, bacon and smoked sausage), Hutspot (Carrots and onions with mashed potatoes, bacon and smoked sausage), Zuurkool stamppot (sauerkraut with mashed potatoes and you guessed it: bacon and smoked sausage) and of course Andijvie stamppot (endive with mashed potatoes, bacon and sausage). As you can tell, the Dutch kitchen is quite boring and I’ve never really liked it. But there is something about local cuisine. It should be preserved as it is part of our heritage.

We proudly present: Endive with mashed potatoes, the tasty version.

An original Nick & Angie recipe

serves 4


For the hotchpot
400 grams of Endive, cut in small strips
1.5 kg of potatoes
a gulp of milk
a large piece of butter
fresh nutmeg
olive oil
red wine vinegar

For the leak
4 leaks
4 tablespoons of mustard
a large piece of butter

For the caramelised onions
10 medium-sized onions
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

For the poached egg
4 eggs
regular white vinegar

The cooking of the food

We’re going to start with the caramelised onions since they take the longest. Cut the onions in rings or half rings. Put a heavy pan (I used a big, cast iron pot) on the lowest heat on one of your medium-sized burners. Melt the butter, but don’t let it brown. Put in the onions. Stir regularly. Caramelising onions can take up to an hour. If they’re nice and brown, deglaze them with a few lugs of balsamic vinegar. You can alternatively use red wine vinegar.

Put the oven on 180°C. While the oven is heating up, peel your potatoes. Cut them in pieces of equal size. Put on some water and as soon as it’s boiling, throw in the potatoes. Parboil for about 6 to 7 minutes. Drain them in a colander and leave them for about 3 minutes.

Cover a baking tray with baking paper and toss the potatoes on the tray. Spread them out evenly. Pick your weapon of choice and crush the potatoes. Don’t completely mash them, you want them to break into pieces, not purée. Mix about 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and a handful of roughly torn sage in a bowl, toss it, and spread it over the potatoes. Put some pieces of garlic between the potatoes. No need to peel the garlic. Slice some butter into small cubes and put it on the potatoes. Place the tray in the oven for about 40-45 minutes.

In the meanwhile, fill up your kitchen sink with ice-cold water. Cut your endive in small strips and put it in your sink. Let the endive sit in your sink for 15 minutes to half an hour, giving the sand and dirt time to sink to the bottom. Take it out without disturbing the dirt, put it in a colander and put it aside to drain.

Don’t forget to stir your onions. If they aren’t getting any darker, you can put the heat a bit higher.

Take your leaks, wash them and cut them into fairly big pieces. One leak should become 4 or 5 pieces. Put a skillet on medium heat and heat up some butter until browned. Put in your leaks. Place some cubes of butter and all the mustard on top of the leaks and cover the skillet. Let it stew for about 10 minutes. No need to turn or stir, just leave them be.

When the potatoes are finished, put them in a big pot. Get out your masher or ricer and mash them. Add milk and butter until it becomes a smoothish mixture. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Don’t forget to taste! Mashed potatoes usually need a lot more salt than you think. Now add in the endive bit by bit and mix up. Make sure to keep a good potato:endive ratio. Too much endive and it becomes a weirdly starchy salad, too much potato and it’s too soggy.

Fill half of a medium-sized saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Break an egg in a little bowl, making sure the yolk stays intact. Add about 2 – 3 tablespoons of vinegar to the boiling water. Make sure the water boils lightly and stir it to form a little whirlpool. Carefully pour the egg into the water while it still swirls slowly. Let it softly simmer for about 3 minutes and take it out with a skimmer. Let the excess water leak off on a piece of paper towel. Serve while still hot.

Put the hotchpot on a plate, put a poached egg on top and add caramelised onions and leaks. Enjoy a Dutch classic!

For the Weekend // 07

for the weekend

Hello friends! It’s Friday!

On the photo above you see our friend Joki showing our dog Zena a jelly fish. A jelly fish that she (Zena) later tried to eat. Right before she devoured a crab. Zena has to be the most insane dog on the planet. I got her six years ago. She was a stray from Spain and I picked her based on 1 picture on the website of the organisation. My reason? She was the ugliest dog they had.

From the moment she arrived in Holland she proved not to just be the ugliest but also the best dog in the world. She is a perfect hybrid of wolf and cat. She hunts like wolf, needs a pack and loves to sleep outside in a self-made nest but also likes to cuddle like a maniac. Her stray dog days did leave their marks, she doesn’t like children and golden retrievers or any dogs for that matter and if she finds a dog she likes, she has a very distorted vision of what playing entails. (She dry humps them, front or back doesn’t matter).

This is to Zena, the best, ugliest, most insane dog in the world. You are the best puppy any one could ever want.

Here are some of my favorite links these weeks.

I love this video // Happiness

I saw this on Pinterest and fell in love. I have to eat this // Salted caramel apple dumplings

I always let Nick see these links before I post them. He said ‘Okay this sounds dumb but I want to be that family’ // Peter pan and the lost boys costume

Everything these people make looks amazing // How to make a hammock

I just had dinner and I’m really full but if Nick would make me this, I would eat till I puke // Pumpkin beer cheese soup

Maja made some really great photos for this place in Amsterdam I want to check out // SLA

Exactly why I love the internet, it made it possible for us to sit at a Vietnam beach with a cocktail in hand while working on a project // I fucking love the internet

Someone who skims the newspapers and sends you a recap? Yes please // The Skimm

Work in Progress: Mabsback

Sparrow in Space

A little over a year ago, Nick and I started our design studio. It began with a shared love for creating, Nick’s passion for computers, my love for art and our wish to be independent. So far, it’s been a great ride and we’ve been honored to work on some really great projects and with some really amazing people. I want to share one of them with you to show you what we’re up to all day. We’re still in the middle of this project.

When our close friend Martes asked us to design his website we were super excited. We hadn’t worked with a friend before and we were curious to see how it would turn out. So far, it’s been great. We meet up, spill all of our ideas, drink some beer and have fun.

When I asked Martes to describe what he does, he made up his own word. Oplettograaf (it’s Dutch. Sort of). Someone who notices his environment. An eagles eye. He is the kind of person who is hard to describe in one word.  After a lot of brainstorming the best we could come up with is free spirit. A free-spirited philosopher who makes videos. A creative video maker. He is a pleasure to work with, comes up with a lot of ideas and isn’t afraid to tell us what he likes.

These are a few of the logo’s we have designed for Martes and a snippet of the moodboard. The final logo is still in the making. We can’t wait to see where this project will take us and to show you the end result. Stay tuned!

Home Inspiration: Starting Over

house inspiration

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home inspiration

For the last six years I’ve had a folder on my computer labeled ‘dream homes’. Over time I’ve collected a lot of pictures of houses I love, or used to love. Some pictures still show my style while others are memories of what I liked before. Recently I deleted a lot that just wasn’t my style anymore.  I always knew this folder would come in handy and now the day is finally here! I’m using it as my personal home inspiration guide to inspire and guide me when buying stuff for our new house.

A year and a half ago, we sold all of our belongings to fund our travels. And now we’re starting over. We don’t have anything, not even cutlery. There were so many things we’d been dragging along for years without really using them. We’re not doing that anymore. This time, we’re going to invest in quality pieces and grow our new life bit by bit. We’re going to completely skip the phase of buying a lot of cheap stuff, just so you have something to use. We’re starting with nothing and we’ll see where we end up. We’ll gladly eat on the floor if that means saving money to buy the perfect dining room table. I’m so excited to start hunting for great pieces.

In a few weeks we are moving back to the city we fell in love with many years ago, Haarlem. At the moment we’re living with Nick’s dad who lives on a small island. There isn’t much to do here which, granted, can be amazing at times. Even though we really love the countryside, we sure miss living near a city. We’re very excited to move back to the city and to live close to all of our friends again. It’s time to grow some roots.

Chocolate Guinness cake

Chocolate Guinness cake

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I have a confession to make. I don’t like chocolate. I just don’t like it. Never have. So for Nick to make me a chocolate cake that I like, that’s something unique. This cake won me over to the dark side (of chocolate). This cake is SO good.

Everyday, for the last two months, we’ve been cooking something we have never tried before. With this we’re trying to make an amazing collection of recipes. We’re going to perfect all of those recipes and share some of them with you. For all of the recipes we won’t be sharing you will have to come over for dinner.
This cake didn’t need a lot of tweaking. It’s perfect just the way it is. We just added a shot of espresso. Because espresso and chocolate go well together.

Chocolate Guinness cake

slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson


For the cake

250 ml of Guinness
250 grams of unsalted butter
75 grams of cocoa powder
400 grams of white castor sugar
140 ml of sour cream
2 large eggs
1 vanilla pod
275 grams of plain flour
2,5 teaspoons of baking powder
1 shot of espresso

For the topping

300 grams of cream cheese
150 grams of powdered/icing sugar
125 ml of whipped cream


Preheat your oven to 180°C/350ºF. Get out your 23 cm/9 inch round baking tin and butter and line the baking tin. I never had Guinness so before I started baking I took my first sip. It’s actually quite nice!

Put on a large saucepan on medium heat. Take the rest of  the Guinness and pour it into the pan. Spoon in the butter bit by bit. When it has melted, whisk in the cocoa and sugar.

Get a bowl and beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla. When smooth, pour it into the brown buttery, beery pan. At last, whisk in the flour and baking powder. Pour the cake batter into the baking tin and bake for 45-60 minutes, it took an hour here.

When it’s done, take it out of the oven but leave it in the tin. Place on a cooling rack and let cool completely. When the cake has cooled to room temperature, start with the icing.

Whip the cream cheese until smooth. Get out your sieve and sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them together until smooth again. Careful at the start, unless you like breathing sugar. Add the whipped cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. We did it by hand, but use a processor or mixer if you have one, it will make your life a lot easier. Now start icing! Put it in the fridge for an hour or two if you can control yourself.

A much needed break from work

a break from work

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Have you ever been apple picking? This Saturday was my first time and I had so much fun. We took our bikes to the orchard, which is really close to our house.

We were handed a box which we could fill up and fill it up we did. We haven’t been out much the last week and we made sure to soak up every bit of sunlight.

At times it feels like I’m always working. I do this to myself. Because if I relax, work will never get finished. But when I take a break, pick some apples and relax. I suddenly remember why I need to relax. I need to refuel my creative mind and sometimes all it takes to have some new ideas is to get away from it all.

What did you do this weekend?

(big thanks to Nick’s sister for taking some really great pictures of us together!)

For the Weekend // 06

For The Weekend

It’s the end of the week once more. Not that it really matters. We have been working 7 days a week for the last couple of weeks. So much we want to do, so little time! How are you spending your weekend? I hope you’re going out to enjoy the lovely fall weather. I’m going to force us to go out for a few hours to catch some sun, we need it!

Have an amazing weekend. Do whatever you want to do and please, enjoy every moment.

The other day we made Paneer cheese (recipe coming soon), next is this Halloumi cheese // Halloumi

We’re looking for inspiration for our next house. Love this shop // Merchant 4

The three f’s. Fame, Fun and Fortune // The Three F’s and You

I can’t wait to get this garden started! // Modern Farmer

Traveling around the world to photograph skateboarders, sounds like a dream job // Skateboard Photographer

Making the most of your multiple personalities // Braid Creative

I can’t get this recipe out of my mind // Raisin Focaccia