Yvette Van Boven, "Home Made: Summer" | Authors at Google

Yvette Van Boven, "Home Made: Summer" | Authors at Google

Yvette van Boven is a food stylist, recipe writer, and illustrator. She owns a café and catering company in Amsterdam. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Home Made and Home Made Winter. Using seasonal ingredients, such as freshly picked apples and berries, delicate summer lettuces, and fresh herbs, she presents recipes for Breakfast, Brunch & Lunch, Snacks, Beverages, Appetizers, and Dessert. In the same vein as Home Made and Home Made Winter, van Boven shows you how to create basic elements to her recipes, complete with step-by-step photos and illustrations. Learn how to make quark (a soft, white cheese we would recognize as cottage cheese), preserved lemons, herb-infused oils, rillettes, macarons, and more!

FEMALE SPEAKER: OK, welcome. I'm very, very happy to
introduce Yvette van Boven and her husband Oof Verschuren. Practiced that. She's going to talk about her
latest book, "Home Made Summer," and this was a
collaborative effort. Oof did all the wonderful
photography in this book. They make their home between
Amsterdam and Paris, and Yvette's going to talk about how
she got here, what started her on this journey becoming
a chef and author. So welcome. YVETTE VAN BOVEN: Thank you. [APPLAUSE] YVETTE VAN BOVEN: Hi. So my name is Yvette
van Boven. I was born in Ireland,
actually, and I was raised there. And I moved to Holland when
I was 10 years old. So I'm a bit of everything, as
I believe that you are all a bit of everything, coming from
all parts of the world. I would like to tell you a bit
about how I actually came here to stand here in front of you,
because my life did not start off that way. My dad was a landscape
architect, and he wanted to move from Holland. My parents were both Dutch. He wanted to move from Holland
to Ireland because it was a more freer spirit at the time. It was the late '60s, beginning
of the '70s. And so they started their
family there. They had me and my sister. And we were very much encouraged
to be artistic. So after spending 10 years
there, we moved back to Amsterdam, and I went to the
secondary school in Holland. After staying there, I thought
I would like to be an artist. My parents had very much
told me to be artistic. They had given me all kinds of
paint and paper and all kinds of things to encourage us–
me and my sister both. So I went to the School of the
Arts in Belgium, and when I was there, I realized, well, I
might not be a real artist. It was very hard for
me, actually. I could do the drawing part, but
I felt very strange being in front of big white
screens of paper and thinking, oh my god. What should I paint on this? So actually, I decided then to
move up to the Hague and go [INAUDIBLE] be a interior architect. So I studied there for many
years in the Hague. Simultaneously, I always worked
in restaurants just to earn some extra money. I had been cooking everywhere. And because I have been studying
for a very long time, I've been cooking for a
very long time, too. I've actually started off
cooking when I was only four years old. I would be standing beside my
mother, and she would cook in her kitchen, and I would be just
beside her on a little stool and drawing everything
she would be cooking. Because when I was four years
old, I was not able to write, so I made little drawings. And you will see them back in
the book, as I've never changed that way of
drawing things. Sometimes I find that drawings
are quicker because if you need to put a sentence down like
"pour this into the pot," that would be just one
arrow to draw. So sometimes that was quicker. So you will find those things
back in my work, too. I was doing all these drawings
at the same time just for fun, and also for the restaurant
where I worked at. They enjoyed my drawings, too. So I was doing the menus there
and just doing these little things on the side while I
was studying at school. And we were working in a very
small little breakfast and lunch joint, where we
would cater from at that particular time. I was working in the kitchen
with a very good friend of mine, and a lot of people came
up to our kitchen and asked for recipes because I think our
cakes were really good. So they were all coming
up and asking for, can we have your recipe? And I would write them down
for everybody personally. So we were getting a little
bit fed up of this because there were a lot of people
coming over. So we decided to make
our first book. So I talked to the owner of
the shop, and they decided that would be a very
good idea. So I wrote the whole book by
hand at night after school because I did not know how
to work a computer. I had never sat beside a
computer before, so I did everything by hand, and then the
publisher would scan all my drawings in. And when I finished the book,
we needed a cover. Because we didn't have any
photography in it, I made all the drawings of the
dishes myself. So for my former work, where I
worked before, I had met this nice guy who actually became
a very good friend of mine. So I said, I know
a very nice guy. He's a photographer. We can call him and ask him
if he can shoot our cover. So that was Oof. We went to his studio in
Amsterdam, and when we finished the pictures, my two
friends who were with me from the kitchen made a bet that we
would be together after that because we were falling in
love over the camera. And we have stayed together
ever since. So that was a very nice start
of my career in cookbooks. But I did not know that at
that time, because I was still in school. I needed to finish my school to become an interior designer. And so I finished that,
and I opened up my first design office. I did this with my sister
because my sister had done a similar school of the arts in
Amsterdam, and she was a graphic designer. So we were both doing jobs,
especially for hotels and restaurants. We would do the menus, do
the interior, would do all these things– the signing and all these
outings that they would need. And we were working as designers
at that time, and I was missing cooking terribly,
terribly, because I did not work as a cook at that time. I would work as a designer. So often, Oof would ask
me, would you mind? Just help me out. We have a picture coming in
tomorrow, and I need someone to cook a dish because there
has to be some food in it. And at that time, I did
not know of the job of a food stylist. I did not know that
this existed. It wasn't a real school for
it or anything, so I just accidentally got into this job
as a sort of side job making lovely plates. And actually, for me, that was
the same as working as an artist because you had to
make a composition. You had to really think about
what you were putting on the plate, trying to put the colors
and arranging them differently, and also knowing
about cooking because you need to know how to cook everything
properly to make it look good on a picture. So this was a really,
really nice job. I really enjoyed it. And through Oof, and through his
network of people he knew at magazines, I got more
little jobs like this. So I was doing this food styling
thing on the side, and I got to do little drawings for
magazines, or I would be writing recipes, or all kinds
of things like that. And this was all my side jobs
just beside my designing job. So after a couple of years,
I was working quite hard. And at night, I would say to
Oof, I would really, really rather bake cakes. I think baking cakes is nicer
than walking around building sites wearing a helmet, talking
to all these guys who are doing their work or
jobs well or not. So I thought I might
go for it. So I talked to my sister about
it, and she was actually quite happy, because she wanted
to be an artist. And she became one after,
so that's great. And so we closed down our design
shop, and I started off with a catering business
from my home, which was tough, but it worked. We rented fridges. We lived in Amsterdam at that
time, and we had a quite small house, because in Amsterdam, the
houses are not very big. So we had a small house,
but a big kitchen. It was actually a big kitchen
and a bedroom, something like that. You should think
of it that way. And we would have all kinds of
fridges that I would rent down our living room, and all rental
crates with cups and saucers and everything that came
in for special occasions and weddings, and we had
to carry them all out. And we had groceries down
the hallway piling up. So I did this for a couple
of years like that. And I was working as a food
stylist, recipe writer. I would do all these
kinds of jobs, too. So this was getting
a bit out of hand. The jobs were getting bigger. First, I was starting off
cooking for 30 people. I ended up cooking for 80, 90,
100 people at that time. So I had a lot of help
of my cousin, Joris. And he came in. And he was working in a hotel
at the time, and he came to help me out. He would get people to serve,
and we were setting out all the tables while I was
cooking at events. And he said, well, you
know, we need to find a space together. We could collaborate
really well. So we need to find
a space together. So he was really excited. He's a lot younger than I am,
and he's very, very energetic and funny and great. So he was running around
Amsterdam looking for a place. So he found this very tiny
little snack bar in the eastern part of the center of
Amsterdam, which was by then– I think it's seven
years ago, Oof? Yeah. Was then a bit of
a run down area. So we could get the space
for quite cheap. And it had a great back space,
so we could put all our fridges and all our dishes and
china and everything could be stacked up there. So that was terrific. And we started at the snack bar
to clean it out, and we thought we would be open in
about six weeks or something. That became six months. So we were doing the whole place
ourselves because we wanted to save some money. So I think our restaurant was
really homemade, too. We had taken off every tile. We had put back every
piece of platter. We'd been painting everything. And then finally, we
opened our doors. And we started off as a
breakfast and lunch restaurant, and actually, we
just wanted to do catering jobs, and we thought people can
come in if they wanted a sandwich or anything. But it was becoming quite a
big business, and we were having groups in– people renting the place
for special occasions and things like that. It was a very small
restaurant. It's not huge. So we worked very hard at the
time, too, trying to get everybody in, and also learning
how to build up a restaurant, which is quite a
job if you have never done that before. And then something a little
bit sad happened. I had a sort of medical horrible
thing with my back because it's just a hard job. I mean, carrying things around
for catering for 20 years is sort of being like a
mover or something. So I needed to stop for a
moment, and I needed to take some time off. I was waiting for
an operation. Boring story. Anyway, I was at home,
so I needed to do something with my time. And I thought, well, this is
the perfect moment to start and write a book. So this is actually
my third book. But I had two of them
before this. And so I was at home. I was a very fond reader
of cookbooks. I could read cookbooks
as novels, actually. I would read them going to
bed or in the bathtub. Even in the toilet, we have
cookbooks everywhere piled up. So I was looking at books
how I like them. Some books I really enjoyed the
writing– the stories that the cookbook writers
would tell. Some books were really pretty. I loved the pictures in it,
or the way that they were illustrated, or all these
kind of things. So I imagined my own book,
putting all these things I loved so much from other books
together in my own head and tried to express myself
in my special way. So I had never written a book
before, and I went up to my publisher, who is my publisher
now in Holland, and I asked him, could I show
you my proposal? I just made a couple of pages. I would like to see if
you're interested. So with trembling knees, I
went up to his office and showed him my first example
of how my book would be. I had made a table
of contents. I had talked about it a bit. And I had also made some
drawings, and I also do the whole design of the book. So I had done everything. I made the cover, I had done
some shots with Oof, and showed it to him. And he said, yes,
you can do it. So I was thrilled to bits. I was actually so happy. I didn't imagine it
to be so easy. So I went home, and we started
off on this book. And it was quite a journey. It was called "Home Made."
It's my first book. And you will recognize
it because it has big tomatoes on the front. It's blue and red. And it's a book about
everything homemade, obviously, because I had been
writing for so many magazines for so many years for so many
groups of people, like housewives, or young girls. These magazines all have their
own groups that they are writing for. So I had to write for all
these kinds of people. So I really found out that a
lot of people were actually afraid of starting to cook. And also, they would not know
that things would be so easy. Like, I grew up, my mom would
teach me how to make cheese. This was a very easy thing. You would heat up milk, add some
acid to it, and then it would curdle, and then you would
put it in a sieve, and we would hang it in our tree. We had a lilac tree in the
garden that had low branches, and we would hang it in the
tree and just wait to soak out, or what do you call it? And we would keep a little
cheese at the end. So that was really great. These things that I thought were
very normal to me were not normal to all
these people. So I decided to put this
all in a book. So how to pickle things, or
how to make a smoker oven without using difficult
appliances like smoker ovens or ice makers. Just a knife or a cutting board
or a piece of tin foil. Just things that you would
have lying around. Making cheese without
using a rennet. Things that are available
in the stores. Not very hard, and not too
difficult to find. But also, I wanted to make a
book that made you turn every page– that every picture
would be different. That I would make drawings just
to make it different, just to make you turn
the pages again. I would make cutouts out of
paper to design my chapters. I just made all these things to
tempt people just to turn the next page and read again
about everything. And I tried to make a book that
was very personal to me because it was my story. And that really worked out. We worked on the book for about,
I think, a year, a year and a half. And then it came out, and we had
quite a success with it. I was so surprised because I
initially made the book just for myself. I just wanted to have a book–
to hold it in my hands, and to have something that
I actually made. And we won prizes with it, and
we got published in all different countries. Not only here in America,
but all over the world. The book got translated in
German, and it got translated into French. So that was really terrific, and
especially for just a girl coming from Holland teaching
friends how to cook. That was really nice. So then my publisher asked me,
could you make another one? Because this one is
doing so well. And we decided not to make
one but make two. One was called "Home Made
Winter," and the other one is "Home Made Summer." It's the
book you are all holding in your hands. It's the same principle I kept
of teaching people how to make simple things like yogurt or
cheese or all kinds of things. Mustard or ketchup or all these
things yourself, but keeping it very seasonal. So my winter book was more about
the winter, and long nights, and– well, you
don't have that here. I think the weather
is so beautiful. But in Europe, believe me,
trust me, it's terrible. We have awful winters, and
it's cold and snowing. So you would be in the house,
and you would have time. And you would make soups and
comforting things and stews and everything nice. And in the summer– well, when it's weather like
this, we all run out of our houses, catching every beam
of sunlight we can get. But also, the produce is,
of course, great. So you would only want to mix
up things very quickly and then run out of the
house again. You would not want to cook
for a very long time. So that is the summer book. It's all about quick and fast
and summery and fresh and celebrating fruit and vegetables
and lovely things. So that book also got translated
in many languages, and I was very happy. And the restaurant is still
doing very well. The girl that was working beside
me in my kitchen at the time I was working there every
day, she took over the kitchen when I was getting
my treatment. And I was writing the book and
doing the menus together. I was still very much involved
with the restaurant, which is still open until this day. And I have taken on a lot
of jobs just to do work out the side. So I'm working as
an illustrator. I work as a culinary
editor for a huge woman's magazine in Holland. So I make about 5 to 10 pages
per week, and I write columns about food, and for magazines
and newspapers, too. So it has been quite a journey,
I can tell you. And it brought me to here,
so that is really great. From starting off as an interior
architect, and now writing cookbooks. And we are now very fortunate
to be working on our fourth book. And we are trying to reinvent
ourselves, Oof and I, because we have been working so closely
together for three years on all these
three books. And we're now trying to do
something different, testing out new ways of taking pictures
and new ways of illustrating. And we've got a subject we're
going to work on. And it's going to be a big book,
and we're going to work on this for another year,
year and a half again. So that's quite a nice job I'm
really looking forward to. So that is my story, a bit, from
the beginning to the end. Well, it's not the end. I hope it's not the end. I hope I'm in the
middle of it. But that's up to now. So that was what I wanted to
share with you guys, and I hope you have some questions
for me now so I can answer. AUDIENCE: Thank you for coming
here and speaking. I was really curious because I
looked on your website and it had the cantaloupe, goat
cheese, and basil soup. That really sparked my interest
because I wanted to know how you look at different
ingredients and how you go about, maybe like the flavor
profile or the texture and say, I want to try this. Maybe this will work. Like, why go towards basil
versus tarragon? Or how many iterations would
you do until you go, that's the one? YVETTE VAN BOVEN: Well, actually, it's a nice question. Thank you. Like I said earlier, I like to
make very simple recipes with ingredients that are
very available. But I like to do little
surprises. So like you said, this was a
very strange combination. I actually write these
recipes in my head. So I would first think of them,
and then I'll try them. So I'll write them out. And because I have quite an
experience, I think, for writing recipes, I can just
think about the amounts I think I'm going to use. I'm actually always looking at
the very regular palates. Like, you would use sour to
balance out sweetness, or you would use saltiness to balance
out sweetness. You always have these things
that always work. Like, a very traditional way
of eating cantaloupe in France, for example, is wrapping
raw cured ham– salty ham– around it. So you know, salty flavors
work really well with the sweetness of the cantaloupe. So if you think a little bit
further, you could say, well, ham is salty, but cheese
could also be salty. So let's try that out. And then I would add
basil just to use something really fragrant. But also, I was thinking of
the colors on your plate. You have an orange soup with
these white spots and the green oil on it, and it
should be spectacular. And it worked. So that is how it happens. Yeah. It's funny, but it's always a
sort of mixture of visual and tasting and then trying it out
at home, mixing in more ginger, less ginger, more
white wine, less– just trying it out, and then
you get it almost OK. And then you put
it in the book. AUDIENCE: What are your
favorite foods to experiment with? And you said your mom taught
you how to make cheese. Do you have any family recipes
that you've put a different spin on or that you just love
to make as a traditional recipe that you would include
in your book? YVETTE VAN BOVEN: Ah, yeah. I actually am very fond
of ginger, I must say. I have to withhold myself not
putting ginger in absolutely everything because it's nice and
lemony, and it's peppery, and it has such a distinct
flavor and it pulls out, I think, a lot of taste,
a lot of– so that is one of
my favorites. I'm very fond of melon,
actually. We were talking about
that earlier. I'm very fond of all
kinds of herbs. Actually, every single herb on
Earth, I would say, like chervil or basil or cilantro or
all these kinds of things. And I love to mix them up and
even eat them as a salad. So that's something
I really enjoy. And to answer your next
question, yes, I do tweak traditional recipes. We live in Amsterdam,
but we spend a lot of our time in Paris. I think a quarter of
our time is there. And every summer, we go down
to the south of France. But also, I have a lot of
recipes from my time in Ireland, especially for
cakes, and baking is terrific in Ireland. So these are basics. Traditional recipes
are always basics. And sometimes I put them
straightaway in my book because I find them really good,
and they're very good examples, sometimes, of
a story, but sometimes they're just good. But traditional recipes are
nice to change a bit. I think a lot of recipes
in general are very, what would you say? They are like fashion. We would cook asparagus now
for only 10 minutes. But my mother used to cook
them for 25 minutes. My grandmother would cook
them almost like puree. So these are things
that are changing. So traditional recipes change
with the time, too. And you would tweak them to
a more modern version. Like now, we would eat much
more raw vegetables. We would eat much more
vegetables than I think our parents did. So I would mix that in
much more, yeah. AUDIENCE: I was wondering if,
when you are experimenting with something that's really
out there, is there a point where you say, this sauce
or this attempt is not going to make it? Like, you start to tweak it and
add a little bit more– YVETTE VAN BOVEN: Oh yeah. AUDIENCE: –of one
thing or another? How do you, with your
experience, know when to stop dumping in new ingredients or
repurpose it, maybe, for something else? YVETTE VAN BOVEN: Oh yeah. That happens, too. I couldn't tell you if
a recipe never works. I mean, it always works
at some point. I mean, if you've been working
as a cook for so long, you don't make really big mistakes,
except for putting too much salt in something. But I'm blank now because you
asked something else, and I had an answer right away
when you asked it. What was the second part
of your question? It was– AUDIENCE: Repurpose it? Yes. YVETTE VAN BOVEN:
Yes, thank you. The recipes in my books are
often smaller versions of how we would do it in
the restaurant. So restaurant cooking
is very, very different from home cooking. You always have a big pan
of broth lying around. You always have super
meats and things. So you always have to tone
it down a bit for recipes in a book. So I would actually really
change things. If I would have a recipe in the
restaurant on pheasant, and I would think, well, people
don't have pheasant lying around, I could convert it
to chicken and see if that would work, too. But also, writing recipes for
different magazines is also a thing that you have
to think about. You have to think of
your audience. And if I'm writing a recipe for
people living in villages, I would never use ingredients
that you can only buy in cities. So that is something
I really look at. And I could tweak existing
recipes just to make them more popular for another audience. Yeah, I would do that. So I'm very good at looking
around in supermarkets, always looking, what kind of
stuff do they have? So I can put it back into
my recipes, yeah. AUDIENCE: So my wife
has probably got 500 plus cookbooks. And she's like you. YVETTE VAN BOVEN: Oh,
she's like me, yeah. AUDIENCE: She literally
reads them as novels. She doesn't buy so many anymore
because she just goes to the library, and the
librarians are very, very nice to her. They put brand new cookbooks
in the back for her, so she checks them out. Always has piles of them
everywhere, and she's just reading them all the time. I'm very excited about this one
to be able to give to her. It's really about the idea of
how you look for things that were really important to
you and put them in. And so my question is, you
started off with one cookbook and decided that you were going
to put some things that were really valuable, what
you thought were very important but easy. And then you ended up
going to three. YVETTE VAN BOVEN: Yeah. AUDIENCE: What happened? How did you decide what to put
in the first one, and then did you run out of material and all
of a sudden realize you were doing two more? And then how did you go
through that process? And do you have everything you
want in a cookbook from that perspective now? Are you done with that part? YVETTE VAN BOVEN: Well, I
actually had, I think, a quadruple pile of
recipes that I– you have to kill your darlings
when you're writing a book. So I would say the first book
I was really focused on all these different kinds of curing,
or making cheese, or making sweets, or making snacks,
or making all these. So I made a real strict
table of contents to keep myself focused. Obviously, I had more recipes
laying around. I'm writing, I think, about
15 to 20 recipes a week for all my work. So this is a constant flow of
stuff I have lying around. When I started off on the winter
and summer book, I already had things divided. At the time when I was writing
my first book, I did not know that I was going to
write two more. So I was actually happy that I
could, but I already had some stuff lying around. I also wrote things specially
for the two other ones. Just when you start out, and
then you are looking at the composition of your work, you
are looking at, do I have a lot of red meat? I've got too much
red meat things. I should balance it out and
write some more with fish. So you will have to balance
it out very well. So sometimes you don't have
them lying around. You're testing just to make a
nice composition of recipes in your book to make
a whole story. Yeah. AUDIENCE: So if I were picking
this up, which I am, for the first time, what are some of
your favorites that I should try out first? YVETTE VAN BOVEN: In the book? AUDIENCE: Yeah. YVETTE VAN BOVEN: This book? AUDIENCE: Yeah. YVETTE VAN BOVEN: Oh,
there are so many. AUDIENCE: What are
your favorites? YVETTE VAN BOVEN: One
of my favorites is actually not only– we were talking about
soups earlier. One of my favorites is a white
gazpacho, which is actually more adventurous, I think, than
the cantaloupe soup with cheese, is a soup I tried out
because I'm very fond of cold soups in the summer. I called it gazpacho not because
there are tomatoes in it, but then you would
know it's a soup. It's a cold soup. I was looking at a balance
between sweet and savory, so I made a soup with
smoked almonds. I was looking at
the ajoblancos. It's a Spanish soup made
from almonds and white bread and garlic. So I was trying to make a
sort of retake on that. So I used smoked almonds,
green seedless grapes, cucumber, and some vegetable
broth, and I mix it up. And then I added things like
vinegar– just a little bit to balance out the sweet
sour balance– and white bread to make
it nice and soft. And if you put it in a blender
and blender it down, you will get a sort of incredible
smoothie kind of soup. And then I would add a big lug
of olive oil at the end to make it nice and soft
and creamy, and serve it with avocado. And I think I could just say
for myself, which is really funny, but it was
an amazing soup. I was very happy with that. And it's also nice because
it's a two-minute job. You just open up your blender,
put everything in, put it on, and you're done. So I think that's one
of my favorites. There are many, but
that was one. Thank you. Thank you all for coming. [APPLAUSE]


  1. heel interessant … pas vandaag bij u recepten terecht gekomen … per toeval ook nog eens … wat voor leuke en gemakkelijke recepten … super leuk … heb al het een en ander via u video's bekijken en gemaakt … nu was ik op zoek naar de koude soep welke u op het laatst in de video over vertelde … kan ik dit recept ook ergens terug vinden … lijkt mij heerlijk

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