Archive

Monthly Archives: August 2011

What drink is better to celebrate summer than a bright colored and ice cold limoncello? There is no way of competing with the original Italian recipe, but you can be sure that your homemade version will be lots and lots better than the average bottle you can buy in stores. A handful of ingredients and a good size portion of patience is all you need.

Limoncello: 8 lemons (organic), 1l alchocol 94%, 700gr sugar, 1l water

Phase 1: Scrape the peel from the lemons. Because peel is the only part you’ll be using , it is important to use organic lemons. Also be careful to stop scraping before you hit the white skin, because  this layer would make your limoncello taste bitter. Put the scraped peel into a large weck jar (2l or larger) and add the alcohol. Place in a dry and dark place for one month. Yes, this is where patience enters the scene. Stir occassionaly, or just shake the jar, that way you don’t have to open it. You’ll see the alcohol absorbing the yellow color from the lemon peels already after a few days.

Phase 2: Sift the alcohol through a coffee filter to separate from the peels. Dissolve the sugar in boiling water and add to the alcohol. Once again leave for a month in a dark space.

Phase 3: Fill a few small weck bottles and place them in the freezer. The coldness will make the texture more thick, a bit syrupy. To enjoy the most, serve in frozen shot glasses.

Advertisements

Dessert – I’m not a chocoholic nor a big fan of desserts, but it doesn’t take much to melt for this sweet treat. I often order one when I eat out, and I have tried baking them myself a few times. The first time I was blessed with beginner’s luck and a crunchy-on-the-outside molten-on-the-inside masterpiece miraculously came out of my oven. And then there was the time when I practically served chocolate sauce, as well as the time when a dark Sponge Bob was born. A few months have passed without any new attempts, which I believe was right about long enough to get my beginner’s luck back, today.

Moelleux au chocolat (2 serves): 50g dark chocolate, 55g butter, 25g sifted flower, 50g dark sugar, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk.

Melt the butter with the chocolate. Mix the sugar with the egg and egg yolk and gradually add sifted flower. Then add melted chocolate. Put into a piping bag (I don’t have one but I use a little freezer bag from which I cut out the corner later on) and leave to cool in the fridge. Don’t remove from fridge until right before baking, this is crucial for succes.

Pre-heat your oven to 210°C and prepare 2 metal rings (about 6-7 cm wide) by buttering the inside and adding some flower. This will make it easy to remove your moelleux from the ring after baking.Fill baking rings up to 2/3 and put in the oven for about 10-14 minutes (depending on the size of your moelleux and strength of your oven).

Remove from oven and rings and serve immediately with some ice cream, or fruit if you want to keep it ‘healthy’.

Since Belgium and sunshine seem to be in a state of no interaction this summer, I was thrilled to be under a deep blue Portuguese sky for my holidays. Five consecutive days of sunshine, it almost felt like a miracle. I was even more happy when I found out that Portuguese cuisine is as good as the average guide book is telling you. Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s most famous restaurant area, hosts a great deal of cosy restaurants which serve grilled fish and meat of good quality for a decent price.

SUL is located in the Rua do Norte, in the center of Bairro Alto. Both the interior and the menu of this restaurant are traditional, yet with a contemporary touch to it. I especially liked their goat cheese salad, which was different from the many (MANY) other goat cheese salads I had before, mainly because of the great quality dried ham which was replacing the commonly used bacon. Their starter with ricotta and eggplant is also tasty, but not recommended if you want to fully enjoy your main course, because the portion of ricotta is huge and rather heavy on your stomach.

For the main course, the stone grill is an absolute must if you’re into meat. Served with a great tomato salsa (which will be in the cooky-paste section soon) and butter potatoes this plate is an explosion of calories, but the walk back to your hotel in Lisbon – the city built on 7 hills, will make up for a lot. Fans of fish will not be disappointed by the cod risotto, which is worthy enough to compete with Italian risotto.

I’m sure there was also a dessert menu, but unfortunately I was already out of the running before that order could be placed.

Sul,  Rua do Norte 13, Bairro Alto, Lisboa

A few weeks ago I had a great quiche for lunch at healthy fastfood shop EXKi. They had their tomato-theme month and were serving a quiche with minced lamb meat and, keep it simple, tomato. The only other ingrediënt I could distinguish were onions, so I was convinced this couldn’t be too hard to copy at home. I have no idea what is really in the EXKi version of the recipe, but here is how I copy-cooked it at home.

Tomato lamb quiche: quiche base (I buy mine in the supermarket, I have no idea how hard it is to make it yourself), 3-4 roma tomatoes, 1 onion, 350 gr minced lamb meat (if you don’t like the distinct taste of lamb, you can also use beef or pork), 1 tsp honey mustard, 1 tsp honey, fresh thyme, oregano, 3 egg yolks, 150 ml milk, 50 ml cream, 2 tablespoons goat cheese (or cream cheese).

Chop the onion and fry in butter. Keep on a low fire and allow the onions to become brown. Add the mustard and caramelize with honey.

Whip the egg yolks and add milk, cream, cheese and onions. Season to your likings.

Cook the meat and season with a good amount of  thyme.

Place the quiche base in a round tin and sting bottom with a fork. Poor in the egg-milk-onions and add the meat. Cut tomatoes into slices (remove the seeds if there are too many) and place on top.

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for 40 minutes or if you have a crisp function on your oven, use this one (crisp function doesn’t require any greasing and reduces the cooking time with about 50%).

Serve with a side dish salad.

 

*Belgian cuisine*

Sophisticated? Not really. Extraordinary? I don’t think so. If there is one word to describe traditional Flemish dishes, it would be simply good. That makes two words, true.

I could write about why I love some of the classics from Belgian kitchen so much, but then again who doesn’t love the food that you were served as a child. The recipes that were passed on from generation to generation, and to which every mother has added her own personal touch. One of my absolute favourites are vogelnestjes, literally translated as ‘bird nests’. An egg, some minced meat, tomato sauce and a potato side dish. Sophisticated? I don’t think so. Delicious? Yes momma!

Bird nests (about 4 servings): 5 eggs (1 raw and 4 hard boiled), 500 gr minced meat, 500 gr tomato passata, 3-4 garlic cloves, onion (regular or shallot), fresh parsley, 1 tablespoon ketchup, fresh basil, 15 cl red wine, bread crumbs

Chop the onion and let it fry in some hot butter. Add chopped garlic cloves and leave to fry well. Keep on medium heat and occasionally stir to avoid burning. Don’t be afraid to leave the onions for about 30-40 minutes. Add the wine and the tomato passata. Boil to evaporate the alcohol, then leave to simmer on low heat for about an hour. It’s a long wait, but patience is the key to a rich taste for tomato sauce.

Mingle the minced meat with fresh parsley, raw egg, ketchup and bread crumbs and season with pepper and salt as you like. Divide into 4 portions. Spread each portion on your hand and create a little ‘nest’ for the egg.

Cover each egg by closing the meat around it and finish with some more bread crumbs.

 

To prepare the bird nest, you can either deep fry it, or prepare it in the oven. I prefer the latter. If you have a special ‘crisp’ function on your oven, you can also use this one. Total cooking time depends on the size of your meatball, but 20 minutes is a minimum time for an oven of about 200°C.

Finish your tomato sauce to your likings. My personal favorites are sugar and balsamico vinegar. You can also add a good portion of fresh basil.

Cut the bird nest open to show the egg and serve with tomato sauce. There are several options as side dish. My favorites are hand-cut potato fries or mashed potatoes.