July 22, 2015

In season: mussels quinoa with peas and chickpeas

Al Fresco dinning in the garden, it is just perfectly relaxing. I love using bright turquoise in garden table settings; it is oozing a beachy freshness. 

First of the season mussels i cooked, this time i served them with quinoa.

Need: 1kg mussels, shredded vegetables mix of carrots, celery and leeks, 2 cups of fish stock, 1 small onion, 1 cup of quinoa, 1 cup of vegetable stock, 1/2 cup of peas, 1/2 cup of chickpeas. bustle of fresh oregano.

Go: After i rinsed and cleaned the mussels, I steamed the mussels in fish stock with the vegetables mix for about 5 minutes . 

After sweating a diced small onion, i added stock and quinoa. Once cooked i added boiled peas and chickpeas. I added some fresh oregano and seasoned with pepper and salt.

July 18, 2015

Ready-to-pop baby shower : scones, keylime pie and popcorn

My deputy, Veronique and I have worked over 7 years together; we are thick as thieves and I am not only extremely lucky to have her by my side, but she definitely the better half of our work-duo! 
She is the most stylish pregnant woman i ve seen and a week before she is ready to pop, we celebrate her. We plotted and schemed for months to plan the best surprise baby shower. 
We gave her 15 minutes notice to close her computer and finish up. She was worried! Belgians do not give baby gifts before the birth so we didn't, we took her to Tiffany's instead. 
I had pre-selected a few  delicate silver bracelets and necklaces for her to try on. 

We kidded in the car  about going across town and not knowing the way and than pulled up in front of Tiffany's where our other colleague waited already for us. 
True to form, Vero's eye fell right-away on a necklace with 2 little harts (awwww) and she said yes in 20 minutes. She was worried as lately she has been having difficulties choosing, clearly does not apply to jewellery! And as Monika said: "It is not a push-gift but your colleagues are going to miss you - gift!"(awwww) (we did several of those in Tiffany's)

We whisked her away to my place for the next surprise: afternoon tea and games.
Sophie made her put a diaper on a life size 3 month baby doll blindfolded, which she did brilliantly, we were so impressed! We had her guess what we said while we basted K3 (kids music) through her headphones but we skipped the tasting of baby food as we didn't want to ruin the great desserts we just had.

I raided Marks & Spencer at lunchtime and got: scones, clotted cream, peach-camomile and green tea lemonade, carrot cupcakes, keylime pie, sweet-salty popcorn, and a party favour: coconut and flower candle. I made some strawberry jam myself a couple nights before. Also got a ton of berries.

Vero loves the smurfs so i used mine to decorate the table, i hung some streams in soft yellow and grey. I bought some white baby clothes and hung up a clothing line with oldstyle clothespins. 

I pulled a free template from pinterest and had a little craft lunch hour in the office: printing, cutting, glueing and folding.

She was very surprised and had a great time and so did we! 

July 2, 2015

it's HOT this week - cooling ice lollies one needs

When I see the weather forecast of the next few days with temperatures over 30 degrees C, I sink in my cool bed and don’t want to come out until it cools down.
I can’t stand the heat especially when having to go to work.
So I try to trick myself in drinking plenty of water by eating home-made popsicles or ice-lollies .

For cooling ice-lollies:
This is a water-based frozen snack, all flours are possible. For the healthy conscientious simple refrain from adding sugar or syrups .You can use a little of guava instead or omit it altogether and work with strong flower and fruit combos. Basically you ve 3 categories  : boozy, fruity and creamy.

How to: Choose either a small glass or cup or jar or cupcake mold as holder. Buy little sticks or use spoons, or a proper ice-lolly set available almost everywhere.
I make water based ice-lollies but you can of course experiment with yoghurt (FroYo) and coconut cream. Use fruit whole in clear ice-lollies or blend for a pop of color.
Pour still chilled bottle or filtered water into a jug and add any combo of the following :
Fruits: strawberry, peach, apricot, melon, watermelon, mango - really any fruit is possible either whole or blended
Tea: choose a full flavor tea either black or green but with a fruity or flowery base
Syrups: grenadine – this will sweeten the pops so use modestly
Flower waters: rose water, orange-blossom water, elderflower cordial – this should be used in small quantities as it can overpower quickly!
Pour the mixture into the molds, freeze and add the stick/spoon whenever the ice-lolly has taken a firmer texture( abut 3 hours later) and will hold the stick upright.
To store them easy for use and space saving in the freezer: unmold them and wrap them individually in wax paper.

Todays' flavor: Elderflower, peach and lemon verbena

June 28, 2015

Sicily: relax, eat, drink and enjoy the sun

I will start controversially today by saying : i am not a big Italy fan ( I hear your indignation loud and clear). I don’t go "goegoe gaga" over its food, towns, beaches nor countryside. I love the art and the architecture but the slow-way of life irritates me and propels me into major frustration. What can i say; efficiency is key to me. But I have accepted that I am wrong and travel to Italy yearly, still coming back with the same conclusion but having learned not to care so much.

I needed a break from work, from Brussels, from the routine and RF Vendura Gold and SpaResort in Sicily came highly recommended. Brussels Airlines to Palermo booked, off we go for 4 days. Dolce far niente!

The resort fulfills its promise off spectacular and stunning views of vine flanked mountains, the bright aqua marine sea, the lush green garden of the double 18 holes Golf course and the tranquil Spa. The food is fresh and authentic, the service is with a smile and the rooms are warm, restful and comfortable. The constant breeze keeps you cool, so sometimes one looks for a spot out of the wind and the Spa Thalasso pools are perfect for that. The tranquility of no traffic but a few golf carts and gardeners on lawnmowers, let’s you enjoy the sound of the waves and the birds.  The minimalized architecture is comfortably integrated into its green landscape. Each cabin comprised of rooms and suites is dedicated to a herb or flower, I stayed at the Lavanda, which is one of my favorite flowers.

This  secluded dream spot is perfect for you if you have no desire to do anything but rest, enjoy the spa and play a little golf or tennis, mind you luxury comes at a price. Dolce fat niente, I really mean “do nothing”. I didn’t do any research of the area as I didn’t really plan to leave the resort but when we decided to do so, the concierge all too willing to plan anything for you had no preplanned packages available to sign up for. Everything is tailor-made which is grand but well because of lack of inspiration and no desire to research it myself, we ended up just going to the nearest town Sciacca, where nothing really happens until we spotted the fishermen bringing in their catch. The pantomine was fab to watch. To be honest I felt a bit deflated by the lack of proposed things to do but than again I was perfectly happy doing nothing.

Food wise: The resort has 3 dinner restaurants a pool lunch place and a bar. We tried them all except one as one night we dined in the room and enjoyed the balcony sea views with some cheese and wine. I enjoyed the crispy fried calamari and the freshly made watermelon cold soup ( my Spanish friend Lucia does not allow me to call it gazpacho anymore), the lobster linguini, fried calamari, crustini with veggies and the pizza margarita – it was good but standard.

Drinks anyone? I truly enjoyed tasting wines from the slopes of the Mount Etna where the volcanic soil provides a mineral taste to their wines. The pink bubbly was not to my thing ( strangely enough), but I loved the Rose wine and the 3 reds we tried, a real discovery! I am on the hunt to find them in Brussels.

As I said I needed to get away and this was the perfect spot for me to think ( about life and blogging) and to read ( DVF, loved your book!) and most importantly I never got the “heat rage” as the wind cooled things down for me. Back in Brussels, the rain and the cold didn’t even get me down, so the vacation must have worked. Note to self: switch off from time to time, it does wonders for my mood!

June 22, 2015

Brussels - Dinner in the sky with The Hotel Chef Pierre Balthazar

A few years back i tried the "dinner in the sky" concept and loved it, so when William called with spare tickets for  The Hotel Sunday Brunch, i didn't hesitate to buy them despite the ungodly early hour of 9h30 on Sunday.

A little hair of the dog was needed and what better than the new Veuve Clicquot Rich over green tea; it was brunch after all! What a fab new champagne this is, not yet for sale in stores but can be tasted only in the best bars in town. Mix it with tea, cucumber or pineapple; plenty of ice and enjoy in the sun.

Chef Pierre delighted with a super fresh, inventive and full of flavour 5 course menu in the sky. 
My absolute favourite was the lobster tail and waffle with algae; i would eat that all day, every day.  
The pigeon was super moist in perfect contrast with the crunchy carrots, sublime.
The veal, reminded me of my grandma, she made this once when i was a small child, and i never ate it again till now, served with sweetbreads, so scrumptiously full of nostalgia. 
Plenty of white and red wines were served from magnum bottles, such a fab touch as the bouquet is much more intense and a few guests needed to self medicate to endure the hight.
For dessert we returned to earth to be welcomed by Veuve Clicquot Rose and a white chocolate surprise. 

What a fab Sunday Brunch, thank you all!

getting ready all strapped in, courage Chefs!
fab carpets by Didden&co

Chef Pierre at work

2: my fave: lobster tail with waffle of algae
1: fresh tuna with quinoa 

3: super moist pigeon with carrots 

4: veal blanquette w sweetbread

5: fruit and with chocolate dessert

THANK YOU William xoxo