April 23, 2014

Brussels: Organic Grocery - Label Green - more than just green

I love walking and well part by necessity as i have no car, I walk a lot. Always on the look out for new things, I checked out this Label Green Organic Grocery store in my hood this weekend. 
It has a variety of bio vegetables and fruit as expected but it really excels in all kinds gluten free products from crackers and chips to red quinoa mixture like i used for my Easter dinner. Green products sucah as olive oils, wine, tea, coffee and much more. It focuses on ecological but also labor responsible - fair trade products, like i bought a pack of dried mangos from Africa. It has a lot of lactose free or substitute products as well. Also planet friendly cleaning products and alternative remedies such as Flowers of Bach can be found there. I had a blast reading packages, finding out where things were from and wondering how to use them. I didn't find it more pricey than a normal super market and the service was very friendly. 
Check it out, it's open on sundays!

April 21, 2014

Easter dinner at home serving lamb ... of course

Easter is for many a religious celebration, for me also the start of a great food season. Tradition is to eat lamb at Easter, not sure where it came from but i felt inspired to use classic Easter ingredients for my menu but give them a twist. I was able to prepare most everything in advance so dinner was an easy assembly line.

With the champagne i served some chips and a yoghurt herb dip ( chopped up parsley in yoghurt, season et voila). 

I prefer serving amuse bouches at the table; the 1st one i served in a little flower pot, a layer of radish and endive salad with a yoghurt dressing, topped with a layer of pumpernickel crumbs, a radish and endive leaf buried in it.

you need: (per pot) 1 radish with it's leaf, 3 radishes diced, 1 endive sliced, 1 endive leaf, 1 table spoon of plain yoghurt, 1 slice of pumpernickel   
Go: add to the yoghurt diced radishes and sliced endive, season with salt and pepper. add a layer in the bottom of the flower pot. Blitz the pumpernickel in a processor and add the crumbs on the vegetable layer, burry the radish with leaf as well as the endive leaf. 

my second amuse i served on a wooden board bought at Dille & Kamille. A soft boiled egg, with Maison Dandoy pain d'epices solders for dipping and crisp bacon. and i messed up my eggs they were not soft boiled, damm (dad turning in his grave his daughter can't boil an egg).

you need: (per person) 1 egg, 1 strip of bacon, 1 slice of pain d'epices (gingerbread)
go: fry the bacon, dab the grease off with paper towel and let it cool. cut the pain d'epices in "solders" shape and grill in the oven. when time comes to serve boil the egg.

my starter had to be white asparagus, just in season and such a lovely spring favourite. For only 2 months we can enjoy these gorgeous spears and i choose to serve them without the traditional butter and eggs sauce (a la flamande) but with a cream and parmesan sauce.

you need: per person 3 white asparagus, 1 cup chicken stock, 1/2 cup white wine, 1/4 cup of cream, 1/4 cup of grated parmesan, sprinkle of chopped flat parsley 
go: after cleaning and peeling the asparagus add them to boiling water, remove when a knife point goes through the base of the asparagus. reduce the stock and white wine by 2/3 and add cream and parmesan. pour the sauce over the asparagus and serve.

My main course was the lamb shoulder deboned and rolled up by the butcher. It cooked for 3 hours in the oven and than  during dinner kept warm on the stove until i could shred it with a fork, supper tender. I served it with a gluten free mix of red quinoa, poppy seeds, millet, and amaranth. I bought at the Label Green organic grocery. I added raz-el-hanout spice mix, olive oil, dried pears and flat parsley. I have to admit i had to start all over again as i used the wrong spice and it was soooo hot i couldn't eat more than one bite. TG i always make my food in advance and taste everything. I made the chutney  of pineapple, mango and red onion i also served at christmas. I made my staple mustard cream sauce. And we were so anxious to start digging in, i forgot to take a photo of it. Hence empty plate photo below.

you need: (serves 4)
1 shoulder of lamb, 3 rosemary and thyme twigs, 2 red onions
1 cup of quinoa mix, /2 cup of chopped flat parsley, 4 dried pears diced, 1 table spoon of raz-el-hanout, 3 table spoons of olive oil
2 cups of chicken stock, 1/2 cup of cream, 4 table spoons of strong mustard, 1/2 cup of white wine
1 red onion, 1 mango, 1 pineapple, 2 table spoons of water, 3 table spoons of sugar, 2 table spoons of vinegar, 1/2 lemon juiced, dried chilli flakes
cut the 2 red onions in 1 cm wide slices and place and the bottom of a oven pan or baking tin. lay the herbs on top, place the lamb roulade on top. rub olive oil, salt and pepper over it, add  the chicken stock, cover and cook in the oven for 3 hours at a low temp of C130. 
Boil the quinoa mixture in chicken stock, when stock has evaporated add olive oil to avoid it sticking, add the spice, pears and parsley, let cool.
Reduce the white wine and chicken stock by 2/3 and add cream and mustard, season if needed
Add the chopped mango, pineapple, red onion and add to a pot with the water, vinegar, chilli and sugar. let cook for 2 hours on a slow heat.
to serve: shred the lamb, reheat the quinoa, and add the mustard sauce. serve the chutney separate.

I LOVE sweets and desserts but in the afternoon, not after a meal so i tend to serve fruits, something light. So i served strawberries and raspberries topped with a blueberry French lemonade i got in my "food we love box".

you need: (per person) 1/2 cup of strawberries, 1/3 cup of raspberries, 1 table spoon of sugar, 4 mint leaves, 1/3 cup of blueberry lemonade.
go: blitz a few raspberries and strawberries, mint leaves and sugar to soup , reserve in fridge, cut up remainder of berries
to serve: add some of the blitzed berries to a bowl, add some cut up berries and mint leave, top with the fizzy lemonade.

My dear friends brought the lovely Bollinger champagne we started with, we opened one more bottle (1 of the standard 4 in my fridge) to continue with for the starter. The amazing spanish 2005 red Herencia del Padri - Priorat they brought went super with the lamb. We had a splash of port after dessert and i felt like a delish glass of single malt. Such bliss to share a good meal with dear friends.

April 16, 2014

Food we love - the box came today

Food we love box "La Douce France" edition ... it is HERE 

It contained comte cheese from the Jura region, Fish soup and it's rouille (garlic herb butter) to go with it, a dried sausage with figs from Auvergne region, artisanal blueberry lemonade from the oldest lemonade maker of France and crackers.

I attacked first the sausage, so lovely and dry ...yum, cheese so creamy and although the crackers are pretty much smashed to pieces, i will enjoy them this weekend for breakfast with some home made jam, how french mais oui. The soup will be a great "don't feel like cooking tonight' dinner one of these busy weeks. It also has recipe cards using the products. I like the cocktail recipe using the lemonade topping it up with prosecco, good idea.

I found using the website to order very easy, i asked via the info email for clarification about paying online via Belgium to Holland and they answered promptly and were very helpful and kind to accommodate me by holding the delivery and send me the box upon my return from my trip. 
You can also gift this box to a friend, i am definitely picking a few boxes and sending them to my european region located friends ( sorry no shipment to USA yet), not sure if i will join their monthly subscription and getting a monthly box, still considering it. LOVE getting snail mail packages. My neighbour was kind enough to receive it, i do wish they would deliver after 6pm.

April 10, 2014

kitchen store, bakery and fishmonger - perfect antidote against boredom

it happened ... after 7 days of sleep and TV, I am ready to crawl out of bed and get back to the world - boredom is the 1st sign as is being stir crazy - so i went looking for something exciting. A fully stocked kitchen store, a sweet bakery and a fresh fishmonger obliged. 
Saint Idesbald is a little spot at the Belgian coast between De Panne and Koksijde where one of the best bakeries of the coast opens shop: Stephan Destrooper, one of the final candidates for Star Baker in Flanders. His family cookie legacy (Jules Destrooper - his gran dad) is world renowned but his strength is definitely sweet delightful classics as : boule de berlin, merveilleux, millefeuille, gateau aux riz and miserable, also try his marshmallow cakes - to die for.

Across the street Panache is a kitchen store that speaks to my inner need for order, everything neatly lined and stacked up and a mekka of Le Creuset in every colour and size - swoon.

Mare Nostrum's bi line is "Fish for Foodies", yeah that would be me. was planning to get some claims and prawns to make a nice seafood pasta but than he brought out fresh made vongele pasta ... saves me some work. Love their fish and tuna spreads. 

April 9, 2014

Restaurant Ten Bogaerde in Koksijde, Belgium : natural and seasonal cuisine

One of my favourite places is the beach and in particular i am very fond of the North Sea beaches with long wide sandy beaches to walk on for hours. I come here to chillax, get a bit of fresh air, get some distance from the bustle of the city and shut out everything so i can recharge my batteries. I am a super extravert, no mistake, but sometimes I need to flee to the beach in order to have "me" time. i spend almost all my time taking care of others, sometimes it has to be about me. 

"Ten Bogaerde" is a sanctuary,  the chef's natural cuisine with focus on seasonal fresh produce soothes we just fine. The modern monochrome interior stands juxtaposed against the ancient old abbey exterior surrounded by fields yet it instills a comfort, an ease that you don't find in many 1 Michelin star restaurants. The service is efficient, friendly, and ready to tailor your experience to perfection. the FOOD is enchantingly simple yet transcending from the divine to us mere mortals happy to consume such delights.

Mom and I choose the lunch menu of 3 dishes and opted for wine by the glass ( who still agrees to white or red wine?). LOVE the whole grey shrimp they serve as one of the amuses...

duck breast with red beet sorbet and a herb salad

green asparagus and potato mash with salmon and a sorrel sauce

cheese cake with tropical fruit