September 2, 2014

In season now: guinea fowl and pears are first

I LOVE autumn for so many reasons; one is the gorgeous game (gibier) we get to savour.

Belgian Conference pears in season a few weeks earlier than last year

The season starts end August with guinea fowl and wild duck.

I cooked the guinea fowl simply in the oven. First i melted butter and olive oil in pot and browned the bird on all sides, generously salted the skin and cooked in a preheated oven at 180C degrees for about one hour. I used a thermometer to check if cooked through. The salt and browning the bird before cooking it in the oven, gives it a super crispy skin. I serve it with wood mushrooms cooked in butter and a pear compote, both just came in season too. 
As for leftovers it makes a great grilled gruyere cheese sandwich for lunch.

add leftover guinea fowl slice and grilled pear slice and gruyere cheese and grill the bread

Next in season from October is pheasant, venison and wild boar. Can't wait...

August 30, 2014

This is Belgian : Hot Chocolate

Maybe it is the cold and damp weather today, maybe I craved some comfort or maybe it was because I was given this amazing vintage coco set for 2 ( THANK YOU), but I needed hot coco. Here are 3 Belgian hot chocolate brands i tried:

Pierre Marcolini, infamous chocolatier, developed his "Primitive Chocolate" for hot chocolate but can also be used in baking or making truffles. The consistency is more like chocolate shavings versus powder. It tastes like a liquid chocolate bar. I felt like eating it with a spoon and forget about the milk (i actually did). Stirring is required to make a homogeneous drink.

Cafe-Tasse comes pure or flavoured such as the vanilla i tried. It is a dark powder and tasted like the coco I had at school, major nostalgia moment. Dissolved very quickly in the hot milk.

Bazaar Indian blend is a heavier grain powder but full of flavour. Spices like cinnamon, cardamon, chillipepper and coriander give it a real kick. Dissolved quickly but stirring is needed for it not to sink to the bottom of you cup.

My fave is the Indian blend from Bazaar, it warmed me up.

To know more about cocoa beans and chocolate check out Blyss tutorials. I truly learned a lot about the beans and well to say it plain, where chocolate comes from. Txs Lyss.

August 24, 2014

in season now - figs and hazelnuts

The market this weekend had some freshTurkish, Spanish and Sicilian figs (not quite figs) so before the summer fruit season finishes one more sweet treat. My favourite : figs

Love using them in savory and sweet dishes. They are great for jam and chutney as well. I made 2 different delicious figs, feta and flowers salads and warm honey figs with ricotta. Easy no cook instant salads by combining figs with feta, nuts and a dressing. Herbs and flowers will make it pop, dainty and salivating.

I added some fresh hazelnuts, they give that green nutty taste that’s why I prefer fresh versus dried, it gave the salads a nice crunch. and they are bang in season too.

The dressing I used on the salads was equal parts of guava syrup, lemon vinegar and a mild olive oil with a twist of pepper and salt. 

The flowers and herbs are from my garden: lemon geraniums for the warm figs and lavender, borage, oregano flowers, capucine flowers and few lemon verbena leaves.

I warmed the figs with honey in the pan and added a few lemon germanium leaves for taste. I added the warm figs to ricotta. Add granola and serve for breakfast.

August 17, 2014

home made granola

I LOVE granola, yoghurt and fresh fruit as breakfast, it's easy and delish. But it can be good for you if you make it yourself, so i tried and there is nothing easier, believe me. Well i did burn the 1st batch and added goji berries before baking and got those burned so i learned how NOT to make it. I tried several recipes and some made it to oily, some to bland, some to sweet, some too many nuts. So here is the way i like it, what you think?

need: 100 gr of oats, 50 gr of quinoa flakes, 25 gr sunflower seeds, 25 gr flaxseed, 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, 40 gr of agave sirup and 20 gr of sunflower oil, pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of almond powder.
go: mix the oats, seeds and cinnamon in a bowl. in a separate bowl mix the sirup and oil and pour over the mixture and mix with a wooden spoon till all is coated. preheat the oven at 175C and spread the mixture on a baking tray lined with baking paper. bake for 10 minutes. keep an eye on it and remove when golden brown, remove sprinkle the almond powder and the salt, mix with wooden spoon and let cool, store in a jar when cooled.
tip: once cooled you can add dried fruit such as raisins, goji berries or dried apple, any dried fruit really.  

August 11, 2014

Koksijde - Restaurant Ten Bogaerde: 3 great lunches

How lucky am i to spend my summer holidays at the Belgian coast, Oostduinkerke. And not only once nor twice but 3 times ate at 1 Michelin star restaurant "Ten Bogaerde" - what a great holiday!

vitello tonato, mackerel w clams and white chocolate mousse w berries

The Chef's lunch menu really shows what he can do with fresh market products and the result is always different ever so light and ever so delish. My mum and i remarked: "never is it less good, it is always excellent! it never disappoints". His dishes are colourful, dainty, enticing and precious. Each dish has depth in flavour and excels in marriage of textures. The dish that stood out was the vitello tonato as not only is it my favourite Italian dish but he brought it so fresh with a pickle sorbet and crunchy potato wafer, so i had it twice.
You can choose from the extensive wine list your choice of beverage or have the good humoured sommelier bring you a glass of what he recommends for lunch. We tried their suggested champagne to start, a "blanc de noirs" a 100% pure Pinot Noir, what a threat, so much so we had several glasses to be sure we liked it.
Of course sitting in the garden is bliss, although near the North Sea, this old abbey is located inland but with glorious views over the fields. On the way out you pass the vegetable patch of the Chef and i can never resist to feel up the thyme.

home smoked Scottish salmon, Belgian pork w taboule and summer fruit w champagne ice
I went back with friends and had again the vitello tonato.The main course was pasta with pig cheeks although topped and stuffed with goat cheese (not my favourite) it was light and scrumptious. Goes to show that it is all in how you use a product.

main: goat cheese pasta w pig cheeks - starter: vitello tonato - sweets: coconut cracker, boule de Berlin, pear financier