Archive for the ‘Belgian’ Category

1st November this year fell on a Tuesday. I could have made a bridge for a longer “weekend”, but could not due to my workload at work 😦

I was glad to break off work for that one day that week for a yearly family reunion, hosted by one of my SIL’s. While driving to my SIL’s, we stopped at a friend’s house. I received a text message from F that she was giving away some of her ‘harvests’ in her garden. 

Guess what? I hand-picked the chillies in her garden. They were so, very, very fresh! She wanted only the red ones, so I helped myself to the green chillies. I didn’t mind the ‘raw version’ at all, because I knew if I left the chillies wrapped in absorbent paper in the lower drawer of the fridge, the chillies would ripen. 

And I was right!

10 days later, some of the birds’ eye chillies had turned to a lovely bright orange-crimson colour. And I knew exactly where some of the chillies would end up into 😉

Thai Chef vs Me

There was one Wednesday that I took a day off and brought my 2 sons out for lunch (Note, both boys had half-day school / Univ on a Wednesday). We went to a Thai resto near our place. 

For starter, I ordered Tom Yum Goong (TYG) for us. It was a good TYG, but I missed that Oomph in their soup. It was a wee bit too lame. 

Saturday came, and TYG was in the pipeline for our lunch menu.

So here it was, my version vs the Thai Chef’s. 


And not only that, I made my TYG in my thermomix! 


To be honest, I could eat my TYG all day without anything else that day, because it had been a while since I last made the soup! I looked back at a post I wrote; it was in March this year when I had friends over. You can read it all … Here 🙂

Because I love bold-tasting soups, I thought of a way to totally infuse the aromatics in the soup first before proceeding further. Be warned! It’s a highly seasoned soup that hits the palate and warms the heart without burning, if you know what I meant 😉

(Note: This is my own recipe using my preferred method – tried and tested – after a few trials and errors).  

Please be aware that some measurements are not given as only you will know how much or how little you want to put in the dish. Remember, “Ut quod ali cibus est aliis fuat acre venenum” or what is food for one man may be bitter poison to others. 

Ingredients A

  • 2 cm piece galangal
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 lemongrass
  • 2 coriander roots

Ingredient B

  • 5 g cooking oil / coconut oil

Ingredient C

  • 1,500 g water

Ingredients D

  • Lemongrass, bruised and halved
  • Shallots, halved 
  • Galangal, sliced
  • Bird’s eye chillies, lightly bruised
  • Kaffir lime leaves, lightly bruised with the fingers

Ingredients E

  • Fish sauce, to taste
  • Homemade chilli paste, eyeball for colour, taste and flavour
  • Salt, to taste 

Ingredients F

  • Prawns, shelled 
  • Mushrooms, sliced 

Ingredient G

  • Lime juice, to taste
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved or whole

Ingredient H

  • Fresh coriander 

Steps –

  • Place A in the TM bowl. Grind 5 sec/ sp 10  * 2

  • Add B. Sauté for 3 mins/100C/ sp 2 
  • Place D in SB and add C. Cook for 15 mins/ 120C/ sp1


  • Remove the SB and tip the aromatics in a bowl. Set aside for garnish later.

  • Transfer F in the SB. Cook for 4 mins/120C/ sp 1 or until the prawns are cooked. 

  • Remove the SB and set aside the cooked prawns, mushrooms, etc
  • Add E. Cook further for 5 mins/ 120C/ sp 2


  • Add G. Stir for 1 min/ R/ spoon
  • Assemble a serving bowl with prawns, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, some slices of galangal, bird’s eye chillies, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Garnish with H.
  • Done!


Happy 1st Anniversary!

I made the TYG to go with my Nasi Ulam and baked spiced chicken. Our Saturday lunch was the bomb, by the way, with full-blown explosion of flavours. Yup, my kind of food 🙂


There’s no better way to celebrate my first year anniversary of owning the thermomix than sharing with you some of the dishes I have conjured the past 12 months using my most used kitchen gadget today!

And as they say, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words‘ …


IMPORTANT NOTICE : Please be aware that I’m neither a Consultant/ Advisor nor an employee of Thermomix.  I am NOT paid anything from any parties. I just happened to own a thermomix and love doing what I’m doing and will continue doing so. 

Happy Mid-Week ya’ll!

Cheers!

The weather has been amazing the past week. Mother’s Day was exceptionally SUN-TASTE-TIC! Perfect for any al fresco get-together. And that’s exactly what we did last Sunday at the restaurant. We opted to sit on the terrace, with parasols just to cover our heads from the scorching afternoon sun

The dishes we ordered were refreshingly light using fresh seasonal vegetables. We noticed a common ingredient on every plate. Asparagus!!

Hubby looked at me and I, him. Immediately, I read his mind… Okay, okay, we have not had asperges op vlaamse wijze or asperges à la flamande or (white) asparagus cooked the Flemish way in a LONG time. He’s actually right. The last time I made this dish was in 2012! Boy that was eons ago. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!

A Healthier Version

White asparagus is hugely popular in continental northwestern Europe ie BE, NL, FR, DE, AT, CH, TR, IT, ES and PL. It is a spring vegetable, hence is freshest from late April to June. Hubby was persistent to have the dish again and he actually bought a bunch of super fresh 1kg-pack of the herbaceous, perennial plant. Did I have a choice? Erm… Don’t think so… Duh!

By the way, I have posted a recipe of this dish on this post, Asperges op Vlaamse wijze following the recipe of one of my favourite Belgian TV chefs, Jeroen Meus. To be honest, I like the dish, BUT the amount of butter used in the recipe scares me LOTS! The original recipe for 4 pax calls for minimum 300 g farm butter and 6 hard-boiled eggs. In this recipe, I have reduced the butter to 120g with 4 hard-boiled eggs. A fairly huge reduction, but we all loved the end result. I have also tweaked Jeroen’s method slightly.

Here’s the out-turn…

How I did it …

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 kg white asparagus (ca 21 to 22 spears)
  • 120 g unsalted farm butter
  • 4 free-range eggs, hard-boiled 
  • Fleur de sel, to taste
  • Freshly milled black pepper
  • A bunch of parsley 
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste 

Cooking asparagus is not difficult. The trick is to place the peeled asparagus (check out my recipe here on how to peel the asparagus correctly) in a large pot of cold water with a pinch of sea salt. It is important to use enough water to immerse and cover the asparagus completely. Heat the pot over medium heat and bring the water to a boil. Let the water simmer or bubble for a moment and immediately remove the pot from the heat. Allow the asparagus to rest for a few minutes in the warm water, depending on the quantity and size of the asparagus. I accounted for 10 minutes for 22 asparagus spears. Do the taste test to check for doneness. It should be crisp tender, cooked but not overly cooked. Remove the asparagus from the water and drain them on a clean kitchen towel.

Meanwhile, boil 4 eggs. Once boiled, immediately transfer the eggs to cold water. Peel the eggs and mash them lightly. Do not purée the eggs. Then mix finely chopped parsely while adding salt and pepper to taste. Grate some nutmeg and mix the egg mixture gently. Set aside.


Add 120g farm (unsalted) butter in a pan and let it gently melt over low heat. This Flemish dish requires using only clarified butter, meaning the white milk residue from the melted butter must be removed. Keep the clarified butter on a very low heat.

To serve, place 4 to 5 warm asparagus on a plate, then scoop a chunk of the egg mixture across the centre of the cooked asparagus and then drizzle some clarified butter over the egg mixture. 

Ta-dah!


My Verdict?

The original recipe says to add the egg mixture into the clarified butter and mix gently. I omitted this step. Instead, I drizzled the clarified butter over the egg mixture separately. That way, less butter was used and consumed per portion and the egg mixture was not a mushy mass. We could still see the eggs and the freshly chopped parsley with a light drizzle of the clarified butter. Sorry, Jeroen, I prefer my new-found method, and will stick with it. Without a doubt, thanks for the inspiration you have given me by unlocking the Belgian kitchen and putting big smileys on the faces of my other half and 2 boys.

I’m linking this post to #CookBlogShare week 19, hosted by Kirsty of Hijacked By Twins


This post is also linked to Tea Time Treats for the month of May 2016, hosted by The Hedgecombers and Lavender and Lovage


And to Recipe of the Week with A Mummy Too

Happy Mid-Week!

Cheers!

At the of age of 17, he wrote his first Science book, “Schitterend!” (Brilliant!) about the Universe and the theory of Evolution. He was 18 and the youngest nominee for the Eureka. At age 21, he published his second book, “Fantastisch!” (Fantastic!) on Evolution and Neuroscience. Fantastic! was also nominated for the Eureka. By age 25, he became the author of 3 Science Books and had invented a new food model for his patients to slow down ageing and reduce the risk of ageing-related diseases. This achievement won him the title of ‘Person of the year‘ in his home country, Belgium.

 

Dr Kris Verburgh is the author of one of the most controversial books, “De Voedselzandloper” (The Food Hourglass), which is available in 9 languages.





As you can see on the coverpage of the book, the 2 triangles interlocking at the pointed tips are quick summaries of 2 pyramids (“hourglass”).  One pointing up with its hierarchical strata of foods which we should consume more of and the top half tapering downwards indicating foods we should eat less of. Not many University Professors are in agreement with Dr Verburgh’s theory. As a result, he had to resign from the University he graduated with magna cum laude.

 

I did not buy Dr Kris Verburgh’s “Science” book, but I bought “De Voedselzandloperkookboek” (The Hourglass Cookbook), authored by Pauline Weuring based on the young doctor’s scientific theory of nutrition in slowing down the signs of ageing through what we eat, and losing weight in the process.




 

By the way, there is a catch. According to Dr Verburgh, he says, diets do not work and what does is educating oneself about what to eat with knowledge that is readily available. What we eat determines how fast we age. Basically, discovering thefountain of youth‘ is to avoid the typical diseases of ageing, which is anything from loss of eyesight to heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer or osteoporosis. 

 

Quotes from Kris Verburgh, MD

 

If you want to have the health benefits of healthy food, you have to do it your whole life. Not just for a period of time, but always

 

We can add more than 10 years to our lives if we know what foods to eat and which ones to avoid. That would keep us healthy well into our eighties

 

Ageing is a very complex process. We know that the rate of ageing is influenced by our genes and our environment and more specifically by how and what we eat. Powerful interventions that slow down the ageing process will come to see light in the coming decades. For now, the most potent tool at our disposal to impact the rate of ageing is our diet“.

 

Cakes and sweets should be replaced by dark chocolate and nuts

 

The Food Hourglass will show you how to immediately identify what is healthy and unhealthy food, and how to replace unhealthy foods with alternatives“.

 

 

Fountain of Youth

 

When I flipped through the pages of The Hourglass Cookbook, I saw a cake recipe!!! What’s a cake doing there? I exclaimed!

 

But then I realised it’s not an ordinary cake. It’s a cake recipe based on Dr Verburgh’s “fountain of youth” theory. Very interesting indeed.  No sugar. No flour. No butter. No milk.  Erm…how to make a cake without all the basic essentials?  Well, of course, the young doctor has the answer and the result? 

 

This! 



 

I made this healthy Banana Bread or Cake and was surprised at how moist and delicious the cake remained on the day of baking and subsequently. Anyway, the cake was gone in less than 48 hours! It was really light. I have made the cake twice already and was very pleased with the result both times.



 

Due to copyright, I am not listing the measurements of the cake. If you really want the recipe, leave your comment with a valid email address and I will get back to you personally or for readers who know me, please pm me😉


The ingredients used in the recipe are as following –

  • Bananas
  • Dates
  • Eggs
  • Almond meal or flour *
  • Baking soda
  • A pinch of Salt

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven
  2. Combine the mashed bananas and dates in a bowl
  3. Beat the eggs with salt until light and fluffy 
  4. Fold in the almond meal or flour and baking soda
  5. Grease the cake tin with some baking spray
  6. Pour in the batter and bake in the pre-heated oven
  7. The banana bread is cooked when a toothpick pricked in the middle of the cake comes out clean
  8. Cool the cake on a cooling rack before cutting

*Almond meal or flour is a result of ground almond nuts (with or without skins respectively) which is the healthier option to a normal cake flour



 

Note: For more variations, you may want to add pure chocolate chips or chopped pecan nuts

 

Obviously the sweet taste from the cake came from the bananas and dates.  Very natural and healthy options, indeed. 







 

Oh by the way, I think I’m feeling young already.  Yay! Ha ha…!

 

According to Wikipedia, a popular Flemish TV chef said his diabetes is stabilized due to the Food Hourglass theory and he claims to have lost almost 8 kg (17 pounds) as a result.

 

Honestly, I am fascinated by the theory, but I have some issues. I do love a good steak with fries, an oven-baked pizza, a bowl of spagbol with lots of grated mozzarella, cupcakes/ muffins, cakes (chiffon, pound, Sarawak kek lapis), and the “bad” list goes on….

 

Oops! There goes my fountain of youth! LOL!

 

BUT… I will not stop baking this light and gorgeous Banana Bread.

 

I’m linking this post to the Little Thumbs Up (March 2015 – BANANA) event organised by Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids)and Mui (my little favourite DIY) and hosted by Faeez of BitterSweetSpicy.

 



 

Homemade Mondays week 123 hosted by Sarah of Frugal by Choice, Cheap by NecessityAubrey of Homegrown & Healthy and Kelly from The Sustainable Couple 

Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking



Cook-Your-Books #21 @ Kitchen Flavours 



Tasty Tuesdays with HonestMum



Have a great week!

Cheers!

Putting to the Test

Two weeks ago, my 13-year old son was telling me about one of his school projects. Yes, they have lots, but that one in particular required my intervention.

Oh…? What could that be? Yep, I was curious 😀

I had hoped it was an easy one because I was really exhausted, mentally, with tons of unanticipated reports to accomplish at work with specified deadlines. The last thing I wanted was another ton of bricks on my shoulders.

That evening, my boy came up to me and said, “Mama, I need a recipe from you for my school project, indicating at least 10 points or steps to accomplish the final outcome

Huh? Is that it? I thought, that was an easy one.

I told my son to go search for THE recipe on my blog he thought would befit his school project. And by the way, to make the quest a lot simpler for him, I have 2 big binders of the printed hardcopies of every single post I have published on my blog since March 2010!

It was such a novel seeing my boy sitting on the couch, flipping through the pages of my posts. For some posts, he seemed to take a longer time browsing than another. I was quite sure he could find something in no time at all. He finished browsing the first binder and went through flipping the second binder. He stopped longer on some of the posts than another. Good. Getting warmer…

When he came to the last page, I was eager to know what his choice was.

But then I saw the grimace on his face, which transmitted a bleak message on my end. Hmmmm….. not looking good.

So, have you found anything? I asked

He frowned briefly, and went through the binders the second time round.

At that point, I was getting fidgety. He wanted a recipe (tried and tested) which he had loads to choose from, with step-by-step photos to boot. And he dared tell me there was nothing. Yes, NOTHING! Grrrrr… I suddenly felt a ton of red hot bricks landing on my shoulders!

THUMP! Thud!

Ouch!

I tried to speed up the quest process by choosing a recipe which involved a few steps. I asked him if the Ngo Hiang” (5-spice Sausage Rolls or Wonton recipe which required some tactics of folding or wrapping would be a good choice. Nope!

How about the Honeycomb Cake Nope!
Or any of the Rice Cooker Cakes? Nope!
Brazilian Cheese Bread? Maybe

Okay, at least we had a “maybe”

Then you tell me what you want, son. I retorted.

At that instant, he was kind of bookmarking one of my posts dated 25th November 2013!

This! He said, pointing to the photo of my Moist Beetroot Chocolate Cake or Brownie

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BUT… on condition that I used apples instead of beetroot! He said the ingredients must be local, as in 100% Belgian produce, and most importantly, that it’s something that he would enjoy devouring. In other words, my son had put me to the test, in a very scheming manner. Oh yes. *grin*

He wanted me to bake fresh brownies using apples, and not copy paste any of the published posts I had on my blog! And OMG, I had wanted to have a good rest that weekend not wanting to do anything, especially, in the kitchen, however, it was not meant to be. Alas! No rest for me. *sob*

Precious Belgian Project

When Venus Williams came to Antwerp, Belgium in 2002 for the Diamond Games, a professional women’s tennis tournament, she was asked this question, “What will you be bringing back from Belgium to the US?”

Lots of Belgian chocolates, of course (besides diamonds…)

Well, it’s not only Venus who had made that statement but that could easily come from any tourists, my family from Malaysia, included. When my younger sister and Mum came to visit us in 2010, she ended up being ‘overweight’ when she checked-in their luggage at the airport in Zaventem heading back to Malaysia. And guess what, she ended up paying Eur 350 for the excess weight which comprised the heavyweight bars after bars of Belgian chocolates! She could have left the chocolates behind with us, and I could have arranged for a separate shipment from BE to MY but she wanted to indulge in the Belgian choc bars immediately when touched down in MY and not wanting to wait for another month for the chocolates to arrive in Kuching. Okey-dokey. Crystal Clear! Understood! If my sister was crazy enough to pay Eur 350 for the excess weight, it shows how precious and indispensable Belgian chocolates are 😉

I made these brownies using one of Belgium’s purest and finest chocolates. The result was a dark, rich, chewy, bitter-sweet brownie.

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Ingredients

2 Haspengouw Jonagolds, finely grated
240g Galler Noir Profond 85% (Dark, bitter chocolate rich in cocoa!)
130g Solo butter
250g Candico organic cane sugar
3 eggs
8g Dr. Oetker Bourbon vanilla sugar
16g Dr. Oetker Backin baking powder
100g Anco self-raising flour
A pinch of salt

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For the detailed direction , please refer here.

Because this was my son’s school project, I took more recent photos of the steps that used the requested ingredients.

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Here were some compulsory photos my son requested me to take showing the end product and a jonagold.

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The Final Piece of the Puzzle

When I have finished baking and letting the cake cooled for at least 3 hours before cutting the brownies in little rectangles, my part was done. The last piece of the jigsaw puzzle was for my son. After all, it was his school project. How he wanted to direct the grand finale was totally up to him. He was the Director. I was only the Actor.

Of course I was curious 😉

And here’s the final curtain…

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This was the result of what my 13-year old son had put together that same evening I baked those brownies. By the way, he took the photo of me grating the jonagolds ;-). He followed me around the kitchen closely and jotting down the ingredients and the steps all by himself! He transferred the scribbled notes and re-typed the entire manuscript on the computer. I was (and is) very proud of my son.

Good job, mama, BUT …. GREAT job, son!

Oh yes, I brought a few pieces of the brownies to work the next day. One of my colleagues commented that she had just experienced a culinary orgasm😊

Amongst all the colleagues’ remarks, I was especially looking forward to the comment of a particular colleague. He’s a fantastic baker. He has baked several birthday and anniversary cakes, complete with fondant decorations and up to 4-tier! And guess what? I got an email from him with the following feedback, “The brownies are so good. May I have the recipe?

I rest my case!

Because it’s February and someone commented that these brownies were a culinary orgasm and it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I’m submitting this post to “My Treasured Recipes #5 – Chinese New Year Goodies/ Valentine’s Day (Jan/Feb 2015)” hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House

Because I have used 85% cocoa content per Galler bar multiply by 3, I’m linking this post to the February 2015 Little Thumbs Up with the theme “COCOA” organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY and hosted by Grace of Life can be Simple.

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I’m also submitting this post to We Should Cocoa hosted by Katie of Recipe for Perfection. I thought the February theme “BROWNIES” was absolutely spot on!

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I’m also linking this tasty brownie recipe to Tasty Tuesdays by HonestMum

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Have a great weekend and Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Here’s a story worth reading – The Story of St Valentine

Cheers!

6th December is the feast day of Saint Nicholas. In Flanders (Belgium) and the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas is called Sinterklaas. In Belgium, children up to 12 years of age receive their gifts in the morning of 6th December, while kids in the Netherlands get their gifts from the De Goede Sint (The Good Saint) the night before (5th December), on condition that they have been good all year. It is believed that The Good Saint keeps record of the good and naughty behaviours of the children.

Does he not sound familiar to us? 😉

Yup, you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why… but hey no… it’s not Santa Claus, but Sinterklaas came to town! 

By the way, the name Santa Claus is derived from the older Dutch name Sinte Klaas, because Saint Nicholas is the patron Saint of children.

Santa Claus is also known in both Belgium and the Netherlands, but he is known as Kerstman or Christmas man, ie not a Saint but just a good and jolly fat man who brings lots and lots of presents to kids all over the world on Christmas Day.

Here’s an animated version when Sinterklaas (the Saint) meets Santa Claus (the jolly fat man)

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Oh by the way, I have been good all year, too … because Sinterklaas visited us at work!

Yesterday morning, I received the following message in my inbox ….

Dear colleague,

Last night Saint Nicholas secretly visited our HUB. He has brought some candies for you because you have been good.

Enjoy!

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Here’s what I got from De Goede Sint 😊

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A must-have gift from Sinterklaas is a type of gingerbread biscuit, called Speculoos, or is it Speculaas? Lekker

So is it Speculoos or Speculaas?

According to Google translator, Speculaas is Dutch for Gingerbread. Incidentally, Speculoos is detected as a French word and is used by Wikipedia as the source word to define “Speculoos” in English. The definition of Speculoos by Wikepedia differs to the “arguments” between the Flemish-speaking Belgium and the Dutch from the Netherlands. 

 Speculoos or Speculaas – both terms are correct, but it’s the ingredients that went in the product that made the difference. The Dutch – as we all know with the history of the Spice Trade in Asia between the 15th and 17th centuries – battled a bloody conflict with Spain and England to gain control of the spice trade after the Portuguese. Erm…. who do you think won? Well, the winner is judged by the usage and consumption of spices in today’s kitchen, of course! 😉

I daresay the Dutch are more daring with their spices than the Belgians. The Dutch named their gingerbread, Speculaas, which includes the following spices: cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg and white pepper. On the other hand, the “shy-er” Belgians with their less daring palates can only take the cinnamon and a bit of ginger and caramalized sugar to form the crunchy biscuits they called, Speculoos. And there you have it, the difference between Speculoos and Speculaas

Stewed meat or stoofvlees is very popular or perhaps even the signature dish of Belgium. A classic Belgian meat stew is often cooked slowly over medium-low fire with a good glug of Belgian beer. I have cooked Flemish beef stew many times which I learnt from my late MIL. Over the years I have experimented cooking the dish by using different types of beer, which has got to be Belgian, of course😄 

Did you know that beers have colour? The colour is controlled by the malt that is used to brew it. Beer in Belgium varies from pale lager to lambic beer and Flemish red while generally beers are categorised as follows: White, blonde, amber, brown and black. The darker the colour, the bitter the taste. 

I have always used cubed beef stew meat, however, this time, I chose to use cubed Turkey meat by adding two very Belgian ingredients – speculoos and Maredsous 6 Blonde, an abbey beer. The number 6 represents the level of alcohol content, ie 6 %.

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Ingredients
(Adapted and improvised from a Colruyt recipe catalogue entitled Pork stew in Floreffe beer with my own method of preparation) 

• 1 kg pork stew (I used 2 kg cubed Turkey stew) 

• Onions, chopped (I used 4)
• Butter (to brown the meat) 

• Gingerbread cookies (I used 9 Speculoos cookies) 

• 1 Tbsp mustard (I used 2) 

• 1 Tbsp honey 

• 2 Tbsp flour or just enough to thicken the sauce 

• 33 cl Floreffe Blonde (I used 2 x 33cl Maredsous 6 Blonde) 

• 1 Tbsp vinegar (to taste) 

• Cloves (I used 6 cloves) 

• Thyme (I used a few sprigs of fresh thyme) 

• Bay leaf (I used 2) 

• Salt and pepper to taste

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Method (own)
1. Melt some butter to lightly brown the turkey meat. Sprinkle the flour and stir well.

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2. Add the chopped onions, cloves, mustard and honey.

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3. Crumble the Speculoos cookies. Stir well to combine the ingredients before pouring the beer along the edge of the stew. Throw in the fresh thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.

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4. Transfer the stew to the Slow Cooker. Switch the button to high for 1 hour and then to low for 2 hours. Thirty minutes before serving add the vinegar. You will know when the stew is ready when the sauce is no longer runny and the beer has completely evaporated and the sauce has slightly thickened. And the aroma! So Christmassy with the sweet smell of the spices whiffing passed my nostrils😜

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Note: To have even a richer tasting stew, let it cool before storing in the fridge until the next day. Heat the stew on auto for 45 minutes to 1 hour before serving. Add more vinegar if necessary.

Smakelijk!

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December may have 31 days, but to me, it’s the “shortest” month of the year due to the year end rush. And before we realised, it’s the New Year… Arghh!!!

Christmas is a time for giving and sharing. With Christmas in less than 3 weeks from now, I would like to share this recipe to the following Christmas themed blog-hop cooking challenges –

Janice Pattie’s Farmersgirl Kitchen’s December theme: Slow-Cooked Christmas

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Lavender and Lovage’s “Sugar & Spice (November and December Cooking with Herbs Challenge)”

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My Treasured Recipes #4 – Ho Ho Ho It’s Christmas (Dec 2014) hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House

Cook and Celebrate: Christmas 2014 hosted by Yen from Eat your heart out, Diana from Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids

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Bangers & Mash’s December’s Spice Trail Cooking with All-spice (WITHDRAWN. For more information, see N.B)

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Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking

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Cook-Your-Books #19 hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours

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Happy St Nicholas’ Day! Hope you have been good😄 

Cheers! 

N.B. I would like to apologise to Vanesther of Bangers & Mash for incorrectly linking this post to her December’s Spice Trail – cooking with Allspice. I had mistaken allspice to mixed spice (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg). Allspice is a spice in its own right, completely different than mixed spice, which I must admit I did not use in this recipe. I have withdrawn my submission of this post to The Spice Trail Challenge for the month of December. Thanks, Vanesther, for pointing that out.

One Saturday morning, my friend, X, came to my house to pick up her four garden chairs I borrowed from her for our housewarming.  I was in the kitchen about to prepare lunch when our door bell rang at 11 am.

By the way, X also came to my house on my invitation for the purpose of sampling my chicken steamed buns (chicken pao’s) I made a week earlier (see post here).  I froze a few and re-steamed some for her to try out.  She enjoyed the pao’s and doggy bagged (tapau) 3 buns for her boys. While we were eating pao’s and chatting in my kitchen, she asked me what I was preparing for lunch.  I placed a filled carton of twelve eggs on the table.  These!  I told her I was going to make an omelette.

1. Wholesome omelette_12 eggs

I could see the frown on X’s face.  Huh?  A dozen eggs?  You got to be kidding, right?

Nope!

A 12-egg omelette may sound rather mundane, and uninteresting or unhealthy, even. It’s like a highway to cardiac arrest if consumed by one person on a single serving; however, there’re 4 of us, hence, mathematically it’s a 3-egg omelette per person, which is about the right portion per consumption for a main meal.  Yeah, I’m consoling myself on this case to liberate my guilty conscience 😉

Well, X, my dear friend, here’s the result of my omelette, which I dubbed the “Dirty Dozen Wholesome Omelette”.  Good, eh?  😀

2. Wholesome omelette_baked

Jeroen to the rescue – Again!

As with my previous posts here, and here, this omelette recipe is from the Belgian chef, Jeroen Meus (adapted from his 4th book, Dagelijkse Kost, with some modifications).  Jeroen used bacon, cheese, mushrooms, potatoes and fresh herbs to create that wholesome touch. You could make a vegetarian version by omitting the bacon. As Jeroen would say, “pimp up your omelette!” 

I added an extra ingredient, chicken sausages to sooth the tummies of my boys 😉

Ingredients (I tried my best to translate the recipe from Dutch to English…)

  • 10 eggs (I used my “dirty” dozen)
  • 200g smoked bacon slices (I used the ready cut smoked bacon pieces)
  • 4 chicken sausages, pre-fried and cut on the bias (this was not on the recipe)
  • 150g grated cheese (I used a mix of Feta and Emmentaler cheeses)
  • 150g button mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • Boiled potatoes (diced and left to cool down)
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • ½ clove of garlic (I used 1 whole clove of garlic, minced with some coarse sea salt)
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley
  • A few sprigs of fresh chervil
  • A knob of butter (I did not use butter)
  • A dash of olive oil
  • Freshly milled black pepper
  • Salt to taste

3a. Wholesome omelette_ingredients3b. Wholesome omelette_chervil + parsley

Method –

  • Assemble all the cut, sliced, chopped, minced and diced ingredients
  • Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan over a medium high heat and fry the bacon pieces (Note: I used olive oil in lieu of butter). Let them sizzle in the pan for a few minutes until slightly crisp.
  • Sauté the chopped onion with the bacon
  • Add the minced garlic, sliced mushrooms and the cut chicken sausages. Stir preferably with a wooden spoon.
  • Taste for seasoning, and bearing in mind that the smoked bacon is quite salty.
  • Rinse the fresh herbs, drain and chop them finely.
  • Add the chopped chervil and parsley to the sautéed mixture.
  • Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Preheat the oven to 180° C
  • Take a large bowl and break all the eggs. Whisk well.
  • Pour the beaten eggs in a greased oven dish (or round baking pan)
  • Assemble the diced (or cubed) cold, cooked potatoes in the beaten egg, making sure they are spaced evenly.
  • Assemble the sautéed ingredients of bacon, sausage, mushrooms and herbs evenly into the egg mixture
  • Sprinkle a generous helping of grated cheeses over the omelette
  • Bake the omelette for 30 minutes, until the centre is cooked through
  • Serve the omelette in wedges

Stir fried onion. garlic, bacon, chicken sausages, mushrooms, chervil and parsley

Stir fried onion. garlic, bacon, chicken sausages, mushrooms, chervil and parsley

1st Layer ->> Pour the  beaten eggs in a greased oven dish and assemble the cooked potatoes evenly

1st Layer ->> Pour the beaten eggs in a greased oven dish and assemble the cooked potatoes evenly

2nd Layer ->> Assemble the stir fried ingredients

2nd Layer ->> Assemble the stir fried ingredients

3rd Layer ->> Sprinkle your favourite cheese(s).  I used Feta and Emmentaler

3rd Layer ->> Sprinkle your favourite cheese(s). I used Feta and Emmentaler

A cross-section of the omelette

A cross-section of the omelette

Slice the omelette in wedges before serving

Slice the omelette in wedges before serving

My wholesome slice of omelette with some salads for a balanced diet ;-)

My wholesome slice of omelette with some salads for a balanced diet 😉

It was YUMMY... I had a piece the next day for lunch at work :-D

It was YUMMY… I had a piece the next day for lunch at work 😀

The omelette was not called “wholesome” for nothing.  I had that one slice with some salads, and that’s all my tummy could take.  It was really filling and wholesome.  The dirty dozen omelette lasted for at least 3 days!  Well, that’s the idea.  No further cooking for the next 2 days 😉

This dish is good for buffets and picnics and can be taken either cold or warm.

Oh by the way, X, what do you think of the omelette?  

I am submitting this post to the the following –

1. Little Thumbs up event with the August theme “EGGS”, hosted by Baby Sumo from Eat your heart out , organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids

th_littlethumbups1-1

2. Cook-Your-Books #3  organized by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours

Cook Your Books

And …

3. I’m thrilled to link up this super eggy recipe to the May 2015 theme for “savoury egg” dish hosted by  Dom of Belleau Kitchen‘s monthly blog hop challenge Simply Eggcellent #3 !

  

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Cheers!

 

Related posts –

Nope, this is not the bird’s nest done the Chinese way. It has nothing to do with swallows’ nest, which is synonymous to the bird’s nest soup we are akin to as the medicinal delicacy made from the salivary excretions of the cave swift(lets).

I was introduced to this dish in Belgium by my late Mother-in-law (MIL) in 1995. The classic Flemish bird’s nest is actually the encasing of a hardboiled egg in minced meat.  Sounds familiar?  I guess you would call it by Scotch eggs (in the UK) or Nargisi Kofta (Moghul kitchen).  In the Netherlands and Belgium, these are called “Vogelnestje”, literally translated as “little bird’s nest”

1. Bird's Nest1

A frugal meal

People may have associated Scotch eggs as an invention by the Scots, but there are many legends and history that have proven otherwise. Let’s just say that the Scotch eggs’ origins are rather obscure. You can check this out on the web.

If you don’t already know, “scotch” also means avoiding waste, hence would match the definition of an “economical meal”. Scotch eggs, a frugal meal make more sense 😀

My Scotch egg or better known in Flanders as “little bird’s nest” is based on Jeroen Meus’ recipe.  Jeroen is a very popular TV chef in Flanders. At the same time he runs his own restaurant called, Luzine in Wilsele and he also whipped up 4 recipe books ‘Dagelijkse Kost 1, 2, 3 and 4.  The 5th book will be on the shelf very soon.

By the way, I am the proud owner of all his 4 recipe books and will gladly buy his 5th. His recipes are no-nonsense, easy to follow and very honest and straightforward.

The “Vogelnestje” is from his 2nd book.  I have adapted the recipe with some modifications.

Ingredients –

(Makes 6 “bird’s nests”)

  • 600g minced meat (I used 1 kg)
  • 4 eggs + 1 extra egg (I used 6 eggs + 1 extra egg for binding)
  • 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs (I used a bit more than 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 knob of butter (I used olive oil)
  • Nutmeg
  • Pepper (freshly milled black pepper)
  • Salt to taste

2. Bird's Nest_ingredients1

The Tomato Sauce (Own version)

  • 2 onions (I used 1 large onion)
  • Olive oil
  • 800g tomatoes (I used 2 big tomatoes, skinned and diced finely)
  • 80g of concentrated tomato paste (I used supercirio tomato paste)
  • 1 tsp sambal, to taste (I used 1 tsp of Mae Ploy chilli shrimp paste + 1/2 tsp Mae Pranom shrimp flavoured crushed chilli)
  • 1 tsp sugar (I omitted sugar but used about 1/3 chicken stock cube)
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh thyme (I used dried thyme)
  • Fresh oregano (I used dried oregano)
  • 5 cl red wine (I used a dash of Sandeman Ruby Porto)
  • Mushrooms, thinly sliced (these are not on the recipe)

Mashed potatoes or fries (I made wedged herbed potatoes)

3. Bird's Nest_ingredients2

Method –

The bird’s nest –

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the 6 eggs and count 9 to 10 minutes.
  • Cool the eggs under cold running water and peel them.  Set aside.
  • Take a large bowl and add the ground meat with a pinch of salt and freshly milled black pepper.
  • Add the extra egg and combine this to the meat mixture.
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the meat and grate some fresh nutmeg, to taste.
  • Wash your hands and knead the meat to a firm but not too dry mixture
  • Divide the meat mixture to 6 meatballs
  • Put the ball in your hand, flatten each meatball and push the centre to form a well and place a hard-boiled egg into the well. Cover the entire egg with the meat, rolling the meat with your hands until you get a smooth meatball surface.
  • Place the bird’s nests in an oven dish

4. Bird's Nest_egg shaped minced

  • Preheat the oven to 180° C
  • Put a frying pan over medium heat, melt a knob of butter (Note: I omitted this step.  I baked my bird’s nests in the oven with some olive oil, turning once or twice until the crusts turned golden brown)
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Check if the meat is cooked by inserting a toothpick in the meatball. If the toothpick comes out dry, the meat is cooked.5. Bird's Nest_oven baked1

Method –

The sauce –

  • Place a casserole over medium high heat and drizzle some olive oil.
  • Peel and chop the onion coarsely
  • Sauté the onion and stir frequently
  • Add a spoonful of sugar (I replaced sugar with some chicken stock cube), the concentrated tomato paste and the chilli shrimp paste.
  • Keep stirring and then pour the ruby porto (in lieu of red wine) until the alcohol evaporates.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and the sliced mushrooms.
  • Sprinkle the herbs in the pot and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes over low heat.
  • Taste the sauce for seasoning before serving.

How to serve –

  • Cut each meatball in half and place the halves on a serving plate.

I served my bird’s nest with homemade baked potato wedges and braised Belgian endives (witloof) with the special sambal and porto sauce.  It was scrumptious!

6a. Bird's Nest3

6b. Bird's Nest4

6c. Bird's Nest5

I’m quite sure I’ve done justice to Jeroen’s “Vogelnestje” 😉

I am submitting this post to the Little Thumbs up event with the August theme “EGGS”, hosted by Yen from Eat your heart out organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids

th_littlethumbups1-1

As well as to –

Cook-Your-Books #3  organized by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours

Cook Your Books

Ciao and enjoy the rest of the week!