13th November 2015
I love sweet potatoes all year long, but especially once the weather turns colder. So sweet, warm, and comforting!
This recipe for Sweet Potato Squares from Yotam Ottolenghi is perfect as a starter, a side, or a main course if paired with a nice salad.
The sweet potatoes are baked in the oven with goat cheese and chili peppers, then topped with a garlicky mixture before serving.
I used organic pastry dough because I was short on time, but if you have time you can also use your favorite dough recipe.
Sweet Potato Squares, makes 4
3 sweet potatoes
- 9 oz/250 g pastry dough
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 6 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
- 3 1/2 tablespoons goat cheese
- 1 chili pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Course sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 F/205 C. Bake the sweet potatoes in their skins for 35 to 45 minutes, until they soften up but are still slightly raw in the center (check by inserting a small knife). Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into slices 1/8 mm thick.
- While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, roll out the pastry to about 1/16 inch thick on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out four 2 3/4 by 5 1/2-inch rectangles and prick them all over with a fork. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper, place the pastry rectangles on it, well spaced apart, and leave to rest in the fridge at least half an hour.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and brush lightly with the beaten egg. Using an icing spatula, spread a thin layer of sour cream on the pastries, leaving a 1/4-inch border all round. Arrange the potato slices on the pastry, slightly overlapping, keeping the border clear. Season with salt and pepper, crumble the goat cheese on top, and sprinkle with the chili pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is cooked through. Check underneath; it should be golden brown.
- While the galettes are cooking, stir together the olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a pinch of salt. As soon as the pastries comes out of the oven, brush them with this mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.
8th November 2015
Fall is here!
I love the Autumn – the weather: cool, fresh, and crisp, the clothing: layers upon layers, the colors: warm browns, golds, oranges, and reds, and of course the food! I love mushrooms, roots, pumpkins, and squash!
So for my first fall dinner this year I made Jamie Oliver’s Grilled Mushroom Risotto. This is one of my all time favorite recipes. You get a double dose of mushrooms. First, you soak the dried porcini mushrooms and add them with the rice along with the soaking water. And secondly, grilled mushrooms to top the risotto! The grilled mushrooms are combined with lemon and parsley and add a fresh and zesty accent to the risotto!
Grilled Mushroom Risotto, serves 4
- 1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock , hot
- 1 handful dried porcini mushrooms
- Olive oil
- 1 small onion , peeled and finely chopped
- 2 sticks celery , trimmed and finely chopped
- 400g risotto rice
- 75 ml white wine
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large handfuls wild mushrooms (I used chanterelles), cleaned and sliced
- A few sprigs fresh parsley , leaves picked and chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 small handful Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus extra for serving
- Extra virgin olive oil
Heat your stock in a saucepan and keep it on a low simmer. Place the porcini mushrooms in a bowl and pour in just enough hot stock to cover. Leave for a couple of minutes until they’ve softened. Fish them out of the stock and chop them, reserving the soaking liquid.
In a large pan, heat a lug of olive oil and add the onion and celery. Slowly fry without colouring them for at least 10 minutes, then turn the heat up and add the rice. Give it a stir. Stir in the wine. Keep stirring until the liquid has cooked into the rice. Now pour the porcini soaking liquid through a sieve into the pan and add the chopped porcini, a good pinch of salt and your first ladle of hot stock. Turn the heat down to a simmer and keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and massaging the starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next.
Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. This will take about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, get a dry griddle pan hot and grill the wild mushrooms until soft. If your pan isn’t big enough, do this in batches. Put them into a bowl and add the chopped parsley, a pinch of salt and the lemon juice. Using your hands, get stuck in and toss everything together.
Take the risotto off the heat and check the seasoning carefully. Stir in the butter and the Parmesan. You want it to be creamy and oozy in texture, so add a bit more stock if you think it needs it. Put a lid on and leave the risotto to relax for about 3 minutes.
Take your risotto and add a little more seasoning or Parmesan if you like. Serve a good dollop of risotto topped with some grilled dressed mushrooms, a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
25th October 2015
I was in the Netherlands in May – in Rotterdam to be exact – and I tried beghrir for the first time at a North African restaurant. On the menu beghrir was listed as a “thousand holes pancake” served with honey and butter. My interest was peaked and in the end I order a big breakfast with a little of everything. The Moroccan beghrir was my favorite part!
So now back in Belgium I wanted to try and make them. The pancakes are very easy to make, although I did make a mistake when making my first beghrir. Normally to help cook my pancakes thoroughly, I cover my pan. But if you cover the pan when making the beghrir, you’ll have no bubbles!
Holes form from adding yeast to the batter. The yeast causes the batter to bubble, and once the pancakes are on the stove, the heat causes the bubbles to burst. Beghrir is cooked only on one side, making a very beautiful breakfast!
Rather than topping the beghrir with syrup, on the stove you melt roughly 1 part honey with 1 part butter to pour over the pancakes right before serving. I have a bit of a sweet tooth and added a little bit of powdered sugar on top!
Moroccan Beghrir, makes 16 pancakes
- 1 1/2 cups semolina flour
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons bakin powder
- 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- Mix the flour, semolina, salt, sugar and baking powder in a mixing bowl. In a blender, measure lukewarm water to just over the 3-cup line. Add the yeast and process on low speed to blend. Gradually add the dry ingredients.
- Increase the processing speed and blend for a full minute, or until very smooth and creamy. The batter should be rather thin, about the same consistency as crepe batter or cooking cream.
- Pour the batter into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest for 10 minutes or a bit longer, until the top of the batter is light and a bit foamy.
- Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium heat. Stir the batter, and use a ladle to pour batter into the hot skillet. Pour carefully and slowly into the center and the batter will spread evenly into a circle. (Do not swirl the pan; the batter should spread itself.) Make the beghrir as large as you like.
- Bubbles should appear on the surface of the beghrir as it cooks. Don’t flip the beghrir. It only gets cooked on one side.
- Cook for about two minutes, or until the beghrir doesn’t appear wet anywhere on the surface. It should feel spongy, but not sticky or gummy, when you touch it lightly with your finger.
- Transfer the beghrir to cool in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel. Once they are cool, they can be stacked without sticking.
Honey Butter Sauce
- In a small sauce pan heat the butter and honey together until mixed.
- Pour on top the beghrir and enjoy!
9th October 2015
On Sundays I tend to make Asian dishes because the supermarket in Chinatown is the only one open. My husband and I are fond of duck and really enjoy Peking duck pancakes with scallions dipped in hoisin sauce. This recipe comes from the Smoky Wok. The duck is prepared in much easier fashion, because as the website says, “recreating an authentic Peking Duck at home is almost impossible – the ducks are not roasted in regular ovens, they are supposed to be roasted over open flame lit with a special kind of wood that is also infused with fruits and some dates. For the duck to get that gorgeous crispy skin characteristic of a true Peking Duck, the ducks also have to be rotated and turned at precise times.” This recipe uses only the duck breast which is marinated in hoisin sauce and other spices. Mmm!
And if you want to serve this with guests, you can let everyone make their own pancakes and just create a spread with the pancakes, sliced duck, and scallions. Everyones loves a little DIY!
Peking Duck Inspired Pancakes with Scallions, serves 4 (makes about 20 pancakes)
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) water
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Enough cooking oil
- Sift flour and cornstarch into a large bowl. Whisk together eggs, milk, water and sugar together in a separate bowl. Make a well in center of flour mixture earlier and add in egg mixture gradually and beat well until mixed.
- Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat, add about 2 tablespoons of the batter to form pancake. Cook for about 1 minute on each side or until golden. Remove from pan and place on serving dish. Continue until all the batter is used up.
- 10 stalks green
- 300g of duck breast meat
- onions/ scallions
- Additional hoisin sauce for dipping
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
- Marinade the duck breast in the marinade above for at least 30 minutes, preferably 2 hours or more (covered in fridge).
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C. Roast duck breast after oven is pre-heated for at least 15 minutes for about 25-30 minutes or until cooked. Allow to rest for about 15 minutes, slice thinly and place on serving platter.
- You can create the pancakes yourself by adding a slice of duck and a scallion, then tying it together with the stalk of another scallion. If having guests, let them serve themselves by making the little pancake rolls at the table. Make sure to have enough extra hoisin sauce for dipping!
30th September 2015
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my husband I really love pickling leftover vegetables. Rather than having to throw them away, pickling preserves the vegetables to be used for many more months. Plus the flavors they develop become more complex.
Most recently Koen pickled our leftover carrots with dried peppers and other spices using Bon Appetit’s Moroccan style recipe. They were finally ready to be eaten, so we wanted to choose a dish that would pair well with the carrots. I decided on Green Kitchen Stories Moroccan Quinoa Salad. This is one of my favorite salads and I knew the carrots would fit perfectly. So many delicious flavors – the garlicky marinated zucchini and eggplant with the crunch of green onions, the soft avocado, and the warm, spiced quinoa topped with fresh mint and cilantro. Mmm!
- 1 1/4 pound baby or medium sized carrots, trimmed
- Peel from one lemon, in strips
- 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 4 dried hot chiles
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, cracked
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, cracked
- Pack carrots vertically into 1-quart jar, cutting spears to fit. If you have thick carrots, you can slice them lengthwise.
- Add lemon peel, garlic, and chiles, spilling some chile seeds into jar.
- Mix 1 1/2 cups water, vinegar, sugar, salt, coriander, and cumin in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar and salt dissolve, then boil 3 minutes.
- Pour hot brine over carrots, adding all spices to jar.
- Cool, then cover jar tightly and chill at least 1 week before opening. Keep refrigerated.
Moroccan Quinoa Salad, serves 4
- 1 zucchini, cut in thin slices
- 1 eggplant , cut in thin slices
- Olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 lemon
- 2 bunches mint leaves
- 1 bunch cilantro/coriander
- 2 avocados, cut into 1 inch squares
- 4 small spring onions, chopped
- Start by making the marinated vegetables. Spread out the zucchini and eggplant slices on a bbq, in a grill pan or in the oven, a couple of minutes on each side. Put them in a bowl, drizzle olive oil, garlic and salt over them and set aside.
- Cook the quinoa according to the package but add one tbsp cinnamon in the water. When it’s done cooking, rinse and set aside to cool off. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon and add five tbsp of olive oil into the quinoa. Chop half of the mint leaves and half of the cilantro, throw them in the quinoa and toss it around until everything is mixed.
- Serve in bowls together with the marinated vegetables, avocado, spring onions, the rest of the mint and cilantro and the pickled carrots.
20th September 2015
I love a good bánh mì. When my husband and I were in New York City a couple of years ago, we went crazy trying all the different restaurants and determining our favorites. Unfortunately once we were back in Antwerp it was impossible to find. So what to do? Make your own! Now the Bánh Mì is becoming more popular in Antwerp and you can find it throughout the city, but we still enjoy making them at home.
So what is a bánh mì? Bánh mì is Vietnamese for bread. More specifically it refers to single serving size baguettes, introduced when the French colonized Vietnam. The bánh mì sandwich is a fusion of French and Vietnamese kitchens. You have the baguettes, mayonnaise, pâté, and jalapeños from France combined with the Vietnamese flavors of cilantro, cucumbers, and pickled carrots and daikon radishes. Yum!
This recipe comes from Food 52.
Caramelized Pork Bánh
- 1 pound pork tenderloin
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 green onion, sliced thinly
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 baguettes (I bought a really long one from the bakery and sliced it into 4 serving sizes)
- Pickled carrots and radishes (see below)
- Sliced chili peppers
- Pâté (optional)
- Cut tenderloin across the grain of the meat into ½ inch pieces. Flatten each piece to an even ¼ inch between two pieces of saran wrap using a meat pounder, rolling pin, or large bottle.
- Mix ingredients from fish sauce to black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning – it should be sweet and savory so add more soy, salt, or sesame oil as you like. Add marinade to the meat and use your hands or large spoon to make sure all pieces of meat are coated in marinade. Marinate for 10-30 minutes.
- You can cook the pork on the grill outdoors (best) or indoors using a grill pan or cast iron pan, something that you can get very hot. Heat grill or grill pan to high and turn on that vent fan! Add vegetable oil to meat and stir to coat. Sear first side of meat until very dark brown on one side, then flip and sear on the second side. Be careful not to overcook it. The meat is thin so it cooks quickly, one or two minutes on each side.
- To assemble sandwiches, slice baguette and spread mayonnaise on one side, pâté on the other. Add meat, pickled vegetables, cilantro and peppers. Enjoy!
Pickled Carrots and Radishes
- 1/4 pound carrots, peeled
- 1 bunch of radishes
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Slice carrots and radishes into thin slices. Mix all ingredients together. Taste for seasoning. Let stand as little as an hour or up to overnight. They keep for several days.
25th August 2015
Corn is a summer staple in the Brörmann home. So crunchy, juicy and sweet! Maybe it’s the Southern Belle in me (grits, anyone?) but I can’t get enough.
I was thrilled when I found Naturally Ella’s recipe for corn cakes. It combined corn with another of my summer favorites – avocados. The combination is perfect – crunchy corn cakes with soft avocado and goat cheese, fresh cilantro, and zesty lime…mmm… Plus they are super easy to make!
Corn Cakes with Avocado and Goat Cheese, serves 2
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 ears sweet corn
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, to grill
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoons diced red onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Sprinkle salt and pepper
- 1-2 oz goat cheese
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add in onions and cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Remove corn from cob and stir in to onions, continuing to cook until corn becomes soft, 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and place mixture in a bowl. Add ⅓ cup pastry flour, baking powder, egg, honey, lime juice, salt, and cilantro; stir until well combine. Add more flour until mixture pulls together and can form patties.
- Divide batter in to 5-6 patties. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Pat in to 1″ thick round disc. Fry on each side for 5-6 minutes. Each side should be browned.
- Remove the skin and pit from the avocado and cut into cubes. Toss with lime juice, red onion, cilantro, and salt/pepper. Top cooked corn cakes with avocado and finish with a sprinkle of goat cheese.
15th August 2015
It’s summer time! What’s more refreshing to beat the sweltering heat than popsicles?
In June I was walking through the Stadsfeestzaal and noticed a new shop – Flying Tiger. Everything was so kitsch and colorful and I couldn’t help but notice their ridiculous popsicle molds. Only 4 euros? I couldn’t help it! Plus it’s been so hot here…I need a frozen treat!
Now that I had my molds, I needed to figure out the best recipe. After a bit of browsing I realized popsicles are basically just frozen smoothies. I made mine with mango and strawberry, but you can use any type of fruit. So simple and easy, plus I don’t feel guilty eating them!
Mango and Strawberry Popsicles, makes 6
- Popsicle molds
- 2 cups of mango
- 2 cups of strawberries
- 4 tablespoons of water
- Blend 2 cups of mango with 2 tablespoons of water and pour into molds. Repeat with the strawberries.
- Place the molds into the freezer and enjoy after 6 hours!
- If you want to be a bit creative, you can pour one flavor evenly into all 6 molds filling halfway and after 3 hours top off the molds with the other flavor.
11th August 2015
I loooove avocado toast – it’s so easy and healthy. I know some people eat it for breakfast, but I enjoy it more as a snack or lunch (I like sweets first thing in the morning!).
I follow a lot of different people on Instagram and Goop is one of my favorites. A while ago there was a post featuring a reimagined avocado toast – using rice crackers instead of bread! Goop featured it as a perfect snack, but it can also be a great, light lunch if you add a few extras into the mix – like poached eggs and sprouts.
Especially with the weather being so hot, this is my go-to lunch!
Avocado Toast, serves 2 for lunch
- 4 rice crackers
- 1 avocado
- 1 lime
- Fresh sprouts
- 4 eggs
- Water and vinegar to poach the eggs
- Sea salt and pepper flakes, for garnish
- In a pot, combine water and a generous splash of vinegar and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, gently stir the water to create a vortex and crack the 4 eggs into the poaching solution. Let boil for 3 minutes and drain.
- While water is heating up, peel and destone the avocado. In a bowl, mash the avocado with the juice from 1 lime. Divide the avocado mash into 4 even sections and spread on the rice crackers.
- Once the eggs are finished boiling, with a slotted spoon (shaking off any excess water) place one egg on top of each rice cracker with mashed avocado.
- Lastly, top the poached eggs with fresh sprouts, sea salt, and pepper flakes. Enjoy!
4th August 2015
It’s warm again in Antwerp – Thursday it’s supposed to hit 87 degrees! When the weather is hot, I crave salads. Green Kitchen Storie’s Maple Tossed Rhubarb and Lentil Salad is one of my favorites. The flavors and colors are so fresh and vibrant.
Rhubarb is a delicious addition. Before I had only used it for baking, but raw is also delicious! The chopped rhubarb adds a nice crunch and sour compliment to the sweetness of the strawberries and tomatoes.
Because I prepare most dinners after work, I like to cook my lentils either the day before or in the morning so it’s completely cool when I get home – then I only have to chop and add the fresh ingredients!
Maple Tossed Rhubarb and Lentil Salad, serves 4
- 1 cup lentils
- 2 fresh, thin rhubarb stalks, thinly sliced
- 1 small box of strawberries, sliced
- 1 small box of tomatoes, quartered
- 10 stalks of aspargus, cut into 1″ pieces
- 15 fresh basil leaves
- Goat cheese
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Cooking lentils: Rinse the lentils under running water and cook in 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Let it boil 2-3 minutes before reducing the heat to medium. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. When done, add a pinch of salt and set aside to cool. We add the salt at the end, otherwise it will toughen them during cooking.
- Making the salad: Prepare all salad ingredients (except feta cheese) and place in a large bowl. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing, add to the salad and toss with your hands. Top with feta cheese and a couple of basil leaves.