Focaccia Making Course (Bookalokal Brussels)

I have had the pleasure to attend & host a few bookalokal dinners – but I had not yet been to any of the cooking workshops that are on offer … vowing that I would… Also – having met the lovely Arianna from Un altro colore at numerous other events – and having tasted her delicious baking, jams & breads – I knew that I wanted to be in one of her workshops!

So, when a fellow foodie visitor from Canada was in Brussels, I dragged HIM and her along to one of the focaccia making courses (which included tasting & aper0-pizza) that Arianna was hosting.

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For a mere 28euro per person – you get involved in an interactive workshop, nibbles beforehand (which included the most amazing sweet Apricot sourdough focaccia) and pizza & drinks afterwards!!! Not to mention the fact that you get to take home your proofing dough as well – so another meal!! What I would call an absolute bargain – and SO much fun!

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Arianna is Italian & speaks French & English… and this girl really knows her stuff when it comes to baking…  and running a workshop – i.e. she provided sufficient time (and patience) to answer our questions, while still making the workshop more of fun experience than a “school book learning” one.

As we were 3 people in the same household attending – we decided that HIM & I would only do half of the recipe each, while our friend did a full recipe – meaning that we went home with 2 large bowls – ready for the oven (or in our case, the fridge, because we decided to bake it the following day).

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We had 4 distinct toppings prior to baking (all of which were more-ish)

  1. goats cheese & fried red onions
  2. tomato & basil
  3. rosemary & salt
  4. ham & olive tapenade

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If you can’t find an already planned workshop date that suits you, you can always use the bookalokal site to request one of your own….and even better if you can get a group together.

We give this a 5/5 rating & highly recommend it!

Knees to Chin (Brussels)

I keep having to remind myself that I am not a hipster… but I do love Instagram… I do… I just can’t help it… being able to drool over others food photo’s makes me happy!

Plus it is a great way to find out what is new & happening in the world of Food in Brussels… (that is how I found out about King Kong & Forcado!)

Having seen some delicious looking Rice Paper rolls from Knees to Chin pop up on my screen… I knew that I had to check them out. PLUS – they are a 5min walk from our little home and a neat half-way meeting point between Mr Draper’s & mine – which is why it was the perfect meeting place for a quick catch-up with Mr Draper prior to his whirlwind travels.

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We both ordered 3 of the rolls (3.80€ per roll = 11.40€ per person) – but they do offer lunchtime “offers” which are cheaper & include a side (i.e. rice or cabbage salad)

marinated prawns, mango, avocado, fresh mint – avocado sauce
satay chicken,
pear, fried shallots, rocket – light peanut sauce
sweet potato,
pineapple, fresh mint – avocado sauce

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I was in heaven… they are fresh and super tasty… and the perfect meal for a hot summer day (be it lunch or dinner)… AND even better still, is the fact that you can grab & run (aka take-aways) – although – having said that – I really think that their interior is cool (and hipster-ish) :)

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Would I return? Yes – yes – yes… this could easily become a new favourite

KNEES TO CHIN

address: rue de Livourne 125, 1000, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 2 644 18 11

email: info@kneestochin.com

Opening hours (summer): Mon-Fri: 11h30-21h30, Wed: 11h30-15h00 & Sat: 12h00-18h00

http://www.kneestochin.com

Forcado Pastelaria (Brussels)

I had been to Le Petit Forcado before… but when it was just a tiny shop selling a few pastel de nata’s & jams… a shop that was just bigger than a shoebox (ok – a slight exaggeration – but you know what I mean!) And obviously – I knew about them because HIM is Portuguese and he knew where to get the best Pastel de Nata’s from! (PS – singular = Pastel & plural = Pasteis)

And then suddenly – I saw an instagram account for Forcado pop up… and then on Facebook … and it looked completely different and MUCH bigger!

So HIM and I sauntered over on Saturday morning to check it out.

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The interior was gorgeous – clean, fresh & modern with loads of seating space. Don’t you love it????

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We also found out that it was still the “old” Forcado that we knew – it has just moved a few doors down on Chaussée de Charleroi & was being managed by the son… and still offering a wonderful array of baked treats & jams.

My favourite!

My favourite!

We ordered coffee’s, juice & a few of their tasty treats (pasteis de nata being one of them)… sat back and enjoyed every mouthful!

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Suggestion – GO!! They bake all their pastries on site and have a wonderful selection of gluten-free options as well (HIM had an almond gluten-free muffin which he enjoyed… particularly because he said it was “sweet” :)) We hope to see you there again!

FORCADO PASTELARIA PORTUGUESA

address: 196 Chaussée de Charleroi, 1060, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 2 539 0019

email: info@forcado.be

http://www.forcado.be

Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 10h00-18h00

Boston Steakhouse (Brussels)

HIM and I have a bit of a weekend tradition going – not necessarily every weekend – but at least once a month on a Saturday.

We head out to movies at De Brouckere in Brussels… the afternoon matinée if you must know… and we normally stop off at either BiaMara or Pizza Pronto for lunch beforehand… but we have come to the conclusion that neither HIM nor I like watching movies in 3D. Me – because the 3D glasses don’t fit properly on my face over my normal spectacles… and HIM because he says it gives him a headache afterwards.

So this past weekend – when we were hoping to catch up on a latest film release – we realise that we would have to visit Toison d’Or theatres instead… which meant a change in lunch venue.

Now normally – I avoid the strip of restaurants on Toison d’Or or close to Trone Metro stop – because they have a “touristy’ feel to them (no idea what that actually means – but I just figure that they might not be THAT good)… oh – how wrong I was!

We landed up inside Boston Steakhouse – with the friendliest waiter this side of Brussels (seriously – I couldn’t believe how nice he was to us), great food and reasonable pricing. Why had I waited so long to go there?

The interior is really pwetty…. (yes – the w instead of a r is on purpose)… because it has a bit of a glam feel to it – leather furnishing, winding staircases, hanging chandeliers, mirrors & fresh flowers on the bar… (the latter is something that I truly love!)

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HIM and I both opted for burgers – which were ENORMOUS, cooked the way we ordered them (mine to medium so still pink but no blood – and HIM’s to dead) – with a pile of frites that although not hand cut, were more-ish (that means I wanted More… and more… and more… even when I was so full that I had visions of being rolled out of the front door and down the road :))

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Would we go back? Yes – definitely a spot to pop into when in this part of town (whether it be for movies or shopping)

BOSTON

address: Avenue de la Toison d’Or 2, 1050 Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 2 512 73 53

website: http://www.bostonsteakhouse.be/

email address: info@bostonsteakhouse.be

Darwin Cafe (Lisbon)

HIM and I recently celebrated our “2nd wedding” in Portugal – not so much a wedding, but definitely a celebration (you can read all about the food here)… and while we were there – we also decided to spend a day in Lisbon… a place that I hadn’t yet explored (and of course, for HIM being Portuguese – He had been a few times but was willing to pander to my travel needs of exploration :)).

With a group of Brussels-based friends (who had celebrated with us in Santarém) – we walked around the Belém Tower on the banks of the Tagus river…towards the Jerónimos Monastery and then to see the founding place of the Pastéis de Belém (now known as Pastéis De Nata)….

Tower of Belém

Tower of Belém

Jerónimos Monastery

Jerónimos Monastery

 

 

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And then onto lunch – at Darwin’s Cafe…. I can not recommend this place enough! It is just a short walk from the Belém Tower, with parking nearby, on the Tagus River (with inside & terrace dining, excellent food & great service)… What more could you ask for on holiday?

photo credit: their website

photo credit: their website

photo credit - their website

photo credit – their website

the bring a platter to the table with bread, paté & olives (but be warned – this is charged at 2euro per person… but worth it!)

None of us ordered starters & went straight onto Main courses…All 7 of us ordering something different (all mains range between 12-17,50€) – and here are a few pictures….

HIM's Black pork slices, sautéed potatoes, spinach, and mushrooms - 17,50€

HIM’s Black pork slices, sautéed potatoes, spinach, and mushrooms – 17,50€

M's "special menu" duck with veggies

M’s “special menu” duck with veggies

Sarah's Tagliatelline with fresh salmon, coconut sauce and fresh herbs - 13,50€

Sarah’s Tagliatelline with fresh salmon, coconut sauce and fresh herbs – 13,50€

Annabel's Salad with poached pears

Annabel’s “specials menu” Salad with poached pears

Duck fillets on orange risotto - 16,50€

Duck fillets on orange risotto – 16,50€

Most of us ordered desserts – and we were all so eager to tuck in that I only got photo’s of 2 of the desserts – Mine, which was Rhubarb pudding (7,50€)

Not what I thought it would look like - but this Rhubarb pudding was amazing

Not what I thought it would look like – but this Rhubarb pudding was amazing

and Mr Draper’s – which was Mango Carpaccio with crème brûlée (7,00€)

Mr Drapers Mango Carpaccio & creme bruleé dessert

Mr Drapers Mango Carpaccio & creme bruleé dessert

Would I return? ABSOLUTELY yes… when in Lisbon this is a must-visit restaurant!!

Darwin’s Cafe

address: Avenida Brasília Ala B, 1400-038 Lisbon, PORTUGAL

telephone: +351 932 032 579

email: RESERVAS@DARWINCAFE.COM

website: http://www.darwincafe.com

Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 12h30-15h30 & 19h30-23h00

How the Portuguese celebrate weddings….

Officially – HIM and I got married in Cape Town, South Africa on the 2nd November 2013 at De Grendel Wine Farm – with family & friends. CORRECTION… with MY family and a good proportion of MY friends.

max & luis pillars

Because HIM & I decided to have 2 celebrations … one in South Africa and one in Portugal in order to avoid the major costs of travel for either of our families & friends. We were however very lucky to have some friends who attended both (Mr Draper, both of HIM’s bridesmaids & Sas).

South African’s celebrate weddings in multiple different ways, depending on cultural background, etc… But our SA wedding was somewhat traditional (in my eyes) – an 11am church service followed by a 3 course sit-down luncheon at a wine farm.

The Portuguese celebrate weddings in a more lavish & much longer way… normally starting with breakfast, whereby the Bride eats with her friends & family somewhere & the Groom with his friends & family somewhere else. Then people head home to change & get ready, before meeting at the church late morning for at the service (this part is the same). Afterwards is a 4 (or more) course sit-down lunch (still pretty standard, right?)… then folks relax, the photographs happen for bride/groom, some people go home & change and then come back for the buffet – yes… more food… tables groaning with fruits, desserts, cheese & seafood…. followed by dancing & partying all night … and the next day, everyone returns to eat the leftovers!

We decided to scale down our Portuguese portion of the celebration… no breakfast & no late-night partying or next-day leftover eating… we did however enjoy the 4course lunch followed by a buffet (served an hour and a half after the dessert)… a lunch that started at 1pm and ended around 10pm… Oh, how I love the Portuguese!!

Here are a few pictures of the food that we got to enjoy at the venue Quinta Nova in Pernes (just outside Santarém in Portugal)

First Course: Fish soup

First Course: Fish soup

 

2nd course: Bacalhau fish topped with prawns, served with mash & salad

2nd course: Bacalhau fish topped with prawns, served with mash & salad

3rd course: MEAT: Pork with mushroom sauce, rice with sultana's & vegetables

3rd course: MEAT: Pork with mushroom sauce, rice with sultana’s & vegetables

4th course: Dessert - we choose cheesecake with slices of fruit

4th course: Dessert – we choose cheesecake with slices of fruit

and then the buffet tables (these are not the photo’s of our actual event tables – but of a wedding that happened a few weekends before ours, when we were there to taste-test the menu and got to peak at what we would also be having)…

Portuguese celebration prawn buffet Portuguese celebration fruit buffet Portuguese celebration fruit buffet 2 Portuguese celebration dessert buffet Portuguese celebration cheese buffet

how awesome are the fruit sculptures??? We got a frog carved out of a watermelon… I dare not place the photos of it on here – as the guests took great joy in being photographed with it…

Zebra Cake (SRC August Reveal)

It has been a whirlwind month… a rollercoaster of emotions… with extreme highs & lows…

HIM & I celebrated our 2nd “wedding” in Portugal with his family who were not able to attend the ceremony in SA last year. This was the happy part followed by the devastating news that a close family member of mine had passed away after a horrific period of mental and physical suffering.

So finding a recipe to make for this months Secret Recipe Club reveal provided a much-needed distraction and I was instantly drawn to the cake section of my designated blog… why? Because Jules loved sweet things! So this post is dedicated to her…

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The blog assigned to me for this months SRC was La Cocina De Leslie, otherwise known as “The Kitchen of Leslie” – a 39 year old stay at home mom with 4 children, living in the heart of Mexico, after growing up in California… someone who loves being the kitchen as much as I do!

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Her blog had so many wonderful recipes that I spent a good portion of the day just reading through each of them… debating the merits of Quick beer pizza dough versus Buttermilk Strawberry Shortcake and finally settled upon the Zebra Cake

Zebra Cake

zebra cake

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

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  • Combine milk, melted butter, oil & vanilla – then set aside
  • Combine flour, baking powder & salt – then set aside
  • Combine eggs & sugar in a large bowl & beat with an electric mixer until thick & pale
  • Turning mixer onto a slower speed, add the wet mixture
  • Sift in the flour mixture ½ cup at a time, mixing between additions
  • Place 1/3 of the batter into another bowl & whisk in the cocoa powder
  • Alternate adding vanilla/cocoa batters into a greased baking dish by using a ladle (start with 1 ladle of vanilla mixture placed in the centre of the baking dish, then ladle a spoonful of chocolate batter on top of that – making circles… and continue until all the batter is used up)
  • zebra cake 3
  • Bake at 180c for 40min
  • zebra cake`2

 

Printable version is available

Green Soup with Blue Cheese

I blame HIM… well, not so much blame… but place credit upon….

As a child, I would only eat tomato soup… and even this had to be the smooth, can variety… I later added chicken noodle soup to my repartee of soups – once again – the packet soup version… a “chicken” flavoured broth with a few floating mini flower shaped noodles.

It was only in my early teens that I started to eat a few more variations… pumpkin, pumpkin and errr… and once again the picky child would only eat the soups if they were smooth… no floaters!!

And finally – as an adult, I adore a good soup… chunky, smooth, you name it… (even if a smooth soup is my first choice) And of course, HIM adores soup… so there is normally a pot a week in our household.

With this in mind – I recently decided to lose myself in the kitchen with baking, cooking, etc… because there is something very therapeutic with chopping, peeling and stirring… a rhythmic motion that is has a calming effect… right?!?

Anyway – I glanced into our half empty fridge and pulled out everything that I could use – celery, broccoli, leeks, blue cheese and decided to make a soup! Plus, soup is comforting in itself….

Green Veg Soup with Blue cheese

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1 head of broccoli

1 leek

6 sticks of celery

1 onion

600ml stock (I use chicken stock)

blob of butter

blue cheese (as little or as much as you like – I used the whole block)

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  • cut the broccoli into florets, slice onion, leek & celery
  • Melt butter in a large pot & fry the leek & onion
  • Add the celery, broccoli & stock
  • cook for 15-20min until the broccoli is soft
  • Blitz in the blender to make a smooth texture
  • Place back into the pot with the crumbled blue cheese & simmer to melt the cheese
  • Serve!

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King Kong (Brussels)

Let me explain…. There wasn’t a building sized gorilla in Brussels… I promise!

BUT there is a new Peruvian restaurant on Chaussée de Charleroi (walking distance from our place) that is on the top 5 list of “IT” places to be right now. (Yes – I admit it…I gave in to peer pressure and followed a trend… probably because I had seen pictures all over Instagram, Twitter & Facebook about the place… and was dying to see what the hype was all about!)

So Alison, Michelle & I met up with high expectations for KING KONG.

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We walked through the doorway into what can only be described as a fast food counter…. a big white board above a counter/kitchen offering a selection of hot & cold sandwiches, sides & drinks. You grab your drinks from the nearby fridge, place your order, pay & then head into the back to wait.

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The “inside”or back of the place is very different to the first impression – with hanging planters, big bold lamps & wooden decking on the walls….  (and an outdoor area without tables & chairs)

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It was a VERY hot evening – and the heat of the kitchen and ovens in the front permeates right through the place… thankfully the door to the unfinished terrace was open… and the beers were cold!

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Alison & both ordered the Chicharron (a bun filled with sliced sweet potato, salad, dressing & pork- 6.95€)  which was delicious (particularly because the sweet potato was SO perfect). While Michelle opted for the warm Butifarra (same as the chicarron but with a thick piece of cooked ham – 6.95€). and of course – we all ordered a side of Papas al horno (roasted baby potatoes served with a dipping sauce – 3.50€).

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I have to say that this is a complete Hipster hang-out (and I think we might have pulled down the average age by a fair amount) – but the food was tasty, cheap and very filling… and the perfect “quick stop” option for lunch or dinner… fun, yes – but not fine dining.

KING KONG

address: 227 Chaussée de Charleroi, 1060, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 02 537 0196Display phone number

Choc Hot Pots

One of the awesome things about the recent #BxlFF (Brussels Food Friends) event was the goodie bag… and what the goodie bag entailed!

We were super lucky to have CHOCOLERO as one of our sponsors… and therefore I dedicate this recipe to them. But before I share all the details of how I used their chocolate – I do want to share a little something about me (and HIM).

We love Sunday lunches… post church – eat & be merry afternoons filled with friends, food & fun! We love to host (duh!) and we find ourselves breaking bread (amongst other things) with some truly awesome people. The problem is… we are out of the house from 11am until 1.3opm… so hosting a lunch needs to be pretty much planned & prepped in advance.

Sounds easy, right? Well, of course it is, if you have a whole repartee of make-ahead entertaining recipes… mine include chicken pot pies & lasagna…  the rest of my main meal entertaining options normally require me to be IN the kitchen for a while before guests arrive. (And the same can be said for desserts… to be made in advance (either the night before or morning of))….

This means that I am now permanently on the look out for excellent recipes that don’t have me sweating frantically minutes before the doorbell rings…

This dessert was inspired by the fact that I had those wonderful bars of chocolate – but also because I love to “re-read” my pile of recipe books over and over again (the way other people read fiction/non-fiction when they go to bed)… and of course, who else, other than the sultry queen of spoon licking can provide fuss-free cooking inspiration – but – Nigella Lawson!

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I adapted the recipe to provide 6 (her’s serves 4) & omitted the chocolate chips – cos I figured it would be chocolate-y enough!

CHOC HOT POTS

200g chocolate
200g butter
200g sugar
3 eggs
4 tablespoons flour

  • Melt chocolate & butter in a bowl over gently boiling water
  • choc pots melting
  • Beat together sugar, eggs & flour
  • Add cooled chocolate mixture to sugar mixture
  • Place into 6 greased ramekins
  • choc pots pre oven
  • Bake for 20min at 200c (until tops are spongy – but the bottom will be all gooey & delicious)
  • choc pots post oven
  • choc pots final

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