Biscuits

My birthday feels like it was ages ago (and it sort of was… as it was in May!) – but I was super lucky to get a whole array of amazing gifts from friends and family members!! With at least 90% of it being food or kitchen related!

One of which, was a biscuit maker from my mom… which I used a short time afterwards and have been meaning to post about for ages… so here it is!

This recipe was adapted from the Snowflake Book of Baking that mom had given me in 2001 (so you see – there are some things that REALLY last :))

Biscuits for a biscuit maker

biscuits baked 2

250g butter
100g sugar
2 eggs
10ml vanilla essence
350g cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
cherries (for decoration)

biscuits ingredients

  • Cream butter & sugar together
  • add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition
  • Add vanilla essence
  • Sift dry ingredients together
  • Add to creamed mixture
  • Mix well
  • Place dough into the biscuit maker and press onto a greased baking tray (as you can see – I tried loads of different shapes)
  • (you can add a piece of cherry to the centre of each unbaked biscuit/cookie now before the tray goes into the oven)
  • biscuits tray
  • bake for 10min at 180C
  • (I baked in batches – and did 4 trays in total)
  • Cool & store in an air tight container
  • biscuits baked 1

A Cheese Bread Wreath (SRC)

It is SRC (Secret Recipe Club) reveal day…. woohoo

For those who aren’t aware – I joined the Secret Recipe club a few months back – whereby bloggers are allocated to a group and on a monthly basis, we get allocated another bloggers website for which we need to find a recipe, re-create it and publish it on an assigned date (and time)!

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This month – I got the amazing Chef in Disguise… Seriously, this woman had me in absolute awe!

chef in disguise

Not only is Sawnson a orthondondist (fancy dentist :)) but she is also an amazing cook & baker – with her blog showcasing some amazing technical skill! PLUS she is also mom to 2 children… so basically wonderwoman…. full-time job, mom AND phenomenal in the kitchen! Just to prove my point – she is part of clubs called the “daring cooks” & “daring bakers” – whereby they challenge each other to make “more” difficult bakes than the average person can handle – particularly impressed with her chimney cake, Nutella twists & Schichttorte (layered cake).

I really can’t describe how difficult it was for me to decide on which recipe from her blog to choose…. but I finally got won over by her delicious looking cheese bread wreath…. however, my biggest mistake was not using her recommended egg wash and therefore my egg wash made my wreath a lot browner than it should have! I did also only use one type of cheese (cheddar) while her recipe called for 2 types… But all in all – it looked slightly different (aka – not as professional as hers, but I can still say that it tasted Great! A bit of a brioche experience with the surprise savoury influence in the inclusion of the cheese & herbs … Mmm

I would definitely make this again – but I would either use her proposed egg wash or omit having an egg wash at all…

CHEESE BREAD WREATH

4

1/4 cup (60 ml) warm water
3/4 cup warm milk
1 egg
1/4 cup (57 gram) butter, softened
1/4 cup (50 gram) white sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
450 gram all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (8 grams) dry yeast
1 egg
2 cups grated cheese (I used an English cheddar cheese but you can also use Mozzarella or any firm salty cheese)
sprinkling of mixed herbs

  • In one bowl whisk egg, milk, water, sugar, butter and yeast. Set aside
  • In another bowl sift the flour with the salt
  • Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and knead until you get a smooth dough. (it starts out quite wet, but I added another sprinkling of flour and it came together beautifully after about 5-10min)
  • Place the dough in a bowl brushed with some oil.
  • Cover the dough and leave it in a warm place to double
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface & using a rolling pin, roll into the shape of a rectangle
  • Spread cheese into rectangle (leaving about 2cm around the edges)
  • 15
  • Roll the dough up (starting from the long side) until you make a long roll
  • Join the ends together (and attempt to pinch together)
  • 14
  • Using a knife (or scissors) – cut the dough at 5-8cm spaces about 2/3rd of the way through
  • Turn the slices so that the circles face upwards (approx. 90 degrees)
  • 13
  • Brush the dough with your egg wash
  • 12
  • Allow wreath to rest for 15min
  • Bake for 270C for 5min & then reduce temperature to 200 C for a further 15-20min

5

My top went brown very quickly in the first 5min – so I placed a piece of foil on the top for the rest of the baking.

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Linking to the HOST

http://secretrecipeclub.com/

Seafood in Brussels (Noordzee)

With a visiting friend from Canada & a whole week of holidays to enjoy with HIM – we finally made it to Noordzee (La Mer du Nord) on St Catherine in Brussels (just around the corner from our normal “town” stomping ground) on a school day (aka Tuesday).

Noorzee 1

What promised to be a fun new experience was dampened by the cold & rain and more in particular, the fact that eating takes place outdoors around a bar table while standing! So definitely no long boozy lunches here!! The entire experience would have been far more enjoyable if the weather had been sunshine & warmth – however, we made the best of the situation and 4 of us huddled around a table under the outdoor umbrella’s like penguins trying to keep out of the rain, wind and other people’s way.

Noordzee 2

The place has some seriously good reviews – so much so, that they didn’t have any calamari left at 13h30 (clearly a popular choice and something that I had been craving) – but we did get enough of other plates to make sure that I didn’t walk away hungry. The prawn croquettes were pretty decent (and we ordered 2 plates as each portion only provides 2 pieces … thus making sure that we each had our “own”). We also ordered the tuna steak, battered fish and prawns done in 2 different ways.

Noordzee 6 Noordzee 5 Noordzee 4 Noordzee 3

Would I return? Only on a sunny day or early enough to avoid the bustling crowds (because, come rain or shine, I always favour being under an umbrella!). If you love seafood and aren’t able to get to the seaside – this is probably the best place in town to find it.

NOORDZEE/ LA MER DU NORD

address: Rue Sainte Catherine 45, 1000, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 (0)2 513 11 92

website: http://www.vishandelnoordzee.be/en/noordzee/

email: info@vishandelnoordzee.be

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.

focaccia 3

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!

focaccia 4

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

focaccia 6 focaccia 10 focaccia 11

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.

knees to chin 1

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

knees to chin 4 knees to chin 5

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) :)

knees to chin 3 knees to chin 2

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.

forcado 5

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

forcado 2

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!

forcado 3 forcado 4

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 :))

boston 4 boston 5

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

 

 

belem 3

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

zebra cake 4

  • 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