Brussels Catering Company : Maurice

HIM celebrated his 40th birthday this year… amazing, isn’t it, how he gets older each year¬†while I remain the same age? ūüôā

A more serious note – I wanted him to celebrate. As the most selfless and generous¬†person that¬†I know, I knew that he wouldn’t even think about wanting a birthday party. He hates having a fuss made of him and is definitely not someone who likes to be the centre of attention. Which was all the more reason for me to put together a surprise party for him!

But how was I going to organize something for 20+ people AND keep it a secret?? I tried a few restaurants, but I had to keep in mind that there would be a toddler (2 years old and a bit of an adventurer) plus an infant (<1 year) in the mix. Meaning that venues needed to be child-friendly and/or private function space. Eventually, I gave up on the idea of a late Sunday afternoon party at any establishment and decided to host it in our own apartment. This meant that everyone could be more relaxed, kick their shoes off and let their hair down.

But now I had to think about catering. How was I going to be able to cook for all these people without HIM suspecting? Plus I would be travelling for 3 days in Spain the week before. Not to mention having a little one around my legs on the days leading up to the party… ?!? Did I mention that I wanted this to be a surprise??

maurice 40

Maurice came to the rescue! Sanne who started Breakfast Delivery in Brussels expanded her weekend breakfast offerings by also offering lunchtime catering (which a fair amount of businesses have jumped on board) and with this, she has also started¬†catering events… hence the new company name & logo.

We started off emailing ideas around, then she came over to the apartment¬†to do a site visit with her partner. They kindly also organized the ice, ’40’ Balloons and flowers¬†plus managed the¬†delivery/set up on the day. All I had to do was provide the plates, cutlery, glassware & drinks. This was the most stressfree event that I have ever hosted and trust me, I have hosted many many (many ….) parties.

Lets just say that HIM was truly surprised when he walked in … and in a good way! The food was delicious – and there was MORE than enough… in fact, everyone went home with a container for the next day!

maurice cake

For Apero => there was shrimp springrolls with mango dip, Bruchetta with brie, sundried tomatoes, rucola, nuts and honey.

Maurice salads 2

For the lunch buffet portion => there was salmon tartare with fresh herbs, chicken meatballs with zucchini, Pork cheek stew, Potato salad, Greek Couscous salad, Grilled zucchini & aubergine  lentil salad with spinach & feta, plus a Tomato and green bean salad

Maurice salads

Dessert buffet was the real show stopper => a 4 layer cake with cream and berries; lavender & lemon mini cakes; individual¬†panna cotta’s with raspberries and individual chocolate mousse pots¬†with blueberries. PLUS gorgeous cheese platters with grapes & bread.

maurice desserts

I highly recommend using them for your next catered event!

maurice cheese

Maurice

website: http://www.mauricebrussels.be

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Vini Divini at the Jam Hotel in Brussels

HIM and I have been attempting to regain some sort of adult social life now that Monkey is 2 years old. That means that on HIM’s nights off (basically only¬†Saturday’s), we try to go out for dinner (just the two of us) at least once¬†a month (or every 2nd month if our schedules are too busy). That requires a bit of planning… (i.e.¬†booking a babysitter, getting dressed up or at least as dressed up as 2 parents of a toddler can, finding a restaurant, etc)

An Italian Tapas¬†restaurant around the corner from us in St Gilles,¬†had recently opened up and I had tried to book a table using their online booking site, however they were full but offered to waitlist us and let us know on the day if something became available. Needless to say, we heard nothing barring a hang-up¬†telephone call in the early evening, where as soon as they heard me¬†anser in¬†English, they put the phone down. I am not saying it was them… just thinking coincidence ūüėČ .

ANYWAY¬†– I had walked past the JAM hotel on numerous occasions and was truly intrigued by their funky look plus having had followed them on instagram meant that I knew that they had 2 bars (one of which is on the roof with a view¬†AND a¬†swimming pool!).¬†I made a reservation at their restaurant called Vini Divini … but wasn’t holding our breath for a fabulous, knock-out¬†night out. I mean, who makes a reservation in their own city to go to a hotel restaurant???

But you know what….We loved it!

Jam hotel 1

The restaurant itself is fun, relaxed and unpretentious (no tablecloths). The staff were friendly and multi-lingual. And the Italian food offered although simple, was very tasty, with an open(ish) kitchen vibe, so you can watch the chefs at work!

Jam hotel 2

We arrived at 7.30pm when it was still quiet. Ordered a lovely bottle of wine and a Tomato/ Mozzarella salad to share. It arrived with a basket of delicious bread rolls.. which if this was a view of the pizza dough to follow … was pure¬†heaven!

Jam hotel 3

HIM then had the gnocchi with gorgonzola & walnuts, while I ordered a pizza with Salami and Ricotta.

jam hotel 4

jam hotel 5

Our total bill was around 80euro’s and it would definitely be a place to revisit. By the time we left, it was full – mostly with big groups of young(er than us), hipster folk celebrating various birthdays/anniversaries/etc and I have it earmarked as a return-to &¬†“group” venue.

Vini Divini (Jam Hotel)

Opening hours: 12h00-14h00 & 19h00-22h30 (Monday-Friday); 19h00-22h30 (Saturday) and 12h00-16h00 (Sunday Brunch)

address: 132 Chaussee de Charleroi, 1060, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 2 537 1787

email: jam@vini-divini.eu or restaurant@jamhotel.be

website: http://www.vini-divini.eu/jam

Buttermilk Cheese muffins

The weather in Brussels is definitely starting to turn autumnal… with the leaves on the trees changing colour… to the most glorious shades of orange, red & yellow. And of course, the sunrise is later and the sunset earlier, the temperatures are dropping and my need for comfort food has definitely¬†increased.

I did a quick search on the “google-box” for a savoury muffin recipe using buttermilk (which was in my fridge) and find this cheese muffin¬†one on the Taste Magazine website (written by Abigail Donnelly).

I halved the quantity (because who can eat 36 muffins???) and it comfortably filled a 12-muffin tray. I omitted the sugar and also adapted the cheese portion by mixing grated cheddar with some grated parmesan cheese; plus added a teaspoon of paprika & a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs.

This is an easy weekend baking recipe and a definite make again. And my little helper enjoyed the mixing portion¬†as well as the eating aspect… and has happily devoured them. Those that weren’t eaten within the first 2days have found their way into our freezer for those mornings when toast or cereal just wont cut it.

Buttermilk Cheese muffins

200g grated cheese (I mixed cheddar with parmesan)
280g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried Italian* herbs (*or mixed)
2 eggs
125ml buttermilk
125ml sunflower oil

  • Beat together eggs, buttermilk & oil in a large bowl
  • In another bowl, mix together flour, cheese, salt, herbs & paprika
  • Fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture
  • Place spoonful’s¬†into a greased muffin tray
  • Bake for 18-20min at 180C

 

Blueberry Mug Muffin

Instant gratification… check
Sweet tooth craving satisfied… check
Limited sharing ability… check (although mommy’s little helper did eat half of the blueberry props and ingredients)

The Big Sweet Tooth posted this recipe recently & I saw it pop up on¬†Facebook. It was just too yummy looking to ignore …. so I clicked the link, bookmarked it and tested it out last week when the weather was miserable and I needed a quick afternoon sweet pick-me-up.

Monkey (aka Mommy’s Little Helper) got in on the action… eating the berries while I quickly whipped up the muffin/cake.¬† I convinced myself that it was healthy because of the berries and the name *muffin*… but I am not entirely sure that this is accurate.

And it seriously is the quickest sweet fix I have ever made! Within 5minutes of breaking the egg (step 1) РI was already dipping my spoon into the cooked end product. It was delicious!

I had to adapt the recipe as I didn’t have any milk in the house – so I used a spoon of greek yoghurt. It still turned out (and tasted) ok….

Blueberry Mug Muffin

1 egg
2 Tablespoons sunflower/canola oil
1 Tablespoon greek yoghurt (or milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 Tablespoons blueberries

  • Whisk wet ingredients in a mug
  • Add the dry ingredients and fold until moist
  • Fold in the blueberries
  • Microwave for 1min 45sec (1000 W)
  • Allow to cool slightly

 

Tapas Y Mas Restaurant, Brussels

Sandwiched between the university (ULB) different campus departments is Tapas Y Mas.

A reasonably priced & cheerful restaurant offering of hot & cold tapas (and delicious cocktails). A bright & airy front area leads to a more cosy eating environment in the back (perfect for dates… ask me, I should know!)

I wrote about them a while ago Рbut since they recently had an interior upgrade, making it more fresh & modern looking, I thought it was a great opportunity to re-write the post and update it with some better images!

The Tapas offered¬†is a mix and match of different European favourites ‚Äď all home-made and utterly delicious!¬†Tapas prices range¬†between 3.00‚ā¨ and 5.00‚ā¨ each.¬†I recommend ordering 3-4 plates per person and hopefully you are with a few people who like to share … giving you an even wider opportunity to taste more!

HIM always (and I do mean always) orders the same 4 dishes:

  • Mousakka (4.00‚ā¨)
  • Potato Tortilla (3.90‚ā¨)
  • Boulettes¬†de viande au curry et lait de coco (meatballs with a curry and coconut milk sauce 3.90‚ā¨)
  • Patatas Bravas √† l‚Äôail (Fried potatoes with garlic mayo: 3.80‚ā¨)

While I am inclined to order:

  • Poutine (fries with gravy & melted cheese: 5.00‚ā¨)
  • Scampis diaboliques (shrimps with tomato/chilli sauce: 4.00‚ā¨)
  • Something from their specials board… courgette & boursin or¬† a Spanish lentils dish or or or…

You can wash it all down with wine (by the glass or bottle), one of their cocktails or my personal favourite… Sangria (by the glass or the carafe… generally the latter where I am concerned).

Cost wise, you are looking at about 20-30‚ā¨ per person including drinks. The service is good (probably because we know the owners….) and it is conveniently located. We visit at least once every two months… so if you see us there, smile, nod and raise a glass!

Tapas Y mas!

address: 372 Chaussée de Boondael, 1050, Brussels
telephone: +32 2 640 0025
opening hours:¬†Tuesday ‚Äď Thursday: 18h30-23h00; Friday & Saturday: 18h30¬†‚Äď 00h00
www.tapasymas.be

Pumpkin Pancakes

I had the pleasure of discovering the blog “chef in disguise” when I was part of the now defunct *Secret Recipe Club* (a monthly *secret santa* style recipe swap club). From the SRC club – I made her cheese wreath bread and then later on, I was inspired by her apricot jam post.

During June, I saw her post (and instagram image)¬†about fluffy pumpkin pancakes… and OMG did they look delicious. I actually roasted pumpkin one evening just so that I could make these for our breakfast one Sunday morning!

HIM declared them to be the *BEST* pancakes that I had ever made – which is truly high praise from the man who normally indicates that something tastes good with a “I don’t dislike it”.

A definite make again => and enough to feed 2 hungry adults, a hungry toddler & provide a container of leftover snacks for aforementioned toddler for the next day.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1.5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tablespoons butter (softened)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • sift flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon into a large mixing bowl
  • in another bowl, whisk milk, pumpkin puree, egg, butter, sugar & vanilla
  • add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined
  • Grease & heat a nonstick frying pan
  • add a scoop of batter (approx. 1/4 cup) to the frying pan (I found that I could do 3 at a time)
  • cook on a medium heat until you see bubbles forming, then flip to cook the other side

 

Prawn Jambalaya

I hadn’t really heard of the term “Jambalaya” before, but Wikipedia informs me that this is a dish from Louisiana with French & Spanish influences – so think Paella influence. Normally meat with vegetables & rice… however mine was made purely with prawns and no other “meat” as such.

I found the recipe on the BBC Good Food website while doing a google-box search for a prawn recipe and adapted to my own store cupboard ingredient. Although it was a tasty dish – I am not sure that I would make it again. Firstly because the recipe makes enough for 4 portions and because we are only 2, the rest was “leftovers” for the next day – and I am not a huge fan of reheating prawns.

Having said all that – I repeat that it was still tasty!

Prawn Jambalaya

1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 celery sticks, sliced
200g rice
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon piri piri
400g can chopped tomatoes
250ml chicken stock
2 garlic cloves crushed
300g prawns (thawed if frozen)
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

  • Heat oil in a large, deep frying pan
  • Fry onion & celery for 5min
  • Add rice, spices, garlic, tomatoes & chicken stock
  • Cover with a lid & simmer for 30min until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed (add more liquid if needed)
  • Stir in the prawns – until cooked through
  • Stir in parsley & serve

Fish Cakes

Trying to eat a little bit healthier… and that also means making a few more items from scratch as opposed to utilizing ready-made items (like frozen box fish in whatever form it may come).

I have also been receiving the HelloFresh box for a couple of months now and sometimes by the end of the week, I start getting creative with the last meal ingredients (i.e. not following their recipe at all!!)

And on top of that – I had a bit of a craving for fish cakes – so I did my usual search on the BBC Good Food website¬†and landed up making these => the entire process was somewhat time consuming (started with cooking the fish in milk & boiling the potatoes at 5.30pm… and only sat down to eat at 8.00pm… but having said this, I had also made Monkey French toast for dinner, read to her, bathed & put her to bed – so this did skew my timings somewhat – but I do believe that this was when items were *cooling* or *chilling in the fridge*)

Would I make these again – yes, but I would probably increase the ratio of fish to potato (currently almost 50/50… to a 75/25) so that they are more fishy. Plus¬†I would¬†like to¬†remember to season the mix with salt/pepper¬†before making the cakes & frying them. I served mine with lemon juice drizzled rocket (and the fish cakes)¬†& some oven roasted carrots & potato wedges. There was enough fish cakes for 3 adults (2 each) plus¬†1 child portion.

Fish Cakes

450g white fish (no bones)
2 bay leaves
150ml milk
150ml water
350g potatoes
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons mixed chopped parsley/chives
1 egg
flour (for shaping)
85g breadcrumbs

  • Place fish, bay leaves, milk & water into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then lower heat & simmer for 4min. Remove from heat & stand covered for 10min
  • Meanwhile, peel & chop potatoes. Cover with water & pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 10min or until tender. Drain & mash
  • Drain fish & flake into mash with¬†herbs & lemon zest – mix until combined and leave to cool
  • Beat an egg on¬†one large plate, place flour on a board & breadcrumbs on another large plate. (I used 2 slices of bread with crusts cut off to make breadcrumbs & this was a sufficient amount)
  • Divide fish cake mixture in 6-8 equal portions
  • Shape fish cakes on the floured board, then into egg mixture & finally into breadcrumbs
  • Transfer to a plate, cover & chill for 30min
  • heat oil in a large frying pan
  • Fry fish cakes over a medium heat for about 5min on each side

Strawberry Panna Cotta

Can you believe that I have never attempted to make Panna Cotta before? HIM has a tendency to order this dessert when we go out for dinner sometimes… but claims it isn’t his favourite ūüôā

I had visions of it being really difficult – when in reality, there are very few ingredients and the steps are pretty easy.. so 10/10 for a future dessert making choice! I adapted this recipe from the BBC Good Food website.

PLUS – I was inspired to make something similar to the dessert that I had while I experience *Dinner in the Sky* earlier in the week. AND I had 3x500g of Strawberries to us up after spending Saturday morning picking them at Marie’s Garden in Overijse. We ate one container… I made jam with the 2nd container and the 3rd container was for the coulis topping of this Panna Cotta.

Make again? Definitely! It makes 5 generous portions…¬† and is a great make ahead dessert.

Strawberry Panna Cotta

3 Gelatine leaf
500ml double cream
150ml milk
100g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod

500g strawberry
1 1/2 teaspoon cornflour
50g caster sugar

  • Place gelatine leaves in a small bowl of cold water to soften for approx. 5 minutes
  • Split the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and place in a saucepan with¬†cream, milk & sugar
  • Heat gently until hot (not bubbling) and then remove from heat
  • Remove gelatin from water, squeeze out excess liquid & add one at a time to the hot cream
  • Stir until dissolved
  • Stand for 20-30min until cooled
  • Strain mixture and pour into serving glasses
  • Chill for at least 3hr

to make the topping

  • using a hand held blender, blitz the washed, hulled &¬†cut strawberries in a bowl
  • Strain liquid to remove seeds
  • Place in a saucepan with cornflour & sugar
  • Place over a medium heat for approx. 5min until juices thicken
  • Set aside to cool
  • Once completely cool – top the set panna cottas with the strawberry mixture
  • Chill until ready to serve

Traditional Scones

I recently enjoyed a morning baking Scones with an American friend, Angela => convincing her that they truly are easy to make (or at least I think so!). The secret is really cold butter, chaffing the dough (fold in half, turn 90 degrees and repeat) and finally – to¬†avoid overworking the dough… the less you touch it, the better!

This is a recipe is from Paul Hollywood’s collection and is a truly tried & tested recipe that never flops!

We adapted the recipe by leaving half the dough as is and adding cheese & chopped fresh chives to the other half – a sweet & savoury collection!

Traditional Scones

500g strong white bread flour
80g softened butter
80g caster sugar
2 eggs
5 teaspoons baking powder
200ml milk

  • Place 450g of the flour in a bowl and rub in butter (with your fingers) until you get to a crumb consistency
  • Add sugar, eggs and baking powder and mix with a wooden spoon
  • Add half the milk and continue to mix
  • Add the rest of the milk bit by bit to make a wet dough (and you don‚Äôt need to use all the milk if you think you have achieved the correct consistency)
  • Use the 50g remaining flour on the table top (half on the table top and leave the rest for the dough)
  • Place dough on the floured counter top and cover with remaining flour
  • Then chaff the dough (fold dough in half, then turn 90 degree‚Äôs and repeat) until the flour is incorporated into dough and consistency is smooth
  • roll dough out with a rolling-pin to 2.5cm and using a cookie cutter (or a glass dipped in flour), cut out your pieces
  • Bake at 200C¬†(fan or 220C¬†without fan) for 13minutes