Creamy Courgette Risotto

I love risotto and so does HIM, the only negative part of making it is that you need to be in the kitchen the entire time, stirring the pot regularly and adding ladle fulls of stock as you go. Time consuming indeed, but so worth it when you set down to eat a bowl full of this creamy heaven.

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I found this recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine (June 2014 issue) and adapted it by adding crispy bacon pieces (because… who doesn’t love bacon… right???) and wine. While omitting the toasted pine nuts, lemon & mascarpone – but the idea of adding grated courgettes right at the beginning truly does make for a creamy risotto!

would I make it again – yes!

This recipe fed 4 adults … because the courgettes help to bulk it out!

Creamy Courgette Risotto

50g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 courgettes, (grate 2 of them & dice the third)
210g risotto rice
150ml white wine
1l stock (I use chicken stock)
Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons of butter
150g bacon pieces

  • Melt the butter large pot and fry the onion until softened
  • Add the grated courgettes & rice, stirring to coat all the pieces
  • Add the white wine and sizzle for 1-2minutes
  • Add a ladle (or two) of stock and stir
  • Reduce heat to medium and stir regularly, adding a ladle of stock at a time as it gets absorbed during the cooking process (takes approx. 20-25minutes)
  • Remove risotto from heat, add the remaining butter and a handful of parmesan cheese. Cover with a lid and leave for 5minutes.
  • In the meantime, fry the bacon & diced courgette in a frying pan until both are cooked (and bacon is crispy)
  • Serve

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Crunchies (Oat Flapjacks)

In South Africa – these biscuits are well known as *Crunchies* but in the UK, most people would refer to them as *Oat Flapjacks*.

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A crispy biscuit made of rolled oats & syrup… cut into squares and moreishly eaten with cups of tea.

(PS – the reason for the radio silence is because we were in South Africa for 2.5 weeks holiday for a friends wedding and family time, then we finalized the purchase of a new apartment and have just recently started the renovation works… along with our 13 month old monkey starting to walk… so busy busy busy!)

These biscuits are super easy to make and HIM gave them a thumbs up (which in his books is HUGE!)

The recipe comes from the Snowflake Book of Baking which Mommabear gifted to me for Easter in 2001… and I am still slowly working my way through baking every item in it! (Subsequently, I hear that the book has been out of print which is quite sad considering how popular it is!)

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Crunchies (Oat Flapjacks)

200g butter
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
15ml golden syrup
160g rolled oats
140g flour
210g caster sugar
80g desiccated coconut

  • melt butter and add bicarb of soda & golden syrup
  • Mix dry ingredients together & combine with melted mixture
  • press into a 20x24cm greased baking tin
  • Bake for 40-45min at 160C
  • Removed from oven, cut into squares while still warm and leave to cool
  • Store in an airtight container (if they last that long)

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Secret Gourmand…sweet and savoury tarts

As HIM works in the Chatelain area – he found this boutique shop a few months ago (as you can see from an earlier instagram post)

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BUT I recently got treated to a Secret Gourmand delivery… which sported not one, but TWO delicious sweet tarts!

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Started in 2009 by 2 pie loving visionaries, Philippe Collignon (the pastry king) & Gérald Evers (the entrepreneur) in a workshop in the centre of Brussels with only 6 oven plates, a mixer & 2 tables – but enough passion (& taste) to get the ball rolling. In 2014, they moved the workshop to Chaussée de Waterloo and more pies were provided. In 2015, a 2nd shop was opened in Place du Chatelain (yippee yeah…), and half way through 2016… a THIRD shop was opened at St Xavier de Bue!

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Success comes to those who make it… and this team is making DELICIOUSNESS…

HIM & I both adored this Cherry & Pistachio cream Crumble (11-18€ depending on size) – as we have ordered it ourselves before! A Cherry crumble with pistachio cream & shortbread crumb… with the pistachio cream reminding me of marzipan…

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This was the first time that we tried the Passion Fruit tart (12-20€)… and it didn’t disappoint! Almond Dacquoise, passion fruit cream & caramel crust… it was like eating a Crème Brule tart with passion fruit flavour. YUM

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These were so good – but my ultimate favourite of their’s must be the Chocolate peanut Tart (12-20€) as it reminds me of Reese’s Pieces (not that I am American or anything…) with a shortbread crust, crunchy peanut butter vanilla mousse & chocolate ganache!

AND – they not only make sweet treats – but they also have a great selection of Savoury pies (aka Quiches) as well. With interesting combinations like Salmon & Broccoli, Crab & Asparagus, Tartiflette (potatoes, cheese, etc) with truffles, and and and…

Share the love – pop into one of the 3 stores & get yourself one (you wont be sorry) or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or instagram

ENORMOUS thanks to the Secret Gourmand & the Claudia Lomma Teams for sending us these tarts to taste!

Secret Gourmand

Addresses:

  1. 887 Chaussée de Waterloo, Uccle: Mon-Sat: 10h00-18h00
  2. 49 Place du Chatelain, Ixelles: Tues-Sat: 11h00-19h00 & Sun: 11h00-15h00
  3. 72 Rue Xavier de Bue, Uccle: Mon-Sun: 10h30-18h30

website: http://www.secretgourmand.be

Disclaimer: Although no money changed hands for this post, we did get to enjoy these treats. All opinions & comments expressed are 100% our own & 100% honest

Chocolate Banana Coconut and Oat Pancakes

I recently saw this recipe on Alida Ryder’s website (called Simply Delicious) – except hers didn’t have the coconut addition.

Breakfast in our house is a very standard affair – especially for HIM… who always has 2 slices of toast with cheese & ham – while mine can vary from time to time – but toast or porridge is pretty normal. However… on really special occasions… pancakes make an appearance.

And on Monkey’s 1st birthday – I decided to make a batch of these… mostly because they are sugar free and included banana & oats (all good things)… but also because I loved how gorgeous they looked on Alida’s blog!

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I adapted her recipe by adding 1/4 cup of milk – as the mixture was too thick as well as the desiccated coconut. They aren’t particularly sweet which is why I added a good pour of golden syrup to mine🙂

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Chocolate Banana Coconut & Oat Pancakes

2 ripe banana’s
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup milk

  • Place all ingredients into a bowl and using a hand blender – blend until mixture is smooth
  • leave to rest for 10-20minutes
  • Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat
  • Fry spoonfuls of the batter (1-2min on each side) until brown

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Corn Bread

I absolutely love weekends… who doesn’t??

And I have found that Monkey (who turns 1 years old on Wednesday) is starting to engage in more and more solo play… which gives me back my hands and a little bit more time to get back into the kitchen to cook up a few things!

This past weekend, I managed to put together a roasted pumpkin soup, a big pot of chilli con carne AND this lovely corn bread (aka *Mealie Bread* as my South African friends would call it)

I had a tin of KOO cream-style sweetcorn in my store cupboard and was eager to find another use for it (rather then my bog-standard sweetcorn fritters go to recipe) and lo-and-behold… I found this recipe on the YOU magazine website

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I adapted it by adding a cup of grated cheddar cheese and a full teaspoon of paprika… and next time, I think a few chopped chillies would also give it an extra zing! VERY tasty and still good on day 2 (when there was very little left anyway :))

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Corn Bread

1 tin cream-style sweetcorn
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
60ml warm milk
30g butter, melted (and another 30g for brushing after baking)
350g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup grated cheese

  • Mix all wet ingredient together in a large bowl
  • Fold in flour, cheese & paprika to form a wet dough
  • Place into a greased loaf tin
  • Bake for 45min at 170C
  • Brush top of bread with 30g melted butter to keep it soft & moist

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Plum Cake

In my normal excitable state when it comes to food shopping, I bought more plums than we could eat before they got really ripe. (oops)

But do not fear – this is always a good excuse to bake… right? (I wonder if subconsciously this was my plan all along??)

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I found this recipe online (google-box) on the NY Time cooking section for what they called a *Plum Torte*… but to me, this was a cake.

Whatever you want to call it – it was delicious! Simple to make, 50min in the oven and ta-da… a yummy treat easily enjoyed as a hot pudding with custard after dinner or just a slice with a cup of tea in the afternoon.

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Plum Cake

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
12 plums, halved

  • Beat sugar & butter together
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time
  • Sift in flour & baking powder & combine
  • Pour into a greased cake tin
  • place halved plums on top of cake batter (skin side down)
  • Bake at 180C for 40-50min

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Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

When I was pregnant and lacking sufficient protein inspiration – my dietician suggested roasting chickpeas and enjoying these as a snack (instead of crisps). Although I didn’t do it at the time – I did find this recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine (June 2016 issue supplement) and decided it was HIGH time to finally try them out!

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These spicy snacks are more-ish (aka – you want to eat more…) but I probably should have left them in the oven for 5minutes more to get them super crunchy!

Would I make them again? yes… for a healthy snack, they are great – PLUS they are consider one of my 5-a-day and are vegan friendly.

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Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

400g can chickpeas
1 teaspoon sunflower or canola oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander

  • Tip the drained & washed chickpeas into a bowl along with oil and spices
  • Toss well until chickpeas are well coated
  • Place on a baking tray
  • Bake for 35min at 180C, moving them around the tray halfway to ensure they dry out evenly

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Blueberry Pie (SRC)

OMG… how is it SRC time again? This month as zoomed by at an amazing rate… with Monkey teething (top 2 are starting to make their appearance (and presence) known… and felt), plus a whole lot of training at work and travel on the cards (combination of a weeks holiday in Portugal with HIM and Monkey… and then work trips to Helsinki and Amsterdam in the next few weeks… and THEN… our big holiday in South Africa.. woohoo). Anyhoo – I digress…

This months Secret Recipe Club (SRC) reveal showcases the lovely Wendy of “A Day in the Life on the Farm“. She and her husband are retired police officers who decided to trade in the hustle & bustle of city life for a more quiet existence on a farm. HA! if you read her blog – you will quickly realize that quiet is not a word to be used lightly! Wendy is a busy lady! Up until recently, she looked after her 94 year old mom (who sadly has dementia) but has taken to living in a care home with ease. She is also a granny!!! An avid reader, blogger, gardener. hiker and scuba diver… to name a few… I am not sure where she has all this time!!

I loved her blog… and found it VERY difficult just to choose one recipe… I wanted to make the Tangerine Honey white bread, the Jamacian Me Hungry Muffins, the cherry strudel, or the coconut prawns (to name a few)… but eventually decided to make use of the abundance of blueberries by (re)creating this Blueberry Slab Pie!

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Easy as Pie… ha ha… no, seriously… using store-bought pastry made my life SO much easier (and thanks for that tip Wendy) and of course the taste… YUMMY! (FYI – I reduced the quantity by half …). I made this pie using shop-bought circular pastry… therefore no longer a *slab* and took it with to our Church Meet-n-Greet where it went down a treat! By the time HIM got to the table, there was only 1 slice left!

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Blueberry Pie

3 cups of blueberries
2x store-bought pastry
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 egg beaten

  • Combine berries, sugar, cinnamon & lemon zest in a bowl and leave to rest while you prepare the pie dough/crust
  • Roll out the one portion of pastry onto a greased baking tray
  • Evenly spread the blueberries across the pastry
  • Top with the 2nd portion of pastry
  • Crimp the bottom & top pastry together
  • brush with beaten egg
  • Cut vent holes with a sharp knife (very important)
  • Bake for 30-40min at 200C

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Eat! Brussels Drink! Bordeaux 2016 edition

That is right folks… today is the first day of Eat Brussels! Drink Bordeaux! 2016 edition – which is currently in its 5th year!

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Once again it is being held in Parc Royal (which was a huge hit with me last year… read 2015 review here) – this year however, the concept has changed (sad face :() but I have been assured that it will still be VERY tasty!

Previously – you bought a package with X number of tokens and each restaurant stand would have a selection of starters, main courses and desserts with their own price (set # of tokens) – sometimes you could get a hamburger for 10tokens (10€) and sometimes you paid 12 tokens (12€) for a fancy-schmancy starter. While this year, the concept is simple – several dozen great Brussels chefs will take turns to offer you a signature dish from their restaurant each day (which is at the set price of 9tokens (9€)).

Therefore – if you buy a Solo Pass – you get 2x signature dishes along with your Wine Pass.

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Which brings me to my favourite part (and the part I had to miss last year because I was pregnant)… the Wine Pass for a mere 18€ – you get an engraved wine glass, wine glass pouch (which is super handy as it hangs around your neck while you stand and eat), a tasting book for 11 wines (hallelujah!); 1 session at wine school & a Duvel beertasting! I know many people who purchased one of these and came back over the course of 2 or 3 days last year… so a REAL bargain indeed!

I know that I will be heading there on Saturday… will you?

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for more details – check out the website here (and don’t forget to pre-purchase your passes, although they can be bought on the day)

Courgetti Bolognese

I recently decided to eat less carbs at night… Now, don’t you worry… I am not going paleo on anyone… but rather eating my carbs in the morning for breakfast & at mid-day for lunch. This has meant some mindset changes – especially as I have had a tendency to have salads for lunch (because I am at work) and big hearty dinners (when I am at home).

Last week – I knew that I was going to make a pot of bolognese sauce… but instead of teaming it with conventional noodles or spaghetti – I decided to read up a bit about zoodles (zucchini noodles) or courgetti (courgette spaghetti).. which is when you make a “faux” noodle out of courgettes. I especially enjoyed reading Elana’s Pantry recipe and pretty much followed her cues for a bowl of warm courgette zoodles.

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Essentially – using a spiralizer made the job super quick and easy.

Make again? Yes… in fact, I did it again the following evening too!

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Courgetti Bolognese (feeds 4)

3-4 large courgettes (1 per person)
olive oil

400g mince (pork/beef mix)
500ml passatta
180g tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 grated carrots
salt/pepper/dried herbs

  • To make the bolognese sauce, I heat up some olive oil in a large saucepan and then add meat
  • Once browned, I mix in the passatta, tomato paste, sugar, carrots, garlic and seasonings
  • Reduce heat and leave to simmer for 20-30minutes
  • For the courgetti, spiralize the courgette.
  • Salt it and leave to sit for 20minutes
  • Rinse & drain the courgetti, and pat dry with paper towels
  • In a frying pan, heat a dash of olive oil and then ‘fry’ the courgetti for approx. 5minutes
  • Serve

As simple as that

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