White Mushroom Lasagna

A colleague recently reminded me about the HelloFresh concept (weekly delivery of ingredients & recipes for a certain number of meals for the family) and offered for me to try a box on a *free* coupon that she had been given. I had tried the concept in July last year (read the review here) and thought that the concept was pretty good, but I didn’t like the fact that recipes/website were in Dutch only and that there wasn’t much choice when it came to the meals each week.

The good news is that they have evolved!! Although the website is still only available in Dutch or French, you do get an email that allows you download the recipes in English just before your order is delivered. AND you can choose within 10 menu’s that change weekly! (Another bonus is that I notice that their price has remained the same=> 53€ for 5 meals for 2 people)

We got an original box => 5 meals for 2 people. And I have to say that a few of those meals were portioned for 3 rather than 2… meaning that we have some soup in the freezer and HIM or I could have leftovers for lunch the next day. One of those meals was the White Mushroom Lasagna – which was delicious but very filling & rich!

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I have never made a béchamel / white sauce like this before – but talk about hiding the vegetables!!

We are currently signed up for a regular original box and I am loving the fact that for a few nights each week, I don’t have to *think* about “What’s for supper?” and the ingredients/groceries required – PLUS it has allowed us to widen our repertoire of cooking (and eating) and increase our vegetable intake. Indeed… we are definitely getting our 5-a-day in now! (I also signed up for their wine box but that is another story :))

This recipe is definitely a make again AND perfect for a vegetarian!

White Mushroom Lasagna
4 portions

1 head of cauliflower
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
200ml single cream
50g cheese, grated
lasagna sheets
500ml vegetable stock
butter
6 Tablespoons flour

  • Cut cauliflower in smaller pieces and using a food processor, make into crumbs
  • Gently fry the onion & garlic & cauliflower in 2 tablespoons of butter for 2minutes in a deep saucepan. Remove from heat
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the same saucepan
  • Stir in the flour, mixing for 2minutes at a medium heat
  • Add stock slowly, mixing well with a whisk to avoid lumps
  • Bring to the boil, then add the cauliflower mix along with the mushrooms to the sauce
  • Add the single cream and 1/3 of the cheese (along with Salt & Pepper to taste)
  • leave on the heat for 2minutes
  • in an oven dish, layer the lasagna sheets & sauce => repeating until all the sauce is used up
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese
  • Bake at 200C for 20-25minutes

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Easy Fruit Loaf

I have never been a huge Christmas cake or pudding fan, until recently. Or should I rather say, until I tasted the Christmas pudding Anne (my friend, Sarah’s mum) made! And now I am a convert!

Every year I think I will finally try my hand at making my own … or even my own fruit mince pies… but I never get around to doing it in time for Christmas.

But when I saw this Easy Fruit Loaf recipe in the Snowflake Book of Baking – I thought I could manage this and it didn’t have to be related to the festive season 🙂

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It really is easy to make… and delicious. I would suggest checking it after an hour as I left mine in a little bit too long, making the outside a bit crunchy while the inside still remained deliciously moist and chewy with all that fruit (probably also due to the large amount of butter in it… hee hee). This is a definite make again (even HIM approved)

Easy Fruit Loaf

200g Sugar
250ml milk
250g butter
310g mixed fruit cake mix
1 egg, beaten
350g cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Place sugar, milk, butter & fruit mix in a saucepan.
  • Bring to the boil, then simmer for 2-3minutes
  • Remove from heat and leave to cool
  • Add beaten egg to mixture
  • Sift in dry ingredients
  • Mix well
  • Pour into greased loaf tin
  • Bake at 160C for 60-70min

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Herby Scone Bread

We hosted some friends for a little brunch in our new place at the beginning of January… when our apartment was still not 100% fully renovated (missing doors on kitchen cabinets & appliances; an empty living area as the couch will only be delivered tomorrow; a toilet in one bathroom and no basin, a basin in one bathroom with no toilet; half painted door frames… etc etc…)

But the oven works …  as seen with the banana yoghurt loaf that I baked => so I decided to also try my hand at this herby scone bread recipe from the *Recipes from a Royal Kitchen* – a cookbook gift from my mommabear long time ago!

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The secret with any scone mixture is not to work it too much, otherwise you don’t get a good rise. And normally I make mini individual scones, so I was eager to try leaving it as “one whole bread”

The Result? It had a crumbly scone texture but very tasty … and would be taken to the next level with the addition of some strong cheese in the mixture! Would I make it again. Most Probably.

Herby Scone Bread

2 cups cake flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
pinch of bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon caster sugar
4 teaspoons dried herbs (or 1/4 cup of chopped fresh herbs)
50g butter (melted)
1/2 cup milk
1 beaten egg with 1 Tablespoon milk for glazing

  • Sift flour, baking powder, bicarb & salt
  • Add caster sugar, herbs & melted butter
  • Add milk & mix lightly to form a soft, sticky dough
  • Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth
  • press into a round shape approx. 3cm thick
  • Place on a greased baking tray and brush with egg/milk mixture
  • Mark into 8 wedges using a knife to cut lightly into the dough
  • Bake at 180C for 20min

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Banana Yoghurt Loaf

2016 was a crazy busy year (you can read our overview here) and 2017 has started off with a whole lot of *new-ness*… New apartment, newly fitted kitchen (still waiting for the scratched counter top to be replaced and the subway tiles to go up between the counters as a backsplash) and a new car!!

But obviously the most important in terms of this blog is the new kitchen… and a new oven (brand spanking new!!) which obviously needed to be tested. So we baked a Banana Yoghurt Loaf out of the *Recipes from the Royal Kitchen* cookbook by Heilie Pienaar (South African food stylist).

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Easy to make and probably ranks up there with the best of the banana bread loaves that I have ever made! And still moist and delicious on day 3 if it lasts that long!

Would I make it again? YES

Banana Yoghurt Loaf

2.5 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
80g butter (room temperature)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
1 cup plain yoghurt
3 large bananas, peeled & mashed

  • Sift flour, baking powder & salt
  • Rub in butter with fingertips to make a fine crumb
  • Beat eggs & sugar together
  • Add yoghurt to wet mixture
  • Add wet mixture to dry ingredients
  • Fold in mashed bananas until combined
  • Bake in a grease-proof lined loaf tin for 50min at 180C

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Why I loved 2016

My initial thought is “But I didn’t love 2016?!?” because there was so much sadness, stress and general unease over the course of the year. HIM’s brother passing away in December, the stress of purchasing property, having it renovated and then moving (while the renovations are still not completed), being sick for a good portion of the year and learning to adapt to a life with a little monkey around.

But in reality – life is good and I am SO blessed. We bought an apartment, had it renovated (the positive side is that it is almost done and it is what we liked/wanted) and moved in with the help of my mother who flew over from SA to help us. We got to watch Monkey embrace her first year (you can read about it on my mommy blog here) and I realized how much my life had changed and the new friends that we have been lucky enough to make. We travelled to Portugal & South Africa to introduce Monkey to her extended family. We were lucky enough to attend 2 beautiful weddings of people we love and cherish. We celebrated 3 years of marriage and I am so grateful to God for giving me the worlds most amazing husband (& father to our daughter).

And through it all – I still managed to publish 53 blog posts here on my food blog, start a Mommy blog called Monkey and Me Web where I published 31 tongue-in-cheek mommy-type blog posts.

A recap of 2016 showed me that these are my (and your) favourite food blog:

Top 5 recipe posts of 2016:

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  1. Crunchies (Oat Flapjacks)
  2. Rhubarb Cake with Dr Oetker
  3. oven baked Zucchini Fries
  4. Pumpkin Fritters
  5. Banana Upside down cinnamon cake

My Top 5 Finds in 2016:

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Your top 5 most read posts (since my blog started):

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  1. Flapjacks or Crumpets?
  2. Paul Hollywoods Traditional Scones
  3. My Granny’s chocolate-coconut Biscuit Recipe
  4. Pineapple fluff dessert
  5. Sugar Free Carrot & Apple Cake

And finally, my wish for 2017 is that you all embrace each & every day; tell those who you care about that you love them and find forgiveness in your heart (and soul) to avoid any ill feelings. May you endure the rain to appreciate the rainbow and more than anything – share good food!

xxx

Jules apricot and coconut squares

How is it the middle of December already? Things have been super crazy busy in our household… because we bought an apartment, got the keys mid November and have had builders renovating it from top to bottom since then. They are supposed to finish up today … but I don’t think the kitchen is installed yet (horror of horrors…) and we move in next week Thursday… plus a few blimps on our health levels in the last month, has left this poor blog a bit unloved.

But I am back with a recipe for apricot & coconut squares… using up some of my Dr Oetker goodie box items before we move apartments.

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While packing boxes and sorting through old paperwork, I found this recipe handwritten on a small piece of paper within a birthday card from my aunt Jules (something she must have written just before she passed away in 2014) saying that she thought that I would enjoy making it. I had obviously kept the birthday card and recipe with the good intention of making it – but never did and it must have gotten filed away and forgotten until now.

Christmas time has always been a special time to reflect on the year that has passed, remember the good things and try to put all the negative thoughts & memories into the forgiveness box. It is also a time to remember those that have passed away (either in the last year or in the years before), to shed a little tear, say a little prayer and make sure that they are not forgotten.

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So Jules… this one is for you… your hospitality and love for the finer things in life will never be forgotten. Your excessive generosity, love and bigger than life personality make us smile and we try to only remember you for the good years and forget the sad memories.

I added a sachet of Dr Oetker Vanilla sugar to the biscuit/cookie mix and it really added a little something extra! I also used up all the homemade apricot jam that I had made a month or so ago. This is a definite try-again & keep kind of recipe… and super easy

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Apricot and coconut Squares

Biscuit/cookie base:
180g butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon of Dr Oetker baking powder
1 sachet of Dr Oetker Vanilla sugar

1 jar of apricot jam (I used my own homemade version – as little or as much as you like)

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 egg

  • Cream together butter & sugar
  • Add egg and continue to mix
  • Then add flour, vanilla sugar & baking powder & knead together
  • Press into a shallow baking tray (1/4 inch thick)
  • Cover with the apricot jam
  • To make the topping, mix together all the ingredients & sprinkle on top of the jam
  • Bake at 190C for 25min

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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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