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!

white-mushroom-lasagne

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

white-mushroom-lasagne-2

Chicken and Mushroom Stroganoff Pasta

It has been a while since I really sat down to write-up a few recipes or even blog posts that were not associated with #BxlFF (Brussels Food Friends) or one of the monthly Secret Recipe Club reveals… and I have really missed it!

But I have a good excuse… as I have  just spent 2weeks holiday in Cape Town (South Africa) with my family … which means I have some lovely restaurant food posts still to share with you… (they are coming, I promise!!) PLUS we have some other exciting news to share with you soon….

But now I am back in Brussels, back at home and getting my butt back into the kitchen! And therefore I wanted to share this delicious and super easy dinner recipe with you! From fridge to table in 25minutes or less!!

I had a whole punnet of mushrooms in the fridge that were starting to look a little sad… as well as some leftover cooked chicken breast… so I google-boxed for inspiration and finally decided to make a stroganoff inspired dish (which I adapted from a recipe from Nigella)

stroganoff 3

Would I make it again? Definitely… quick, easy and super tasty (not to mention filling!)

stroganoff 2

Chicken & Mushroom Stroganoff Pasta

500g mushrooms (chopped)
140g tomato paste
2 Tablespoons butter
200ml cream
150g chicken (cooked & sliced/shredded)
150ml chicken stock
Pasta
Salt

  • I found that cooking the pasta took the same amount of time as making the sauce – so put your pot of salted water on to boil as you start the sauce.
  • Cook the pasta according the packet instructions
  • Melt butter in a frying pan
  • Add mushrooms and cook for 10minutes
  • Stir in the tomato paste & the chicken stock – bring to the boil and then simmer for 5minutes
  • Stir in the cream and the chicken pieces and simmer for a further 5minutes until the chicken is warmed through
  • Serve on the pasta (or rice/baked potato)

stroganoff 4

3 Cheese Tuna Pasta Bake

Throughout Lent – HIM and I both tried to stick to *Fish Fridays* (or meat-free Fridays)…and obviously Good Friday was no exception!

This means either abstaining from meat in totality (I.e. vegetarian meals) or eating a bit of fish.

In fact – I have memories of my childhood – of *Fish Fridays* happening every week, not just during Lent… and Mommabear stopping at “Mr Fish” (a Fish&Chip shop run by a Portuguese Family in Pinelands) to get a fish cake (for me), a piece of fish (for herself) and a packet of super-slap potato chips (frites). (For those who are not aware of the “slap chips” terminology – it means that the potatoes have been peeled, sliced, fried in oil and then are covered in salt (& vinegar if you like) and wrapped up in unprinted newsprint paper… and remain a “slap”/limp characteristic – probably because they continue to sweat in the newsprint paper on the way home… no hard crusted French frites here!)… BUT they are so good! (Especially as a hangover cure!)

Anyhoo – I digress….

Keeping our Friday low-key – I whipped up a tuna pasta bake but added in a whole lot of cheese – 3 types to be exact (Parmesan, Gruyère & Cheddar… all really strong flavours)

Tuna pasta bake 3

This recipe is simple but heartily filling! Perfect for a rainy day or just for a bit of comfort…

Tuna pasta bake 1

3 Cheese Tuna Pasta Bake

2 tins of tuna, drained (we used the tuna chunks in springwater)
240g of cheese (80g parmesan, 80g grated cheddar & 80g grated Gruyère)
400g dry pasta (we used the large macaroni type)
600ml milk
100g butter
2 Tablespoons of plain flour

  • Bring salted water to the boil – in order to cook the pasta (according to the packet instructions)
  • Melt butter in saucepan large enough to make the Béchamel sauce
  • Once butter has melted, stir in the flour to make roux and add a dash of milk to give it some liquid consistency.
  • Using a whisk add half of the milk to the roux and whisk until smooth
  • Leave over a low heat, whisking occasionally & adding dashes of milk when the mixture starts to thicken
  • Repeat whisking & adding milk until Béchamel sauce has the consistency of a custard & remove from heat
  • Once the pasta is cooked – remove from heat & drain (the cooking of the pasta & béchamel sauce should take the same amount of time – 10-20minutes)
  • Add the tuna to the Béchamel sauce
  • Layer the Pasta & tuna sauce in an oven proof dish
  • Top with cheese
  • Bake for 20-25minutes at 180C

tuna pasta bake 2

Tuna Pasta bake 4

Italian at No. 7 Restaurant

Located just around the corner from the Chatelain – a place that I had walked past on numerous occasions… but just hadn’t had the opportunity to try out yet….

sourced from their FB page
sourced from their FB page

So when Mr Draper suggested a pre-year end dinner with M, Geo & myself before we all headed off to different corners of the globe… he meant here =>  No. 7 restaurant

Arriving at 7.30pm – meant that the restaurant was pretty much empty… but by 9pm it was heaving with every spare seat/table taken (most of which seem to be through reservations). Having said this – the actual dining area is small(ish) probably seating about 40 odd diners.

Interior decor was on the minimal side – with a few different coloured lights… nothing great but I can’t really say it was in any way inviting or exciting.

As we were waiting for our 4th to arrive – we were approached by 3 of the waitrons on more than one occasion checking to see if we were 3 or 4 people… and trying to place orders before our 4th arrived started to become comical…. as they would say “yes yes” and then turn around & walk away. (I credit this to “lost in translation”)

We settled up on a Burrata starter to share (Burrata is fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella AND cream) – served with asparagus spears, tomato & pesto…. a delicious way to start the evening

7 1

For mains – M & I both ordered Spaghetti Pomodoro Basilico (Spaghetti with tomato sauce & basil) – simple but tasty…. with perfectly cooked pasta…

7 2

Mr Draper ordered the Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Aubergine gratin with tomato & cheese) – and was very happy about the temperature it was served at (piping hot) as well as the taste – so another winner.

7 4

Geo opted for the Papardelle Ragù Maison (House ragu/meat sauce made with 3 different meats – Lamb, beef & pork served with flat ribbon pasta)

7 3

With no alcohol consumed (yes – strange…. but true) – we did drink 4 demi-bottles of sparkling water, shared 1 starter & each had a main – it worked out to a total of 89euros (excluding a tip).

Would I return? Maybe. Food was very tasty, but in general terms – I would say that there wasn’t much of an ambiance & I wasn’t “blown away”. They don’t have a website (which is mind-blowing in this technological age) but they do have a facebook page.

Have you been? What was your experience?

No. 7

address: Rue Washington 7 – 1050 Ixelles, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 2 649 2935

Opening hours: Mon: 18h00-22h30; Tues-Sat: 12h00-14h30 & 18h00-22h30

Facebook page

Lemony Broccoli and Tuna Pasta

sometimes (and especially after holidays, weddings and honeymoons)…. you need to eat a little bit healthier… just sometimes

🙂

In reality, this is a combination of using a few basic ingredients to create something tasty and filling (while it is also light and healthy)… and for those who follow Weight Watchers (it is makes 4 portions of 12 Propoints each)…a definite make again kind of meal, especially since it is ready in 2tics (translation: 2tics = quickly :))

I found the recipe on the BBC Good Food Website as I did my search on *broccoli* – especially since HIM had done a shop recently and our fridge was groaning with vegetables and I truly needed some inspiration. I omitted the capers and olives as neither of these are my favourites – but feel free to throw them in if you like…

Lemony Broccoli & Tuna Pasta

broccoli tuna pasta final

350g dry pasta

250g Broccoli, cut into florets

198g tin of tuna

zest & juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon of olive oil

  • Boil pasta in salted water in a pot for about 5minutes
  • Add broccoli and continue to cook for another 5minutes (or until both are cooked and tender)
  • broccoli
  • Mix tuna, lemon juice, zest and olive oil together in a bowl
  • Drain pasta & broccoli and add to the bowl and toss
  • (add extra olive oil if required and season with black pepper)
  • broccoli tuna pasta

Spinach and bacon stuffed pasta shells

I love lazy Sunday’s… don’t you??

We normally go to 11h30 mass (which gives us a pretty good lie in)… and then have a lazy lunch followed by a movie (or a nap) – and this is what a lazy Sunday is all about for us! (Sometimes we even have Sunday night supper club which starts between 17h30/18h30… but this concept kinda died… BUT we are thinking about reinstating it! Especially now that we have longer days and a little spattering of sunshine)

So for this past Sunday – I used a recipe that I had found in the Olive Magazine (May 2013 issue)… and added my own twist…  in fact – 2 twists…

  1. I added bacon
  2. I used creamed spinach instead of making the spinach sauce from scratch

Conclusion – definitely a dish that I would make again. I would however increase the quantity of bacon & spinach as the pasta shells should (in my humble opinion) be stuffed FULL!

Spinach & Bacon stuffed pasta shells

spinach stuffed pasta shells final

200g pasta shells (about 20)

300g frozen pack of creamed spinach

100g bacon

2x 25g butter

1 onion – peeled and chopped (I used a red onion and it really worked well)

2 Tablespoons of flour

200ml milk

100g strong cheese, grated (they recommended using cheddar but we used what we had in the fridge)

spinach stuffed pasta shells ingredients

  • Cook pasta shells in salted boiling water until tender (but not too soft)
  • Drain and cool under running water to stop cooking
  • spinach stuffed pasta shells
  • heat 25g butter in a pan and add onion and cook softened
  • spinach stuffed pasta shells onion
  • Add bacon and continue to fry
  • spinach stuffed pasta shells bacon 2
  • Remove from heat and add the creamed spinach (that has been defrosted in microwave)
  • spinach stuffed pasta shells bacon spinach sauce
  • In a pot, melt the 25g of butter, then add the flour and cook for 2-3minutes
  • Gradually stir in the milk and whisk to remove lumps
  • Add 3/4 of the cheese and mix in to melt, remove from heat.
  • spinach stuffed pasta shells cheese sauce
  • Put the shells open-side up in a smallish dish
  • Spoon spinach/bacon mixture into the shells
  • spinach stuffed pasta shells stuffed
  • Pour over the cheese sauce
  • spinach stuffed pasta shells with sauce
  • Bake at 180C for 20-25minutes

NEW restaurant in Ixelles : Riccio Capriccio

YES people… a new restaurant (like we don’t have enough already… particularly in the Ixelles area… and not only that – but around the corner from Chatelain).

I hear you sigh… but don’t… wait… read what I have to say and then go and check them out!

HIM’s friends (and previous colleagues) have taken over the La Piola Pesce (not to be confused with the original La Piola restaurant just off the Chatelain square on Rue de Page!!) – Vito (extensive front of house skills) and Michele (Italian chef) are now offering you a delicious Italian relaxed (mainly seafood) offering in a conveniently located restaurant… Riccio Capriccio

riccio sign

that even has a little garden at the back!!!

riccio outdoors

HIM, Mr Draper and I just had to go and check it out (and offer our support)… and were lucky enough to get one of the aforementioned tables in the back garden…. directly under an umbrella …

while sipping our prosecco  (as you do :)) – we glanced at the stand up menu board (no paper wastage here)… while HIM did a bit of a translation for us (the menu was in Italian)….

riccio menu board

Essentially the concept works around 2 favourites – seafood and/or pasta! Both with exceptional quality ingredients…. and of course – the name – Riccio Capriccio which means *sea urchin* will also play a part in the menu!

We started off with a mixed plate of meat/Charcuterie (serves 2 people for 22€, but in reality was more than enough for the 3 of us) – and served with a basket of fresh bread. (I have to tell you that the slices of bread on top of the platter with a red paste…. it is a chilli paste and is DELICIOUS… especially topped with a lovely slice of meat… Mmmm). There were also artichoke pieces, mushrooms and sundried tomatoes in the centre mix.

riccio meat platter

next off – Mr Draper and I both went for the seafood plate (tuna, swordfish, pilchard, prawns and octopus for 24€) – which was delicious… especially the prawns… my only comment would have been that a little bit of starch would have been an added benefit (not required… but a nice to have :))

riccio fish platter

HIM ordered a aubergine pasta (13€) and I stole a piece which I can confirm was delicious!

riccio pasta

would we go back? Most definitely… and not only to support friends – but because the food was tasty (and very reasonably priced), the back garden was relaxed and sheltered and of course, it is close to home!

Riccio Capriccio

address: Rue Americaine 90, 1050, Ixelles, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 2 852 3969

website – in the making

Chevre and courgette Lasagna

I had all good intentions to make Nigella’s Pumpkin and Goats cheese lasagna from her Christmas cookbook… but as I stumbled around the local grocery store the night before the Murder Mystery Bookalokal dinner, trying to source all relevant ingredients… I could not find ANY pumpkin!!

PLAN B!

So I used the basis of the original recipe to “create” something similar but rather using courgettes instead of pumpkin… and you know what… it worked out perfectly (or it did at least in my opinion :))

As the theme of the Bookalokal Murder Mystery dinner was *Pasta, Passion and Pistols* – I popped down to my favourite South African wine shop, Paradisi (just outside of Ghent – only a 40minute drive from Brussels), the previous weekend to stock up some yummy wines to serve… namely and very appropriate for an Italian themed Murder dinner – the Goatfather Red wine, from the *Goats do Roam* portfolio created on the Fairview wine farm!

bookalokal fairview

Chevre and Courgette Lasagna

chevre and courgette lasagna ingredients

450g soft chevre (goats cheese)

500g ricotta

750ml Passatta

3 garlic cloves, crushed

5 courgettes

salt

herbs

olive oil

300g fresh lasagna sheets

2 balls of mozzarella

  • Mix the soft chevre with the ricotta in a clean bowl
  • chevre and courgette sauce
  • grate the courgettes, sprinkle with salt and leave to drain for at least 30-40minutes (I left to drain overnight while lightly covering the colander and bowl with a dish towel)
  • courgette quiche courgettes
  • To make the tomato sauce – place passatta, garlic cloves and olive oil in a pan and bring to a gentle boil, stirring regularly. Add herbs, salt and a teaspoon of sugar.
  • Using a clean dish towel – place the grated courgette inside and squeeze to remove any further liquid
  • Mix courgettes into cheese mixture
  • chevre and courgette mix
  • Layer lasagna sheet, courgette cheese mixture, lasagna sheet, courgette cheese mixture – until all has been used
  • chevre and corgette layers
  • Top with the Tomato sauce and layer the sliced Mozzarella on top
  • chevre and courgette final
  • Bake at 180C for 45-60minutes, and then stand for 15minutes to allow slicing and serving to be easier
  • chevre and courgette eaten

 

Ricotta and Parmesan Restaurant….

A while back – I visited the EAT! Brussels Festival hosted in Bois de la Cambre – which was truly one of the yummiest Autumn evenings that I had experienced in a long time.

The Portion of Prawn Risotto with Truffle sauce and Foie Gras at EAT! Brussels Festival

And of the fabulous treats that I managed to try out was a prawn risotto with foie grasfrom a restaurant called RICOTTA & PARMESAN … this will forever be the one item that I ate in 2012 that will stand out as the 10 out of 10 flavour explosion!

So when M mentioned that she wanted to check out their actual restaurant in Ixelles – I was bouncing up and down like a schoolgirl begging to be included.

Their interior is fun and quirky …

We had both had their risotto at the festival… and were determined to order Risotto á la chaire d’écrevisses, dés de foie gras parfumés aux truffes (20.90euros) again (it is now marked as a *new* item on their menu), but when placing the order with the waiter he looked confused and said he would have to check with the chef – after a few moments, he returned nodding enthusiastically … we were wrapped up in a bubble of excitement, until it arrived – after the above mentioned picture from the festival… I was a little disappointed with the presentation (risotto isn’t glamorous in presentation in normal circumstances – but this looked like slop) and I was 110% convinced that the piece of pate on the plate was NOT foie gras (without being a snob – I adore Foie Gras and yes, I know how it is made…but the creaminess and silky smooth taste is something that I indulge in when I can) and this… was not it… I felt somewhat cheated.

Having said all that – I must confess that the risotto was full of deliciously well cooked prawns and I enjoyed every mouthful (without making use of the foie gras combination)

the other plate that we shared – using their signature concept was choosing a pasta and then choosing a sauce. M selected the Truffe Noir & copeaux de parmesan (5.80Euros) with Tagliatelle verde (10,90Euros) and it was served on an enormous plate with a lot more flair.

Portion sizes were generous and barring the foie gras situation – everything tasted brilliant.

We finished off the evening with an Assiette gourmande < Dolce Vita > (8.90Euros) and decaf coffees – and these included 5 tasting portions (Chocolate mousse, tiramisu, nougat cream, pannacotta and some berries in a liqueur).

Would I go back? Undecided… as there are so many other choices available for a bowl of pasta and we all know that because of HIM – I am somewhat biased about La Piola in Chatelain. I felt a bit cheated with the risotto and really would have preferred if the staff had just said that they didn’t have Foie Gras and served us the Risotto without it…

Ricotta & Parmesan

Address: 4 rue Saint Boniface, Ixelles 1050, Brussels BELGIUM

Telephone: +32 2 502 0008

email: info@ricottaparmesan.com

www.ricottaparmesan.com

Opening hours: Thursday to Saturday: 12h00-14h30 & 18h30-23h30

Lentil Ragu

I can’t believe it… My vegetarian repertoire has always been limited – but now it seems that these are the recipes that I see and think “ooh -yes, I wanna try that!” – so my little category of Vegetarian offerings is growing!

Secondly – I never thought that I would be a fan of lentils… as I always thought that they looked like ticks (as already mentioned here)… but this food item is now becoming a fast and firm favourite in my little kitchen!

While doing a bit of google searching for recipes using Celery (because we all know that I like to cook based on what is in my fridge :)).. I stumbled across a Lentil Ragu recipe on the BBC Good Food Website – which I adapted slightly 🙂

Wikipedia describes Ragú as an Italian meat-based sauce (influenced by the French) which is normally served with pasta – and one of the most well-known ragú’s would be the bolognese sauce! Characteristically, a ragú is a sauce of braised or stewed meat that maybe flavoured with tomato.

Mine, however, did not have any meat or meat related items…. and this is a great recipe for a family… superhealthy and feeds 6people comfortably! Plus you can freeze the sauce for up to 3months!

Lentil Ragú

3 Tablespoons Olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

3 carrots, finely chopped

3 celery sticks finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

500g bag dried red lentils (I used the green ones)

750ml Passatta

2 Tablespoons tomato puree

2 teaspoons dried oregano & thyme

1l vegetable stock

500g spaghetti (plus parmesan to serve)

  1. Heat the oil in large pan and add onions, carrots, celery and garlic
  2. carrots and celery finely chopped and about to crush the garlic
  3. Cook gently for 15-20minutes until softened
  4. Stir in lentils, passatta, tomato puree, herbs and stock
  5. Bring to a simmer and cook for 40-50minutes until lentils are tender and saucy (add water if needed and season)
  6. If eating straight away – keep on a low heat while you cook the spaghetti (I used macaroni pasta)….

    What I would call a *homely* looking plate of food 🙂