BRAND NEW RECIPES

Let’s Make Every Day Delicious

Soups & Salads

White Asparagus Soup

Sunday morning walk in the woods, life cannot start any better on a fresh, blue sky spring sunny day. Only a short drive away from home, resides one of our favourite family locations for a tranquil walk in nature – the Lemmens music academy in Leuven. Parking the car in front of the building we would frequently hear classical music being played, but as tempting the performance might be we rarely stop to listen and instead hurry away, zig-zaging behind the building deep into the woods, seeking seclusion beneath the majestic century old trees.

The wood is always offering its abundance of life, wether it would be the first spring bird singing or the joyful squirrels jumping close to our side we partake gladly in its magic and take small tokens of gifts back home – a handful apples, chestnuts, flowers… This trip has not been any different. The fruit trees are not quite yet full of blossom but the aromatic sweet viollets have casted their delicate perfume all over the place. Taking a handful I know exactly how to enjoy them during our family lunch.

The sweet violettes are among the edible flowers and are often garnishing sophisticated meals. Today, they are gracing our table as finishing touch on a delicious German white asparagus soup. Smooth, buttery and creamy, this soup’s delicate flavour could be a start of a special family meal and is often associated with traditional Easter Sunday lunch in Belgium.

Ingredients

  • 1 bundle fresh white asparagus
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 1 chicken bullion cube (Knorr)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Sweet edible violletes
  • Radish sprouts

Method

1. Bring 12 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot over high heat. Meanwhile, trim about 12” from the ends of the asparagus. Lay spears on a work surface, then peel thin skin from each with a sharp swivel-blade vegetable peeler, starting 1 12” from the top and running the length of the spear. (Spears are brittle and can snap when peeled in midair.) Reserve peels. Gather spears into 2 bundles and tie loosely with kitchen string.

2. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Add the reserved peels, sugar, 2 generous pinches of salt, 3 tbsp. of the butter, and 1 tsp of the vinegar. Return to a simmer, then add asparagus and cook until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 8-30 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus. Remove asparagus from pot and drain on paper towels, then set aside. Increase heat to medium-high and reduce stock by one-third, about 30 minutes. Strain stock and keep hot over low heat.

3. Melt the remaining 3 tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes. Do not allow flour to brown (it will color soup). Whisk in hot asparagus stock 1 cup at a time and continue whisking until smooth. Simmer soup, stirring often, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Add cream and continue simmering for 2 minutes more. Season to taste with salt, pepper and chicken bullion cube if you like.

4. Untie asparagus bundles, then cut spears into 1” lengths and add to soup. Simmer for 1 minute more. Adjust seasonings. Ladle soup into warmed bowls and garnish with sweet edible viollets and radish sprouts, if you like.

Mains

Baked Pangasius Fish

Have you ever dreamed of having a selection of a few delicious recipes, ready to be cooked in absolutely no time for an unsophisticated family party?

This recipe is just the kind!

Fresh fish fillet baked in a matter of a minutes to a golden perfection. Sounds simple enough… yet with a twist, elevating this dish from something humble to deliciously divine.

The magic resides in all round combination of flavious: soft fish fillet covered in a aromatic crispy crust of breadcrumbs, lemon zest, parsley and parmesan served with light cream fraiche sauce and mellow potato mash. A delicious perfection… already looking forward for cooking it for a second time.

{Recipe adapted based on the original in Mary Berry’s Everyday cookbook}

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh pagasius fish fillets
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon (grated rind + 1 tbsp)
  • 40g butter
  • 60g dry panko white breadcrumbs
  • 40g fresh, coarsely grated parmesan
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • 250g creme fraiche
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp caster sugar

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven 200C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2. Season the sea pegasius fillets well on both sides with salt and pepper.

3. Melt the butter in a shallow frying pan. Remove from the heat, add the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and half the parsley. Toss and set aside.

4. Place half the breadcrumb mixture in four rows on the prepared tray. Place the fillets on top and press firmly into the crumbs. Top each fillet with the remaining crumbs and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 12–15 minutes until cooked through.

5. To make the sauce, mix the crème fraiche, mayonnaise, remaining parsley, sugar, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Serve the fish with a dollop of sauce and mashed potatoes.

Mains

Million Dollar Spaghetti

It is the depth of winter and the days are shaded, casting colours of dark. White, blue and grey during the day and star gazed purple and sapphire blue during the night. The chill is gripping and while there is joy in taking a deep air-crisp fresh breath and listening to a solitary bird song singing the spring to come during the early morning hours we still hurry to get in doors, set the fire roaring and steep a honey sweetened cup of tea, rather then venturing for long hours in the outside.

Deep winter days, call for deep flavour winter dishes. The kind that warm the heart inside out, the kind that cast mouth watering aromas like a blanket, the kind that build the inner walls of our resilience with richness and sustenance.

This Million Dollar Spaghetti recipe is just the kind. Cheesy Carbonara like spaghetti base, layered with Bolognese sauce and topped with melting mozzarella cheese to perfection. A dish that will set your senses reeling, sampling spoonful after spoonful, endless times.

{The original recipe is from the Half Baked Harvest food blog by Tieghan Gerard.}

Ingredients

  • 1 package of spaghetti
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk cottage cheese
  • 1 package cream cheese, softened
  • 500g minced meat
  • 3 cups tomato sauce, homemade or store-bought (in this recipe – 1 Bertolli jar)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup gratin cheese
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
  • salt

 

Method

1. Start by boiling water in a deep pot. Once the water is slightly simmering add the spaghetti broken into pieces. Add a few drops of basil flavoured olive oil and some salt. Leave the spaghetti to boil until soft.

2. In the meantime, prepare the sauce Bolognese: heat a table spoon of olive oil in a deep pot over a medium heat. Add the minced meat and let it baked until the meat has changed its colour from pink to dark brown. Season with salt and black pepper. Add the tomato sauce and let it simmer for additional 5 minutes until all flavours are well infused.

3. Once the spaghetti have boiled, drain the water and poor the spaghetti in a deep oven pan on a low heat. Add three table spoons of butter and mix well. In the meantime whisk together the four eggs and mix well with the grated Parmesan cheese and the chopped parsley. Add the egg mixture to the spaghetti and mix well. Add the cottage cheese and the cream cheese and mix until well combined. Let the spaghetti simmer for a few minutes until the sauce ha thickened a bit. Season with black pepper and salt if needed.

4. Level the spaghetti mixture and poor over the sauce Bolognese spreading it evenly. Arrange on top with gratin cheese and pieces thinly cut mozzarella. Set the dish in a preheated oven to 225C and let the cheese melt, forming a light brown colour (approximately 20-30 minutes). Take out of the oven and spread freshly cut parsley on top before serving.

Desserts

Chocolate Cake

It is New Year and my birthday all in one and in a good old tradition we celebrate with a festive home made cake to mark this exceptional occasion. And what a festive cake this one turns out to be – a truly decadent, flavour rich orange chocolate cake to make all the senses feel special, deserving and desired. The recipe calls for a lot of plain chocolate, but I like to diversify by adding additional flavour dimensions to my creations. In this instance for example, I am adding a orange intense Lindt dark chocolate to the cake sponge instead of plain dark chocolate, making the faint orange aroma coming through in a very pleasant, subtle way.

But the desire for decadence does not stop there. The entire chocolate cake is covered in the luscious chocolate mousse, the final decorations of which are further intensified with a rum essence flavour. And if this would not be enough, the cake is decorated with mini Lindt chocolate bombones – very, very deliciously chocolatey indeed. I take one bite and all my wishes have come true!

Ingredients

For the Cake
  • 225g margarine or unsalted butter (softened)
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs (beaten)
  • 16g Vanilla Sugar Dr. Oetker (2 small packages)
  • 200g self-raising flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tbs caster sugar
  • 30g cocoa
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 100g Lindt Intense Orange Dark Chocolate (melted)
  • Few mini Lindt Chocolate Bombones (for decoration)
For the Chocolate Mousse
  • 200g good quality milk chocolate (I have used Cote d’Or)
  • 200g good quality dark chocolate (I have used Cote d’Or)
  • 400g cream
  • 3 egg yolkes
  • 3 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 3-4 droplets of rum essence

 

Method

For the cake:

1. In a large bowl mix together the softened butter, the vanilla sugar essence and the custer suger for several minites until the mixture become pale and light. While continuing whisking add the eggs one at a time. In another bowl mix together the flour, the cocoa powder, the baking powder and soda. Start gradually adding (in three times) the dry ingredients to the soft mixture and whisk until well incorporated.

2. Over a pot with a simmering water, place another pot and melt the chocolate by breaking it into pieces and mixing with the two spoons of milk. Once the chocolate has melted add to the cake mixture and mix well.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 175C. Lay two cake forms with baking paper and spread the cake mixture in the two forms evenly. Bake for 30 minutes, check if ready and take out of the oven. Let the cakes rest for two minutes then run a knife over the edge of the cake making sure it could be released by the form easily. Take the cakes out of the forms and let them cool completely.

For the chocolate mousse:

4. Cut the chocolate into tiny pieces and place in a large bowl. Heat the cream until it starts to simmer and then pour over the cut chocolate. Let is rest for 2 minutes allowing the chocolate to melt then mix everything together until all the chocolate has melted. Let is rest for a while.

5. In the mean time, separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Over a pot with simmering water, place another pot and whisk the egg yolks until they become pale and thick. Make sure that the water underneath is not touching the bottom of the upper pot that the water is just simmering lightly. If the temperature is too high there is a risk that the eggs might turn into an omelet. Mix the egg mixture together with the chocolate cream mixture until well combined.

6. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm peaks start to form. Gradually, in three times, add the beaten egg whites to the mousse, folding gently until well combined. Place the mousse in the fridge for 40 min to 1  hour until it becomes sufficiently thick to start assembling the cake.

To assemble the cake:

7. Cut the two cakes in the middle and place all four cake disk on the table top. Take the chocolate mousse out of hte fridge and mix it well together feeling how thick the mousse has set. If still runny, place it back in the fridge and wait for an additional half an hour. If thick and glossy it means that it is ready to assemble the cake.

8. In serving dish or a plate, place one of the four cake sponge disks. With a spatula knife cover the cake top with chocolate mousse. Place the second cake disk and repeat placing a layer of chocolate mouse over a layer of cake. Once done, cover the whole cake with the remaining mouse.

9. Preparing for the final cake decoration, add a few droplets of rum essence to the remaining chocolate mousse for extra flavour. Place a star tip in a piping bag and spoon in the chocolate mousse. Start by decorating the chocolate cake bottom edge either by making chocolate pearls, or any decoration you may desire. On a smooth cake top pipe chocolate rosettes. Place mini Lindt Chocolate bombones on each rosette for an added flair.

10. Place the chocolate cake in the fridge overnight to set completely the chocolate mousse. Leave it out of the fridge for at least half an hour before serving so the chocolate mouse softens a little. If refrigerated the cake would keep up for a week.

Breakfast

Bulgarian Burek

The famouse Lebanese author Gibran Khalil Gibran used to say that the orient begins where the toillets smell and people drink boza. Now hundred years later, we are no longer talking of the orient as such little more does any one mention this wonderous drink that could be sampled only in Bulgaria and Turkey called boza. For me however, boza goes well together only with one thing – bulgarian banitza or burek. This lovely multi-layered pastry affair has so many flavour variations and could be enjoyed warm or called anytime of the day. Only the west balkan countries and Turkey really know how to roll their sleeves and make this wonderouse delight that taste nowhere better than home. And home is where I grew up whatching how my mother wowed every special guest by throwing this thin dough pastry to stretch over her head over and over again until seethrough thin cheets were ready to fold into a delicious burek.

I have learned a lot ever since. I have tried tested french culinary techniques shapping marvelous creations with ease, yet still throwing the thin burek sheets to stretch over my head remains an unachievable mystery. Luckily there are other means to achieving the same goal and my carefully descriped simple steps below may guide you in preparing your own home made burek with ease.

Biting into a layer of crispy top sheets sinking into a more mellow dough rich with butter and feta cheese will make you wish to savour every cruble, reaching out for more. Dreaming about the orient into your own kitchen does not get (taste) any better then that.

 

Ingredients

  • 300ml lukewarm water
  • 1tbsp oil
  • 1tsp vinegar
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 500g flour (sifted)
  • 100g butter (or margarine)
  • 1oog feta cheese
  • 1-2 cups of virgin olive oil

 

Method

1. In a large bowl or jar mix together the lukewarm water, the table spoon of oil and the tea spoon of vinegar.

2. Sift the flour in a very large bowl and add one table spoon of salt. Make a well in the center and gradually start pouring inside the water, oil and vinegar liquid with one hand, while mixing the flour and the liquid with the other. Once all the liquid has been poured over the flour, mix together until the softened mixture starts to stick together. Continue mixing trying to absorb as much as possible from the flour. When you notice that the flour is not getting absorbed anymore flip the dough mixture and the remaing flour on to a clean surface (kitchen top or table). Use the remaining flour to stlighly cover the serface and start kneating the dough for approximately 15 to 20 minutes until the it becomes not sticky any more, firm and smooth. Cut the dough in 5 pieces and round each one into a small ball. Lightly grease the serface of a kitchen table with oil and put on top of it one of the balls. With your hand flatten the ball into a disk and pour more oil on top of it so it does’t dry out. Repeat the same with the remaining balls placing them as disks slightly overlapping one another generously greased with oil in-between. Let them rest for 30 minutes.

3. Pour oil on the top of a kitchen table and smear it together covering the entire surface. Grease the base of an oven baking tray and place it (on a chair) close by the oiled table top. Soften the butter and mix together with a crubled feta cheese placing them in a bowl ready to be used in a moment. Take one of the disks, place it in the center of the table and pour more oil on top of it. Oil a wooden rolling pin and carefully try to roll the disk out stretching as thinly as possible. Once you notice that with the rolling pin the dough could not be stretched any more, place the wooden rolling pin aside and starting from one side of the disk start to lift the dough allowing air to go underneath and stretch further as much as possible. Repeat severall times from all sides of the disk until the dough becomes seethrough thin. Sprinkle small bits of mixed butter and feta in the central part of the strentched dough disk. Fold the four sides into an envelop wrapping the feta and butter pieces inside. Place the dough envelop on the pre-oiled baking tray.

4. Oil the table top once more and place the second dough disk in the centre. Repeate the same process up to the moment the dough has become fully stretched then take the envelop dough from the tray and place it in the center of the stretched disk. Sprinkle feta and butter mixture over the disk and wrap the second stretched disk in an envelop shape again with the first envelop inside. Repeat this process until all disks have been stretched and wrapped into one large multi-layer envelop. With the smooth side up (envelop shape down) place the ready burek on the baking tray.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Place the burek inside and let it bake for aproximately one hour until golden brown. Take out of the oven and let it rest for 10 min until slightly cool. Cut into squares and serve cold or warm. Delicious for breakefast served with natural yogurt mixed with a spoon of honey.

Mains

Asian Teriyaki Pork

We love Asian food at home. Easy and quick to prepare and not to mention deliciously light and exceptionally healthy. It is often gracing our family table for various meals. From completely vegan variaties to options of cooking with fish and meat. No surprise when this Christmas season I have found not one, not two but three Asian Cookbooks waiting for me under the Christmas tree.

But before I dedicate full attention to studing the fine features of the various Asian cuisines (what makes the Chines, Japanies, Thai and Vietnamese kitchens so different and which are each country’s most typical dishes?) we enjoy this tasty meal by cooking vegies and pork with ready bought teriyake sauce – delicious!

 

Ingredients

  • 2 Pork Cutlets
  • 1tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 1 chilli
  • 1 red paprika
  • 1tbsp of sesame seeds
  • fresh coriander leaves
  • Ready made Teriyaki sause
  • 2 coffee cups brown rice (boild)
  • pintch of salt
  • ground black pepper

 

Method

1. Start by boiling the brown rice. In a deep microwave oven-prove plastic dish add two coffee cups of rice and four coffee cups of water. Place in the microwave oven initially for three minutes on 750W, then reduce to 350W and let it boil for additional 15 minutes. Brown rice take longer to boil comapred to white rice so check several time to make sure it is ready then set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Chop the chilli into tiny slices and add to the pan. Fry for a few minutes until softened. Chop the red paprika into small piecies and add to the chilly. Mix togther and fry for 3 minutes then take out of the pan placing them on a separate plate.

3. Chop the pork cutlets into small square cubes and place in the pan, stir frying for severall minutes on high heat. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Once the meat starts to slighly brown add the already fried chilli and red paprika and pour over the teriyaki sauce. Stir fry for several minutes until all flavours are well mixed together. To finish sprincle on top sesame seeds and freshly chopped coriander.

4. Serve with rice or noodles, according to preferences.