And so the healthy lifestyle continues

After having the Hello fresh experience for more than a half year, my wife suggested it was maybe time to try something different…something even healthier. Is that even possible was the first thing that popped in my mind?? I mean is that possible without actually going on a diet…which is something I refuse to do as first of all I like the way I am and secondly when you stop with a ‘diet’ you gain more weight then you actually lost in the first place… My wife thought Pascale Naessens‘ way of living or cooking seemed like a perfect candidate. I have to admit that I initially was a bit skeptic about it, as I wasn’t really keen on preparing dishes/recipes from somebody who is not a real cook… in my head (without at that time having seen an actual recipe) Pascale Naessens‘ food was the equivalent of the recipes of a dietitian that for me stands/stood for flavorless boring food… so basically food that doesn’t really put a smile on my face 🙂 . To satisfy my wife I just took a few recipes from the Pascale Naessens website (that are available in English, Dutch and French) with the idea that this way she would notice that the fuzz around those books and food is just a ‘hype’ and the books nothing more than beautiful pictures bundled in a book… To make a long story short, in reality I didn’t end up showing  my wife, but rather myself the recipes were much better then skeptic me initially wanted to acknowledge 🙂 After trying those 4 ‘trial recipes’ I ended up buying 5 of her books 🙂 🙂 To start marking the recipes that seemed  like something we would want to eat, put them in a spreadsheet and make a week menu by making a selection from the list until we tried all of selected recipes (without repeating the recipes until we prepared every recipe).

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Pascale Naessens

So far 90% of the recipes were able to convince me… ok ok I’ll admit they were just good… About the remaining 10% we didn’t like, it is just 10% and it for sure is just a matter of taste. The lentil soup with turmeric would be an example of those 10%. A few examples of the 90% would be the Fluffy blueberry cake, Cod with mustard-soy sauce and tomatoes, stuffed Turkish peppers, casserole with tomato, eggplant, zucchini and mozzarella, etc… Just to name a few.

Blueberry cake

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Pascale Naessens‘ philosophy is simple, you basically have to leave bread and modified carbohydrates out of you plate when eating. This basically means that instead of having the traditional meat/fish, vegetables and potatoes/rice/pasta in 1 plate, you eat meat/fish with vegetables or vegetables with pasta, rice, potatoes, quinoa, etc… Also use oils like olive oil or sesame seed oil, coconut oil or omega-3 fats. Me, I stick to using Pascale Naessens recipes for dinner and desserts (without flour), but if you would want (like my wife) you could also use her breakfast and lunch recipes… but I love bread and I sometimes need my traditional food (I love eating tooooo much). Which by the way is also something Pascale emphasizes in her books and in interviews, that it is no problem to sometimes have something different… if it is occasionally … ok, with me it is maybe a bit more than occasionally, but not much more!! I do try to stick to the “Pascale” way of eating when I’m at home (that’s why I go out so much to eat 🙂 🙂 no no, just kidding).

Quote Pascale

What I also like about her recipes is that they are simple and easy to make (which leans against my life motto about food:  simple food is best), but very tasty and that is what it is all about, right?! If I would indeed lose some weight because of these books, it is a bonus but definitely not the main reason to follow this way of eating!! I see it more as expanding my horizon in the search for good food and recipes.

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So far I followed the recipes how they are written down and they are all well explained… the only thing that does drive me crazy about some recipes is the use of  words like‘some’ or ‘a bit of’. I have experience with cooking and usually have the instinct/ feeling how much she means, but I’m very sure that for people who are not  used  to cook or don’t have a culinary background this could ‘ruin’ their dish and therefore not having the  dish how it is supposed to… but it just would be easier if it would say 10g of … ok I know I’m nitpicking 🙂 luckily it is only in just a few recipes. My idea for when I tried all the recipes we had chosen is when preparing them a second time maybe modify the recipes a bit, not by adding things, but rather by for example instead of using the fish from the recipe, use a different kind of fish, or meat, etc…you could see it as “re-inventing” Pascale’s dishes to surprise yourself and your dinner guests and avoiding eating the exact same thing more than once 🙂

People who know me, know that for me to make a step like using these recipes must mean that I’m really convinced of it… if I wouldn’t have been the line would have been drawn after the 4 trial recipes…

I would say, try and see if she convinces you like she convinced me and thousands (maybe millions) of people around the globe! Enjoy

Pictures Copyright © 2014-2016 Pascale Naessens

Copa Jerez

Everybody knows the prestigious culinary competition ‘Bocuse d’Or’, where countries from all over the world send their best team to represent their country with pride. A competition as prestigious you might not have heard from as much is the ‘Copa Jerez ‘. The ‘Copa Jerez’ is more or less the same principal with the exception that in this case a team consists of a sommelier and chef that have to create a 3 course meal  paired with Sherry wine. BTW for those of you who don’t know sherry there are many typs of Sherry  Dry sherry’s  (Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso o Palo Cortado), sweet sherry’s  (Moscatel o Pedro Ximénez)  and semi-sweet (Cream, Medium y Pale Cream).  You can read more about it on one of my blogposts 😉 (The  blogpost).  I fully support this contest!! First of all because ever-since my visit to Jerez or better to the Bodega of Tio pepe I became an enormous fan/lover of Sherry wines. Secondly the team representing Belgium this year are very dear to me 🙂 . Starting with the (TOP) Sommelier representing the Belgian colours this year is no-one less than Comme Chez Soi’s Cesar Roman (who originates from Spain). Cesar will be assisted by a chef who always puts a smile on my face when he serves me his food,  Nico Corbesier (Les Eleveurs).  A young dynamic team with a winners attitude that don’t take satisfaction with a second place 🙂

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I even support them sooo much that I (together with a few sommeliers and chefs) went to help/advice them on the dishes and their accompanying sherry’s. Before our commends and advice it was pretty clear this year’s team is a winning team, so you can imagine how it is after the advice 🙂 🙂 On the picture below you see a small assortment of the big assortment we (had –  and what a sacrifice it was) to try to help our friends for the competition… talking about friendship 😉

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I did take pictures of the dishes they will be serving, but I think it is better not to share them… that would only give the competitors the change to steal ideas. What I can say is that the dishes are a good mix of Spanish and Belgian influences and products they are proud of…

Join me and support the Belgian team by liking their facebook page!! I will keep you posted on how they did, but every facebook like will give them an extra reason to win.

Where good food leads me

I know the contrast couldn’t be bigger, a few days ago I was writing about a family diner and now I’’m talking about being dressed in a tuxedo and eating at one best restaurants in Belgium aka Sea Grill (2*)… but I just go where the good food leads me 🙂 or in this case where the Belgian top sommeliers lead me ;-). Like every year this year it was time again to nominate this year Best Belgian Sommelier and for a few years now is held at the Royal Radisson Blue hotel where Yves Mattagne’s Sea Grill is located. So why go somewhere else if you have the best you can have under the same roof. To read more about the game itself and Antoine Lebehel’s victory please check my previous blogpost .

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As some of you might already know at the age of 12 I started doing chef school, so seeing young upcoming talents from the chef school PIVA helping Yves Mattagne to prepare this year’s Gala dinner another success makes me nostalgic. Not that I ever worked in restaurants of this level. I mean the fact that great chefs like in this case Yves Mattagne (The piva students also often work at banquets of the Royal Family,etc…) ask PIVA to have their students help them says something about the level of school aims for their students. I wanted to mention PIVA because a good education and good guidance is very important and will lead to successful career or at least give the students the possibilities to achieve it (I didn’t always realize that when I was still in school). If you can already learn at this level while in school, I’m sure once they actually start working the sky is the limit?! And no, they didn’t only get the “shitty” jobs, they were a helping hand at all levels, from doing the ‘mise en place’, preparing plates to cleaning and doing dishes like all the other cooks working there. (FYI in the picture bellow people in white are from PIVA , people in Black from Sea grill itself). The same goes for the waiters, they were also assisted by students from PIVA. WELL DONE both the students as Lucas Delforge  (and the other teachers/chefs) of PIVA !!

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It wasn’t the first time I was fortunate enough to join one of the banquets at the Sea Grill and yet Yves Mattagne is always able to surprise me with both the menu as the actual pieces of flavored art we are served. The Trophy of Belgian Sommelier is just the perfect excuse for me to get to the Sea Grill again :-). This year’s menu was yet another gastronomical feast paired with some very nice wines (being the Gala from the Belgian Sommeliers I didn’t expect otherwise).

After a few very nice glasses of J.L Telmont champagne and some appetizers (didn’t have empty hands, so couldn’t take pictures :-() my appetite was bigger than ever… feast your eyes on the menu we got served (scroll over picture to see what it was). FYI in one of my next posts I’ll be talking in more detail about J.L Telmont champagne.

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Terres Blondes

This dish was served with a white wine made by a Belgian winemaker (former IT consultant like me 🙂 ) in Burgundy (France). It was a 2011 Terre Blonde by Domaine de la Douaix nice round wine and soon an addition to my collection ;-).  The dish itself was very nice although initially I wasn’t sure about the black pudding, but the combo worked great and the dish went well with the wine.

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Telmont Centenaire

We are very lucky people as with the grilled marrow we were served a unique champagne that was opened specially for this occasion (Normally they don’t open them easily), a Cuvée du Centenaire by J.L Telmont. What makes this wine so special is that it is a blend from wine from 1967 until 2005. The first smell made me think it would be a very heavy taste champagne, but after the first sip it was more fruity than imagined. Once it opened up it was like an angel p…. in your mouth 🙂 Nice!

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Served with a 2010 Spanish 5 Fincas 2010 Reserva by Perelada. Its smell was familiar, but couldn’t exactly tell what it reminded me. Meat cooked with perfection and served with my favorite kind of mushrooms (porcini)… so for me they couldn’t go wrong.

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Served with a 2007 Portuguese wine made 100% with  Touriga Nacional grapes by Quinta de lemos. Just the way I like my wines although I think the wine they served with the next dish would have also worked really well with this dish… but maybe that’s just because it is one of my favorite drinks :-). The dish itself maybe seemed a bit heavy for already being almost at the end, but I’m not a difficult person 😉

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Served with one of my favorites  aka a 1847 Gonzales-Byass Solera

I do also enjoy that every year BRU seems to find the perfect way to stimulate people to drink more water  by having it served by very nice young ladies (I know I’m becoming a dad, but I’m not blind either 🙂 ) So I actually have to thank them for being an added value for helping me to get home safe.

A very nice meal! They serve the food the way I like it, the  “simple” way , I mean not too many ingredients that make you loose the focus on what you are actually eating. This doesn’t mean the food wasn’t served and prepared in a very refined way of course!!  The only thing I wasn’t too crazy about were the coffee ice-cubes that came with the dessert… but that’s a personal taste. Besides that I enjoyed my whole meal and the great company I had during this meal!! I can’t wait for next year’s gala. Yves Mattagne’s team together with the students from PIVA chef school made this year’s gala another success!!

Cheers

The way the cookie crumbles: Ingrid Neven

I hope you guys already had the chance to read some of my new blog items where I ask chefs 10 question. The previous 2 chefs I question were Syrco Bakker and Giovani Oosters. This time the I asked the questions is one that just couldn’t miss on my list.  In the 14 years I eat her dishes not once I have been disappointed!! (and trust me I’ve tasted quite a few in all those years) On top of that she’s a great chick 🙂 She no one else than Chef Ingrid Neven from my all-time favorite restaurant Pazzo!

Ingrid Neven

1. What is your favorite local product(s) to work with? And in which way should it be prepared?

Especially the things the seasons produce time after time, in autumn(my fav season) the wild forest mushrooms, the Polder hare (TOP!). Brussels sprouts, Belgian endive, …. In summertime all the njammy local fruits like strawberries, raspberries and in spring asparagus. In our kitchen we just love to mix all those things to get surprising results like mixing them with products from Italian and Japanese  cuisine.  Although the best way to prepare them is the most natural as possible!

BTW, we have a friend (no name) who searches for wild “rucola” or eatable mushrooms in roadsides, forests and fields (snappy and local).

2. Is it important for you to use local products?

Yes, but only if it are products of high quality… I mean if a product from down the street has a bad or poor quality, I prefer getting a product from high quality even if it has to come from somewhere else. Also because of our Italian and Japanese influenced dishes some ingredients can’t be found locally 🙂

3. An ingredient you couldn’t miss in your kitchen?

Spices, first of all salt & pepper, preferably sea salt, but also spices like ras- el- hanout,  wasabi, fresh herbs in general, they always give a different dimension to a dish.

4. When did you get the passion for cooking?

From my mom, I’m a real farmer’s daughter. My mom always made her own ice-cream from fresh milk from our own cows (nothing beats that!!). She was also butcher and for a long time we butchered and prepared our own animals… so I basically always had great and fresh food already from a young age.

5. Who is your big example in the gastronomical world?

I’m a huge fan of Nobu Matsuhisa, I have all his books and already ate at his original restaurant in LA, amazing Japanese cuisine with little twist.

6. Where do you get your inspiration for making new dishes and combinations?

Going out to eat, cookbooks, but also by just walking around in food stores, open air markets or supermarkets (mostly sun wah an Asian store in Belgium).

7. What has been the most culinary experience? (The restaurant was already on my list, but now I got even more curious)

My last culinary highlight was last year in NYC at the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, a very unique dining experience, nice pure flavors with Japanese influences. No nonsense!

8. For which dish would you make a big sacrifice to be able to eat it?

Well, if I would ever be in dead row, you never know, my last wish would be a last supper at Nobu LA!! (My ultimate dream would of course be Japan)

9. What is your most wonderful memory of chef school?

Without any doubt the practical classes by Mrs. Vanderstraeten, a small a small delicate woman who knew how to give gas, not your average teacher, but a real worker!! Every time it felt like it was the real thing, I learned a lot from her!

10. A culinary experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant?

There are so many, but a piece of advice I’d like to give is that no matter at what level you eat, ENJOY it and go somewhere without expectations… only then you’ll have a total experience of a restaurant! Usually it is not only the influence of the waiter or food that counts, but also the atmosphere or company…so again ENJOY and every culinary experience will be an incredible one!!

ingrid neven by Mastercooks

The way the cookie crumbles: Giovani Oosters

Last week I started with a new recurring feature on my blog where I ask 10 questions to chefs ( link toSyrco Bakker’s answers). This will give us a closer look at their passion for food and how/when they got this passion. The question I like the most is actually the question about their best memory/anecdote of chef school. One of my best memories would be when a fellow student dropped a bowl of soup on a customer (you should have been there).  The second chef that I asked to provide answers to my ten questions, is Giovani Oosters. He is the chef/owner from restaurant Vous Le Vous and still up to today, the chef that has prepared the best piece of Lamb I ever ate! What I like about Giovani, is first of all the fact that he’s a great guy. He speaks with so much passion and enthusiasm about our mutual interest. But also because his interest and passions is not limited to cooking only. He also grows lots of ingredients he uses in his kitchen himself. You can read more about Giovani’s restaurant in my blogpost about my visit to Vous Le Vous.  I can only recommend it.

Giovani Oosters by Nina

1. What is your favorite local product(s) to work with? And in which way should it be prepared?

“Limburgse stroop” (Syrup aka Apple butter) is a one of those top products we can and have to be very proud of. It has no added sugars and is still a handcrafted product. I love cooking with beers from the Limburg region or the Hasseltse Jenever (aka Dutch Gin) to make some great sauces, pastries and since recently our (from Vous Le Vous) pre-dessert. Not to forget the Limburg cloister pig slowly cooked for 3 day at 69°C, a true delicacy!

2. Is it important for you to use local products?

I love surprising my guests and if I can do this with a Flemish Cuckoo (type of Belgian chicken) or bio piglet from around the corner it makes me even happier! I also see it as my duty to show everybody how great our local products are, a task I love doing with whole my heart.

3. An ingredient you couldn’t miss in your kitchen?

Maaslands herbal salt (Kruidenzout in Dutch) is my Provençal herbs from the Limburg Region… FYI this “salt” is an herbal mix of herbs ao.  Thyme, wild marjoram, laurel, sage and malva, filled up with sea salt and pepper.

4. When did you get the passion for cooking?

Thanks to Roger Souvereyns’ cooking. He has given me the real passion for cooking.

5. Who is your big example in the gastronomical world?

Roger Souvereyns, with a two-acre vegetable garden and herb garden a true pioneer of the contemporary Belgian ‘terroir’. For me he is one of the greatest Belgian chefs. (Small interview with Roger)

6. Where do you get your inspiration for making new dishes and combinations?

From nature, while walking or cycling. I not only enjoy the environment, I also absorb it and take it with me… when I come home afterwards and I am in front of my computer I start bringing back those images, fantasizing and combining.

7. What has been the most culinary experience? (The restaurant was already on my list, but now I got even more curious)

For my wife’s birthday we went to Hertog Jan  for dinner, for me this is a type of cooking I like and even touches me… enjoyment at its best.

8. For which dish would you make a big sacrifice to be able to eat it?

….

9. What is your most wonderful memory of chef school?

In all honesty I wasn’t a good student, so my best memories must be the ones when I wasn’t there 🙂

10. A culinary experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant?

Haha, great question :-)!  I believe the everybody should really try the buckwheat pancakes from granny Lucienne in Zutendaal.

GIovani in his garden by nieuwsblad

The way the cookie crumbles: Syrco Bakker

I’m starting a new recurring feature on my blog where I ask 10 questions to chefs. This will give us a closer look at their passion for food and how/when they got this passion. The question I like the most is actually the question about their best memory/anecdote of chef school. One of my best memories would be when a fellow student dropped a bowl of soup on a customer (you should have been there). Anyway I’ll be starting my new section with a Michelin awarded chef aka Syrco Bakker from restaurant Pure C. There are two reasons I like to go to Pure C. Firstly because of the beautiful and relaxing setting of the restaurant. Secondly because of the beautiful and very tasty paintings Syrco serves. Read my blogpost of one of my visits to Pure C.

Syrco Bakker

1. What is your favorite local product(s) to work with? And in which way should it be prepared?

All types of Crustacean and shellfish from the North sea. First of all because the North sea is right outside our door and secondly because of the great flavor these have. I do prefer eating and preparing them in the most natural way possible that you get the real taste of the shellfish.

2. Is it important for you to use local products?

Yes, as around our restaurant we have some wonderful and gorgeous products.

3. An ingredient you couldn’t miss in your kitchen?

Asian Aromatic flavorings.

4. When did you get the passion for cooking?

I got it at my student job as dishwasher/ kitchen help at a restaurant in Oisterwijk (Close to Tilburg, NL) when I was 15 years old.

5. Who is your big example in the gastronomical world?

Sergio Herman. I learned so much from him like how to stay focused or the aim for perfection and to get the maximum out of your day.

6. Where do you get your inspiration for making new dishes and combinations?

This can be anywhere, when I’m on holiday, during a walk through the Zwin, a visit to a farm etc…

7. What has been the most culinary experience?

Oud Sluis and Ultra Violet, Shanghai.

8. For which dish would you make a big sacrifice to be able to eat it?

Good oysters, langoustine en foie gras from Oud Sluis.

9. What is your most wonderful memory of chef school?
The internship I had during my last year. With the biggest reason that as off that moment I could finally be in a kitchen a whole day.

10. A culinary experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant? (my wish list is getting bigger again)

Ultra Violet in Shanghai. This restaurant is the full experience, they have 360° projections and sounds specially paired for the menu. Truly a wonderful experience, superb dishes and a whole other dimension of eating as it all matches and goes together 100%.

Sergio & Circo

Proud to be a Belgian

One should always be proud of its local products! Me for example I ‘m very proud to be Belgian and Italian (I’ve got both nationalities). Lucky for me that these 2 countries are filled with products from a very high quality and that are world renowned! Yes both countries!! I’m sure you’ll probably be able to some up more Italian products than Belgian products or Brands. I think a reason for this might be that sometimes you know the name (or heard of it), but you didn’t realize that it is actually a Belgian product. A perfect example of one of these products is “Mandarine Napoleon”, I always thought it was a French brand… but boy was I wrong 🙂 This product is 100% Belgian.

For who doesn’t know “Mandarine Napoleon”, I’ll give a little history lesson which will explain more about the background from this drink of Emperors.  What you first of all need know is that “Mandarine Napoleon” is a Belgian fruit liqueur. Although the liqueur originates around 1892, it was actually much earlier that the “foundations” for this liquer got discovered. Around the end of the 18thcentury and begin of the 19th century one of the main ingredients of “Mandarine Napoleon” (Mandarins 🙂 ) were seen as a luxury product as they could only grew in China and you can imagine how long a boat trip from China to France around 1769 would take. A bit later they discovered that mandarins could also be grown in places like Corsica, Andalusia or Sicily (basically they need very hot temperature to grow). One day a guy named Antoine-François de Fourcroy (aka Napoleon Bonaparte’s doctor) had the idea of soaking mandarins in a mix of alcohol and cognac (and of course distillate it). I’m not sure, but I also think it was because the mandarins were already cheaper than the time they had to be imported from China (so more affordable)so easier to start experimentig with them. FYI I’m imagining a dude with long white curly hair and white tights, you know like the English people in the House of Parliament in front of a copper distillery. I know this is not relevant info, but I needed to share it :-). (But the picture below shatters the image in my head) Anyhow, so to make a long story short, Napoleon tried the “drink” made by Mr. de Fourcroy and liked it a lot and dranks lots of them during his life! As I said it was after that only around 1892 that the Froucroy family (Belgians from around Brussels) decided that refine the Antoine-François’ drink by adding herbs and spices (the same recipe still gets used today). This resulted that on today’s day Napoleon gets exported to 137 countries and gives everybody who drinks or tastes it the same pleasure it gave Napoleon Bonaparte 200 years ago (maybe even more, because of the extra ingredients)….

What a nice piece of history, isn’t it? I have to be honest that I had never tried “Mandarine Napoleon”, not until last week that is! Last week the owners from “Mandarine Napoleon” had asked the Belgian/Dutch from Antwerp Michelin star awarded and Njam chef Roger Van Damme (het gebaar) to create 2 desserts that would match with a glass of Mandarine Napoleon on the rocks and with a cocktail based on Mandarine Napoleon. FYI, for making the cocktail they had asked the renowned Manuel Wouters (who knows really everything about cocktails) from Sips bar, who made a really beautiful and yummy cocktail (one of those that you don’t notice that you’re drinking alcohol)

It is obvious that it wasn’t an easy job for Roger to find and create a dish with this Liquor (or any drink for that matter), but during a small workshop in his kitchen Roger told us how and which steps he took for making this exquisite and beautiful dessert(s). Something he didn’t want to do was serve us the obvious, which would have been dark chocolate (just think of the orange filled cookies they sell in the supermarktet). So Roger started looking further and looked at what ingredients (or some of the ingredients) that get used to make “Mandarine Napoleon” besides mandarins.

All this brainstorming resulted in a heavenly dessert with some the softest ice I have ever eaten! As surprise they also filled the ice cream ball with an extra flavor (when you cut the ball in two it looked like a boiled egg) . When eating dessert is was like a party in your mouth. A mix of sweet tastes from white chocolate combined with fresh flavors from mango and passion fruit with from time to time a salty taste in between that accentuates the flavor of the chocolate…and those are only a few of the flavors I tasted. To make the experience of the dessert ever better they served the dessert on a plate (I might even all it a box) that had all the ingredients from “Mandarine Napoleon” under it. This way you could experience the smell (as you know from my Foodpairing blogpost you taste mostly with your nose) from the ingredients and gives another dimension of tasting the dessert.

The second dessert were actually pancakes that got pimped with Mandarine Napoleon, this to show that food doesn’t have to be complicated to be good and tasty. (This dessert reminded me of Crêpe Suzette, but without the ice cream)

I wasn’t really a Liquor lover in the past, but Roger and Manuel did a good job convincing me to try Liquor more often 🙂 Thank to both of them and also to Mandarine Napoleon to let us have this great experience. It are products like this that make me very VERY proud to be a Belgian!

Btw, if you also want to try the desserts, you can always go to restaurant ‘Het Gebaar’ and hope these desserts are on the menu :-). If you want to try Mandarine Napoleon, you can find it in most supermarkets  ….

Mmm, what a long post, but now I’m sure you get the whole picture 🙂 🙂

Young chefs cook for young people 2012 edition

Vlaanderen lekkerland has outdone itself again to find 39 top chefs to participate in the 2012 edition of ‘Jong Keukengeweld’ (I leave it in Dutch as in English it just sounds cruel: ‘Young Kitchen violence’).

For you that are not familiar with the concept of ‘Jong Keukengeweld’, I’ll explain it briefly. Jong Keuken geweld is basically Young talented Chefs who cook for Young people both under 30 for a modest price of 45EUR. For this price you get 3 course dinner (fix menu) including beverages (wine, water, beer). The participating restaurants are located all over the Flanders, you can find the list of chefs on the following link

It is all about making choices, difficult choices! That is if you don’t want to do all of them :-). There are already 2 restaurants in Antwerp that I can say for a fact that are must do’s if you have the chance, restaurant épicerie du cirque in the center of Antwerp and restaurant Veranda in Berchem (just outside of Antwerp). But of course all of the restaurants on the list are good, up to you to try them!?

The 2012 edition runs from October 1st until November 15th, per chef/restaurant it is indicated you can book a table and the days the menu is available.

FYI, there is also a daily Facebook contest where you can win a dinner at one of the restaurants… (so check their fb-page)

Enjoy.

One step closer to feel like a top chef

Louis XV, Bras, Hof van Cleve, Chez bru, Oud Sluis ,… some of the best restaurants in the world and they have one thing in common, they all use plates from a Belgian (Antwerp) company called Serax maison d’être. I have to be honest, that had already heard talking about Serax, but I didn’t know they were this big. Even lots of airlines use these plates to serve their food in first class… who knew?

Eventhough they are world renowned for their plates, the initially made flower pots :-). What actually made them famous. Around the 1980’s the owners from Serax (Serge and Axel) took over their mother’s pottery business and decided to take the pottery one step further…  (they of course also still design pottery)

What Serax tries to do is bring and create affordable design created by artist who respect the rules of the art like Pieter Stockmans (he’s the one who designed the plates used for the wedding of Prince Albert of Monaco), Ann Van Hoey (for Belgians, she is Mrs Mark Uytterhoeven), Antonio Sciortino, ….

What I noticed in all the elements that get designed for the tableware, pottery or even the glassware, is that all designers get their inspiration out of nature or just objects that nobody ever thought of giving a different function. So basically they have the same motto as me, Keep it simple! I couldn’t agree more, as the simplest things are usually the most beautiful.

Sometimes designers work together with chefs to make an own plate line. Like Michel Bras and Roos van de Velde for example. Take a look at the picture below and tell me what it reminds you of?

Yes, it reminds you of cabbage

I know it might frighten you, the fact that they design tableware with famous chefs (especially for the price),don’t be! As I already mentioned Serax makes and wants to make affordable design in which they succeed

Yet again a products that makes you proud to be Belgian and will help you to get one step closer of being a Masterchef with Masterchef material 🙂

Seppe Nobels’ shrimp impression

Hi Guys,

Here you find the first recipe 🙂 , this is one from Seppe Nobels. Let me know how it worked out?

It is not an extremely difficult recipe… only the Sorbet might be tricky.

I hope you guys weren’t lazy and bought some fresh unpeeled North sea shrimps? I know I have bought them…

Btw when you peel them, you just put all the peels and heads in a pot, add some water and let it boil for a while … This way you are making a light shrimp stock

What do you need for 4 persons:
– 1 sea bass 1 kg = 500g fillet (more or less) (make sure it is VERY fresh)
– 100 ml extra virgin Olive oil
– 500 ml lemon juice
– 500 ml lime juice
– salt and pepper
– 50 g dried kroepoek
– 400 g unpeeled grey north sea shrimps
– 3 branches of thyme
– 125 g glucose
– 150 g sugar
– pinch of wasabi powder
– 750 ml water
– 2 eggs
– 2 egg yolks
– 1 T.B. mustard (don’t take a to strong mustard)
– 1 T.B. ginger puree
– 1 T.B. soya
– 300 ml peanut oil
– 30 g red vein sorrel (rodenerfzuring )
– 30 g spring onion
– 30 g enoki mushrooms (champignons) (I have to admit, they were not easy to find, but I found them)
– ½ lime

* T.B.= table spoon

Get started:

–          Cut the sea bass in fillets , remove the skin and cut the fillets into equal cubes .

–          Add olive oil, lemon juice (not all of the juice, as you still need some later in this preparation), salt & pepper

–          Fry the dried kroepoek for about 20 seconds at 165°C (329°F) Drain it afterwards on kitchen paper and mix it in a blenders until it becomes like crumble. Peel the shrimps (if you haven’t done it yet)

–          Now the more difficult part. To make the Sorbet, boil the water together with the glucose, sugar and wasabi powder. Add the remaining lemon juice, lime juice and chopped thyme. Leave it on the heat until it starts boiling. When it does, you take it off the heat and put it in the fridge. And use a sorbetière  to make the sorbet. In case you don’t have a sorbetière, just let it cool down and put it in the freezer when it is cool… it will now be as perfect as with the sorbetière, but it will do just fine. If this worked, everything else will be daaaaamn easy J

–          To make the vinaigrette, you beat the eggs and egg yolks together with the mustard, ginger and soy. It is kind a like making a mayonnaise … and you finish my add the peanut oil (like you would do for making mayo). Add salt, peper and lime juice (from the ½ lime).

–          Chop the spring onions and the Enoki mushrooms, add salt, pepper and juice
And now we are almost at the end of the preparation:
–  Dress the plate as follows: use a form (found, squared, as you prefer)  for the tartar of sea bass .

–          On top of this you put the grey shrimps and arrange the salad (mushroom salad) around the sea bass form J

–          Finish off with the kroepoek crumble and thyme sorbet.

It should look like this:

Trust me, it is worth the work!