Will apple cider be the next gin?

Apple cider is a drink I never think of buying or drinking. There’s no particular reason, I just never think of it … maybe because I don’t know it that well or that I never noticed it in bar’s or on menu’s? Or maybe it is like with regular apple juice, I like it a but I usually only drink it when somebody tells me they have it 🙂  That’s why I was more than happy to learn more about this wonderful product and who better to teach me than the one and only Andy De Brouwer owner of restaurant Les Eleveurs and Belgian top sommelier?!

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Apple cider is basically a low alcoholic sparkling (around 4%) version of apple juice 🙂 . I’m not going to bore you with the whole production process as you can find it back via following link.

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What Andy showed us last week was that although apple cider might not sound like a very “modern”, “hip” or “sexy” thing, it actually is. It is a great base to make cocktails, can be paired with funky appetizers and it is just tasty 🙂 … What do you think about a Strongbow elderflower Scotch whisky longdrink, a frozen Margarita paired with some homemade nachos or a Mojito with Gold Apple? Or is a Negroni with Strongbow red berries paired with a stuffed artichoke more your thing?

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Next to all home-made ingredients Andy used Strongbow apple cider to make his cocktails. I confess that I had never heard of Strongbow before. Strongbow is an English apple cider brand, but then again technically speaking also Belgian. I consider it as a local product as the biggest part of the production happens in Belgium. So I think it is ok to call Strongbow apple cider a local product, right?!

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Strongbow has 3 different types of apple cider:

  • Gold Apple: fresh, fruity flavor with a hints of green apple
  • Red berries: aromatic combination of apple and red fruits
  • Elderflower: subtle aromatic combination of apple and elderflower with a fresh end note of lime

The cocktail that was the biggest surprise to me was the mojito!! What surprised me about Andy’s version was that even though there was no alcohol in it, it tasted exactly the same as the “original” version. No alcohol with the exception of the cider’s alcohol that because of the mixing with other non alcoholic drinks would be 1% maybe…Which basically means you can drink more of these puppies then you could of the original one… so I’ll go for the Apple cider version if I may

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I became a fan and will without any doubt try to make these cocktails at home. And because I like you soooo much I’ll share with you Andy’s Strongbow mojito recipe .

Ingredients for +/- 20 cocktails:

  • 5 cl fake rum
  • Fresh mint (1 bot op 2 l. water)
  • 4 teabags of gunpowder (Chinese greentea)
  • 5 g cardamom bolsters
  • 200 g raisins

Per person

  • 15 cl Strongbow Gold Apple cider
  • ¼ lime
  • 1 branch mint
  • 2 drops Angostura
  • 2 lumps of cane sugar

Preparation:

For the ‘fake rum’:

  • Make an infusion of fresh mint, gunpowder and lightly toasted and crushed cardamom bolsters.
  • Leave to cool (not in the refrigerator) and sieve.
  • Let the raisins swell 24 hours in this fluid.
  • Riddle with a fine sieve, press the grapes with a spoon.
  • Recover the liquid.
  1. Put mint leaves in glass.
  2. Wash lime, cut into quarters and press the juice out of two and put in the glass.
  3. Add two lumps of cane sugar.
  4. Mortar with a mortar to a syrup.
  5. Add the fake rum.
  6. Fill the glass with ice cubes and fill with Strongbow Gold Apple. Stir with a bar spoon.
  7. Finish with 2 drops of Angostura and garnish with fresh mint and a slice of lime.

In case you would like to try to make it yourself,  Strongbow apple cider is available in almost all supermarkets. In case you want to know more good cocktail recipes and combinations with dishes I strongly recommend you the new book on cocktails by my dear friend Andy the Brouwer ‘Cocktail a night’.

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Cheers!

A trip down memory lane

If I would ask 100 people what they think of when I say Delacre, 99 of them will say of their grandmother (same goes for me) as everybody’s grandmother had a tin box filled with the delicious Delacre cookies at home… I personally also remember eating lots of them 🙂

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I also remember when I was in primary school we used to collect the empty boxes from the Delichoc cookies from Delacre, as the school who collected the most got a as price a concert from a than very popular Belgian band called “The Radios” (unfortunately we didn’t win). Check out the following links and listen to the songs, so you can see why I was buying (and eating) cookies like a real cookie monster: Link 1, Link 2 and link 3. I think I still have a cassette or a disk from them at home 🙂

The radios

So when I walked into the Delacre shop a few weeks ago a lot of my childhood nostalgic memories came back… I made me feel very warm inside 🙂 (Ok, I’ll stop being sentimental 😉 ). Not only did I enter the shop I (together with 3 lovely ladies) got to make our own cookies with the guidance of the Delacre lady pastry chef Nadia, who is actually French-Canadian  who got stuck in Belgium thanks to love 🙂  and is very passionate about what she does (that’s the way I like them)…

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Anyhow I didn’t know there was a Delacre cookieshop in the city center of Brussels it is even located in between the “Grand place” and “Manneken pis”… so all you people out there, next time make a detour via this sweet shop next time you’re walking from the “Grand Place” to “Manneken pis”.(or just when you feel like having some great cookies) They don’t only sell the classic cookies in the famous boxes, they also sell cookies you’ll only find in this shop and all freshly made in the shop itself by Nadia and her colleague.

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As if I wasn’t already enough down memory lane in this shop, the baking workshop brought me whole the way back to chef school during the baking classes :-). The cookies we baked during our workshop were the “Palais de Dame nougatine” and the “Ultime cacao” (a real treat for chocolate lovers). The bags I took home didn’t even make through the next day 🙂 so I think the question “where they good” shouldn’t be asked anymore…

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Cookiemaking 2

Cookiemaking 3

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Wanna taste them? Pass by the Delacre shop and feast your eyes on cookies and tin boxes as far as the eye can see 🙂

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Or you wait a bit and find the recipe on my blog … or do both 😉

Delacre Boetiek:

Address: Oud Korenhuis 27 – 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Open every Tuesday to Sunday between 11h and 18h30

Cheers!

My Cups n’ cakes workshop experience

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to follow a workshop to make cupcakes at my company’s head office. Obviously I immediately excepted the invitation as it doesn’t happen every day as usually it are work-related workshops 🙂 .  Our Sensei for the evening was the lovely Karolien from cups ‘n cakes, who is a real pro, if you look at her website you see that she creates the funniest creatures.

Making cupcakes might seem easy at first, but I must admit that it really takes more patience en craftsmanship than one would think 🙂 . The theme  of yesterday’s workshop was ‘Sinterklaas’  as you can see on the above picture.  Step by step we got guided into the world of cupcake making and learned how to make a worthy  replica of the original cupcakes. (and i learned that I needed patience)

Making cupcakes or better, decorating them was a first for me, it really fell like being back in kinder garden playing with Play Doh 🙂 … Funny stuff :-)!  My actual result well, I wouldn’t call it a real replica, my creatures seemed to be under the influence of some kind of drug  (especially my Sinterklaas, he looks like a creature in Spongebob squarpanths)… You be the judge .

On the picture below you can see on the right the original and at the left the one I made, but I think you’d already guessed that 🙂

My best cupcake of the evening was without any doubt the one with the roses! At first I really thought that I did a great job, this until I looked around and saw what wonderful things my colleagues had made!! I think some of them are really gifted (or just have a lot of patience). Really, I saw one person making a mermaid, little ducks, hearts, etc…  At some point it started looking like Santa clause’ north pole workshop 🙂

I really had an amazing night with lots of laughs! I can really recommend it to everybody who wants to have a fun team event or learn to make workshops to do so and contact cups ‘n cakes!!

Yummy cupcakes at Patty cake

I’m not really a cupcake person, as they tend to be dry from time to time… but well if I get some I’ll eat them anyway (I don’t want to be rude 😉 )

But Saturday after shopping with my girlfriend (she made me), we passed by the Patty cake (cupcake) shop… And I think everybody who has passed by this shop will agree, that it is very difficult not entering to buy something? Right?

It is really the prettiest little shop you’ve ever seen.

The only ‘problem’ was that we still had to go to the  Kookeet event in Bruges and therefore we couldn’t eat too much… but then again one cupcake didn’t kill anyone before. Also, when you enter the shop and see cupcakes as far as the eye reaches in all different flavors (that also change from day to day)

It is difficult not finding something that doesn’t make you wanna have one … or is that just me?

Anyway, I took one with hazelnut and my girlfriend one with chocolate. Only 1 comment YUMMY! They weren’t dry at all, not too sweet and I didn’t feel too guilty after eating one 😉 And the picture below shows one happy little camper 😉

So if you are ever in Antwerp and feel like having a small sweet… You know what to do

Patty Cake

Website: http://www.pattycake.be

Address:

Nationalestraat 99

2000 Antwerp, Belgium

Phone n°: +32 (0)3 770 87 60