Belgium is not an easy one for me, not food wise Belgium has a lot of great food! I was born and raised in Belgium (in a village near Antwerp) although I am Dutch. And to be honest it wasn’t always rainbows and unicorns. Belgian people might look open at first but it’s very hard to become close friends with them as an outsider (like I was to them apparently). People who know me know what I think about Belgium. But what does the rest of the world think about Belgium? Fries and beers lovers with messy political system?: YES Belgians LOVE their fries they eat them with mayonaise or gravy (or a combination of both). Belgians are the subject of a huge amount of jokes and clichés in Europe, and especially in France and Netherlands, where they share the same languages. Belgians are said to eat fries, mussels, chocolate and waffles at every meal, have beer running through their veins and only read comic books (This of course is a myth, we do eat other stuff aswel!). What is 100 % true is that political system is a mess because of the constant fight between Flanders and Wallonia or between the Flemish and French population. Both Flemish and Wallon parts even tend to have stereotypes about each others: French people are depicted as lazy and monolingual, whereas Flemish are regarded as hard-workers, bilingual and ambitious. So now a I explained a little about Belgium! Here are some fun facts about this tiny country:
- The word ‘spa’ for a health resort comes from the town of Spa (Wallonia) in Belgium where the ancient Romans enjoyed the health-giving springs.
- Most beers have their own glass in which only that beer may be served.
- Voting is compulsory and enforced if you don’t vote you will receive a fine
- There are actually 3 types of Belgian waffles including the common Liege waffles, rectangular Brussels waffles and thinner breakfast galettes. (I prefer the Liege Waffles!)
So first up are shrimp croquetes! We have summer apartment at the coast of Belgium in Knokke, and when I was little my dad always said: We have not been in Knokke if we haven’t had a shrimp croquette! We’d always go to the same place to eat them, so many great memories! In Belgium the quality of a restaurant is measured by the quality of their shrimp croquetes, so it’s kind of a big deal! I’m pretty proud of myself that these turned out soowell this was my first attempt! Because I am used to the high-quality stuff!
But hey look at my my blabbing around! Here is the recipe! Good luck with it! This recipe makes about 8-10 croquetes!
Ingredients: 3dl milk, 1 onion chopped finely, 1 carrot chopped finely, black pepper, thyme to taste chopped, 3oo gr little grey shrimp (we call them dutch shrimp), nutmeg to taste (I like a lot), lemon juice to taste, breadcrumbs (to coat the croquetes), 3 eggs, 36 gr butter, 36gr flour, 4 sheets of gelatine, 1 tablespoon of white wine
Boil the milk for 20 minutes with the carrots, onions, lemon juice, pepper, thyme and nutmeg on a medium high. Let it get to room temperature. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes. In the meanwhile melt the butter and stir in the flour. Keep stirring until is gets kind of crumbly. It should not turn brown! Add the milk to the pan with the shrimps and squeezed gelatine. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Spread it so you have a 3 cm thick mass, put it in the fridge for as long as possible (overnight would be ideal!). Make croquettes shapes out of he ragout mixture. Beat the eggs and roll the croquettes in the beatten eggs, now coat them with the breadcrumbs and fry them in a fryer. Don’t walk away from the fryer because they are done really quickly it only takes about 2 to 3 minutes! When they are nice and brown, take them out and dab of the excess oil with a paper towel. Serve with a wedge of lemon!
So next recipe! Chicory with ham and cheese! This is the perfect way to make kids eat their veggies! Just cover it up under the cheese! My brother was pretty sceptic because he hates chicory but he tried it and he actually liked my dish, he even had seconds! Huge compliment!
For 4 large portions
Ingredients: 8 chicory’s, a lot of grated cheese (I used 2 packages), york ham 8 slices, 60 gr butter, 60 gram flour, milk (as much as it takes to get a nice sauce), a stock cube
Boil the chicory’s in water, if you have a steam cooker 5 minutes should do the trick! Let the chicory cool a little before you fold a slice of ham around each chicory. Now we are going to make a roux it’s a base to a lot of sauces! Melt the butter and and the flour little by little, make sure you keep stirring otherwise it will burn. Gently add milk little by little, KEEP STIRRING, if you don’t you sauce will have lumps of flour! Add milk again when you see the flour and butter have absorbed it. If the sauce has a nice texture add the cheese (make it as cheesy as you want!) ,the stock cube, salt and pepper. When the cheese has blended in with the sauce pour the sauce over the chicory! Make sure the chicory is covered in cheese sauce! Now sprinkle some more grated cheese over the dish and put in a 180 C over for 30 minutes!
And now the last recipe! I couldn’t waste a chance to make something with chocolate! So I made chocolate mousse, It’s my grandmothers recipe! Really reminds me of when I was little!
This recipe is for 4 really big portions (so actually for 5 people!)
Ingredients: 200 gr dark chocolate (the darkest you can get your hands on), 4 tablespoons of water, 5 egg-white’s, 5 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon of coffee powder, 1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar, 1/8l whip cream
Melt the chocolate with the water, but keep stirring! Once chocolate is melted put it in a bowl and add the coffee powder, vanilla sugar and egg yolks, gently stir this until combined. In another bowl beat the egg-white’s until you can hold them above your head without them falling on your head! Also beat the whip cream but not to hard so it doesn’t turn into butter! Fold the whip cream in the egg yolks. Then very carefully add this to to the chocolate and stir carefully so you don’t knock the air you just created in the egg-white’s out! If you want individual portions now is the time to put it in ramekins. Put in the fridge for at least 1 hour!
This song describes perfectly what Belgium is like!
Belarus also being reffered to as White Russia, I asked a lot of people what they think about if I say White Russia and they don’t have no idea! These are some of the answers I got: 1. “Next to Ukraine and Russia right?” 2.”White Russia was in the Sovjetunion!” 3. “Aren’t they the same as Russia, isn’t it a province or something?”. Nobody seems to have a clue about what’s been going on in Belarus in the present. Where does that name even come from “White Russia”? Thank god for Google I found the answer! It’s actually pretty funny! Flax is the plant from which white clothes were made and it grows in Belarus ,during the Tsarist regime, and that is how Belarus got its name.
- In Belarus every year people find the most treasure (compared to the rest of Europe)
- Birch sap – one of the favorite drinks of Belarusians. It is sold in packs and large glass jars. In the village people harvest birch sap every spring.
- Belovezhskaya Pushcha (Please dont ask me how to pronounce this because I don’t have a clue!) is the largest ancient forest in Europe
- No Street Food If you are hungry in Brussels and don’t want to spend 30 Euros on mussels, there will always be a kebab nearby. The Berliners joke that their national dish is now a döner, which completely pushed out currywurst. But the Berliners still had currywurst in the beginning and then döner; the residents of Minsk have neither döner nor currywurst. (what do they eat after clubbing? Here in The Netherlands it’s almost tradition to eat street food after clubbing!)
I found a playlist with Belarussian Rockbands I really like them!
So about the Belarussian cuisine, I was quite surprised about this one! I made 2 Belarussian recipes this week! a main cours and a dessert or sweet treat. Especially the dessert was sooo good, and it’s really cheap and easy to make!
Ingredients: 7 ounces mushrooms sliced, 2 garlic cloves choppe, 1 knob of butter, 1/2 cup sherry wine, 1/2 cup chicken stock or 1/2 cup pork stock, 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, 4 pork chops
Melt half of the butter in a frying pan and add the mushrooms and garlic. Keep stirring until the mushrooms start to shrink and soften. Add the sherry, the stock, the cornstarch and a little salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Meanwhile, melt the rest of the butter in another pan. Brown the pork chops on both sides, then pour the sauce over the chops. So really really easy right?!
Ingredients: 4 apples, good quality honey, icing sugar (optional) Scoop out the core from each apple, leaving the rest of it whole. Pour honey into the hollows of each apple where the core was.Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The texture should resemble the apple slices in a pie. Sprinkle over the icing sugar although you don’t really need it! It’s sweet enough with the honey! I will definitely make this again for my friends! My mom loved this so much she almost licked her plate! YES IT’S THAT GOOD!
That’s it for Belarus for now! Hope you liked it please comment below if you have any suggestions or other belarussian recipes! Speak to ya next week!
Bangladesh a country where the difference between rich and poor is incredibly large. Apart from that Bangladesh also has a lot of positive things.
Here are some things you didn’t know about Bangladesh:
- The worlds largest beach is located in Bangladesh
- It is immature to smile a lot. Hence the Bangladeshis tend not to smile much. (This would not be a country for me)
- Women love to be as colorful and shiny as possible! It is their everyday life to wear colorful saree or saluar khamiz with matching shining earrings, necklaces, bracelets, make up and shoes. Yes, everyday! Whenever you step out your home, you need to look as good as possible, because others are looking at you, you know?
- There are two typical questions that people ask each other every day: “What did you eat? Did you take a shower?” Here everything is about eating! (I can relate to this, the first question my little brother used to ask in the morning was: Mom what’s for dinner tonight?) They eat a lot and in every meal there are lots of items on a table. And because it’s hot here, people sweat, so personal hygiene is very important.
I already love curry but this was extreme!
Ingredients: 1 kg chicken pieces, washed, 2 large onions, finely chopped, 1 1/2 tbsps ginger garlic paste, 1 large tomato, chopped, 1 tsp red chilli pwd, 1/4 tsp turmeric pwd1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, salt to taste, 2-3 tbsps oil, chopped coriander leaves for garnish
Dry roast: 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1″ cinnamon, 2 cardamoms, 5 tbsp grated fresh coconut, 8 cashew nuts, 1 tbsp roasted chickpeas
Roast: (in 2 tsps oil for 5 mts) 6-8 curry leaves, 8-10 shallots/sambar onions, 4 green chills, 3 tbsps chopped coriander leaves, 15 mint leaves
Make a paste of ingredients under ‘dry roast’ and ‘roast’ by adding a few tbsps of water and keep aside. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel, add curry leaves and saute for few moments. Add the chopped onions and fry till transparent. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute for 3 mts. Add red chilli pwd, turmeric pwd and salt and combine. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for 4-5 mts. Add the ground paste and cook over medium heat for 7-8 mts. Add lemon juice and the chicken pieces and combine. Cook without lid for 5-6 mts. Add 3 cups of water and cook with lid on simmer till the chicken is tender and the gravy thickens. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Turn off heat. Serve with rice
My last country that starts with an A! 1 letter done 25 to go! Azerbaijan also referred to as “The Land of Fire” mostly because their old religion used to consider fire as a holy element and also because of The Burning Mountain a rare natural wonder in the Absheron peninsula. It burns all year round due to natural gas escaping from the ground. And with burn I mean flames! It should be spectacular sight!
- There are 8,350 rivers in Azerbaijan, and all of them drain into the Caspian Sea
- There main income is oils, they have a LOT of oil
- SELFIE UTOPIA! Azeri people love taking pictures of themselves and love when you take pictures of them, especially men! But if you would like to take a picture of for instance an oilfield of a police officer of even his car that’s big NO GO!
- Azerbaijan is a country of watermelons. But there is something very specific about they way you eat watermelon there. Always with a white cheese and bread. And no this is not a typo
Over to the recipe. This week I made a lamb stew with chestnuts and dried fruit. It was really really good! Real comfort food. Tis recipe is for 4. The onions and the apricots make this dish really sweet. So best not to combine with a sweet wine to overcome it being too sweet.
Ingredients: 500g of lamb meat (lamb shoulder of the bone), 4 big white onions, 1 large tablespoon of all spice a handful of canned chestnuts, a handful of dried apricots, a handful of raisins, a few threads of safran, 1 spoon of turmeric, salt/pepper/, juice of 1 lemon, butter or any cooking oil other than olive oil
Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse. Chop the lamb into bite-sized chunks. Place in a pan of water and bring to the boil. Remove the foam that forms on top, then add the all spice. When the meat is soft, remove from the water. Keep the water you cooked the meat in! Pour boiling water onto the dried fruit and let is soak for 3-4 minutes and drain. Brown the softened meat in melted butter of oil (anything but olive oil) Cut the the onions in rings and fry them in butter. Add the meat and stir. Add the chestnuts, dried fruit, turmeric, and salt and peper to the meat and fry for 3-4. Add a ladle of the bouillon from the meat, the saffron infusion and the lemon juice. Let it simmer for about an hour. Serve with rice
I was in Austria last summer, in Linz! Leading an amazing summer camp for 3 weeks! Austria in summer is often said to be boring or not interesting, but that is bullshit! I know what your thinking, why would you want to go to Austria in summer when there is no snow! Exactly what I was thinking! But it was surprisingly hot, so hot that me and the kids had to look for shadow every time we went outside. Everytime we went outside to play soccer or play games everyone was advised to bring a water bottle. And yes the mountains are beautiful and the skiing is amazing in Austria and i’m not even mentioning the epic apres-skiparties with schlagermusic. But Austria also has some really cool cities. Salzburg for instance, picturesque with all the shops that still have their original sign board. I a real sucker for these details. Linz with it’s relaxed and layed-back atmosphere during the yearly international street art festival! I haven’t been to Vienna yet but only heard good stories about it! So here is some stuff you didn’t know about Austria:
- The Austrian flag is one of the oldest national flag in the world. It dates from 1191, when Duke Leopold V fought in the Battle of Acre during the Third Crusade.
- Vienna’s Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof) has over 2.5 million tombs (more than the city’s live population), including those of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Strauss.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Hollywood actor and current governor of California, grew up as an Austrian citizen.
- Over 60 % of Austria’s electricity is supplied by renewable sources.
- Vienna is the only capital city to produce its own wine. Vineyards within the city limits produce incredible wine.
- The most famous movie about Austria is of course The sound of music but you knew that already, but did you also know that most Austrians have never seen it nor heard about it! I experienced this myself and I think it’s priceless that half the world knows the songs by hard they haven’t even seen it!
Here is a playlist with austrian music I hope you like it! I sure did! http://8tracks.com/resl/musical-gems-made-in-austria
And now for this weeks recipe I made Spaetzle with gruyere and caramelized onion. It’s the mac and cheese of Austria. It’s a very popular dish for after skiing. But not as easy as I thought it would be making the Spaetzle is actually kind of hard even if you have a special pan for it! , I failed twice before I got it right so you really really really have to stick to the measurements I’m giving you. Because if you add to much milk and you think ooh well it was just a little too much that won’t matter, start over because you will mess up and it will and end up like a big fat burned ugly pancake at the bottom of your pan that it really hard to scrape off!
Ingredients: 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 Tbsp butter, 1 onion, sliced thinly,1 shredded Gruyère cheese (to taste, I added a lot because I loovvveee cheese!)
Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Add flour a 1/2 cup at a time. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. But don’t over stir it because again you will mess up! Let rest 10-20 minutes. The dough should be like pancake batter. While the batter is resting your can sauté the onion in butter and set them aside. Fill a pan with simmering water. Now comes the tricky part if you messed up your gonna notice it right now!
So again here are your guidelines how to not mess it up:
- Do not over-mix the dough will be tough. Just combine ingredients with your hand or a spoon until just mixed.
- Let the dough rest for 10-20 minutes after mixing. This gives time for the dough to relax and become more tender.
- Never boil the dough. Simmering keeps the dough… you guessed it… more tender.
- And last but not least do not add to much milk!
I used a special pan because I was lucky my roommate apparently had one. But you can just use a colander. Pour your batter into the colander above the pan so drops of batter will fall through the colander and you will get perfect spaetzle! They are ready when they start floating. Which takes about a minute. Add the spaetzle to a oven dish and add the caramelized onion as well. Sprinkle over the grated gruyere cheese, and put in the oven for 20 minutes.
Andorra, a tiny country in the north of Spain, it is often considered as a part of Spain, but they in fact they even have their own language (Catalan), which is quite different from Spanish. Spain is my nr. 1 favourite country in the world, probably because I had the time of my life when I was living in Sevilla! I don’t know a lot about Andorra, I drove through it few times when going to Spain by car with my parents. But here’s what I figured out by asking my Spanish friends and some distant memories from my geography class. Andorra is located in The Pyrenees between France and Spain. Until recently Andorra was not a wealthy country but ,the mountains that kept Andorra isolated are quickly becoming a big source of income for Andorra, hiking and skiing are becoming big business. Also Andorra is a tax haven which attracts a lot of expensive stores to settle down, but also cigarette smugglers who are trying to avoid paying taxes. Andorra is too small to have a real army, so by law each male head of the family is required by law to own a gun in case of emergency. Personally, I don’t think that would make me feel save, knowing that in every house you enter there is a gun present. Call me anxious, but I would not feel comfortable with that. Luckily the government provides free healthcare for everyone that has a job. (Okay so if you get shot they will at least help you in the hospital). Luckily Andorra does not have to protect itself in a bad situation, let’s hope Spain or France gives them a hand. Enough joking, let’s get cooking! Here is some traditional music from Andorra for you to enjoy while preparing this recipe!
I changed the recipe a little, normally this recipe is made with rabbit, but since rabbit is not something you can buy at the butcher I would have to order it a few days ahead and I forgot (yes I know really stupid) but I changed rabbit into chicken which I think worked perfectly! It might not have been traditional, but it was delicious!
Ingredients: 2 chicken thighs, big splash of tarragon vinegar, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, 2 chopped onions, can of chopped tomatoes, 1 bay leaf, dried thyme to taste, tablespoon of dried oregano to taste, 1/2 glass of white wine, extra virgin olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste.
Chop the chicken into bitesizepieces and rub them with the vinegar. Put them in the fridge and let them marinate for about 15 minutes. Add olive oil to a casserole dish and fry the chicken until browned. Remove the meat from the pan. Now put the onion and garlic in the same casserole dish and fry them gently. Add the can of chopped tomatoes and the bay leaf, oregano and thyme. Pour in the white wine and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and and the chicken you fried earlier, season with salt and pepper. Cover with the lid and let it simmer for about 90 minutes. Serve with some rice of pasta.
PS. Do not even think about not letting it simmer, it makes a huge difference! Before I letting it simmer I tasted it and I I thought meehh this is okay I guess… But if you just have patience it will solve itself in time, and before you know it it will have transformed into a delicious rich and flavorful sauce! The flavor will be completely different trust me!
Please if you have any suggestions on how to make this recipe even better, or have an another recipe from Andorra you would like to share, a fun fact whatever! comment below
Next up something completely different is Angola! I can’t wait!