Prague on the road Part 3 – Let’s raise our glasses

I’m back home already (sadly), but I had a great time in Prague which is still one of my favourite cities in the world. When I look back I can only think of happy memories, and to that my friends, I raise my glass… Filled with some delicious Czech Beer!

You might also want the check out part 1 and/or part 2.

This first beer is called Pilsner Urquell, which means “origineal source pilsener”. I wouldn’t pay to much to that, it seems all beer brands are saying their brand is the original one. (then again, why would you bother to say “ours not the original one, but try it anyway!” wouldn’t really make much sence). The beer itself wasn’t all that special, but the surroundings were. I drank this at what’s probably the most manly bar in Prague. The walls were just plain bricks, covered in soccer shirts. There were hardly any women and the men behind the bar had a belly and beards. It was hilarious, or that’s how I remember it :p

This second beer was my favourite one. Staropramen means “old spring” which kinda has poetic touch to it. It tasted a bit fresher and fruity-er than the Pilsner Urquell, which is probably why I liked Staropramen better. Both glasses are 1/2 liters btw, and each costed about a 1euro, you just gotta love eastern european countries!

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Prague on the road Part 2 – Czech cuisine

Here are some more updates from Prague with some of the typical Czech dishes! In descending order: potato soup with an egg on top, goulash in a baked bread and finally roast pork with dumplings and red cabbage!

You might also want the check out part 1 and/or part 3.

I’ve had potato soup before bit it was nothing like this one. Contrary to the fairly sweetish Hungarian potato soup (which is based and paprika powder), this Czech potato soup balanced on the thin line of sour and creamy. Accompanied with some nice dill (the green parts you see in the picture) this made quite a refreshing treat. At the same time the potatoes and the baked egg on top made it very filling. If it would’ve been me, I would’ve poached the egg instead of baking it, but to each his own.

I was a bit in doubt on wether to try this goulash or not. I’m not very fanatic about my Hungarian heritage, but I do acknowledge and respect it at some level, especially when it comes to the culinary side of it. When I was walking around in Prague I saw loads of signs saying “come try our traditional Czech goulash!” you can imagine the predicament I was in! I eventually decided to put my differences aside and give it a shot, and I’m glad I did! It came inside a hollowed out bread, which was baked completely dry so it wouldn’t leak. It had a very smoky flavour and tasted quite different from the hungarian one, definitely worth a try if you ever find yourself in Prague!

This gorgeous plate was the one I had at our “last supper”. It was called “Moravian Sparrow” and before all you bird-lovers get upset, let me assure it was actually made out of pork meat 😉 It was served with some sweet red cabbage and some very traditional dumplings (which were made out of potatoes in this case). According to wikipedia this dish is considered the most popular Czech dish, and I can see why, it was delicious!

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Prague on the road Part 1 – The Wonderful world of Sweets

My trip to Prague has been wonderful so far! Today we indulged ourself in THE best cakes you can possible imagine! I ofcourse couldn’t resist to share some pictures with my loyal readers!

You might also want the check out part 2 and/or part 3.

This first one (above) was actually the one I’ve had and I can safely say that I was not disappointed. In fact, it was probably one of the most delicious slices of pie I’ve eten in some time now! It had wonderfully nutty-moka flavour, the green stuff you see on top is actually some pistachio!

If you’re into booz, then this was the pie for you! Aldo it looks very chocolat-y, it had a distinct rum flavour in it. Which usually isn’t bad, but in this case I was a bit disappointed, as I was expecting a chocolate heaven.

This one was quite good as well. As you can see it had some nice almonds, but also a very well-balanced  caramel flavour! Not as good, as the nutty-mokka one that I’ve had, but close!

Now THIS one had a big chocolate flavour! I can’t really remember any other flavour it showed, as it was pretty distinct. Ladies, I can personally guarantee you that this is chocolate heaven!

This final one looked the least appealing, but was actually on of the best ones we had! The cream was based on a crunchy tube which had an incredible nutty aroma. Just goes to show that looks isn’t everything 😉

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What’s Cooking? – John Statz (Brownies)

Thursday night was the first time that a What’s Cooking event took place in Antwerp, and it was legen-DARY! If you’re thinking “what the hell is What’s Cooking?” then you’re probably one of the misfortunate people who weren’t able to come, or worse, don’t even know about them at all! So for those people, let me break it down to you real simple. 2 Friends of mine organize small, cozy concerts (meaning for about 20-30 people) with relativy unknown artists (but definitly worth discovering) and at the end of the evening, everybody gets a dessert! Up until now these events took place in Ghent, but Thursday Antwerp received it’s first blessing! Up until now these events took place in Ghent, but last Thursday Antwerp received its first blessing! I was asked if I could take care of the desert, and naturally I couldn’t resist. For this first occasion I decided to make some brownies and it seemed they were a big hit, with people asking me for the recipe. So for all you anxious What’s Cooking fans, this post is dedicated to you guys!

Ingredients

  • 200 g dark chocolate, in pieces
  • 250 g butter, diced
  • 350 g sugar
  • 80 g cocoa powder
  • 65 g flower
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 75 g wallnuts or cashew nuts, roughly chopped
  • baking tray af about 20x30cm, lined with baking paper

Method

  • Preheat your oven at 180° C (360° F)
  • Melt the chocolat and butter using a water bath (au bain marie)
  • Put the sugar in a big mixing bowl, and add the flower, cocoa powder and baking powder using a sieve
  • When the chocolate and butter have melted (make sure it’s a homogenous mixture, use a whisk if necessary), add it to the big mixing bowl and mix well.
  • Add the eggs to the mixture, this will turn the mixture from something quite liquid to a pretty sturdy dough.
  • Finally add the nuts, give it a final mix and pour the mixture in your baking tray.
  • Smack it in the oven for 25 minutes. Do NOT be tempted to let it in any longer, it will cause your brownie to dry out!
  • Let it cool down completely (can take a couple of hours), cut into squares and enjoy!

Check out the slideshow for step by step instructions!

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When the absurd becomes reality (Bakpao Sandwich)

To be honest, this started out as a joke. If you’re living in Belgium or the Netherlands you will most likely have heard the song “Broodje Bakpao” by The Opposites ft. Gers & Sif. If not, here’s their official video clip:

Even though the music isn’t really my style, I have to applaud their absurdity. Having said that, I read an interview with the lead rapper of the band in which he said he didn’t really like a bakpao sandwich at all. It just went along with the rest of text. The crazy cook in me naturally couldn’t resist and was bound to make this a delicious treat! A bakpao sandwich is basically a closed sandwich with a filling inside, and I am glad to inform you that I believe I succeeded at my attempt! I did add some scallions and coriander (aka cilantro) to the original recipe, and I strongly suggest you do too. As for the bread itself, just do it the lazy way like I did and buy some pre made bread mix to which you only need to add water. (it’ll be our little secret). Needless to say you can come up with your own variation of this, the ones I made were asian-styled, but you can get creative with somme peppers and beans and start making Mediterranean or Mexican varieties, the possibilities are pretty much limited only by your creativity! 😉

Ingredients

  • bread mix
  • 500 g minced meat
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 scallions, finely sliced
  • some fresh coriander (aka cilantro), roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sambal sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Start with the bread by following the instructions on the bread mix package
  • While the bread is resting, start with your filling. First step: fry your minced meat in a pan (adding some freshly ground pepper of course)
  • Drain the fat from the meat and start frying the the onions until they have a nice brownish colour. Let this drain as well.
  • Mix the meat, onions, scallions, coriander. Also add the soy sauce, sambal and garlic powder. The amounts listed in the ingredients are guidelines, but feel free to change these to your own taste!
  • When the bread though has risen enough, divide it into little portions an roll flat. Fill with the filling and pinch the dough together. (see the slideshow below for more detailed instructions).
  • Once you’ve got your sandwich ready, steam it for 6-10minutes, depending on the size. Let it cool and enjoy!

check out the slideshow for more detailed instructions:

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Get ready for a surprise! (fennel soup)

I am on a new mission! A mission, that will undoubtably shake the foundations of pretty much everything you have ever believed. What’s all this fuss about, you ask? It’s about fennel, yes fennel. You know, that one vegetable that you’ve always hated because of its aniseedy flavour? Or perhaps you’ve just never tried it before. Well, I’m here to tell you to man up, suit up and give this hunka love a try, ’cause it’s absolutely de-licious! Trust me, I’m not a big fan of aniseedy flavour either, but this one’s definitely  a winner! You’ll just have to try it if you don’t believe me (and try it anyway if you do believe me).

Ingredients (serves about 6)

  • 2 fennels, sliced
  • 1 leek, only the white part, sliced
  • 1 onion
  • a splash of olive oil
  • 1 potato
  • 1-2 liter water
  • salt
  • 100 ml cream

optional:

  • vegetable stock cube
  • some smoked salmon, finely sliced

Method

  • Start by slicing the fennel, leek and onion. Put in a pot with a splash of olive oil and braise them on a medium heat.
  • Once the vegetables are translucent, you’ll want to add the potato and some water until it just covers the vegetables and bring this to boil. Let it boil like that for about 5 minutes (this intensifies the flavours)
  • You can add some seasoning (salt and stock cube) and add some more water. Bring this back to a boil and let simmer for about 30minutes.
  • When done simmering, blend the mixture. Have a final taste and add more salt if needed.
  • Finally, add the cream to the soup, this will give it a beautiful white color (yes, white’s a color, or at least in my world it is)
  • Serve up with some finely sliced smoked salmon and garnish with some of the fennel greens.

Check out the slideshow for step by step instructions!

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A flight with the wind (vol-au-vent)

A dodgy title you say? Well I can’t help it, its merely the translation of today’s recipe: vol-au-vent.Vol-au-vent is a classic from the French cuisine and could not be missing from this blog. The dish consists of a small hollow case of puff pastry with a round opening on top, through which a savory filling is added. In this case, the filling is the classic chicken and mushroom filling. This isn’t something you’d make every day, its just to much work for just that. But it is quite nice to make when you have a bit more time on your hands or when you want to treat your friends or family to something a bit more special. If you’re worried about making puff pastry cases, then don’t. You can buy the cases pre made in most supermarkets and all the cool kids (the cool kids being me) are doing it! 😉

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 liter chicken stock (you can use water mixed with stock cubes)
  • 1 leek
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • souple of sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 250 g minced meat
  • 500 g mushrooms, sliced
  • some parsley, finely chopped

for the sauce:

  • 75 g butter
  • 75 g flower
  • 1/4 liter milk
  • 3/4 liter of the chicken broth

to thicken the sauce:

  • 100 ml cream
  • 3 egg yolks

Method

  • Cut the leek, celery, onion and carrot into big chunks, add stock and bring to a boil.
  • Season with peper and salt to taste, then add the chicken.
  • Depending on the chicken, let simmer for 90 to 120 minutes. When the wings and thighs of the chicken fall of quite easily, it’s ready.
  • While your waiting, roll out your minced meat into about equally sized meat balls and coat them with a layer of flower. When the chicken is almost ready, boil the meat balls separately in some of the liquid.
  • Drain the chicken and vegetables (save the stock!) and remove the meat from the chicken.
  • Start making your sauce. Much like a bechamel, melt the butter and add the flower. Use the milk and cooking liquid to create your sauce.
  • Add the chicken meat, mushrooms and meatballs.
  • Before serving, add your parsley and your egg yolk and cream mixture. Give it a final stirr
  • Serve in a puff pastry casing with french fries (even though they’re actually belgian fries, but you can always call them freedom fries, of course) and a light salad.

Check out the slideshow for step by step instructions!

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