Saturday, 5 July 2014

Gaufres de Bruxelles (Waffles!) with Choc Cherry Beer Ice Cream, WCFC 2014: Belgium


This was the first dish I thought of doing when I realised that I had Belgium as one of my teams for the World Cup Food Challenge (well, apart from the ice cream!).  I have avoided doing them for a couple of reasons:
I don't own a waffle iron and I don't want to get mired in the waffle argument!  Oh well, too late for that now!  I borrowed a waffle iron from a friend (completely the wrong shape for a Brussels waffle) and got stuck into the great waffle debate.

The main problem seems to be the Americans, i'm sure this was one of the reasons Belgium had to make sure they beat the USA in the last round!  The Americans have something called the 'Belgian Waffle' which contains baking powder (call the waffle cops!), traditional waffles contain yeast.  However, before the Belgians get too indignant (scoffing aplenty found in my research!) they should remember that this type of waffle was introduced to America via (wait for it) a Belgian!  Maurice Vermersch of Brussels sold something called a 'Bel-Gem' waffle in the late 1950's-early 1960's in America, most influentially at the World Fair in New York in 1964.  Rumour has it that Vermersch used this name for his adapted Brussels waffle because most Americans couldn't identify Brussels as the capitol of Belgium (no comment!). 

Waffles made with baking powder have found their way back to Belgium and are sold in the various waffle chain restaurants mainly due to the simplified and quicker manufacturing process.  The waffle recipe I have used is a traditional yeast waffle.  Having established that yeast was the authentic route, I then had to decide between a Gaufre de Liege or a Gaufre de Bruxelles!  I loved the look of both of them, however, there was one deciding factor.  For the Liege waffle you need pearl sugar in the batter which caramelises during the cooking process and gives a wonderful dark colour to the waffle.  I went shopping to try and buy some but had no luck so the Brussels version won by default!

I found so many variations for 'authentic' Brussels waffles but in the end decided to go with this recipe from 'The Hungry Belgian' blog.  What clinched it for me?  After the title of the recipe are these magical words 'from grandma's handwritten recipe booklet'!  It doesn't get better than that!  I'm not going to publish the recipe here because I followed it exactly, including the sparkling water to give extra boost to the batter!  However, I've just realised that this recipe includes self-raising flour so may inadvertently contain baking powder!  I told you I didn't want to get embroiled in the great waffle debate!  Oh well, follow the link above for the recipe as they were delicious!  Fingers crossed on the authenticity!

Now, the ice cream!  I had a bottle of cherry beer leftover from the Eggs Gambrinus recipe and thought it would be nice to create an ice cream using it to go with these waffles.  I also wanted an opportunity to use some good quality Belgian chocolate (if they go out tonight and I haven't used Belgian chocolate it just wouldn't be right!).  So here we have my recipe for a belter of an ice cream; chocolate, cherry and beer!  If you can find the part to attach the paddle of your ice cream maker to the maker itself then you'll get an even better texture to your ice cream!

Choc Cherry Beer Ice Cream

Ingredients

375ml bottle of Belgian Cherry Beer (I used Bacchus Kriekenbier)
100g Belgian Chocolate
300ml Double Cream
397g tin of Condensed Milk


Method

1.  Pour beer into a pan and place on a high heat.  Boil until it reduces from 375ml to 150ml.  Set aside to cool.
2.  In a separate pan, place the double cream and chocolate and gently heat until the chocolate melts into the cream.  Remove from heat.
3.  Add the condensed milk and cooled beer to the chocolate cream and stir or whisk together until thoroughly combined.
4.  Pour mixture into ice cream machine or place in freezer, going back to stir occasionally until frozen. 

This ice cream is delicious; the beer lends not just a pleasing cherry hit but also a slight bitter note to contrast with the sweet condensed milk.  The chocolate is rich and decadent making this an ice cream which ticks all the boxes!

The waffles were delicious but not entirely correct due to the waffle machine.  It didn't get as hot as is needed for the perfect waffle so they are not as deep a colour as I wanted. The indentations were also too shallow for the perfect Brussels waffles so they are a bit thinner than is ideal.  Having said that, I'd happily eat them all day!  I think I'll have to invest in a good quality waffle iron as the Silvercrest one my mate bought from Aldi didn't really cut it!

If the Belgians lose to Argentina tonight then this will be my last recipe for the challenge.  I have learned so much from taking part in this and had great fun.  There are still issues I need to clarify (including the authentic Brussels waffle recipe!) but I think it is sometimes too easy to get caught up in the authenticity/food snobbery type debates when all we should really be asking is 'does it taste any good?'!  This tastes bloody delicious so I think i'll leave it at that!  Cheers,

FoodandFrets 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Aardappel Taart (Belgian Potato Tart), WCFC 2014: Belgium


Despite a valiant effort from Algeria last night they succumbed to the mighty Germans! That leaves Belgium as my final team in the World Cup Food Challenge 2014.  They play the USA tonight and are strongly fancied to win so I might have to get researching pretty quickly after this Potato Tart recipe. (The USA have been really impressive though so who knows!)

I absolutely love potato dishes especially ones with large quantities of fat!  Potatoes and fat were meant to be together whether in a dauphinoise, a chip, mashed potato, the magnificent roasty or in this potato tart recipe.

When I read about this dish I knew straight away that I needed to make it!  Pastry, potatoes, leeks and ham mixed with double cream pretty much ticks all of the comfort food boxes!  I discovered a recipe from the Hairy Bikers which looked great but I wanted to be more confident of the authenticity of the recipe so I went searching again.  I discovered this site which seems to be a collection of family recipes from a range of contributors on the cuisine of Belgium.  It was slightly different to the other recipes I had found in that it had a pastry lattice on the top which sounded more appealing, the more pastry the better!

So the recipe below is pretty much the recipe as written by Peg Coucke and posted to the above site, with a few alterations along the way.  One of the major changes was that I couldn't find any decent quality smoked ham so I have substituted it for smoked pancetta. I'd encourage you take a look at the site as it has a good range of dishes from a variety of contributors and I can assure you that this recipe is a winner!

Aardappel Taart

Ingredients

20g Butter
100g Smoked Pancetta or Smoked Ham, cubed
1 Leek, chopped
400g Potatoes, peeled and diced
150ml Double Cream
Whole Nutmeg for grating

For the pastry:

1 batch of Soured Cream Pastry

Method

1.  Preheat oven to 180C.  Roll out pastry and line a loose-bottomed flan tin, making sure the pastry is pressed right into the edges.  Place in fridge.  Cut the excess pastry into strips to be used for the lattice, chill.
2.  Melt the butter in a pan and fry the pancetta until golden.  Add the leeks and fry until soft.
3.  Stir in the potatoes and fry for a further 6-8 minutes.  Season with salt, black pepper and nutmeg.
4.  Remove lined tin from the fridge and add the pancetta, leek and potato mixture, spreading out evenly.  Pour over the double cream until just below the top of the tin and add a final grating of nutmeg.
5.  Gently lay over strips of shortcrust pastry in a lattice pattern.  Brush the lattice with beaten egg yolk and  bake on a preheated baking tray for 50 mins-1 hour at 170C until the pastry is golden brown and the potatoes are cooked.  (You can check the potatoes with a skewer.)

This dish is often a side dish in Belgium and is traditionally served with sausage. However, I think it is good enough to be the main attraction especially when accompanied by your favourite Belgian lager!  This is yet another big hitter in the calorie stakes so I am well on my way to my Gambrinus physique!  I might have give the Gaufres a miss if Belgium do beat the USA so I can still fit into my suit!  Cheers,

FoodandFrets

Monday, 30 June 2014

Sahlab, World Cup Food Challenge 2014: Algeria



I was delighted when Algeria qualified for the group stages because I've really enjoyed researching the vast range of dishes prominent in their cuisine.  I was tempted to go down the french-inspired repertoire this time but thought that I'd get more out of staying away from my comfort zone, so I've gone with a dish/drink which is hugely popular across the North of Africa and the Middle East called Sahlab.

Sahlab can be served as a drink or a dessert.  It is a sweetened milk which takes its name from the traditional ingredient used to thicken it, sahlab.  Sahlab is the ground root of a variety of Orchid and my research suggests that it lends a distinctive, slightly floral flavour to the end product.  Cornflour is now widely used in place of sahlab due to the endangered nature of the rare Orchid.  Unfortunately, the cornflour will not imbue the mythical aphrodisiacal properties of the true sahlab!

In an attempt to recreate the flavour of this untested ingredient I had planned on adding some rosewater and a small amount of orange zest.  I have no clue if this would suggest the flavours of the authentic sahlab but I do know that both rose and orange are popular flavourings in Algeria so I thought I'd get away with it!  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find rosewater whilst out shopping so this version just had the zest of a clementine to suggest an orange blossom flavour!

Sahlab can be topped with a variety of ingredients which always includes cinnamon; I've also gone with pistachios and coconut to add a different textural note to the sweet milk.

Sahlab

Ingredients

60g Cornflour mixed with 125ml Water
500 ml Milk
125g Sugar
Zest of a Clementine, grated using a microplane
Desiccated Coconut, Pistachios, chopped, and Cinnamon to garnish.

Method

1.  Combine the milk and sugar in a pan and heat, stirring regularly, over a medium heat until simmering, stir in clementine zest.
2.  Whisk in the cornflour mixture and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth, thickened and bubbling.
3.  Pour into mugs or bowls and top with the coconut and pistachios.  Dust with cinnamon and serve.

This recipe couldn't be easier and it is a really comforting dessert.  It's very reminiscent of a good rice pudding, just without the rice!  It could be such a versatile dish as well; the amount of cornflour can be reduced to serve it as a warming drink, or you could add any other flavours you fancy.  I think i'll try one with cardamom and possibly reduce the sugar content and add some honey.

Just a word of warning, the mixture itself isn't the most aesthetically pleasing dessert you'll ever see!  My wife arrived home and I (enthusiastically) asked her if she wanted to try an Algerian dessert; she took one look at it and declined the offer!  I finally convinced her to have a try and she absolutely loved it so don't be deterred, this really is delicious!

I fear this will be my last Algerian recipe as the mighty Germans are tough competition! However, this certainly won't be my last foray into Algerian cuisine as they've got some cracking recipes!  Hope you enjoy this one.  Cheers,

FoodandFrets

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Eggs Gambrinus, World Cup Food Challenge 2014: Belgium


You've got to give it to the Belgians; not only have they got a pretty decent football team these days but they've got the folklore nailed as well!  No men in green tights to be seen; instead we have Gambrinus.  There are several different versions of this mythical character (usually the case with these folklore types!) but one thing they all have in common is 'beer', hats off!  You can keep your bows and arrows just give me the beer!  In some accounts he is the inventor of beer, in others just a guy who could handle a lot of it (again, I doff my hat!).  He's usually pictured as a happy fatty with a tankard in his hand, he just gets better!

I'm not entirely certain of the current prominence of this recipe in Belgian cuisine as internet searches only result in one recipe.  The recipe is from the 1982 book 'A Taste of the Belgian Provinces' by Enid Gordon and Midge Shirley.  Although slightly worried about not being able to find any other references to the recipe, this book does seem like the real deal so I think I'm in safe hands.

Unsurprisingly, beer features heavily in this recipe; kriek or cherry beer to be precise.  We poach the eggs in it and then use the poaching liquor to make a roux based sauce, it's a bit rarebit meets eggs Benedict.  In further good news, the eggs are then served on fried bread, outstanding!  Gambrinus can come around to mine anytime and I might even knock him a batch of these up!

Eggs Gambrinus (Adapted from 'A Taste of the Belgian Provinces')

Having said that I was in safe hands in terms of the authenticity of the recipe book; the recipe itself is actually very vague in terms of cooking technique and quantities!  It tells us to poach the eggs in 'half a bottle' of kriek, thanks for that (I knew that size mattered!),  I also struggled to work out how it was possible to poach 4 eggs in half a bottle of beer; it's either a huge bottle or the Belgians poach eggs differently to me!  There are also lines like 'fry in the remaining butter', what remaining butter?!

My main dilemma (other than quantities e.g. googling what the hell a 'dl' is, decilitre in case you're wondering although I should've known!) was how to poach the eggs.  Even with a whole bottle of beer it isn't the amount of liquid needed to poach eggs in!  So I decided to abandon my usual technique of poaching in a large saucepan and switched to my smallest saucepan so the beer would be as deep as possible.  The pan needs to be non-stick when using such a small amount of liquid as the egg will hit the bottom on entry! These weren't my prettiest poached eggs but they did the job and I didn't have to spend a fortune emptying bottle after bottle into a large pan!  So, the version you see here is the result of me scratching my head and trying to work out exactly what to do!  Gotta love 80's recipes!  I hope I got it right!

Ingredients

375ml Kriek or other Cherry Beer ( I used Bacchus Kriekenbier)
4 Eggs
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Plain Flour
1/2 Tsp Sugar
100ml Double Cream
Chopped Parsley to garnish

Method

1.  Pour the beer into a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.  Poach the eggs in the beer one at a time by cracking the eggs into a ramekin and then gently pouring into the beer.  Poach until just set, around 3 minutes (they will continue to cook as they rest whilst you make the sauce so it is important not to overcook at this point.  Don't worry about them going cold; we'll warm them up later!).  Remove eggs to kitchen roll when ready.  Remove saucepan from the heat and place to one side.
2.  In a separate pan, melt the butter and heat until bubbling.  Tip in the flour and stir thoroughly, fry for a minute to cook out the flour; gradually strain in around half of the reserved beer (bit by bit, stirring all the time) until the sauce is smooth and thick.  Add the sugar and stir in the cream.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
3.  Reheat the poaching liquor until simmering and gently place the eggs back in, place a lid on and gently cook for around 1 minute until reheated.  Remove to eggs to kitchen roll.
4.  Serve on bread (crusts removed and cut into an oval) that has been either fried in butter or toasted and buttered.  Top each slice with a poached egg and then spoon over the sauce and garnish with parsley.  Enjoy!

I seem to be inadvertently stumbling across breakfast/brunch dishes during this challenge; Syrniki, Chakchouka and now Eggs Gambrinus!  Weekends are going to be fun and fattening in my household over the coming weeks!  I really enjoyed the sweet and deep sauce with the rich egg yolks.  It's a really decadent sauce which certainly packs a calorific punch!

This is my last recipe from the group stages of the World Cup so now I'm just waiting to see who qualifies from Group H.  I'll be posting recipes from the two countries which progress on the days they play for as long as they last in the tournament.

Search for #wcfc2014 on Twitter to see all the recipes and give @EwanMitchell a follow for creating this great challenge which will have me sporting a Gambrinus-style physique in no time! Cheers,

The Brewer King!  Image taken from this entertaining tale of Gambrinus!


FoodandFrets






Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Chakchouka, World Cup Food Challenge 2014: Algeria


When I think of North African cuisine I tend to think of Morocco.  I suppose this is a product of the Moroccan tourist board doing a wonderful job of making Marrakech appear attractive!  Don't get me wrong there are some positive points about Marrakech, the food, the architecture and the wonderful riads.  However, holidaying in the midst of poverty just isn't my cup of mint tea (I can also live without having monkeys forced onto my shoulders every time I walk across the square!). Anyway, I'm sure you can guess by now that I didn't really like Marrakech but why am I rambling on about it when i'm supposed to be writing about Algeria?  Well, the answer is that they share a lot in common in terms of their cuisine, except the Algerians like things a lot spicier, get in!

This recipe is a spicy tomato and pepper based stew which is traditionally served for breakfast.  There are versions of this dish prepared all over North Africa and the Middle East and ingredients used tend to vary from country to country and also from household to household!  I quite like the idea of adding Merguez sausage to this but I thought I wouldn't ruin the opportunity to have a rare vegetarian dish on the blog (plus I couldn't find any Merguez!).  My version here makes the most of the Algerian love affair with spice and has cumin, paprika and the wonderfully fiery Harissa.  We had this for tea and I had to tone down the Harissa levels to suit the little 'uns but feel free to add more if you have carte blanche(just a little nod to the french-colonial times there!) to suit yourself.

This is a delicious dish which shares a lot in common with the Mexican dish Huevos Rancheros; I always find it fascinating how there are similar dishes and cooking styles from such a broad range of countries.  Anyway, i'll stop rambling on and actually type something useful like the recipe!

Chakchouka

Ingredients

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3/4 Tsp Cumin Seeds
1 Onion, sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, diced
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Orange Pepper
1 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tsp Harissa Paste
6 Tomatoes, skinned and chopped
Handful Black Olives
4 Eggs
Flat Leaf Parsley to garnish

Method

1.  Heat the oil in a tagine or saute pan with a lid.  Add the cumin seeds and fry over a moderate heat until they start to pop.  Add the onion and garlic and fry until the onions are softened but not coloured.
2.  Turn up the heat and add the peppers and fry until starting to colour and onions are golden brown.  Add the paprika and harissa and fry for a further minute to cook out.
3.  Add the tomatoes and fry until the juices have released.  At this point you may need to add water if there isn't enough liquid in the pan.  Place the lid on and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes have stewed down to a rich sauce.
4.  Add the olives and season to taste with salt and black pepper.  Create 4 holes in the sauce and crack an egg into each hole.  You may find it easier to crack them one at a time into a bowl and pour them from the bowl into the gap created.
5.  Place the lid on your tagine or saute pan and simmer for around 8 minutes or until the eggs are cooked but still have runny yolks.
6.  Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with warm Khobez/Khobz Ftir or Pitta Bread to mop up the egg yolk and spicy sauce.

The more I find out about Algerian cuisine, the more I like it!  This dish is an absolute winner; cheap, easy and a real crowd pleaser!  It has a spicy but clean flavour and a lovely sweetness from the peppers.  The Khobez (available in your local Morrison's, let it shine and all that!) is a typical flatbread which works well to dip into the yolk.  It looks like Algeria might make it through the group as well, happy days!
 
Where's the meat?! ;-)

Do you have any recommendations for any other traditional Algerian recipes I should try? Remember to search for #wcfc2014 on Twitter to see the full list of World Cup recipes! Cheers,

FoodandFrets



Monday, 23 June 2014

Syrniki, World Cup Food Challenge 2014: Russia


Rightly or wrongly (wrongly!) my preconceived ideas of Russian cuisine were of heavy, stodgy dishes best suited to winter.  So when I set out to search for a recipe to represent Russia for the World Cup Food Challenge I felt like I needed to find something light and summery due to the current impressive weather!  I searched for Summer Russian recipes and one of the results that came up was 'syrniki'.  I had never heard of syrniki (not surprising given my absolute ignorance!) but when I read about them they sounded right up my street.  I'm yet to discover a type of pancake that I don't like and these are no exception.

'Syr' translates as cheese and these light and fluffy pancakes are made using tvorog which is curd cheese or quark.  There are a few similar types of cheese which can be substituted for this including cottage cheese or even paneer.  The main consideration is the moisture content of the cheese which will dictate the amount of flour needed to make the pancakes patty-style!  However, I have also seen recipes where you can spoon the batter into the pan instead, so I think it's very much another case of each Mother doing it their way again as it was for the South Korean Bulgogi!

This recipe is adapted from this recipe from Nami-Nami blog; I needed to increase the flour due to the wetter cottage cheese.  I urge you to give these a go!  They're a great change from the norm and a delicious treat for breakfast or anytime you need some pancake goodness in your life!

Syrniki

Ingredients (Makes 8)

250g Cottage Cheese or Quark
60g Plain Flour
1 Egg Yolk
1 Tbsp Sugar
Pinch of Salt

Method

1.  Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until a batter is formed.
2.  Generously dredge your bench with flour and cover your hands in flour as well.  Place a tablespoon of batter onto the bench and roll in the flour until it can be formed into a patty.  Repeat until all the batter is used.  Chilling for 30-60 minutes will make them easier to fry but you can just fry them straight away!
3.  Fry patties in oil or butter (I think oil is more traditional but you can't beat butter!) in a moderately hot pan for 3-4 minutes per side until they are golden brown.
4.  Serve with soured cream and fresh fruit.
Always butter!

Looking at Group H it seems entirely possible that this may be my last Russian recipe!  If they do go out then I'm chuffed that I found such a great recipe in my one shot at it! Right, let's see if the Belgians eat anything other than fries and apple sauce; and let's find out the difference between Algerian and Moroccan!  If you want to have a look at some other excellent recipes from the other bloggers involved just search for #wcfc2014 on Twitter. Cheers,

FoodandFrets




Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Bulgogi, World Cup Food Challenge 2014: South Korea


I was very kindly invited to take part in the World Cup Food Challenge 2014 where a group of bloggers are cooking and posting recipes from all of the countries playing in the greatest tournament on earth!  I was lucky enough (not lucky!) to get the teams from group G.  Yes that's right...Algeria, South Korea, Belgium and Russia!  I knew as soon as I read the draw that I was in trouble!  I know nothing about the cuisine of any of those countries but in a way that's the beauty of this challenge; learning about and cooking food from places you would never have gotten around to trying.

I've recently bought a small barbecue for my even smaller back yard so I can get some practice in for our summer holiday in France where those skills will be needed on a daily basis!  So when I was researching the cuisine of South Korea this recipe jumped out at me immediately.

Bulgogi translates as 'fire meat'!  Has there ever been a better phrase?!  As soon as I discovered the translation I knew it was the first dish I was going to choose for the challenge.  Finding a consensus on what should be in an authentic bulgogi has defeated me.  I suppose it's like the national dish of any country; every mother has her own way of doing it and everybody else is wrong!

So here's my version which I believe is fairly authentic in its ingredients, if not in cooking technique.  Bulgogi should traditionally be very thinly sliced, placed in the marinade and then almost stir fried on a griddle over a flame.  I didn't want to do it this way mainly because I wanted to barbecue it and also because I wanted to keep the ribeye pink but still charred which I couldn't achieve if it was thinly sliced.  I certainly think it's a winner and it went down a storm for tea!  Now to find some more future family favourites from Russia, Algeria and Belgium....wish me luck!

Bulgogi

For the marinade:
2 Cloves Garlic, grated (I used smoked for extra fire!)
20g Fresh Ginger, grated
1 Fuji Apple, peeled and diced
2 Spring Onions, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
50ml Soy Sauce
25g Light Muscovado Sugar
Sesame Oil, 1 tbsp
Runny Honey, 1 tbsp

2 Ribeye Steaks

To serve:
Cooked rice
Red Gem lettuce leaves

Method

1.  For the marinade, place the diced apple into a dish or bowl and give the apple pieces a good squeeze to release the juice which will helps tenderise the meat; add all of the remaining marinade ingredients and stir to combine.  Taste the marinade to check it has the correct level of sweetness and saltiness for you before adding the meat.
2.  Add the ribeye steaks, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.
3.  Remove steaks from the marinade making sure none of the pieces of apple or onion are left on the steak then either barbecue, grill or fry in a griddle pan until cooked to your liking. (It's a good idea to get the steaks out of the fridge well in advance to take the chill off them before cooking.)
4.  While the steaks are resting, add the leftover marinade to a pan and bring to a simmer to kill remaining bacteria from the raw meat.  Make sure to add the resting juices from the steak as well (a crime to waste it!).
5.  To serve, slice steaks thinly, place on top of lettuce leaves and garnish with red chilli.  Serve with rice and the marinade.

It's great fun to make little parcels of steak, rice and marinade all wrapped in the lettuce leaves, especially with messy kids!  This would also be delicious served with Kimchi (Kimchee? Never sure!) so if South Korea make it through the group i'll have to knock some of that up!  If you want to keep up with the other bloggers taking part you can follow them on twitter by searching for #wcfc2014 Cheers!

The new barbie is a winner!


FoodandFrets