Posts in Belgium
Belgian Waffles
Belgian Waffles

Belgian Waffles 

Waffles with strawberries

Mother’s Waffles

Moeder’s Wafels
Les Gaufres de Ma Mere

Adapted from Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook by Ruth Van Waerebeek

2 packages active dry yeast (4 ½ tsp)
3 cups milk, warmed to 100 F
3 large egg yolks fro 3 eggs, separated
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks (from 3 eggs separated)

For serving
Confectioner’s sugar
Butter
Sliced fruit
Jam

1. In a small bowl dissolve yeast in 1 cup of lukewarm milk

2. In a large mixing bowl whisk the egg yolks with ½ cup of remaining milk and melted cooled butter. Add the yeast mixture, sugar, and salt.

3. Sift flour gradually into batter. Alternate additions of flour with remaining milk. Incorporate fully.

4. Fold in beaten egg whites.

5. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise for one hour.  The batter should double or triple. (You can simulate the warm kitchen, raising by the oven environment by heating your oven to 200, turning it off and allowing the batter to sit in the warmed oven for the hour rise.) You can stir down the dough once or twice if it is threatening to raise over the edge of the bowl.

6. Bake the waffles in a hot waffle iron. Use a pitcher or large measuring cup with a pouring spout to easily pour batter into the hot iron.

7. Serve the baked waffles with confectioner’s sugar and butter.

Other options include jam, nutella, chocolate spread, fruit, whatever pleases you!

Belgian GP 2018: Waterzooi

Belgium. Always one of the best races of the year. Not only is it the return after the summer break so everyone is raring to go, and the gossip is flying through the paddock, but it is also in BELGIUM. Spa-Francochamps is one of the oldest and most beautiful tracks on the F1 calendar. In the forested hills of the Ardennes, it is pristine and gorgeous. It is also the land of fabulous beer and my husband's heritage. So much to love, so little time. The one thing I know a little less about is the food. 

We had the opportunity to travel through Belgium a few years back, and I have wonderful memories of home cooked meals, frites, waffles, and lots of bread and cheese. But after that my list comes up short. I think I was so focused on being with people I love that I failed to learn about the food or get to know local specialties. Shame on me. I intend to make up for that. Both with a future trip back to Belgium (come on cousins, lets get some weddings on the books!), and also by working my way through my husband's grandmother's cookbooks she left to us. 

Waterzooi

This year I am continuing working through 'Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook' by Ruth Van Waerebeek. Waterzooi and a Salad from the Ardennes made up our dinner for this year's Belgian GP. Waterzooi is a classic Belgian dish, somewhere between a soup and a stew. SImple in its ingredients and execution, but with an interesting addition toward the end of a cream and egg mixture that brings the whole thing together and makes it very distinct. Served with some crusty bread and a light salad, it is a great heartwarming meal. 

We, of course, started the day with Belgian Waffles. Served simply with powdered sugar and sliced strawberries and a nice cup of coffee. Plan for an early morning or a late breakfast because the yeasted dough needs at least an hour to rise and build flavor. 

And in true beer loving fashion, we took the whole weekend to work our way through a few work-of-art beers. To be honest, I am a bonafide IPA fan these days. The hoppier the better, crisp clean clear, or hazy as it can get, fruity and tangy or floral and danky, I love them all. But, coming back to a proper Belgian tripel or quad reminds me what a proper beer tastes like. One that makes you pause, close your eyes, and just hum a little under your breath with a long mmmmmm. 

Speaking of paddock gossip, this time of year is called "silly season" because everyone is suddenly a rumor monger, and they all want to know one thing: which drivers will be racing for which teams in the next F1 Season. The summer break brought some serious drama with Ricciardo's announcement that he will be leaving Red Bull for Renault for 2019. This really shook things up and has led to out and out chaos in the driver market. Alonso also announced his official retirement at the end of the season leaving room in the Maclaren team roster, and there are some serious rumors that Raikonnen may be on his way out as well, with the young hotshot Leclerc taking his seat at Ferrari. Generally, all this feels a little, well, silly. But, this year there are so many possible moves, and a very solid set of midfield teams for drivers to move around within, which is making the drama feel a little less silly, and a little more exciting! 

Waterzooi Chicken

 

Waterzooi of Chicken

Gentse Waterzooi van Kip
Waterzooi de Poulet a la Gantoise

From Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook by Ruth Van Waerebeek

1 (3 -4 lb) whole chickens
salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh parsley
1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
4 -6 cups chicken broth
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
5 medium leeks, rinsed well, white parts only, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
2 medium celery ribs, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
1⁄2 cup minced fresh parsley

1. Remove excess fat from chicken cavity. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Place 1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs parsley, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme in cavity. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Melt butter in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent (but not browned); about 5 minutes.

Place the chicken, breast side up, in the Dutch oven, on top of the onions. Add chicken broth to mostly cover the chicken (by about two-thirds). Cover and simmer gently over low heat for 30 minutes.

3. Skim the surface to remove any foam and any fat that has risen. Add the carrots, leeks, and celery. Add the remaining parsley sprigs, thyme and bay leaf. Cover, and adjust heat to maintain a slow simmer for another 30 minutes.

4. Add the potatoes and continue to simmer until potatoes are done and chicken is very tender, about 20 or 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

5. Remove chicken and transfer to a large plate. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove parsley and bay leaves from broth. Let the chicken rest until it is cool enough to handle, then use your fingers to remove the skin and meat from the bones. (Set skin and bones aside for future use ie making more broth.) Continue to use your fingers to shred the meat into bite-sized pieces.

6. Place Dutch oven back over medium heat. Meanwhile, beat the cream and the egg yolks together in a bowl. Now, take a ladleful of hot broth and slowly add to the egg yolk mixture, while stirring. This tempers the yolks. Then, slowly stir the tempered egg yolk mixture into the larger pot of broth and vegetables. Do not allow to boil or the egg yolks might curdle. Add the chicken. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

7. Serve in bowls, with a hearty loaf of hand-sliced bread.

 

Salad Ardennes
Salad Ardennes

This is a simple bright salad with the extra crunch of toasted croutons and a kick of garlic. I simplified the vinaigrette so that it is a bit lighter and could simply be made in a jar or bowl (the original recipe had eggs, an extra cup of oil, and used an immersion blender...)  

I almost always have bread cubes in my freezer because my go-to bread recipe makes two loaves and we can usually only get through one and a half before it starts to get on the stale side. I chop the rest up, pop it in the freezer, and use it for strata when the mood strikes. It worked perfectly here too! 

Salad from the Ardennes

Adapted from Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook by Ruth Van Waerebeek

1 medium head romaine lettuce
1 small head escarole or curly endive
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 recipe Shallot-Parsley Vinaigrette (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups large bread cubes (3 wide slices country-style bread)
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Shallot-Parsley Vinaigrette
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons minced parsley
salt and fresh ground pepper

1. Make Shallot Parsley Vinaigrette by combining all ingredients in a mason jar with a tight lid and shaking vigorously. Alternatively, whisk first three ingredients until combined and then add remaining three.

2. Wash and dry salad greens. Combine them in a salad bowl with dressing. Top with tomatoes.

3. In a large skillet heat butter. Add bread cubes and pan fry until lightly browned on all sides. Remove onto a paper towel lined plate. Rub each side with cut side of a garlic clove.

4. Serve at once.

Belgian GP - Moules Frites

The Belgian Grand Prix is like Christmas come early in our household. Not only is it the first race after the summer break (FOUR weeks without F1!) but it also the home of absolutely delicious food, the most amazing beer, and a whole contingent of my husband's awesome relatives. 

Last year we went a little overboard and bought every Trappist beer we could find in a 50 mile radius, along with a few other Belgian beers we just couldn't resist. It took us about a month of diligent beer drinking to make our way through the stash, but it was well worth it. This year we were a little more particular and found some options that would pair well with our meal and remind us just how good Belgian beer is. 

Moules Frites
(Mussels and Fries!)

Moules Mariniere

(Belgian Steamed Mussels – Gestoomde Mossels)

From Everybody Eats Well In Belgium Cookbook by Ruth Van Waerebeek

“To experience the truly Belgian addiction, make sure to serve a small bowl of homemade mayonnaise, strongly flavored with mustard, to dip your frites in and a fresh pint of beer to wash it all down”

3 tablespoons butter
2 large shallots
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
(1 leek sliced white and light green parts, chopped)
(1/2 fennel bulb, chopped)
4 pounds mussels, thoroughly cleaned
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 ½ cups dry white wine*

1. Melt the butter in a pot large enough to hold all the mussels, over medium heat. Add the shallots, celery, leek, and fennel; cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are softened and just slightly browned. Add the mussels, sprinkle with thyme, bay leaf, parsley, and 1-2 grindings fresh pepper. Pour the white wine over the mussels, cover the pot tightly.

*We ended up using a chardonnay because that is what we had on hand, and it turned out great!

2. Bring to a boil over high hear and steam the mussels in the covered pot until they open, 3-6 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the mussels as they can easily get tough. As soon as the mussels have opened, take them off the heat. Shake the pot several times to toss the mussels with the buttery vegetables. Discard any that have not opened.

3. Spoon the hot mussels into large bowls along with some of the broth. Sprinkle with additional parsley.

 

A Vôtre Santé (Cheers!) 

A Vôtre Santé (Cheers!) 

We have overtime collected a rather extensive beer glass collection, thanks in part to our local Ale House offering a Thursday night Pint Night in which you buy a pint of beer and get the corresponding pint glass to take home! And thanks also in part to an amazing trip to Belgium we took 4 years ago where we bought every Belgian beer glass we could get our hands on. Now, to my great joy, we can almost always pour our beer into its proper glassware and enjoy it as it is meant to be served. If you are not a crazy collector/ hoarder/ beer enthusiast, you can serve Belgian beer in a red wine glass or a goblet or tulip glass if you have one. Otherwise a mason jar, pint glass, mug, or bowl will do, just not out of the bottle!! 

Pommes Frites
(Belgian FrieS)

From Everybody Eats Well In Belgium Cookbook by Ruth Van Waerebeek

You know how they tell you to read through a recipe in advance so you don’t miss a step or end up missing an ingredient? Well, I did not indeed read the tips provided for this recipe and particularly the part about the fact that the older the potato, the better the fries. My potatoes were brand-spanking new, so they were not the magical crispiest-ever fries promised, but they were properly delicious nonetheless. So that you don't make the same mistake, I am telling you now -- use those old potatoes sitting on the back of your shelf somewhere! Your fries will thank you. 

3 to 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
2 pounds russet potatoes, rinsed and dried
Salt

1.     Pour enough oil in a deep fryer or large pot (I use a dutch oven because it has great heat retention). Heat oil to 325F.

2.     Cut the potatoes into sticks ½ inch wide. (If you prefer skinny or thicker potatoes, just make sure to adjust cooking times accordingly.) Dry all the pieces thoroughly with a clean dish towel. This will help prevent oil splattering. Divide the potato sticks into batches of no more than 1 cup each. Do not fry more than one batch at a time

3.     When the oil has reached the desired temperature, fry the potatoes for 4-5 minutes per batch. They should be lightly colored but not browned. Be sure to bring the oil back up to 325 between batches. At this point the frites can rest for several hours at room temperature until you are almost ready to serve them.

4.     Heat the oil to 375F. Fry the potatoes in 1 cup batches until they are nicely browned and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain on fresh paper towels. (Do not cover with a lid this will lead to limp potatoes.)

5.     Serve with freshly made mayonnaise.

 

Homemade Mayonnaise

From Everybody Eats Well In Belgium Cookbook by Ruth Van Waerebeek

2 egg yolks
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cups safflower oil (or ½ cup olive oil and 1 cup safflower oil)

1.     Place the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. Whisk until the mixture is well combined and slightly thickened. Watch carefully so that the eggs don’t scramble. Set aside to cool.

2.     Whisk a few drops of the oil into the cooled egg yolks until completely incorporated. Add a bit more oil, whisking to incorporate. Continue adding the oil in a slow, steady steam while whisking constantly. You should end up with a smooth emulsified sauce.

3.     Taste to correct seasoning. Store in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to 10 days.

Optional add ins:
Garlic mayo: 4 Tbsp mayo + 1 clove smashed and very finely minced garlic + 1/2 tsp salt
Curry mayo: 4 Tbsp mayo + 1/2 Tbsp curry + 1 tsp Sriracha (or more to taste)
Lemon mayo/aioli: 4 Tbsp mayo + 1/2 clove smashed and very finely minced garlic + juice of half a lemon (1/2-1 Tbsp)

Want more dip ideas? Some of these sound flipping amazing: Saveur's 10 Dipping Sauces for Frites

Everybody Eats Well in Belgium

This cookbook is pretty magical. Not only does it have delicious recipes, but Ruth Can Waerebeek offers great anecdotes and stories about tradition, history, and cooking tips that are interesting and at times invaluable. 

I highly recommend it! Or you can check out her newer cookbook The Taste of Belgium which I am thinking about exploring myself, as it is filled with beautiful pictures and new stories too! 

Cheers to a job well done!