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Kulajda, Czech mushroom soup

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Kulajda is a Czech soup. An “updated” version is made with sour cream, potatoes, dill and quail egg. Mushrooms are the most important ingredient of the soup.

Ingredients: 1 packet dried or fresh mushrooms, 4 big potatoes, peeled, cut into small cubes, 1 onion, peeled, 2 bay leaves, 5 black peppercorns, 5 all spices (thyme, rosemary, marjoram, basil, oregano) 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, salt, 4 tbsp flour, 500 ml sour cream, 2 tbsp vinegar, 4-6 quail eggs, 2 twigs lovage, 1 bundle dill

Directions: Start to prepare soup with the dried mushrooms. A mixture of forest mushrooms provides the best and add very intensive taste to soup. Put them into a saucepan pour over mushroom some water, bring them to boil and cook them for 5 minutes until they are tender. When done, take out the mushrooms and rinse them well with cold water.

Put mushrooms, halved onion, bay leaves, black pepper, allspices, caraway seed, lovage, salt and 2 liters of water into a pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile add flour to sour cream and a little bit of cold water and I stir them well then add this mixture to soup (use sieve if necessary). Bring the soup to a boil again. Then add potatoes and cook them for another 10 minutes or until they are soft.

Finishing touch: flavor the soup with vinegar, salt and add the cooked eggs (or poached eggs) to as well. Finally bestrew soup with the chopped dill just before serving in order to the taste will be really intensive. Serve with fresh bread.

Leves

Liwanzen plum cake

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A month ago we spent our weekend in Wien, where of course we got the “coffee and cake bug” in the afternoon around four o’ clock. The café what we choose was amazing. Sacher torte is simply to die for and I also tried their pancakes-the Liwanzen plum pancakes-which were just perfect with plum jam and sorbet. My husband and I both had boozy hot chocolates, mine was with Sacher liqueur. We wanted to buy a bottle of this straightaway in the Sacher shop just on the corner of the hotel, but unfortunately, the shop was closed. After returning home I searched for the recipe. Here it is:

Liwanzen pancakes

This is a popular dessert from the Viennese cuisine however it’s originates from Bohemia. It’s full name is “Powidl-Liwanzen cake“ which is a small, fried yeast pancakes with Powidl-a special kind of plum jam. So the combination of the two ingredients result the Powidl-Liwanzen. For an ideal preparation a special cast-iron frying pan with round hollows is needed. Another possibility is to place metal rings in a usual teflon-lined pan.

Serves: for 6-8 Liwanzen

Ingredients:

20 g (1/8 cup) melted butter, 15 g (1/16 cup) yeast, 20 g (1/8 cup) sugar (for the pre-dough), 180 ml (0,3 pt) milk (lukewarm), 130 g (1 1/8 cups) flour (fine), 2 egg yolks, 2 egg whites, 100 g (1/2 cup) butter, 100 g (1/2 cup) plum jam, 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar (for caramelizing), 1/2 pod vanilla (pulp), 1/2 lemon (rind, grated), icing sugar (for dusting), 1 pinch salt

Preparation:

Dissolve the yeast, sugar and salt in the lukewarm milk. Stir in the sifted flour, making sure the batter is smooth. Then add the egg yolks, vanilla pod, lemon rind and melted butter. Cover, and leave to rise for 1 hour at room temperature. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. In a “Liwanzen pan” (cast iron frying pan with round hollows), heat the butter and pour the batter into the hollows. (If you don’t have a “Liwanzen pan”, use metal rings about 6 cm (2 in.) Ø in a teflon-lined pan). Shake the pan so that the batter is evenly spread. Allow the Liwanzen to cook for about 5 minutes on one side, turn over and finish cooking.
Remove, and brush half of the Liwanzen with plum jam and sandwich with one without jam. Caramelize the sugar in a pan, and dribble over the Liwanzen. Serve dusted with icing sugar.

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Mustard flavored pork chops with five smashed vegetables

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Ingredients: 1-2 thin slices of pork chops, mustard, breadcrumbs, salt

for the first purée: 1 kohlrabi, 1 small tuber beetroot, salt, pepper, 1-2 tbsp mirin, 1 teaspoon brown sugar

for second purée: 4 medium-sized potatoes, 2 parsnips, 2 pieces of turnips, butter, 100 ml cream, 1 vegetable soup stock, 1 kk curry, 1 kk cloves powder

Preparation of the first purée: Peel the potatoes, turnips and parsnips, then dice them. Pour water in a pan, toss the vegetables and add the vegetable stock. Flavor with curry and cloves. Cook it tender. When it’s done, sieve it, but keep some vegetable broth. Add the cream and butter to the vegetables, then make puree with a potato press. If necessary, pour some broth out of the cooking broth.

Second puree: Clean the kohlrabi and beetroot, then cut them into small cubes. Melt butter in a pan, toss the vegetables. Season with salt, pepper and fry well with the addition of a small spoon of brown sugar. When the the kohlrabi begins to caramelized, pour a little water and simmer both vegetables softly (you can also pour 100ml of cream on it). Before finishing cooking, season with a tablespoon of Japanese wine vinegar (mirin). When it’s done, purée it.

Fry the meat: tenderize the meat, season with salt and smear both sides with mustard. Then cover them with the breadcrumbs. Finally fry each slices in hot oil. Serve meat alongside with the purees (The meat will have a sensational taste from mustard!).P1210375

Beef stew with three different mushrooms

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Ingredients

600 gr beef, 1 onion, 200 g brown champignon, 100 g wild forest champignons, 800 g potatoes, 4-8 turnips, 5 g dried porcini mushroom, 1 tbsp tomato purée, 150 g grated Oud Brugge cheese, 200 ml cream, 2 bay leaves, 400 ml beef fond, fresh thyme, 4 teaspoons of butter, salt & pepper to taste

Recipe

1.In a saucepan sear the stew in butter until golden brown. Don’t do this with oversized quantities at a time. Set aside the meat you just baked.

Chop the onion finely, fry it in the stew adding to a little butter and then put the meat back. Season with salt, pepper and add bay leaves.

Pour over meat with slightly warmed beef fond and also add the tomato paste and porcini mushroom, stir well. Put a lid on the pot and simmer for 1 to 2 hours on a small heat or until the meat falls apart nicely.

2. For the mashed potato, cook the potatoes until they are tender (± 20 minutes) in salted water. Get rid of the water and crush potatoes with a mash tamper. Stir in 1 knob of butter, add cream and Old Brugges cheese (grated). Season potato with pepper and a little salt. Set aside and keep warm.

3. Steam the turnips until tender and simmer them in a knob of butter let them rather shiny. Season with fresh thyme, salt and pepper.

4. Heat a knob of butter in an anti-adhesive pan and fry the mushrooms until they are golden brown for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve by arranging a spoonful of mashed potato on a plate, scoop some stew on top and finish with the fried mushrooms and turnips.

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Classic Italian sweets for carnival: the Schiacciata alla fiorentina and the Florentines

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Among the Italian desserts, schiacciata alla fiorentina, a white flatbread cake, is one of the most popular soft cake, typical of Florentine cuisine, and it’s especially eaten at Carnival time.

As a matter of fact, schiacciata alla fiorentina was originally a sweet bread dough, with lots of lard, to which was sometimes added bacon or cretons. Over time, the recipe has evolved into this fragrant dessert with orange and olive oil, which is representative of the city of Florence during the carnival period. In Italian, schiacciata means “crushed”. The origin of the name comes from the fact that eggs need to be crushed (beaten) to prepare it. This dessert was formerly known as schiacciata unta (crushed fat) given the use of lard.

How to make it?

In its most traditional form, schiacciata alla fiorentina must be rectangular and its height must be about 3 cm (a little more than 1 inch). It is also one of the basic rules of “La migliore schiacciata alla fiorentina”, the competition that is organized every year in Florence, during the carnival period, and that will award the best schiacciata alla fiorentina. The fleur-de-lis decoration is made of cocoa powder, that is featured on all traditional schiacciata alla fiorentina is none other than the symbol and the coat of arms of the city of Florence. Simply print one that you will find on many websites and cut out the outlines to make a stencil. You can download a template for example.

Ingredients for the dough

2-½ cups flour, sifted , ¾ cup sugar, ⅓ cup whole milk, at room temperature , ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 3 eggs, at room temperature, 1 large organic orange + zest, at room temperature, 1 tablespoon baking powder, sieved, 1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and seeds scraped

For the decoration: 3 tablespoons icing sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

For the bottom of the mold: 2 tablespoons butter, soft, 1 tablespoon flour, sifted

Directions:

  1. Whisk eggs, icing sugar and vanilla seeds for 5 minutes using your mixer.
  2. Add orange zest and olive oil, and continue beating, at low speed.
  3. Add the orange juice and beat for one minute.
  4. Add the milk, and beat for another minute.
  5. Mix the baking powder and flour, and gradually incorporate them with a spatula, adding one spoon at a time and making sure they are entirely absorbed before adding the next spoon.
  6. Preheat convection oven to 350 F.
  7. Dust butter and flour the bottom and all the sides of a 10×8 inch pan. Pour the batter.
  8. Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes. After 30 minutes, check if the cake is baked by inserting a toothpick.
  9. Unmold and let the cake cool on a wire rack.
  10. Sprinkle icing sugar over the entire surface. Create a fleur-de-lis stencil, put it on the cake and sprinkle cocoa powder.
  11. Gently lift the stencil so that no cocoa powder spills onto the icing sugar.

Florentine biscuit

Ingredients: 140 g flaked almonds, chopped, 2 tbsp plain flour, 2 tsp grated orange zest, 75 g sugar, 120 g butter, cut into pieces, 80 ml whipping cream, 2 tbsp honey, 230 g dark or milk chocolate chips

Method

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.
Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir the almonds, flour and zest in a medium bowl. Stir the sugar, butter, cream, and honey in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the almond mixture. Cool the batter for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using 2 teaspoons of batter for each cookie, spoon 8 mounds of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly apart (the cookies will spread). Flatten the batter slightly with your finger.

Bake the cookies until they are lacy and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Gently slide the parchment paper with the cookies onto a rack and cool completely. Transfer the cookies to paper towels. Repeat with the remaining batter, lining the baking sheets with clean parchment for each batch. (The cookies can be made up to this point 2 months ahead. Cool completely, then store airtight in the freezer. Defrost before continuing.)
Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Spread the melted chocolate over the bottom of 1 cookie. Top with a second cookie, bottom side down, pressing lightly to adhere. Repeat with the remaining cookies and chocolate.florentines

 

 

 

The castle of Hex and its rose garden

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After discovering the rose and herb’s garden of the remarkable castle Heks/ Hex in Belgium I decided to participate in a cook course led by Claude Pohlig. But before sharing my wonderful experience with you I’d like to introduce you to the history of the castle:

The Hex Castle is situated in the village of Heks, about halfway between Sint-Truiden and Tongeren, 3km south of Borgloon (Looz in French). It is a classical castle built for a Prince-Bishop of Liège. It is renowned for its French-style gardens and English-style park.

History

Private residence of François-Charles von Velbrück (1719-1784), Prince-Bishop of Liège between 1772 and 1784, Hex is a jewel of Rococo style almost unrivaled in Belgium.

François-Charles von Velbrück was born near Düsseldorf. In 1735 he became canon priest of the cathedral of Liège then in 1756, Archdeacon of Hesbaye. Between 1757 and 1763, he served as prime minister under Prince-Bishop Jean-Théodore of Bavaria.

As a ruler of the Principality of Liege, Velbrück was remembered as an enlightened philosopher and humanist, a nature lover, a patron of the arts, and an exponent of free education. He endowed Liège with an academy of painting, sculpture and engraving, a free school of drawing for mechanic arts, a free school of surgery, as well as free courses of mathematics and public law. All this, combined with a lasting time of peace during his whole rule made of Velbrück one of the most beloved prince-bishops of Liège in history.

In 1770, François-Charles started the construction of his château in Hex, on an estate where his father François-Joseph had erected a hunting pavilion. François-Charles was struck by the beauty of the Hesbaye region, in the County of Looz. Upon his death, as the castle was a personal possession, it didn’t go the the Principality of Liège but was inherited by François-Charles’ family, passed to the Marchant d’Ansembourg, and eventually to the Counts of Ursel.

Description

Completed in 1772, Hex castle was built in the middle of an exceptional natural site, covering 5 hectares (12.5 acres) of formal French-style gardens and 60 hectares (150 acres) of English-style park. The terrain is hilly, with 60 meters of difference between the highest and lowest point.

Most remarkable of all is the collection of roses, which includes a variety not found anywhere else in the world: the Rosa Velbruck Indica Centifolia, named after the original owner of the property. Let’s also note the Chinese garden and the potager (vegetable garden).

The park was inspired by the works of the celebrated English landscape-architect “Capability” Brown, and was on of the first of the kind on the continent itself. It has the status of natural reserve. The castle is U-shaped and has a front façade of 19 windows in length (on two levels). The interior of the castle was designed in opulent Louis XV and Louis XVI styles. Some rooms have Chinese decoration. There are no less than six living rooms, each of a different colour. The main dining room is decorated with magnificent wood panelling by Liège artist Tombaye.

The castle itself cannot be visited, but the gardens and park are open to the public for the Festival of plants twice a year (2nd weekend of June and 2nd weekend of September in 2020). Guided tours start every hour. Admission is 7.5 € per person (dogs are not allowed).

The rest of the year, group (max. 35 people) tours can be arranged through written request, 3 weeks prior to the visit. The tours take approximately 1h30min to 2 hours, and can be held on weekdays between 10:00 am and noon, or between 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm. The individual fee is 7.5 €, with a minimum of 150 € for the whole group (so if the group is composed of only 10 people, the fee will be 15 € per person).

Cooking with Claude Pohlig:

It was a carless Sunday in Brussels, when a large part of the square in front of the royal palace was clad with grass and food and information stands about agriculture and organic food. Some bought sweets and were elegantly clad. Some stood in line to eat ice cream. Some took time to be handed information about all sorts of things, such as tap water or traffic in Brussels or different types of organic cheese. Of course there was a lot of tasting to be done. Soon I hit upon some heirloom tomatoes that looked very familiar to me. Indeed, I had hit upon Claude Pohlig’s temporary, but professionally run food court! I wandered on, to the information stand of the Brussels Slow Food movement, and next door I met Anne, from the blog Les jardins de Pomone, whom I was happy to meet in personShe and her husband know a thing or two about real food too: that’s food coming straight from a garden. Anne made me taste the leaves of the stevia plants, never had before. And Brussels was just the beginning! After I tasted the Pohlig’s dishes, I decided to take part in his training at Hex Castle! And I did it in September.

Visiting Mr Pohlig in castle Hex: The middle-aged, lean, good looking master chef himself was digging in boxes, but his assistant chef was preparing the lentil flour crêpes. As a starter I took a soup made with orange-colored tomatoes, quinoa and purple basil. Next, I chose the beef hamburger dressed with a pumpkin patty, and a mayonnaise with fresh herbs, served with a salad featuring pale yellow carrots. Taste bombs. In short Claude Pohlig, Michelin star chef does catering with what Michael Pollan calls real food! Here are two recipes of mr Pohlig:

Lavender pancake with salmon

Ingredients: 25 ml milk, 2 eggs, 100 g flour, 2 lavender twigs, 4 slices smoked salmon, 25 cl tick cream, pepper, flowers and herbs

Preparation: Make pancake dough with the flour, milk and eggs. Add the lavender flowers and leave the dough for 24 hours rest. Bake the pancakes in cleared butter or in a mixture of half butter, half oil. Place a slice of smoked salmon on each pancake and a spoonful of thick cream. Add flowers and garden herbs to your own preference. Season with some freshly ground pepper before serving. gambero-rosso-tym-k-lejeune

Rosehip cake with nuts 

Ingredients: 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) of earth balance, or other vegan butter, room temperature, 1 cup sugar, 2 ½ cups flour, ½ cup rosehips, loosely packed, with the inside seeds and hairs removed, ½ cup almonds or hazelnuts

Methods: 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper, next finely chop the rosehips and almonds and set aside.
2. Using a hand-mixer, whip the vegan butter. Add the sugar and whip until it is fully integrated and fluffy. With the mixer on a low setting, add the flour, rosehips and almonds half a cup at a time until it has all been added.
3. Scoop the batter onto the baking dish covered with parchment paper and use your hands to push into an even layer across the entire pan. Make as smooth as possible, or use a fork to add texture- the cookies will not smooth in the oven. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until it has turned more golden but not brown- they will still be fairly soft but will harden as they cool.
4. Use the edges of the wax paper to lift the cookie dough from the hot pan and place on a cutting board. While still hot, cut down to the desired size and shape and then allow to cool completely before serving.

5. I prepared cream with Philadelphia cream cheese, adding sugar and whipped cream to it. I decorated with rosehip marmalade and ground hazelnuts.

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Claude Pohlig is a Michelin star chef, works for Cuisine potager as a caterer and gives cooking lessons in the castle of Hex etc.

Pork ragout with chestnut purée

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Ingredients: 600 g pork ( shoulder), 1 jar chestnut purée, 2 apples, golden delicious, 2 onions, 400 ml calf fond, 300 ml red wine, 200 g red berries jelly, 4 junipers, 25 g fondant chocolate, 1 el sugar, 50 g flour, butter, pepper & salt to taste

Directions:

Peel the onions. Melt butter and fry chopped onions in the pan. Add meet to onion and let them steam until golden brown. Bestrew with flour and stir evenly.

Pour fond over and the 200 ml red wine and stir until smooth. Add 4 tablespoons of the berry jelly and the juniper. Let it simmer for 45 minutes under medium heat.

Preheat the oven for 180°C Rinse the apples and take out scoops with a “Parisienne” spoon. Bake them for 5 minutes in butter and sugar.

Spoon some berry jelly into the halved apples, place the fried apple balls and bake them in the oven for 15 minutes.

Warm the chestnut puree in the rest of the red wine, salt and pepper to taste. Fill the purée in a baking bag and form nice roses from it.

Add the chocolate to the ragout and continue to season with pepper and salt.

Serve the pork ragout with the stuffed apples and chestnut purée.varkensstoofvlees_met_kastanjepuree_en_appeltjes