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Grilled beef tenderloin with onion rings

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Summer is at the door, it’s time for a good grilled meat!  I love this dish with onion rings and French fries! Megahit!

Ingredients: 1 (5 pound) whole beef tenderloin, 6 tablespoons olive oil, 8 large garlic cloves, minced, 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves, 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon salt

Directions

  1. Prepare beef: Trim off excess fat with a sharp knife. Fold thin tip end under to approximate the thickness of the rest of the roast. Tie with butcher’s twine, then keep tying the roast with twine every 11/2 to 2 inches (to help the roast keep its shape). Snip silverskin with scissors to keep roast from bowing during cooking. Then, mix oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, pepper and salt; rub over roast to coat. Set meat aside.
  2. Either build a charcoal fire in half the grill or turn all gas burners on high for 10 minutes. Lubricate grate with an oil-soaked rag using tongs. Place beef on hot rack and close lid; grill until well-seared, about 5 minutes. Turn meat and close lid; grill until well-seared on second side, another 5 minutes.
  3. Move meat to the charcoal grill’s cool side, or turn off burner directly underneath the meat and turn remaining one or two burners (depending on grill style) to medium. Cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest section registers 130 degrees for rosy pink, 45 to 60 minutes, depending on tenderloin size and grill. Let meat rest 15 minutes before carving.
  4.  Serve with French fries and onion rings (I only rolled the onion rings in flour then fried them).
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Quark dumpling with strawberry sauce

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Knödel or Klöße are boiled dumplings, originated in Germany and commonly found in German, Central European and East European cuisine. Knödel are used in various dishes in Austrian, Hungarian, and Czech cuisine as well. From these regions, knödel spread throughout Europe.

At the turn of the 20th century, it was commonly said that a Czech girl is not prepared to marry until she can cook this dish. Central European countries in which their variant of Knödel is popular include Austria, Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. They are also found in Scandinavian, Romanian, Northern eastern Italian cuisine, Ukrainian and Belarusian cuisines. Usually made from flour, bread or potatoes, they are often served as a side dish alongside meat, but can also be a dessert such as plum dumplings, or in soup. Many varieties and variations exist.

Dumplings made with quark cheese are very popular in Germany and in Hungary (in German: Topfenknödel, in Hungarian: túrógombóc). They are traditionally topped with cinnamon sugar and served with apple or other sauce (vanilla, strawberry, cherry) or with streusel bread crumble.

Plum dumpling is the second most popular over Central Europe, are large sweet dumplings made with flour and potato batter, by wrapping the potato dough around whole plums (or apricots), boiled and rolled in hot buttered caramelized bread crumbs.

Quark dumpling with strawberry

Ingredients for the dumplings: 600 gr quark or Greek yoghurt, 1 egg, 70 gr pastry flour, 70 gr semolina flour, 60 gr white bread crumbs, 2 tbsp sour cream, 4 tbsp sugar, lemon zest, salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 100 gr grated hazelnuts,

Ingredients for the stuffing and the sauce

500 gr fresh strawberries, 2 tbsp powdered sugar, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or lemon juice

Directions: For the dumplings: drain quark well, squeeze if necessary. Combine with egg, flour, semolina, white breadcrumbs, sour cream, sugar and lemon zest, knead to a dough. Add more flour if needed. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the filling and sauce; rinse and clean strawberries, cut into small pieces and mix with sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until strawberries are soft and begin to disintegrate. Remove from heat and cool.

Remove about 1 tablespoon of mixture from dumpling dough, flatten and fill with about 1teaspoon of strawberry mixture, shape into a ball, enveloping strawberry mixture well. Prepare all dumplings in the same manner. Cook in boiling, slightly salted water for about 10 minutes.

Heat remaining strawberry sauce and puree, season to taste. Sprinkle nuts on plate and roll well-drained dumplings in them. Spread strawberry sauce on plates and top with dumplings. Serve immediately.

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Asparagus season in Germany

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Ingredients: 4 eggs (boiled), 2 pieces of potatoes/person, salt and pepper to taste, rosemary

for the asparagus: 1 bunch of asparagus (about 1 lb), 10 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick plus 2 tbsp), 3 egg yolks, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt (skip if using salted butter)

Prepare the asparagus: Break off the tough ends with your fingers. Bend the asparagus spears near the end and they will break naturally where the spear is no longer tough.

For an elegant presentation of the spears, use a vegetable peeler to peel off a very thin layer of the outer skin of the lower two to three inches of the asparagus spears.

Prepare a large, shallow pan (with a cover) with a half inch of water and a steamer rack.

Prepare the Hollandaise sauce: Melt the butter in a small pot. Put the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and cayenne into a blender. Blend the eggs for 20-30 seconds at medium to medium high speed until lighter in color. Turn blender down to lowest setting and slowly drizzle in the hot melted butter while the blender is going. Continue to blend for a few seconds after all of the butter is incorporated. Taste the sauce and add more salt or lemon juice if needed. Keep warm while you are steaming the asparagus.

Prepare potatoes: Place the potatoes in a pot without peeling them. Cover them with water and cook until tender. Peel them. Heat some olive oil in a skillet cut potatoes into half and fry them in the oil. Flavor with salt and rosemary.

Steam the asparagus: Bring the water in your steaming pan to a boil. Place the asparagus on the steaming rack. Cover. Steam for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender, but still a little crisp, definitely not mushy. The timing depends on how thick the asparagus spears are. To serve, plate the asparagus. Pour Hollandaise sauce over them.

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Kohlrabi season with a stuffed kohlrabi

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The name comes from the German Kohl (“cabbage”) plus Rabi (“turnip”), because the swollen stem resembles the latter.

Kohlrabi is a commonly eaten vegetable in German-speaking countries and also in Hungary, Greece etc. It is beloved in the American states with large ancestral German populations such as Wisconsin, but is also very popular in the northern part of Vietnam where it is called ‘su háo’, and in eastern parts of India (West Bengal) and Bangladesh where it is called ‘Ol Kopi’. It’s also found in the Kashmir valley in Northern India and is there known as ‘Monj-hakh’, ‘monj’ being the round part, and ‘hakh’ being the leafy part. This vegetable is called ‘Nol Khol’ in Northern India, ‘Navalkol’ in Maharashtra, ‘Navilu Kosu’ in Karnataka and in Sri Lanka as ‘Nol col’ (the Turnip Cabbage). It is also native in Cyprus where it is known as ‘kouloumpra.’

Green or purple kohlrabi?

Kohlrabi stems (the enlarged vegetal part) are surrounded by two distinct fibrous layers that do not soften appreciably when cooked. These layers are generally peeled away prior to cooking or serving raw, with the result that the stems often provide a smaller amount of food than one might assume from their intact appearance.

The bulbous kohlrabi stem is frequently used raw in salad or slaws. It has a texture similar to that of a broccoli stem, but with a flavor that is sweeter and less vegetal.

Kohlrabi leaves are edible and can be used interchangeably with collard greens and kale.

Kohlrabi is an important part of the Kashmiri cuisine where it is called Mŏnji and is one of the most commonly cooked vegetable along with collard greens (haakh). It is prepared with its leaves and served with a light soup and eaten with rice.

In Cyprus it is popularly sprinkled with salt and lemon and served as an appetizer. One I’ve flavored with the Japanese Mirin (a bit sweet vinegar) and it was a big hit!

Stuffed kohlrabi is a traditional Hungarian dish, based on minced meat, kohlrabi, rice and sour cream. It’s eaten summer and winter equally.

Ingredients: for each person one medium kohlrabi, 1 pound ground beef, veal, pork mixture, 200 grams of rice, 1 large finely chopped onion, 1 1/2 tablespoons butter-oil mixture, 2 large eggs, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, 1 1/2 cups broth of choice, 1 cup sour cream, salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon dill

Preparation:

1. Peel kohlrabi get rid of the tough, outer skin. Cut a bit off the root end so they will stand straight. Cut off the tops and reserve, and scoop out the flesh of the bottoms and chop it finely.

2. In a medium skillet, sauté onion and chopped kohlrabi flesh in butter until tender (add a pinch of sugar). Sauté garlic in two spoons of oil, add rice. Pour over a little bit of water and simmer until liquid evaporates. Transfer rice to a large bowl, and combine it with meat, eggs, paprika powder and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Fill kohlrabi bottoms with the meat–rice mixture, place in dish and place kohlrabi tops on. Pour the broth over the kohlrabi and season with lots of dill. Bake for 40 minutes or until kohlrabis are tender.

4. Remove kohlrabi to a serving platter and keep them warm. Skim fat off pan juices. With a fork, blend sour cream with flour. Temper with a few ladles of hot pan juices, whisking constantly. Pour tempered sour cream into pan juices and cook until thickened. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve stuffed kohlrabi with sauce or with sour cream on the side.

töltött karalábé

A fantastic day in the castle of Gaasbeek

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The castle of Gaasbeek is situated in the north of Brussels/ Belgium. The fortified castle was erected around 1240 to defend the Duchy of Brabant against the County of Flanders. It was destroyed however by Brussels city troops in revenge for the assassination of Everard t’ Serclaes, which was commanded by the Lord of Gaasbeek.

At the beginning of the 16th century the Dominium of Gaasbeeck was inherited by the House of Hornes; they constructed a brick castle on the ruins of the medieval fortress. In 1565 Lamoral, Count of Egmont, acquired the castle and its domain, including feudal rights in 17 surrounding villages. Accused of high treason by  Philip II of Spain the Count of Egmont was beheaded three years later.

In the following centuries the castle was inhabited by several noble lords, amongst them René de Renesse 1st Count of Warfusée, who acquired the castle and restored the buildings. It obtained its pseudo-medieval appearance as the result of a renovation during the years 1887-1898. The works were executed by the architect Charles Albert and ordered by the Marquis d’ Arconati Visconti who owned the castle at that time. His widow yo Marie Peyrat (d. 1922) donated the castle to the Belgian state, including the art collection and the grounds.

Since 1980 the castle has been owned by the Flemish Community (Vlaamse Gemeenschap). The castle contains impressive art collections displayed in lavishly decorated historical rooms. A remarkable collection piece is the authentic testament of the famous painter Peter Paul Rubens. The castle and its grounds (a park of 50 hectares or 124 acres) are open to the public.

An eventful past according to our guide

“The predecessor to the current castle was built in the 13th century as part of the wider line of defense to protect Brussels. Over the centuries that followed, the castle was repeatedly devastated and rebuilt. The function of the castle evolved in this period from a strategic stronghold to a summer residence and a country estate. The castle was occupied by a succession of noble families. Lamoraal, Count of Egmond, was one of the chateau’s best-known owners. In the late eighteenth century, the castle became the property of the Italian aristocratic Arconati Visconti family. Gaasbeek Castle became a meeting place for scholars and artists.

A castle in Romantic neo-style

Towards the end of the 19th century, Marchioness Arconati Visconti – the last owner – decided to undertake a major conversion of the castle. She refurbished the castle as a museum to billet her huge art collection, creating a veritable time capsule that enabled her to relive the past.
The restoration by architect Charle-Albert did not so much aim to restore the castle to a perceived ‘original condition’, which would have been entirely in keeping with the idealising nineteenth century views on heritage conservation. The façade should look as ‘old’ possible to hit home the character of the medieval fortress, which involved adding turrets, embrasures and merlons. A very different style was adopted for the interior of the castle: the Neo-Renaissance style, after the Marchioness’ favorite era. Indoors, a historical decoration was created where original art and antiquities were supplemented with copies. The Marchioness had her comfortable private apartment decked out in Neo-Rococo style.
In 1921, the Marchioness gifted the castle to the Belgian State. Three years later, the castle reopened as a museum (the entrance costs 14 euros for adults).P1180137

The museum garden

The Museum Garden which is also worth to visit, offers an impressive overview of traditional and often very rare fruit and vegetable species, linked to various ingenious pruning shapes, the so-called espaliered fruit. The garden also includes the early baroque walled French garden with its double staircase and panoramic view of the castle.

Since Gaasbeek Castle lies at the heart of an extensive park (49 hectare) that was laid out in the 17th century already. It has both impressive avenues and narrow winding paths. It probably has the tallest beech trees in Belgium!

As you walk you will come across several historical buildings that are connected to the Castle: the Chapel of St Gertrude with the altarpiece by Gerard Seghers, the baroque pavilion with its unique stucco ceiling, the neo-Gothic barn, the octagonal pavilion or gunpowder magazine, the classicistic triumphal arc that was constructed in honor of Napoleon, and the former porter’s house (currently Graaf van Egmond brasserie). The domain also has three large lakes. It’s an ideal spot to relax.P1180174

Rhubarb cake

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Make the Crust:
2 cups (200 grams) graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Crush the crackers to fine crumbs. Melt the butter. If you are using a glass pie plate, the butter can be put right into the plate and melted in the microwave. Add the crumbs to the butter and mix well, until there are no dry crumbs left. Press them against the edges and bottom of the pie plate to form a crust.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes.

Make the Filling:
4 cups diced rhubarb
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons plain gelatine
1/4 cup cold water
3 large egg yolks
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar

Put the rhubarb and tablespoon of water into a pot, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb is cooked and mostly disintegrated; about 15 minutes. Watch and stir carefully; this is a dry mix and until the rhubarb begins to cook and exude juice, it is at risk of scorching.
While it cooks, sprinkle the gelatine over the quarter cup of cold water in a small bowl. Let it soak until needed.

When the rhubarb is cooked, allow it cool for about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, and slowly mix in a bit of the cooled rhubarb. Then, beat the egg and rhubarb mixture into the pot of rhubarb. Return it to medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly,  until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat, and stir in the soaked gelatine until well dissolved. Set the rhubarb mixture aside to cool as  you proceed.

Put the egg whites with the cream of tartar and sugar in the top of a double boiler, and put onto a pot of simmering water. Beat the egg whites until they are very stiff and starting to set; about 5 minutes.

Immediately fold or briefly beat them into the rhubarb mixture until evenly mixed. Scrape the filling into the prepared pie crust and spread it out evenly. Chill the pie until set; at least 2 hours.RhubarbPie

Raspberry cake

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Ingredients: 175g unsalted  butter, chopped, diced, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 100g toasted almonds, 2 heaped tbsp plain flour, ½ tsp salt, 5 eggs, 140g golden caster sugar

for the filling: 1 sac of vanilla pudding, follow the instruction

for the decoration: 12 fresh or defrosted frozen raspberries, plus about 20 more for decoration

Method

  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Line the bases of two 23cm cake tins with baking parchment. Melt the butter in the microwave; leave to cool. Stir in the vanilla.
  2. Whizz the almonds in a food processor until finely ground, then add flour and salt, and transfer to a bowl. Whisk the eggs with an electric mixer for 5 mins, until doubled in volume. Slowly add the sugar, whisk for 1 min more. Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture until just combined. Sprinkle over half the flour mixture and fold in, then the other half. The mixture will be rather runny.
  3. Divide between the two tins and bake for about 15 mins until a skewer comes out with a few crumbs attached – the sponges should be slightly undercooked. Cool in tin, then turn out onto a wire rack.
  4. Choose the less perfect of the two, then set it on a serving plate.
  5. For the filling, bring the milk to the boil add vanilla pudding powder and whisk it until smooth. Leave for a few mins until starting to thicken, then spread over the cake to cover. Decorate with raspberries. Chill for up to 24 hrs. Remove from fridge 1 hr before serving, dust with icing sugar, and serve with vanilla cream.P1180190