Belgian Waffles

It’s a shame Brussels is a city often overlooked. There’s more to Brussels than Euro bureaucrats, it’s a buzzing centre for food and culture and it is easy to navigate despite its many narrow lanes and streets. This scrap is a short one and includes a quick recipe for one of Belgium’s  most famous inventions – waffles.

Belgian waffles were first showcased in Brussels in Expo-58 at the Brussels World Fair in 1958. A fair which celebrated both art, food and inventions across the globe. Brought to the USA by Belgian Walter Cleyman  – waffles became an instant hit and the rest is history.

Royal Palace Brussels

It was here atop the Mont de Arts, seen in the photo above, that I tucked in to the famous snack. Traditionally Beligan waffles are served simply with whipped cream but the toppings and sauces vary from nutella to maple syrup. A waffle stand stood near the great fountain at the top of the hill at the Palace and I went with tradition as I sat back and enjoyed the view in the sun tucking in with sticky hands.

After Walter brought them across the Atlantic, waffles soon became a breakfast dish among Americans but traditionally, Belgian waffles are a sweet snack. Whether it’s breakfast, dessert or a sneaky treat – waffles are easy to make and are mouth-wateringly good

If you haven’t tried it before, you’re missing out….

Ingredients (15 waffles)

2 cups of flour
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of table salt
1/2 cup of vegetable or sunflower oil
1/4 cup of caster sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups of milk
whipped cream for topping.
  1.  In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together.
  2. In a smaller bowl, separate the yolks from the white of the eggs.
  3. Mix the yolks, the milk and oil together.
  4. Add the mixed yolks, milk and oil to the dry ingredients.
  5. mix well until all is blended together.
  6. Beat the egg whites until light and fluffy
  7. Add beaten whites to the mixture by folding.
  8. Cook in batches using a waffle iron until golden.

Serve with whipped cream and sprinkled with a little sugar – dig in!

Note: The waffle should be crispy and golden on the outside and deliciously fluffy on the inside.

If you don’t have a waffle iron – Don’t worry. You can cook in batches on a heated pan with some oil, flipping them until both sides are golden. The waffles won’t have the indented design but will taste the same!

Grand Place Museum

Museum of Brussels – at the Grand Place.

Palais de Justice close up

Close up of the Palais de Justice – an amazing building with great views of the city.

If you’re interested in trying the very same waffle that I did on my trip. You should find a vendor atop the steps overlooking the gardens and the statue of Albert. A great place to sit and soak up the atmosphere – the waffle was tasty and good value too costing just 3 euros, I believe.

Visit: Mont des Arts, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

Brussels’ Street Art

Graffiti in Brussels city.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post. Brussels is a great city which is mistakenly overlooked. It has a great mix of new and historic architecture with some streets still lined with cobble stones and old lanterns. It’s the city’s street art however that springs to mind whenever I think back on my trip there. When I scour through my photographs of the place, it’s obvious why some many pieces caught my eye and I thought it mad at the time not to take some snaps …

Brussels - boy&balloon

Keep your eyes pealed as you make your way across the city, you’ll be surprised at just how many art pieces are to be found. From the very large to the very small, keep an eye out as you go exploring as some are in more obscure locations than others.

Brussels - dog & bone

Brussels - Boy&Elephant

What’s great is you’ll find yourself wandering down streets you would’ve never bothered to check out.  My hostel offered comic book maps, a checklist if you like, to help you find the different graffiti around the heart of the city but I choose to go without instead of burdening myself with a feeling of obligation, never to rest until I had snapped them all …

Brussels is easy to navigate, so you can hit the pavement without any fear of getting lost

Brussels - fox street art

Brussels has many street art tours which can let you in on the history and stories behind the art and murals. When I return to the city, it will be the first thing on my list to do as I have so many artworks left to see and would love to get an insight into the messages, themes and stories behind the various artists and works.

Brussels - Walk on Air

My favorite artworks I came across are posted below. The first photo is one I posted as the featured image in an earlier blog. It’s a pity the Palais de Justice was under restoration at the time, it’s a magnificent building and the view from atop its hill is worth the climb. The artwork interested me for the action it captured. You have to ask yourself who the angelic woman is? Who is the monk helping her and will she flee from the Jaguar? I’d love to know the story behind it, perhaps it comes from a Belgian folk-story, a book maybe? – but for now I’ll never know…

The street art below the woman’s dash for safety, I title – The Devil’s BBQ . It’s a bit naff and makes me chuckle but I reckon it’s one that is often missed. If I hadn’t gazed back to look up at the Palais in the distance – I wouldn’t have snapped it

Palais de Justice

brussels - heaven street art

I usually post the locations to the things I mention but I’ll leave the discovering to you this time. If anyone knows any information about the artwork – I’m all ears! It’d be great to pin stories to the art but perhaps the stories & messages are simply what you make of it …

Belgian Meatballs

Brussels is a great city which is often overlooked. It’s small compared to most capital cities but its mix-match of industrial grunge and Romanesque architecture make it a must see. Beer and chocolate is plenty and the streets are filled with markets and vendors during a weekend visit.  Brussels also has great street art and the views from atop the Palais de Justice can’t be missed.

Whatever your plans are for Brussels, visiting the Grand Place is a must. You’ll be spoilt for choice as cafes and restaurants encircle the main square and the Brussels museum of History is brilliant full of paintings, statues and tapestries as well as giving visitors insight into Belgium’s grim colonialism.

Bier Tempel

If its beer you’re after – close to the Grand Place is the Museum of Belgian Brewers. Here you can get a taste of the beer of Belgium and explore the history and culture of the city and its love-affair with the hop-py nectar of the Gods.

Visit: 1000, Grand Place 10, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

You’d be mad not to try chocolate in Brussels. It would be inexcusable, nonsensical, a travesty! … you get the idea. As there are many chocolatiers to choose from, I really can’t say, as a non-expert where to go for Brussels’ finest. Have fun exploring and you’re sure to find the smell of that coco-goodness that will draw you in.

The one I visited you’d be sure to come across yourself as  Le Comptoir de Mathilde is in the heart of the city. The chocolate was delicious and catered to all budgets – A Chocoholic’s haven.

Visit: Rue au Beurre 38, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

Mathilde choclaterie

During my stay in Brussels along with the beer and the chocolate. I made sure to try a city favorite. Belgian meatballs makes for a great lunch with salad or a hearty meal with some creamy mashed potatoes.

I’m not going to deceive you. This recipe is fiddly but it’s easy to make. It just takes some prep time but is a great meal to gather a few friends over as it can feed many and is the type of homey cooking which I love.

I’ve altered the recipe (when do I never?!) adding chocolate as a twist. I think it works wonderfully but if you prefer to honor tradition, simply add a teaspoon of sugar to the sauce instead.

Ingredients:

Serves 4 people (3 meatballs per person)

2 lbs of lean beef mince meat
1 lbs of pork mince
1 shallot
1/2 white cabbage
1 red onion
2 large eggs
1/2 cup of milk
2 cups of breadcrumbs (I suggest a crusty brown loaf)
A pinch of ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons of salted butter
5-6 cubes of milk chocolate 
A hand full of Parsley
2 tablespoons of plain flour
1/2 a bottle of beer of choice (use a Belgian variety if available)
1 & 1/2 cups of beef or chicken broth/stock.
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste.

 

  1. In a large bowl soak breadcrumbs in milk and leave for 10 mins. Squeeze breadcrumbs dry with your hands and decant the milk into a cup to be used later.
  2. Finely dice the shallot, the red onion and parsely but remember to leave some of the herb for a garnish later.
  3. Finely shred and dice the cabbage into bite-sized strips or pieces.
  4. Combine the ground meats, diced shallot, breadcrumbs, eggs, nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  5. Form mixture into 12 round balls and dust them with flour.
  6.  In a large hot deep pan, heat some olive oil with 1 tablespoon of butter and add the meatballs. Turning them constantly for about 5 mins until the meatballs are browned on all sides. If you don’t have a large pan, you may have to cook in batches. Once browned, take them out of the pan and leave them aside & keep warm.
  7. In the empty pan, add the rest of the butter and add the diced onion and cabbage. Cook over a low heat for about 10 mins. Stirring constantly.
  8. Melt chocolate in a mug in the microwave and spoon the melted chocolate into the pan with a little salt and some pepper. Add the milk set aside earlier to pan too and stir.
  9. Add the tablespoons of flour to the onion, cabbage and chocolate and stir once more over the low heat until the flour dissolves into the chocolate and vegetable mixture.
  10. Add the stock and the beer and turn the heat to a boil. Scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and continue to stir.
  11. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the meatballs into the pan. Keep pan on a low heat and partly cover. Cook for 45 mins.
  12. With a ladle, spoon meatballs and sauce atop creamy mash potatoes in a bowl and serve garnished with parsley.

I admit that it requires some fuss but don’t let that put you off! It’s a great dish and although it takes messy hands and some watching over the stove – once simmering, that thick meaty sauce is well deserved. Perfect comfort food.

Tip: For real decadence, try grating some mature cheddar on top of the meatballs and mash. It’s a real beaut …

Steak au Poivre – Pepper Sauce

When I was inter-railing across Europe, My first stop was Paris. I stayed in a small hostel which wasn’t great but it had a clean bed, warmish showers and a good atmosphere. What sold the hostel was its location. It was just around the corner from Gare de Lyon metro station. It was near the very heart of the city but the place was largely residential with parks and cafes. Parisians sat out on their balconies and on the street people drank and ate outside cafes. It was August so the weather was fine, I remember simply walking about the neighborhood and discovering a market. It was almost laughable at how ‘french’ everything was, meaning, I felt like I had walked into a photoshoot. It was so chill and carefree, the sun was shining and beer was plenty – what more could you want?

Le Maximilien was a brassierie which was only a two minute walk from the hostel. The promise of free wifi had originally drawn me in (I was damned if I was going to pay the hostel six euro for one hour of internet use!) but once I got a beer and got talking to the bar staff, I spent most evenings of my stay in Paris there as the atmosphere was great. Staff and regulars were friendly, the food was great and good value too and I was surprised at how far they all were from the rude stereotype – perhaps I was lucky or maybe they pitied my sad attempt at french? Either way, I would stop by again if and when I returned there…

This sauce recipe is a french stable which I’ve altered slightly opting for heavy cream instead of creme fraiche. I had this meal in Le Max, one evening during my visit and was told, in all seriousness, if I was to order the steak – it would be rare, medium or I was to go without no steak at all …

This pepper sauce is a must. It’s tasty and bloody simple!

Le Delly's III

Ingredients:

Serves 2
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard 
1 & 1/2 Tablespoons of black peppercorns.
1 & 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 glove of garlic
1 shallot 
1 oxtail/beef stock cube

 

Using a pestle and mortar crush the peppercorns. Peel the outer skin of the garlic and throw that in with the crushed peppercorns. Crush the two together until the garlic becomes a paste. A little salt can help but not too much.

Next, chop a shallot very finely and saute in a heated saucepan with some butter  until translucent.

Add the crushed garlic and pepper to the pan followed by the heavy cream and the spoon of mustard. Stir.

Add a stock cube and stir, letting the mixture bubble for a moment and then let it simmer until it thickens. Watch over it, stirring the pan now and then. It won’t take long and will prevent the sauce burning to the bottom of the pan.

Serve hot over steaks or serve it separately as a side.

If anyone is interested in the places mentioned. See below & have fun exploring …

Hostel:

See the website here: www.hostelblueplanet.com

Le Maximilien:

28 Boulevard Diderot, 75012 Paris, France.

And Finally, The market I mentioned:

Marché Couvert Beauvau – Marché d’Aligre.

Ledru-Rollin, 12ème, Place d’Aligre
75012 Paris
France

 

Bubble Tea

Continuing with the love affair – this scrap has a few delicious recipes to make Bubble Tea, a sweet and refreshing beverage that is growing popular in the West.

Bubble tea, also known as pearl milk tea or boba, is a Taiwanese tea-based drink invented in Taichung during the 1980s. Typically, there are two distinctive types of fruit and milk flavoured teas but many recipes have since been modernised as its popularity has soared. Its origin remains relatively unknown, but it is said the colourful creation was first found at Chun Shui Tang teahouse in Taichung, when Ms. Lin Hsiu Hui (the product development manager) poured sweetened balls into the tea during a meeting in 1988 – the rest is history.  The oldest known Bubble Tea was a mixture of hot Taiwanese black tea, small tapioca pearls and condensed milk or honey but since then many variations have been made with the majority of teas now being served ice cold.

The iconic Tapioca pearls are a starch extracted from Manioc, a plant native to Brazil but found throughout most of the West Indies and the continents of Africa and Asia, including the Philippines and Taiwan. The Pearls or Boba are made by passing the moist starch through a sieve under pressure and is a common ingredient in Asian desserts such as falooda, kolak, tapioca pudding. They are available in a range of colours and have a chewy texture making for a real sweet treat.

You can find Tapioca pearls in most Asian food stores these days but if you are out of luck, simply order online to get started on creating this quick and tantalising drink. Here are a few recipes to get you hooked (and believe me if you haven’t tried it – you are missing out!)

Ms. Lin’s Milk Tea

  1. Packet of Boba
  2. Black Tea
  3. Condensed Milk
  4. Ice
  5. Wide/large straws (optional – a spoon will do)

Instructions:

Preparing the Boba ….

  1. Measure 7 cups of water for every cup of boba and bring water to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Add Pearls to the boiling water and stir constantly making sure they don’t stick to the bottom.
  3. When the pearls float to the top, cover the saucepan / pot and keep the water boiling for 30mins. Stir every 10mins.
  4. Remove pearls from the heat and let them sit still covered for 30mins.
  5. Rinse  Pearls into a colander with cold water.

It’s Tea Time …

  1. Depending on desired strength, brew 1-3 Black Tea bags into a heatproof pitcher and leave to cool.
  2. Place pitcher into the fridge to chill.
  3. In a tall glass, add pearls.
  4. Add half a cup of condensed milk
  5. Add chilled tea and stir
  6. Top it of with ice and stir once again
  7. Serve beverage with a straw or a spoon and enjoy!

To make a Fruit Tea – simply follow the same instructions but instead of condensed milk add fruit juice or syrup. Experiment with flavours such as honey and why not try using Green Tea? The possibilities are endless.

Drink: Iced Tea

To lightly proclaim my like of tea would be a huge understatement. I love the stuff and drink it by the gallons infatuated by its warmth and calming charm, my devotion to the brew of Gods is an ongoing love story. There is something about tea that is special and despite my lovingly jabber, only a tea lover could understand the soothing embrace of a cuppa and its humble familiarity. With its bitter-sweet taste, its calm to shoo the troubles and worries of life – Tea is the comfort blanket to survive adulthood, a pick-me-up first thing in the morning and the soother to send you off to nap-land.

my devotion to the brew of Gods is an ongoing love story.

Black tea, Green tea, Chamomile or ginger and fruit teas there are so many to choose from, each with their own qualities depending on your mood or fancy. Call this madness but tea and all its milky goldenness is what binds this nation together, it brews over the conversation and the banter, over the tears and consolations and for all those carefree nights with that box-set and a packet of Kimberley – a cup of the brown stuff does the trick.

Although nothing truly can trump a good ‘auld cuppa as summer has arrived – here are a few sweet and quick recipes perfect for chilling out in the sunshine…

Stripped – It’s Back to Basics:

This recipe is the basis of all Ice Teas, simply follow these instructions to create a Basic Ice Tea.

  • 8- 10 tea bags of any good-quality black tea
  • 1 medium lemon
  • 1 orange
  • Brown/white granulated sugar
  • 8 cups water
  • Ice
  1. Depending on your desired strength, place 8 – 10 black tea bags into a heatproof pitcher and peel your lemon and orange taking care not to include any of the white pith.
  2. Put the peel into the pitcher with 2 tablespoons of sugar and add hot (not boiling) water. Let this steep for 10 -15 mins.
  3. Remove tea bags and place pitcher into the fridge.
  4. Serve beverage in glasses with ice and sliced lemon or orange.

After you’ve got down to basics try your hand at other recipes and experiment. Below are a few ideas to get you started – Chin Chin.

Feeling Peachy:

  • 8- 10 tea bags of any good-quality black tea
  • 3 medium very ripe peaches
  • Handful of strawberries (optional)
  • Brown/white granulated sugar
  • 8 cups water
  • Ice
  1. Peel and chop peaches and place into a saucepan with a little water and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Heat peaches while constantly stirring, adding a little water here and there to create a watery syrup.
  2. Use a sieve and pour contents through into a jug separating the pulp from the syrup. Press pulp firmly down into the sieve by a spoon making sure no juice and syrup is left behind (we wouldn’t want to waste our efforts now would we?)
  3. In a heatproof pitcher add tea bags and pour hot water. Leave to steep for 5 mins.
  4. Pour peach syrup into the pitcher of tea and give it a good stir. Leave inside a fridge to chill.
  5. Serve in glasses with ice and chopped strawberries.

Getting in your Zen:

  • 8- 10 tea bags of any good-quality Green tea
  • 1 large lime
  • Sprig of mint
  • Brown/white granulated sugar
  • 8 cups water
  • Ice
  1. Depending on your desired strength, place 8 – 10 green tea bags into a heatproof pitcher and peel your lime
  2. Put the peel into the pitcher with 2 tablespoons of sugar and add hot (not boiling) water. Let this steep for 10 -15 mins.
  3. Remove tea bags and place pitcher into the fridge.
  4. Serve beverage in glasses with ice and sliced lime and some crushed garden mint.

Perfect for lounging about in the sun …