Chantilly cream (Belgian recipe)

Blueberries and chantilly cream

This time last week P., the kids and I spent a lovely day at a lake just outside Berlin. The temperature had been above 30C all week so we decided our family needed a bit of cooling off away from car noise and hot concrete pavements. 2 days later, on Sunday evening, the heavens opened and thunder rumbled late into the night. On Monday, Berlin temperatures had dropped down to a comfortable and warm 25C. But summer is still in town even though you can feel that it is starting to make its way out. The air is cooler and cardigans are again part of out morning walk to Kindergarten. I know that pretty soon, socks and jackets will have to come out of the wardrobe and our windows, which have been open all summer, will have to be shut. At least during the nights. No amount of blankets will take away that horrible feeling of a frozen cold nose at 3 in the morning. But for now, we are still holding on to these last summer moments.

Blueberries with chantilly cream

Have you ever been to a pick-your-own-fruit orchard? Last year we took the kids and came home with so many plums that we ate them and baked them until we couldn’t stand the sight of them anymore. This year we plan to go for the berries. Toy buckets full of raspberries, tupperware boxes filled to the brim with blueberries and lots of berry stains on everyone’s clothes.

Late summer memories are made of squashed blueberries and raspberry smudged faces. And we like to make a bit more special by skipping the ice cream and whipped cream and serving our pickings with this Belgian version of Chantilly crème (which is no where near the recipe for the French version but this is what we call this smooth, creamy crème).

top view blueberries and chantilly cream

Belgian chantilly cream

Serves 4 big portions or 8 small portions

Ingredients:

750ml milk

50g sugar

80g cornstarch

1 egg yolk (optional, see Note at the bottom)

1 egg white (optional, see Note at the bottom)

70g soft butter

70g powdered sugar

1 tbsp vanilla sugar

Method:

1. Measure out 750ml milk and then take 200ml from this and set aside.

2. Pour the remaining 550ml milk in a saucepan and add the sugar. Heat on a medium heat until it starts to simmer.

3. While the milk is heating up, mix the 200ml of milk with the cornstarch in a separate bowl. Make sure the cornstarch is completely dissolved and no lumps remain.

4. When the milk simmers take it off the heat and add the cornstarch-milk mixture while continuously whisking. The milk will thicken quickly and you will be left with a pale, shiny crème.

5. Let the crème cool. You can speed up the process by placing the saucepan in a sink or bowl filled with cold water. Stir now and again so it cools evenly.

6. While the crème cools, mix the butter, powdered sugar and egg yolk until smooth and creamy. You can do this with a fork or use a mixer on low speed.

7. Add the butter-powdered sugar-egg yolk mixture to the crème and stir until completely incorporated.

8. Whisk the egg white with the vanilla sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold it into the crème.

You can top the crème with all sorts of berries or just dip sweet strawberries in it.

ENJOY!

Note: This recipe contains raw egg so be sure to use a very fresh egg. If you don’t want to use raw egg, you can just leave it out. The crème will still be delicious.

2 pots of chantilly cream and blueberries

No churn cookies and cream ice cream

cookies and cream ice cream with cookie crumbs and spoon

16 years ago I was a couple of months away from turning 20 and my ambition was to become an airline pilot. I had just spent a year in the classroom taking notes, studying all sorts of weather phenomena and mechanical machines, figuring out the difference between propellors and jet engines and on top of that taking the hardest exams ever to prove I had the theoretical knowledge to fly a plane. I passed.

And so I traveled to Scottsdale, AZ in the U.S.A. to complete 6 months of intensive flight training. One of the first days there, my good friend  C. and I walked the 10 minutes from our flat to the nearest supermarket to buy several large bottles of water. I think we emptied an entire bottle after getting home. We were not used to desert heat at all.

scoop of cookies and cream ice cream and a spoon

Our time in Scottsdale was tough and intense. We worked really hard. Our time off was usually spent relaxing by the pool, shopping in P.V. Mall or Fashion Square, drinking coffee at Coffee Plantation and eating our weight in M&Ms and Skittles. But our most favourite treat was Dreyer’s Cookies and Cream ice cream. I don’t think our freezer was ever without a tub of it.

A good Cookies and cream ice cream seems to be a luxe flavour here in Europe. I have only ever seen it as part of the Haagen Daz range which is not cheap in this part of the world. So when I stumbled across this recipe I couldn’t resist. It is simple (no ice cream maker needed) and the possibilities are endless. The ice cream is very smooth and creamy. And with the temperatures here in Berlin having been above 30C these last 2 weeks, it only seems right to sit down and eat this ice cream while remembering my time in the Arizona desert. I made 2 versions of this ice cream, one with the original Oreos and one with my favourite Belgian cookie: Speculoos or Biscoff.

Spoonful of biscoff ice cream

No churn cookies and cream ice cream 

(ever so slightly adapted from the original recipe by Kirbie’s Cravings)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 x 400g tin of sweetened condensed milk

400ml whipping cream

4 Oreo cookies

6 Biscoff cookies

Method:

1. In a stand mixer with whisk attached (or use an electric hand mixer), whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

2. Pour the condensed milk into a second bowl. Gently, fold in the whipped cream until it is completely incorporated.

3. Divide the mixture into 2 bowls. Crumble the cookies and add the Oreos to one bowl and the Biscoff to the other. Gently mix.

4. Divide the mixture into 8 small pudding pots and put them in the freezer.

If you prefer to use just 1 type of cookie, use 8 Oreo cookies or 12 Biscoff cookies. Or any other cookie you like. Just crumble a few, mix it into the mixture and see of it you want more or not. Then use a cake tin to freeze the mixture.

5. Let the pots sit in the freezer for at least 8-10 hours. I left them for 24 hours as after 10 hours I found the taste of the condensed milk was still a bit too overpowering.

ENJOY!

left over melted ice cream and cookie crumbs

This recipe is my version of Kirbie’s Cravings No Churn Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

Left-over pancake dessert

Left-over pancake dessert

Pancakes are a weekly staple in our house. They are my back-up for days when dinner needs to happen quickly and prep time is minimal. We always have eggs, milk and flour in the house. I never add sugar to the batter because we eat pancakes Belgian style: topped with butter and brown sugar (and no on likes a sugar crash). Also, if by chance there are leftovers, I can make them into a something yummy the next day, be it savoury or sweet.

This dessert is quick and easy to make. It also has bags of room for your own creative additions. Whatever you fancy, whatever you like, whatever combination of flavours. You can’t do this one wrong. By the way, this is also a great midnight snack for those of you that are up late/can’t sleep/have just come home from an awesome party. I’d love to see what your left-over pancake dessert looks like. This is mine.

Left-over pancake dessert

(servers 2-4 people)

Ingredients:

4-5 thin pancakes (see below for my recipe), quartered and cut in to strips

1 large banana, sliced

1 handful of raisins

2-4 tbsp dark brown sugar

1 tbsp of butter

method:

1. Put a large frying pan on a medium heat.

2. Once the pan is hot add the butter and let it melt.

3. Add the pancake strips, banana slices and raisins (if you don’t like soft bananas, wait until the next step to add them). Stir and toss for 5 minutes.

4. Add the brown sugar and stir and toss for another minute.

5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or cinnamon.

6. Eat! Straight from the pan, in bowls, on plates, in cones, in cups, on chopping boards, in jars, etc.

You can let the raisins soak in rum for an hour before hand if you fancy. Feel free to add chocolate chips, toffee bits, whipped cream, salted caramel sauce, chopped hazelnuts, ice cream, cookie crumbs, etc.

ENJOY!

Pancakes

(makes 6-10 depending how thin you want them)

500ml milk

200g flour

1 egg

Use a whisk to mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Put a frying pan on a high heat. Once hot, add a teaspoon of butter and let it melt and bubble. Add enough batter to make a thin pancake (I use a ladle and fill it 1/3 full). Swirl the pan to form a nice round shape. Once the top is dry and the edges start to crisp, flip it over. Let the pancake bake for another minute or 2. Serve immediately or keep warm in an oven set to 50 degrees.

Lemon and raspberry meringue pie

lemon raspberry meringue pie with chocolate decoration

Let’s talk about inspiration for a minute. Where do you get yours? Are you a Pinterest addict with one too many pins on white-grey living room deco? Or do you search books and magazines for quotes that will help you achieve a goal when you need a little bit of extra oomph? You can find inspiration anywhere. You don’t even have to look that hard. Just look around you. If you already knew this it’s worth taking the time to really emphasise it. If not by yourself, by some complete stranger (which is what happened to me…).

lemons raspberries yellow flowers

Last weekend I attended the Hive, a gathering of digital storytellers, tastemakers and bloggers. I am still new to blogging so I have lots of moments where I think to myself: Am I good enough? Am I different enough to stand out? Am I sharing something worthwhile? And here’s the answer: yes, yes, YES! I listened to some very inspirational people. I absolutely loved the fabulous woman behind My Scandinavian Home who reminded us that we are all unique and we need to “be your own kind of beautiful”. I was also very much taken by Chelsea who is the beautiful brains behind Frolic!. She emphasised the importance of being happy in what you do and to know that you will never be able to please everyone. I also had the privilege to watch and listen to Dietlind Wolf who is the most amazing woman. Her styling and photographs are something so beautiful I can’t pull myself away from her blog.

yellow flowers white vase

Where is this leading?

While you, my dearest reader, have been reading this blogpost in search of a lemon and raspberry meringue pie, I’ve had the opportunity to be that complete stranger who has just reminded you of how brilliant, unique and full of inspiration you are.

close up raspberries lemon curd

And now go and make this fabulous pie!

 

Lemon and raspberry meringue pie

Inspired by the Hive’s yellow and pink colour theme

(Serves 8)

For the meringue:

3 egg whites

170g sugar

1 tbsp vanilla sugar

For the lemon curd:

3 egg yolks

60ml fresh lemon juice, strained to remove any pits or pulp (about 2 small lemons)

6 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp cold butter in cubes

For the finishing touches:

250g fresh raspberries

Method:

Start by making the meringue. It takes a while so if you prefer a dry meringue you’ll need to start a good while before you plan to eat the pie. You can make the meringue the night before and let it cool in the oven overnight. Or make it in the morning and leave it to cool in the oven during the day if you plan to eat it in the evening. If you prefer a wet meringue you’ll only need to plan for 2-3 hours total time from start to finish (most of that is the meringue baking so you won’t be in the kitchen for 2-3 hours straight).

1. Preheat your oven to 100 degrees C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and mark a circle the size of a plate.

2.In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or hand mixer) whip the egg whites until very soft peaks form. Then add the sugar a tablespoon at the time. Make sure you leave some time in between spoonfuls so the sugar has time to “dissolve”. The meringue is done when you can’t feel anymore sugar grains when you rub some of the mixture between your fingers. And when it is stiff and glossy.

3. Using a piping bag, spoon or spatula, shape the meringue into a thin circle as marked on your baking paper (about 2-3cm/1 inch thick). Smooth out the top. You want it to look like a disk.

4. Bake in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. Then take out the meringue and let it cool on a wire rack. When cool, carefully peel off the baking paper. Or turn off the oven and leave to cool inside as mentioned above.

Make the lemon curd while the meringue is baking. You can let it cool and store for later. 

1. In a saucepan on medium-low heat, mix the egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice. Keep whisking as it heats up and simmers.

2. Whisk as the curd simmers and thickens. Depending on your hob, this will take between 10-15minutes.

3. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the butter until melted.

4. Pour the curd in a clean jar and let it cool. It will thicken even more as it gets colder. Close the jar and put it in the fridge until you need it. But remember to take it out leaving enough time to let it adjust to room temperature.

Putting it all together:

Put the meringue on a flat plate or cake stand. Spoon on the lemon curd and spread it out. Don’t go all the way to the edge. Then place the raspberries on top.

lemon raspberry meringue pie with chocolate decoration top view

This is not just any lemon and raspberry meringue pie, it’s my Hive lemon and raspberry meringue pie. Let me know what you think. Does it look good? Did it meet your sweetness needs?

Meringue lemon curd raspberry pie

ENJOY!

chocolate Hive 15 decoration

Chocolate Hive15

yellow flower

Yellow

lemon raspberry meringue pie photo shoot set

In the end, this is real life.

Belgian waffles (the quick version)

IMG_3890

So yesterday was waffle day in Sweden. And since my kids are 50% Swedish it went without saying that waffles were going to be backed. I had plans. Grand plans even. I wanted to introduce my little nordic munchkins to the delights of the authentic Belgian waffle: thick yeast dough baked to perfection. Crispy on the outside and a soft, fluffy on the inside. However, things didn’t really go as I had hoped. What happened, you ask? I ran out of time. Simple as that. When you’re a mother of 2 toddlers and your pilot hubby gets called out to cover a flight and unexpectedly has to stay the night in Italy, then you’re on your own. And all your previous plans go out the window.

But, when you’re a mother of 2 hungry toddlers and you’re wingman is gone, then you improvise. And so we had waffles in the end. I suppose you can still call them Belgian waffles because they are my recipe and I am Belgian :-) But I do owe you all the recipe of the authentic version.

Waffle heart with powdered sugar

The classic way to eat these is with just a dusting of powdered sugar. Or you can opt for a brown sugar. My favourite sugars are those of T-Sugars. I adore their light brown sugar.

3 sugars

Since toppings on the waffles tend to be sweet I reduce or completely eliminate sugar from the batter. It’s a matter of preference.

Belgian waffles-the quick version

(yield: about 10 waffles depending on the size of your iron)

500g flour

4tsp baking powder

500ml milk

150g butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs, yolk and whites seperated

optional: 80g sugar

toppings: powdered sugar, brown sugar, fruit, honey, whipped cream, …

Method:

1. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment (or a hand mixer) mix the milk, melted butter, vanilla, egg yolks and sugar.

2. Add the flour gently.

3. In a second bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold this into the batter. The batter will be thick and stringy.

4. Lightly grease your waffle iron and heat it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

5. Drop 2-3 tbsp of batter in the middle of the iron (it should fill about 2/3 of the iron).

6. Bake according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Eat the waffles while hot and crispy. When they cool they tend to lose their crispiness but a minute in the toaster or warm waffle iron will bring it back.

Enjoy!

waffles with sugars scattered

Waffles lightly dusted with sugar

waffle with brown sugar

Golden rice pudding with brown sugar

two portions rice pudding one with spoon side by sideSee these pots of gold? There’s a story to them…

I am from Belgium. Land of the chocolate, waffles and beer. Land of Tintin and it’s the birthplace of Audrey Hepburn (fact). Also, land of the increasingly popular Biscoff Cookie and spread!  We may be a small country but we totally make up for it with our big food culture.

When I was 8 years old we moved half way around the world to Hong Kong. We stayed for a couple of years, then moved to Austria before moving back to Asia, where I started my teenage life in Singapore. By the time I was 16 we were back in Belgium (very unexpectedly) and I found it hard to adjust. I promised myself that at the first chance I would be out of there.

By the time I turned 25, I was living near Belfast in Northern Ireland. A great little place. You should visit it if you ever get the chance. The most friendly people in the world live there (that’s my opinion anyway but I think I’m right). And then, in 2013, a husband-to-be and two kids later, we packed up everything and decided to start a life in Berlin Germany.

Why am I telling you this? Because, when you move countries  and become part of varies different cultures, you tend to feel lost now and again. You ask yourself: Who am I? Where am I from? Where do I belong? It can be very unsettling. Myself and a friend seem to be going through a bit of phase at the moment. She’s wondering wether to pack up and move back north. Myself and hubby are wondering wether to buy our first german home.

One thing that helps me feel grounded again is to cook or bake something my mother used to when we were kids. Comfort food, really. The smells and the tastes remind me of my family. And the thing with families is that no matter where you live in this big old world, they are the constant factor in your life. They are your home.

two portions rice pudding with spoons and with pot of brown sugarThis rice pudding is a traditional, Belgian dish. It instantly transports me back to my childhood and the days spent abroad where my mother would adjust and adapt every recipe she had according to the ingredients available in the country we lived in at the time. Kudos to her. This was late 80’s and early 90’s, by the way (for those of you who are of the post 2000 generation, this means no internet and no affordable, international shipping. Just making sure we’re on the same page here).

two portions rice pudding with spoon viewed from the top with pot of brown sugar

Golden rice pudding

(makes 4 small or 2 large portions)

90g (1/2 cup) Arborio rice

600-700ml (2 1/2 – 3 cups) milk

1 vanilla pod or 2 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of saffron (saffron can be expensive so don’t worry if you leave it out)

1 tbsp sugar

2 tsp brown sugar (light or brown, whichever you prefer)

Method:

Put a saucepan on medium heat.

Add the rice, 600ml (2 1/2cups) of milk, saffron, seeds of the vanilla pod (or the extract) and sugar. Stir to mix it all together.

Heat the mixture until it’s just about to boil, then turn the heat low and let it simmer.

Stir the mixture every 3-5 minutes so it doesn’t stick. This is like making a risotto.

After about 30-40 minutes the rice will have absorbed the milk and be soft. If while cooking you notice the mixture getting dry and the rice isn’t soft yet, add the remaining milk.

Spoon the rice pudding in glasses or bowls and top with some brown sugar.

Let the rice pudding cool for about 5-10 minutes. You’ll notice the sugar dissolving a bit and running down into the pudding. That’s exactly how you want it.

two portions rice pudding with pot of brown sugar Close UpIn Belgium, the story goes that when you die and go to heaven, you will be eating rice pudding with a golden spoon every single day. This refers to the fact that in the 16th century,  this dish was a big treat and served at big celebrations like weddings for example.

blurred spoon in foreground and focus on one portion of rice pudding

Close-up spoon with rice pudding

Pear with speculoos (Biscoff cookie) crumble

Happy 2015!

So, who has a new year’s resolution? More specifically, who has a new year’s resolution that revolves around food? I do. My new year’s resolution is to BAKE MORE 😉

I spent Christmas with my family in Belgium and brought back lots of Belgian goodies that I showed you in this post. On our last day, we went to the seaside and visited my grandmother’s childhood home. She was a marvellous woman my grandmother, and sometimes the only one who really understood me. We used to visit her and my grandfather every Sunday and she would make meatloaf and pears stewed in brown sugar. An absolutely beautiful combination.

This dish is inspired by my grandmother’s pears and by my Belgian roots. Introducing: Pear with speculoos (or biscoff cookies as they are called in some countries) crumble.

IMG_2858This is a lovely, sweet dessert that can be put together in the space of 30 minutes. Baking it takes about the same amount of time.

IMG_2808I would like to talk about brown sugar for a minute . In Belgium and in the UK where I used to live,brown sugars are available in every supermarket. In Germany, which is my current home, I struggle to find them. They come in several shades depending on the amount of molasses. They are soft and not grainy at all (unlike the brown coloured unrefined sugars which are grainy). In this recipe I have used both light and dark brown sugar which I “imported” from Belgium.

IMG_2812Making the crumble is easy and quick. Just use your hand to rub it all together and remember to use cold butter.

IMG_2846My crumble came out a little darker than I wanted. I recently bought an oven thermometer and have tried baking according to its indications… I think I need to send it back… Yours will no doubt come out nice and golden!

IMG_2857

Recipe for 6

6 pears

50-75g dark brown sugar (depending on how sweet your pears are)

for the crumble:

100g light brown sugar

100g plain flour

50g speculoos/biscoff cookies (or any other crunchy ginger or cinnamon cookie)

100g cold butter cut into cubes

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Butter an ovenproof dish.

Peel the pears, core them and cut them into cubes.

Add the dark brown sugar and mix until all the pear cubes are coated.

Put the mixture in the ovenproof dish and set aside.

Crush the cookies by putting them in a plastic freezer bag and bashing them with a rolling pin or the back of a wooden spoon. Small chunks amongst the crumbs are OK.

In a bowl, add the cookie crumbs, the light brown sugar, flour and butter. Use your finger tips to rub it all together until it resembles breadcrumbs. Again, some bigger chunks are OK.

Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the pears.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the crumble is a golden brown colour.

Leave it to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

IMG_2843