Saturday, 13 May 2017

Brownie bottom strawberry cheesecake

What better combo than strawberry and chocolate...? Exactly my thinking. ;-)



Since it is an incredibly busy weekend (busy parents with busy kids and so on...), I took a shortcut and used a mix to bake my bottom layer of chocolate brownies. Just add soft butter and water to it and you're done. Easy peasy. Bake for 30 minutes in a 180 degrees oven. Let it cool down before you continue.




Place strawberries on top and start making the filling for the cheesecake. I used 500 gr of low-fat soft cheese, 100 gr of cream cheese, 125 ml of freshly whipped cream, some vanilla sugar and 3 gelatine sheets (melted in some orange juice). Spoon it all together and pour it onto the brownie base.  To add some more colour, I heated up some strawberry jam and poured it on top. Let it set in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving. My kids thought it was pure heaven... and what about you? Get cracking if you want to surprise your mum tomorrow! #mothersday






Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Art of Hygge

Earlier this week, I was invited by Collishop.be to an evening of healthy cooking together with the wonderful Dagny Ros. Dagny is a Belgian-Icelandic TV-chef and author and has just released her second book called  'Easy Nordic'. Venue for the night was Bureau Cuisine in Melle, which is a culinary workspace that can be rented for workshops and events. As a beginner-blogger this was of course a great opportunity for me to meet other - more experienced - bloggers and to learn also from them.





Dagny started off the evening by trying to explain to us the feeling of 'Hygge', which is all about togetherness, great food, great company... enjoying life together basically. And that's just what we did. We all were assigned different tasks and we just talked, cooked, ate and laughed all evening. Well, I guess that's Hygge.






Easy Nordic gives you so many wonderful ideas for simple but delicious and healthy food. What I most like about it is that you can work with it any way you want. Just make it work for you and don't forget to see what's left in your fridge and also use that. No rules, just go with the flow.









My favourite dishes of the night were definitely the Viking soup (beetroot soup 'pimped' with apple sauce, quinoa and horseradish), the ricotta with pomegranate,  the pulled bread and the tasty mackerel rillade.






Dagny is a master at dressing the food - or 'Hygge' - board. Even under pressure... meaning 10 bloggers watching her. ;-) When she's done, it all looks so stunning and delicious, one can hardly wait to get started. Everything you see on the table can be bought at Collishop.be by the way.













The scrumptious Baby Ruth Cake (absolutely delicious and so easy to make!!) was the perfect closing to a perfect evening. 






I truly enjoyed myself and want to thank UPR Belgium, Collishop.be and of course Dagny Ross for this amazing experience.




All pictures are mine, except the first one. That one was taken by the incredibly talented Dennis Ravays.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Ola Barcelona!

As I already mentioned in one of my previous blogposts, I simply adore Spanish cities. Barcelona has been a long-time favourite of me and the misses and we visited several times. It's always nice to go back and discover new and exciting coffee bars, lunch spots or just walk around in this charming city by the sea.





Last week I was back there attending an educational conference,  I'm happy to share some of the new (and old) places I really love with you all today here on the blog. And forgive me for sharing some of my other pics too... ;-)

Where to go for...

Coffee

Black Remedy : great place for coffee, lunch or drinks with a lovely urban vibe, right in the centre of the old quarter, loved their flat white!





Federal: Coffee (or pink lemonade), cakes and a relaxed place to hang out or do some work






Lunch

Ugot: lovely lunch- and brunchspot, absolutely loved everything about it! The food, the décor, the tableware, the cappuccino,...






Brunch and Cake by the sea: absolutely my favourite place, located in Barceloneta. If you only have time for one place, this should be it! Delicious fresh and colourful food, great holiday-ambiance, wonderful staff... Thank you, Nando, for the excellent service!











Ice-cream and doughnuts

Eyescream & friends: your kids (and yourself) will love the funny looking (and great tasting) shaved ice-cream. Choose your flavour and combine with two of your favourite toppings. Also in Barceloneta.






Chök: no words, just chocolate. I had the 'piruchock' which was... pure heaven! Friendly and very helpfull staff!







Burgers

Bacoa: great burgers, plenty of choice, good beer, loved the side-dishes. Good vibe, by the sea.







Quick pasta

Macchina : This place offers some 'fast-food-style' pasta, but really fresh and full of flavour. You just choose your preferred pasta, sauce and topping and ready! Also budget friendly!




Hotels

Margot House: a real little gem straight opposite the Casa Batllo on the Passeo de Gracia. Very elegant and trendy. A real home away from home. Stunning breakfast. Loved it!






Andante Hotel: very comfortable and well-designed hotel, more budget-friendly then the first one, nice little rooftop pool with a stunning view over the city






And as promised... some more general pics to end this post:























Flights are usually booked through Connections. So easy!!


Friday, 14 April 2017

Malta and Sicily

Last week my family and I travelled for four days to Malta and three days to Sicily for a short break during our Easter Holidays. Ryanair offers cheap flights from Eindhoven Airport (could this possibly be the easiest airport in the world?) and Malta and Catania are only a 30 minutes flight apart. Ideal combination!

We usually book a house or apartment through Airbnb, but as we wanted a total relax holiday this time around with breakfast buffets galore and lots of swimming pools... ;-), we booked a hotel. On Malta, we stayed at the Corinthia Hotel St George's Bay. Nice resort with lots of facilities, a great breakfast and very friendly staff, but a bit too far out for our liking and not so child friendly as we initially thought (indoor pool only for kids until 17h...). Better option would be to stay in Valletta or nearby Sliema.

I absolutely loved strolling around the quaint little streets and alleyways of Valletta. It really is a charming city, built high upon a rock which gives it its unique setting. It boasts a lot of beautiful churches, palaces and museums. Start your tour at the Upper Barracca Gardens from which you have lovely views (the children loved going up and down the huge elevator right next to the garden which links the lower to the upper part of the city). We also enjoyed our short boat trips to Sliema and to the three cities just opposite Valletta (we walked around in Senglea, which is lovely). Ferries are very cheap and easy to use. 

Two places in Valletta I can definitely recommend, are: 

- Gugar Hangout and Bar: quirky little café with a hippie vibe and nice vegetarian food
- The Harbour Club: more upmarket, great spot for lunch or coffee, harbour views







Malta is very small, which makes it very easy to get around the island. We visited the Blue Grotto and the lovely medieval city of Mdina (a must-see!) all in one day. We even squeezed in a little trip to the Popeye village...









So, what would my suggestion be for you regarding Malta? Book a three night trip, stay in Valletta. Visit the city and the surrounding cities and head to Mdina for the day. In Summer, a trip to Gozo would definitely be on my list too.






Next up... Sicily! We flew from Malta to Catania on the east coast of the island, ideally located as it is just in the middle between the two wonderful cities of Taormina and Siracusa.

Regarding Catania itself, I can be very short. It kind of looks like someone threw a great big bucket of dust all over the city... It all looks very old and almost rundown, but I do have to admit, the Piazza Duomo and the surrounding market area, are quite charming.






We stayed just outside the city of Catania in the Grand Hotel Baia Verde. I can believe it was grand at some point... long time ago. In all fairness, it still is a quite good hotel, but it all looks just a bit bland, although we did like the garden and pool area, the views ànd... the sweet pastries at breakfast... ;-)





By far the best thing about this hotel was, that it was within walking distance of Da Baffo, a little pizzeria down the street, run by a wonderful Sicilian 'la mamma'. Great place, great food, lovely people. I already felt like part of the family after day two. Their spaghetti Allo Scoglio was simply to die for!






Taormina is a wonderful little mountain village just an hour's drive from Catania and is one of the most charming places I've ever visited. Coming of the highway, it's easy to use the Lumbi car park from which a free shuttle bus brings you straight to Taormina. It is a delight strolling through the little streets, gardens and squares. Top things to do are definitely the Greek theatre (with amazing views on the Etna) , the Piazza IX Aprile, the Corso Umberto and Isola Bella (if you have time left). Coming down from the Greek Theatre, we enjoyed a (rather expensive) coffee with a stunning view on the terrace of the Belmont Grand Hotel Timeo.










Before heading back home, we drove south to the historical town of Siracusa. And oh my... saved the best for last. Such beauty! Especially the oldest part of town, Ortigia,  is stunning in every way. We spent a lovely afternoon there, just walking around, having gelato and enjoying a sunny lunch. Next time, we would definitely like to spend more time here and also head down to the Greek temples and theatre, which are located in another part of town.













And then it was already time to drive back to the airport. Unfortunately not in the model below, but in its younger, less sexy, brother. ;-)