Sunday, 19 March 2017

Chocolate and cheese

If it's raining cats and dogs outside, you just have to create your own summer feeling and no better way to do so than with this delicious no-bake soft cheese cake.

For the base I would normally use speculoos or ginger biscuits, but since that tin turned out to be empty... I had to try something else. I used crispy homemade granola (thanks byevamaria) which I combined with melted chocolate and butter.

For the filling, I used 500 gr of soft cheese, 125 gr of mascarpone, 125 ml of freshly whipped cream, some vanilla sugar, 3 gelatine sheets (melted in some lemon juice), some blueberries and pomegranate seeds. You could leave out the mascarpone (I simply used it because I had some left over from another recipe, use 250 ml of cream otherwise). Spoon it all together and pour it onto the chocolate and granola base. Leave to set in the fridge for a couple of hours (or until your kids can't wait any longer in my case...).

I decorated with some left-over berries and pomegranate seeds and a few cubes of mango. Instant summer feeling!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

48 hours in Sevilla

I am an absolute fan of Spanish cities. Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia... they all have that certain laid back summery feel about them which I simply adore. Although I have to admit, Barcelona still remains my old-time favourite, Seville comes a good second. After visiting this gorgeous city twice before, it was time earlier this week to head back for a short two night trip with the misses.
Despite the colder weather... the summer feeling was still there. You can easily discover Seville in two days as almost all the sights are within easy walking distance. In the past we combined a visit to Seville with a trip to other cities in beautiful Andalucia. Ryanair offers cheap and direct flights to Seville from Brussels Charleroi Airport (not my favourite airport in the world though...).

Seville's old quarter (Santa Cruz) is my favourite part of town. It can be a bit too touristy at times, but still, every alleyway is so charming it just screams at me "Roeckie, please take a picture!". 

If you head down to Seville, you of course must visit the impressive cathedral (the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world) and the really stunning World Heritage site the Royal Alcazar. The palace offers some jaw-dropping interiors and lovely, relaxing gardens. Check out opening times to avoid long queues.

Also, make sure to make your way down to the colourful Plaza de España. The many tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain are just stunning. The adjacent Maria Louisa Park offers a shady retreat in summer. We had a nice glass of tinto de verano (with some more tapas, yes...) at Bar Citroen at the entrance of the park.

The impressive Metropol Parasol, designed by Jürgen Mayer and completed in 2011 makes a stunning addition to the city. It consists out of six parasols shaped like giant mushrooms.

On the top level you have amazing views over the city and a free drink is included in your ticket! Fun to do both during the daytime or at night, your kids will love it too!

I was happy to see that Seville's eating and coffee culture has really made a lot of progress the past years. I am happy to share some of our favourites with you!

Great places for food (modern style tapas):

El Pinton : nice interior, great food, lovely ambiance

Ovejas negras : our absolute favourite! Amazing food and an amazing bartender (Adolpho!).

Mercado Lonja del Barancco : great spot to hang out and enjoy some nice tapas or beer, near the river

Great places for coffee:

Torch Coffee Roasters : in love with this place!

Red House Art and Food : alternative hotspot with great cakes!

Hotel Alfonso XIII : we had coffee in the impressive courtyard, very oldschool

Good hotels we stayed at, both in the very heart of the old town:

Fonte Cruz : with rooftop pool!

To get good flights, I almost always use Connections, because I really appreciate the easiness of the system.

Seville is very relaxing and perfect for a short get-a-way!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Timeless beauty

Last weekend we headed to Belgium's oldest city Tongeren to go and see the 'Timeless Beauty' exposition at the Gallo-Romeins Museum. This exposition is a little bit different from what you usually get to see in this museum (also their permanent collection is worthwhile btw!). 

A combination of authentic artifacts, poetry by classic Roman authors and wonderfully sensual images by art photographer Marc Lagrange (1957-2015). The audioguide is of really high quality and has a special channel aimed at young visitors. 

What we especially loved about the expo was the video installation where contemporary women talked about what beauty means to them and about their perception of their bodies. 

Our kids loved the expo too. They had so much fun making their 'Roman selfie'! 

We had visited charming Tongeren before. That time, we stayed at the lovely Eburon hotel (in the middle of town) on a Saturday night (we can recommend this by the way!) to get an early start at the antiques and brocante market which takes place every Sunday morning (the largest in the entire Benelux). Tongeren offers some great restaurants too! Plenty of choice there.

The Timeless Beauty expo runs until June 30th 2017, giving you plenty of time to head down south and go and see this wonderful expo. More info on this website!

Thanks a lot Toerisme Limburg for having us!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Love fool

This soft and moist - heart-shaped - lemon cake makes for the perfect afternoon treat and is so easy to make! I am happy to share this recipe with you all.                        

The base is a simple quatre-quarts cake with a few extra touches.
What you need: 220 gr of sugar, 220 gr of self-raising flour, 3 eggs, 220 gr of soft butter, the zest of one lemon, a splash of lemon juice and some poppy seeds.

You first whisk the butter together with the sugar. Next, you add the eggs, one by one. You then add the zest, the lemon juice and the poppy seeds. Finally, you sift the flour and stir it gently through the mixture. You bake the cake for about 40 minutes in a 170 degrees oven.

To decorate, I whipped up some cream with vanilla sugar and added a mix of different fruits and some mint leaves.

Instant success! Enjoy!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Orange is the new brownie

Brownies are always a big hit with my kids, well anything to do with chocolate really. ;-) You can find dozen of easy recipes for brownies online. What I usually do, is mix and match recipes until I find - what I think - sounds like a good one to try...

For this particular one, I combined two of my favourite flavours... oranges and chocolate.

What you need: 200 gr of chocolate, 130 gr of butter, 3 eggs, 130 gr of caster sugar, 60 gr of flour, 20 gr of almond powder, a pinch of salt, one teaspoon of baking powder, the zest of one orange and some candied oranges.

You start by melting the chocolate and the butter au bain marie. Meanwhile you whisk up the eggs with the sugar to which you then add the flour, the almond powder, the salt and the baking powder. You then add the orange zest and some candied oranges.

Once the melted chocolate and butter have cooled down slightly, you add this to the flour mixture and you simply spoon it in.

Then you pour the mixture into a lined baking tin and you bake the brownies for about 25 minutes in a 170 degrees oven. Make sure they are a little bit firm on the outside, but still really soft and luscious on the inside.

I have to be honest with you all, these brownies were simply delicious!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Soft and delicious raisin bread

I haven't got much experience baking bread (yet), but I like it a lot. Nothing nicer than kneading dough with your bare hands. Very relaxing, you should try it!;-)
I first googled some different recipes and then decided to try out the one from Belgian TV-chef Piet Huysentruyt. The result turned out to be really nice, so let me please share it with you.

What you need: 500 gr of wheat flour, 50 gr of sugar, 1 egg yolk, 75 gr of butter, 225 ml of  milk, 35 gr of fresh yeast, 9 gr of salt, some raisins (you first soak them in water,... or rum ), if you like cinnamon (like I do) you can add some too.

What to do? Pour the milk into a small saucepan and add the yeast. Make sure the yeast is fully dissolved before turning off the heat. Put your flour into a large bowl and add the salt. Make a hole in the middle and put the egg yolk in it. Add the sugar (sprinkle around the hole). Add the lukewarm milk and start mixing with your hands. Once the dough has absorbed all the milk, add the butter and knead, knead, knead...

Then you cover the bread with some foil , put it in a warm place (I put mine on top of the boiler...) and allow it to rise until doubled in size (between half an hour and an hour). Then you push the dough flat (get all the air out) and you sprinkle the raisins on top. You roll up the dough and you shape the bread. Then it needs a second rise. You heat the oven to 180 degrees and you bake the bread for about 45 minutes (until nice and brown).

We ate the bread on a lazy and late Sunday morning together with some lovely Cambozola cheese and butter. So good!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Neat Eton Mess

Whilst looking for inspiration for nice desserts to make, I stumbled upon Lorraine Pascale's recipe for what she calls 'Neat Eton Mess', her own version of the famous English dessert. It basically consists out of two meringue circles placed on top with some fresh cream and fruit in between. I decided to give it a go and more or less followed her recipe (I left out the ginger because I didn't have any at home).

For the meringue I just whisked up 4 egg whites together with two teaspoons of cornflour, 100 gr of caster sugar and a drop of white wine vinegar. To give them a bit of colour, I added some pink food colouring.  I then piped the meringue straight onto the baking sheets (I first drew 10 circles on it) and then I baked the meringues in a 130 degrees oven for about 30 minutes. Once baked, I turned off the oven and left the meringues to dry out in the oven.

For the filling I just whipped up some fresh cream with 50 gr of icing sugar, some vanilla extract and added a mix of raspberries and blueberries. I finished the whole thing off with some pistachios and fresh mint on top.

I have to admit, this tasted just... heavenly! The meringues were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, so good! You guys must give it a try!