Plus None: Amazing Dishes Just For You and Only You

Published August 17, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

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It will probably come as no surprise that I know my way around romantic comedies and fluffy television series. And if there is anything that I have learnt from watching the Zoe Harts, Carrie Bradshaws and basically all the movie characters Katherine Heigl has ever played, is that it is one of the most awkward and embarrassing moments in your entire life to show up at an event without a so-called “plus one”. Fancy gallery openings, grand weddings and even stupid office parties: no one wants to go to these things alone.

I can’t blame them, though. Even I – as a non-fictitious person – would never want to end up at the singles’ table at my cousin’s wedding, forced to make friendly conversations with Garry, the crazy uncle with the often acute viscous coughing fits, and funny Margret, who believes that wearing corduroy pants is the prerogative of chemistry students. *

However, apart from these horrid events, there are moments when I think that not having a “plus one” is actually pretty awesome: when you are cooking.

Without a plus one, you can cook whatever you like. You can empty your entire pantry, throw in your whole spice cupboard, without having to worry about the dish being too spicy or too “all over the place”.

More importantly, without a plus one, you don’t need to share.

So yes, having a “plus one” can indeed be wonderful, comforting, loving and all that fuzzy, heartwarming jazz. But when it comes to food, I like being selfish.

 I am a greedy chef.

And I am guessing there are some greedy foodies among you – my dearest readers – too.

So how about we start our own new movement? Instead of promoting “plus one”, let us advocate “plus none” instead.

Who is with me?

*note: the people in this fragment are purely fictitious, so any resemblance to actual people is nothing but a funny coincidence.

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Fragrant Mango Curry

Your entire spice cupboard in one dish: Fresh, fragrant, healthy and 100% vegan

Ingredients (serves 1 greedy chef):

  • ½ mango, diced
  • 70gr white beans (cooked)
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 red chili, sliced
  • 1cm piece of fresh ginger
  • ½ red pepper, cut into thin stripes
  • Handful of bean sprouts
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • Fresh coriander
  • Fresh Thai basil
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp asafetida
  • ¼ tsp nigella seeds
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 125ml coconut milk
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • fish sauce

 

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan and add all the spices, together with the shallot, red chili and ginger. Let it sauté for a couple of minutes on a low heat until all the fragrances of the spices transform your kitchen into an oriental bazar.
  2. Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for 10 minutes until the flavours have multiplied. Now toss in the red pepper, white beans and mango and let it simmer for a further 5 minutes until everything is heated through.
  3. Finally, stir through the beans sprouts, spring onions, the juice of half a lime and the fresh coriander and Thai basil. Season with a splash of fish sauce.

Moroccan-style fried eggs with sumac and spicy tomato sauce

The definition of comfort food. Delicious fried eggs seasoned with tangy sumac, served on top of a bed of steamy tomato sauce with carrots, onions and peppers. The soothing comfort of the tomato sauce and the runny egg yolks works wonders with the freshness of some mint and coriander.

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Ingredients (serves 1 greedy chef) :

  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of sumac
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1 carrots, finely diced
  • ½ red pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp za’atar
  • Drop of rose water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • Fresh mint and coriander

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in pan and add the vegetables and spices. Season with salt and pepper. Add the can of tomatoes and honey and let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the sauce is fragrant. Just before serving, add a drop of rose water and stir in some chopped mint and coriander
  2. Fry the eggs in a pan and season with salt, pepper and sumac.
  3. Serve the eggs on top of the tomato sauce and finish with some extra mint and coriander.

 

Baking With Booze: My Very Own Cooking Show

Published August 13, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

Behold, dear readers. I’ve just started my very own cooking show.

Yes, me.

That crazy chick from Belgium.

It is a show about baking.

It is a show about booze.

It is a show about baking with booze.

Now before you start breaking out into a sweat because of the sheer marvelousness of it all, I do would like to warn you: this is anything but your regular cooking program. First of all, because it is supposed to be my quirky and foolish take on the classic cooking shows. Secondly, because my camera and editing skills are seriously below average. (Seriously below average!)

So  if you cannot stand watching such amateuristic work or just  don’t like staring at my face for more than ten minutes (I do use quite a lot of heavy Italian hand gestures), you can always simply read the recipe below.

Because this moist chocolate, lime, chili and rum cake served with a mint and lime flavoured sour cream deserves to be baked by you as well!

Ingredients:

for the chocolate cake:

  • 200gr butter
  • 200gr dark chocolate
  • 300gr caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp chili flakes
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 100ml rum, plus extra to drizzle
  • 130gr plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 30gr cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs

For the soured cream dip:

  • 3 –4 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • Zest of ½ lime
  • 200gr sour cream
  • 1 tbsp honey

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C and line a loose-bottomed cake tin with baking parchment and grease it with butter.
  2. Put the butter, chocolate, sugar, chili, rum and lime juice together in a pan and melt on a low heat. Let it cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl put together the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder.
  4. Pour in the warm chocolate mixture and stir until it forms one smooth consistency.
  1. Whisk in two eggs and pour the batter into the baking tin and cook for 30-40 minutes until the top of the cake is firm but the center is still gooey and soft.
  2. Meanwhile make the dip by mixing all the ingredients together.
  3. When the cake comes out of the oven, pierce the cake a couple of times and drizzle some extra rum over the top
  4. Let the cool completely before serving with a good dollop of soured cream.

The Battle of the Hemsworths: Who would you pick, Chris or Liam? (Plus the Most Important Poll of the Day!)

Published August 10, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

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A couple of nights ago, my best friend and I were re-watching the Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Why? Because it’s a great movie. Because Jennifer Lawrence is our personal role model. Because Liam Hemsworth is in it.

While we were watching that brutal scene in which Liam gets whipped by this evil dude from the Capitol, I asked my friend: Who do you actually prefer, Liam or his brother Chris?

What started as a random question swiftly turned into a fiery discussion. One that would eventually stretch over two whole days, in which not only me and my best friend enthusiastically ranted about both Hemsworth brothers, but other female friends  were pulled into the heated debate as well.

Some preferred Chris.

Others preferred Liam.

The really selfish (or should I say, smart?) preferred both of them.

To give you a good sense of what the discussion was all about, here is a list of our pros and cons for each of the boys:

Chris:

+

  • Subjectively the handsomest of the two. Friend A: “His face is like… carved by an angel using a golden chisel!”
  • His abs in Thor. Friend B: “Habba Habba!”
  • Older and hence, more mature.

-

  • His long hair. Me: “Jikes!”

Liam:

+

  • More masculine and robust facial structure. Friend C: “Makes him look like a real dude!”
  • Younger and hence, more likely to do silly stuff, like…say… go out with a Belgian girl.
  • He plays Gayle in the Hunger Games. Friend D: “Seriously, why would you ever decide to run off with a shorty like Peeta Melark, if you have a tall and handsome fella like Gale waiting for you at home?”

_

  • Miley Cyrus’ ex. Friend E: “If you can date a nutball like Miley, there is clearly something mentally wrong with you.”
  • Friend F: “Gayle is just a nagging whiner.”

 

As you can see, the cons list is not really that long, which makes making a decision even harder! Since I want to put to bed this pressing and highly important discussion once and for all, I need your help, dear readers! This is probably going to be the most important and most difficult question you have ever been asked: Who is the hottest, Chris or Liam?

Even more importantly, who would you like to date?

In order to guide this very tough decision, here are a couple of pics for you to gaze at.

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Chris Hemsworth shows off his ripped body as he chills by his hotel pool.

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liam hemsworth

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You’re welcome, by the way.

Now go on and fill in this poll:

 

 

Mediterranean Madness: Two easy, healthy and delicious recipes

Published August 7, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

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I think my trip to the South of France and Italy has infected me with the “I want to eat Mediterranean food the entire time” virus.

I am obsessed with Mediterranean food at the moment. Especially vegetarian Mediterranean dishes. (And when I say “obsessed” I do mean “I dream about it when I go to sleep and I even crave olives and feta cheese when I wake up at 6 in the morning” )

Hence the following two recipes.

Believe me, dear readers. These recipes are the sh***. They are sunshine and summer on a plate! And mind you, I’m not saying this because I invented and cooked them myself – I  would even praise their deliciousness if they were made by my very own enemy!- but because they are just too awesome not to be replicated by all my followers.

Aubergine and Halloumi tray bake with Pomegranate and aromatic spices

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Ingredients (serves 1 hungry person, i.e. me)

  • 1 aubergine, cut into 0,5cm slices
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • Seeds (or should I say “mesmerizing jewels”?) of ½ pomegranate
  • 70gr of halloumi cheese, cut into cubes
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp za’atar
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp Martini (Because no Martini, no party right?)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Fresh basil

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and fry the aubergine and halloumi for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and all the other spices I mentioned in the ingredient list. Transfer to an oven-proof dish.
  2. In that same pan, fry the shallot for a couple of minutes. Add the honey and martini and a splash of water. Let it simmer until you get a lovely jus. Drizzle the jus over the aubergine and halloumi and put in the oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Scatter the pomegranate seeds on top of the dish and put back in the oven for 5 minutes. Before serving, finish with a generous sprinkling of fresh basil.
  4. Delish!

Grilled Vegetable and Halloumi Filo Pastry Pie

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Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 courgettes, sliced
  • 4 peppers (different colours, of course)
  • 200gr halloumi cheese, thinly sliced (I do love my halloumi cheese)
  • 1 large (or gigantic!) Coeur de boeuf tomato, thinly sliced
  • Fresh basil
  • 6-8 sheets of filo pastry

Method:

  1. Grill the peppers in a hot oven until their skin turns black. Let them cool slightly before removing the burnt skin (to spare your lovely and delicate fingers!) Switch the oven to 200°C.
  2. Grill the courgette slices.
  3. Grease a round loose-bottomed baking tin with olive oil. Put approx. 3-4 sheets of filo pastry in the thin, and make sure some of the pastry is hanging over the edges of the tin.
  4. Now put a layer of courgettes onto the pastry, followed by grilled peppers, halloumi and tomato. Do not forget to season with salt and pepper and make sure you put some basil leaves in the pie as well! Use up all the ingredients and cover the pie with the remaining filo pastry sheets and the edges of the bottom layers. Brush with olive oil and put in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  5. Serve with a fresh salad.

Drop It Like It’s Hot: Plum and Rosemary Tarte Tatin

Published August 3, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

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I know what you’re all thinking: Why the hell is she linking a delicious tarte tatin with dirty, feminist-infuriating Snoop Dog lyrics?

It is indeed a reasonable question to ask. But fear not, fellow feminists: I have not yet lost my feminist-ranting skills, I just thought the term “drop it like it’s hot” actually describes really well the mental horror one has to go through in order to dare and flip a tarte tatin.

If you have ever tried to make one, you will definitely be able to relate to the following description: You take your hot pan out of the oven… and you leave it to rest for a couple of seconds… while you figure out the best way to flip that flaming hot pan… and to make sure the tarte tatin remains intact… and that it doesn’t start leaking hot caramel juices onto your palms… or drop to the floor…

I’m sure some of you think this is a highly familiar scenario. I love baking, I do. And honestly, I am quite good at it. But I am –hand on heart- as clumsy as Bridget Jones trying to hoist herself into a pair of shaping underwear. I drop things on a regular basis. I constantly knock things over. I sometimes trip over my own feet while waiting in line at the drug store (seriously, how is that even possible?).

Hence, flipping things upside down is not my forte.

So there I was, staring from the hot pan, to the plate on which it was supposed to end up, back to my hands and arms that were appointed the dreadful task of having to flip the pan over.

Damn, I really should have considered working on my arm muscles at the gym!

I felt my heart beat inside my throat. My hands were shaky and drops of sweat were gathering on my forehead.

I counted to three.

One.

Two.

Three.

I flipped the pan, eyes closed.

The delicious tarte tatin almost ended on the floor. Almost.

I nearly burnt myself on the hot pan. Nearly.

But even though it was touch and go, that brilliant tarte tatin made it onto the plate safe and sound.

Cheers for me!

If you are like me (i.e. a clumsy chick with zero arm muscles), it might seem too much of a daunting predicament to put yourself through in order to get a dessert on a plate. However, this plum and rosemary tarte tatin is worth it. The tangy and sharp plum marries perfectly with the fragrant rosemary and the sweet caramel melts it all together with a heavenly comforting touch. Add to that some crisp puff pastry (hurray, it wasn’t soggy!) and some fresh Greek yoghurt rippled with honey to go on top and you just know that the grand flip-the-hot-pan adventure will soon be forgotten…

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Plum and rosemary Tarte Tatin

Ingredients:

  • 9-10 plums, cut in half
  • Sheet of puff pastry
  • 60gr caster sugar
  • 40gr muscovado sugar
  • 50gr butter
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • 100gr Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp honey

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the two types of sugar. Slowly let it dissolve into a lovely caramel. Stir in the Cointreau mixed with the corn flour and let it bubble for a couple of seconds. Sprinkle in the rosemary. Put the halved plums into the caramel, cut-side down, and top with the puff pastry. (Make sure the pastry is nicely tucked into the edges of the pan.
  2. Put in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  3. Meanwhile mix the yoghurt with the honey.
  4. Remove the hot pan from the oven and let it cool for a couple of minutes before flipping/serving. (if you see that there is a lot of liquid in the pan, try and scoop it out a little bit before flipping.) Flip the tarte tatin onto its head and onto a nice plate. Garnish with a couple of rosemary twigs and serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt.

Men in RED: Really Exhilarating Dudes

Published July 31, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

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Unless you have been living under a rock for the past week, you will most definitely have noticed that the official trailer for the Fifty Shades of Grey film has been launched. (and when I say “noticed”, I of course mean “watched it at least twenty times”.) It should come to no surprise that I am looking forward to its release like people in the desert look forward to rain, or like paparazzi look forward to another Bieber incident. (For once, I am actually excited about Valentine’s Day, instead of wanting to hurl into a bucket!) To honour this marvelous trailer (and the always marvelous, (almost) always shirtless Jamie Dornan in it), I wanted to dedicate a post to the clothes which I think make a guy look sexy. Admittedly, Christian Grey – as his name suggests- sticks to an array of grays and dark hues in combination with charismatic and power-exuding suits. There is definitely nothing wrong with that. (Hell, it is darn sexy!) But if it were up to me, every guy should wear red.

From classic shades such as ruby and crimson to darker berry hues and shiny blood orange tones… these fiery colours will definitely lit up a man’s wardrobe! Not to mention what it will do to my fashion-beating, sexy-dude-loving heart!

Merely thinking about a world in which all men wore red, makes my ovaries tingle… Oh my…

So dudes, please translate some of this summer’s heat into your closet, and I am sure the warmth will simmer through all the way to next winter.

Whether you opt for a head-to-toe look or go for a more nuanced outfit with one statement red item, red will always ooze power, confidence and last but not least CLASS.

So take an example of the following designers and start embracing your inner Christian Grey.

Dark burgundy for Valentino…

red valentino

All elegance and style at Versace…

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Lessons from Tom Ford: one key red item will transform your wardrobe

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How can you not be drawn to the guy in the red suit from D&G??

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Apparently Dolce & Gabbana must have gotten  reactions similar to mine to their campaign , because this is what their summer collection for 2015 looks like…

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Hallelujah! If summer 2015 looks like that, we are all in a for a wild ride! ;)

 

Simplicity At Its Best: Mediterranean Dinner in France

Published July 28, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

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When I was on holiday in the South of France (I don’t mean to rub it in) I discovered one simple truth: simplicity is the key to good Mediterranean cooking. With ingredients that you can count on just one hand, you can conjure up the most delicious dish imaginable.

So there I was…in my (temporarily rented) garden… watching how the boats sailed into the harbor… and I just knew that I had to attempt one of those classic, simple dishes myself.

So meet this delicious Coeur de Boeuf and Burrata mozzarella starter. In my homecountry  Belgium, I would never have voluntarily opted for a tomato and mozzarella salad at a restaurant. The tomatoes taste like water, the mozzarella tastes like water… I just found it really bland and boring most of the time. Until the French Riviera made me realize that a simple plate of tomato-mozzarella can be truly magical if you have the best products on the planet to work with. These Coeur de boeuf tomatoes were juicy, succulent and bursting with flavour and the burrata mozzarella… by golly, don’t get me started on the mozzarella! Burrata is the creamy King of mozzarella cheese: a texture that almost resembles thick yoghurt and a lovely rich flavour that almost does not require any additional seasoning. To make my version of this Italian classic dish extra special, I used some extraordinary olive oil I bought in Nice in the restaurant Oliviera (which I already blabbed on about in my previous post). It has a lovely sweet and nutty, almondy flavour and gives a peppery finish at the back of your tongue.

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Ingredients:

  • Burrata mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • Coeur de boeuf tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Good quality olive oil
  • Fresh basil

Following  the rules of simplicity, I also made this lovely fish dish: locally sourced fish topped with an almond and red pepper tapenade on a bed of courgette and fresh flageolet beans. Served with some homemade garlic bread (really really garlicy!)

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Just spread some good quality, store-bought almond and pepper tapenade (preferably bought at a local market, of course) on top of your fish. Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 200°C until tender and juicy. Cut the courgettes into thick slices and take the beans out of the pods. Blanche the beans al dente. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a huge pot, add the courgettes and salt and pepper and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the blanched flageolets and let it simmer for a further 10 minutes. Right before serving stir in some fresh basil leaves and sprinkle on some lemon juice.

Now pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy the sun!

 

 

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