Baking With Booze: Chocolate and Cherry Cupcakes with a Built-In Cherry Liqueur Shot Glass!

Published October 19, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

I don’t mean to wallow in self-glorification – but damn! – sometimes I really do have the most ludicrously marvelous baking ideas!

04-Randomly-thinking-of-something-funny

Because, yesssss, you’ve read it correctly: this is a chocolate and cherry cupcake… with a built-in (!!!) cherry liqueur shot glass.

I’ll give you a couple of seconds to process this incredibly alluring concept…

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Surely, I deserve some kind of statue for this?

Anyway, I think Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would have been really thrilled with this cupcake, If they had ever been given the chance (nay, the privilege!) to taste it.

Seriously. This is some good sh**

So without further ado, this is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 75gr plain flour
  • 1 heaped tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 40gr dark chocolate
  • 60gr butter
  • Jar of cherries: 100gr of cherries (drained and chopped up) + 100ml of the syrup
  • 75gr cane sugar
  • Cherry liqueur (I used fancy Portuguese cherry liqueur, but any kind will do)
  • Chocolate shot glasses (can be found in specialized baking shops or you can be brave and attempt to make your own)
  • Chocolate spread (or make chocolate ganache)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Put the butter, dark chocolate and cherry syrup in a pan and let it melt.
  3. Take of the heat and stir in the sugar. Whisk in the egg and finally stir in the chopped up cherries. Add the mixture to the flour, cocoa and baking powder and stir well until everything is incorporated.
  4. Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Let them cool completely before starting on your built-in shot glasses.
  6. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, hollow out each center with a sharp knife to create a hole for the chocolate shot glasses to sit in.
  7. Pour a shot of cherry liqueur in the center of the cupcake. This will give the cupcakes a boozy flavour and make them extra moist.
  8. Now put the shot glass in the cupcake.
  9. Frost the cupcakes with chocolate spread or ganache.
  10. Pour a shot of liqueur in the glass. Eat and drink the shot glass first, before starting on your cupcake!
  11. Cheers!

Getting Creative in the Kitchen: Fabulous Fall Salads

Published October 15, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

yotam

These past few weeks I’ve been very creative in the kitchen and I have two men to thank for that. The first one is world famous and a master of multicultural food blends, whereas the other is one of Belgium’s up-and-coming chefs with a Michelin star under his belt. I’m talking about Yotam Ottolenghi and Michaël Vrijmoed. I’m sure all foodies out there will have heard from the former (no matter which country you live in), so I will start with the latter, for I’m guessing you will probably have never heard of him (unless you’re either Belgian –like me- or a total wacko foodie – like me.)

Vrijmoed is a young Belgian chef (who also does TV cooking shows once and a while), who opened his own first restaurant “Vrijmoed” a couple of years ago, which was awarded a Michelin star last year. I had been yearning to go there for quite some time, because his restaurant also offers an entire vegetarian menu, which is incredibly rare among gastronomic restaurants. My wish finally came true last weekend when my family was looking for a special restaurant to celebrate my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary at.

Needless to say, I was in seventh heaven. Vrijmoed truly is a genius when it comes to pairing vegetables, spices and textures. I even daresay that the five course “pure vegetables” menu was the best food I have EVER tasted in my ENTIRE life. And coming from me, that means a lot! Not just because I’ve eaten my way through plenty of delicious meals in my life and therefore tend to shy away from making pompous statements like that, but also because I used to think that Michelin Star restaurants were the prime example of style over substance. Lots of money, but tiny portions.

Well, I take that all back. Vrijmoed was worth every damn penny! And after a five-course meal with plenty of booze you definitely don’t feel the need to go to the chippy afterwards.

So if you ever find yourself in  Ghent and are looking for a really really really nice place to eat –and you’ve got some money you want to spend- this is the place to be!

Inspired by all the bold flavour pairings, I conjured up this marvelous salad:

Marinated Beetroot with Yellow Plum, Feta, Peppery Cress and COFFEE AND COCOA CARAMELIZED NUTS

There is a reason why I went all “CAPs Lock” crazy on the nuts. The sweetness of the caramel works brilliantly with the bitterness of the coffee and cocoa and trust me when I say that these nuts are a true sensation in combination with the earthy sweetness of the beetroot, the sour-sweet plum, the tangy sharp cheese and the peppery cress.

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Ingredients:

For the nuts:

  • Handful of nuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp instant espresso coffee powder
  • ½ tsp cocoa powder

For the beetroot:

  • 2 small to medium beetroots, peeled cut into slices
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp sumac
  • Lime juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Salt and pepper

For the salad:

  • Cress
  • 2 yellow plums, stone removed and cut into chunks
  • 50gr feta cheese

Method:

  1. Blanch the beetroot slices for a couple of minutes. Drain and put the slices into a large bowl with some salt and pepper, sumac, olive oil, honey and a good squeeze of lime juice. Set aside for half an hour and let it marinade.
  2. Make the caramelized nuts. Roast the nuts in a small pan. Add the honey, cocoa and coffee and let is fry for a minutes. Add a splash of water to make sure the nuts don’t burn. Let the nuts get all sticky and crunchy.
  3. Dress the beetroot on a plate together with the plum, cress and feta cheese. Finally sprinkle over the delish nuts and serve.

Now let’s move on to Ottolenghi. He’s the master of Middle Eastern cuisine who taught me all about za’atar, tahini and hummus and who has been teaching the world, book by book and recipe by recipe, that vegetarian food is the future. His new cookbook “Plenty More” is the epitome of yumminess and demonstrates that cooking without meat and fish is anything but boring. This book has become my culinary Bible. It has given me so much inspiration these past few weeks  that I’m in a constant state of utter foodie brain activity.

The following recipe is based on one of his recipes:

Caramelized Figs with Pink Grapefruit, Feta, Pink Pepper and Rocket Salad

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Ingredients:

  • 3 figs, halved
  • 1 pink grapefruits, peeled and cut into slices
  • Rocket leaves
  • 80gr feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ tsp pink pepper corns
  • ¼ tsp star anise
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

Method:

  1. Heat the sugar in a large pan and let it caramelize. Add the figs, cut-side down, and let them fry for a couple of minutes on a medium heat. Add a splash of water to make sure the caramel doesn’t burn. Add the pink pepper and star anise. When the figs are starting to get tender, turn off the heat and add the slices of grapefruit. Be careful not to overcook the figs, they should be soft, not mushy and the grapefruit should still hold its shape and be lukewarm.
  2. Put the rocket leaves on a plate. Add the figs and grapefruit and sprinkle on the feta cheese and some extra pink pepper corns.

The Bold & the Butternut

Published October 9, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

butternut

The weather is really awful this week. It’s raining cats and dogs, the wind is blowing all those wonderfully golden brown leaves of the trees and it is all making me bloody depressed.

Seriously. Why do I have to live in Belgium and not live in a tiny hut on some deserted island in the Pacific? The latter sounds much more appealing right now. Yes, a sunny beach on a deserted island my not offer WIFI, but who needs WIFI when you can spend your days tanning on the beach and drinking out of a coconut?

Anyway, needless to say that I could use some comfort food. And what could possibly be more comforting than the sweet flavour of the butternut? Butternuts and pumpkins of any kind are probably one of the only things that prevent me from packing my bags and embracing my inner Robinson Crusoe. (No butternuts on a deserted islands, obvs.)

And although many people still ignorantly think that recipes with butternut do not sound very bold, or may not look very beautiful, it is actually quite the opposite. Because, dear fellow Belgians, you can do so much more with a butternut than just turn it into soup!

In fact, the humble butternut is as versatile as Daniel Radcliffe’s latest film choices! (and that says a lot, trust me)

With one large butternut, I created 3(!) amazing one-person dishes just for me. They may not all look beautiful, but trust me: they are always bold in flavour!

Middle Eastern Saffron-Scented Butternut with Harissa Yoghurt and a Mint and Dill Salsa

Butternut will have never tasted this good: the sweetness of the saffron and the sultanas together with the zing and freshness of the salsa and yoghurt is a match made in heaven.

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Ingredients:

For the butternut:

  • 1/3 butternut, cut into large chunks
  • Handful of sultanas
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • Pinch of chili powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tbsp honey

For the harissa yoghurt:

  • 100gr Greek yoghurt
  • ½ tsp harissa paste

For the Mint and Dill Salsa:

  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp dill, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lime

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Add the butternut chunks and let it fry for a couple of minutes. Add the spices, sultanas and honey. Add a splash of water to make sure it doesn’t burn. Let it fry until the butternut is just tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the poppy seeds.
  2. Mix the yoghurt with the harissa and a pinch of salt.
  3. Mix all the salsa ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve the butternut with dollops of yoghurts and drizzle the salsa over the top.

Stuffed Butternut with a Blue Goat’s Cheese “Soufflé”

Sounds fancy, but it is actually really easy to make. The reason why I call this a “soufflé” is because it contains eggs and cheese and puffs up all so beautifully in the oven, but don’t be alarmed by this French word, it’s just a chic way of saying “fluffy omelet” ;)

You can use plain blue cheese or goat’s cheese for this recipe, but a blue goat’s cheese really is the best of both worlds.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 “bottom” of the butternut, seeds removed but skin still on
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 80gr blue goat’s cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put the butternut bottom in an oven-proof dish and season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Put in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the butternut is al dente.
  2. Mix the eggs together with salt and pepper and nutmeg and pour in the butternut. Drop the chunks of cheese into the eggs mixture and put the butternut back into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the skin and flesh of the pumpkin is soft and eggs are cooked through and have puffed up.

Butternut with Nigella & Mustard Seeds and Barbecue Tempeh

It may not look very attractive but the sweet and sour taste of the marinated tempeh (I luvvv tempeh!) works so well with the mellow butternut that is spiced up with some amazing nigella and mustard seeds.

Serve with some even more unappealing (but very yummy) black rice

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Ingredients:

For the butternut:

  • 1/3 butternut, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 cm piece of fresh ginger
  • Fresh herbs to finish (dill, coriander or mint)

For the tempeh:

  • 100gr tempeh, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp sesame seeds
  • Pinch of Chinese five spice

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the butternut, spices and ginger. Let it fry, stir regularly and season with salt and pepper, until the butternut is tender.
  2. Mix the marinade ingredients together. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and add the tempeh. Fry until golden brown. Pour in the marinade, turn down the heat and let the marinade form a sticky coat around the tempeh.
  3. Serve the butternut with the tempeh and sprinkle some fresh herbs over the top. Serve with rice.

About Feminism, George Clooney and Incompetent Newspapers

Published October 5, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

fem

Imagine you are sitting at the table, enjoying your breakfast with a nice cup of strong coffee and some incredible sourdough bread with marmalade, until you suddenly realize that your very own opinion letter got published in that morning’s newspaper.

Your initial reaction: Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God! I’m in the newspaper!

self-five

Your second reaction once you’ve read through your letter and notice that they have LEFT OUT half of it and just printed some vague resemblance to what originally was one hell of an opinion piece:

*&%?*#£}**$&%%$*** (The profanity that come out of my mouth is not suitable for publication)

Yes, that is what I experienced yesterday. There I was, first over the moon with delight that the paper thought my opinion letter was good enough for print, until I realized that they had cut out the most brilliant *coughs modestly* sentences and paragraphs. Admittedly, it might have been a bit too long and it is not like they started altering or re-writing my own sentences (thank God for that!), but for someone with a degree in Languages, who loves spending hours searching for exactly the right wordplay, expressions and linguistic examples of pure beauty, it is incredibly frustrating when they leave out exactly that.

It felt as if they had cut out my core identity. Sure, the message still remains, but what’s the point of writing an opinion piece if you can’t even add some linguistic frivolity?

So out of utter frustration that said newspaper (out of respect, I will not mention which paper)did not publish all of it, I decided to quickly translate it into English and share it with all y’all. (Because at least you guys appreciate my linguistic pompousness!)

So here it is:

#Feminism is more than just a few hashtags

Feminism seems to be everywhere. Emma Watson talks about it. Sheryl Sandberg writes about it. Beyoncé sings about it. Even Karl Lagerfeld – but you can call him Kaiser Karl  – sends his models onto the runway with feminist banners. Conclusion? Feminism had become a fashion trend. At least, that was the conclusion newspaper X made in one of its editorials yesterday. As much as I would love to disagree with the author, reality forces me to concur with his views. To put it in fashion terms, feminism is like an It-bag: fun for one season, but after a while you just get sick of it, throw it onto a pile of unattractive stuff to be ignored for the rest of its sad closet life.

Because the fashion and showbizz industry are trying so hard to lay claim on the entire concept of feminism, the problem of gender inequality is slowly losing its credibility. Didn’t Lagerfeld once open a Twitter account for his own spoiled cat? And didn’t Beyoncé go on tour as “Mrs. Carter”? If the former believes that even his cat has something interesting to share with the public, and if the latter decided to tour the world with a name that more resembles a submissive suburban housewife from the fifties than a modern-day feminist, their call for more women’s rights sounds rather laughable.

However, gender inequality is anything but a joke. Yes, even in Belgium. Marianne Thyssen (a Belgian female politician) may have been appointed as euro commissioner, the amount of women in top corporate jobs remains alarmingly low. And even if they do manage to break through the glass ceiling, they are still often judged on their appearance, rather than their intellectual capacities. Belgium is definitely not the only country that is lagging behind, every Western country still has quite a long way to go.

The perfect way to illustrate this Western hypocrisy towards women’s rights, is to look at George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin’s wedding from last weekend. The wedding of Hollywood’s most obstinate bachelor was all over the news, but what I found all the more striking was how one-dimensional the media reported about the event. One of the only articles that reported about the wedding from a totally different perspective was the internet website thebusinesswomanmedia.com, which topped their article with the following head: “ Internationally acclaimed barrister Amal Alamuddin marries an actor”

Somehow, that just made me giggle. But what was I giggling at? Why is this head so funny? Isn’t the article just stating the truth? The fact that the article’s head was generally seen as an example of the site’s great sense of humor clearly indicates once again how problematic the issue of gender inequality still is. Every single media outlet most of the time talked about Clooney. Of course, the guy is super famous, so in a way it is only “natural” for the media to spend a lot of time covering a superstar, but why is it also “natural” to describe Alamuddin as a “beautiful humanist”, whilst there are plenty of other character traits about her that are probably more interesting? But no, apparently the only newsworthy thing was the fact that she wore an Oscar de la Renta wedding dress.

I’m to blame as well. Because even I, a self-proclaimed modern feminist, felt a slight hint of jealousy when I saw her fabulous, sun-kissed, reaching-into-the-sky legs. Whereas her fabulous brain should have aroused as much –or even greater- jealousy than her looks. The problem, hence, does not only lie with men, but also with us, women. Because we also find it difficult to step away from the rooted assumptions about the relationship between a man and a woman.

To improve this relationship and to –eventually- reach that dreamed state of gender equality, men as much as women need to concern themselves with this problem. “Gender equality is men’s issue too”, said actress Emma Watson in her speech in front of the United Nations. After her eloquent speech, plenty of male actors supported her campaign by tweeting pictures of themselves holding a piece of paper with the message #HeforShe written on it.  Tom Hiddleston, David Tennant, Eddie Redmayne,… their support definitely gives women’s rights more attention, but I am not naïve and I do realize that much more is needed to really bring about change. Change won’t happen with a couple of hashtags on Twitter. Indeed, Watson’s speech may have gone viral on the internet, but immediately after her speech some wacko hacker also threatened to put some nude pictures of her online.

Needless to say, we’ve still got some work to do. People like Beyoncé and Emma Watson may poke us in the right direction, as long as we don’t realize that feminism is more than a high amount of likes on Facebook, #genderequality will always remain nothing more than a trending topic.

Baking With Booze: Gin, Passion Fruit and Lime Cheesecake

Published October 2, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

Summer is now officially over and I can’t even begin to describe how terrified I am about the prospect of colder weather. Yes, there are the really cool fall clothes. Sure, there is the really yummy fall food. But my toes are just too susceptible to the winter cold to be able to fully enjoy all of that.

Hence, I decided to remain in a summer mood for a little while longer (cuz ignorance is bliss y’all!) and conjured up this magnificent exotic cheesecake on a coconut and lime crust. This cheesecake is so sublime that even in the coldest of temperatures it will be able to light a fire in your heart. (please forgive me this cheesy quote, pun not intended.)

Gin, Passion Fruit and Lime Cheesecake on a Lime and Coconut Crust

Ingredients:

For the lime and coconut crust:

  • 100gr plain flour
  • Zest of one lime
  • 50gr caster sugar
  • 30gr desiccated coconut
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 20 gr peanut butter
  • 30gr butter

For the cheesecake:

  • 150gr sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 400gr Philadelphia light
  • Juice of 6 passion fruits, seeds removed
  • Juice of one lime
  • Zest of one lime
  • 100ml Gin

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a loose-bottomed cake tin with baking parchment. Put all the ingredients for the crust into a mixer and mix until you get a crumb-like consistency. Press the mix into the bottom of your tin and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.
  2. Lower the oven temperature to 150°C and start with your cheesecake filling.
  3. Mix together the eggs and sugar until light and frothy. In a separate bowl, mix together the lime, passion fruit juice and gin. Pour the liquid into the egg mixture. Stir well.
  4. Slowly fold in the cream cheese until everything is well combined. Pour the mixture onto your baked crust and sprinkle the lime zest over the top.
  5. Bake in the oven for 1 hour/ 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  6. Leave to cool completely before serving (with a gin & tonic, obv. )

Shonda Rhimes: the Queen of Awesome Television

Published September 29, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

How-To-Get-Away-With-Murder

Maybe I watch too much television.

I probably watch too much television.

I honestly watch too much television.

How else would you explain the state of utter euphoria I’m in when a brand new series airs on television? No matter how many times I try to reduce my daily dose of drama, there is always something (or in this case: someone) that keeps pulling me back to my beloved screen. And that person is Shonda Rhimes.

shonda

Seriously. I wish I had that woman’s imagination. Just when you thought she couldn’t possibly create something more brilliant/show stopping/jaw dropping than the television wonder that is Scandal, she went on to creating a brand new TV drama, which pilot episode alone was enough to take my breath away and bombard my best friend with “OMG, you’ve got to watch this” texts.

I’m talking about Shonda Rhimes’ brand new How To Get Away With Murder. This show is in every possible way the awesomest of all awesome television.

Why?

  • Viola Davis. Viola. Davis. Vi-o-la. Da-vis.

Needless to say, I love her.

  • The plot is absolutely bonkers. It’s exactly what the title suggests, but in an academic(!) setting. Yes, in this series you actually get taught how to get away with murder. Ha! I’ll tell you one thing, you don’t have an MBA like that here in Belgium!
  • Paris from the Gilmore girls is back! … With a blond bob!

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  • Fiery dialogues full of eloquence and wit (It’s a Shonda Rhimes show so…duh!)
  • Alfred Enoch.

“Who?” I hear y’all ask.

Alfred Enoch!

Those of you who watched the first episode of How To Get Away With Murder probably were searching your memory to find out where you knew one of the main characters – Wes- from.

alfred

Well, dear readers, search no more! Because Wes, Alfred Enoch in real life, is none other than Dean Thomas from the Harry Potter series!

dean-thomas-alfred-enoch-harry-potter-4

Whereas little Alfred used to be cute as hell, grown up Alfred is not only cute but smoking hot as well (blimey, that rhymes!)

And Alfred isn’t the only handsome, swoon-worthy fella on the show. On the contrary, there is plenty of man candy to choose from!

charlie-weber-w724

how to

Conclusion, thank you Shonda Rhimes, for once again creating a show that makes us forget about real life and immerses us into a world full of drama and intrigue.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

With the wonderful Grey’s Anatomy, the marvelous Scandal and now the downright brilliant How to Get Away with Murder, there is really no reason left to feel guilty about my TV habits and why I shouldn’t be sitting in front of my tellie each Thursday.

Pretty Plum: My New Favourite Fall Colour

Published September 24, 2014 by fashionfoodandflirts

Since autumn has now officially arrived, I believe it is only fair to start talking about what to wear this fall. Whereas I would normally bombard you with different trends and micro trends, I will now stick to the essentials. Because let’s face it, there is only one thing you really need to know about the fashion for fall 2014…and for once, it is a trend that is easy to remember:

WEAR PLUM

Seriously.

This has got to be the most beautiful colour on the planet.

So no matter whether you’re going for a gypsy look, French avant-garde chic or sporty nonchalance, it will always look 100 per cent fab if you wear it with a touch of this dark red/ deep purple plum.

Here are a couple of my favourite plummy things:

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This gorgeous Giorgio Armani bag is just to die for, both figuratively (because très pretty) and financially (because très expensive).

plum tods

Or what do you think about these sandals by Tod’s? Just wear them with some opaque panties or some cute socks and you are good to go!

plum topshop shoe

Or you can go for this more affordable version at Topshop

Felt-floppy-hat-£28.00-Topshop

A plum felt floppy hat is at the top of my wish list at the moment.

Plum is also a great colour for men’s clothes as well! A plum suit has got to be my favourite male look for this season, so if you guys want to get my approval (and a possible sexy glare): put on a plum suit.

plum dude

Just sayin’.

And if I would have to name one ultimate plum accessory, without a doubt, it would have to be the plum lips. Could there possibly be anything sexier than those deep red lips, looking all shiny and rich as if you’ve just drunk an entire bottle of red wine?

julia-louis-dreyfus-wine

Ha!

Every designer label has its own plum lipstick version, but if you are looking for a more affordable version: the Infallible Lipstick by L’Oreal in Persistent Plum is pretty perfect too.

plum lip

But if you’re ready to go all out and spend loads of money on lipstick: buy this Bruised Plum lipstick by Tom Ford. It looks expensive, it feels expensive, it is expensive.

plum tom ford

But hell, it makes you look like a true femme fatale meets powerful business woman, so I really don’t know why you’re not running to the shop as we speak!

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