Tag Archives: breakfast

Flemish Cocktail Sauce

14 Jul

Yesterday, whilst browsing for dinner ideas at our local market, we happened to walk past the fresh seafood display, when Scott stops dead in his tracks, points at the iced trays of salad shrimp and says: “Should we pick up some of these for shrimp-boy?!”, shrimp boy being one of the selfish opportunists we adopted from the shelter. Ever since we introduced his feline highness to his kitty-cocaine, he’s seriously addicted. And for only about $4.00/lbs, how could we resist?

Seeing those bright pink, plump little salad shrimp, jogged my memory and brought me back to sweltering Belgian summer days and shrimp-filled cold tomatoes with cocktail sauce. “Tomattes Crevettes” they were called, and they tasted delicious in the oppressing 90F degree heat that would occasionally envelope our garden patio during Summer.

I think one of the biggest food-disappointments I’ve experienced when I first moved here, was undoubtedly cocktail sauce. I remember first seeing it on the menu at a seafood joint in New York City and sharing my excitement with a few co-workers at the time. I had only been in the country for a few weeks, and seeing something familiar that reminded me of home somehow made me happy. When the bowl of iced shrimp made it to our table, I was confused about the dipping sauce and thought perhaps the kitchen staff made a mistake. It wasn’t the creamy, salmon-colored deliciousness that hugs your taste buds, but a harsh, slightly acidic bright red tomato sauce. I could discern horseradish, which seemed even stranger to me, but I was assured by my colleagues that this was indeed cocktail sauce. In the thirteen years I’ve been blessed to live here, I never touched American cocktail sauce ever again.

Below is the “Flemish” version of this beloved seafood dipping sauce.

– 3.5 oz of heavy cream
– 4 tbsp of mayo
– 1 tbsp of ketchup
– 1 tbsp of whiskey
– a few drops of Tabasco

Whisk cream by hand until slightly fluffy but still runny. Gently fold in ketchup & mayo until well combined. Add whiskey & tabasco sauce, and stir into a smooth sauce. Garnish with a basil leaf. Serve with cold seafood or raw vegetables.

Homemade Nutella

13 Jul

If Belgium’s contribution to world peace & happiness is chocolate, than surely Italy’s is Nutella.

Pietro Ferrero, the brilliant mind behind ‘crema giandujot’, invented a chocolatey hazelnut butter during WWII, when chocolate was scarce and the traditional European chocolate butters that his children adored were no longer available. Pietro, driven by his desire to preserve his children’s happiness during the war, created a deliciously nutty paste of finely ground hazelnuts, milk and chocolate… and so ‘gianduja’ was born. Later, Italian chocolatier Ferrero-Rocher started marketing Pietro’s recipe as ‘Nutella’, and the rest is history.

Filberts, aka hazelnuts, have long been on my friends’ list too. It’s no secret that Nutella and my double chin I have been tangled up in a love triangle since my sweet sixteenth. I finally swore off the stuff because – as a cruel act of nature – my hips would expand every time I even remotely glanced in the direction of something I liked sugary.

I thought it would be fun to try and recreate Nutella. However, browsing the Internet for a recipe quickly became a Herculean task. From Vegan to French, pretty much all recipes called for the elaborate task of roasting, peeling and grinding hazelnuts into a fine paste and combining that with molten milk chocolate. I happen to know that Italian ‘gianduja’ is made this way, so I figured I could skip this step and create my own recipe using gianduja instead… The texture is not quite as creamy as Nutella, but the flavor is really close, in my opinion. You should be able to find the ingredients at your local specialty kitchen supply or baking store, or you can order most of it from Surfas online.
(*) if you decide to make your own gianduja, blend 1 cup of roasted & peeled hazelnuts with approx. 7 oz of melted milk chocolate and 1tbsp of butter. You will need a professional strength food processor or a vitamix, in order to achieve a fine paste or butter that is not ‘gritty’. Pour mixture out on a plastic lined baking sheet using a candy mold, and allow it cool outside the fridge in a chill area of max. 65F until it sets. You can then dice it or cut it as you like.


(recreated from various recipes on the Web)
– 3 oz of milk chocolate, chopped
– 1 oz of bitter dark chocolate, chopped
– 5 oz of pure gianduja chocolate, chopped
– 1 397gr. can of UNsweetened condensed/evaporated milk
– 1/4 cup of turbinado sugar (or brown cane sugar)
– 1/2 cup of heavy cream (or half & half)
– 1 tsp of pure hazelnut extract
– 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
– 0.5 oz of cocoa butter (or 1/4 cup of coconut oil)
– pinch of salt

Warm condensed milk and cream over medium to low heat. Add chocolate & cocoa butter and sugar, and melt everything together until it’s well-combined. Add hazelnut & vanilla extract and stir to incorporate the flavor. Give it a pinch of salt to your liking, and pour into glass jars. Allow to cool & harden in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Cheesy broccoli and kale frittata

3 Jul

If you are an egg aficionado like yours truly, you’ll love a nice frittata. Frittatas are super easy to make and so satisfying for a hearty breakfast or brunch. But what truly makes them a winner in my book, is that they’re the perfect vehicle to use just about anything you want to get rid of in your fridge. And they’re cheap!

In an average week, I trot to the farmers’ market and/or grocery store on Saturday mornings, armed with a gaggle of reusable bags and my token over-the-shoulder straw tote for good measure and proper farmers market fashion. Don’t hate me, but I love how sassy a bunch of carrot greens look sticking out from underneath my armpit. It makes me feel like I need therapy a farmers’ market siren. When my carload is finally lugged upstairs to our 2nd floor apartment and all that fresh deliciousness is crammed into our fridge like a Chinese puzzle, I’m always anticipating a ribbon from the Pope and/or an honorable mentioning in our local paper for excellence in purveyance.

With Saturdays traditionally being ‘feast’ in refrigerator-land, it often means that come Fridays – when famine sets in – I inevitably end up with a sad stalk of leeks that never did make it into the potato-soup I planned, or a handful of fresh herbs that look like they came from the nether worlds.

Frittatas are perfect for using up errant produce. You can use whatever vegetables and/or meats you like, but the basics are always more or less the same.

frittata kale

CHEESY BROCCOLI-KALE FRITTATA (Adapted from various recipes on ye olde Internet)


  • 6 fresh eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup of freshly shredded Fontina cheese
  • ½ cup of freshly shredded Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • 2-3 finely chopped green onions
  • 1.5 cups of finely chopped fresh kale
  • 1.5 cups of roughly chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt, to your liking
  • Pinch of pepper, to your liking

Preheat oven to broil setting. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, Fontina cheese, salt, pepper & nutmeg, and set aside. Over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil and cook the garlic & broccoli florets until broccoli is ‘al dente’ and just about to fall apart. Turn heat to low and add kale. Continue to cook until slightly wilted but still somewhat ‘crunchy’. Add finely chopped green onions, pour egg mixture over vegetables, and gently fold to combine. Cook eggs for 4-5 min until beginning to set on the bottom. Sprinkle Pecorino-Romano cheese over the top and transfer to hot oven until the top sets and cheese is slightly browned, approx. 3-4 min.

I went with a meat-free option, but when you add the egg mixture, you could completely fold in some cooked bacon or pancetta pieces, or cooked crumbled sausage too.

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