Scampi “Diabolo”

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

The ingredients: for 2 persons

  • 8-10 scampi (prawns, langoustines)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 250 ml cream
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-1,5 fresh chili peppers
  • 0,5 cubes fish broth
  • tomato paste
  • oil
  • pepper and salt

Aka spicy prawns

The work:

Cut the shallots, garlic and peppers very small and braise them in some oil. Add a glass of white wine and let this boil down a bit.
Add the fish broth and a bit of water. Let sauce reduce.
Add the cream and let reduce some more.
Season with salt and pepper and add a small bit of tomato paste to colour the sauce orange.
Peel the scampi’s and remove the intestines (=black thread in the length of the scampi). Bake the scampi in some oil in a separate pan. The baking time is very short, make sure you don’t leave them too long, or they will become hard and chewy. Add the scampi to the sauce and you’re ready to serve.

The tip:

Chili peppers are unpredictable in their spiciness. Be careful not to overdo, certainly if you double the recipe to for instance 4 people.

Served with fresh French bread this is one of our favourite Sunday evening dishes in front of the telly. Some last hours of quality time together before everyone leaves again for a week on early Monday.

Belgian Fries – “Frietjes”

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

The ingredients:

  • Potatoes
  • Oil

The secret:

The world calls them ‘French fries’. Nothing hurts us Belgians more than giving the French credit for fries. It is common knowledge here in the low countries that the people who make fries best and have friet stalls (frietkot, frieture, frieterie) on street corners  are the Belgians. By the way, if you ever come to Belgium, treat yourself on a ‘pakje frieten’ (pack of fries) ‘with mayonnaise in a ‘frietkot’.

The secret for good fries lies in the recipe. Even though you would think it just a matter of cutting up potatoes and frying them, the real ‘friet’ is cooked with patience. It is fried not once, but twice.

This is a simple one. The only thing you need are potatoes and oil.  You have to choose your potatoes wisely. If you can’t find potatoes for fries, select large potatoes which are very flowery (have a lot of starch).
For the oil we personally prefer vegetable oil. Select oil which can stand high heat like peanut oil.

The work:

Peel the potatoes and cut them in fries. Our local fries are only 1 cm thick.

You can choose to wash and dry the potato before you cut them. Or you can peel and cut, and then wash and dry the fries with a kitchen towel.

Pre heat the frying pan up to 150-160° C. Fry the fries at this temperature until they are cooked but not crispy and brown. Check if the fries are cooked by squeezing them. They have to be just smash able. Make sure not to overcook them at this time, otherwise your fries will get very dry.

Take the fries out of the frying basket and let them cool down.

Just before you want to serve, fry the fries for a second time at 170-180° C. This is a very fast process, don’t walk away.
Always make sure your frying fat is preheated before you drop them in, and use small quantities otherwise your fat cools down and you don’t have control over the temperature anymore. Shake the basket in the beginning, so that the fries don’t stick. Your fries will turn brown. Cook them as dark as you wish. You can actually hear a sizzling sound appear when they are done. When your fries start singing, then they are ready.

Once they are done, we tend to serve them on top of paper towel, because it makes us think we extract the extra fat like that:-)

The tips:

Please sprinkle with salt and preferably serve with freshly made mayonnaise. How to make the mayonaise? A topic for future blog time perhaps?

Zucchini Soup

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

The ingredients: for 6 portions

  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cubes of low fat chicken bouillon
  • salt & pepper
  • water

The work:

Wash the zucchinis, remove both ends. Cut the zucchinis in blocks.
Peel the onions and cut those in blocks too.
Put this all together in a cooking pot. Add the 2 cubes and a liter of water.
Cook for 20 to 40 minutes, depends on how long the zucchini needs.
Mix the soup and season with salt and pepper.

The tips:

I you like a lot of pepper in your soup and you like to put some portions in the freezer, remember the pepper will enforce. So it will come out of the freezer much spicier than you’ve put it in.

The story:

This recipe was handed over during a lunch conversation from woman to woman. Thank you Hildegard, you may not remember this conversation, but I’m still cooking and enjoying this regularly.

Lamb Stew with Tagliatelli

Preparation Time: 1 hour

The ingredients for 3-4 portions:.

  • 750 g lamb shoulder
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a couple of rosemary sprigs
  • 3 tbsp. of oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 small can tomato paste (70 g)
  • ½ cup meat broth
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 300 g tagliatelle
  • parmesan cheese

The work:

Cut the meat in chunks; make sure you watch out to remove small bone fragments while cutting the meat.
Peel the garlic, wash the rosemary and dry it with paper towel.
Cutter the garlic, rosemary, broth and tomato paste with the blender.
Fry the meat on all sides in the hot oil. Then throw away the fat from frying.
Add the meat, the butter and the mix in one pan and add salt and pepper.
Let the ragout simmer for about 30 minutes. Keep the lid on.
Cooking time can run easily up to 1 hour, depending which lamb.
Cook the tagliatelli in a lot of water, just as you usually do, when your stew is almost ready.
Serve on a large plate: pasta with some stew on top, finished with a sprig of rosemary and grated parmesan.

Enjoy!

The tips:

Green pasta fits perfectly with this dish, so does a fresh green salad.
We have the habit of removing the fat which builds up at the surface while the stew is cooking.

The story:

We’re three people in our household: a man, a women and a daughter. Initally 2 out of 3 voted against lamb. It may sound funny, but this happened ages ago. At a certain moment the one voting for, went shopping, cooked the dish, didn’t disclose it was ‘the’ lamb dish, and served it. It became an instant hit. Our simple lamb stew is one of our family favourites. Funny how prejudices can prevent us from trying new tastes.

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