19. Belgium: Shrimp Croquetes, Chicory with Ham and Cheese and Chocolate Mousse

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Belgium is not an easy one for me, not food wise Belgium has a lot of great food! I was born and raised in Belgium (in a village near Antwerp) although I am Dutch. And to be honest it wasn’t always rainbows and unicorns. Belgian people might look open at first but it’s very hard to become close friends with them as an outsider (like I was to them apparently). People who know me know what I think about Belgium. But what does the rest of the world think about Belgium? Fries and beers lovers with messy political system?: YES Belgians LOVE their fries they eat them with mayonaise or gravy (or a combination of both). Belgians are the subject of a huge amount of jokes and clichés in Europe, and especially in France and Netherlands, where they share the same languages. Belgians are said to eat fries, mussels, chocolate and waffles at every meal, have beer running through their veins and only read comic books (This of course is a myth, we do eat other stuff aswel!). What is 100 % true is that political system is a mess because of the constant fight between Flanders and Wallonia or between the Flemish and French population. Both Flemish and Wallon parts even tend to have stereotypes about each others: French people are depicted as lazy and monolingual, whereas Flemish are regarded as hard-workers, bilingual and ambitious. So now a I explained a little about Belgium! Here are some fun facts about this tiny country:

  • The word ‘spa’ for a health resort comes from the town of Spa (Wallonia) in Belgium where the ancient Romans enjoyed the health-giving springs.
  • Most beers have their own glass in which only that beer may be served.
  • Voting is compulsory and enforced if you don’t vote you will receive a fine
  • There are actually 3 types of Belgian waffles including the common Liege waffles, rectangular Brussels waffles and thinner breakfast galettes. (I prefer the Liege Waffles!)

So first up are shrimp croquetes! We  have summer apartment at the coast of Belgium in Knokke, and when I was little my dad always said: We have not been in Knokke if we haven’t had a shrimp croquette! We’d always go to the same place to eat them, so many great memories! In Belgium the quality of a restaurant is measured by the quality of their shrimp croquetes, so it’s kind of a big deal! I’m pretty proud of myself that these turned out soowell this was my first attempt!  Because I am used to the high-quality stuff!

But hey look at my my blabbing around! Here is the recipe! Good luck with it! This recipe makes about 8-10 croquetes!

garnalenkroket

Ingredients: 3dl milk, 1 onion chopped finely, 1 carrot chopped finely, black pepper, thyme to taste chopped, 3oo gr little grey shrimp (we call them dutch shrimp), nutmeg to taste (I like a lot), lemon juice to taste, breadcrumbs (to coat the croquetes), 3 eggs, 36 gr butter, 36gr flour, 4 sheets of gelatine, 1 tablespoon of white wine

Boil the milk for 20 minutes with the carrots, onions, lemon juice, pepper, thyme and nutmeg on a medium high. Let it get to room temperature. Soak the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes. In the meanwhile melt the butter and stir in the flour. Keep stirring until is gets kind of crumbly. It should not turn brown! Add the milk to the pan with the shrimps and squeezed gelatine. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Spread it so you have a 3 cm thick mass, put it in the fridge for as long as possible (overnight would be ideal!). Make croquettes  shapes out of he ragout mixture. Beat the eggs and roll the croquettes in the beatten eggs, now coat them with the breadcrumbs and fry them in a fryer. Don’t walk away from the fryer because they are done really quickly it only takes about 2 to 3 minutes! When they are nice and brown, take them out and dab of the excess oil with a paper towel. Serve with a wedge of lemon!

garnalen kroket 2

So next recipe! Chicory with ham and cheese! This is the perfect way to make kids eat their veggies! Just cover it up under the cheese! My brother was pretty sceptic because he hates chicory but he tried it and he actually liked my dish, he even had seconds! Huge compliment!

Witlof ham en kaaskopie

For 4 large portions

Ingredients: 8 chicory’s, a lot of grated cheese (I used 2 packages), york ham 8 slices, 60 gr butter, 60 gram flour, milk (as much as it takes to get a nice sauce), a stock cube

Boil the chicory’s in water, if you have a steam cooker 5 minutes should do the trick! Let the chicory cool a little before you fold a slice of ham around each chicory. Now we are going to make a roux it’s a base to a lot of sauces! Melt the butter  and and the flour little by little, make sure you keep stirring otherwise it will burn. Gently add milk little by little, KEEP STIRRING, if you don’t you sauce will have lumps of flour! Add milk again when you see the flour and butter have absorbed it. If the sauce has a nice texture add the cheese (make it as cheesy as you want!) ,the stock cube, salt and pepper. When the cheese has blended in with the sauce pour the sauce over the chicory! Make sure the chicory is covered in cheese sauce! Now sprinkle some more grated cheese over the dish and put in a 180 C over for 30 minutes!

witlof 2

And now the last recipe! I couldn’t waste a chance to make something with chocolate! So I made chocolate mousse, It’s my grandmothers recipe! Really reminds me of when I was little!

chocolademousse

This recipe is for 4 really big portions (so actually for 5 people!)

Ingredients: 200 gr dark chocolate (the darkest you can get your hands on), 4 tablespoons of water, 5 egg-white’s, 5 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon of coffee powder, 1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar, 1/8l whip cream

Melt the chocolate with the water, but keep stirring! Once chocolate is melted put it in a bowl and add the coffee powder, vanilla sugar and egg yolks, gently stir this until combined. In another bowl beat the egg-white’s until you can hold them above your head without them falling on your head! Also beat the whip cream but not to hard so it doesn’t turn into butter! Fold the whip cream in the egg yolks. Then very carefully add this to to the chocolate and stir carefully so you don’t knock the air you just created in the egg-white’s out! If you want individual portions now is the time to put it in ramekins.  Put in the fridge for at least 1 hour!

This song describes perfectly what Belgium is like!

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