It’s the Easter holidays. Many international students go back to their beloved home to visit their friends and family and tell them all about their adventures in Belgium, but how do you let your family have a real taste of Belgium? We asked Frank Houben, chef and owner of restaurant Riksken Tip, to tell us more about typical recipes to bring Belgium to your home.
Studying in a new country can sometimes be challenging. As an international student, you don’t always know what to do, where to go and how to manage your feelings. But Wellness Wednesday is here to help. Do you need a boost of energy, some quick tips on how to get your life together or are you in need of some good advice? Every Wednesday there will be a series of lifestyle articles posted on 21bis. Mindfulness, relaxation, food and exercise: we have it all. With our ideal tips and tricks, you will come a long way. Make sure to visit this website and follow us on our Instagram page: ‘weare21bis’ to stay up-to-date. Get ready to brighten up your day! And now onto the article: 3 typical Belgian recipes.
Appetiser: asparagus soup
A typical ingredient from Belgium. It can be used for a variety of dishes. Belgians love eating soup, that’s why we combined these two for a typical Belgian dish.
Ingredients (4 people)
- 1 leek
- 2 white asparagus bundles
- 1l chicken bouillon
- 4 tablespoons of cream
- chervil (optional)
- Peel the asparagus and break off the woody ends. Make sure to keep the barks and ends. Cut the tips off and keep them apart. Cut the asparagus in small pieces.
- Place the barks and ends in the bouillon and make it cook. Add the tips and let it cook for 5 minutes. Take the tips out and keep them apart. Strain the bouillon and wring out the barks.
- Cut the leek in fine rings. Stew them in a soup pan with a bit of butter until they are glassy.
- Add the pieces of asparagus and pour the bouillon over it. Let cook for 10 minutes. Mix the soup.
- Cook the soup again and pour the cream in, make sure to stir well. Season with some salt and pepper. Add the tips, don’t cook it again.
- Ready to serve, you can add a bit of chervil if you want.
Prices may vary in time, place and shop. We used prices from Albert Heijn. The total of this dish is around 10 euros.
Main course: Belgian fries and chicory in the oven
When you think of Belgium, you automatically think of fries. We made them a little bit healthier by making them in the oven, instead of cooking them in oil. Alongside the fries, we prepared chicory in the oven, one of the most typical Belgian recipes ever.
Ingredients (4 people)
- 5 big potatoes
- 4 chicories
- 4 slices of ham
- 700 ml of milk
- 250 g grated cheese
- 30 g butter
- 40 g flower
Directions for the fries:
- Peel the potatoes;
- Cut the potatoes in thin, even pieces;
- Dry the fries with a clean towel. Let them dry further while you start on the chicory.
Directions for the chicory:
- Remove the outer leaves. Cut off the hard part at the bottom of the chicory. Make sure that you don’t cut off too much so that the leaves don’t come off;
- If you have a steamer, you can steam the chicory. If you don’t, put a bit of butter in a cooking pot together with some water so that the bottom is filled. Arrange the chicory stalks in the water and put the lid on top. Let it sit on a low fire. After about 20 minutes, the chicory should be well-done. When the chicory is steaming, preheat your oven at 180°C.
For the fries:
- Arrange the fries on a baking tray. Throw a little bit of olive oil on top and finish with some salt and pepper. You can also throw some rosemary on top if you want;
- Put the fries in the oven. Check the fries every 5 minutes and stir so that every side bakes evenly. When they’re gold and crunchy, you’ll know they’re done. But normally it takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
For the chicory:
- After 20 minutes, let them cool and then squeeze out all of the water from the chicory stalks;
- Roll them in the slices of ham and put it in an oven dish. If you’re a vegetarian, skip this step!
- Prepare the cheese sauce. Melt 30 grams of butter in a cooking pot and add the flower. Let the flour mixture dry while stirring, but make sure it doesn’t burn!
- Add the milk whilst stirring with a whisk until it thickens. After stirring for a while, you get a smooth béchamel sauce. If it’s too thick, add some more milk;
- Take the pot off the fire and mix the grated cheese through the sauce. Make sure to keep some cheese to finish off the dish. Season as much as you like with nutmeg, salt and pepper;
- Pour the cheese sauce over the chicory stalks until they’re fully covered;
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top;
- Put the chicory in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese has a little crust on it.
Serve alongside your delicious, self-made fries! In total, this costs 10 euros.
Dessert: Belgian waffles with chocolate sauce
Nothing screams ‘Belgium’ more than waffles. Homemade goods taste delicious, especially freshly baked with a variety of toppings. Don’t worry, because there is a recipe for every student with a different kind of sweet tooth. But for now, it is time to get out your grandma’s waffle iron and start baking!
Ingredients (for 6 servings)
- 225g plain flour
- 3tbsp baking powder
- 2tbsp caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 350ml milk, warmed
- 75g butter, melted
- 1 chocolate bar (plain, milk chocolate or white chocolate)
- 20g butter
- toppings of your own preference
Directions for the waffles:
- Place the flour, a pinch of salt, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.
- Crack the eggs into the well, then pour in the milk and melted butter. Gradually draw the dry ingredients into the wet ones, using a whisk, and then beat until you have a smooth batter.
- Heat the waffle iron and when it’s hot, pour in a spoonful of batter. Bake the dough into a preheated waffle iron until golden brown. Keep the waffles warm while you make the rest.
Disclaimer: in case you do not own a waffle iron it is advised to borrow one of a friend or perhaps buy ready-made waffles in your local supermarket.
Directions for the chocolate sauce:
- Place the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
- Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter have melted, then remove from the heat.
- If you are in a rush, the fastest way to melt the chocolate is to ignore option one but to use your microwave.
- Crack the chocolate bar into small pieces and place them into a glass bowl. Now add 150 ml of milk and stir.
- Place the bowl into your microwave and set a timer for about 30 to 45 seconds on full capacity. When the timer goes off, stir the bowl and repeat step three until the chocolate is fully melted.
Now that your freshly baked waffles are ready, it is time to decorate them. There is a list of various toppings to indulge in this tasty dessert. Here are a few recommendations:
- Fruit: bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, baked apple slices
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans, coconut flakes
- Other: ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce, honey, cinnamon spices
- Biological fairtrade chocolate or vegan chocolate are great alternatives to support the environment and suit your own needs
This dish and its ingredients cost around € 5.
Text: Janne Schellingen, Aram Van den Eynde and Anne-Sophie Verkoyen, photos: © Janne Schellingen