Synopses & Reviews
It's a country that boasts more three-star restaurants per capita than any other nation-including France. It's a country where home cooks--and everyone, it seems, is a great home cook--spend copious amounts of time thinking about, shopping for, preparing, discussing, and celebrating food. With its French foundation, hearty influences from Germany and Holland, herbs straight out of a Medieval garden, and condiments and spices from the height of Flemish culture, Belgian cuisine is elegant comfort food at its best--slow-cooked, honest, bourgeois, nostalgic. It's the Sunday meal and a continental dinner party, family picnics and that antidote to a winter's day.
In 250 delicious recipes, here is the best of Belgian cuisine. Veal Stew with Dumplings, Mushrooms, and Carrots. Potato and Leek Stoemp. Smoked Trout Mousse with Watercress Sauce. Braised Partridge with Cabbage and Abbey Beer. Gratin of Belgian Endives. Flemish Carrot Soup. Steak-Frites. Belgian Steamed Mussels. Belgian Steamed Mussels. Cognac Scented Flemish Waffles. And desserts, some using the best chocolate on earth: Belgian Chocolate Ganache Tart, Lace Cookies from Brugge, Almond Cake with Fresh Fruit Topping, Little Chocolate Nut Cakes.
As Belgians explain it, since one has to eat three times a day, why not make a feast of every meal? 57,000 copies in print.
Combining a French foundation, hearty influences form Germany and Holland, herbs straight out of a medieval garden, and condiments and spices from the height of Flemish culture, Belgian cuisine is elegant comfort food at its best. Ruth Vanwaerebeek shares the secrets of her countrymen's obsessions in 250 delicious recipes, from Potato and Leek Stoemp to Waterzooi of Chicken, Cognac Scented Flemish Waffles -- and desserts, some using the best chocolate on earth.
A Fervent Ode to Flemish culinary tradition and to generations of family cooking, from the author's peasant great grandmother's rustic, friendly, food to her mother's dedication to everything fresh. . . . Belgian food is cause for celebration. -Richard Olney, author of Simple French Food
At last, a book that reveals Europe's best-kept culinary secret: Belgium. From three-star restaurants-of which the country has more per capita than France-to the legions of opinionated, accomplished, home cooks, Belgium and the Belgian people are passionate about good food. Starting with a humble mussel, fried potato, simple chicken, or piece of chocolate, Belgians find a way-and always a surprisingly easy way-to make magic. As Belgians explain it, since one has to eat three times a day, why not make a feast of every meal?
A SAMPLE OF BELGIAN HOME COOKING
Smoked Trout Mousse with Watercress Sauce
Flemish Beef Stew Cooked in Beer
Mussels with Snail Butter
Waterzooi of Chicken
Quiche with Gorgonzola and Asparagus
Buttermilk Soup with Apples
Gratin of Belgian Endives
Braised Partridge with Cabbage and Abbey Beer
The One and Only Truly Belgian Fries
Flemish Yeast Pancakes, Breughel Style
Pears poached in Spiced Red Wine
Belgian Chocolate Ganache Tart
About the Author
Ruth Van Vaerebeek is from the medieval city of Ghent, where she learned Belgian cuisine from her great grandmother, her grandmother, and her mother. She chefed at two leading restaurants at Ghent before traveling around the world. Currently she teaches French and Belgian cooking at Peter Kumps New York Cooking School.
Table of Contents
EUROPE'S BEST-KEPT SECRET
APPETIZERS, SALADS, AND SMALL PLATES
A cool herring salad at a summer picnic, a slice of deeply flavored pork liver pate with prunes on a winter's eve, creamy country cheese packed with garden-fresh herbs anytime-these are just a few of the dishes that serve as starters for a lingering evening meal or snacks for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Today, as they have for centuries, hearty broths simmer through the night over wood-burning stoves in deep rural Belgium. Come morning, they'll find their way into soups respendant with the season's bounty: tangy potato buttermilk soup, heady with freshly grated nutmeg, bold tomato soup laden with tiny delicately spiced meatballs, and deep green spinach soup laced with sorrel.
FISH AND SHELLFISH
No matter where you are in Belgium, the sea is never far. And in this fish-lover's paradise, seafood is celebrated-from the national dish, steamed tender mussels served with crispy Belgian fries to juicy eels basking in a luxurious lemony cream sauce to firm fresh herring baked en papillote with herbed butter.
POULTRY AND GAME
In days gone by, a humble stewed hen was the centerpiece of the frugal Belgian farmer's Sunday meal, while extravagant city dwellers dined lavishly on crisp roast chickens. At either table, it was a feast. Some other notable bird preparations: partridge and red cabbage simmered in rich, dark ale and poached chicken blanketed in a lemon veloute sauce.
Long a mainstay of the national cuisine, meat is still king of the Belgian kitchen. In a manner befitting royalty, robust, succulent cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and venison are stewed in hearty red wine, pungent mustard, and sauteed with piquant gin and juniper berries.
COOKING WITH BEER
Belgian beer has all the nuances and nobility of its Gallic counterpart, wine. When paired with luscious honey-toned fruits or intense caramelized onions, beer lends a bittersweet quality to soul-warming dishes: comforting tender meatballs braised with endives in blond beer, rabbit sauteed with cherry beer and tart dried cherries, beef stewed in red currant jelly and dark beer.
VEGETABLE AND FRUIT SIDE DISHES
Honest, homey techniques celebrate fresh fruits and vegetables-with pleasingly complex results: sweet young Brussels sprouts are bathed in a simple sugar butter. The noble Belgian endive is braised with lemon and sugar. And crisp autumn apples are simmered in the ultimate comfort food: applesauce.
Whether they're fried, baked, boiled, pureed, stuffed, or gratineed, potatoes are a staple of any Belgian meal, be it casual or formal. Here are crisp Belgian fries-the national snack-and golden potato croquettes. Also, the Belgian variation on the universal favorites-mashed potatoes and stuffed baked potatoes.
WAFFLES, PANCAKES, AND BREADS
In Belgium, any celebration calls for crunchy, freshly baked, feather-light waffles-dusted with plenty of powdered sugar. And during