MCCN Editor’s Food and Drink Bucket List: Belgium

Who wouldn’t take a picture?
Photo Credit: Maison Dandoy Facebook Page

I’m all about the waffles on any given day, so Belgium is on my food and drink bucket list as one of those no-brainer options. I’m so glad Belgians didn’t get a raw deal with their waffles like they did with their pomme frites. The Belgian’s waffles, French fries and Belgian chocolate are quite enough to make this American girl honored to salute them for their huge contribution to my life. And as an American, I’m not going to go embarrassing us overseas looking for maple syrup and butter. My expectations are set to enjoy what Belgium has to offer. I will simply go where the waffle quest takes me. However, I have it on good authority that it will take me to Brussels.

What Americans know as a Belgian waffle, with it’s deeply creviced pockets, is what Belgians would call a Brussels waffle (or gaufres de Bruxelles). But you can also find the Liege waffles in abundance as well. It has a thicker brioche batter and incorporates pearl sugar for crispness. The Liege waffle is also not perfectly rounded but has those kind of edges that you get when you didn’t quite put enough waffle batter on the waffle iron/maker. But it’s all good, we’ll eat those too.

Liege Waffle topped with Chocolate.. (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

So the Bucklist picks for my waffle experience (Unless the locals give me some other liquid gold recommendation) are BE Waffle and Maison Dandoy. And here’s the great thing about both…location, location, location. They are both situated in the Grand Place, a historic area where you can enjoy the Baroque and gothic architecture. It’s obviously a must-see area. It’s been around in some form or fashion since the 12th century!

Okay, back to the waffles…BE Waffle serves hot-off-the-iron waffles as street food in a market-style area. Go ahead and dig in with your hands. That’s what you’re supposed to do.

You can load up on the available toppings, from chocolate to whipped cream to fruit. Then take it to go as you enjoy just being a tourist in Belgium. Nonetheless, as a tourist, know the culture enough to notice what’s legit and what’s not. I noticed that a review from TripAdvisor, indicated that BE Waffle was selling fresh, hot waffles but that wasn’t always the case with some of the other street vendors. Whether you traveled from another continent or from another nearby neighborhood, you want your food to be right. Be observant and then go get your waffle.

Maison Dandoy is located in a shop in the same district as BE WAFFLE and has been there on Rue au Buerre since 1829. I, for one, love that it’s located on “Butter Street.” It gives me such hope of how good the waffles will be.

Images from Maison Dandoy’s Facebook Page

In all fairness, my anticipation for Maison Dandoy might edge out BE Waffle by just a smidge. It has several locations in Brussels and one of the locations has one of my favorite things…a tea house. The waffle offerings look so lovely and the presentation is awesome in every way. I’m looking forward to topping my Liege or Brussels waffle with powdered sugar, chocolate, whipped cream and/or fruit and enjoy with what looks to be some awesome options for coffee beverages.

Photo Credit: Maison Dandoy Facebook Page.

Prayerfully, my bucket list will be satisfied sooner rather than later, but until then I’ll keep on slathering on the butter and drizzling on the syrup knowing that Belgium is calling. And when I can’t put off the call anymore, I’ll grab my passport and my pen so I can check Belgium off as “done.”

Try this recipe for Liege waffles on our sister Multi Cultural Cooking Network page.

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Deck the Table with a Yule Log Cake (Bûche de Noel)

Pihoto Credit just above os from Wikipedia.
Featured image from Sally’s Baking Addiction Facebook Page.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! So let’s get to cracking those eggs and searching for the marzipan to make the Yule (Old English for ‘Christmas’) log cake with all the fixings. The Yule log is often referred to as Bûche de Noel in French culture. The rolled Christmas cake is fashioned as a sweet roulade.

The sponge cake is usually a yellow cake that’s rolled and most often iced and filled with chocolate buttercream and cut-off at the end to resemble a log. There are other iterations of the dessert such as using a chocolate sponge cake with chocolate ganache, or chocolate icings infused with coffee, espresso or liqueur.

Bûche de Noel received its name after the ancient Yule log tradition was pretty much discarded. Parisian bakers provided elaborate decorations and brought the popularity of the dessert back in the 19th century. The cake is traditionally served in France, Belgium, Canada, Syria, Switzerland and other former French colonies like Vietnam (I had to look that one up just to make sure it wasn’t fake news. What do you know…you learn something new every day.)

Early History

The Yule log cake has been on many a table since the early 1600’s. According to History.com, the first recipe for the Yule log was printed in 1615 in Gervaise Markham’s tome “The English Huswife.” The marzipan and meringue decorations go back just as far.

Celtics, British and Gaelic Europeans of yester-year embraced the lore of burning an actual Yule log. And boy-oh-boy is there a lot of lore that surrounds the pagan tradition of burning away/cleansing the events from the outgoing year. Nonetheless, what has endured is the delicious rolled sponge cake iced and ready for many a Christmas sweet tooth around the world.

Want to try your had at making a Bûche de Noel? See the ingredient list below.

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
½ cup white sugar
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon salt
6 egg whites
¼ cup white sugar
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

See the rest of the recipe here from AllRecipes.

Baker’s Passion Becomes her Business

Pastry chef, Jalisa Harris is enjoying her decision to have faith and open One Bite, LLC. It’s her very own baking business serving the DMV area (D.C., MD, VA.). MCCN talks to her about her business and passion for baking in our new series, The Cool Culture Cook. (See the interview above)

One Bite makes cakes, pies, pastries and all kinds of baked goods by request. Harris’ company has done birthday parties, weddings, church anniversaries and the requests get more and more diverse. However, that’s where she is now, which is a long way from her beginnings.

Getting her degree in culinary arts was one thing but making the move to start her baking business was a decision she came to over time. As you can probably imagine, every day is not a cake-walk for the young pastry chef and entrepreneur (pun absolutely intended) but success stories without trials are even less realistic than fairytales.

We all know in every good fairytale there is always a villain to overcome or an obstacle to overtake, and such is life. Sometimes there is a struggle. Funds aren’t always rolling in, ingredients can be expensive and throw in a global pandemic, like the one from 2020, and you can begin to understand the saying, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Nonetheless, even as an operation of one, the young business woman’s faith and family support system have helped her slay those proverbial dragons during the low times. She credits her mother for her encouragement, which has helped her carry on One Bites growing success story.

Rainbow/Princess custom-made by request by One Bite.
Unicorn cake custom-made by One Bite. Follow on Facebook and Instagram.

Now let’s talk about those rewarding moments. After all, all work and no fun is not going to cut it. Harris definitely loves the reward of a job well done. In fact, customer satisfaction is kind of a thing with her. She wants to see the smile. She’s looking for the reaction, especially since she pours her passion into everything from the ingredients to the design of each delectable baked bite.

From cupcakes, to character cakes, to pies and sugar work, Harris is in it to satisfy even the youngest customer with dreams of princesses and rainbows or Spiderman and Moana for their birthday cakes. Harris is also in it for the long haul and continues to up her game as her baking business and artistry grows.

Check out part one of Harris’ inspirational and gutsy story on MCCN’s new series, The Cool Culture Cook.


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What are You Doing With Your Turkey This Thanksgiving?

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The notion of cooking a t­­­urkey on a normal day can be a nightmare scenario to even the coolest cooks but Thanksgiving day is a whole other ball game. Nonetheless, victory is in sight soldier and help is on the way. Here are a few ideas to consider when deciding what to do with your Thanksgiving turkey.

Jerk Turkey
Photo Credit for Jerk turkey from Red Stripes Caribbean Cuisine and Lounge in Blufton, South Carolina.

Restaurants like Red Stripes Caribbean Cuisine and Lounge in Blufton, South Carolina will take your order and make jerk turkey for you. However, if you want to roll up your sleeves and get busy, MCCN has found a recipe for you, courtesy of the How to Cook Youtube channel.

Ingredients for the Jerk Turkey Dry Rub

1 tsp of black pepper

1 tsp of salt

1tbsp turkey seasoning

1 tbsp of onion powder and garlic pepper

1 tsp of cayenne pepper

1 tbsp of paprika

½ tsp of cloves

½ tsp of allspice

1 tsp of poultry seasoning

1 tbsp of jerk seasoning powder

! tbsp. of crushed rosemary

1 tbsp of dried parsley

1 tbsp of cilantro

1 tbsp of dried thyme

Dutch Oven Braised Turkey

Making your Thanksgiving turkey as tasty and easy as possible may be your only two goals for your holiday meal. In that case, keep everything in one pot. Using a Dutch oven, you can achieve your goal with minimal fuss. Check out this Dutch oven braised turkey recipe from Kitchen.com. See the ingredients below.

Ingredients

2 skin-on, bone-in turkey drumsticks (1 1/2 to 2 pounds total)

2 skin-on, bone-in turkey thighs (about 3 pounds total)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 pound pancetta or bacon, cut to 1/2-inch pieces

2 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

2 medium celery stalks, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup dry white wine

6 sprigs fresh thyme

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves

2 bay leaves

2 cups turkey or chicken stock

1 large bunch collard greens, center ribs removed, leaves chopped (about 6 cups chopped)

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Easy Salt and Pepper Turkey

Salt and pepper. You can’t get more basic than that for an easy Thanksgiving day turkey solution. Look no further than CountryLiving.com for their Easiest Salt and Pepper Turkey recipe. See a list of the ingredients below.

Ingredient

2 carrots, halved

2 celery ribs, halved

1 onion, quartered

1 1/2-lb. turkey, giblets discarded

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

Kosher salt

black pepper

For more Thanksgiving and holiday recipes, go to our sister website: MultiCulturalCookingNetwork.wordpress.com.

Guyana Restaurant Week

Guyana Restaurant Week starts Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 and extends through Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. Before the influence of the British and Dutch colonialism, the Indigenous people to the country as guiana, meaning ‘land of water.’ It’s the perfect name for the country located right off of South America’s northern Atlantic coast.

The people of Guyana are a diverse bunch and their cuisine is sure to embody the fullness of their heritage. Restaurant week seeks to show off the wonders of Guyanese cuisine and it comes smack dab before the holiday season kicks off. Sponsored by the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), local restaurants will provide special Restaurant Week menus, giving old patrons and new guests, alike, the opportunity to sample their best.

There’s nothing like good food to put you in the holiday spirit and even the pandemic is not stopping Guyana Restaurant Week. Restaurants like Terra Mare, have their dine-in instructions (regarding Covid-19) listed on their menu. Other restaurants will provide take-out, delivery and outdoor dining options, which can be seen on the Guyana Restaurant Week website.

Participating Restaurants
Guyana Restaurant Week is Nov. 20 - Nov. 29, 2020.

You can find a list of participating restaurants for Guyana Restaurant Week at thag.co.

It’s Coq Au Vin…Just Smoked

Photo Credit: Old Fat Guy Facebook Page

How cool is this? Food blogger, David Farrell of Oldfatguy.ca, recently posted a different take on the French classic recipe for coq au vin. The usually braised chicken dish, flavored with wine, garlic, and herbs, is smoked in this variation of the recipe. The wine sauce is also omitted since it’s being smoked.

Smoke au Vin, as the blogger names the recipe, includes taking chicken parts and setting it in a marinade of red wine, dried thyme, dried rosemary overnight. Then the chicken parts are put in a dry rub for 30 minutes before going into the smoker. According to Farrell, the resulting skin is flavorful and the chicken’s flesh is moist. See the recipe ingredients below.

Ingredients
  • 1 to 1.5 kg (2 to 3 pounds) chicken pieces
  • 250 ml (1 cup) dry red wine
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) dried thyme
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) dried rosemary
  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) dried rosemary
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) dried thyme
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) coarse pepper
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) Kosher salt

Read food blogger David Farrell’s recipe for Smoke Au Vin on OldFatGuy.ca.

Still Making Old-Fashioned Candy

Inside H.E. Williams Candy Company with MCCN Editor in Chief, Crystal Johnson.

America’s small business are really at the heart of communities, and when you have one that’s been around for over 100 years, you see the commitment of the people who, generation by generation, decide to keep the business there. Just because a business starts somewhere doesn’t mean it has to finish there. But it appears that H.E. Willams Candy Company plans to finish where they started way back in 1919.

Not as far back…it was in 2012 (before H.E. Williams Candy Company’s centennial occurred) when Multi Cultural Cooking Network Editor in Chief, Crystal Johnson, stopped by their location in the South Norfolk area of Chesapeake, VA. On that day she scored royally with an interview and tour with Gene Williams, the grandson of the founder of this third-generation family enterprise.

Williams generously walked her through the facility and explained the heritage of their candy factory. A great deal of the equipment they use, including the rollers, tables, and copper kettles, are the same equipment his grandfather used. It’s a lesson in quality products and craftsmanship if nothing else. But when you watch the video (above), you see such a pride in the way they’ve chosen not to automate much and keep the old candy-making ways going. Heritage and legacy have their importance.

H. E. Williams Candy Company is located in the South Norfolk area of Chesapeake, VA. Photo credit: Facebook Page.

For a bit of context, the editor, took our mother with her on this interview. My mother loves old-fashioned hard candy plus she is a coconut fanatic. So, if you know a little something about candy, you’ve probably figured out the equation. If not, here goes: hard candy + coconut – any other option = peach buds.

My mother had been buying her peach buds from this establishment for years and not just her…her mother too. Grandma Josephine lived just a few short walking blocks from the operation and with eight kids and then a booming bastion of grandkids, I’m sure my grandparents thought it best that they always have a few treats around the house.

Long story short, our family was personally touched by this confectioner’s candy company. it was a small cog in the backdrop of my life. As minor as it may seem, I could rest assured, at some point near Christmas, either a red box or one of their white boxes decoratively printed with Christmas wreaths, would show up under the tree. No doubt after a hundred plus years, the company continues to provide these kinds of memories for their customers especially those in the surrounding community.

As the holidays approach, candy still makes one of the sweetest gifts—pun intended. Try the H.E. Williams Candy Company’s much lauded Christmas Fancy Mix for your holiday party hosts; give the peach buds to your neighbor, or pull out the pineapple lumps for your coworkers. And whatever, you do, don’t forget yourself…get your favorite old-fashioned hard candy and give yourself the gift of nostalgia.

Find out more about H.E. Williams Candy Company, just check out their Facebook Page or contact them at 757-545-9311.

The Strong Legacy of the Moka Pot

In the mood for an espresso? You don’t have to run out to your nearest java joint, you can get the taste of an espresso at home with a Moka pot. A staple of Italian culture, the moka pot is a stovetop or electrical coffee pot, which brews coffee by passing boiling water—pressurized by steam—over ground coffee.

The moka pot is another culinary feat for the Italians. Italian engineer, Alfonso Bialetti, invented the Moka Express Coffeemaker in 1933. The popularity of the coffeemaker later spread throughout Europe and Latin America. In fact, the same model is produced today through Bialetti Industries. The moka pot is named after the city of Mocha in Yemen, which is home to the mocha coffee bean that is commonly used for espresso. 

Now let’s be clear; although it might taste like it, moka pot coffee is not actually considered espresso for a few reasons—most importantly because the pot’s boiling water is pressurized at 1-2 bars. The coffee which is brewed from this process is about 2-3 times stronger than regular drip coffee; however, when the coffee is brewed in an espresso machine, it’s 5-6 times stronger because the pressurization of the water is between 7-10 bars.

Believe it or not, there’s a whole wonky scale that’s super technical and includes factors like the amount of coffee used vs. brewing time. It really is a science unto itself but since we’re not in chemistry class and I’m not a teacher—or a coffee sommelier for that matter—we’ll just leave it there.. 

The Pot’s Design

Let’s talk about the iconic design of the moka pot. It is widely appreciated as a technological modern-day work of art. Most commonly constructed with aluminum or stainless steel, you have to admit, there’s a rustic sleekness to the design and a simple sultry quality to the drip. The result of the brew is a strong, able-bodied flavor that’s handsome and powerful to the taste. It’s an Idris Elba-Bond, a Godfather-Al Pacino in elegance and strength, yet more times than not it finishes with a bitter edge.

The Moka Express Coffeemaker was invented by Alfonso Bialetti in 1933.

Moka pot coffee has an acquired taste but those who love it seem to really love it And it’s not a given that the coffee should be bitter. Check the quality of the bean—it should not be over-roasted. After all, your moka pot coffee should be an experience. It’s a shot in the arm, a jolt to human heartbeat. And although It may not put hair on your chest, occasionally check your chin ladies and gents. Check your chin.

Easy Peasy Tartufo Recipe

Italy has given us so much inspiration in life. Michelangelo, the Tower of Pisa, Italian ice…and if that wasn’t compelling enough. It has also given us a great little dessert called Tartufo.

The truffle shaped ice cream dessert originated in Pizzo, Calabria located in the southern region of Italy. Usually composed of two or more flavors of ice cream, the dessert encases a strawberry, raspberry or cherry. It can also be filled with fruit syrup or chocolate sauce.

The dessert was born out of the ingenuity of its creator, Giuiseppi De Maria, more commonly known as Don Pippo, When running low on molds to shape the ice cream being served to guests, Don Pippo formed the well-known truffle-sized ice cream in the middle of his hand. Once the fruit (or syrup/chocolate sauce) is inserted in the middle of the ice cream, it’s rolled in crumbled chocolate wafers then wrapped up in sugar paper then frozen.

Tartufos are great to make for an after-dinner dessert because it’s easy peasy! Just a few ingredient, a trifle of time spent in the kitchen and Ba-da-boom, you’re in business. See the ingredients and recipe instructions below.

Ingredients
  • 5-6 chocolate waffle cones (In the traditional Italian recipe, chocolate wafers are used instead)
  • 8 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 8 amaretto-soaked cherries (If you don’t want to use alcohol, there are non-alcoholic versions of amaretto)
  • 12 ounces prepared caramel sauce
  • 1/3 cup (40g) chopped walnuts

See the recipe instructions here.

Spice it Up: Five Spice Powder 五香粉

Do you ever look at a spice in the supermarket and wonder what it’s all about? In a day where information is at your fingertips and the biggest search engine is now a verb, you can just look it up in the middle of the grocery aisle. Well, five spice powder is one such spice that could probably use a little more context.

Five spice powder (also called Chinese five spice powder) is a combination of five or more spices predominately used in many forms of Chinese, Vietnamese and Taiwanese cuisine. As you might expect, a combination of spices adds more depth of flavor. The powder is typically used as a dry rub or marinade when roasting or braising meat or fish.

But never you mind vegans, five spice powder is also good for providing flavor to veggies and rice. Want a good reason to use your wok? Make a veggie stir-fry using the five spice powder. Carnivores can also get in on the stir-fry action with a beef or chicken and veggie stir-fry.

Last but not least, the portion of your meal that’s most likely to be voted “Let’s eat it first!” You guessed it…dessert. Sweet-tooths are not forgotten. Five spice powder can also assist in providing a little savory something to cakes and your other five star desserts.

Five Spice Powder Ingredients

So what spices are included in this mysterious blend? Well, there is no real mystery, the traditional spices include the following:

  • Star Anise is used in enhancing meat and is commonly used in the production of liquor.
  • Cloves are give aromatic flavor to hot beverages like Indian Spiced Milk. It also makes great marinades and it’s a standard garnish for that Easter/Christmas ham.
  • Chinese Cinnamon is also called Chinese Casala and is commonly used in pickling recipes, marinades and teas.
  • Sichuan Pepper has a citrus-like flavor employed for, both, culinary and medicinal purposes. The peppercorn is known to induce a tingling numbness in the mouth. It’s also available in Sichuan pepper infused oil for dipping sauces and salad dressing.
  • Fennel Seeds, which are contained in the fennel fruit, is very aromatic. It is utilized in many natural toothpastes and in many cultures, it’s used for its breath freshening properties. Fun fact: When candied, fennel fruit is often used as a comfit, which is a traditional baptism gift in many countries in Europe and the Middle East.

Five Spices ingredients: (l to r) Star Anise, Chinese Cinnamon, Cloves, Sichuan Pepper, Fennel Fruit (The fennel seed is contained in the fruit).

If you would like to make your own Five Spice Powder, get the measurements for the spices above at Epicurious.com.