Give to receive: “Do ut des” …
Monday morning, our fridge was empty! Uh-oh… on Tuesday we were expecting another house guest… No problem of course, we headed to the Marché of Van Meenen square. There, Elementerre, the organic fruits and vegetable stand is so popular, you have to take a ticket and wait your turn patiently. His produce is worth it as is everyone working there: they are entertaining, always smiling and willing to share a tip or two. This week they had “star” wich Mourad, at my sister’s request, gave us with a smile.
Do ut Des, Give the earth love and it will surprise you. William, the owner of Elementerre, must give his earth a lot of organic loving.
Elementerre’s hugging carrot.
On Wednesday, I went to Sainte Catherine with Serena, my Italian visiting friend.
At Bio Champ d’Ail, where they always offer the Panier bio, they were also offering a Panier soupe with all you need to make a soup for 4-6 people for just €5 and it even came with the recipe. Very clever.
As expected, weather in Brussels has been grey, cold and damp. I decided that, in order to fight the last of the winter blues and grey skies, I needed lots of colors. I went purple, orange, yellow, green… Carrots, parsley roots, yellow turnips, butternut squash, purple cabbage, savoy cabbage, if it had color, it went in my bag (cloth of course).😀
From Ignace, the dairy vendor, I bought my favorite chicken. Seriously… you have to see this bird! It is so free-range and has so much room to run, it should be considered game, the dark meat is dark and the breast is long and lean. It eats only organic grains and grass and I am sure the occational worm and best of all no corn. The flavor is amazing.
From Corpobio, the wonderful butcher stand, I bought a Pâté Campagne… François would like me to make it from scratch and casually showed me a recipe… hint hint… but seriously, theirs is so good… I also bought grass fed beed “carbonnade” (cubes).
This week’s menu is a combination of purchases from both markets:
Sunchoke soup with parsley, leeks and butter parsnips
Roasted chiken with Lemon and herbs served with Roasted vegetables with preserved lemon and maroccan olives.
Spaghetti with Ricotta, saffron and Finocchietto
Peposo del Brunelleschi with Blues-Cure vegetables
We had the sunchoke soup Tuesday evening with 2 sheep’s milk cheeses. One I had bought at Ignace and one a very special “pecorino” Serena’s dad Mimì made for us (with her help) that she had brought on the plane with her.
Wednesday we had the roasted chicken which was juicy and full of flavor. I had dusted the chicken with cumin, paprika and sea salt. Stuffed it with herbs and lemon juice and around it I roasted butternut squash, butter turnips, potaotes, and shallots.
If you want either of the first 2 recipes, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will happily send them to you
Tarragon infused oil: 2 sprigs of tarragon, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1 pinch of salt. Place all in a small blender or mixer and puré. Use it on toast, soups, pasta, anything you want.
I also served a fresh sheep’s milk cheese cured in vine leaves with a shallot and fig marmellade and a few slices of a rustic organic dry cured salami we had bought on Monday in Van Meenen square.
As a first course, I made Spaghetti with ricotta, saffron and dill which is a breeze to make even for my friend Meridith who says: “It can only take 5 minutes” which this does…
Spaghetti with Saffron and Finocchietto
Grind 1 tsp of saffron with 1/2 tsp of sea salt, add 1 laddle of boiling water (from the pot you cook the pasta in) and stir in the ricotta (1 full tbs per person + 1 for the group). Add freshly chopped dill and stir in the pasta. Add a bit of olive oil and done. No cooking involved except for the pasta of course.
For the main course, I served the Peposo with 3 sides (the blues fighters): Mashed tri-color carrots (yellow orange and the white is actually parsley root), sautéed Purple cabbage with rosemary and sautéed Savoy cabbage with garlic and olive oil.
If Meridith was not a vegetarian, she could even handle the Peposo which does take 3 hours in the oven but it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare. The vegetable sides are actually just as easy to make.
Peposo del Brunelleschi
3 or 4 lbs of grass fed beef chuck, butt
or any other fatty cut, cubed
a couple of bay leaves
1/2 tbs of black peppercorn
1/2 tsp of Juniper berries
5 or 6 garlic cloves unpeeled
1 bottle of Chianti
(don’t tell anyone but I only had bordeaux)
salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Some good olive oil to finish
Preheat your oven to 375 ℉
In a roasting pan, add the beef, spices, garlic and wine. Cover with foil or if you have a dutch oven place the lid and bake for about 3 hours or until very tender. 2 hours in, check the liquid level and if necessary add some water. At this point you can also add the salt. Mix well and return to the oven. For extra tenderness, prepare 1 day ahead and re-heat day 2. The meat has time to rest and is far better.
Blues cure Vegetables
Prepare all your vegetables:
Wash and chop the purple cabbage
Wash and chop the Savoy cabbage
Wash and peel the carrots, yellow carrots and parsley root.
Sauté the purple cabbage with a little olive oil and rosemary. Cook until tender but still has a bite.
Sauté the Savoy cabbage with a clove of garlic and some olive oil until nice and soft.
Boil the 3 carrots/roots together than mash them separately.
Mix them back together and add some nutmeg, olive oil and a glass of milk. Mix well and reheat.
I prepared all in the morning and reheated them when I was ready for dinner so I was able to relax once my friends arrived. Everything was pretty much done and all I had to do was warm and serve.
After a fun night with friends and my vegetable rainbow, The winter blues are definitely gone.