Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thankyou Dinner for Saskia and Ann in Belgium

Location: City of Sint- Niklaas
Province of East Flanders (Oost Vlanderen)
Belgium (Belgie)
26th August, 2010
What a great evening this turned out to be - the idea came about because I wanted to thank Saskia and Ann for looking after me in Belgium. I didn’t have a lot of spare cash, so decided to cook dinner, rather then go out to a restaurant. Ann’s son Brecht (13) came with me to go shopping at the supermarket. He was a great help, diving in amongst the aisles of (to me) unknown grocery items, and deciphering dutch language ingredients.

Lasagne made with Veal and Pork
Provencale Vegetables
Green Salad with Balsamic Vinegarette
Caramelised Nectarines with Creamy Sabayon
Sparkling Spanish Wine

We finally emerged with a basket load of ingredients, and gathered our bikes, and rode home to Ann’s house as the Belgians do.

Firstly I made the Lasagne sauce using pork and veal mince, tomatoes, Italian herbs and salt pepper. It was cooked for 1.5 hours on the stove, simmering away gently with smells of herbs wafting through the house.
Then came the béchamel sauce of flour, butter and milk seasoned with nutmeg and little salt and pepper.

The Lasagne was finally prepared with alternate layers of pasta sheets, meat sauce, slices of tomato, and béchamel, finishing topped with grated parmesan.

Once assembled, the Lasagne went in to the oven to bake and I got on with preparing the Provencale vegetable dish - this was easy, tear the bread into pieces, roughly chop the onions, peppers and squish the delicious cherry sized tomatoes, orange in colour, from the neighbours garden. This was placed into a baking tray, drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and it too went into the oven.
A quick green salad of lettuce and cucumber was prepared and a balsamic dressing made.
Once dinner was over, the ladies asked for dessert. I hadn’t planned anything as I was busy with the main course, but luckily I remembered the nectarines from France that were sitting in the fruit bowl. So I decided that I could cook the nectarines, but what about an accompaniment the ladies asked. There was no cream or ice cream in the fridge, so we were left wondering for a couple of minutes. Hang on a minute, What about Sabayon, Saskia asked. What is sabayon I replied? I had heard of it, but didn’t know what it was. It’s made with eggs and sugar she said. That sounded interesting, I knew there were eggs in the fridge. As the ladies went in search of a recipe book, I went and got the eggs and sugar.

You need 4 egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine, marsala or white port I was told. I had never made it before, but apparently you whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. So before you know it, the 3 of us were taking turns to whisk the sabayon like crazy.

Meanwhile, I halved the nectarines, removed the seeds and skin, dusted them with vanilla sugar, and placed them cut side down on a hot grill pan. Once nicely caramelised, they went into the oven, not before showing off with a flambé of liquer!

After 15 or 20 minutes of whisking, the sabayon was ready. It had turned out perfectly! A creamy, sweet wine flavoured sauce that was quite light and airy.

The caramelised nectarines with sabayon were served at the coffee table to complete a lovely evening of friendship across 2 countries and 10,000 miles.

Saskia and Ann with Crutches and Ann's delightful kinders Brecht(13) Jolien(15)
As a postscript, Saskia and Ann are planning to visit Australia in 2012.

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