How to Make Authentic Speculoos Cookies

How to Make Authentic Speculoos Cookies

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Seasonal Traditions Help Mark Time
My family has several recipes that help us celebrate the passage of seasons and holidays.  We feel bound by tradition to make theses dishes each year.  For instance, we prepare Speculoos cookies for Thanksgiving and St. Nicholas Day.  Below are other seasonal traditions in our home:

In the winter, we prepare French Onion Soup and Belgian Beef Carbonnade.  In Belgium and France, French Onion Soup often helps celebrate the New Year.  It’s perfect in the middle of winter after a night of celebration.  The soup is served in the wee hours…

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French Onion Soup in 45 Minutes

French Onion Soup in 45 Minutes

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Memories of French Onion Soup Past
I tasted my first real French Onion Soup at Cafe Figaro on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood as a teen.  My friends and I thought Cafe Figaro with its French bistro-style cuisine was so cool.  It had a good menu, reasonable prices and a European atmosphere.  Taking a date here helped gave me an air of sophistication.  Or at least I thought.

I must have tried French Onion Soup before hanging out at Cafe Figaro with my friends, yet do not have any earlier memory.   Unfortunately Cafe Figaro disappeared almost 20 years ago.  Its French Oni…

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Authentic Greek Pasticcio (Pastitsio)

Authentic Greek Pasticcio (Pastitsio)

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What makes this Pasticcio Recipe Authentic?
Greek restaurants all over the world prepare Pasticcio (also known as Pastitsio or Pastichio).  Not surprisingly, families and taverns all over Greece also make it.  Most families follow a recipe passed on to them by a dear family member and then adjusted over time to satisfy personal taste.

 
What is Pasticcio?
Those unfamiliar with Pasticcio may wonder what is this romantic-sounding dish.  The easiest way to describe it would be as a Greek version of lasagna bolognese.   This is not entirely fair as a comparison.

I…

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Chicons au gratin

Chicons au gratin

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What are chicons au gratin?

Chicons au gratin is a Belgian national dish consisting of braised Belgian endives  (aka chicons) wrapped in slices of baked ham and covered with a Mornay sauce and some grated cheese.  Steaming hot with a creamy cheesy sauce, chicons au gratin is comfort food par excellence.  The bitter Belgian endives mixed with the sweet baked ham also make a winning combination.  Chicons au gratin is probably my daughter’s all-time favorite dish.

How much time does it take to make chicons au gratin?

Chicons au gratin is…

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Vegan Pumpkin Dumplings

Vegan Pumpkin Dumplings

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What makes Vegan Pumpkin Dumplings a Fall Favorite?
A couple years ago when I started my Vegan Before 6:00 diet I was looking for new fun ways to prepare vegan main dishes.  Around that time I was practicing how to make homemade dim sum.  I kept trying new dim sum recipes so I’d get the techniques down.

As many of you know, I love pumpkin during the fall, especially in savory dishes.  So creating a new fall favorite with pumpkin put a smile on my face.  When a friend came over for lunch I prepared these Vegan Pumpkin Dumplings and instantly fell in love!

The filling is…

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Belgian Beef Carbonnade (Belgian Beef Stew)

Belgian Beef Carbonnade (Belgian Beef Stew)

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Belgian Beef Carbonnade Made Easy
Belgian Beef Carbonnade is known by many names:  Flemish Carbonnade, Belgian Beef Stew, Beef and Beer Stew, are among the most common.
How to Make Beef Carbonnade
Although recipes for Belgian Beef Carbonnade generally include beef and beer, there are many variations.  Some families spread mustard on bread and add it to the pot for thickness and to reduce the sweetness of this dish.
Many use dark abbey beer to give a deeper flavor.  Depending on the beer used it may also add sweetness.  I prefer a blond Abbey (light ale) beer instead since i…

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Speculoos Pie Crust

Speculoos Pie Crust

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What are Speculoos Cookies?
Origin of the Name
If you are wondering what the heck are Speculoos, they are a traditional Belgian and Dutch spice cookie eaten all year round yet primarily made for Saint Nicholas day (6 December in Belgium and 5 December in the Netherlands) and the winter holidays.

In some Anglo-Saxon countries, these traditional cookies are known as Biscoff.   Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, they refer to these cookies as Speculaas.   In Germany, where these cookies also have deep roots, they are known as Spekulatius.  Many countries in Europe and the Ame…

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Belgian Foodie® Winter Salad

Belgian Foodie® Winter Salad

What are Winter Salads?
Winter salads bring color, vitamins and fresh tastes to brighten up your plate and keep your palate alive.  In many ways I prefer winter salads to salads at other times of the year because the ingredients are often more crispy and full of flavor.

 
How can you create a Winter Salad?
Blend colors and tastes
The key to making an exceptional winter salad is to blend colors and tastes.  Don’t be afraid to use bitter vegetables, such as Belgian endives, radicchio and escarole, all from the chicory family. You may offset the bitter tastes by adding sweet ingredien…

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Braised Belgian Endives

Braised Belgian Endives

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Why learning how to braise Belgian Endives is so important?

Everyone in Belgium needs to learn how to braise Belgian endives, commonly known as chicons or witlof in Belgium, at some point in their life.  It should almost be a requirement for citizenship. Many people are a bit intimidated by Belgian endives because they are easy to overcook or often fall apart while cooking.  Yet, braising Belgian endives is actually fairly simple.

How to braise Belgian endives

All it takes to braise Belgian endives is a pan, some olive oil or butter, garlic, a to…

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Lentil Tomato Soup: Vegan

Lentil Tomato Soup: Vegan

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A Vegan Lentil Tomato Soup sure to please the whole family!
Lentils are Inexpensive and Nutritious!
Lentils are considered to be one of the healthiest foods available.  They are also one of the least expensive sources of protein and other nutrients vegans need in their diet.  Adding lentils to soup is a simple way to get the nutrition you need.   Preparing this Lentil Tomato Soup will therefore be a tasty way to get the protein you need.

I enjoy all kinds of lentils: brown, green, yellow, and red.   Brown lentils tend to hold their shape better in soups.  Yet, adding a h…

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