Matongé and Quimbombó con Carne de Puerco y Bolitas de Plátano

Mantongé Mural

Matongé Mural

This summer I’ve been taking classes in Brussels, so I took the opportunity to do a bit of exploring. I had already been to Brussels a few times, but always to the Historic Center and other touristy places. I had heard about Matongé from a colleague and was curious to check it out! Luckily a classmate, Samy, was free after class to show me around – and thought it was funny I wanted to go and take photos. I especially wanted to get plantains, okra, and habanero peppers, because they’re difficult to find in Antwerp.  Fresh produce was available in abundance with little markets located throughout Matongé! I bought some Congolese food to-go to try the next day.

With my plantains, okra, and peppers I made Quimbombó con Carne de Puerco y Bolitas de Plátano – okra stew with pork and plantain dumplings. It’s a Cuban dish with a heavy African influence. It’s a bit like gumbo. If you say “King Gumbo” really quickly you get the idea. Everything turned out really well except for my plantain dumplings. They didn’t stay in their form. If I make this again, I will just fry them rather than mashing them and making balls.

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New York Day 11, September 2013

View of Manhattan from Brooklyn

View of Manhattan from Brooklyn

Now that we had explored a lot of Manhattan, we decided on day 11 to meet up with some friends in Brooklyn. First we ate sushi in Chinatown and stopped for cupcakes and iced coffee at Molly’s Cupcakes in Greenwich Village. Then we met up with our friend Matt in Brooklyn to see another side of NYC. First we explored Williamsburg, walking around and stopping at the park to look at the view of Manhattan and the Williamsburg Bridge. Matt also took us to Five Leaves where I of course ordered a Brooklyn beer, because it was only fitting. For dinner we headed to Bushwick to meet Danny at Arepera Guacuco and I tried arepas for the first time! After dinner we met up with my friend Meredith for drinks in Bushwick. When we go back to New York in September we’ll be seeing a bit more of Brooklyn!

 

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New York Day 10, September 2013

The Famous Katz's Delicatessen

The Famous Katz’s Delicatessen

By our 10th day in NYC, we had already seen quite a bit – so we slept in before enjoying lunch at the famous Katz’s Delicatessen, founded in 1888! Everyone knows the famous scene in Katz’s Deli from the movie When Harry Met Sally. There’s sign hanging in the restaurant if you’re interested in sitting in the same booth! After our HUGE lunch, we headed to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The collection at the Met is overwhelming. In general, it’s so amazing how much art is at your fingertips while you are in New York City. Koen and I will be back in NYC September 2014, and we’ll definitely head back to the Met! If you’re on a budget, admission for the museum is based on donations. So if $25 is too much, you can give what you can any day of the week. After our trip to the Met we met Christina when she got off from work for Mexican food.

 

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Fried Avocado Tacos with Sesame and Lime

Fried Avocado Tacos with Sesame and Lime

Fried Avocado Tacos with Sesame and Lime

I love tacos and I love avocados, so when I found a recipe for fried avocado tacos with sesame and lime, I had to try it! The result was fantastic, with a wonderful juxtaposition of textures. This recipe comes from the Food 52 website that I’ve recently become obsessed with. Food 52 is an online community for foodlovers and cooks!

 

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Venezuelan Arepas

Venezuelan arepa with black beans, grilled banana, avocado, and goat cheese

Venezuelan arepa with black beans, grilled banana, avocado, and goat cheese

While Koen and I were in New York, we tried a lot of different multicultural food, including Venezuelen arepas. They are basically corn pancakes that you slice open and stuff with delicious ingredients. I decided to prepare a vegetarian version with black beans, grilled banana (I couldn’t find plantains), avocado, and goat cheese. While we were in New York at Arepera Guacuco, there were also a lot of different sauces to use with the arepas, so I found a recipe for a mango pepper arepa sauce. I was really proud of how the areaps turned out! It was a lot of work, but worth it!

 

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South American-Style Brunch

South American-style brunch

South American-style brunch

Yum! I am so happy I found Jamie Oliver’s recipe for a South American-style brunch. I had an avocado and cilantro at home, so I did a search on Jamie’s website and found this dish. The quinoa is topped with warm pan-fried black beans and eggs and cold diced avocado, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, self-pickled chilli peppers, cilantro, and mint!

 

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Grilled Steak with Green Beans, Tomatoes, and Chimichurri Sauce

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Grilled Steak with Green Beans, Tomatoes, and Chimichurri Sauce (and french fries)

On Saturday nights, Koen and I typically eat steak, so I was excited to find a new recipe that we could incorporate into our tradition – Grilled Steak with Green Beans, Tomatoes, and Chimichurri Sauce from the Food Network. Chimichurri sauce is an Argentinian grill sauce made from olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs. The combination of the steak (which Koen grilled), sauce, and vegetables was really light and refreshing – I’ll definitely be making this sauce again for other grilled meats. I varied a little from the recipe by baking the green beans and tomatoes in the oven rather than cooking them on a grill (I don’t have one!).

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