Updated: Apr 18
Ladies and gents, we're going to Belgium!
And no, I'm not making Belgian waffles. I don't have the cabinet room to invest in a waffle maker I'll only use three times a year.
I wanted to make iconic Belgium foods. I found the foods I wanted to make off Belgian Food: 12 Traditional Dishes to Eat for a local experience (christineabroad.com). I decided, to be a little adventurous with my familiar, to make Prepared American fillet (Belgian dish) | Donatienne's recipes (wordpress.com) (beef tartare - raw meat and condiments, baby); Pommes Frites - Traditional Belgian Fries - International Cuisine (fried potatoes, baby); Old Fashioned Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream | Flour on My Fingers (my fave :)); and Easy Dame Blanche Recipe That'll Make Your Mouth Water (wonderfulwanderings.com) (a chocolate/vanilla ice cream sundae :)). I'm basically making hamburgers, fries, and ice cream sundaes. Yeah, I LOVE IT. :D
So, I started with making the ice cream for the La Dame Blanche (The White Lady - an ice cream sundae). The recipe I wanted to try involved not cooking the custard at all - so there were raw eggs. Then, it had sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk - not a drop of half 'n' half or heavy cream in this whole thing. The absence of all this fat resulted in an icier ice cream - so it wasn't necessarily as smooth as the ice cream you'll find in store. It resembled more the soft serve ice cream at restaurants in the soft serve machine.
Above are the stages of beating the eggs and sugar and then adding the milks.
I have never been scared of using the ice cream machine. My mom used to make homemade ice cream when I was a kid all the time, so I was familiar with the "ripening" process. There is usually no on and off switch. You put your custard into the tin, then put the lid on. The harness on top should fit into the lid and into some notches on the basin. You surround it with ice, a good sprinkling of ice cream salt (available in any grocery store), then repeat that until you reach the top. Plug it in and let her go until she turns off automatically.
The Belgian Frites are just French fries, honey. I cut up the potatoes and let them dry out. Then into 350 F oil for 8 minutes until it was, according to the recipe, "making the sound of a babbling brook". Then they sat in a colander (sad, limp pale little things) for two hours to let the oil dry off.
Apparently I made my beef tartare with the wrong meat. I used ground in store beef when you should really cut up your own piece of roast. I am ill-equipped, though, for pate-ing meat, as I don't own a food processor in my tiny apartment (I dream of more counter space, cabinet room, and fancy appliances whenever I get my own house). Whatever! I just made it anyway. That stuff was loaded with hardcore flavors - mayo and capers and mustard and hot sauce.
I cooked the fries/frites again - this time to crisp them up. This was about the time that I was on the phone with my brother discussing what time he was coming to eat this Americanized Belgian fare and I promptly told him how I was scared of this tartare. "Why are you scared of it?" he wondered.
"It is going against every instinct in me to not put this in a pan right now," I told him.
"Well, we can fry it if you want, but I'll try anything once," was his answer that I cannot remember entirely verbatim but this is close enough.
Here is an unattractive looking chocolate sauce that turned pretty, LOL.
The Belgian Frites were crispy and mealy. They were served with mayo, which sounds weird, but it was delicious - it is just fat and vinegar and salt, anyway.
The tartare was...bland. I don't understand even to this day why it was bland. How can anything be bland when it has capers and mayo and hot sauce in it? But it didn't taste like...anything.
So then my brother and I were like, What if we fried it?
So we did. And it was soooo good.
It was still pink in the middle, but the caramelized outside was delicious. Somehow, cooking it activated its flavors - the capers were pops of acidity, the salt played well, and it was juicy and greasy from the mayo and egg. We like, ate the rest of it like this after eating a decent enough serving of beef tartare, lol.
You can imagine what this sundae tastes like - you know velvety vanilla ice cream, hard, slightly bitter chocolate, and lightly sweetened pillowy clouds of whipped cream. You know this already, boo. It is childhood and nostalgia and happiness.
Day made: 2/15/2022, Tuesday
Day post made: 3/9/2022, Wednesday
Would I make it again? 8/10, probably not the beef tartare (very glad I tried it, though), but yes to the ice cream and the Belgian Frites - so fun!!!