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Scampi Diabolique (devil prawns)

FROM BAR FOOD, TO FANCY APPETIZER, TO MAIN COURSE Prawns or scampi diabolique is an absolute staple in any restaurant or pub where I come from. In a restaurant it might be offered as an appetizer or a main course; and in a pub setting it’s the perfect dish to accompany a bottle of wine, friendly conversation… a boozy night on the town. I like the latter purpose of devil shrimp, served with crusty baguette to dip into the spicy sauce. You’ll find many ways to prepare this lovely dish and in time I’m sure you’ll choose one and make it your own. In my kitchen, I make the “short” version with help from the supermarket. I use canned lobster bisque as a base for my sauce. It’s a personal favorite for me, something that is both humble and fancy. For guests I may serve it with rice or fresh …

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Three cultures. one meal: Shepherd’s Pie à la Flamande

Two cultures, one meal… it’s fusion to make the angels sing! I love jamming two cultures together, combining flavors and textures of meals that I love, that I know for sure my husband will love, AND that I can easily turn into a vegetarian meal without compromising anything. Shepherd’s pie – or parmentier – is such a dish. The city I was born – Ghent in Belgium – was historically a very important port in northern Europe, one where exotic spices were part of the trade. Add in the refined abbey brews and a need for cheaper cuts of meat among the working class and it should be no surprise these ingredients found their way into a stew that has kept its reputation as a delicacy throughout the centuries. Since the first published recordings in the 1800’s, the recipe has not changed indeed, it probably hasn’t since centuries before that. …

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Apéro-time Empanadas

The appetizer that works every time! Empanadas are the Central -and South American version of pasties, crescent-shaped, savory pastries filled with a variety of ingredients. They are usually fried, but we prefer baking them to golden perfection. They are quite versatile and can be filled with meat or even made in a delicious Caribbean-style vegetarian version simply by replacing the meat with boiled and shredded  (sweet)potato and carrots. Even better… you can make them ahead of time and freeze, so you always have something to serve unexpected guests that is (almost completely) homemade and thaws/ reheats/ bakes quickly. When we have a party or for any fancy occasion like Christmas -or New Year’s eve, these beef-olive-raisin empanadas are on the menu as a favorite finger food. Hope you enjoy! Ingredients and preparation – Appetizer Empanadas For about 40 appetizers 175 gr lean minced beef – for this recipe, minced turkey …