Monkfish Spanish Style

Rape a la Marinera

In October 2016 Jamie Oliver was criticised for making paella the wrong way. He dared adding chorizo to one of the most Spanish dishes ever. Paella should be made with rabbit, snails, chicken, beans, saffron and rice. How dare he insult all of Spain by adding chorizo to his Paella? Naked chef or not, ambassador of healthy food or not, no one touches Paella.

Rape a la Marinera is among our favourites because it’s all about monkfish, which is such a tasty fish. The monkfish is presented with a generous tomato sauce, large shrimps, vongole and bread. What better way to enjoy life!

In this recipe we will probably do a few things very wrong, but never mind, simply don’t tell your Spanish friends.

Wine Pairing

We very much enjoyed a glass of Spanish Verdejo. In our case a bottle of Monteabellon Rueda. In general wines made from the Verdejo grape combine very well with fish. The wine comes with the right acidity, giving freshness to the wine. It has floral aromas typical for the Verdejo grape. You may recognize the aromas of banana and exotic fruit.

What You Need

  • Monkfish
  • Olive Oil
  • Optional
    • Bay Leaf
    • Saffron
  • 4 Large Shrimps
  • Vongole (clams, Vongola Veraci)
  • White wine
  • Bouquet Garni

What You Do

The day before serving Rape a la Marinera make the tomato sauce.
Start by cleaning the monkfish and remove the skin where necessary. Clean the shrimps by removing the intestinal tract. Leave the head and the tail. Check the vongole and discard ones that are broken. In general vongole don’t need much cleaning. Vongola Verace are tasty, slightly sweet and juicy; great for Spaghetti Vongole and Rape a la Marinera.

In a large skillet fry the monkfish. When coloured add the sauce. Gently heat the sauce and cover the fish with it. Baste (arroser) and continue to do so. In parallel add some wine to a pan with a bouquet garni and let gently cook for 5 minutes.
Now it’s about timing! Add the raw shrimps to the pan with the monkfish, cover the shrimps with the sauce, continue basting both the fish and the shrimps. Add the vongole to the pan with the white wine. Cook quickly until open. Add some of the cooking juices of the vongole to the tomato sauce, mix, taste and add a touch of pepper. Serve the vongole on top of the monkfish and shrimps.
Serve with crusted bread.

Flan with Prawns, Blue Cheese, Spinach and Dill

Something on a Spoon

A glass of white wine, perhaps a glass of Crémant d’Alsace or maybe even a glass of Champagne; such a great way to start dinner (or lunch when you feel like treating yourself). You enjoy some bread with homemade Tapenade, or a few nice olives. All good. And then suddenly the chef presents you her or his Amuse-Bouche. Something very special and an indication of the chef’s talent. But in most cases it’s something on a spoon and not very special.

A bit of background: amuse-bouche is actually not a French term. Restaurateurs made it up because they think amuse-gueule (the correct term) is a bit harsh. ‘Gueule’ can refer to both humans and animals. And ‘ferme ta gueule’ is far from polite. So restaurateurs started using ‘bouche’, to eliminate the impression that they think their guests have a snout.

Some say the concept of the amuse was invented by the Nouvelle Cuisine in the 1960s. Not really. In 1946 Francis Ambrière, in his book Les Grandes vacances, writes … Une côtelette à midi. Quelques amuse-gueule à l’heure du goûter. Et le soir, ô splendeur, un gigot bien saignant, le premier gigot depuis l’an 40!

Today’s amuse-gueule is a dish in its own right that amuses the mouth, fools your appetite and makes you want to start on the first course. Small, tasty, full of flavours and maybe a bit out of the ordinary.

We use a traditional coddler for this amuse-gueule, but you could also use a small ramequin. No spoon, please.

Wine Pairing

Typically the amuse-gueule is combined with your aperitif. We combined this amuse gueule with a glass of German Sekt, to be more precise with a glass of Reichsrat von Buhl – Pfalz – Sekt – Spätburgunder Brut rosé 2016, which is a superb pale pink wine, made from 100% Pinot Noir and produced by one of the leading wineries in Germany. Think red berries, brioche, a delicate texture with a nice mousse, fresh acidity and a long-lasting aftertaste.

What You Need (for 4)

  • One Egg
  • Four Medium Sized Raw Prawns
  • 75 grams Spinach
  • ½ Shallot
  • A Generous Tablespoon of Crème Fraiche
  • Dill
  • Blue Cheese
  • Chives
  • 4 Edible flowers

What You Do

Start by cleaning the prawns, removing the head, the shell and the vein. We used Argentine red shrimps. The meat is fairly soft and they become beautifully red when cooked. Fry the shrimps is some olive oil for 3 minutes. Remove the shrimps from the pan, set aside and let cool. Gently fry the shallot in the same pan for 10 minutes until glazed. Remove from the pan and let cool. In a different pan quickly cook the (dry and clean) spinach in some olive oil. Keep stirring! Drain if so required, set aside and let cool.
Cut the prawns in smaller bits. Chop the spinach using a large knife. Whisk the egg until completely smooth. Now add the (cool) bits of prawn, the spinach and the shallot. Whisk with a spoon. Add the Crème Fraiche. Add some chopped dill (depending on your taste), a bit of blue cheese (not too much, just to add a dimension to the dish) and a generous amount of chives. Mix. Coat the coddlers or ramequins with butter. Add the mixture to the coddlers or ramequins. Heat your oven to 170° Celsius (or 340° Fahrenheit). Place the coddlers or ramequins in a shallow dish. Add boiling water up to 2/3 of the height of the coddler or ramequin. Close the oven and reduce the temperature to 120° Celsius (or 250° Fahrenheit). After 30 minutes au bain marie your amuse-gueule should be ready. Test with a needle. Let cool.
If using a coddler, remove and dry the lid, add the flower and close.

Amuse-Gueule © cadwu
Amuse-Gueule © cadwu

 

 

 

Matsutake with Ginger and Spinach

Autumn

A very special mushroom, to say the least. Well known throughout Japan, China and South Korea as a true delicacy.  Matsutake smells like a pine wood forest and its taste is intense, aromatic, lasting and unique. As if you could taste Autumn.
It’s an expensive mushroom (around 110 euro per kilo) with very limited availability. But if you happen to find it, be sure to buy it. Between 75 and 100 grams is fine for two.
The Matsutake makes this into an unforgettable dish. It will bring you back to earth in a split second. Smell it, taste it and feel how satisfying and relaxing it is.

Wine pairing

Best served with a dry sake. We prefer Junmai Taru Sake as produced by Kiku-Masamune. This fine sake is matured in barrels made of the finest Yoshino cedar. The aroma has indeed clear hints of cedar. The sake will clear your palate and allow for a more intense taste of the Matsutake.

What You Need

  • 75 – 100 gram of Matsutake
  • Some Spinach (preferably what is called the ‘wild’ version, cleaned and without the stem)
  • Spring Onion
  • Touch of Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Soy Sauce (reduced salt)
  • Chicken Stock
  • Olive Oil
  • Sesame Oil

What You Do

Warm the chicken stock, add soy sauce, a touch of sesame oil and flavour with slices of ginger. Allow to stand on a low heat for 10 minutes. Taste and then remove the ginger. Clean the Matsutake and cut in small dices. The size you would like to eat them (Matsutake doesn’t shrink like many other mushrooms; it remains firm). Fry them gently in a skillet in some olive oil, no longer than 3 minutes, together with the thinly sliced white of the spring onion. Add the garlic. In parallel blanch the spinach in the liquid. Quickly drain the spinach and set aside. Reduce the liquid and taste. In parallel chop the spinach.
Put spinach on a plate, sprinkle the Matsutake over it and gently add some sauce.

Grilled Octopus Tentacles

Portugal

The Portuguese kitchen is not known for its subtleness or refinement. But that should not stop you from enjoying it! Portuguese cuisine comes with powerful flavours, lots of fish of course, bacalhau, Caldo Verde, octopus, cuttlefish, and the well known chicken piri-piri and pastel de nata. Same for Portuguese wine: perhaps not the most subtle wine (apart from Madeiras and Port wines), but how about an excellent Vinho Verde, a red wine from the Dão region made with Touriga Nacional or a red wine from Alentejo? We love flavors and we very much enjoy the bold dishes from Portugal.

Recently when in Brussels we booked a table at Chez Luis, a Portuguese Bar à vin and Restaurant. Tasty dishes like Pasteis de bacalhau, Cassolette de palourdes and Polvo lagareiro. Served with Portuguese wine, of course. And Chez Luis has an excellent choice! So we drank a vibrant espumante and a refreshing Vinho Verde (Longos Vales Alvarinho 2016). The Polvo made us think of one of our favorites: Octopus with summer vegetables. And since one octopus is way too much for two people, we simply bought two cooked tentacles. Feel free to buy a whole octopus, clean it, cook it, braise it and then follow the recipe below.

Wine Pairing

A Portuguese white wine will be a excellent choice, for instance a Vinho Verde like we enjoyed at Chez Luis. You could also go for a Spanish Verdejo from Rueda. Look for characteristics like fresh, fruity, clear acidity, subtle bitterness and full bodied.

What You Need

  • 2 Octopus Tentacles (cooked)
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 gloves of fresh Garlic
  • 1 Spring Onion
  • Jerez Vinegar
  • Black pepper
  • (Optional) Parsley
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil

What You do

Clean the red bell pepper and slice in 4 to 6 chunks. Grill it in your oven until nicely burned. Transfer to a plastic container and close the lid. Wait a few hours before peeling the bell pepper. Slice it into cubes (not too small). Remove the pits from the tomato. Slice in similar cubes. Slice the garlic (again, not too small). Slice the spring onion. Mix the vegetables and fry gently in a hot pan with olive oil. Set to low heat. In parallel heat your grill pan. Remove the gelatinous substance from the tentacles, dry them, coat with olive oil and grill for 4*2 minutes, creating a nice brown criss-cross pattern. It will not be very visible, but it will be crunchy. Just before serving the dish, add some Jerez vinegar to the vegetables, turning it into something like a salsa. Perhaps some parsley and black pepper. Serve the hot tentacle on the vegetables and add a slice of lemon.

grilled octopus tentacles

Blanquette de Veau

French Classic

Hard to say what the original way of preparing Blanquette de Veau is. In all cases the veal is added to a cold liquid (preferably a combination of water, wine and stock) and then cooked slowly. The sauce must be made using egg yolk.
Make sure the veal has some nice layers of fat. This will add falvour to the dish and it will help make the meat moist.
We use mace to add additional flavour to the Blanquette. Mace is the outer skin of a nutmeg seed. It is removed by hand and then dried. It is sold in whole pieces or ground. Given its strong flavour, using mace comes with a risk. Use a small piece and taste well after 30 minutes or so. Remove the mace from the stew before it becomes overwhelming.
The trick with the mushroom is one to remember: by blendering cooked mushroom with a warm liquid you will get a mixture that will thicken your sauce beautifully. No beurre manié required.
Don’t underestimate Blanquette de Veau. You need time and patience.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Blanquette de Veau with a Pinot Noir from Austria. A red Burgundy would also work. If you prefer a new world Pinot Noir, make sure it’s not too woody. The vanilla that comes with the wood is too strong for the delicate taste of the Blanquette.

What You Need

  • 300 gram of Veal
  • 1 Shallot
  • Little bit of Mace
  • Cup of White Wine
  • Cup of Veal or Chicken Stock
  • Water
  • 100 gram white Champignons de Paris
  • Butter
  • One or two Egg Yolk(s)
  • Cream

What You Do

Cut the veal into cubes. Not too small because during the cooking process they will become smaller. Take a pan, add wine, stock, veal, peeled (but not chopped) shallot, mace and water, making sure the veal is covered. Put on a medium heat and wait until you see a brownish froth. Carefully remove this  with a slotted spoon. Transfer the pan back and leave for 30 minutes on low heat. Taste and check if you’re okay mace-wise. Remove when you think the mace is becoming too much. Check again after 30 minutes. Cook in total for 3-4 hours on low heat.
Clean the mushrooms and fry very gently in a skillet with butter for 15 minutes on low heat. Remove the shallot and mash with a fork. Decide if you want to reduce the liquid, depending on taste and volume. (If you decide to reduce, store the meat on a plate for the duration of the proces.) Transfer the mushrooms to the stew and leave for 15 minutes. Make sure you get all the juices form the skillet. Take 5 or so of the bigger mushrooms and a few spoons of the liquid. Use a blender to make this a very smooth mixture. Transfer the mixture and the mashed shallot to the stew, stir and cook for 15 minutes. Cool the Blanquette and put in the refrigerator for the next day.

The next day start by warming the stew gently. Combine one egg yolk (or two, depending on the volume) with the cream. Mix well. Now add a spoonful of the very warm liquid. This is what is called ‘marrying’. Add more liquid, one spoonful at the time. Keep stirring. Once your mixture is of a similar temperature, add the liquid to the stew and keep stirring until it starts to thicken. Make sure the stew is (very) warm but not cooking. If it becomes too warm you will ruin the marriage. Now taste, check if you want to add some white pepper. Serve on a warm plate with rice or with green beans with a splash of olive and grated nutmeg (!) and crusted bread.

Cod with Lentils and Cilantro

Plat du Jour

Think France, think a nice small bistro in a small street, off centre, nothing posh, no Michelin star in sight. It’s 12.30, time for a quick lunch. You enter the restaurant, take a seat and order today’s dish, the plat du jour. It turns out to be a generous helping of brown lentils, two fried sausages and mustard. A beer works beautifully with it. After having enjoyed your lunch, you think about the joy of good food, French mustard and the beauty of lentils. Time for coffee. And maybe a glass of Calvados?

Lentils

Let’s talk about lentils. Not expensive at all, very healthy and a pack of essential vitamins and nutrients. Lentils are used in many kitchens and grown in many countries (India, Canada, Australia and also Europe, North Africa and the USA). Lentils have been around for a long time, possible 10.000 years. So you would expect lentils to be popular, but for some reason you don’t see them too much, unless in restaurants serving organic food or as soup. A pity, because a simple dish of rice and lentils with a dash of chutney is healthy, cheap and tasty.

The red lentil (key element to Indian Dhal) is well-known. We use it in our pumpkin soup. It is a split lentil and it will cook very soft.
The Beluga lentil is black, as the name suggests. We could have used Beluga lentils in this recipe because of the colour combines nicely with the white fish.
Most lentils are green or brown. The Du Puy green lentil is special, not only because of its Appellation d’origine contrôlée but very much because of their great taste and the fact that they keep a beautiful shape, even when cooked. Beware of fake Du Puy lentils! All Du Puy lentils are green and from France, but not all green lentils from France are Du Puy lentils. They have names like ‘Le Puy lentils’ or ‘Dupuis lentils’. All nasty marketing. If you want real Lentille Verte du Puy then look for the A.O.P and A.O.C. We prefer the ones from Sabarot (Happy 200th Birthday!)
The recipe for the plat du jour is relatively straight forward (make sure the meat in the sausage is not too finely minced) and we have enjoyed it many times.
Lentil soup combines really well with fresh cilantro, so we use the same combination in this case, although using fresh parsley is also a good idea. Key elements in this dish are excellent fresh cod, a mild fish stock and cilantro leaves and seeds.

Wine Pairing

We very much enjoyed a glass of Spanish Verdejo with this dish. In our case a bottle of Monteabellon Rueda. In general wines made from the Verdejo grape combine very well with fish. The wine comes with the right acidity, giving freshness to the wine. It has floral aromas typical for the Verdejo grape. You may recognise the aromas of banana and exotic fruit.

What You Need

  • Shallot
  • Butter
  • Cilantro Seeds
  • Green, Du Puy or Beluga Lentils
  • Mild Fish Stock
  • Cod
  • Butter
  • Fresh Cilantro (or Parsley)
  • White Pepper

What You Do

Cut the shallot in small bits and glaze gently in butter. In the mean time check the lentils for small pebbles; wash them. Once the shallot is glazed, add the lentils and heat them for a few minutes, as you would do with risotto rice. Gently crush the cilantro seeds a bit and add to the pan. Add the mild fish stock and leave to simmer on low heat. In parallel pan-fry the cod in butter in a non-stick pan. Just before the lentils are ready add half of the finely cut cilantro or parsley to the lentils and mix.
Timing is all. The lentils should be cooked, all liquid evaporated and absorbed and the cod just done. Meaning the cod is opaque and the flakes can be separated easily. And overcooked meaning you can see those small white bits and the fish becomes dry.
Serve the cod on top of the lentils and sprinkle some cilantro or parsley over the lentils and cod. Maybe add a touch of white pepper.

 

Risotto with Mushrooms

And on the 8th day he remembered he had forgotten to create food. So he quickly created something so simple, so tasty, so fulfilling that he knew people would still enjoy it, many, many years later. He called it Risotto.

Five Challenges When Making Risotto

We’re always too busy! We are tempted to buy risotto rice that cooks quickly and can be served in under 10 minutes.
Never rush a risotto. And by the way, what is so important that you don’t have 34 minutes to cook your own lovely, genuine, risotto? Why would quick be more important than tasty?

And since we are too busy anyway: why look for fresh cèpes if you can buy a pack of risotto rice with cèpes. Second mistake. You will not taste cèpes but a series of nasty E numbers and salt. Just look at the package! It will probably contain 0,01% of cèpes.

We think risotto is too basic, so we prepare a luxurious version! Let’s add tomatoes, or salmon, or spinach and pumpkin, or chicken, or saffron, shrimps and peas.
Please don’t. It will only ruin the lovely combination of rice, butter, stock and Parmesan cheese. With or without mushrooms, that’s your only choice.

Risotto is too heavy, let’s use Crème fraîche and not butter, or Mozarellla and not Parmesan and butter, or let’s simply skip the butter. Fourth mistake: butter and Parmesean cheese are essential, for the taste, the mouthfeel and the consistency.

We buy risotto-rice without checking if it’s the right rice. We use beautiful Carnaroli rice, superfine quality, produced by Acquerello. It doesn’t come cheap (we pay € 11,95 per kilo) but why would you not treat yourself to the best risotto rice? It has all the right qualities and the taste is outstanding.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Risotto with a glass of Soave. Some acidity, touch of bitterness, nicely balanced with the butter and the cheese. It’s light and fruity; it elevates the risotto.

What You Need

  • 70 grams of Acquerello rice
  • 1 Shallot
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • 100 gram of Shiitake
  • 200 gram of mushrooms, for instance Chestnut Mushrooms
  • optional: 100 gram of Cèpes
  • Chicken Stock
  • Parmesan Cheese

What You Do

Peel and chop the shallot. Add butter and olive oil to the pan and glaze the shallot. In parallel clean and slice the various mushrooms. Feel free to use other mushrooms as well. We think the Shiitake is an important one because it adds depth to the taste. Bring the stock to a boil. After 5 minutes add the mushrooms to the pan and fry gently for 5 minutes. Add the rice to the pan and coat the rice for 2 minutes.
Start adding the stock, spoon by spoon and stir the rice frequently. When using Acquerello rice it takes 18 minutes. Check the rice. When okay, transfer the pan to the kitchen counter top and leave to rest for 2 minutes.
Add chunks of butter, stir, add a bit more butter and the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir, a bit of black pepper, add more butter or Parmesan cheese if so required. Serve immediately.

 

Haddock with Shiitake

Popular Fish

When you mention Haddock, Cod is never far away. Two of the world’s most popular fish. Many recipes and foodies describe the two as being very similar in terms of taste and preparation. We humbly disagree. We think Haddock is more flavourful and present compared to the mild taste of Cod. The structures differ as well, although both require your constant attention; they easily overcook.

Shiitake is more and more widely available, which is great! The nutty taste in combination with their firm structure makes them ideal for this dish. Powerful but not overwhelming. The classic white mushroom (or the chestnut coloured variation) will not do the trick; too soft and not sufficiently intense. Shiitake brings umami to the dish.

The white wine sauce is enriched with Classic Dry Noilly Prat, our favourite vermouth. Why favourite? Because Noilly Prat comes with a touch of bitterness, with umami, bringing the sauce and the Shiitake together. The vermouth is made with a number of botanicals, including chamomile. The white wine will bring acidity, but the dish also requires a hint of sweetness. The vermouth will enhance the natural sweetness of the Haddock. We use fish stock to create the sauce, obviously. Spend some money on buying a jar of excellent stock (or make your own).

So on your plate you have an intriguing combination of fish and mushrooms, with all five tastes represented. Nice isn’t it?

Wine Pairing

Our choice was a bottle of Pinot Grigio made by MezzaCorona. This is a dry and crispy white wine with a beautiful deep yellow colour. It’s an elegant wine with just the right acidity to relate to both the fish and the sauce. The producer mentions hints of chamomile.

What You Need

  • 200 grams of Haddock (without the skin)
  • 100 gram of Shiitake
  • Shallot
  • Parsley
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Fish Stock
  • Noilly Prat
  • Dry White wine
  • White pepper

What You Do

Start by cutting the shallot. Fry gently in butter for a few minutes. Clean the Shiitake with kitchen paper and slice. Check the fish for bits you don’t want to eat. Add wine and Noilly Prat to the shallot and let the alcohol evaporate. Then add parsley and some fish stock. Leave for a few minutes and taste. Maybe add a bit more vermouth or fish stock. Be careful with the white wine. In parallel fry the fish in butter and olive oil. Both sides should be beautiful golden brown. Gently fry the shiitake in olive oil. When not yet completely ready (check the flexibility, feel how warm the fish is) transfer the fish to a sheet of aluminium foil. Don’t close it; you only want to keep it warm. Pass the sauce through a sieve and be ready to blender the sauce. Add all juices from the two pans and from the aluminium wrapping. Blend the liquid. You could add a small chunk of ice-cold butter to thicken the sauce.
Serve the fish on top of the sauce and add the shiitake. Perhaps a touch of white pepper.

Amuse-Gueule

Something on a Spoon

A glass of white wine, perhaps a glass of Crémant d’Alsace or maybe even a glass of Champagne; such a great way to start dinner (or lunch when you feel like treating yourself). You enjoy some bread with homemade Tapenade, or a few nice olives. All good. And then suddenly the chef presents you her or his Amuse-Bouche. Something very special and an indication of the chef’s talent. But in most cases it’s something on a spoon and not very special.

A bit of background: amuse-bouche is actually not a French term. Restaurateurs made it up because they think amuse-gueule (the correct term) is a bit harsh. ‘Gueule’ can refer to both humans and animals. And ‘ferme ta gueule’ is far from polite. So restaurateurs started using ‘bouche’, to eliminate the impression that they think their guests have a snout.

So the correct French term is amuse-gueule. Some say the concept of the amuse was invented by the Nouvelle Cuisine in the 1960s. Not really. In 1946 Francis Ambrière, in his book Les Grandes vacances, writes … Une côtelette à midi. Quelques amuse-gueule à l’heure du goûter. Et le soir, ô splendeur, un gigot bien saignant, le premier gigot depuis l’an 40!

Today’s amuse-gueule is a dish in its own right that amuses the mouth, fools your appetite and makes you want to start on the first course. Small, tasty, full of flavours and maybe a bit out of the ordinary.

We use a traditional coddler for this amuse-gueule, but you could also use a small ramequin. No spoon, please.

Wine Pairing

Typically the amuse-gueule is combined with your aperitif. We combined this amuse gueule with a glass of German Sekt, to be more precise with a glass of Reichsrat von Buhl – Pfalz – Sekt – Spätburgunder Brut rosé 2016, which is a superb pale pink wine, made from 100% Pinot Noir and produced by one of the leading wineries in Germany. Think red berries, brioche, a delicate texture with a nice mousse, fresh acidity and a long-lasting aftertaste.

What You Need (for 4)

  • One Egg
  • Four Medium Sized Raw Prawns
  • 75 grams Spinach
  • ½ Shallot
  • A Generous Tablespoon of Crème Fraiche
  • Dill
  • Blue Cheese
  • Chives
  • 4 Edible flowers

What You Do

Start by cleaning the prawns, removing the head, the shell and the vein. We used Argentine red shrimps. The meat is fairly soft and they become beautifully red when cooked. Fry the shrimps is some olive oil for 3 minutes. Remove the shrimps from the pan, set aside and let cool. Gently fry the shallot in the same pan for 10 minutes until glazed. Remove from the pan and let cool. In a different pan quickly cook the (dry and clean) spinach in some olive oil. Keep stirring! Drain if so required, set aside and let cool.
Cut the prawns in smaller bits. Chop the spinach using a large knife. Whisk the egg until completely smooth. Now add the (cool) bits of prawn, the spinach and the shallot. Whisk with a spoon. Add the Crème Fraiche. Add some chopped dill (depending on your taste), a bit of blue cheese (not too much, just to add a dimension to the dish) and a generous amount of chives. Mix. Coat the coddlers or ramequins with butter. Add the mixture to the coddlers or ramequins. Heat your oven to 170° Celsius (or 340° Fahrenheit). Place the coddlers or ramequins in a shallow dish. Add boiling water up to 2/3 of the height of the coddler or ramequin. Close the oven and reduce the temperature to 120° Celsius (or 250° Fahrenheit). After 30 minutes au bain marie your amuse-gueule should be ready. Test with a needle. Let cool.
If using a coddler, remove and dry the lid, add the flower and close.

Amuse-Gueule © cadwu
Amuse-Gueule © cadwu

 

 

 

Skate with Capers

When you Google for skate with capers you will find many recipes with capers and brown butter. We think you can do better!
The trick in this recipe is to clarify butter and then deep-fry the capers in the clarified butter. The result is a crunchy and salty caper with clear acidity from the brine. This works brilliantly with the meaty, fatty skate.

Clarification

Butter is an emulsion of butterfat, water and proteins. The process of clarification means breaking down the emulsion. The goal is to have pure butterfat, which will not burn and which allows for deep-frying.
The water will simply go when you warm the butter.
How to remove the proteins? Option one is to start by melting the butter and to wait until you see white foam and until the water is gone. Now pour the fat into a jar or cup, carefully keeping the foam in the pan.
Option two is to continue warming the butter until the white foam becomes brown. Be careful not to burn it, this will ruin your butter. The now brown foam will sink to the bottom, which makes it easier to pour the butterfat in a jar or cup. If you want to be even more sure of the quality, use a cheesecloth when pouring. The idea is that using the second option will give the clarified butter a more nutty taste.

Wine Pairing

Skate goes really well with a glass of classic Chardonnay with a touch of oak. The chardonnay comes with a velvety taste which is great with the skate and its consistency. The touch of oak combines very well with the fried capers.

What You Need

  • Skate Wing (let’s say 200 grams for 2 persons)
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper
  • Capers (in brine)
  • 75 grams of Butter (to be clarified)

What You Do

Clarify the butter and set aside. Fry the skate in a non-sticky pan for 5-10 minutes or so, depending on the size and shape. Please notice that there is more meat on one side then on the other side, so it’s not 10=5+5. Transfer the skate to a warm plate. Heat the clarified butter to frying temperature and in parallel wash the capers and dry them with kitchen paper. Fry the capers until crispy. Serve the skate with some black pepper and sprinkle the capers on top of the skate.