Farfalle with Saint George’s Mushroom, Oregano and Pancetta

Nearly the end of the season for the Saint George’s Mushroom (at least, where we live). So far it’s been a great year for this mushroom and the Fairy Ring Mushroom. Unfortunately, it’s been a poor year for another of our spring favourites: the morel.

Saint George’s Mushroom have a strong, not very pleasant aroma (it disappears when you heat the mushrooms) and a long lasting, earthy taste. Famous chef, author and mushroom expert Jane Grigson wasn’t a fan. In her classic book The Mushroom Feast she wrote “I have omitted one or two which our mushroom books follow each other in praising too highly. One of these is the Saint George’s Mushroom.” Obviously, we humbly disagree with her. It’s a bit of a puzzle to find the right combination of ingredients when one is the Saint George’s Mushroom but isn’t that part of the fun?
Earlier we wrote about an omelette with Saint George’s Mushroom and a starter with udon. This recipe is a combination of fat, moist, slightly sweet pancetta and earthy mushrooms, with the egg sauce and the oregano making it into a delicious dish.

Wine Pairing

We matched the rather intense flavours with a Pinot Noir, made by La Cour Des Dames. In general you’re looking for a red, medium bodied wine with aromas of berries, floral notes and delicate wood. The tannins should be soft or well-integrated. 

What You Need

  • 100 grams of Saint George’s Mushroom
  • 100 gram of Pancetta (slab preferred)
  • Fresh Oregano
  • Two eggs
  • Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Black Pepper
  • Farfalle

What You Do

Start by cleaning the mushrooms with kitchen paper. Slice. Dice the pancetta. We used pancetta produced by Fumagalli. Sustainable, organic, ecological etcetera. Use a heavy iron skillet and fry the pancetta on medium/high heat. No need to add olive oil. When nicely coloured transfer the pancetta to a plate, remove most of the fat and gently fry the mushrooms. After a few minutes transfer the pancetta back to the pan. Add fresh oregano leaves, bigger ones shredded. Add the farfalle to a pan of boiling water and cook until al dente. In the meantime, beat two eggs and add some parmesan cheese. When the farfalle is ready, taste the mixture in the pan, perhaps add some extra oregano and transfer the farfalle to the pan. Wait for a minute or so until the excess water has evaporated. Move the pan away from the heat, add the egg mixture and combine (like you would do with Spaghetti Carbonara). Add black pepper and some extra Parmesan cheese before serving.

Farfalle with Saint George’s Mushroom, Oregano and Pancetta ©cadwu
Farfalle with Saint George’s Mushroom, Oregano and Pancetta ©cadwu

Potato, Mushroom and Dill Omelette

Last week we bought some St. George’s Mushrooms, a very tasty spring mushroom. In Germany it’s called maipilz because they grow in May only. The English name obviously refers to St George’s Day, April 23rd, by which date it can be found in the UK.

Its aroma is very specific. In an earlier post we described it as overripe zucchini or even gee that is a bit offish. Not very attractive, but fortunately the aroma disappears when you heat the mushroom. Its taste is also specific and will remind you of autumn with a hint of earthiness. Intense but not overwhelming. 

We combined the St. George’s Mushrooms with a light, airy omelette with a potato bottom. It tasted delicious and the combination of the three ingredients worked very well.

Given the short season and the limited availability we thought about an alternative with button mushrooms.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Omelette with a glass of Verdejo-Sauvignon Blanc made by the Spanish Bodegas Piqueras. This is a fresh, aromatic, dry wine, one that works very well with the earthy flavours in the dish and the dill.

What You Need

  • Waxy Potatoes
  • Button Mushrooms or Champignon de Paris
  • Eggs
  • Fresh Dill
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Start by cooking or steaming the unpeeled potatoes until nearly done. Let cool. Clean the mushrooms with kitchen paper. Heat a small non-stick pan with olive oil. Slice the mushroom and fry for a few minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan. Slice the potatoes and cover the bottom of the pan with one layer of potatoes. Add the mushrooms and spread evenly. Add a generous amount of fresh dill. Add some fresh black pepper. Beat the eggs until just a bit fluffy. Add the eggs on top of the mushrooms and dill and allow to become baveuse (perhaps 10 minutes) on low/medium heat. The idea is to fry the potatoes very gently, but not brown the omelette.

Belgian Cuisine

Belgian Cuisine is so much more than just beer, waffles and chocolate, it’s about enjoying excellent food with great dishes such as Waterzooi, Moules Meunière, Asparagus with Crevettes Grises and many more.

The five Belgo restaurants in London (from 1992 until 2020) were very successful promoters of Belgian cuisine. The chain, founded by Denis Blaise and Andre Plisnier, celebrated Belgian cuisine and the joy of eating simple, tasty, original food. Fortunately, in 1997 they published a cookbook, allowing us to enjoy their food even after the closure of the chain.

The book includes 20 recipes for mussels (ranging from the classic Mussels with White Wine to Mussels with Roquefort), a chapter on Fries, on Beer and cooking with Beer and a range of traditional Belgian dishes (Shrimp Croquettes with deep fried Parsley, Paling in het Groen (Eel in Green, a stew with eel, potatoes, beer, fish stock, watercress, dill, chives and cream) and of course Filet Americain).

Amongst our favourites from the Belgian kitchen are Asparagus à la Flamande, Tomatoes with Shrimps, Beef stew with Brown Beer and their Chicory and Belgian White Beer Soup. The soup combines the bitter flavours of the chicory and the beer (hops, cilantro, orange peel) with cream, nutmeg and chicken stock. Delicious!

The Belgo Cookbook by Denis Blaise and Andre Plisnier (available in Dutch and English) is available via the well-known channels, perhaps second hand, for 20 US$ or €.

Beef Stew with Djeroek Poeroet

A few weeks ago we were looking for a nice restaurant, one where we could enjoy a quick, tasty meal and a nice beer. We looked at the menu of De Volkslust and decided this was exactly what we’re looking for. The restaurant originates from Antwerp, Belgium. Some 15 minutes later they brought us a Flemish Beef Stew, served with fried potatoes. It looked and smelled great. And it tasted, eh, slightly different? Of course! Chef used Djeroek Poeroet! Interesting, you would expect bay leaf in a Flemish Stew, but this was definitely djeroek poeroet (or jeruk purut, the leaves of the Kaffir Lime). Great idea. Aromatic, refreshing, light. A few days later we made our version of it.
And typical for a good stew: make it a day in advance.

Wine Pairing

The obvious choice is a nice, cold beer. Perhaps the one you used for the stew? We used Affligem Blond, an award winning Belgian Blond beer with pleasant bitterness and fruitiness.
If you go for a glass of red wine, make sure it is full-bodied and rich; a wine with dark fruit and a touch of oak.

What You Need (for 4 persons)

  • 1 kilo of excellent, fat, marbled Beef
  • 2 Shallots
  • 250 grams of Button Mushrooms (Champignon de Paris)
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 bottles (33 cl) of Blond Belgian Beer
  • Bouquet Garni (Thyme, Parsley, Chives)
  • 6 leaves of Djeroek Poeroet (frozen preferred)
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Slice the meat by following its structure. We prefer bigger parts, so not cubes. They will take longer to cook, but the meat benefits from this approach. Clean the mushrooms and slice the bigger ones in half. Coarsely shop the onion. Heat olive oil in a large pan and fry the meat. You probably will have to do this in 2 or 3 batches. Make sure the meat is nicely colored. Remove the meat from the pan and fry the mushrooms. Remove them when nicely golden, add some more olive oil and caramelize the sliced onions. When ready, add the mushrooms, the beef, the beer, the Bouquet Garni and 6 leaves of djeroek poeroet. Heat through and through. Close the pan and keep on a low heat for 5 to 6 hours. Stir every hour. Check the taste during the cooking process, perhaps you want to remove the djeroek poeroet (or add more!).
When you’re happy withe the cuisson, remove the meat from the pan, discard the bouquet Garni and reduce the sauce. Transfer the meat back into the pan, reheat, then cool and transfer to the refrigerator until the next day.
Serve with unpeeled potatoes fried in olive oil and (homemade) mayonaise.

Tomato Burger

Recently we reviewed Oh She Glows for Dinner by Angela Liddon as part of the Cookbook project by Bernadette. A well designed book with lots of colourful pictures of tempting plant based food. Unfortunately we think the food is not always as tasty as Angela Liddon claims it to be, which is unfortunate if you want to enjoy vegan cooking. We made Vegetarian Pasta with Black Beans (not a dish we would recommend) and Bruschetta Veggie Burgers topped with avocado and Perfect Basil Pesto.
The Veggie Burger was colourful and absolutely nutritious, perhaps a bit too sweet for our taste. The original recipe suggests using basil and canned lentils for the patties. The basil didn’t add much flavour and canned lentils are a no-go for us. Based on our experience we changed the recipe, focussing on the tomatoes.

Oh She Glows for Dinner by Angela Liddon is available via your bookstore or the usual channels for € 35,00 or US$20.00.

What You Need

  • 30 grams Green or Brown Lentils
  • Vegetarian Stock
  • Bouquet Garni (optional)
  • 25 grams Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • 1 small Red Onion
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 60 grams Roasted Cashews
  • Fresh of Dried Oregano
  • Teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • Black Pepper
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Start by washing and cooking the lentils in vegetarian stock, perhaps with a bouquet garni. Set aside and let cool. Prepare the dried tomatoes: if they are salted, then wash them thoroughly. If they are oil-packed, drain them. Chop the red onion, the garlic clove and the dried tomatoes coarsely. Glaze the onion and the garlic in olive oil. Use a food processor to make a coarse mixture of the cashews and oregano. Add the chopped tomatoes, the onion, the garlic, the lentils and the lemon juice. Pulse a few times. Taste and decide if you want to add pepper or lemon juice. Now it’s time to check the consistency. Is it possible to turn the mixture into patties? A bit soggy probably? Add breadcrumbs. Leave the mixture for 10 minutes. Divide the mixture in 4 (or 2) portions and make patties, using your hands. Bake the patties in a non-stick pan with some olive oil until they are ready and golden.Serve with a nice bun, some salad, sliced tomato, avocado and pesto.

Fairy Ring Mushroom with Udon

Spring brings us several edible or even delicious mushrooms, such as the Fairy Ring Mushroom, Morels and the Mushroom of Saint George.
The Fairy Ring mushroom is a very common mushroom in many countries. The name is not very helpful since many mushrooms grow in the pattern of a ring. The German and Dutch names (Rasen-Schwindling and Weidekringzwam) are more helpful; these refer to the fact that the mushroom grows in meadows and lawns.
It’s a small, very edible mushroom, available from early spring until late autumn. Its taste is a bit sweet and perhaps that’s why some people suggest using them to make sweet mushroom cookies. Hm, we think you can do better than that! Earlier we combined the mushroom with pork chops. Today we use the sweetness as a starting point of a vegetarian dish with udon, our favourite noodle.

Drink Pairing

Given the sweetness of the dish, the depth of the udon and the hint of spiciness (fresh ginger), we suggest a medium bodied, dry white wine. Could be a Riesling or perhaps a Grüner Veltliner. A well balanced, round sake will also be great with the dish.

What You Need

  • 100 gram of Fairy Ring mushroom
  • 2 Scallions
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil
  • Ginger
  • Oyster Sauce or Mirin
  • Vegetable Stock
  • Olive Oil
  • Udon

What You Do

Start by cleaning the mushrooms with kitchen paper. Remove the stems. Slice the scallions thinly, separate the white and the green. Add the udon to boiling water. The noodles will take some 10 minutes, which gives you sufficient time to prepare the mushrooms. Fry the caps in olive oil. After a few minutes, add the white of the scallions. Fry for a minute or so. Reduce heat. Add some grated ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. To enhance the sweetness of the mushroom, add some oyster sauce or mirin. Add a teaspoon to start with. Taste and adjust. Perhaps a second one? Be careful not to overpower the delicate flavor of the mushroom. When ready, add the udon straight from the pan to the mushrooms. Combine. Leave for a minute or two. Add a bit of stock. You’re looking for generous coated udon with shining mushrooms. Just before serving add some freshly grated ginger, a dash of sesame oil and the green of the scallions.

PS

In some countries the mushroom is known as Mousseron, which sounds French, however in France the Fairy Ring mushroom is called Faux-Mousseron, to distinguish it from the real Mousseron, the mushroom we know as the Mushroom of Saint George. At least both are edible!

Fairy Ring Mushroom with Udon ©cadwu
Fairy Ring Mushroom with Udon ©cadwu

Petits Farcis

Not only do they look delicious, but they also taste delicious: Légumes Farcis or Petits Farcis. Easy to make and always a pleasure to serve. You could buy them ready made from your delicatessen or butcher, but why would you? Prepare them at home the way you personally prefer them, perhaps with some extra shallot, herbs or garlic.

Let’s talk a bit about the farce, the stuffing of the vegetables. It should fill the vegetable, obviously, and remain connected to the vegetable, also when cooked. Its texture must be loosely. This is where most recipes go wrong when they tell you to add panko or breadcrumbs to the farce. Follow this instruction and you will notice that during the cooking process the filling will become smaller and firmer. There you are: a meatball in a tomato. That’s not what you want. Not at all! Lesson learned, no panko, no breadcrumbs.

The meat should be nicely fat, not too finely minced and preferably a combination of porc and veal. Tasty, sufficiently fat and elegant. You could also use sausage meat. When in doubt, ask your butcher.

Wine Pairing

Keep it simple! A dry white wine, a rosé or a nice beer will be perfect. Serve what you think is best with this tasty, juicy and heart-warming food.

What You Need

  • Vegetables such as Tomatoes, Courgette, Red Bell Pepper
  • Minced Meat or Sausage Meat
  • Shallot
  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Finely chop the shallot, the garlic and the parsley. Additionally you could use thyme, rosemary or oregano. Combine the meat with the shallot, the garlic, the herbs and black pepper. Cut off the top of the tomato and use a knife and a teaspoon to hollow out the tomato. Keep the pulp and the seeds. Slice the bell pepper lengthwise and remove the seeds and the ribs. Discard. Cut off the top of the courgette and use a teaspoon to hollow out the courgette. Keep the pulp. Add the farce to the vegetables. Close the tomatoes and the courgettes with the caps. Transfer to a baking dish, add some olive oil, the pulp and the seeds of the tomatoes and the courgette to the dish. You could add some extra shallot. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes (depending on the size) on 180 °C or 355 °F.
Enjoy hot or lukewarm (with some of the cooking liquid), perhaps with a simple green salad or rice.

Petits Farcis ©cadwu
Petits Farcis ©cadwu

The Art of Sauces: Beurre Blanc

We love the classic ways of eating white asparagus, served with a nice white wine from the Alsace region in France (Pinot Blanc, perhaps a dry Muscat). We were talking about different ways of preparing them. We browsed through various recipes and found a combination new to us: white asparagus with scallops (Coquilles Saint Jacques). Some add a tomato and tarragon sauce, others mayonnaise or (even) a tapenade. Not combinations we would like to see on our plate. Why not serve with a sauce that supports the subtle sweetness of both the asparagus and the scallops? Could be Hollandaise or Kimizu, but these are probably too rich for the scallops.

Beurre Blanc is an interesting sauce: it’s basically a reduction of white wine, vinegar and herbs, thickened with very cold butter.  The more butter you add, the thicker the consistency, although it will remain thinner than an emulsified sauce. The benefit of beurre blanc is that it comes with that lovely velvety mouthfeel without being too rich. And the acidity works beautifully with the asparagus and the scallops.

What You Need

  • 4 tablespoons Dry White Wine
  • 2 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar 
  • 4 tablespoons of Water
  • 1 Shallot
  • Thyme
  • Bay Leaf
  • Black Pepper
  • Double Cream
  • 75 (or more) grams very cold Butter

What You Do

Chop the shallot and crush the black pepper corns. Add the wine, the vinegar and the water to a pan. Add the shallot, the black pepper, thyme and one bay leaf to the pan. Allow to reduce to 1/3. Pass through a sieve. In total you should have 3 or 4 tablespoons of reduction. Warm the reduction. Add a splash of cream and reduce to 1/2 or 1/3. Whisk regularly. Remove the creamy reduction from the heat and start adding small cubes of ice cold butter, one by one, whisking constantly. Keep adding butter until you have the taste and the consistency you want.

Asparagus and Scallops

We served the Beurre Blanc with steamed white asparagus and scallops sautéed in butter. We opened a bottle of Mâcon-Vinzelles ‘En Paradis’ 2021, produced by Château Vitallis. The wine, made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, is vinified in stainless steel tanks. It has just the right level of citrusy acidity, it is fresh with floral aromas, and comes with minerality and a touch of butter. In general, you’re looking for an unoaked chardonnay, with freshness and some acidity.

Asparagus, Scallops and Beurre Blanc ©cadwu
Asparagus, Scallops and Beurre Blanc ©cadwu

Moosewood

A new cookbook is always welcome. We read it, try a recipe, adjust it, tweak it and look for inspiration. When we opened Mollie Katzen’s cookbook Moosewood we were very pleasantly surprised. The lay out is great, the font clear, the drawings good fun, the index comprehensive and above all, the recipes look tempting. Let’s start cooking!

We prepared three antipasti: Feta-Walnut Dip, Tahini-Lemon Sauce and Marinated Mushrooms. Mollie Katzen suggests serving the Feta-Walnut Dip on sesame crackers or roasted Pita Bread, so we baked Pita Bread and bought some sesame crackers.

Tahini-Lemon

The Tahini-Lemon Dip is a combination of ¾ cup of tahini and 5 tablespoons of lemon juice. We opened a jar of tahini made with hulled sesame seeds, stirred it and decided it was too thin. Its taste was astringent and we didn’t think mixing it with lemon juice was a good idea. We bought another jar of tahini, this one made with roasted, unhulled sesame seeds. Much better taste, some bitterness and a great consistency.

Feta-Walnut

The recipe for the Feta-Walnut Dip contains a fair amount of Feta, which is not our favourite cheese. In most cases it’s rubbery and the taste bland and salty. Since 2002 Feta is a Protected Designation of Origin in Europe. When a product has the PDO status you can be sure of the quality, the authenticity, the ingredients used and the production methods. When you buy Feta cheese, make sure it comes with an PDO label.

The Panel

Our test panel (Carine, Marion and Rutger) welcomed the idea of vegetarian antipasti. We served a glass of Crémant d’Alsace, produced by Fernand Engel. This sparkling white wine is made of Chardonnay grapes and has fruity aromas, freshness, gentle acidity and typical Alsace sweetness.

The Results

The Panel started with the Marinated Mushroom: lovely flavours, fresh, intense, umami, mushrooms surprisingly firm.
The Tahini-Lemon Dip: fresh, nice with the acidity of the lemon, light, makes you think of peanut butter, but not too much. It tasted very well when served on a sesame cracker. The panel thought the dip was lacking something, perhaps some za’atar (a spice mixture with sesame seeds, sumac, oregano, thyme, cumin and more)?
The Feta-Walnut Dip was simply delicious. New unexcepted flavour, fresh, long lasting. The panel was unanimous, the Feta-Walnut Dip was their favourite.

Recipe Feta-Walnut Dip

It is made by combining 1 cup of chopped walnuts with a nice amount of parsley and 1 cup of feta cheese. The walnuts and the parsley are blended until fairly smooth, then the cheese, some water, a teaspoon of paprika powder and some cayenne pepper is added. Just before serving sprinkle with excellent olive oil and decorate with fresh oregano and three halved walnuts. We could imagine chopping the oregano and adding it to the dip.
The Feta-Walnut Dip doesn’t keep well, but that should not be a problem because it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to prepare.

Moosewood by Mollie Katzen clearly deserves a space on (y)our shelf. It is a great and reliable resource when you’re looking for tasty, healthy vegetarian food and snacks. It is available via the usual channels and your local bookstore for something like € 20,00 or US$ 30.00.

PS This review was published earlier on Bernadette’s website. Follow her blog and read inspiring and creative recipes and stories.

Coronation Quiche

The coronation of King Charles is a wonderful combination of tradition, religion and mystery, a ceremony loved by many, for its pageantry, the celebrations, the concerts and of course the coronation food. Just think about a lovely Victorian Sponge Cake with raspberry jam and buttercream or a Coronation Chicken (Poulet Reine Elizabeth) with carrots, green peas, rice and a creamy curry sauce.

King Charles’s coronation quiche is supposed to somehow reflect his vision regarding the monarchy and its role in modern society. The quiche is tasty, healthy, nutritious, not expensive and relatively easy to make. Plus, when you replace the lard in the original recipe with butter (as we do), then it’s a nice vegetarian dish. Great to share with friends.

The quiche combines spinach with broad beans, tarragon and cheddar cheese. We suggest baking it one day ahead and serving it at room temperature.

We read the recipe, watched a few videos (this one is good fun, it also shows how to make a Victorian Sponge cake) and decided to prepare a Coronation Quiche, topped with a Crown!

What You Need (for a 15 cm tin)

  • For the Pastry
    • 125 grams All Purpose Flour
    • Pinch of Salt
    • 50 grams Cold Butter
    • 2 tablespoons Water
  • For the Filling
    • 200 ml Double Cream
    • 2 Eggs
    • 1 tablespoon chopped Fresh Tarragon
    • 100 grams grated Cheddar Cheese
    • 400 grams fresh Spinach
    • 450 grams fresh Broad Beans (or Fava Beans)

What You Do

Start by making the shortcrust pastry. Dice the butter. Sieve the flour, add a pinch of salt and combine. Add the butter and mix using your fingertips until is has a crumble-like texture. Add the water and turn the mixture into a dough. Cover and allow to rest in the refrigerator for one hour.

Now it’s time to prepare the vegetables. Wash and cook the spinach. Let cool. Drain and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible. Chop finely. Remove the beans from the shell. Cook for 2 minutes. Let cool and double pod.
Flour your work surface and roll out the pastry to a circle a little larger than the top of the form. The dough should be approximately 4 mm thick. Coat the form with butter. Line the form with the pastry. Use a knife to remove the excess dough. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 190 °C or 375 °F. Use a fork to make small holes in the pastry. Line the pastry with greaseproof paper, add baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and the baking beans. If you think the pastry is a bit wet, then transfer back to the oven for 2 or 3 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 160 °C or 320 °F.
Beat the eggs and keep some of the egg apart. You need it later to give some extra colour to the crown. Beat together cream, eggs, herbs and fresh black pepper. Scatter half of the grated cheese in the blind-baked base, top with the chopped spinach and then the beans, and finally pour over the mixture with cream, eggs, herbs and pepper. Finish by sprinkling the remaining cheese.

Use the remainder of the dough to make a crown. Coat with the egg mixture. You could apply an extra coating halfway the baking process.

Place the quiche and the crown into the oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes until set and lightly golden. The crown is ready after some 10 – 15 minutes.