Eton Mess

For some reason we were talking about summer, about typical summer food, about strawberries, green peas, melon, okra, peaches, spinach and new potatoes. Of course, most of these are available all year round, but we like to enjoy the season. Today was different, we really wanted to eat strawberries and we decided to make Eton Mess.
According to Hilaire Walden in her excellent Book of Traditional English Cookery the strawberry dessert is eaten on June 4th in Eton during a picnic for pupils and parents of Eton College, as part of the annual prize giving ceremony. Others say it was first served during the annual cricket match between pupils of Harrow School and Eton College.
One anecdote is that a chef planned to make Pavlova but it collapsed, the other anecdote is that the Pavlova was perfect but a dog sat on it, making a mess, an Eton Mess.

Mascarpone is sometimes added to the cream, but that’s a bit over the top. No need to add sugar to the cream because the meringue is sufficiently sweet. Hilaire Walden suggests soaking the strawberries for two hours or longer in kirsch, an idea we liked. She also suggests using ready-made meringues, which make it even easier to make Eton Mess.

What You Need

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries (optional)
  • Kirsch (or Brandy)
  • Cream
  • Merengue
  • Lemon Zest

What You Do

Clean the fruit, chop, place in a bowl and sprinkle with kirsch or brandy (one or two small tablespoons per portion). Leave in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Whip the cream. Add some lemon zest, mix. Start assembling the Eton Mess: first a layer of merengue crumbles, then fruit, then whipped cream, then a second layer, same order but make sure you can see some of the red fruit. Serve immediately.

PS

In case you want to make your own (French) meringues: you need 2 egg whites and 100 grams of (finely granulated) sugar. The weight ratio should be 1:2, egg white to sugar. Set your oven to 90 °C or 190 °F. Whip the egg whites until somewhat stiff. Start slowly adding the sugar and continue whipping until the egg white mixture shows stiff peaks. Pipe the mixture on a baking sheet, transfer to the oven for 2 hours. The shape of the meringues is not important because you will need crumble for the Eton Mess

  • Eton Mess ©cadwu
  • Book of Traditional English Cookery - Hilaire Walden

Fried Large Prawns

Prawns and shrimps are very popular, just think shrimp cocktail, paella, salad with shrimps, pasta with seafood, stuffed eggs with shrimps, curry with shrimps and fried shrimps with garlic and lemon. Most of these prawns and shrimps are cultivated, frozen and then shipped. For this recipe you need really large, fresh, wild or organic prawns because the dish is all about the prawn, its flavour and aromas. The result fully depends on the quality of the prawn.
We use the shell, the legs and the so-called swimmerets of the prawns to create a sauce; a bisque like sauce. 

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Prawns with a glass of Picpoul de Pinet produced by Gérard Bertrand. A dry white wine, with a pale straw yellow color. It has aromas of citrus and gooseberries. The wine is full and round with minerality which is typical for a Picpoul de Pinet.
You could also combine the prawns with a glass of Chablis, Verdejo or Soave.

What You Need

  • Two large Prawns, fresh, either wild or organic
  • For the Bisque
    • One small Shallot
    • Chili Pepper
    • Olive oil
    • Armagnac or Cognac
    • Garlic
    • Tomato Paste
    • One Saffron Thread
    • Water
    • Bouquet Garni (Thyme, Parsley)
  • For the Tomato
    • One excellent dark Tomato
    • Olive Oil
    • Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper
  • Crusted Bread

What You Do

We start by making a bisque-like sauce, using the shell of the prawns.
Chop the shallot and a bit of chili pepper and glaze gently for 10 minutes in olive oil. In parallel use scissors to cut the shell of the prawn. Start behind the head and cut towards the tail. Just before the tail turn 90 degrees and make a cut around the prawn. This allows you to remove the shell and the legs of the body but keep the head and the tail on the prawn. Remove the black vein (the prawn’s intestines) and the slurry in the head (if any). Since you serve the prawn with the head (and tail) it is essential that the prawn is clean. You could gently rinse the prawn if you want to be absolutely sure about this. Transfer the prawns to the refrigerator.

Break the shell into smaller chunks. Add these to the pan and fry for a few minutes until red. Add a small splash of Cognac or Armagnac and flambé. Never do this when using the exhaust or range hood. Add one garlic glove, water, a teaspoon of tomato paste, the bouquet garni and the saffron. Stir well, cover the pan and let rest on low heat for 30 minutes.
Remove the bouquet and the shells from the pan. Use a spoon and a sieve to squeeze the juices from the bouquet and the shells, then discard. Blender the mixture and pass through a sieve. Taste the mixture, add pepper if so required. Leave for another 30 minutes on very low heat, allowing for the flavors to integrate and for the liquid to reduce.

Make a dressing by combining olive oil and vinegar. Wash and slice the tomato. Coat the slices with the dressing. Dry the prawns and fry them in a skillet in oil (depending on the size maximum 4 minutes in total) on both sides and on the back. Use warm plates, and serve the prawn on top of the sauce. Touch of black pepper on the prawn is fine. Enjoy with crusted bread.

PS

A few years ago we made a video showing you in detail how to prepare this dish.

Fried Large Prawn ©cadwu
Fried Large Prawn ©cadwu

Golden Turnips

A forgotten vegetable, ridiculed by Baldrick in the British series Blackadder (remember the Turnip Surprise that he prepared for Blackadder? It contained, obviously, turnip and the surprise? There was nothing else in it except the turnip) and it still not very popular.
To be called a golden turnip and remain forgotten is of course a bit sad.

Let’s give credit to the turnip: it has been around for many years (according to some sources as early as 2000 BC), it is used in many cuisines, from America to Japan, the leaves are also edible and it was once an important vegetable in the four-year-crop-rotation system. Next time you see turnips, just buy them, look for a recipe and enjoy.

The golden turnip has indeed a beautiful yellow colour, its taste is sweet and delicate, the structure smooth. Great to turn into a mash (with butter and perhaps nutmeg). They can be eaten raw (crunchy and the taste is peppery, radish-like). You could also mix them with other vegetables such as Jerusalem artichoke and parsnip (fry in the oven). 

We combined the turnip with a very tasty quail, stuffed with prunes, pancetta and bay leaf.

Wine Pairing

The turnip was cheap, the quail expensive so we decided to spend even more money and bought a bottle of Château de Crémat from the Bellet region near Nice. The wine is made with 75% folle noir and 25% grenache. Folle noir is a grape typical for the Provence region. Once very popular, this grape is now hardly used.
The wine is very balanced with flavours like prune and blackberries, a touch of oak and an aroma that made us think of flowers and dark fruit. In general you’re looking for a full bodied red wine, one that matches the quail and the presence of the bay leaf and the herbs in the pancetta.

What You Need

  • 4 Golden Turnips
  • Black Pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

For the quail see our earlier post. For the turnips: peel these as thinly as possible. Cook for perhaps 5 minutes and let cool. Slice in eight. Heat a pan, add olive oil and colour the turnips quickly. The idea is to add some colour and taste to the turnip and keep its golden colour. Serve with some black pepper and nutmeg.

PS

Use the remainder of the quails to make a very tasty stock. Put in ice cube bags, freeze and use when making sauces.

  • Golden Turnips ©cadwu
  • Golden Turnips with Quail ©cadwu

Dorade

The Gilt-Head (Sea) Bream, better known as Daurade, Dorade (Royale) or Orata is a popular fish in France, Greece, Italy, Spain and many other Mediterranean countries. Delicious when stuffed with herbs such as thyme, rosemary or marjoram, grilled and served with a slice of lemon. The firm, juicy meat is aromatic and a culinary treat.
Serving a whole fish can be a bit uncomfortable. You must remove the head, dissect the fish and look carefully for hidden bones. Serving a fillet makes enjoying fish much easier. The downside is that a fillet is less tasty and perhaps a touch dry. When you buy a fillet, make sure it’s fresh and enjoy it the same day.
We combine the Dorade with typical Mediterranean ingredients. A combination that is both light and tasty.

Wine Pairing

The dish is full of flavours, so we would suggest a glass of Spanish Verdejo or Italian Custoza. In general you’re looking for a full, fragrant dry white wine with a fruity aroma and a round, long, full and dry taste.

What You Need

  • 200 grams of Dorade Fillet
  • 2 ripe Tomatoes
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • Capers (in brine)
  • Basil
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Remove the pits from the tomato and dice. Chop the garlic. Coarsely slice the capers. Add olive oil to the pan, heat the garlic for a few seconds, add tomatoes. Leave for a few minutes, add the capers. Taste and adjust. One minute before serving add half of the basil. Add black pepper.
In parallel fry the dorade until golden. Serve on a hot plate and add the remaining basil.
PS When you use salted capers, wash these thoroughly to remove the salt. You need lemon juice to get the right acidity.

Dorade ©cadwu
Dorade ©cadwu

Tomate aux Crevettes

This simple and delicious starter is normally served in Belgium on special occasions. There are three key ingredients: tomatoes, small (grey) shrimps and mayonnaise. The tomato brings sweetness, umami and some acidity, the mayonnaise richness and a velvety mouthfeel and the shrimps saltiness and sweetness. Ideal combination.
We prefer to peel the tomatoes, because it makes it easier to jenjoy the dish, but it’s not necessary.
We thought it would be nice to tweak the recipe slightly. These ingredients are listed as optional.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Tomate aux Crevettes with a glass of Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Lie produced by Domaine Raphael Luneau. This is a very aromatic wine with a strong flavour and a long finish, which goes very well with the taste of the shrimps and the mayonnaise. The term ‘sur lie’ indicates that during a few months the wine stays in contact with the dead yeast cells left over after fermentation. This technique makes the wine more complex.
In general you’re looking for a fresh, light wine with a clear acidity. 

What You Need

  • 6 excellent ripe Tomatoes
  • 100 grams of (grey) small Shrimps
  • Mayonnaise
  • Black Pepper
  • Optional
    • Ketchup
    • Worcestershire Sauce
    • Lemon
    • Mustard
    • Walnut Oil

What You Do

Classic version: peel the tomatoes, cut of the top, remove the green centre, remove the inside of the tomato and discard. Dry the inside of the tomatoes. Dry the shrimps. Add some black pepper to the shrimps and mix. Put some mayonnaise inside the tomato, then a layer of shrimps, some mayonnaise and finish with shrimps. Put the top back on the tomato and decorate with a few shrimps.
Alternative version: mix the mayonnaise with the optional ingredients. A squeeze of ketchup and teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, lemon, mustard and walnut oil should be fine. Taste, adjust and follow the steps in the classic version.

Tomate aux Crevettes ©cadwu
Tomate aux Crevettes ©cadwu

Mousse au Chocolat

Crème Brulée, Ile Flottante, Crêpes Suzette and Mousse au Chocolat: four classic French desserts. It’s tempting to buy them ready-made, especially Mousse au Chocolat is popular in supermarkets, but why not make your own?

From 1992 until 2002 Belgian cook Herwig van Hove and host Dré Steemans (better known as Felice Damiano) had a weekly program on television called ‘1000 seconds’. In these 1000 seconds (just under 17 minutes) Herwig van Hove would prepare a three-course meal. Sometimes he took a short cut by serving cheese as dessert, but very often he would prepare three courses. His recipe for Mousse au Chocolat is quick and easy. The result is a delicious Mousse au Chocolat, one that will keep well for at least 24 hours.

What You Need (for 4)

  • 2 fresh organic Eggs
  • 35 grams of fine Sugar
  • 100 grams of Dark (Cooking) Chocolate
  • 165 grams of Cream
  • Raspberry (to decorate, optional)

What You Do

You will need 2 bowls plus one larger bowl. Start by separating the eggs. Beat the egg white until firm. In the larger bowl beat the egg yolks and the sugar until ‘ruban’ (meaning thick and pale). Whip the cream until firm. This order allows you to use one wire whisk for all three steps in the process.
Melt the chocolate with 65 grams of cream in your microwave on very low power. No rush, the result should be lukewarm. This will take 3 minutes or longer. Use a spoon to mix the cream and chocolate until smooth.
For the next steps you need a spatula. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg yolks and combine. Now fold in the cream using a spatula and then fold in the egg whites. Don’t stir or mix, just fold.
Fill four nice glasses with the mousse, cover with cling foil and transfer to the refrigerator. Just before serving decorate with raspberries and perhaps some freshly whipped cream.

  • Mousse au Chocolat ©cadwu
  • Mousse au Chocolat not decorated ©cadwu

Deviled Eggs with a Twist

Easy to make, tasty, and most people love them. You only need a few simple ingredients such as hard boiled (organic) eggs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, vinegar (or lemon juice) and black pepper. Sprinkle some paprika on top and they’re ready.

Alas, we’re not huge fans of paprika. Why would you ruin lovely ingredients like egg, mayonnaise and mustard by adding a spice that is at best a touch sweet and in most cases bland?

Paprika (powder) is made from dried red peppers and probably originates from Mexico. When it was brought to Europe, local versions were created, for instance a hot Hungarian version (essential when making goulash) and a smoked Spanish version (pimentón, key ingredient of chorizo and paella). Local peppers were used, including red bell pepper, and the flavours ranged from mild and sweet to hot. By the way, the term ‘deviled’ refers to the spiciness of the dish.
Unfortunately, nowadays factory produced paprika seems to be used for its red colour only.

We combine a bit of everything by adding roasted bell pepper. It adds depths, smokiness, complexity and flavour.

What You Need

  • 6 organic Eggs
  • Mayonnaise
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Lemon Juice
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Black Pepper
  • Parsley (optional)

What You Do

Grill the bell pepper in your oven until nicely burned, perhaps 10 minutes. Transfer to a plastic container and close the lid. Wait a few hours before peeling the bell pepper. Use a sharp knife to mash the bell pepper. It’s fine if the mash has a bit of structure.
Boil the eggs and let cool. Slice the eggs lengthwise, remove the yolk. Use a fork to crumble the yolks (mimosa) and then combine with mayonnaise, mustard and mashed bell pepper. Add lemon juice and black pepper to taste. Remember the stuffing should be ‘devilish’. Add mixture to the egg whites. Decorating with parsley gives an extra twist to the deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs ©cadwu
Deviled Eggs ©cadwu

Pasta with Tomatoes and Octopus

Happy New Year! Let’s start 2023 with a flavourful pasta dish, inspired by the Portuguese cuisine. A cuisine that is all about food with great flavours, such as bacalhauCaldo Verde, octopus, cuttlefish, and the well known chicken piri-piri and pastel de nata. Octopus is very tasty and it comes with a great texture. The suction cups may be a bit unappealing, but don’t worry, the taste will make up for it.
In this case we use Orecchiette, small ear shaped pasta. The mixture of tomato and octopus is not like a sauce, so the paste should function as a carrier (a mini spoon) of the mixture. Enjoy quality pasta with slightly acidic tomatoes, rich octopus and refreshing parsley.

Wine Pairing

A Portuguese white wine will be a great idea, for instance a Vinho Verde. You could also go for a Spanish Verdejo from Rueda. Look for characteristics like fresh, fruity, clear acidity, subtle bitterness, minerality and full bodied. We enjoyed a glass of Pazo das Tapias Finca os Cobatos, from Monterrei in Spain made with Godello grapes.

What You Need

  • 2 Octopus Tentacles (cooked)
  • 2 Large Tomatoes
  • 2 Gloves of Fresh Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Jerez Vinegar
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Pasta (Orecchiette)

What You do

Quarter the tomatoes, slice the garlic (not too small) and fry gently in a warm pan with olive oil. Set to low heat. In parallel heat a heavy iron skillet. Remove the gelatinous substance from the tentacles, dry them, coat with olive oil and fry. Cook the orecchiette according to the pack. With only 5 minutes to go for the pasta, slice the octopus in small chunks (depending on the size of the pasta), add the octopus to the tomato mixture and add half of the chopped parsley. Just before serving the dish, add some Jerez vinegar to the mixture. Add the remaining parsley and black pepper. Drain the pasta, keep some of the cooking liquid and add the pasta to the mixture. Combine, decide if you want to add some cooking liquid or perhaps some olive oil. Serve immediately on a hot plate.

Pasta with Tomatoes and Octopus ©cadwu
Pasta with Tomatoes and Octopus ©cadwu

Your Favourites in 2022

We have been baking our own bread for several years, based on the method of no-knead bread (see Jim Lahey’s book My Bread for more detail) and using the ingredients of the French Talmière. The technique is a bit challenging, so we were very pleased to test the simplified method described by Le Creuset. You were also pleased to learn about this easier method for No-Knead Bread, because it’s our number one post this year!

Kimizu is the classic, golden sauce from Japan, made from Egg Yolks, Rice Vinegar, Water and Mirin. The recipes for Kimizu and Kimizu with Tarragon continue to be very popular. Although this is a classic sauce, we use a microwave to prepare it. A great tool to be in control of temperature and consistency.

If you’ve been following this blog for a few months, perhaps years, then you’ll know we love mushrooms. We are especially interested in the seasonal ones, such as Morels, St. George’s mushroom, and Caesar’s Mushroom. We combine these with Japanese Udon, creating a very tasty starter, full of flavours and texture. Also one of our personal favourites.
Another favorite is the Bay Bolete. Actually a fairly common mushroom, as tasty as Cèpes, but much more affordable.
During the season we saw lots of interests in Bay Boletes and Caeser’s Mushroom, so next season we will publish new recipes with these two delicious mushrooms.

The classic Cèpes à la Bordelaise was also amongst your favourites. You can also use more available mushrooms for this great combination. Always a pleasure to serve, with eggs, with meat, with more present fish.

Ajerkoniak was a dish we looked into when we were exploring dishes/drinks based on egg yolks, such as caudle, eggnog and advocaat. Perhaps not our personal favourite, but why nog give it a try?

We wish you a happy and inspiring 2023!

Your Favourites in 2022 ©cadwu
Your Favourites in 2022 ©cadwu

Madeira Cake

A delicious cake that doesn’t contain Madeira, nor does it originate from the island. The idea is perhaps to serve the cake with a glass of Madeira. We tried it and yes, it works, but you could also serve the cake with a cup of tea or coffee. Let’s forget about the name and enjoy a relatively easy to make traditional British cake. It has a light structure, it is a touch moist and the flavours and aromas are citrusy.
We think it looks best when made in a round tin.

What You Need

  • 140 grams of Butter
  • 130 grams of fine Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 170 grams of Self-Raising Flour
  • 25 grams of Almond Flour
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 1 slice of Candied Orange

What You Do

Melt the butter in the microwave until very soft but not warm. Line the bottom of a 16 cm (6 inch) round baking tin with parchment baking paper. Butter the inside. Sieve the self-raising flour into a bowl. Set your oven to Traditional (upper and lower heat, no fan), temperature 180 °C or 355 °F.
Mix the butter with the sugar until yellow and light. Add one egg, mix and add ⅓ of the flour. Mix until you have a smooth batter. Repeat this step twice. Now add the almond flour and the fine lemon zest. Mix. Add the batter to the tin, smooth the top and transfer to the oven.
It will probably take 45 minutes. Check with a metal pin if the cake is ready. Leave the cake in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the tin and let cool on a wire rack.
When cool, decorate with candied orange.

Madeira Cake ©cadwu
Madeira Cake ©cadwu