Guineafowl with Morels and Gnocchi

Preparing guineafowl can be a bit of a challenge because it’s easily overcooked. Guineafowl requires some liquid (oil, butter, wine, stock) when cooking it, but not too much. It’s actually not at all like chicken; just compare the meat and notice the difference. Guineafowl is structured, meaty, dense. Cooking guineafowl as coq au vin doesn’t work. Grilled guineafowl? Not a good idea either.

In The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook (written by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers) you will find a great recipe of guineafowl with grappa, junipers, sage, white wine and pancetta. The combination of grappa and junipers is amazing and the idea to have these two support the guineafowl is simply stunning. The combination emphasises the wild and nutty taste of the guinegowl. Buy the book and start cooking!

Spring is the best season to prepare this dish, because morels are a spring mushroom. You could use dried morels; they can be as tasty as fresh ones. Other dried mushrooms are expensive, not very tasty and not even close to the real thing. Dried morels are the exception to the rule.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our guineafowl with a glass of an elegant, medium-bodied red wine, with aromas and flavours of red fruit. A wine made from gamay grapes will be a good choice, for instance Domaine La Tour Beaumont Val de Loire.

What You Need

  • 2 legs of Guineafowl
  • 50 gram of fresh Morels or 10 gram of dried Morels
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Chicken Stock
  • Mustard
  • Crème Fraîche
  • Black Pepper
  • Gnocchi

What You Do

Pre-heat the oven to 180˚Celsius or 355˚ Fahrenheit. Add the two legs of guineafowl to a shallow dish with butter and olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes. If using dried morels: soak in hot water for 15 minutes. Otherwise clean the morels with some kitchen paper. Turn the legs upside down after 10 minutes. Cook for another 10 minutes. Turn them a second time, skin up. Add the morels to the dish, leaving the skin free. The legs should be ready after in total 30 minutes. Transfer the guineafowl and the morels to a plate and keep warm. Add chicken stock to the cooking liquid. Add crème fraîche, mustard and pepper to the sauce, stir well and allow to warm through and through for 5 minutes. Taste the sauce and if necessary add more mustard.
Serve with gnocchi. (Yes of course, we will be happy to explain how to make gnocchi in the near future.)

  • Guineafowl with Morels and Gnocchi © cadwu
  • Soaked Morels © cadwu
  • Guineafowl © cadwu

Chicken with Fresh Oregano

Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage: all powerful Mediterranean herbs. Oregano, or Wild Marjoram, is an interesting one. Probably best known as the herbal ingredient of pizza. A dried herb, one to store in a jar, forget about and then use beyond its ‘use-by date’ and be disappointed.
Such a pity because fresh oregano is aromatic, slightly bitter, pungent and perhaps chemical, depending on the variety, of course. Great to combine with lamb, a tomato salad, grilled fish and of course chicken. It’s also great to flavour olive oil with oregano. So ask your supermarket or local greengrocer for fresh oregano!

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our chicken and oregano with a glass of Rioja Paternina Reserva 2015 produced by Marques de la Concordia. Reserva means that the wine ages for a minimum of 3 years, with at least 1 year in oak barrels. The grapes are tempranillo, mazuelo and garnacha; very typical for Rioja. It’s a powerful, full-bodied red wine with aromas of black cherries and touch of vanilla and various spices. The wine goes very well with the velvety chicken and the very present flavours of the oregano.

What You Need

  • Chicken Thighs
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper
  • Chicken Stock
  • Lots of Fresh Oregano

What You Do

Halve the thighs, heat a heavy iron skillet, add olive oil and quickly fry the meat on all sides. Reduce the heat and add two third of the chopped oregano. Keep on low to medium heat for 10 minutes or so. Add some chicken stock, just to deglaze the pan. You will notice that the juices becomes green thanks to the oregano, so please coat the meat with the cooking liquid. Just before serving add the remaining oregano, some freshly ground black pepper and mix.
Serve with green beans, cooked in water with fresh garlic, wrapped in pancetta (after having grated some nutmeg over the beans) and then fried for 5 minutes in some olive oil.

  • Chicken with Fresh Oregano ©cadwu
  • Federico Paternina Rioja Reserva 2015 ©cadwu
  • Fresh Oregano ©cadwu



Caudle, Eggnog, Ajerkoniak and Advocaat

In the old days new mothers and their visitors were served Caudle, a combination of white wine, eggs, sugar, cloves, raisins, nutmeg and cinnamon. The idea was to strengthen the new mother and of course to celebrate the occasion. Dutch master Jan Steen painted De Kandeelmakers (The Caudle Makers) around 1665. Note the nutmeg grater!

The ingredients are not too dissimilar to those of Eggnog. Basically this is custard infused with various spices, such as vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. The custard is enriched with whole cream, rum/brandy/whisky/cognac and whipped egg white. Our Eggnog was very tasty, creamy and soft with the right push from the cognac. The spices worked really well, especially the nutmeg. We suggest not adding cream because it actually doesn’t bring much other than a fatty feeling in your mouth.

A less complex version is Ajerkoniak from Poland. It combines egg yolks with non-sweetened condensed milk, sugar and vodka (or plain alcohol). The result is a strong, smooth and sweet drink. The vodka worked very well with the eggs but we thought the condensed milk was a bit too present.

Making Caudle, Ajerkoniak or Eggnog begins with whisking sugar and egg yolks until it’s smooth, pale and creamy. This is called whisking the eggs ruban and may take 10 minutes. Interestingly the result is a dish in its own right called Kogel Mogel.

We also prepared Advocaat from the Netherlands. It is a combination of eggs, alcohol and sugar (so no milk, cream or spices). It can be enjoyed as a drink (but our grandmother used a small spoon, probably because she didn’t want to be heard slurping). Our version is a bit thicker, making it ideal as a dessert.

What You Need

  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 25 grams of Sugar
  • 50 ml of Brandy, Gin or Vodka
  • Whole Cream

What You Do

Mix the egg yolks and the sugar well. It doesn’t need to become ruban but some increase in volume is needed. Now gently add the brandy, gin or vodka. Transfer to the microwave and very gently heat the mixture. We used one interval of 10 seconds to start with and continued with intervals of 5 seconds. In total only 55 seconds on 30% power. Stir well after every interval until it becomes thick. The consistency must be similar to a thick pastry cream (crème pâtissière). Cool quickly and store in the refrigerator. Serve with some whipped cream.

PS Obviously you need fresh eggs when making Ajerkoniak, Eggnog, Kogel Mogel, Advocaat, Mayonnaise, Sabayon, Béarnaise, Kimizu et cetera. We don’t think eating fresh, organic eggs is a problem. Eating all kinds of additives, chemicals such as E102 – Tartrazine to make commercial Advocaat look as yellow as real Advocaat, unclear syrops, modified milk ingredients, guar gum, monoglycerides etcetera, that’s a problem.

  • Advocaat ©cadwu
  • Eggnog ©cadwu
  • Ajerkoniak ©cadwu

Spicy Grilled Octopus

We have all experienced chewy, fibrous and tasteless octopus, so how to make sure your octopus is juicy, tender and full of flavours?

Since octopuses don’t have bones, they have very tough connective tissue (collagen) between the muscles. When heating the octopus for a few hours, the collagen will break down into soft gelatine and the meat will become tender and juicy, just as you would like it to be.

‘How to speed up the process’, you wonder?
You could add vinegar to the cooking liquid, you could prepare the octopus by storing it in brine for a few hours, you could beat and pound the flesh, you could freeze the octopus for a few days, you could try adding a wine cork to the cooking liquid (hilarious!).
Unfortunately none of these short cuts make a significant difference.

The best method is to stew the octopus in a large pot or in the oven. This may take 4 hours or more. Octopuses contain a fair amount of juices and you want to capture these and their lovely flavours, which is exactly what you do when stewing an octopus.
Cooking an octopus in water for hours means losing these flavours; not something you want to do.

There is only one alternative to slow cooking: buy (frozen) baby octopuses. Marinate them for a few hours, grill them for 2 minutes and enjoy with a glass of wine or a nice cold beer.

What You Need

  • 6 Baby Octopuses
  • For the Marinade
    • Neutral Oil
    • Soy Sauce
    • Sweet Soy Sauce (Kecap Manis)
    • Fresh Ginger
    • One Garlic Glove
    • Teaspoon of Cumin
    • Tablespoon of Chilli Bean Sauce (Toban Djan)
    • Water (optional)
  • Chinese or Japanese pickles

What You Do

Clean the octopuses and remove the beak. Grate the ginger, chop the garlic and combine with the other ingredients. You’re looking for a powerful marinade with lots of chilli and (sweet) soy sauce. Allow the octopuses to marinate for a few hours.
Heat your grill, dry the octopus and grill for 2*1 minute. We prefer using a non-stick contact grill. Cut of the mantle and slice the tentacles in two. Serve on a warm plate with pickles and share.

Cod with Bleu d’Auvergne

Bleu d’Auvergne is amongst our favourite cheeses. It’s creamy, semi-hard, moist, powerful, pungent and not too salty. It was created around 1850 in France when a farmer combined cow milk curd with the mould of rye bread. He also noticed that the cheese benefits from increased aeration using needles (similar to the process used when making Stilton cheese). Nowadays Bleu d’Auvergne is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), just like the other excellent cheeses from that region (for example Saint-Nectaire and Cantal).
For some reason Bleu d’Auvergne combines extremely well with cod. We tried other combinations, experimented with adding butter, cream or crème fraîche but we always return to this one. It’s a tribute to both the fish and the cheese.

Wine Pairing

The combination may be very specific; wine pairing is not too difficult. In general a fairly present, white wine will be great choice. Could be a Verdejo from Spain, a mildly oaked Chardonnay or a glass of your favourite white wine. No reason to open a bottle of Chablis; the flavours are too bold for a really elegant wine.

What You Need

  • Skinless Cod Loin
  • Bleu d’Auvergne (preferable mature)
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Heat a heavy cast iron skillet through and through, add olive oil, dry the cod with kitchen paper and fry on the firm side (where the skin used to be) until it’s nice and golden. Flip the fish, reduce the heat and start adding chunks of cheese. It will melt, but make sure you still have these blue bits in there. Baste the fish with the melting cheese. Check the cuisson of the cod (the fish must be opaque and flaky) and serve on a warm plate.

  • Cod with Bleu d’Auvergne ©cadwu
  • Blue d'Auvergne ©cadwu

Lentils with Cod and Cilantro

Lentils are healthy, easy to work with, not expensive, nutritious and high in fiber, protein and iron. Lentils have been around for a long time, so you would expect lentils to be popular, but for some reason they are not. Lentils can be used to prepare soups, salads, dahl, burgers, curry, biscuits (sablés) and so much more.
The three basic types are Green or Brown lentils, Red lentils and Black or Beluga lentils. Red lentils are often dehusked and then split, making them perfect for cooking soup.

In most cases we prefer Du Puy lentil from Sabarot because of their great taste and the fact that they hold their beautiful shape, even when cooked. Sabarot also produces lentil flour; ideal for biscuits, pancakes and waffles.

Beware of fake Du Puy lentils! They have names like ‘Le Puy lentils’ or ‘Dupuis lentils’. All nasty marketing. The real Du Puy lentils come with an Appellation d’Origine Controlee (Protected Designation of Origin).

Wine Pairing

We very much enjoyed a glass of Spanish Verdejo. In our case a bottle of Monteabellón Rueda 2019. 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 also recognize the aromas of banana and exotic fruit.

What You Need

  • Shallot
  • Olive Oil
  • Cilantro Seeds
  • Green, Du Puy or Beluga Lentils
  • Mild Fish Stock
  • Cod
  • Butter
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • White Pepper

What You Do

Chop the shallot (seize lentil) and glaze gently in olive oil. In the mean time check the lentils for small pebbles; wash them. Once the shallot is glazed, add the lentils and the crushed cilantro seeds. Heat for a few minutes, as you would do with risotto rice. Add the mild fish stock and leave to simmer on low heat for approximately 20 minutes, depending on the size (and your preference of course). In parallel fry the cod in butter in a non-stick pan. Just before the lentils are ready, add half of the finely cut cilantro 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 nasty small white bits of egg white and the fish becomes dry.
Serve the cod on top of the lentils and sprinkle some cilantro over the lentils and cod. Maybe add a touch of white pepper.

PS In case you think cilantro tastes like soap, feel free to replace the fresh cilantro with parsley. Cilantro seeds do not trigger the soap-like taste.

Eggs Benedict with Kimizu

Preparing Eggs Benedict comes with two technical challenges: Hollandaise Sauce (Kimizu in our case) and Poached Eggs.
Poaching an egg seems simple and straightforward when you watch the video made by chef Jacques Pepin, But we know that they’re intimidating to make plus it’s really challenging to get them just right: especially the gooey, liquid yolk.

Chef Pepin makes some very important suggestions: the main protein in egg white is Ovalbumin and it sets at 84,5 °C or 184 °F . According to chef Pepin the egg white becomes rubbery when the water temperature is too high. And he is right! Keep the water hot, but not boiling, when ‘boiling’ or poaching an egg.
He also mentions that the eggs must be cold. Makes sense, because then the yolk will remain runny.
And finally he explains how to store pre-poached eggs, reducing stress in the kitchen.

But the challenge remains: poaching an egg requires skills and experience. Or an OXO good grips egg poacher. Yes, we know, it sounds like another disappointing, expensive, and silly kitchen tool, but it actually works really well. Easy to use, easy to clean and great results, again and again.

What You Need

  • For the Poached Eggs
    • 2 cold, organic Eggs
    • Vinegar
  • For the Kimizu
    • 2 Egg Yolks
    • 2 tablespoons of Rice Vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon of Water
    • 2 teaspoons of Mirin
  • English muffins or a slice of home made Bread
  • Salmon
  • Avocado
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Best to make the poached eggs in advance and store them in cold water. Just before serving warm them in a pan of hot water. With the OXO poacher it’s simple: fill a pan with water and add a splash of vinegar. Bring the water to a simmer and crack an egg into the centre of the each poacher. You could also crack the egg into a little bowl or cup and then drop it into the centre of the poacher. After 30 seconds or so you can remove the OXO poacher and use it for another egg. We poached our eggs for 3 minutes maximum. Dry the poached eggs with kitchen paper and trim the egg white if necessary. Serve with toasted muffin or bread, salmon, avocado and of course Kimizu.

Red Mullet in Miso

It’s Tuesday morning and we are on our way to our favourite fish monger. No doubt we will be inspired by the fresh fish and seafood on offer. It all looks delicious and yummy, especially the red mullet looks wonderful. It’s such a beautiful fish; red, nearly crimson, with a lovely taste and a very delicate skin. There are actually two very similar kinds, the striped red mullet (rouget de roche) and the red mullet or goatfish (rouget de vase). Don’t worry too much, just go for it.

We will marinate the fillets in miso and then enjoy on Sunday evening as a starter. This technique is called Saikyo Yaki. Best to use is Saikyo miso which is a white, slightly sweet, low sodium miso from Kyoto. The marinated fish is grilled and served with pickled ginger. Originally a way to preserve the fish, it’s now much liked because of the umami and the intriguing combination of flavours and aromas.
We use a standard low sodium white miso and add a bit of sake. This makes the mixture easier to use and supports the flavour.

Sake Pairing

Best served with dry sake. We bought a bottle of  traditional Gekkeikan sake. This is a medium bodied, fresh sake with light floral aromas. In general you’re looking for a touch of acidity, freshness and not too much alcohol.

What You Need

  • Two Fillets of Red Mullet
  • White Miso (preferable with less salt)
  • Sake
  • Pickled Cucumber
  • Karashi (Japanese mustard, optional)

What You Do

Start five days in advance. Mix the white miso with sake, creating a thinner mixture. It must coat the fish for a few days, so don’t make it too thin. Put the fillets in a shallow plate and cover the fillets with the mixture making sure the fish is fully coated. Cover the plate with foil and transfer to the fridge. Check on a daily basis if the fish is still covered.
Using a small spoon carefully remove most of the miso. Rinse the fish with water and dry with kitchen paper. The white flesh should now be slightly orange. Heat a non-stick frying pan until warm, but not hot, through and through. If too hot, the fish will burn. We set our induction hob to 6 (where 9 is the maximum). Add a generous amount of olive oil. Fry the fillets on the skin side and try to keep the fish moving. This way the delicate skin will remain in tact. Turn and fry the meat side, also for 1 or 2 minutes. Serve on a warm plate with pickles and perhaps karashi.

Pasta with Sage

We love using wonderful Mediterranean herbs such as basil, thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, saffron and tarragon. So we couldn’t resist buying a large bunch of sage and cooking this very tasteful, simple and uplifting starter. Sage has been around for many, many years and is an essential ingredient in many countries, both for medicinal and culinary purposes. Its taste is somewhat soapy, with a touch of acidity, a little bitterness, subtle eucalyptus and slightly peppery. Did we mention unique?
Preferably use fresh, thin pasta or Japanese udon, lots of butter and your best olive oil when preparing this dish.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our pasta with a glass of Bianco di Custoza 2020, made by Monte del Frà from Italy. It is a well-balanced, dry white wine, with a fruity nose. Its colour is straw yellow, with pale green highlights. In general you’re looking for a light, aromatic dry white wine.

What You Need

  • Pasta
  • Butter
  • Bunch of Sage
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Melt the butter in a large pan, devein and chop the leaves, add the sage to the butter, stir. The butter should embrace the flavours and aromas of the sage. When the mixture is nearly ready (this will take only a few minutes) cook the pasta. Grate some fresh Parmesan cheese. Keep a glass of the cooking liquid of the pasta, drain the paste, add it to the pan, mix, add some olive oil, mix, add a spoonful or two of the cooking liquid and make sure the pasta is fully coated with sage, butter and oil. Perhaps some black pepper. Garnish with Parmesan Cheese and serve on a warm plate.

Canard a l’Orange

Preparing Duck is always a pleasure, whether with green peppers or with Szechuan, the result is tasty and your guests will be happy. So let’s revisit another classic from the 1960’s: Canard A l’Orange is a delicious combination of duck with a multi-layered orange sauce.

So what did we change compared to the 1960’s-recipe? We don’t use a whole duck, due to the lack of availability but also because cooking a whole duck is far more challenging than cooking a whole chicken or turkey. We also don’t use (caramelized) sugar and we use butter instead of flower or corn starch to create a nice, velvety sauce.

Wine Pairing

A classic wine from the Bordeaux region will be wonderful with your duck. We enjoyed a glass of Château Cap Saint-Martin Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux Le Cabernet d’en face 2017. This wine is made from 100% Cabernet-Sauvignon grapes, which is to be expected for Bordeaux wines from the left bank of the Gironde. Hence the d’en face (opposite or other side) in the name, because Blaye is situated on the right bank of the Gironde (where Merlot is the dominant grape for red wine).
In general you’re looking for a wine with soft aromas of dark berries, vanilla and spices. On the palette it should be round with present tannins. A wine that will combine with the sweetness and depth of the sauce in combination with the rich, juicy and slightly sweet duck meat and its crispy skin.

What You Need

What You Do

Check the breast of duck for remainders of feathers. Remove the vein on the meat side of the breast (and the odd membrane you don’t like). Put on a dish, cover and transfer to the fridge. Leave in the fridge for a few hours, making sure it’s nice, firm and cold.
Fry the duck (straight from the refrigerator!) in a hot, non-sticky skillet for 10-12 minutes on the skin side. Reduce the heat after a few minutes. You don’t need oil or butter, the duck fat will do the trick. Now fry for 2-3 minute on the meat side and remove. Cover with aluminium foil in such a way that the crispy skin is not covered. The foil should only cover the meat. The skin must remain crispy.
Clean the orange, make thin zest and press the orange. Remove some of the fat and add stock, a generous amount of zest, orange juice, garlic, thyme and Mandarin Napoleon. Stir and make sure the garlic becomes integrated in the sauce. Allow to reduce by half. Add liquid from the duck. Taste and adjust. Later on butter will be added  softening the taste so at this stage the flavours need to be clearly present. You may want to add some mustard to push the flavours and help the sauce emulgate. Add more of the duck’s liquid. Reduce the heat and add cubes of cold butter. Keep stirring, taste, add black pepper, perhaps extra thyme and plate up. We served the duck with green beans (olive oil, freshly grated nutmeg) and fried potatoes.

Canard a l'Orange
Canard a l’Orange ©cadwu