Seared Scallops with Truffle and Potato Mousseline

Truffles Are a Chef’s Best Friend

Truffles range from affordable summer truffles (€100 per 100 gram) via expensive winter truffle (€150 per 100 gram) to extremely expensive white truffles (starting at €375 per 100 gram). Cultivated truffles are considerably less expensive but unfortunately they have less flavour and taste.

Commercially it’s a clever idea to introduce high end products like Risotto with Truffle, Truffle Mayonnaise, Crisps with Truffle, Butter with Truffle Flavour or Black Angus Truffle Burger. The addition of truffle allows the producer to charge more compared to the regular product. So you wonder, how much truffle is actually added? Well, don’t be surprised: it ranges from hardly any truffle to absolutely no truffle at all.

The risotto rice for instance contains 0,2% of truffle per 100 gram. Probably it will be a cultivated truffle, so the impact of the 0,2% is zero. Especially if you take into account that summer truffle (and white truffle to be complete) loses its flavour when heated. Let’s look at the figures: the truffle risotto rice comes at €8,50 per kilo (containing 98,8% of rice) and the same rice without truffle at €2,75 per kilo. So for nearly 6 Euro difference you buy 2 gram of cheap truffle, 8 gram of porcine, parsley, garlic and chives. Yes, indeed, it’s Liza Minnelli singing Truffles makes the world go round, the world go round!

But I Did Taste Truffle!

Of course you didn’t. You imagined you tasted it because it said so on the pack and because the producer most likely added 2,4-dithiapentane, a synthetically produced, aromatic molecule. Products containing 2,4-dithiapentane taste and smell like a bad chemical version of the real thing. It’s especially sad because people confuse the smell of 2,4-dithiapentane with the smell of real truffle.
If people say they don’t like truffle they actually say they don’t like 2,4-dithiapentane, which is great.

Life is simple and truffles are expensive. So get rid of the truffle flavoured rice, oil, mayonnaise, preserved truffle and what have you and enjoy spending some real money on a good product!

An Exciting Combination

In this recipe we combine winter truffle with scallops and potatoes. Winter truffle improves in taste when warm. And it loves potatoes. Perhaps because both grow underground and have a similar odd shape?

Wine Pairing

You need a medium bodied wine to match the powerful taste and flavours. One that brings freshness, citrus, purity and character. We enjoyed a glass of Costieres de Nimes Nostre Pais 2016. You could also go for a Chardonnay with a touch of wood. Combining it with a Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris or Picpoul de Pinet is not a good idea because you then miss out on the necessary earthy tones in the wine.

What You Need

  • 3 Fresh Scallops (preferably in the shell)
  • 1 Starchy Potato
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • White Pepper
  • Salt
  • 10+ Gram of Black (Winter) Truffle

What You Do

Start by making the mousseline: peal the potato and cook until done. Make a mash with a fork or a potato squeezer. Optional: pass potatoes through a fine sieve. Warm the milk and add to the mash. Add a generous amount of butter. Use a whisk to make the mousseline. Add white pepper. The mousseline must combine with the intense taste of the scallops, so a touch of salt is also needed. Keep warm. Half the scallops and fry quickly in a touch of butter in a non sticky pan. When nearly ready, grate the truffle. Take two warm plates, dress with the mousseline, add the three scallops and top with black truffle.

Seared Scallops with Truffle and Potato Mousseline © cadwu
Seared Scallops with Truffle and Potato Mousseline © cadwu

Quail with Pruneaux d’Agen and Bay Leaf

Fond Memories

Many years ago we enjoyed dinner at a restaurant called Auberge des Seigneurs in Vence, France. The menu included classic dishes such as blue trout, chicken, tian and tender lamb cooked on a spit before an open fire. Ah, Madame Rodi, we fondly remember those evenings, Monsieur Tim and your infinite hospitality.
One of the items on the menu was quail with prunes and bay leaf. Since that day we love our quails! They have a delicate taste, with a nice touch of fattiness. For some reason the meat goes very well with strong flavours like bay leaf, black olives, sage et cetera.
Make sure the quail is sufficiently fat and not frozen. We prefer it if the head is still attached because it allows you to use the skin of the neck, after having removed the head and the spine.
Buying Pruneaux d’Agen could be a challenge, but other prunes will be fine too, provided they are moist and tasty.

Wine Pairing

At the Auberge we enjoyed the red Rimauresq Classique, A.O.P. Côtes de Provence – Cru classé. In general a red wine will go very well with the quails, provided it comes with a bit of fruit and it is not too complex. It should balance with the sweetness and nuttiness (prunes, pancetta) of the dish and the beautiful smell of bay leaf.

What You Need

  • 2 Quails
  • 50 grams of Pancetta
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 6 Pruneaux d’Agen
  • Olive oil
  • Butter

What You Do

Clean the inside of the quails with kitchen paper and remove anything that’s left. Check the skin for feathers and hollow shafts. Cut 4 pruneaux and the pancetta in smaller bits and mix together. Now stuff the quail with a bay leaf, then the mixture and finish with a pruneaux. Use kitchen string to close the quail. Pre-heat your oven to 200°-220° Celsius (390°-430° Fahrenheit). Put the quails in a skillet with olive oil. Put some butter on top of the quail. Make sure the breast is downward facing. This way the fat will go towards the breast, making sure these are nice and moist. Put in upper half of oven. After 15 minutes turn the quails, label fat over the breast and after another 10 minutes your quails should be ready and golden. Remove from the oven and let the quails rest for 5-10 minutes.
Remove the kitchen string and serve with seasonal vegetables from the oven.

 

 

André Daguin

A Grand Chef

Le chef gascon André Daguin, roi du magret de canard, est mort.
André Daguin died earlier this month in Auch, France. From 1960 to 1997 he was owner and chef of the Hôtel de France in Auch. He was awarded two Michelin Stars and more importantly for us he put Gascogne
on the culinary map. He was one of the leaders of the nouvelle cuisine and a master of foie gras. He was much appreciated by other French chefs and was elected President of Union des Métiers et des Industries de l’Hôtellerie, the French association of people working in hotels, restaurants and bars. His most significant and unparalleled contribution was the invention of Magret de Canard or grilled Duck Breast in 1959. It is one of many reasons why he was a grand chef.

A True Invention

The best known preparations of duck are confit de canard (the legs of the duck cooked in goose fat) and magret de canard, smoked or grilled. As if preparing the whole bird is not something you want to do. When you look for recipes in classic cookbooks like La Cuisinière Provençale by J.- B. Reboul (published in 1897) and in La Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiare Bene by Pellegrino Artusi (publihed in 1891), then you will notice that all recipes are for complete birds. Braised if a young animal, stewed if older and larger. With olives, chipolata (small sausages), oranges or onions.
One day in 1959, after a busy lunch, a sales man arrived at the Hôtel. Not much was left in the kitchen, but André Daguin wanted to serve lunch to his late guest. He took a raw magret (ready to be made into confit) and prepared it quickly, like a steak. No doubt the surprised guest loved it. A nice and unconfirmed story.

Today grilled duck breast is one of France’s most popular dishes and many chefs offer recipes for it. With an orange sauce, with a green pepper sauce or with an Asian twist.
The original (!) by André Daguin is with foie gras. Obviously!

Breast of Duck with Thyme © cadwu
Breast of Duck with Thyme © cadwu

 

Salad with Various Beans and Swordfish

When in Valencia

The Mercat Central in Valencia is one of the largest markets in Europe. Its architecture is amazing, but even more stunning are the products: fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, wines, fresh meat, sausages, hams, herbs, spices, fish, bread, chickens, pickles, snails, weeds, offal, rice, nuts, beans: anything and everything you can dream of.
Albufera is a fresh water area not far from Valencia used for growing rice. It is of course the ideal rice for paella. If an original recipe of paella would exist, it would include rice, olive oil, rabbit, saffron and various beans such as broad beans, roget and garrofón.
Inspired by the classic Salade Niçoise we bought a slice of excellent swordfish, sweet onions, potatoes, eggs and of course: lots of beans. Shall we call it Salade Valençoise?

Wine Pairing

We served the salad as a main dish. Combining wine and salad is not straightforward because acidity is an important aspect of a dressing and therefore of a salad. In this case we have a range of flavours and textures so we would suggest a wine with a very present floral bouquet. The taste should be smooth and fruity. We enjoyed it with a glass of Albariño Rias Baixas 2018 produced by Bodegas Bouza do Rei, made from 100% Albariño grapes.
Another excellent choice would be Sericis, 2018 from the house of Murviedro. A wine from Utiel-Requena, so from the Valencia region. A wine made from 100% Merseguera grapes. Full bodied yet light, elegant and surprisingly low in its alcohol with only 12%. Well balanced acidity which is great when combining it with a salad.

What You Need

  • Mixed Salad
  • White Sweet Onion
  • Flat Beans (we also used the local red variety Roget)
  • Green Peas
  • Broad Beans
  • Garrofón (Lima Beans or Butter Beans)
  • Sword Fish
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Small (New) Potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Vinegar
  • Mustard
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Start by pealing the broad beans, the green peas, the flat beans, the garrofón beans and the potatoes. Cook all five ingredients separately until al dente. Cook the eggs until just done. Let cool. Peel the broad beans and the garrofón beans again. Make a dressing by combining olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Slice the flat beans, the onion and the potatoes. Cut the egg in four. Fry the swordfish until just done. In parallel mix the salad with the onion, the flat beans, the green peas, the potatoes and the broad beans. Add the dressing and toss. Slice the swordfish and decorate the salad with egg, garrofón and swordfish. A touch of black pepper to finish.

Alain Passard Receives the Johannes van Dam Prize 2019

Symposium on the History of Food

On Friday November 15th and Saturday 16th 2019 the annual Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food took place at the main auditorium of the University of Amsterdam. Such a pleasure to listen to great papers presented, discussing (post-) colonial foodways; creating, negotiating, and resisting transnational food systems. Two award ceremonies are part of the symposium.

Joop Witteveen Prize

Maarten Hell, author of De Amsterdamse herberg 1450-1800: geestrijk centrum van het openbare leven (published by VanTilt, Nijmegen, 2017) was the winner in the Academic category, the Joop Witteveen Prize. A book that discusses not only the history of food and drink as served in the inns in Amsterdam between 1450 and 1800, but also the development of what we would call hospitality.
The prize is named after culinary historian and author Joop Witteveen (1928-2016). Together with his partner Bart Cuperus and Johannes van Dam (see below) he founded the Dutch Gastronomische Bibliotheek (gastronomic library), now part of the historical collection of the University of Amsterdam.

Johannes van Dam Prize

Alain Passard received the prestigious Johannes van Dam prize. The jury, chaired by professor Louise O. Fresco (President of the Wageningen University & Research Executive Board), mentioned his impressive contribution to international cuisine. She highlighted that many years ago Alain Passard shifted towards vegetables, creating a new balanced cuisine, without banning fish and meat from his menu. The vegetables and fruit are organic and produced on his own three farms. His combinations and flavours are exceptional, just think about a side dish with haricots verts, almonds, white peach and basil.
His second important contribution to today’s cuisine is to introduce colour and art as elements of cooking, next to flavour, shape, odour, temperature and texture. His approach is unique and his recipes are a tribute to vegetables, fruit, flavour and colour.

The prize is named after culinary writer and critic Johannes van Dam (1946-2013) who was not only known for his reviews of restaurants but also for his massive collection of books on food and drink plus his passion for tasty, good food. Amongst his favourite dishes were the typical Dutch kroketten (‘croquets’ in French). Normally a cheap and fat snack, but Johannes van Dam was convinced that it is a true delicacy provided – of course – it is prepared the right way.
Mr. Passard was clearly very happy, proud and touched to receive the prize. In his speech he emphasized the importance of the season. He mentioned that nature is a cook book in its own right, one that is beautiful and should be followed.

We couldn’t agree more.

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Fried Oyster Mushrooms

Yesterday’s Bread

Cotoletta alla Milanese and Wiener Schnitzel are based on a similar concept: breaded and pan fried thin slices of veal or pork, served with a slice of lemon. The most obvious variation is Pollo alla Milanese which is made with chicken. A very special variation is Cotoletta di vitella di latte alla Milanese, as described in 1891 by Pelligrino Artusi (1820-1911) in his book La Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiar Bene (The Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well). The book is a must have for every serious food lover, so buy the book! It is very well written and contains over 700 recipes from Italy. Before breading the meat Mr. Artusi coats one side of the veal with a mixture of finely chopped fat ham, parsley, grated Parmesan cheese and truffle. Delicious no doubt!

The variation we prefer is made with Oyster Mushrooms, so Cotolette di Funghi Pleurotus alla Milanese. It is very tasty and the juicy and meaty structure of the oyster mushroom in combination with the crispy crust makes it into a much-loved starter. No need to deep fry: a hot pan with olive oil and butter is all you need.

The key to an excellent Alla Milanese are the breadcrumbs. Make your own breadcrumbs with yesterday’s bread and compare the result with the cardboard crumbs you can buy. Flavour! Texture!

Wine Pairing

A fresh, not too complex white wine will be great with the fried oyster mushrooms. Soave, Burgundy, Loire: all good.

What You Need

  • 150 grams of Oyster Mushrooms
  • One Egg
  • Three Slices of Yesterday’s Bread
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Black Pepper
  • Lemon Juice

What You Do

We begin by making the breadcrumbs. Toast the slices of bread and let cool. Cut in smaller bits and then using a cutter or blender make the crumbs. Whisk the egg. Feel free to add some water if you need more volume. Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Make sure your pan is hot, add the oil, the butter and start breading and frying. When nearly ready remove the pan from the heat, add some lemon juice and move the mushrooms in the pan. The idea is to add a touch of lemon to the taste and to keep the mushrooms crispy. Add black pepper and serve immediately on a warm plate. We don’t serve with additional lemon because adding lemon juice later on will make the wonderful crunchy crust of the soft oyster mushrooms soggy.

Dashi

Stock

For most of us ‘stock’ begins with a combination of fish or meat with vegetables such as carrot, onion, leek and celery together with herbs like bay leaf, thyme and parsley. Dashi, the classic stock from the Japanese cuisine, is very different: it takes between one and four ingredients and takes only 30 minutes to prepare. The ingredients are kelp (kombu), dried small anchovies or sardines, dried shiitake and dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi). The simplest dashi is made from kombu only. Its taste is gentle with a touch of umami. Great vegetarian stock.
The best known is (awase) dashi and it’s made from kombu and katsuobushi. This one is the basis for oden, miso soup and many other dishes. It’s also the basis of our Dashi with Matsutake and Shrimps. If you add a splash of dashi and some Japanese mustard (karashi) to your mayonnaise you can make your own Japanese mayonnaise.

Katsuobushi is made from bonito or tuna. It’s a complex and time-consuming process, so don’t be surprised to pay between € 10,00 and € 15,00 per 100 gram. For one litre of dashi you only need 20 gram, so don’t worry too much about the costs. And you can make a ‘second’ dashi by repeating the process with the same kombu and katsuobushi.

A true Japanese chef will begin her or his day with shaving katsuobushi. We simply buy shaved katsuobushi. It comes in bags of 25 or 40 grams.

What You Need

  • 1 litre of Water
  • 20 gram of Kombu
  • 20 gram of Katsuobushi

What You Do

With a wet cloth gently clean the kombu. Put the kombu in the cold water and heat slowly to 80° Celsius or 175° Fahrenheit. Take you time! When the temperature has reached 80° Celsius or 175° Fahrenheit, remove the kombu (and store for using it for a second dashi). Bring the liquid to the boil, reduce heat, add the katsuobushi, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes or so until the katsuobushi has sunk to the bottom. Pass the liquid through a sieve. You can also use a clean cloth, but don’t squeeze it. You want a clear broth. The dashi can be used immediately, stored in your refrigerator for a few days or kept in the freezer for a few weeks.

Ingredients of Dashi © cadwu
Ingredients of Dashi © cadwu

Duck with Ginger, Mirin, Soy Sauce and Yuzu

So Many Possibilities

Obviously Breast of Duck is great when combined with an orange sauce (or even better, with Mandarine Napoléon). Or combined with a Green Pepper Sauce, or with hoisin, soy sauce and five-spice powder (as used for Peking Duck). We combine the duck with fresh ginger (a bit spicy, but since the ginger is cooked in the sauce it will be very mild), yuzu (citrus fruit originaly from Japan, Korea and China) and sweet mirin and soy sauce. The cabbage comes with tamari and sesame oil, so this dish is full of wonderful flavours. Have we mentioned the pickled cucumber?

Wine Pairing

You could combine the duck with white wine, provided it has lots of character, for instance a Gewürztraminer. A red wine is the more obvious choice: a rich, warm Carignan will do nicely. The wine needs to combine with the richness of the dish and of course the sweetness of the soy sauce and the mirin. Duck is somewhat sweet in its own right and the sauce amplifies this. The wine should be fruity (plum), spicy and definitely not too woody.

What You Need

  • 2 Small Breasts of Duck or 1 Large One
  • Soy Sauce (we prefer the version with less salt)
  • Mirin
  • Yuzu
  • Ginger (fresh)

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 refrigerator. Leave in the refrigerator for a few hours, making sure it’s nice, firm and cold. We want crispy fat, so we need to fry the meat relatively long. In order to get the right cuisson, we start with cold meat (so not your normal room temperature).
Fry the duck in a hot, non-sticky skillet for 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 minutes on the other sides. Remove from the pan and cover with aluminium foil in such a way that the crispy skin is not covered. The foil should only cover meat.
You may want to remove some fat from the pan. Add some water and a generous amount of grated ginger (let’s say 3 – 4 centimetre), stir, add mirin and soy sauce. Keep warm. Add liquid from the duck to the sauce.  After 10 minutes or so the ginger should be soft and the falvours integrated. If not, just give it a few more minutes. Remove the breast from the foil and slice. Make sure that any liquid left is added to the sauce. Quickly stir the sauce, add a bit of Yuzu to bring acidity to the sauce, heat a bit more, dress on a plate and put the slices of duck on top of it.

Serve with…

  • Vegetables
    • Oxheart or Chinese cabbage
    • Olive Oil
    • Tamari
    • Sesame Oil
  • Rice
    • Whole Grain Rice
    • Pickled Cucumber

Grate the cabbage. Fry in a warm skillet in some olive oil. Add some tamari. Taste and adjust if necessary. Before serving add some excellent sesame oil. In parallel cook the rice and add some chopped pickled cucumbers to the rice.

Duck with Ginger, Mirin and Soy Sauce © cadwu
Duck with Ginger, Mirin and Soy Sauce © cadwu

 

No-Knead Bread – UPDATE

Slow Rise Fermentation

A few months ago we shared a recipe of no-knead bread, based on the recipe courtesy of Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery, New York. It was published in the New York Times in 2006 and can also be found in his book My Bread. It takes a bit of planning but preparing no-knead bread is simple and straightforward with a great result. We truly love it.
The recipe is based on slow rise fermentation. With only one gram of yeast in combination with 18+2 hours of rest, the yeast will do a wonderful job. The dough will be perfect. And kneading, as you would expect, is not required.

UPDATE – Talmière

Recently when enjoying the luxury of having a classic French bakery around the corner of our holiday apartment, we explored a range of beautiful French bread. One of these was the Talmière. It is enriched with various seeds, such as poppy seed, linseed, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. Sometimes honey is added. The Talmière came with a beautiful crust and a rich taste. The bread is a bit compact compared to the usual Baguette or Tradition, probably as a result of the seeds in the dough.
We combined our ingredients with blue poppy seed and brown linseed.
Our best bread ever?

What You Need

  • 400 gram of Flour (we use 200 gram of Whole Grain Flour, 100 gram of Plain White Flour and 100 gram of French T65 Flour, but you will also have a great result when using 200 gram of Whole Grain Flour and 200 gram of Plain White Flour)
  • 25 gram Blue Poppy Seed
  • 25 gram Brown Linseed
  • 1 gram Instant Yeast
  • 4 gram Salt
  • 310 gram Water
  • Additional Flower
  • Bran

What You Do

The easiest way is to read and follow the recipe and video as provided by the New York Times.
Or if you feel confident: mix flour, seeds, yeast and salt. Add water and create one mixture. Let rest in a bowl covered with foil for 18 hours. Dust your worktop with a generous amount of additional flour. Remove dough from bowl and fold 4 times. Let rest on a towel also generously dusted with flour and bran for 2 hours. Heat your oven to 230˚ Celsius or 450˚ Fahrenheit. Make sure the pot is also hot. We used a 20 cm Le Creuset Cast Iron Round Casserole. Put the dough, seam side up, in the pot, close it and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for 15 minutes until it is nicely browned. Let cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing you no-knead with blue poppy seeds and brown linseed.

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.