Fairy Ring Mushroom with Pork Chops

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 they grow in meadows and lawns.

In France the Mushroom of Saint George is called mousseron and the Fairy Ring Mushroom faux mousseron. But because of the limited availability of the Mushroom of Saint George the faux (false) is dropped in the second name and the Fairy Ring Mushroom is often referred to and sold as mousseron.

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 cookies. Hm, we think you can do better than that!

We combine the Fairy Ring Mushroom with excellent organic pork (also a touch of sweetness), cream, white wine, fresh sage and a splash of cognac to give the dish a nutty component.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Fairy Ring Mushrooms and pork with a glass of Austrian Zweigelt, produced by Weingut Prechtl. This red wine is fruity and elegant with notes of blackberry and cherry. The tannins are well structured but not overly present. In general you’re looking for a full bodied red wine with fruit and not too much acidity.

What You Need

  • 2 Organic Pork Chops with lots of nice fat (Sirloin or Shoulder)
  • 100 gram of Fairy Ring Mushroom
  • Half a glass of Dry White Wine
  • Fresh Sage
  • Chicken Stock
  • Crème Fraîche
  • Splash of Cognac
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Start by cleaning the mushrooms with kitchen paper. Remove the stems. Fry the caps in olive oil. When the liquid has evaporated, add some dry white wine and two finely chopped leaves of sage. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes or so. Add some crème fraîche and a few moments later a splash of cognac. Stir and leave to simmer for another 5 minutes. In parallel fry the pork chops until brown and leave to rest in aluminium foil. Remove the pork fat from the pan and deglaze with chicken stock. Reduce. Now add the liquid from the pan to the mushrooms, add more finely chopped sage and some black pepper.

  • Fairy Ring Mushrooms with Pork ©cadwu
  • Fairy Ring Mushrooms ©cadwu
  • Zweigelt made by Weingut Prechtl

Langoustine

Such a delicious starter! Perhaps it makes you think of Italy or France. A Plateau de Fruit de Mer, with oysters, shrimps, lobster, clams, periwinkles and langoustines.  The name sounds French, so perhaps the langoustine is local to the Mediterranean Sea? Not really.
Its Latin name (Nephrops norvegicus) is a nice indication of its habitat. Langoustines live in the North-Eastern Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea from Norway to Portugal. The langoustine-catch is very important for the Scottish fishing industry.

So why is it that so few people in countries around the North Sea enjoy langoustines? Difficult to prepare? Difficult to eat?

Let’s start with how to eat a langoustine. You begin by pulling away the head and claws, then you squeeze the belly to crack the shell. Start from the belly side and peel away the shell. Then de-vein by running a sharp knife along the back and remove the black vein (the intestinal tract). With a lobster cracker and a lobster curette you remove the meat from the claws. A bit of extra work, but it’s truly delicious.

So they’re easy to eat and, see below, very easy to prepare.

Wine pairing

We enjoyed a glass of Château Pajzos Tokaj Furmint 2019. This dry, white wine made from the well-known Hungarian Furmint grape is fresh, clean and slightly floral. It supports the langoustine beautifully.
In general we would suggest a white, clean, dry wine. It could be a German Riesling, a Sauvignon Blanc (a French Sancerre for instance) or an unoaked Chardonnay.

What You Need

  • 6 Langoustines (preferably fresh)
  • Mixed Salad
  • Olive Oil and Vinegar
  • (home-made) Mayonnaise

What You Do

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Some chefs add salt or lemon. No need for this. Add the langoustines and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Make sure you don’t overcook them. Smaller ones (like the ones we bought) require no more than 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and use a colander to drain them. We like to cool them quickly with a splash of cold water, to stop the cooking process. The meat must be moist and soft, not firm and rubbery. Leave the langoustines on a plate with kitchen paper while making a simple dressing. Toss some salad with the dressing.  Serve the warm langoustines with the salad and a generous helping of mayonnaise.

Langoustine ©cadwu
Langoustine ©cadwu

Jerusalem Artichokes

So much to tell about this plant! It originates from North America (so nothing to do with Jerusalem), its flowers are beautiful and resemble sunflowers, its tuber contains inuline (hence the sweetness) and the taste does make you think of artichokes. Other names include earth apple, topinambour (such a mysterious name!) and sunroot. Once a popular, cheap, nutritious vegetable, now nearly forgotten.
Most people cook or steam the tuber and turn it into a mash. Works well, especially when you add some excellent olive oil or some crème fraiche. Jerusalem Artichokes only contain a very limited amount of starch, so you could use a blender, but we prefer using a fork and passing it through a sieve because the mash becomes glue easily. A better idea is to quarter the Jerusalem Artichokes and cook them gently in olive oil with nutmeg, onion and garlic. When nearly ready add a glass of white wine and some stock, reduce the liquid and serve as a stew.
Jerusalem Artichokes can be used in many ways, you can eat them raw, use them as a basis for a soup, combine them with other seasonal vegetables in the oven, et cetera. We treated them as potatoes and served them with excellent beef and Brussels sprouts.

Wine Pairing

Your choice of wine is of course much influenced by the way you prepare the tubers and what you serve with them. In our case we suggest a Valpolicella Ripasso: red fruit, cherries, not too much tannins, fresh and zesty. Works very well with the sweetness of the Jerusalem Artichokes and the slightly nutty taste of the Brussels sprouts. Or should we say the slightly nutty taste of the Jerusalem Artichokes and the sweetness of the Brussels sprouts?

What You Need

  • Jerusalem Artichokes
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter

What You do

Wash the tubers and steam them for 20 minutes or so, depending on the size. You could also cook them, but be careful since they overcook easily. Another option is to put them in the oven for an hour or so on 80° Celsius or 175° Fahrenheit (for instance when you are preparing Choucroute). Let cool. Peel and slice the tubers. Warm a non-stick pan, add olive oil and perhaps some butter. Fry the slices gently. Take your time and watch carefully, the fructose in the Jerusalem artichokes burns easily.

Jerusalem Artichokes ©cadwu
Jerusalem Artichokes ©cadwu

Chioggia Beet Salad

An elegant Starter

What better way to start a nice long dinner than a dish that is light, colourful, surprising and refreshing? A Consommé of Yellow Tomatoes for instance? Or Scallops with Winter Truffle? Or would you prefer a salad made with Bietola da orto tonda di Chioggia? Sounds exotic, but actually it’s a salad made with Chioggia beet: a delicious beet with deep pink and white spirals. It originates from Italy or, to be more precise, from the coastal town of Chioggia, not far from Venice. When cooking the beet its colours fade, creating an even more enticing dish.

Another forgotten vegetable that is worth remembering when you do your Christmas shopping.

Wine Pairing

The dressing comes with firm acidity, balanced by the sweetness of the beet and the spring onion. Wine pairing is a not straightforward because of this combination. Our suggestion would be a Sauvignon Blanc. We enjoyed a glass of Domaine La Tour Beaumont Haut-Poitou Sauvignon Blanc 2019. It has clear fruity and citrus notes and it is well balanced with a good combination of freshness and roundness.

What You Need

  • One Chioggia Beet
  • Excellent Olive Oil
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Spring Onion (or Scallion)
  • White Pepper

What You Do

The day before wash the beetroot and wrap in aluminium foil. Leave in the oven on 180° Celsius or 355° Fahrenheit for 60+ minutes. Cool and store in the refrigerator.
The next day peel the beet and use a vegetable slicer (or mandoline) to make ridges. This will not only make the dish look more inviting, it will also enhance the taste given there is more coated surface and more air when chewing it. Make a simply, relatively acidic dressing with olive oil and vinegar. Thinly slice the spring onion; best to use the green part only. Test a small slice of beet with the dressing and adjust when necessary. Perhaps some fresh white pepper? If you’re happy with the combination, toss the slices with the dressing making sure everything is nicely coated. Plate up and sprinkle the sliced spring onion on top of it.

Salad of Chioggia Beet ©cadwu
Salad of Chioggia Beet ©cadwu

Bay Bolete

What’s In A Name?

We are all familiar with the white (button) mushroom, also known as Champignon de Paris. The Chestnut Mushroom is the same mushroom, just with a light brown, chestnut coloured cap. Its taste and texture are more intense compared to the classic white mushroom.
A Chestnut Bolete is a different kind of mushroom. It is small, chestnut coloured when young and beige when older. The German name of the Chestnut Bolete refers to rabbits, the Dutch name to cinnamon and the French name to chestnuts.
The overall colour of a Bay Bolete is brown and its cap is bay. Or is it chestnut? In German and Dutch the name of the Bay Bolete refers to chestnuts. The official name of the Bay Bolete is Imleria badia, but also Boletus Badius because it’s related to Boletus Edulis, also known as cèpes or Porcini.

Let’s talk about flavours and aromas, that’s probably more interesting. Bay Boletes are as tasty as cèpes. The texture is a bit softer and the mushroom itself more moist. It’s actually a very common mushroom in Europe, China, Mexico and North America. Sadly, this very tasty, not expensive bolete is hard to find in shops and on markets. So if you see them, buy them immediately.
Following the recipe for Cèpes à la Bordelaise is a good idea.

Wine Pairing

Enjoy with a glass of medium bodied red wine with aromas like berries and plums, for instance a Beaujolais Côte de Brouilly. It’s such a pity that the appreciation of Beaujolais wine is dominated by the (faded) popularity of Beaujolais Primeur and the idea that Beaujolais is a simple and light wine. It’s not. When you have the opportunity, taste a glass of Régnié, Morgon or one of the other 10 crus of the Beaujolais. Welcome to the divers and exciting world of Beaujolais wines!

What You Need

  • 200 gram of Bay Boletes
  • Shallot
  • Red Meat (Deer in our case)
  • Jerusalem Artichokes
  • Chicken Stock
  • Olive Oil
  • White and Black Pepper
  • Excellent Olive Oil

What You Do

Clean the Jerusalem artichokes and cook them for 10 minutes or so until tender. Mash with a fork or spoon and pass through a sieve. Don’t use a blender, unless you enjoy eating starch. Cool and set aside.
Clean the bay boletes with kitchen paper and slice them (not too thin). Chop the shallot. Add olive oil to a relatively hot heavy iron skillet. Reduce the heat and fry the boletes for 10 minutes. Add the chopped shallot. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir and add fresh black pepper.
In parallel fry the meat very quickly in a hot skillet and let rest for 10 minutes. Warm the purée of Jerusalem artichoke, add fresh a tablespoon of chicken stock, some white pepper and a drizzle of excellent olive oil. Mix with a spoon. Serve on a hot plate.

Pears (Slow Cooked)

No Red Wine, Please

In 1850 the Gieser Wildeman pear was created by Mr. Gieser Wildeman. The pear is hard, full of tannins and its texture is granulated. Not nice at all. However when cooked slowly, the unappealing pear turns into a red and refined pear. Its taste is sweet with a touch of vanilla. A true Gieser Wildeman will become red (through and through) without any problem, provided it’s cooked slowly.
Belle Angevine, Virulam, Black Worcester, Certeau, Sarrasin and Saint Rémy (amongst others) will also do the trick although some will turn light red or pink. And perhaps you will have to add some sugar to enhance the flavour.

If a pear doesn’t turn red, then you need to add port, crème de cassis or red wine. The colour of the outside will be red; the colour of the centre a disappointing white. Some people add cloves, prunes and vanilla to give additional flavour to their pears in red wine. No need for this, just buy the right slow cooking pear.

What You Need

  • Pears
  • One Cinnamon Stick
  • Water

What You Do

Peel the pear and leave the stalks on. Add some water to a heavy pan, add the pears and the cinnamon stick. Allow to cook on low heat for at least 6 hours. We cooked ours for 8 hours. Cool and serve, perhaps the next day, for instance with home-made vanilla ice cream.

Cèpes à la Bordelaise

What’s In A Name?

Porcino, Steinpilz, Eekhoorntjesbrood, Cèpe de Bordeaux, Penny Bun, Seta (de) Calabaza, Herrenpilz: a diverse range of beautiful names referring to one of the tastiest and most common mushrooms (in Europe): the Boletus Edulis.

The French name refers to the city of Bordeaux and is linked to the classic dish Cèpes à la Bordelaise. It brings out the texture and the flavours perfectly. The standard ingredients of the dish are cèpes, (fresh of course, the dried version can’t be compared to the real, fresh mushroom), olive oil, pepper, shallot and parsley. Some people add breadcrumbs (which doesn’t add any flavour so forget about it).

The interesting aspect of the Bordelaise is that the caps and stalks are separated. The caps are cooked for some 15 minutes; the chopped stalks for 5 minutes. This is a really clever approach because the caps become very tasteful and moist, while the chopped stalks add volume and texture. The downside (we think) is that the shape of the mushroom is gone. That’s why we prefer to slice the mushroom vertically in six parts. Two slices of the side of the cap, two centres (stalk with cap) and two slices of stalk (to make the stalk-with-cap slices more even). We chop the last two slices.

Originally Cèpes à la Bordelaise is a starter, but we prefer to combine it, for instance with an omelet as a starter or with beef or fillet of deer as a main course.

Wine Pairing

This very much depends on how you serve your Cèpes à la Bordelaise. If served as a starter we could imagine a glass of Bordeaux (quelle surprise!). In general a full bodied red wine with gently fruit and present tannins will be a great choice.
With our omelet we drank a glass of Bodegas Mocén Selección Especial made from verdejo grapes. This Spanish wine has big aromas, for instance ripe tropical fruit. In the mouth it is fresh, fruity, round and balanced. Not too complex.
With our beef we enjoyed a classic Medoc: Château Moulin de Taffard with aromas and flavours of red fruit. It is well balanced, with rich, smooth tannins.

What You Need

  • For the Cèpes à la Bordelaise
    • 200 gram Cèpes (or 300 gram if you serve it as a starter)
    • Olive Oil
    • One Shallot
    • Parsley
    • Black Pepper
  • For the omelet
    • Two eggs
    • Parmesan Cheese
    • Butter
  • For the Beef
    • 150 gram of excellent Beef (we served Rib Eye)
    • Olive Oil

What You Do (Cèpes à la Bordelaise)

Clean the mushrooms and slice. Chop the remainder of the stalks. Chop the shallot and the parsley. Add olive oil to a relatively hot heavy iron skillet. Reduce the heat and fry the caps and centre slices of the mushrooms for 5 minutes. Turn and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the chopped stalks and the shallot. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir gently, making sure the chopped stalks are nicely coloured. Add chopped parsley, stir and add fresh black pepper. Serve on a warm plate.

What You Do (Omelet)

Whisk the two eggs and add a bit of fresh Parmesan Cheese. Warm a very small heavy iron pan (or a non stick pan if that’s what you prefer) add the mixture and let it set on low heat. This could easily take 10-15 minutes. The omelet must be moist (baveuse) and the bottom may not be colored.
Quarter the omelet and serve with the Cèpes à la Bordelaise.

What You Do (Beef)

Transfer the beef from the refrigerator a few hours (not 30 minutes, that’s too short) before you start cooking. It’s important that the meat is at room temperature. Heat a heavy iron skillet, add olive oil and fry quickly. Let rest. Slice the beef and serve on top of the Cèpes à la Bordelaise.

Tellines with Parsley

At The Beach

Many, far too many years ago we were walking along the Mediterranean coast, enjoying the sea, the sun and the company of a dear friend. She asked us if we would like to eat tellines for dinner. “Yes of course” we replied, “but what are tellines?” She smiled and said “I’ll show you”. She walked to the sea and kneeled down, just where the sand and the sea meet. All you needed to do was move your fingers through the sand, just under the surface and feel. She harvested a few tellines, opened them with her fingers, washed them in the sea and that’s how we enjoyed our very first tellines. Fresh from the sea: simple, tasty and good.
We harvested many more and went back to her house where we cooked the tellines in a hot skillet and enjoyed them with a beautiful local ro­sé.

Harvesting tellines is simple; knowing where you can do this is a challenge. Fortunately you can (occasionally) find them on the market.

It’s possible to use other small clams, but the fun of tellines is that they open quickly when in the pan, making sure they remain juicy. The meat of the tellines is soft and moist and they come with a nutty, savoury flavour.

Wine Pairing

Obviously a glass of Cô­tes de Pro­ven­ce ro­sé will be a great choice, for instance an Estandon from the Var region.

What You Need

  • 300 grams of Tellines
  • one Shallot
  • one Garlic Glove
  • Olive Oil
  • Parsley
  • White Wine
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Wash the tellines, preferably using salted water. Discard ones with a small hole and ones that are broken. Chop the shallot (you probably need half of it) and the garlic very fine. Heat the skillet, add the oil, the shallot, the garlic and the tellines and cook until the tellines are open. You may want to add a splash of white wine during the cooking process. Serve the tellines on a warm plate with black pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
No cutlery needed!

Parasol Mushrooms alla Milanese

A Personal Favourite

The Parasol Mushroom is a fairly common mushroom in many countries. It is very tasty and easy to prepare. It has a beautiful juicy and meaty texture and its flavour is delicate with a touch of lemon. Simply fry the caps alla Milanese or stuff young parasol mushrooms with onion, sage or minced meat.

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. 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). 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 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 parasol mushrooms. Soave, Burgundy, Loire: all good.

What You Need

  • 100 grams of Parasol Mushrooms
  • One Egg
  • Three Slices of Yesterday’s Bread
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Parsley
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

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. Cut the caps in two if the mushroom is young. Make sure your pan is hot, add the oil, the butter and start breading and frying. Add black pepper and finely chopped parsley. Serve immediately on a warm plate.

Roulade of Pheasant with Mushrooms and Steamed White Cabbage

A Challenging Bird

Pheasant is not the simplest bird to prepare. It is too big to take the approach we prefer for partridge and it’s too low in fat to create a Faisan Rôti. The choice is between applying bacon on the outside and stuffing the bird. Both are not among our favourites: the bacon will overwhelm the taste of the pheasant and an old fashioned stuffing with chestnut, sausage meat, butter and onions is simply too much for us: we prefer a light, tasty cuisine. Our approach is to make a small roulade using the breast of pheasant. This is probably the driest part of the bird, but combining the meat with mushrooms will make it tender and moist. The mushrooms and thyme in the roulade support the delicate game-taste of the pheasant, making it into a most enjoyable dish for November and December.
Duxelles is an essential element of a Beef Wellington. We make a variation by using mushrooms, butter and thyme only. We don’t want the mushrooms too finely chopped, see picture, but feel free to give it more of a duxelles texture.
The right internal temperature for pheasant is between 60° and 65° Celsius (between 140° and 150° Fahrenheit). Best is to set your meat thermometer to 60° Celsius and allow the roulade to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. This way the meat will be lovely pink.

Wine Pairing

Both red and white are possible. The wine should not be too powerful, given the delicate taste of the pheasant. If you go for white, then Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc are a good choice. Given the white cabbage with cumin Riesling is also a nice idea. If red, then we would suggest a Beaujolais or a Pinot Noir.

What You Need

  • 2 Fillets of Pheasant
  • For the Duxelles
    • 150 grams of (Chestnut) Button Mushrooms
    • 50 grams of Porcini
    • Thyme
    • Butter
    • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Crème Fraiche
  • Mustard
  • Chicken stock
  • For the Vegetables
    • White cabbage
    • Cumin
    • Excellent Olive oil

What You Do

Clean and chop the mushrooms and add to a warm pan with butter. The idea is to reduce the volume of the mushrooms but not to fry them. This may take 20 minutes. Halfway add the thyme. Take two sheet of foil and put one below a fillet and one on top. The former skin side of the breast should be visible. We use a small bottle to flatten the fillet. This does not require a lot of strength and be careful not to create holes in the meat. You’re looking for doubling the size, so not as thin as the veal for a Wiener Schnitzel or a Scaloppini a la Milanese. Now figure out how to combine the two flattened fillets, making sure you have some overlap. Spread the mushrooms on top, roll it up and create the roulade. Wrap it in foil and transfer to the refrigerator, allowing for the flavours to integrate and the roulade to set.
Heat your oven to 120° Celsius (250° Fahrenheit). Warm a heavy iron pan, add some olive oil and gently colour the roulade. Then transfer to the oven, add some butter and wait until the centre has reached 60° Celsius. When the roulade is ready, wrap it in aluminium foil and let it rest. Make a sauce of the cooking juices, mustard, crème fraiche and perhaps some chicken stock. Steam the cabbage for five minutes, add excellent olive oil and crushed cumin seeds and mix. Add the sauce to a warm plate, slice the roulade and serve with the cabbage.