Raspberry Vinegar

Many years ago, we had the pleasure of being regular guests at the Auberge des Seigneurs in Vence, France. In those days the restaurant offered a wide range of beautiful dishes from the days of King François I, such as blue trout, roasted chicken, quail with Pruneaux d’Agen and tender lamb cooked on a spit before an open fire in the dining room.
Ah, Madame Rodi, we treasure these evenings, the beautiful food, the local wine, your dog (known to regular guests as monsieur Tim) and your infinite hospitality. We also remember your wonderful Coca Cola Light, which you would serve after dinner. It came in a huge Biot bottle and to the surprise, astonishment, shock of most of your new guests it was everything but light. It was a strong grappa with Boutons de Fleur d’Oranger (orange blossom buds). We can still see the broad smile on your face when yet another guest would take too big a sip of your powerful concoction.

Adding fruit can be a disastrous idea (just think about strawberry tea or sole Picasso) but the touch of acidity of raspberries makes them ideal to combine with vinegar. We follow Madame Rodi’s approach when making raspberry vinegar: simply combine the two and enjoy.

Use the raspberry vinegar wisely, for instance combine it with strong flavours, preferably umami. We use it in our favourite autumn salad with Porcini and Smoked Duck. The colour, the aromas, the taste: the vinegar and the raspberries integrate perfectly.

What You Need

  • 250 grams of Excellent Organic Raspberries
  • 250 ml White Vinegar

What You Do

Clean the raspberries, crush them with a fork and combine with the vinegar. Put in a jar and transfer to the refrigerator for one week, making sure to stir at least once a day.
Pass the mixture through a sieve, applying light pressure only. Pass the vinegar through a white cloth, squeeze very gentle. The result is probably a bit cloudy, so leave for a few days before using.

Duck with Figs

Preparing Duck is always a pleasure, whether with Green Pepper Corn, with Sichuan, with Mirin and Soy Sauce or as Canard A l’Orange: the result is always tasty and your guests will be happy.
Today we combine duck with figs. Not the most obvious combination because the figs are relatively dry and perhaps not as sweet as the combination requires. We clearly need a bridge between the meat and the fruit. The first idea was to use port, perhaps with some veal or chicken stock. Great idea because of the sweetness and light acidity of the port, but perhaps a bit too much for the figs. Aceto Balsamico comes with acidity and sweetness, so we decided to use it as the base of the sauce, in combination with some stock. While preparing it we noticed that it needed more sweetness, so what to do? Sugar, honey? But couldn’t we add something that would bring sweetness, fruitiness and even tartness? Of course! Good old Cointreau, great idea!

Aceto Balsamico

We probably need to say a few words about Aceto Balsamico. You may think it’s overrated and overpriced, this sweet, sugary, dark and mild vinegar. But if you taste original Aceto Balsamico, the one made from grape must and aged for many (25!) years in wooden barrels, then you will be surprised by the intense, concentrated flavour and the dark colour. Always look for I.G.P. (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) or D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta). If this is not mentioned on the bottle, don’t buy it.

Wine Pairing

A red, medium bodied wine will be a great accompaniment of your Breast of Duck with Figs. In general you’re looking for a red wine with aromas of berries, floral notes and delicate wood. The tannins should be soft or well-integrated. We enjoyed a glass of Pinot Noir from La Cour Des Dames

What You Need

  • Breast of Duck (preferably organic)
  • Lots of Thyme
  • 3 Figs
  • Stock (Chicken or Veal)
  • Aceto Balsamico
  • Cointreau
  • Butter
  • Black Pepper
  • Fresh Green Peas

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 in a hot, non-stick skillet for 10-12 minutes on the skin side, straight from the refrigerator. 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 is such a way that the crispy skin is not covered. The foil should only cover meat. This way the skin remains crispy.
Wash the figs and cut in half. Remove some of the fat and fry the figs until lightly caramelised. When ready, remove from the pan, transfer to a plate and keep warm in the oven. Add stock, thyme, Aceto Balsamico and Cointreau. Probably two spoons of Aceto Balsamico and three spoons of Cointreau. Taste and adjust. You may want to add some butter to push the flavours and create a lovely velvety mouthfeel. Add duck’s liquid. Reduce the heat, add black pepper, taste, adjust, add the figs, coat them with the sauce and plate up. We served the duck with fresh green peas because they have this lovely light sweet flavour that combines very well with the other ingredients.

  • Breast of Duck with Figs ©cadwu
  • Fresh Figs ©cadwu

Tomato Confit

A few years ago it was the obvious garnish to nearly every dish: oven roasted cherry tomatoes, preferably on the vine. It looks and tastes nice plus it is easy to make. Just heat your oven to 180 °C or 350 °F, add the tomatoes to a baking dish, sprinkle with salt, olive oil and 30 minutes later they’re ready to serve. When cold you can add them to a salad or a sandwich with soft cheese (mozzarella, burrata, ricotta). An alternative is to halve the tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and quickly roast and dry them in the oven. Another tasty result.

We prefer a slow alternative: Tomato Confit. The idea is that the skin doesn’t crack, so the tomatoes remain intact, and at the same time they absorb the flavours of the oil, herbs and garlic. The result is not just a great sweet and juicy tomato, it’s a taste explosion!

We use Tomato Confit to brighten up a simple pasta or salad, or a more complex dish like Lobster Mushroom with Udon.

What You Need

  • Excellent Cherry Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • 2 Garlic Gloves

What You Do

Wash and dry the tomatoes and add these to a baking dish. Chop the garlic. Add herbs, garlic and a generous amount of olive oil to the dish. No salt, honey or sugar required. Put in the oven for something like 2 hours on 90 °C or 200 °F. You could baste the tomatoes once or twice. Don’t forget to use the cooking liquid as well, it’s another pack of flavours!

  • Tomato Confit ©cadwu
  • Fresh Tomatoes ©cadwu

Cod and Horn of Plenty

The magic of a great combination: only two ingredients supported by butter, olive oil and white pepper. It made us think of James Tanner’s inspiring Take 5 Ingredients. Sometimes you need various cooking techniques and lots of ingredients. Sometimes the combination of only 5 ingredients is all you need to make a perfect dish.

Why perfect? Both the fish and the mushroom are clearly present and nicely balanced. As if the combination brings out the best of both. The butter supports the richness of the fish and the aromas are delicate. The texture of the cod is soft and a touch flaky; the Trompettes de la Mort have a more fibrous and chewy texture. Excellent mouthfeel!

Wine Pairing

You’re looking for a wine that has minerality, a touch of oak and has sufficient body and length, for instance a Chardonnay.
We enjoyed our Cod and Horn of Plenty with a glass of Chablis, Antonin Rodet, Premier Cru, Montmains. It has a clear and pale gold colour. It comes with mineral notes and a touch of lemon. The taste is delicate and persistent with aromas of fresh citrus. It goes very well with the ‘long’ taste of the dish and the citrus is ideal with the cod and butter.

What You Need

  • 150 grams of Cod
  • 100 grams of Horn of Plenty
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • White Pepper

What You Do

Make sure the mushrooms are fresh and dry. They become soggy and smelly easily. Clean the mushrooms thoroughly with a piece of kitchen paper. This can be time consuming. You may want to cut the cod in two. Fry the cod in olive oil with some butter in a non-stick pan. In a second pan fry the mushrooms in olive oil. This may take 5 minutes or so. Transfer the mushrooms from the pan to a warm plate with kitchen paper. When the cod is ready, serve immediately on a warm plate with some white pepper and sprinkle the mushrooms on top.

  • Cod and Horn of Plenty ©cadwu
  • Horn of Plenty ©cadwu

Guineafowl with Ras el Hanout

Preparing guineafowl can be a bit of a challenge: easily overcooked and quickly dry. Guineafowl has more structure and less fat compared to chicken plus it’s much firmer. The good news is that guineafowl has lots of flavour, perhaps a bit gamey, but not overpowering. So great to combine with nice ingredients such as morels or with grappa, junipers, sage, white wine and pancetta (as included in The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook, written by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers).

Ras el Hanout is a mix of some twenty plus spices such as coriander, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, fenugreek, fennel, cardamom, turmeric and many more. Ras el Hanout is complex, layered, warm, a touch sweet and bitter. It works beautifully with the guineafowl and the various vegetables. 

Wine Pairing

Enjoy your guineafowl with a not too complex, medium bodied, fruity red wine. Grapes such as Grenache, Carménère, Carignan. We enjoyed a glass of Merlot, produced by Les Ormes de Cambras from the French Pays d’Oc region. A round, fruity wine with aromas of berries and subtle tannins. Also available as Bag in Box!

What You Need

  • Guineafowl
    • Guineafowl (Supreme preferred, but Leg is also fine)
    • Teaspoon of Ras el Hanout
    • 2 Garlic Gloves
    • Olive Oil
    • White Onion or Shallot
  • Vegetables
    • 1 Sweet Potato
    • 1 Carrot
    • Cinnamon
    • Olive oil
    • Teaspoon of Soy Sauce
  • Ratatouille

What You Do

Crush the two garlic gloves and mix with some olive oil and ras el hanout. Rub the meat with the mixture and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 ˚C or 355 ˚F. Add the two legs of guineafowl to a shallow dish with generous olive oil and chopped onion. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn the legs upside down and cook for another 10 minutes. Turn them a second time, skin up, for 10 more minutes. If you want a bit more colour, then set the oven to 200 ˚C or 390 ˚F.
In parallel peel the potato and the carrot. Dice and slice. Cook separately (the carrot needs more time) until tender but firm. Combine the vegetables, add olive oil, a teaspoon of grated cinnamon and a teaspoon of soy sauce. Mix well, making sure the vegetables are nicely coated. Leave on very low heat for 10 minutes. This will help integrate the flavours. (You wonder why we add soy sauce? Its umami will bring the flavours of the potato and the carrot together plus the saltiness will give the dish the required push. And because it’s one teaspoon only, you will not be able to recognise it).
The ratatouille is optional. Make it the day before, with relatively small slices and cubes of vegetables, add some tomato puree, making it nearly paste like.

Guineafowl with Ras el Hanout ©cadwu
Guineafowl with Ras el Hanout ©cadwu

Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic and Anchovies

A powerful and uplifting combination, one that works very well on a summer’s evening, eating al fresco. Using anchovies is not a semi-modern twist (the Surf and Turf cliché), it’s a way of adding flavor and salt to the dish. It made us think of the Roman Garum or Liquamen, a sauce made with fish and salt. The recipe for Garum is simple: just combine fish, lots of salt and leave to ferment for a couple of weeks, until you have a clear liquid. This fish sauce (but it doesn’t taste like fish) will bring umami and depth to the dish. In this case the anchovies will have a similar effect. During the cooking process they will practically dissolve and what is remains is flavor.
We enjoyed our lamb with Ratatouille. Make sure you prepare it one day ahead.

Wine Pairing

This combination requires a red wine that will not be blown away. We enjoyed a glass from the Corbières region in France, produced by Château Coulon and made from Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan and Grenache grapes. Flavors such as cassis, black fruit with a hint of pepper. The wine is dark red, with a liquoricey edge, a touch of smokiness, firm but supple tannins and a minerally character.

What You Need

  • For the Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic and Anchovies
    • 400 gram Leg of Lamb
    • 1 Rosemary Sprig
    • 4 Garlic Gloves
    • 2 Anchovies
    • Olive Oil
  • For the Ratatouille
    • 1 Red Bell Pepper
    • 1 Red Pepper
    • 1 Courgette
    • 1 Aubergine
    • 4 Excellent Tomatoes
    • Thyme
    • Cilantro
    • Olive oil

What You Do

The day before prepare the Ratatouille.
Make 4 slices in the meat, preferably in the fatty part. Remove the needles from the rosemary and chop very fine (using a herb chopper). Peel the gloves and press them. In your mortar, mix the garlic and chopped rosemary with some olive oil, creating a paste. Cut the anchovies in 4. Add paste and anchovies to slices. Cover with foil and leave to rest for at least 12 hours. Remember to remove it from the refrigerator one hour before cooking.

Heat the oven to 235 °C or 455 °F. Transfer the meat to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until it has the right colour. Open the oven, allow to cool and set the oven to a low temperature. You could go for 80 °C or 175 °F. We set it to 140 °C or 285 °F. Remove from the oven when the internal (core) temperature is 60 °C or 140 °F. Cover with foil (not tight) and allow to rest for 10 minutes. In parallel warm the ratatouille. Slice the meat at a right angle to the direction of the stuffed slices, mix the ratatouille with lots of fresh cilantro and serve on a warm plate.

Time To Replace Your Non-Stick Pan

We all know that every few years we need to replace our non-stick pans. The surface has become less smooth, there are small scratches in the coating and it has become semi non-stick. Time to buy a new pan.
Perhaps you wonder what happened to your pan? Well, the truth is that not only have you eaten lovely fried food, you have also eaten bits of your pan.

Which is not great, because the coating contains PFAS. This substance may have very harmful effects, to your health and to the environment.

The abbreviation PFAS stands for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances. These (artificial) substances don’t decompose, and once present they will not disappear and continue to be harmful.

Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden announced the intention to submit a restriction proposal for PFAS to the European Chemicals Agency by July 2022. A restriction proposal is a first step towards a European ban on PFAS.

Great news for your health and the environment, but how about your beloved non-stick pan?

Fortunately, we have found an excellent alternative. The ceramic non-stick Prime-cook pans are 100% free of PFAS, PTFE, PFOA, GenX and nickel plus they are suitable for all cooking hobs. And given they last longer, it’s a sound investment.
Having tested it, we are convinced this is the future of healthy non-stick frying.

Bring your non-stick pan to the hazardous chemical waste disposal and buy a Prime-cook pan!

non-stick pan Prime-Cook ©cadwu
non-stick pan Prime-Cook ©cadwu

Horn of Plenty with Cumin and Pork Fillet

The name Horn of Plenty refers to the shape (very much like a funnel without a stem) of the mushroom and to the mythical goat Amaltheia, whose horn would be filled with everything you whished for. It’s also called Black Chantarelle, which is very appropriate because it’s a chantarelle and truly black when cooked. The more morbid name is Trompette de la Mort, as if the buried use the mushrooms to play the Marche Funèbre.

More importantly to us: they are very edible with a pleasant fibrous and chewy texture. The only downside is that they quickly become soggy and smelly, so make sure you buy (or harvest) dry ones and use them the same day or the next.

For some reason Horn of Plenty simply loves cumin. We also added coriander and fennel seed to give some additional lightness and freshness to the combination.
And as always, only use the very best organic pork.

Wine Pairing

A medium bodied, not too complex, red wine will be perfect. Think Merlot, Tempranillo, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Carménère.

What You Need

  • 150 grams Horn of Plenty
  • One Red Onion
  • Cumin, Coriander and Fennel (seeds)
  • Black pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Pork Fillet

What You Do

Clean the mushrooms thoroughly. This can be time consuming. Slice the pork fillet to create 6 medallions. Heat a heavy iron skillet and fry the medallions in olive oil until just underdone. Wrap in aluminium foil and leave to rest. Slice the red onion, add some olive oil to the pan and fry the onion. Grind cumin, coriander and fennel seeds and fry the spices. Lower the heat, perhaps add some more olive oil and fry the mushrooms for 5-10 minutes. Taste, adjust and add some black pepper. Add the juices from the pork to the pan, deglaze and serve.

  • Horn of Plenty with Cumin and Pork Fillet ©cadwu
  • Horn of Plenty ©cadwu

Lentils with Sausage and Beetroot

Think France, think a nice small bistro in a small street, off centre, nothing posh, no Michelin star in sight. It’s 12.30, time for a quick lunch. You enter the restaurant, take a seat and order today’s dish, the plat du jour. It turns out to be a generous helping of lentils, fried sausages, mashed potatoes and mustard. A beer works beautifully with it. After having enjoyed your lunch, you think about the joy of good food, French mustard and the beauty of lentils. Time for a coffee. And perhaps a glass of Calvados?

In our recipe for Cod with Lentils and Cilantro we mentioned the joy of lentils, especially the joy of eating Lentille Verte du Puy A.O.P & A.O.C. from Sabarot.

We’re not too keen on mashed potatoes so we decided to combine the lentils and sausage with a beetroot salad.

Sausage wise we suggest coarsely ground (so not minced) organic porc sausages with sage, for instance Lincolnshire sausages. The texture of the sausages is great in combination with the size of the lentils. 

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our lentils with a glass of red Pays d’Oc wine, with grapes such as Grenache and Syrah. The Syrah brings an intense colour, aromatic strength and structure. The Grenache reveals red berry flavours. For instance wine from Domaine La Colombette. This producer is well known for its innovative light wines and its Super Bio wines, made with grapes (Cabernet Noir, Souvignier Gris) that have a natural resistance to various diseases, meaning that no pesticides are needed in the vineyard.

What You Need

  • For the Lentils
    • Shallot
    • Olive Oil
    • Green or Du Puy Lentils
    • Parsley
  • For the Sausages
    • 2 or 4 Sausages (organic pork with sage, coarsely ground)
    • Olive Oil
  • For the Salad
    • Beetroot
    • Spring Onion
    • Vinegar (plain and white wine)
  • French Mustard

What You Do

One day before serving, wash the beetroot, wrap in foil and put in the oven on 180° Celsius or 365° Fahrenheit for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size. Transfer, remove foil and let cool.
Cut the shallot in small bits and glaze gently in olive oil. In the mean time check the lentils for small pebbles; wash the lentils. Once the shallot is glazed, add the lentils and heat them for a few minutes, as you would do with risotto rice. Add some chicken stock and water (the stock is only intended to give the lentils a small push) and leave to simmer on low heat. Fry the sausages in olive oil in a heavy iron skillet. Remove the skin of the beetroot, slice the beetroot and combine with thinly sliced spring onion and vinegar. Mix. Drain the lentils, chop the parsley and add to the lentils.
Serve the sausage on top of the lentils. Definitely a good dash of French mustard on the side!

  • Lentils with Sausage and Beetroot ©cadwu
  • Du Puy Lentils AOP AOC © cadwu

Field Peas with Summer Savory

Seasonal products, we simply love them! Fresh field peas are available for a few weeks in June and July only. They are easy to recognise by their purple pod. An old and forgotten vegetable, perhaps because the (older) peas tend to be starchy and not very tasteful.
Young field peas, however, are sweet and moist with a good texture. Combining them with summer savory is a great idea, but if you want to give your field peas a more modern twist, then replace the savory with fresh oregano.
Field peas, different from fresh green peas, require some fat or oil. The combination with for instance crispy fried pork belly works really well. Simple, a bit old fashioned and delicious.

Wine Pairing

We combined our field peas with pork fillet. The dish is robust, so we decided to drink a red wine from the Dão region in Portugal, to be more precise we enjoyed a glass of Prunus as produced by Gotawine. One of our favourites! It has lots of dark fruit (plums, blackberries, cherries), it is lightly oaked and its taste is fruity, long and well balanced. Grapes include Jaen (also known as Menci), Tempranillo and Touriga Nacional. In general you’re looking for a medium bodied, not too complex, yet elegant red wine.

What You Need

  • Fresh Field Peas
  • Sprigs of Summer Savory
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Shell the peas and steam them for 4 minutes maximum. Let cool and set aside. Heat a small skillet, add olive oil, reduce heat and very gently fry the peas. Add some finely chopped summer savory. Mix. Just before serving add the remaining chopped savory, mix and serve.

If you combine the field peas with pork fillet, then use excellent organic fillet only. Fry the fillet in a heavy iron skillet until nearly done. Wrap in foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Add the meat juices to the pan, add some mustard and (vegetable, veal or chicken) stock. Reduce. Add some cold water to help the emulsification. Slice the fillet. It should be a touch pink. Serve with some black pepper and the jus.

  • Field Peas with Summer Savory ©cadwu
  • Fresh Field Peas ©cadwu
  • Prunus Label ©cadwu