Beet Greens Pie

Such a cheap and delicious vegetable: beets! Grilled, cooked, braised, combined with other vegetables or on its own, as a salad or straight from the oven. And so many varieties! Deep red, orange (chiogga), purple, golden and even white. All these beets have one thing in common: they come with leafs, with greens. Most retailers (and their customers) are not interested in the greens and therefore the leaves are discarded before the beets reach the shop. Which is a pity because they are as tasty as the beets. Use the greens in a salad, prepare them like you would prepare spinach or, even tastier, use the leaves as main ingredient of a pie.

Tourte de Blette

Some time ago we published the recipe for Tourte de Blette. When preparing it we were inspired by a dear friend who bases her Tourte on the Italian Torta Verde del Ponente Ligure. This is a very similar dish with zucchini, chard, basil, sage, rise, onion, Grana Padano or Parmesan and eggs. The dough of the Torta Verde is easy to work with and the result is both tasty and crunchy. It works really well for our Tourte de Blette so we decided to use it for this pie as well.

Wine Pairing

A not too complex white wine will be a great idea. You could also drink a glass of rosé with it, for instance a Côtes de Provence. Drinking a beer with your pie is also an excellent idea.

What You Need

  • For the Dough
    • 100 gram of Flour
    • 50 gram of Water
    • 10 gram of Olive Oil
    • 1 gram of Salt
  • For the Mixture
    • Greens of 3 or 4 Beets
    • One Shallot
    • Olive Oil
    • 50 grams of Cooked Rice
    • 1 or 2 Eggs
    • 50 gram Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
    • Black Pepper

What You Do

Cook the rice and leave to rest.  Combine flour, salt, water and olive oil. Make the dough, kneed for a minute or so and store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the leaves from the stem and chop the stems. Slice the leaves coarsely. Best is to have the stem slices the size of the cooked rice. Same for the shallot. Warm a large heavy skillet, gently fry the shallot. After 10 minutes add the chopped stems. Leave for 10 minutes and then add the leaves. Cook for a few minutes until done. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
Slice the mixture using a kitchen knife. Whisk the two eggs. Combine the vegetables, the egg, the rice and the freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Add black pepper.
Cut the dough in two, one part slightly bigger than the other. The bigger part will be the bottom, the smaller part the top. Roll out the bigger one with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Coat a 15 cm or 6 inch round baking form with oil (or use a sheet of baking paper). Place the first disk in the baking form, add filling and close with the second disk of dough. Fold the edge of the top piece of dough over and under the edge of the bottom piece of dough, pressing together. Make holes in the top, allowing for the steam to escape. Transfer to the oven for 40 – 50 minutes on 180˚ – 200˚ Celsius or 355˚ – 390˚ Fahrenheit. Immediately after having removed the pie from the oven, brush the top with olive oil. This will intensify the colour of the crust. Let cool and enjoy luke warm.

Mushroom Caponata

There must be hundreds of recipes for Caponata. The dish originates from Sicily and should contain (at least, we think so) eggplant (aubergine), celery and vinegar. Sugar is often added to enhance the sweetness and intensity. Nowadays it’s often a combination with tomatoes, shallot, capers, olives and perhaps raisins, pine nuts, oregano and basil.
The flavour of caponata should be slightly bitter (the eggplant) with a touch of sweetness (sugar, onion), acidity and saltiness (celery). The texture should be moist, but not sauce-like.
We love to enhance the flavours by adding mushrooms. And since we’re not keen on using sugar, we make sure the onions bring sufficient sweetness.

Enjoy your caponata as an appetizer, for instance with some crusted bread or bruschetta. A nice glass of white wine or rosé will be perfect with it. It’s also great as a side dish, with fish or even merguez.

Whatever the combination, caponata must be made one day ahead.

What You Need

  • 1 Aubergine
  • 200 grams of Mushrooms (preferably a mix with Shiitake)
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 cm Red Chilli Pepper
  • Parsley
  • Celery
  • 2 tablespoons of White Wine Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Fine Salt

What You Do

Wash the eggplant and slice. We slice the eggplant lengthwise in 8 and then we slice these strips. Salt them generously, transfer to a sieve and allow to drain for one or two hours. The more liquid they lose, the better! Rinse the eggplant with cold water and dry them with a kitchen cloth. Fry the aubergine in a heavy iron skillet until nicely golden brown. Set aside. Slice the red onion, clean and chop the mushrooms. Chop the garlic and the chilli pepper finely. Add some olive oil to the pan and fry the onion. Remove and set aside. Now fry the mushrooms. After 5 minutes or so add the garlic and the chilli pepper. After a few minutes add the mushrooms and the eggplant to the pan. Add chopped parsley and celery. Mix well. Add two spoons of white wine vinegar and leave on low heat for 10 minutes. Add black pepper to taste. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Keep in the refrigerator for the next day.

Chicken with Almonds and Ginger

Reading (very) old recipes allows you to discover new combinations, techniques and flavors, or better said, discover forgotten combinations, techniques and flavors.

The University of Amsterdam is home to the Special Collections, the material heritage of the University. One of the collections is related to recipes, cookbooks, books on etiquette, nutrition, food et cetera. The oldest cookbook is Eenen seer schoonen ende excelenten Cocboeck, inhoudende alderley wel geexperimenteerde cokagien, van ghebraet, ghesoden, Pasteyen, Taerten, toerten, Vlaeijen, Saussen, Soppen, ende dier-gelijckeOock diversche Confeyturen ende Drancken, etc. by medical doctor Carel Baten (Carolus Battus) and was published in 1593. The book contains some 300 recipes for stews, roasts, poached food, pies, cakes, sauces and soup. It was published as an annex to his Medecijn Boec (medicine book). 

Luilekkerland

In 2018 Onno and Charlotte Kleyn published Luilekkerland (named after the painting by Pieter Bruegel de Oude). It’s a great book on 400 years of cooking in the Netherlands. They must have spent months at the Special Collections going through various cookbooks and manuscripts with recipes. They created ‘a magical mystery tour’ through the kitchens of the past.
In the book they describe one of the recipes of Carolus Battus: een sause op eenen gesoden capoen. Or in English: poached Capon with sauce. 

Capon is very expensive, so like Onno and Charlotte we go for chicken. Our recipe is for 2 chicken thighs, but we could also imagine making a roulade and then serving a slice of chicken roulade with the sauce.
The surprise is in the sauce: the combination of bread, ginger and almonds is tasty and complex. The sauce may appear to be filming and fat, but actually it’s not. The texture of the sauce is interesting as well: the bread will make the sauce a bit porridge-like and the crushed almonds prevent the sauce from being smooth.
Our version is a bit closer to 2022: we’re not the biggest fans of poaching and we don’t see the need for sugar in the sauce.

Wine Pairing

Best is to go for a white wine with a touch of sweetness, for instance a Gewürztraminer. This will combine very well with the somewhat unusual flavors in the dish.  If you go for a glass of red wine, then we would suggest a pinot noir, nice and earthy.

What You Need

  • 2 Organic Chicken Thighs
  • Chicken Stock and Optional
    • Leek
    • Carrot
    • Celeriac
    • Onion
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • 15 grams of White Almonds
  • 1 – 2 cm of Fresh Ginger
  • 100 ml of Dry White Wine
  • Slice of Toasted Bread

What You Do

If your chicken stock needs a boost, then add the vegetables and let simmer for 15 minutes or so. Best is to make your own stock.
In a small skillet heat the butter and olive oil. Fry the chicken until nearly done. In parallel blender the almonds and the toasted bread. Grate the ginger. Add the white wine and the ginger to the mixture and blender. Add some stock and blender for a few seconds. Transfer the mixture to a pan and warm over medium heat. It requires attention, so keep an eye on the sauce and stir every minute or so. The sauce will thicken so you will probably need to add more stock. Transfer the chicken to a warm oven and let rest. Deglaze the pan with some stock and add this liquid to the sauce. Stir well. Now it’s time to taste and adjust. Remember the taste is new, so take your time. Serve the chicken with the sauce. 
We enjoyed the chicken as a main course with some Brussels sprouts, olive oil and nutmeg.

Takes 5

You can’t have enough cookbooks. Some make you think back of a holiday, others are written by chefs you admire, and some are technical or about specific ingredients. There is always room for just one extra cookbook.

Once in a while, when you’re looking for inspiration, you browse through a number of books, look at the pictures, read recipes and you think: ‘far too many ingredients, far too complicated’ for a not very inspired evening.

James Tanner

Fortunately, you remember one very special cookbook: James Tanner Takes 5: Delicious Dishes Using Just 5 Ingredients with over 90 recipes, ranging from Roasted Red Bell Peppers with Anchovies to Scones. Short shopping lists, easy recipes and tasty results: what more can you ask for! Isn’t it great, Chocolate MousseFigs with Honey or Toad-in-the-hole

James Tanner (1976) is a British chef and author. Together with his brother Chris he runs a restaurant in Kent, The Kentish Hare. He appeared as a tv-chef on shows like Ready Steady Cook (remember The Quickie BagGreen Pepper and Red Tomato?).

Favourite

Our personal favourite is a small chicken (preferably a coquelet, a young rooster) with a paste made of red peppers, pure creamed coconut (santan), lime and cilantro. It’s easy to make and the result is very tasty. Serve it with some bok choy in oyster sauce and you have a lovely meal. He enjoys it with a cold beer, we prefer a glass of rosé, for instance Chiaretto di Bardolino DOC made by Monte del Frà from Italy. A pale, pink wine with floral and fruity aromas. Dry with medium acidity, limited tannins and delicate flavours. Excellent with the chicken and the coconut.

Takes 5: Delicious Dishes Using Just 5 Ingredients was published in 2010 and is available (probably second hand) via the well-known channels for something like 20 US dollar or Euro.

Asparagus à la Flamande

One of the classic ways of serving asparagus is à la Flamande (Op Vlaamse wijze) with melted butter, boiled eggs, parsley and nutmeg. The nutmeg is an essential element of the dish. It enhances the flavour of the asparagus, and it’s a bridge between the egg mixture and the asparagus.
There are two main variations: the first one is to serve the asparagus with small potatoes. Not a great idea, unless you’re hungry, because the potatoes soften, weaken the flavour of the asparagus. The dish is about enjoying asparagus, so why would you add potatoes?
The second variation is to add lemon to the butter and egg mixture. This makes the dish a bit lighter and fresher. If you want to do so, be careful with the wine you serve. You need to balance the acidity in the wine and the food.

Wine Pairing

Serve the asparagus à la Flamande with a dry, white wine. We enjoyed a glass of Silvaner produced by the German Winery Thörle. The wine comes with freshness, some acidity, minerality and fruit (pear, green apples). Excellent with our asparagus.

What You Need

  • 4 Asparagus per person
  • 3 Eggs
  • Parsley
  • Butter
  • Nutmeg
  • White Pepper

What You Do

We use our Russel and Hobbs food steamer to prepare this classic dish. An essential kitchen aid for only 50 euro or US dollar. 
Clean and peel the asparagus. Steam them for 10+5+5 minutes. After 10 minutes add the eggs to the steamer basket. After 5 minutes, turn the eggs upside down. Another 5 minutes later the asparagus and the eggs are ready. If you like your asparagus softer, then steam for 12-15 minutes. The eggs should be hard. Depending on the size you may need to steam them a bit longer. In parallel heat a very generous amount of butter. Chop the parsley. Peel the egg and mash with a fork, creating a ‘mimosa’ of egg. Combine mimosa and parsley. Add some white pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Add the mixture to the butter and combine. Spoon the egg mixture on top of the asparagus.

Asparagus a la Flamande ©cadwu
Asparagus a la Flamande ©cadwu

Pasta with Mushrooms and Bell Pepper

Udon is such a wonderful noodle. What better comfort food than a warm soup made with dashi, vegetables, tofu, udon and thinly sliced spring onions? Perhaps some tempura on top of the soup? Or would you prefer a very simple dish, called Mori Udon? The cold udon is served with a sauce of mirin, dashi and soy sauce on the side.
Udon is also a great alternative to Italian pasta, for instance with Caesar’s Mushrooms.

In this recipe we combine udon with roasted bell pepper and Trompettes de la Mort. We’re not sure why, but this combination works really well. Is it because of the smokey aroma of the roasted bell pepper mixed with the aromas of the mushroom? The crispy pancetta in combination with the soft textures of the other ingredients, including the udon? The overall richness and umami thanks to the Trompettes de la Mort?

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our pasta with a glass of Bianco di Custoza, 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. A glass of Soave, made from the Garganega grape, will also be an excellent choice. In general you’re looking for a fresh, aromatic dry white wine. 

What You Need

  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Bunch of Udon
  • 100 grams of Trompettes de la Mort
  • 1 Glove of cooked Garlic
  • 4 slices of Pancetta
  • Black pepper
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Clean the bell pepper and cut in 4. Transfer to the oven and grill or roast for 10 minutes or until well charred. When still hot, put the bell pepper in a plastic container and close it. After one hour it’s easy to remove the skin of the bell pepper. Slice lengthwise to make nice strips. Set aside.
Slice the mushrooms in two and clean them with a soft brush. Check carefully for grit and other things you don’t like to eat.
Fill a large pan with water (no salt!) and bring to a boil. Add the udon and cook it according to the instruction. When nearly done, add some cooking liquid to a cup and set aside. Drain the udon.
In parallel heat a large heavy iron skillet, add olive oil and fry the mushrooms. Once they become a bit dryer, add the sliced bell pepper. Add the cooked garlic, crush it with a fork and mix. Now add the udon and continue mixing. Add cooking liquid until the pasta is sufficiently moist.
Also in parallel: grill the strips of pancetta (perhaps 5 minutes).
Add some black pepper to the pasta and serve with the grilled pancetta.

Pasta with Mushrooms and Bell Pepper ©cadwu
Pasta with Mushrooms and Bell Pepper ©cadwu

Classic White Asparagus

One of the classic ways of serving white asparagus is with melted butter, boiled eggs, ham and parsley. Preparing the asparagus this way, will allow you to taste the slight bitterness and sweetness of the asparagus. The butter and egg bring a velvety feeling to your palate, and the parsley and white pepper give a touch of sharpness to the dish. A great way to celebrate spring!

We use our Russel and Hobbs food steamer to prepare this classic dish. An essential kitchen aid for only 50 euro or US dollar. In this case the steamer cooks the asparagus, boils the eggs and heats the butter. Amazing!

A few years ago we enjoyed white asparagus with béarnaise and a small veal schnitzel accompanied by a glass of Silvaner at Café Heider in Potsdam, Germany. When we ordered we were asked how we would like our asparagus. Al dente, of course! If you like them more cooked, then steam them for an extra 5 minutes. 

Wine Pairing

Preferably serve the white asparagus with a dry Muscat from the Elzas. The delicate, slightly sweet but dry taste, the hint of bitterness and the rich aromas work very well with the asparagus. Muscat to us means the smell of fresh fruit. When drinking it is if you’re tasting the original grape. Wonderful wine and wonderful combination.
Or a glass of Silvaner of course. Just make sure the white wine has a touch of sweetness and is aromatic.

What You Need

  • 3 or 5 white asparagus per person
  • 2 Eggs
  • 100 grams Organic Cooked Ham
  • Parsley
  • Butter
  • White Pepper

What You Do

Clean and peel the asparagus. Steam them for 10+5+5 minutes. After 10 minutes add the eggs to the steamer basket. After 5 minutes, turn the eggs upside down and add a cup with cold butter. Another 5 minutes later everything is ready. The eggs will be medium: the yolk is not set but also not running. Peel the egg and cut in four. Chop the parsley. Serve the asparagus and eggs on a plate. Pour the warm butter over the asparagus. Dress the plate with ham (please make sure it has a bit of fat), perhaps some extra butter and sprinkle the parsley over the plate. Add some white pepper. 

Classic white Asparagus ©cadwu
Classic white Asparagus ©cadwu

Maitake

Legend has it that maitake got its nickname The Dancing Mushroom because foragers danced with happiness when finding it. It still is a much loved culinary mushroom, with a very specific aroma, interesting texture and intense flavours.
Nowadays maitake can be wild or cultivated. Both are fine; we actually prefer the cultivated one because it’s milder. Make sure you cook maitake through and through, otherwise you may upset your stomach (and other parts of your body). 

Maitake combines very well with beef and thyme. It is also great when combined with shrimps, crab, scallops, coriander, dill and parsley; a salad created by Antonio Carluccio and published in 2003 in the Complete Mushroom Book. Our Maitake soup, made with dashi, ginger and rice, is a gentle soup, with some umami and bitterness. 

In this case we combine fried maitake with various other ingredients to create a well-balanced (vegetarian) meal.

Wine Pairing

A flavourful dish! Sweetness in the tomatoes, umami in the maitake, freshness in the mash et cetera. Wine wise you have lots of options. We preferred a not too complex pinot noir, because it’s supportive and combines very well with the various flavours.

What You Need

  • 200 grams of Maitake and Olive Oil
  • Parsley Root, Jerusalem Artichoke, Crème Fraîche, White Pepper and Nutmeg
  • Small Ripe Tomatoes, Thyme, Rosemary, Garlic and Olive Oil
  • Lentils, Shallot, Parsley, Vegetable Stock and Black Pepper
  • Celeriac, Butter, Caraway Seed, Fennel Seed and Black Pepper

What You Do

For the lentils: slice the shallot and gently fry it in olive oil. After a few minutes, add the washed lentils (check for pebbles!), coat them with oil, add vegetable stock and cook until ready. Perhaps 20 minutes. Drain but keep some of the liquid, add chopped parsley and black pepper.
For the tomato confit, see an earlier post.
For the mash: clean and chop 2 parsley roots and 1 Jerusalem artichoke. Cook for 10 minutes or so in water until nearly done. Drain. Add a generous spoonful of crème fraîche and warm on low heat for 10-20 minutes. The idea is for the vegetables to absorb some of the crème fraîche. Blender the mixture, pass through a sieve and serve with white pepper. A touch of freshly grated nutmeg will be great. If you like more color on your plate, then add some chopped parsley to the mash.
The celeriac is cooked in the oven with a coating of fennel and careway seed. The recipe from Dutch chef Yvette van Boven is available via YouTube. She combines it with a home-made citrus marmalade, but that’s not necessary for this dish. Use the YouTube settings if you want to have subtitles in your own language.
Slice the maitake and fry in olive oil until done and slightly crunchy.
Serve on a colourful plate.

Oden

A traditional Japanese dish, often enjoyed in winter. It is tasty, light and full of surprises. Oden is a meal that requires a bit more work (and of course time) then you would expect. It also requires some shopping, given some of the ingredients are not easy to find. We enjoyed our first Oden at the Taishunken restaurant in the famous Sankeien Garden in Yokohama. Loved it!
We are not from Japan so we humbly present our version of this classic. We hope it inspires you to cook Oden and enjoy it as much as we did.

Pairing

A cup of Japanese green tea is the obvious choice.
You could also combine your oden with a glass of Chardonnay (with a touch of oak perhaps), for instance if you serve it for dinner. Oden is rich in flavours, umami of course, but not spicy, so we would not suggest a Gewürztraminer or a Sauvignon Blanc.
A glass of cold, dry sake will also be great.

What You Need

  • For the Dashi
    • 1 litre of Water
    • 20 grams of Dashi Kombu (Rishiri Kombu)
    • 20 grams of Katsuobushi (Bonito Flakes)
  • For the Stew
    • One Daikon
    • One Pack of Konnyaku
    • 1 sheet of Hayani Kombu
    • Chikuwa Fish Cakes
    • One Pack of Gobo Maki Burdockroot Fish Cakes
    • 2 boiled eggs
    • Abura Age Fried Tofu
    • Mochi (Sticky Rice Cake)
    • Soy Sauce (preferably one with less salt)
    • Mirin
  • Karashi
  • Rice with ginger

What You Do

First step is to peel the daikon and slice it (2 centimeters is best). Now use a sharp knife to plane of the edge of the daikon. This improves the presentation, and it is supposed to stop the daikon from falling apart. Cook the daikon for one hour in water. Drain and set aside.
In parallel: cut the konnyaku in triangles and cook these in water for 15 minutes. Konnyaku is made from the konjac plant and is specific for the Japanese cuisine.
Also in parallel: cook the sheet of Hayani Kombu for 5 minutes. This is young kombu and edible, different for the one you use when preparing dashi. Let cool a bit, slice and knot ribbons. Not sure why but is looks great when you serve it. (Yes, well spotted, it’s not in the picture; unfortunately, we couldn’t find Hayani when we prepared our oden.)
Make 1 litre of dashi. This seems simple but requires precision. Clean the kombu with a wet cloth and put into one litre of cold water. Gently raise the temperature to 80 °C or 175 °F. Remove and discard the kombu. Bring the liquid to a boil, add the katsuobushi, bring to a boil and immediately set heat to zero. Wait 5 minutes or so. The katsuobushi will sink to the bottom of the pan. Now very gently pass the liquid through a wet towel or a sieve. Do not squeeze, just give it time. The result will be a great, clean dashi.

Now it’s time to add the dashi to the pan (should be a clay pot, but we stick to our Le Creuset), add one tablespoon of mirin, one (or two, depending on your taste) of light soy sauce, add the daikon, the konnyaku, the chikuwa fish cakes and the gobo maki burdockroot fish cakes.
Allow to simmer for at least 2 hours. 30 minutes before serving add boiled eggs, two Hayani ribbons, fried tofu and mochi. The last two ingredients must be combined by putting the mochi into the tofu.
Serve with karashi (Japanese mustard, which is different from wasabi by the way) on the side.

  • Oden ©cadwu
  • Oden with names of Ingredients ©cadwu

Confit of Duck: a home made alternative

The traditional way of making Confit of Duck is not complex. It’s a bit time consuming and it requires some planning, that’s all. The principle is to cure the meat in salt with various herbs (thyme, cumin, rosemary) and garlic. After 24 hours or so the duck is washed with water, patted dry and then slow cooked in goose or duck fat for several hours. When ready cool and store in fat.

We take a different approach by slow cooking the duck legs in olive oil. The result is remarkable: juicy, full of flavours and aromas, provided you use first class duck (label rouge for instance). If not, the meat can become dry and tough. Another benefit: we don’t cure the meat so it’s not salty at all.
We serve the confit with celeriac mash. It’s light, nutty and refreshing compared to a mash made with potatoes.

Wine Pairing

Best choice is a full bodied, red wine with ripe fruit and smoothness. We decided to open a bottle of Herdade de São Miguel Colheita Seleccionada 2020 as produced by Casa Relvas. Such a pleasure! Its colour is deep ruby and the aromas made us think of ripe black fruit and dark cherries with some spiciness. The wine is well balanced with a nice structure and smooth tannins. Works very well with the juicy duck and the mash with its creamy texture and lemonish, celery flavours.

What You Need

  • For the Confit
    • 2 Duck Legs
    • Juniper berries
    • 4 Bay Leaves
    • Olive Oil
    • (optional) Garlic
  • For the Celeriac Mash
    • 1 Celeriac
    • Slice of Lemon
    • Cream
    • White Pepper
    • Nutmeg

Confit

Take a sheet of aluminium foil and place the leg in the middle. Add lightly crushed juniper berries and two bay leaves. Perhaps some crushed garlic. Add a generous amount of olive oil and make sure everything is covered. Wrap foil around the duck. Take a second sheet of foil and wrap it around the package, making sure it’s closed. Repeat with the second leg. Transfer both packages to an oven at 120 °C or 240 °F. After one hour reduce the heat to 100 °C or 210 °F. After in total 4 to 5 hours, depending on the size of the legs, remove the legs from the oven, open the package and let cool. Then transfer to the refrigerator for use later on.

Heat the oven to 200 °C or 390 °F. Put the legs in an iron skillet, transfer to the oven and 15-20 minutes later the legs are ready. If the skin is not yet crispy, use the grill for 2 or 3 minutes.
Another idea is to pull the meat and use it to top a salad.

Mash

The Celeriac Mash: clean and dice the celeriac. Cook in minimum water with a nice slice of lemon until nearly done. Remove the lemon and drain. Add cream. Put on low heat for a few minutes; the celeriac should absorb the cream. When the celeriac is done, use a blender to create the puree. Pass through a sieve. Perhaps add extra lemon or cream. Just before serving add white pepper. Serve with freshly grated nutmeg.