Mashua

This edible, very productive plant (Tropaeolum Tuberosum ) is originally from the Andes. It grows very well in colder climates, it’s not very demanding and comes back year after year thanks to its tubers. Other names include Capucine TubéreuseKnollige Kapuzinerkresse en Knolcapucien.
We saw Mashua Tubers in our local bio supermarket and we bought them, without having a clue how to prepare the tubers.

The leaves are supposed to taste like Indian Cress (same family) and the deep orange-red trumpet flowers will do very well in a salad. The leaves can also be turned into pesto or prepared like spinach. The tubers (vibrant yellow with an intriguing purple pattern) are often used in stews and soups. They can be eaten raw in a salad, grated or thinly sliced. Not our favourite. The taste is radish like, but sharper and not very elegant.
The taste and the texture of the cooked mashua tubers took us by surprise: delicate cocoa but not sweet, moist and with a pleasant structure thanks to the peel.

We combined our Mashua with chicken and shiitake, a combination that worked very well, although we must admit we were a bit overwhelmed by the Mashua!

Wine Pairing

A medium bodied, fruity, non-oaked red wine will go very well with the Mashua. A glass of Merlot perhaps?

What You Need

  • For the Mashua
    • 5 Mashua Tubers
    • Cumin
    • Shallot
    • Olive Oil
  • For the Chicken
    • 2 Organic Chicken Thighs
    • 50 grams of Shiitake
    • Olive Oil
    • Black Pepper

What You Do

Wash the mashua (don’t peel them) and cook for 5 minutes. Let cool. Slice the tubers lengthwise in two. Dry with kitchen paper. Peel the shallot, quarter and slice. Warm a small skillet. Add a generous amount of olive oil to the pan, glaze the shallot for a few minutes, add cumin (crushed seeds preferred) and then add the halved mashua. Leave for 30+ minutes until just a bit soft. Turn them occasionally to coat the roots with the flavours of the oil, the shallot and the cumin. No need to colour them. Add some extra cumin 5 minutes before serving.
In parallel, fry the chicken thighs and transfer to the oven (60 °C or 140 °F). Clean and slice the shiitake, add to the pan and fry. Add the chicken, allow to integrate. Add black pepper to taste.

  • Mashua ©cadwu
  • Mashua Cooked ©cadwu

Deviled Eggs with a Twist

Easy to make, tasty, and most people love them. You only need a few simple ingredients such as hard boiled (organic) eggs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, vinegar (or lemon juice) and black pepper. Sprinkle some paprika on top and they’re ready.

Alas, we’re not huge fans of paprika. Why would you ruin lovely ingredients like egg, mayonnaise and mustard by adding a spice that is at best a touch sweet and in most cases bland?

Paprika (powder) is made from dried red peppers and probably originates from Mexico. When it was brought to Europe, local versions were created, for instance a hot Hungarian version (essential when making goulash) and a smoked Spanish version (pimentón, key ingredient of chorizo and paella). Local peppers were used, including red bell pepper, and the flavours ranged from mild and sweet to hot. By the way, the term ‘deviled’ refers to the spiciness of the dish.
Unfortunately, nowadays factory produced paprika seems to be used for its red colour only.

We combine a bit of everything by adding roasted bell pepper. It adds depths, smokiness, complexity and flavour.

What You Need

  • 6 organic Eggs
  • Mayonnaise
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Lemon Juice
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Black Pepper
  • Parsley (optional)

What You Do

Grill the bell pepper in your oven until nicely burned, perhaps 10 minutes. Transfer to a plastic container and close the lid. Wait a few hours before peeling the bell pepper. Use a sharp knife to mash the bell pepper. It’s fine if the mash has a bit of structure.
Boil the eggs and let cool. Slice the eggs lengthwise, remove the yolk. Use a fork to crumble the yolks (mimosa) and then combine with mayonnaise, mustard and mashed bell pepper. Add lemon juice and black pepper to taste. Remember the stuffing should be ‘devilish’. Add mixture to the egg whites. Decorating with parsley gives an extra twist to the deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs ©cadwu
Deviled Eggs ©cadwu

Crostini

You don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen when serving drinks and you want to enjoy a warm appetizer (snack, finger food, quick nibble)? What to do? Of course: serve crostini! You can prepare them in advance and the only thing you need to do is put them under the grill for 3-5 minutes. A nice crunchy appetizer with a rich taste and intense aroma.

We use taleggio, a semi-soft cheese from Italy with a mild taste. It melts easily, so you need to keep an eye on your oven! If you can’t get hold of taleggio, then use mozzarella instead and add a bit more flavour to the mushroom topping.

What You Need

  • For the Mushroom Topping
    • Button Mushrooms and Shiitake
    • Garlic Cloves
    • Olive Oil
    • Thyme and Rosemary
    • Black Pepper
    • (Excellent) Olive Oil
  • For the Crostini
    • Old, stale Bread (Baguette preferred)
    • Garlic (optional)
    • Excellent Olive Oil
  • Taleggio

What You Do

One day before serving the crostini: clean and chop the mushrooms. Finely chop the rosemary, the thyme and the garlic. Fry the mushroom in olive oil in a heavy iron skillet. Reduce heat, add herbs and garlic. Continue on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mix to a plate and let cool. Transfer to a kitchen aid and on low speed add some olive oil. Taste and add some black pepper. You’re looking for a coarsely chopped mixture, one that you can easily distribute over the crostini. Store in the refrigerator.

Also one day before serving the crostini: slice the bread and toast it. Halve a garlic clove, very gently rub the top of the toasted bread with the garlic and then brush with olive oil. An alternative is to preheat your oven to 180 °C or 350 °F, brush both sides with olive oil and bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Perhaps you need to turn the slices over once. Store in a plastic container.

A few hours before serving the crostini: slice the taleggio (with crust!), top the bread with the mushroom mixture and then with a slice of cheese.

Set your oven to grill, transfer the crostini to the top of your oven, wait for a few minutes and serve immediately.

Crostini with Mushrooms and Taleggio ©cadwu
Crostini with Mushrooms and Taleggio ©cadwu

Salad of Small Artichokes

The season of artichokes varies depending on the variety and where you are based. In Italy it’s from mid-winter until early spring, in other countries from March to June, or September and October. And in other countries they peak in August. Best is to decide based on quality and price. An artichoke should feel heavy, look fresh and the leaves should be closed. If the leaves are wide open, the artichoke is older and it could be dry with lots of choke (the hairs) and dry inner leaves.

Don’t cook artichokes in boiling water. They must cook for 45+ minutes and during the long cooking process they will lose most of their flavour. Best is to steam artichokes.

Serve large artichokes as a relaxing starter or use them to make Artichoke Barigoule or a Pie. We use smaller ones to make a salad.  You can serve it to accompany an aperitif, or with some bread as a starter. Make sure you have plenty of dressing!

Wine Pairing

It’s not straightforward to pair artichokes with wine. According to various researchers this is due to cynarin, a chemical especially found in the leaves of the artichoke. When the wine and the cynarin meet in your mouth, the natural sweetness of the wine is enhanced, making it taste too sweet. So you have to pair freshly cooked or steamed artichokes with a bone-dry, crisp, unoaked white wine with clear, present acidity. For instance, Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner or Albariño.
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 Salad of Artichokes beautifully.

What You Need

  • 6 small Artichokes
  • Olive Oil
  • Vinegar
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard
  • Garlic
  • Thyme
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Remove the stem of the artichokes and steam the artichokes for 45 – 60 minutes, depending on the size. Remove and let cool. Peel of the first layers of the outer leaves. Make the dressing by turning the mustard and the crushed garlic into a smooth paste. Then gently add the other ingredients and whisk well to make it really smooth, thick dressing. Cut the artichokes in 6 or 8 parts. Add to the dressing, mix well, coating all artichokes. Sprinkle lots of thyme and mix again. Put in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Mix again, taste, add some more thyme and serve!

Mackerel Paté

A late afternoon, you’re in a rush, on your way to the supermarket, something to eat for dinner plus something to enjoy with crackers and a glass of white wine. That’s the moment to be tempted to buy ready-made tapenade, guacamole or fish paté. It’s easier, much quicker and you don’t need to worry about ingredients and recipes. Very true. On the other hand, we also know that most of these ready-made products contain far too much salt plus additives you simply don’t want to eat.

Making your own guacamole is simple, making your own mackerel paté is even simpler.

What You Need

  • 1 Smoked Mackerel Fillet
  • Greek Yoghurt
  • Mayonnaise
  • 5 Cornichons
  • Black Pepper
  • Lemon Juice

What You Do

If you use the brown fat of the mackerel, then your paté will be a touch bitter and you’ll still taste mackerel hours after you’ve eaten it. Therefore, we remove the brown fat and disgard it. Use a fork to divide the fillet in smaller chunks, remove any bones left. Add to a bowl. Thinly slice the cornichons. Add cornichons, a splash of lemon juice, black pepper, one small tablespoon of yoghurt and two small tablespoons of mayonnaise and mix, using a fork. Taste and adjust. Use cling foil to seal the bowl, transfer to the refrigerator and let cool. Serve with thinly sliced bread or crackers.

Mackarel Paté ©cadwu
Mackarel Paté ©cadwu

Guacamole

It’s very tempting to buy ready-made tapenade, guacamole, mayonnaise or fish paté. It’s easier, much quicker and you don’t need to worry about ingredients and recipes. Very true. On the other hand, we also know that most of these ready-made products contain far too much salt plus additives that shouldn’t be in there. For instance, we found a trout paté with rapeseed oil, vinegar, egg, salt, lemon juice, sugar and paprika. The ingredients in a jar with guacamole included mascarpone, cellulose gum, sugar (again) and coconut oil.

The good news is that making your own guacamole is very simple. The only challenge is to buy ripe and tasty avocados. When in doubt, ask your greengrocer.
Guacamole combines very well with nachos, chips and toast, but also with baked potatoes, fried fish and smoked salmon. We like to enjoy it with our beloved (Flemish) grey small shrimps.

Wine Pairing

If you serve guacamole with small shrimps as a starter, then we suggest a refreshing white wine, for instance a glass of Viognier. You could also serve a glass of dry rosé.

What You Need

  • 2 Ripe Avocados
  • Small Red Onion or Shallot
  • Small Garlic Clove
  • Red Chili Pepper
  • Lemon
  • Soy Sauce
  • 100 grams Small (Grey) Shrimps
  • Black Pepper
  • Cilantro (optional)

What You Do

Peel both avocados, remove the seeds and chop coarsely. Finely chop the shallot, the garlic clove and some red chilli pepper. How much you use depends on the spiciness of the pepper and your preference. Add one avocado to the beaker of your blender. Add the shallot, garlic and chili pepper. Add a small splash (start with half a teaspoon) of soy sauce and a bigger splash of lemon juice. Add the remaining avocado and blender until smooth. Taste and decide if you want to add more lemon juice or soy sauce. Transfer to the refrigerator.
Serve with small shrimps, black pepper and cilantro.

PS

We know, we start by mentioning that ready-made guacamole contains odd ingredients like mascarpone and then we suggest adding soy sauce to this typical Mexican dish. Inconsistent to say the least. Well, guacamole needs a pinch of salt. You could (of course) add regular salt, but by adding a drop of fish sauce or soy sauce, you also add some umami, which seems to work well with the avocado and the shrimps. 

Guacemole ©cadwu
Guacamole ©cadwu

Classic Cèpes

What better way to start the mushroom season than serving Classic Cèpes? The recipe is very simple and the result is about cèpes and cèpes alone. The stems a bit firm, the caps moist, the flavours intense and the taste rich and earthy, with a touch of freshness from the parsley. It’s a classic in Germany (Steinpilze auf klassische Art), France (similar to Cèpes a la Bordelaise), Italy and many other countries. 

Wine Pairing

If you want to enjoy the cèpes with a glass of white wine, then we suggest drinking one that is fresh, fruity, round and balanced, for instance of a glass of Bodegas Mocén Selección Especial made from verdejo grapes. A glass of rosé with similar flavours is also a good idea. The idea is to support the cèpes by adding fruitiness and freshness to the dish.

When you decide to drink a glass of red wine, then we suggest a full-bodied red wine with gently fruit and present tannins. 

What You Need

  • 200 gram Cèpes
  • Butter
  • One small Shallot
  • Parsley
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Clean the mushrooms and slice lengthwise. Finely chop the shallot and the parsley. Add butter to a relatively hot heavy iron skillet. Reduce the heat and fry the cèpes for a few minutes. Add the shallot. Cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add chopped parsley, add more butter, black pepper and stir. Serve on a warm plate.

Warm Tapenade

On one of the last, warm, long evenings of this summer we wanted to enjoy something with lots of flavours and depth, but we didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. Then we remembered a tapenade like mixture that worked nicely with monkfish. Why not combine it with excellent beef? The result was what we hoped for: lots of flavours and we only needed 15 minutes to prepare it.

Wine Pairing

Enjoy with a glass of full-bodied red wine, for instance Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec. The tannins of such a wine will combine very well with the depth and richness of the tapenade and the beef.

We enjoyed a glass of Les Terrasses Occitanes Fitou produced by Mont Tauch from the Languedoc region in France, made with Grenache, Carignan and Syrah grapes. A not too complex, full bodied dry wine with aromas of red fruit and a lasting taste.

What You Need

  • 150 grams of Excellent Beef (Sirloin, Bavette)
  • For the Tapenade:
    • Shallot
    • Garlic
    • Black Olives
    • Capers
    • Thyme
    • Rosemary (optional)
    • Anchovies
    • Olive Oil

What You Do

Let the beef rest on a plate until it reaches room temperature. This could take an hour. Chop the shallot and the garlic, halve the black olives and remove the thyme leaves from the stalk. If using fresh rosemary, make sure to chop the leaves. Dry the capers with kitchen paper. Mash the anchovies with a fork until you have a paste-like substance. Warm a pan, add some olive oil and glaze the onions. After a few minutes add the garlic. Add the olives, the thyme, the capers and the anchovies. The result should be a rather chunky, rich tapenade.
Add olive oil to a hot skillet and quickly fry the beef. Leave to rest for a few minutes before serving with the warm tapenade. Add some black pepper.

PS

Not using anchovies is not an option. They bring umami and saltiness to the tapenade. One fillet is enough to have the right result.

Beef with Warm Tapenade ©cadwu
Beef with Warm Tapenade ©cadwu

Mushroom Season

Hurray! The mushroom season has started! Last Saturday we bought delicious cèpes and chanterelles. Such a treat. It does of course mean that summer is over, which makes us a bit sad, but it also means the joy of eating wonderful dishes such as Cèpes à la Bordelaise or Salad with Mushrooms and smoked Duck (see below). Last year we prepared a Pâté with bay boletes, which was both beautiful and delicious. Will we be able to buy them this year? Or perhaps the intriguing Japanese Matsutake? It’s been some time since we last saw them on the market, and we would really love to make Matsutake with Spinach and Ginger again. How about Caesar’s mushroom with Udon?

Books

If you’re looking for useful mushroom recipes, then we suggest Antonio Carluccio’s The Quiet Hunt or Mushroom by Johnny Acton and Nick Sadler. Or look at our list of mushroom recipes.

Wine Pairing

Combining wine and salad is never obvious. In the case of a salad with mushrooms and duck we need to consider umami (mushrooms, duck), a touch of sweetness (smoked or cured meat) and the acidity of the dressing. We choose Domaine de Rimauresq Côtes de Provence Cru Classé rosé. A classic wine from the French Provence with grapes such as grenache noirmourvèdreugni blanc and rolle. The wine comes with delicate fruity, fresh flavours and aromas. It is very well balanced, dry and mouth filling and it combines beautifully with all aspects of the salad.
In general you’re looking for a white or rosé wine that has complexity and length, without being overpowering.

What You Need

  • 150 grams of Mushrooms (Cèpes preferred but also great with Oyster Mushrooms or a mix of Champignon de Paris, Shiitake and others)
  • Mesclun
  • Dried or Smoked Breast of Duck
  • Olive Oil
  • Vinegar (Red Wine, Jerez or Raspberry)

What You Do

Clean and slice the mushrooms. Heat a heavy iron skillet and fry the mushrooms in olive oil. Make a dressing of oil and vinegar. Toss the mesclun and the dressing. Transfer the salad to a plate, add mushrooms and finish with 3 or 5 slices of duck.

Leek à la Wannée

Leek is such a tasty vegetable: essential when making stock, delicious when prepared in butter and served with a cheese sauce (Sauce Mornay) or when stir fried. Extravagant when served with a dressing (jus de truffe, lemon, mustard) and lots of summer truffle. A popular, tasty, aromatic and very affordable vegetable.

This was also the case in 1910 when Mrs. Wannée published her cookbook. A book dedicated to nutritious and inexpensive food. Or should we say cheap? She was teacher and director of the Amsterdam Huishoudschool, a school for domestic skills, aimed at training future maids and housewives. The book is currently in its 32nd edition and has sold over one million copies. It continues to be a popular cookbook because every new edition reflects the current views on food and nutrition.

We have a copy of the 14th edition (published around 1955?). It is beautifully illustrated (full colour pictures and drawings) and contains 1038 recipes. It probably very much reflects the 1910 style of preparing food. We followed recipe 451 for stewed leek with a corn starch-based sauce. Well, eh, honestly don’t do this at home. The texture of the leek was nice and soft, the taste gone and the sauce bland and gluey. Interesting as experiment but not worth repeating.

The recipe does not mention the use of pepper and/or nutmeg (both fairly obvious choices) which is part of a bigger problem. Another standard Dutch cookbook (Het Haagse Kookboek, first published in 1934) is also known for the very limited use of spices and herbs. Probably it is a reflection of the sober, Calvinist nature of the Dutch in the 19th and 20th century. Price over taste, quantity over quality.

This dominated Dutch cooking for many years. And in some cases it still does. As if Dutch food is over-cooked and under-seasoned.

Nonsense. When you read books by Carolus Battus or Mrs. Marselis you know that Dutch cuisine is absolutely about tasty and interesting food, using various herbs and spices.

What You Don’t Do

Wash and clean the leek. Slice it in 4 – 5 cm chunks. Cook these in salted water for 30 minutes. Drain. Use the liquid and corn starch to make a sauce. Add some butter to make the sauce richer. Transfer the leek back to the sauce and leave for 15 minutes.

We served the leek with organic pork loin in a creamy mustard sauce (yummy!)