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.

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

Ratatouille

Think summer vegetables, think Ratatouille! Which is also the title of a film released in 2007 about a rat called Remy with a passion for cooking. If you want to see how he prepares ratatouille then simply go to YouTube (or buy the DVD if you’re old fashioned like us).
Ratatouille brings back memories of summer, of the South of France, of the Mediterranean. It combines very well with a simple sausage, with lamb, with grilled chicken.
However you prepare your ratatouille, be sure to prepare it a day ahead. The taste becomes much more integrated after a day (or two) in the refrigerator. Unfortunately it doesn’t freeze well due to the eggplant.

Our recipe is very much the recipe of a dear friend. She taught us how to make ratatouille in her summer kitchen, overlooking the pool and the garden with herbs and vegetables. Indeed, fond memories.
To our surprise she added cilantro (you would expect thyme or basil) and many years later we are still grateful for this twist. The cilantro enhances the feeling of summer and it supports the various vegetables in a beautiful way.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our ratatouille with a glass of simple, red wine with lots of red and black fruits. Spicy with subtle tannins. A wine that brings summer to your glass.

What You Need (4 people)

  • 1 Eggplant or Aubergine
  • 1 Courgette or Zucchini
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Chili Pepper
  • 4 Excellent Tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Olive oil

What You Do

Start by cutting the aubergine in small but not too small chunks. Drizzle with salt and mix. Let the mixture rest for a few hours, allowing for the aubergine to loose water and become firm. Best way to do this is by putting the aubergine in a sieve and let it rest above a bowl.
The tomatoes require some attention as well. You could peel them, but that’s optional. What is not optional is to separate the tomato meat and juices from the pits. First step is to remove the internal hard bits and the pits and put these aside. You now have the outer part of the tomato, which you can slice. Cut the remainder of the tomatoes roughly, add to a sieve and by using the back of a spoon make sure you capture the juices. Be surprised about the volume of tomato juice and the small amount of tomato bits and pits that remain in your sieve.

Cut the bell pepper into long slices and fry these in the pan with olive oil. Peel the courgette, slice in the way you sliced the aubergine and add to the pan. Continue frying. Add the finely chopped chilli pepper (not the seeds of course). Add the firm aubergine after having removed the remaining salt with water. After a few moments add the tomato chunks, fry a bit more, add the tomato juice and leave on low to medium heat for 60 minutes. Try not to stir too much; otherwise you risk creating mashed vegetables. Cool, set aside and store in the refrigerator.
The next day: if you have excess liquid, remove the vegetables from the liquid, reduce it until thickened and transfer the vegetables back into the pan. Otherwise gently warm the ratatouille, add some chopped cilantro, mix gently and add more cilantro just before serving.

Ratatouille ©cadwu
Ratatouille ©cadwu

Fig Jam

Sometimes we dream of having a small garden, with perhaps a few roses, herbs, peonies and definitely a fig tree. Being able to pick figs, all summer long, and enjoy the abundance of the tree, it sounds like magic to us. Figs don’t do well in a pot on a balcony, so we depend on greengrocers and the market. And that’s where we struggle: when you want to buy figs, you’ll notice they’re fairly expensive and hard to find. The ones we bought yesterday were individually wrapped in paper, as if they were very exclusive chocolates. But since we love fig jam, we simply had to buy them.

Wine Pairing

Homemade fig jam combines very well with Foie Gras, toasted bread and a glass of Sauternes, for instance this very affordable Dourthe Grands Terroirs. This wonderful, sweet wine from the French Bordeaux region made from late-harvest grapes affected by noble rot, comes with flavors like apricot, tropical fruit, honey and gently toast. Drinking Sauternes has become less popular, also because it’s often positioned as a wine to accompany your dessert. A concept that seems to be a bit old fashioned. Why not try a glass of Sauternes with some excellent blue cheese, a chocolate cake or simply on its own as aperitif?

What You Need

  • 500 grams of Fresh Figs
  • 100 grams of Sugar
  • 1 Lemon

What You Do

We recommend using only 100 grams of sugar, so 20% of the weight of the figs. Therefore the jam must be stored in the refrigerator and the jar must be finished shortly after opening it. That’s why we prefer using small jars and cooking small quantities of jam.
Start by washing the figs. Remove the stems. Cut the figs in small chunks, add to a pan. Add the sugar and the juice of one lemon. Put on medium heat, for at least 60 minutes, no lid needed (but be careful if the fruit is not ripe). During the cooking process the jam will become bright red. Use a fork to mash some of the figs. We think using a blender ruins the texture.
Make sure your jars are perfectly clean. Fill the jars, close the lid and cool in a cold-water basin. When cool, transfer to the refrigerator.

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

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

All Our Recipes For You

A few years ago we created an overview of recipes per season, simply because it’s such a good idea to enjoy what is available in the season. Nice to eat strawberries in Winter, but isn’t it a much better idea to enjoy seasonal slow cooked pears?

We then introduced overviews per course, ranging from side dish to lunch. The categories didn’t always make sense, so we added a few more, making our admin more complicated, especially when we updated a recipe or a picture.

The obvious thing happened: we lost track of recipes, noticed some links were broken and the overviews became incomplete.

So how to organise this blog?

After much debate and intense workshops (not really) we’re pleased to present to you an old fashioned, up to date and very easy to use (and maintain) index of All Our Recipes For You!

All Our Recipes For You ©cadwu
All Our Recipes For You ©cadwu

Asparagus with Basil and Olives

End of June means end-of-season for asparagus, morels and ramson (wild garlic). But let’s not be sad! It’s also the beginning of Summer; time to dine al fresco and serve vibrant, light flavours. We combine the very last white asparagus with green asparagus, black olives and basil. Feel free to use green asparagus only. The dish will lose some of its bitterness and complexity but it’s still a great combination of flavours and aromas.

Wine Pairing

Best to enjoy with a full bodied and elegant red wine. Flavour-wise you’re looking for lots of fruit, mild tannins and a touch of wood. We enjoyed our asparagus with a glass of Cantine Due Palme Salento Il Passo Nero 2019. This wine from Puglia (Italy) is made from late harvested negroamaro grapes. Dark berry fruit, medium full tannins and a beautiful deep colour.

What You Need

  • Asparagus
    • Equal Amount of White and Green Asparagus
    • Basil
    • Black Olives (preferably Cailletier or Taggiasca)
    • Olive oil
  • Lamb Chops
    • Olive Oil
    • Thyme
    • Garlic
    • Black Pepper

What You Do

Peel the white asparagus and cut of the end. Wash the green asparagus and cut of the end. Slice the asparagus in nice chunks (4 centimetres or so). Combine the asparagus with olive oil and a nice amount of black olives. Transfer to the refrigerator.
When ready for your al fresco dinner, heat your oven to 190˚- 200˚ Celsius (or 375˚- 390˚ Fahrenheit). Mix after 10 minutes and again after 20 minutes. The asparagus should now be ready (if not, another 10 minutes should do the trick). Add half of the basil leaves.

If you serve the asparagus with lamb chops: leave the chops to marinate in olive oil, crushed garlic and thyme for 24 hours in the refrigerator. Remove thyme. Heat a heavy iron skillet and fry the chops in olive oil (4 minutes depending on the size). When ready keep the chops warm in aluminium foil. Fry the thyme in the remaining oil. In parallel add more basil leaves to the asparagus and mix.

  • Asparagus with Basil and Olives ©cadwu
  • Ingredients of Asparagus with Basil and Olives © cadwu
  • Asparagus with Basil and Olives Ready to go into the Oven© cadwu

Caudle, Eggnog, Ajerkoniak and Advocaat

In the old days new mothers and their visitors were served Caudle, a combination of white wine, eggs, sugar, cloves, raisins, nutmeg and cinnamon. The idea was to strengthen the new mother and of course to celebrate the occasion. Dutch master Jan Steen painted De Kandeelmakers (The Caudle Makers) around 1665. Note the nutmeg grater!

The ingredients are not too dissimilar to those of Eggnog. Basically this is custard infused with various spices, such as vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. The custard is enriched with whole cream, rum/brandy/whisky/cognac and whipped egg white. Our Eggnog was very tasty, creamy and soft with the right push from the cognac. The spices worked really well, especially the nutmeg. We suggest not adding cream because it actually doesn’t bring much other than a fatty feeling in your mouth.

A less complex version is Ajerkoniak from Poland. It combines egg yolks with non-sweetened condensed milk, sugar and vodka (or plain alcohol). The result is a strong, smooth and sweet drink. The vodka worked very well with the eggs but we thought the condensed milk was a bit too present.

Making Caudle, Ajerkoniak or Eggnog begins with whisking sugar and egg yolks until it’s smooth, pale and creamy. This is called whisking the eggs ruban and may take 10 minutes. Interestingly the result is a dish in its own right called Kogel Mogel.

We also prepared Advocaat from the Netherlands. It is a combination of eggs, alcohol and sugar (so no milk, cream or spices). It can be enjoyed as a drink (but our grandmother used a small spoon, probably because she didn’t want to be heard slurping). Our version is a bit thicker, making it ideal as a dessert.

What You Need

  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 25 grams of Sugar
  • 50 ml of Brandy, Gin or Vodka
  • Whole Cream

What You Do

Mix the egg yolks and the sugar well. It doesn’t need to become ruban but some increase in volume is needed. Now gently add the brandy, gin or vodka. Transfer to the microwave and very gently heat the mixture. We used one interval of 10 seconds to start with and continued with intervals of 5 seconds. In total only 55 seconds on 30% power. Stir well after every interval until it becomes thick. The consistency must be similar to a thick pastry cream (crème pâtissière). Cool quickly and store in the refrigerator. Serve with some whipped cream.

PS Obviously you need fresh eggs when making Ajerkoniak, Eggnog, Kogel Mogel, Advocaat, Mayonnaise, Sabayon, Béarnaise, Kimizu et cetera. We don’t think eating fresh, organic eggs is a problem. Eating all kinds of additives, chemicals such as E102 – Tartrazine to make commercial Advocaat look as yellow as real Advocaat, unclear syrops, modified milk ingredients, guar gum, monoglycerides etcetera, that’s a problem.

  • Advocaat ©cadwu
  • Eggnog ©cadwu
  • Ajerkoniak ©cadwu

Onion Confit

In 2010 James Tanner published his inspiring book Takes 5: Delicious Dishes Using Just 5 Ingredients. Short shopping lists, easy recipes and tasty results: what more can you ask for! He could have included Onion Confit in his book, but he didn’t. Five ingredients: onions, olive oil, time and perhaps bay leaf and some water are all you need to create a condiment that is perfect with roasted meats and foie gras. It comes with subtle, natural sweetness and lots of umami.

Let’s first discuss the name: it is confit because it is cooked slowly, in fat, over a long period of time. It’s not chutney for the simple reason that it does not originate from India or Pakistan plus there is no need to add various herbs and spices. It’s also not marmalade because we don’t use the peel of the onion.

Onions contain a chemical substance called inulin (also to be found in for instance bananas and Jerusalem artichokes) and given time and warmth it will breakdown into fructose: fruit sugar. Vinegar stimulates this process. So it’s yes to adding vinegar and no to adding sugar.

So how to turn white onions into a deep brown confit? Obviously we don’t add brown caster sugar (as unfortunately so many recipes suggest). Perhaps use balsamic vinegar? Nice try, but no. The only thing you need to do is to cook the onions on very low heat for 8 hours or so.

Wine Pairing

We served our Onion Confit with Terrine de Foie Gras on toast and a glass of Coteaux du Layon produced by Château de la Roulerie. This is a slightly sweet, golden white wine, made from Chenin Blanc grapes. In general a late harvested, not too sweet wine will be an excellent choice but you could also go for a glass of Champagne or Gewurztraminer.

What You Need

  • 4 White (or Spanish) Onions
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Vinegar
  • Optional
    • Bay Leaf
    • Water

What You Do

Peel, slice and quarter the onions. Warm a heavy enamelled iron pan, add olive oil and add the onions. Allow to simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes. Add the vinegar and allow to simmer for an additional 8 hours. Check every hour, give a gentle stir and if needed add some water. Let cool and store in the refrigerator. It will last for a week.