Zucchini with Oregano and Parmesan Cheese

Recently a friend who lives in Liguria, north-western Italy, gave us a Trombetta d’Albenga. This is a zucchini, shaped like an antique trumpet. What makes it interesting is related to its shape: the seeds of this kind of zucchini are in the bell of the trumpet only, meaning that most of the zucchini is free of seeds. Which makes it ideal for a salad or for frying, especially when it’s young. Older trombettas tend to be yellowish and firmer; more pumpkin-like.

It’s wonderful to prepare this starter with Trombetta d’Albenga, however they are hard to find outside of Liguria, so we prepared this dish both with a trombetta and with a young normal zucchini. The trombetta is firmer and its taste creamier, nevertheless in both cases it’s a healthy, very tasty, vegetarian starter, one to share and enjoy with friends. It’s crunchy, salty, full of flavours, soft and slightly bitter.

Wine Pairing

The most popular grape in Liguria is Vermentino, which is used to produce white wines. Don’t worry if you can’t find a wine made with vermentino. In general a glass of rosé or white wine will be nice with the zucchini, provided the wine is fresh, with a touch of acidity and notes of citrus or green apples.

What You Need

  • One Trombetta or Young Zucchini
  • Breadcrumbs or Panko
  • Dried Oregano
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Wash and slice the vegetable. If using a zucchini, drizzle with salt and mix. Let the mixture rest for two hours, allowing for the zucchini to lose water and become firm. Best way to do this, is by putting the zucchini in a sieve and let it rest above a bowl. Wash the zucchini.
If the dried oregano is not very fine, then use a kitchen knife to make the dried leaves smaller. Mix breadcrumbs or panko with a generous amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and Oregano. Heat a non-stick pan with olive oil. Coat the slices of zucchini with the mixture and fry quickly until golden. When ready, leave for a minute or two and serve the trombetta warm.

Asparagus!

Only a few days left before the end of the asparagus season on June 24th! So dash off to your greengrocer and buy some lovely asparagus, white, green, purple, it’s all fine and great, as long as they are locally farmed and fresh.

The classic way of preparing asparagus is to cook (or better: steam) them. You can pair the steamed asparagus with kimizu (the beautiful, light, golden Japanese sauce made with egg yolks and rice vinegar) Hollandaise, morels or scrambled eggs with shrimps. Classic way to serve them is à la Flamande (mimosa of egg, butter, parsley and nutmeg). You could add boiled eggs, ham and new potatoes to have a nice dinner. Or if you want to spent more money, then you serve them with summer truffle or with Sauce Périgueux.

Grilling the asparagus is also possible, simply serve them with excellent olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.

Parhaps as a salad on a summers evening? Of course, with a delicious dressing made of white wine vinegar, olive oil, a touch of honey and lots of chervil.

A more exotic way of is to fry the asparagus with black olives and basil. Goes very well with lamb.

Wine Pairing

The obvious choice is a glass of Pinot Blanc, although we actually prefer a dry Muscat in combination with a classic preparation such as à la Flamande. Depending on the dish it could also be a Verdicchio, an Albariño or perhaps even a Portuguese Vinho Verde. Feel free to experiment; yesterday we enjoyed our asparagus with a glass of wine made of muscat and picpoul grapes. Delicious combination! The wine comes from the Pont Du Gard region (near Nimes, France) and is produced by Château Mourgues du Grès.
A more serious rosé is a perfect choice when you grill the asparagus, for instance a glass of Domaine Vico Corse Le Bois du Cerf Rosé 2021. This exceptional rosé from Corsica is made of grenache and sciacarello grapes. It is medium bodied and fresh with aromas of red fruit with a complex, long and fruity taste.
A pinot noir or grenache based wine is great when you fry the asparagus, depending on the preparation of the meat.

Asparagus ©cadwu
Asparagus ©cadwu

Artichoke à la Barigoule

It’s the time of year to enjoy artichokes: steamed, as a salad, in a pie or perhaps à la Barigoule. This is a rather intriguing recipe from the French Provence region. There are lots of variations, so we looked in books like La Cuisinière Provençale and La Cuisine Niçoise d’Hélène Barale to find the ‘original’ recipe.

Obviously you want to know what ‘barigoule’ means. According to Hélène Barale ‘barigoule’ means thyme, which is odd because she doesn’t add thyme to her Artichoke à la Barigoule. Is it perhaps derived from the Latin word mauruculai (meaning morel according to some and saffron milk cap to others) as the Larousse suggests? But what is the link between artichokes and mushrooms?

Three Versions

We found three different ways of preparing Artichoke à la Barigoule: cooked with onions, white wine and carrot, stuffed and preserved with lots of citrus. The stuffed one is probably the original version because the artichoke is stuffed with a mixture of mushrooms, thyme and garlic. Which makes the Larousse explanation more likely.

Preparing Artichokes a la Barigoule is quite a bit of work and the result, we must admit, looks like an old fashioned underbaked meatball. We could imagine you serve the artichoke halfway the recipe. If you do, best is to use smaller artichokes.

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 artichokes with a bone-dry, crisp, unoaked white wine with clear, present acidity. For instance Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner or Albariño. 

What You Need

  • Artichokes
  • Cooking liquid
    • Shallot
    • Carrot
    • Olive oil
    • White wine
    • Water
    • Thyme
  • Filling
    • Mushrooms
    • Egg yolk
    • Garlic
    • Shallot
    • 2 Strips of Bacon
    • Thyme
    • Black Pepper
  • Excellent Olive Oil

What You do

Remove outer leaves and stem of the artichokes. Add oil to a large pan, gently fry the chopped shallot and the chopped carrot. After 10 minutes or so add white wine, thyme and some water. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Add the artichokes to the liquid, close the pan and allow to cook and steam on low heat for 45-60 minutes or until nearly done. You could decide to stop here and serve the artichoke with the (reduced) sauce.
Let the artichokes cool, remove the leaves and the centre choke (the hairy part).  Use a spoon to remove the ‘meat’ from the leaves (bracts) of the artichokes. Set aside. In a small skillet heat some oil, add chopped shallot, glaze, add sliced bacon, mushrooms, garlic and thyme. Leave for 10 minutes until done. Add the artichoke meat from the leaves, stir, add the egg yolk and mix. Add freshly grounded black pepper. Use a food processor to make the mixture smoother, but not too smooth. Fill the artichokes with the mixture. It should look like an oversized golf ball on top of the bottom of the artichoke. You will probably have too much filling, which is fine. Gently transfer the artichokes to the pan with cooking liquid and allow to steam and warm for 30 minutes. Now transfer the artichokes to a warm oven (60 ˚C or 140 ˚F).  Add the reaming mixture to the liquid, use a powerful blender to create a sauce. Pass through a sieve and blender some more. Set the blender to low speed and add excellent olive oil. Taste and adjust. Serve the filled artichokes on a small plate with the sauce.

Halibut with Morels

Seasonal eating is such a great idee. Simply buy (locally produced) seasonal fruit, vegetables and mushrooms, enjoy fresher and better tasting ingredients, reduce your carbon footprint and support your local community. And it creates lots of tasty opportunities: celebrate the beginning of the truffle season, the start of the asparagus season, the first red wine from the Beaujolais region – all good fun.

Part of the concept (at least, we think so) is commemorating the end of a season. In the Netherlands the morel-season ends early May. This year was a particularly good year for morels, we had some beautiful, tasty ones, for a reasonable price. But now it’s time to prepare the last morel dish of the season. And the last one with Ramson! A very tasty dish, one that requires a bit of work, but the result is absolutely yummy!

Wine Pairing

The richness of the dish requires a full-bodied white wine, for instance a glass of Chardonnay; one that has a touch of oak and vanilla plus a lightly buttery finish. Our choice would be the Chardonnay of La Cour des Dames

What You Need

  • Halibut
    • Halibut (slice with skin and bone preferred)
    • Olive Oil
  • Morels
    • 50 grams of Morels
    • Olive Oil
  • Sauce
    • Shallot
    • Olive Oil
    • Fish Stock
    • Noilly Prat
    • Crème Fraîche
    • Butter
    • White Pepper
  • Ramson (Wild Garlic)

What You Do

Clean and half the morels. Fry these gently in a heavy iron skillet for at least 10 minutes.
In parallel heat a small heavy iron skillet, gently fry the chopped shallot. When soft, add the garlic and one or two ice cubes of fish stock. Add a splash of Noilly Prat. When warm, blender the mixture, pass through a sieve and return to the pan. Add some crème fraiche. Warm through and through.
In parallel fry the halibut in a separate (non-stick) pan. First on the skin side, then turn the fish, remove the skin and turn again. The result should be golden. Whilst still in the pan, remove the bone. This gives you two portions of fish per person.
Slice a few leaves of ramson lengthwise, removing the vein.
When the fish is opaque, it’s time to add a bit of butter to the sauce and a touch of white pepper.
Serve the fish on top of the sauce, add the morels and the leaves.

PS

We served the halibut with morels on plates designed by Walter Gropius and produced by Rosenthal; a classic plate in Bauhaus Style.

Halibut with Morels ©cadwu
Halibut with Morels ©cadwu

Asparagus with Kimizu

The combination of white asparagus and Hollandaise is classic. The sweetness and bitterness of the asparagus together with the velvety, rich flavours of the sauce is just perfect.

A few years ago we enjoyed Kimizu-Ae (white asparagus with Kimizu) at Yamazato in Amsterdam. We were immediately intrigued by this combination. The Kimizu is a rich and light sauce; it comes with a velvety feeling, a touch of sweetness, a bright yellow colour and perfect acidity. So yes, the next day we prepared our own Kimizu.

Kimizu is based on two main ingredients: egg yolk and rice vinegar. You could add some mirin and a pinch of salt. Kimizu does not contain butter (the egg yolk being the only source of fat) so Kimizu, although it seems similar to Hollandaise, is lighter, easier to digest and fresher.
Many recipes for Kimizu include starch, probably because the cook has trouble making a warm, emulgated sauce. Our advice: never use starch or beurre manié. The consistency is an essential element of the sauce and must be the result of carefully heating the mixture of egg yolk, vinegar, mirin and water.

Using a microwave oven to make Kimizu is a great idea (see our recipe for Hollandaise), although it does require more whipping and more attention compared to making Hollandaise.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Asparagus and Kimizu with a glass of Sancerre, Domaine Merlin Cherrier. This classic wine reflects the chalky terroir of Sancerre beautifully. The combination of Sauvignon Blanc (citrus, minerals) and Kimizu (touch of sweetness, present but not overpowering acidity) works really well. A wine of true class and complexity with a long finish.

What You Need

  • Two Egg Yolks
  • 1,5 tablespoon of Rice Vinegar (depending on the size of the egg yolks and the acidity of the vinegar)
  • 3 tablespoons of Water
  • Teaspoon of Mirin (optional)
  • Pinch of salt (very optional)
  • 6 Asparagus

What You Do

The amount of water you’ll need depends on the acidity of the rice vinegar and the size of the egg yolks. Whisk the two egg yolks, add the rice vinegar, the mirin, the water and whisk some more. Now transfer to the microwave and give it let’s say 10 seconds on 30% power. Remove from oven and whisk well. Repeat. You will now feel the consistency changing. If not, don’t worry, just repeat the step. After 2*10 or 3*10, move to steps of 5 seconds on 30% power. Whisk, whisk again and feel free to find your own way. When the Kimizu is ready, take it out of the oven, continue whisking gently and perhaps cool slightly in a water bath.
In parallel steam the asparagus (depending on the size 20 or 25 minutes; they should be well done for this dish).
Serve the asparagus with a generous helping of Kimizu.

White Asparagus with Kimizu ©cadwu
White Asparagus with Kimizu ©cadwu

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

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

Antonio Carluccio’s Oysters with Bianchetto

Last Saturday we were extremely lucky. Not only did we buy the very first fresh morels of the season, we also bought a small bianchetto. This affordable white truffle is available from mid January to the end of April. It is also called March truffle (marzuolo).

In his book Complete Mushroom Book, Italian chef Antonio Carluccio combines fresh oysters with a white wine sabayon and white truffle: Ostriche con zabaglione e tartufo bianco. The result is spectacular. The combination of the distinct aroma of the white truffle with the oyster is intriguing. The sabayon brings everything together in terms of taste, consistency and structure. And just to show you how clever Carluccio’s combination is: the sabayon in itself is not pleasant. We prepared the dish with bianchetto. Maybe less subtle than when prepared with a white truffle, but the result is nevertheless wonderful.

Wine Pairing

With such a great dish you many want to drink a glass of Chablis or Champagne. We enjoyed a glass of Crémant de Bourgogne, produced by Vitteaut-Alberti. A refined wine, soft and with delicate fruit. The bubbles are small and pleasant.

Oysters a la Carluccio © cadwu
Oysters à la Carluccio © cadwu

The Art of Sauces: Kimizu

Yamazato

A few years ago we enjoyed an excellent Kaiseki dinner at Yamazato in Amsterdam. The menu featured many wonderful dishes, one of them being Kimizu-Ae: a combination of white asparagus and Kimizu. We were immediately intrigued because Kimizu is a rich and light sauce. It comes with a velvety feeling, a natural note of sweetness, a bright yellow colour and perfect acidity. So yes, the next day we prepared our own Kimizu.

Kimizu brings together two ingredients: egg yolk and rice vinegar. You could add some mirin (or sugar) and a pinch of salt. Within two minutes you will have created a beautiful, golden sauce; one that combines very well with fish and asparagus.
Kimizu does not contain butter (the egg yolk being the only source of fat) so Kimizu, although it seems similar to Hollandaise, is lighter, easier to digest and fresher.

Many recipes include starch, probably because the cook has trouble making a warm, emulgated sauce. Our advice: never use starch or beurre manié. The consistency is an essential element of the sauce and must be the result of the combination of egg, liquid and warmth. Same for a sabayon.

Using a microwave oven to make Kimizu is a great idea (see our recipe for Hollandaise), although it does require more whipping and more attention compared to making Hollandaise.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Asparagus and Kimizu with a glass of Sancerre, 2017, Domaine Merlin Cherrier. This classic wine reflects the chalky terroir of Sancerre beautifully. The combination of Sauvignon Blanc (citrus, minerals) and Kimizu (touch of sweetness, present but not overpowering acidity) works really well. A wine of true class and complexity with a long finish.

Now embrace your microwave and start using if for making Kimizu.

What You Need

  • For the Kimizu
    • 2 Egg Yolks
    • 1,5 tablespoon of Rice Vinegar (depending on the size of the egg yolks and the acidity of the vinegar)
    • 3 tablespoons of Water
    • Mirin (optional, depending on the combination you could add 1 or 2 teaspoons – with asparagus we suggest 1 teaspoon)
    • Pinch of salt (very optional)
  • 6 Asparagus

What You Do

Whisk the two egg yolks, add the rice vinegar, the mirin, the water and whisk some more. Now transfer to the microwave and give it let’s say 10 seconds of 30%. Remove from oven and whisk well. Repeat. You will now feel the consistency changing. If not, don’t worry, just repeat the step. After 2*10 or 3*10, move to steps of 5 seconds on 30% power. Whisk, whisk again and feel free to find your own way. When the Kimizu is ready, take it out of the oven, continue whisking gently and cool slightly in a water bath.
In parallel steam the asparagus (depending on the size 20 or 25 minutes; they should be well done for this dish). Serve the asparagus with a generous helping of Kimizu.

White Asparagus with Kimizu © cadwu
White Asparagus with Kimizu © cadwu

Fleurs de Courgettes Farcie

Such a pleasure to see courgette flowers in your garden or at the greengrocers. The young courgette is firm and tasty; the flowers a beautiful yellow. Simply stuff the flowers, fry in a pan or cook in the oven and you have a great side dish or starter. And then you start wondering: ‘Stuff with what? Cheese? Salmon? Mushrooms? Tomatoes? Ricotta? Vegetable Mousse?’
Earlier we described a simple, tasty vegetarian version. This recipe requires a bit more work, but the result is delicious and beautiful. Crab and courgette go together very well; it’s a well balanced combination with surprisingly delicate flavors.

Wine Pairing

Obviously a nice glass of Côtes de Provence Rosé is an excellent choice. But you could also go for a white wine, for instance a Macon-Villages as produced by Bouchard Père & Fils. In general a subtle wine that goes well with the gentle flavors of both the crab and the courgette.

What You Need

  • One Courgette (small and firm)
  • One Garlic Clove
  • Olive Oil
  • Six Small Courgettes with their flower
  • Crab
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Wash the courgette, dry and grate coarsely. Warm a small cooking pan, add olive oil and the grated courgette. Fineley grate the garlic and mix with the courgette. Leave for 20 minutes minimum on low heat. When ready, set aside and let cool.
Best is to use a leg of a fresh (littoral) crab, but you could also buy a can of most excellent crab. If using fresh crab, heat a pan with water, bay leaf and crushed black pepper corns; cook the crab for 10 minutes, remove from the water, set aside until cooler and then remove the meat from the shell. Be sure to remove all shards of shell. Set aside and let cool.
Remove the stamens from the flowers. Remove the end of the small courgette. Use a very sharp knife to slice the courgettes lengthwise in 3, making it look like a fan. Heat water in a pan and poach the small courgettes (not the flowers!) for 60-90 seconds depending on the size. Add some crab meat to the courgette mixture and taste. Keep adding crab until you’ve reached the perfect combination (or the end of the crab). Add some black pepper. Stuff the flowers, close them by slightly twisting the leaves of the flower, sprinkle with olive oil, making sure they are completely coated with oil. Heat your oven to 200° C or 390° F. Using the grill is a good idea. Transfer to the oven and cook for 10 minutes. The flowers should be crisp and perhaps a touch golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

  • Fleurs de Courgettes Farcie ©cadwu
  • Macon Villages and Cotes de Provence ©cadwu