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.

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

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.

The Queen’s Soup

Actually, this post should be called Potage à la Reine, or even better Koninginnensoep. Before looking at the details, let’s first talk about Dutch Royalty.

The first Dutch Queen (Koningin) was Wilhelmina who reigned from 1898 until 1948. She was succeeded by Queen Juliana and later Queen Beatrix. Their birthdays were always a reason for festivities with lots of food (and lots of beer nowadays). One of the favourite dishes was a soup called Koninginnensoep: a rich, creamy chicken soup with carrots and garden peas. Not very refined, but perfect for the occasion.

The recipe of this soup goes back to France, to chef François Pierre de La Varenne (1618-1678). He is probably the first chef who documented and prepared Potage à la Reine. The soup is made with two kinds of stock (one made with almonds, the other one with partridge or capon), bread, lemon and it is garnished with pomegranate and pistachios. It was prepared in the honour of Queen Marguerite de Navarre.

The Dutch Koninginnensoep is a simplified version of the Potage à la Reine. Some recipes suggest replacing the bread with rice; most suggest making a roux and adding eggs and cream to thicken the soup. The pomegranate is replaced by carrot and the pistachios by garden peas. A practical cheap, Dutch approach…

Enough details, let’s start preparing our version of this traditional soup. After all, today, April 27th, we’re celebrating the King’s birthday! Hurray!

What You Need

  • For the stock
    • Organic Chicken (bones and meat)
    • Carrot
    • Leek
    • Onion
    • Bouquet Garni (Thyme, Parsley, Bay Leaf)
    • Mace (small piece)
    • Olive Oil
  • Flour
  • Almond Flour
  • Butter
  • One Egg Yolk
  • Cream
  • White Pepper
  • Carrot
  • Green peas

What You Do

Gently fry the sliced leek, the chopped carrot and the chopped onion in olive oil. After a few minutes add the chicken. Leave for a few minutes. Add cold water, the bouquet garni, the mace and a piece of carrot. Leave to simmer for one or two hours. Pass through a sieve. Cool the stock and remove the fat. You could do this the day before. Remove the skin and bones from the meat and make cubes the size of garden peas. Same for the carrot. Set aside. 
Combine 30 grams of flour with 10 gram of almond flour and 30 grams of butter (depending on the amount of stock, these quantities are for one liter), make a roux and thicken the soup. Leave on low heat for 60 minutes.
Beat the egg yolk, add cream, mix some more. Add the warm soup to the liquid, one spoon at a time. This is known as marrying the soup and the eggs. When done, add the chicken and leave on low heat for 10 minutes. Stir gently. Add white pepper. In parallel quickly cook the garden peas (one minute will be fine) and warm the carrot cubes.

Garnish the soup with carrot and garden peas.

The Queen's Soup ©cadwu
The Queen’s Soup ©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
  • 2 tablespoons of Rice Vinegar
  • 1 – 2 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

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

Fish Cakes by Jean Beddington

Jean Beddington: a culinary, passionate creative! She was chef at five restaurants, owned her own successful restaurant, and still is an inspiration to many. One of her motto’s is ‘seemingly simple’, not with the intention to impress but with the intention to surprise and enhance the sensation when enjoying her food and the way it is presented.

Background

In her book Absolutely Jean Beddington she writes about her background, her youth in England, her eagerness to cook, the holidays with her father when they would stay at budget hotels and eat at Michelin Star restaurants, her travels, her years in Japan and her education (she studied Arts and Chemistry). When she moved to the Netherlands, she decided to become a chef, which is the obvious choice for someone with such a talent. She was one of the first to bring new ingredients to the classic French cuisine. For instance, she began using cilantro and yuzu. She was also inspired by the Japanese way of presenting food: beautifully designed and served on a variety of plates. She began doing this when most guests still expected bread and garlic butter at the beginning of their lunch or dinner.

Books

She published several books. One is dedicated to stock: the basis of soups, sauces and dishes. She explains how to make stock and how to create delicious food, for instance green vegetables in stock with couscous, yogurt and harissa sauce. 

Her book Absolutely Jean Beddington is very dear to us. It has three main chapters: the first one is called Glossy with beautifully presented food, the second one is called Real Time with food as you could expect to eat at her restaurant (which is closed, unfortunately) and our favourite chapter is called Daily. Indeed, recipes that are easy to follow and help prepare tasty, wonderful food, every day.

Fish Cakes

We prepared her fish cakes with a beetroot, ginger, apple and onion chutney. The fish cakes are intriguing and the chutney is the perfect accompaniment. Yummy!