Salad with Various Beans and Swordfish

When in Valencia

The Mercat Central in Valencia is one of the largest markets in Europe. Its architecture is amazing, but even more stunning are the products: fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, wines, fresh meat, sausages, hams, herbs, spices, fish, bread, chickens, pickles, snails, weeds, offal, rice, nuts, beans: anything and everything you can dream of.
Albufera is a fresh water area not far from Valencia used for growing rice. It is of course the ideal rice for paella. If an original recipe of paella would exist, it would include rice, olive oil, rabbit, saffron and various beans such as broad beans, roget and garrofón.
Inspired by the classic Salade Niçoise we bought a slice of excellent swordfish, sweet onions, potatoes, eggs and of course: lots of beans. Shall we call it Salade Valençoise?

Wine Pairing

We served the salad as a main dish. Combining wine and salad is not straightforward because acidity is an important aspect of a dressing and therefore of a salad. In this case we have a range of flavours and textures so we would suggest a wine with a very present floral bouquet. The taste should be smooth and fruity. We enjoyed it with a glass of Albariño Rias Baixas 2018 produced by Bodegas Bouza do Rei, made from 100% Albariño grapes.
Another excellent choice would be Sericis, 2018 from the house of Murviedro. A wine from Utiel-Requena, so from the Valencia region. A wine made from 100% Merseguera grapes. Full bodied yet light, elegant and surprisingly low in its alcohol with only 12%. Well balanced acidity which is great when combining it with a salad.

What You Need

  • Mixed Salad
  • White Sweet Onion
  • Flat Beans (we also used the local red variety Roget)
  • Green Peas
  • Broad Beans
  • Garrofón (Lima Beans or Butter Beans)
  • Sword Fish
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Small (New) Potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Vinegar
  • Mustard
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Start by pealing the broad beans, the green peas, the flat beans, the garrofón beans and the potatoes. Cook all five ingredients separately until al dente. Cook the eggs until just done. Let cool. Peel the broad beans and the garrofón beans again. Make a dressing by combining olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Slice the flat beans, the onion and the potatoes. Cut the egg in four. Fry the swordfish until just done. In parallel mix the salad with the onion, the flat beans, the green peas, the potatoes and the broad beans. Add the dressing and toss. Slice the swordfish and decorate the salad with egg, garrofón and swordfish. A touch of black pepper to finish.

Fried Oyster Mushrooms

Yesterday’s Bread

Cotoletta alla Milanese and Wiener Schnitzel are based on a similar concept: breaded and pan fried thin slices of veal or pork, served with a slice of lemon. The most obvious variation is Pollo alla Milanese which is made with chicken. A very special variation is Cotoletta di vitella di latte alla Milanese, as described in 1891 by Pelligrino Artusi (1820-1911) in his book La Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiar Bene (The Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well). The book is a must have for every serious food lover, so buy the book! It is very well written and contains over 700 recipes from Italy. Before breading the meat Mr. Artusi coats one side of the veal with a mixture of finely chopped fat ham, parsley, grated Parmesan cheese and truffle. Delicious no doubt!

The variation we prefer is made with Oyster Mushrooms, so Cotolette di Funghi Pleurotus alla Milanese. It is very tasty and the juicy and meaty structure of the oyster mushroom in combination with the crispy crust makes it into a much-loved starter. No need to deep fry: a hot pan with olive oil and butter is all you need.

The key to an excellent Alla Milanese are the breadcrumbs. Make your own breadcrumbs with yesterday’s bread and compare the result with the cardboard crumbs you can buy. Flavour! Texture!

Wine Pairing

A fresh, not too complex white wine will be great with the fried oyster mushrooms. Soave, Burgundy, Loire: all good.

What You Need

  • 150 grams of Oyster Mushrooms
  • One Egg
  • Three Slices of Yesterday’s Bread
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Black Pepper
  • Lemon Juice

What You Do

We begin by making the breadcrumbs. Toast the slices of bread and let cool. Cut in smaller bits and then using a cutter or blender make the crumbs. Whisk the egg. Feel free to add some water if you need more volume. Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Make sure your pan is hot, add the oil, the butter and start breading and frying. When nearly ready remove the pan from the heat, add some lemon juice and move the mushrooms in the pan. The idea is to add a touch of lemon to the taste and to keep the mushrooms crispy. Add black pepper and serve immediately on a warm plate. We don’t serve with additional lemon because adding lemon juice later on will make the wonderful crunchy crust of the soft oyster mushrooms soggy.

Dashi with Matsutake and Shrimps

Celebrate Autumn

This year seems to be an exceptionally good year for Matsutake. Antonio Carluccio once described it is a much-overrated mushroom but we dare to disagree. Just smell it! Pine, pine, pine. A unique mushroom. We tried making this soup with shiitake, but the result is not as refined, delicate and well-balanced. The key elements are of course the (home-made) dashi, the matsutake and the shrimps. Kamaboko (made from processed seafood) and Mitsuba (Japanese parsley) add colour (and some extra flavour) to the dish.

What You Need

  • Dashi
    • 0,5 l of Water
    • 10 gram of Konbu
    • 10 gram of Katsuobushi
  • 75 gram of Matsutake
  • 2 Shrimps
  • Taru Sake
  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Yuzu
  • Kamaboko
  • (Mitsuba)

Sake Pairing

If you want to serve a drink with the soup, then serve taru sake. This is a dry sake characterized by its refreshing taste and the wooden aroma of Yoshino cedar. A wonderful link to the matsutake. And if you bought a bottle of taru sake, then please use this sake for marinating the shrimps.

What You Do

With a damp cloth clean the matsutake. Be careful not to remove the skin. The root should be cut like a pencil. Clean the shrimps and cut lengthwise in two. Let marinade in two tablespoons of sake and transfer to the refrigerator for an hour. Gently warm the dashi, add a small tablespoon of sake and a similar quantity (or less) of soy sauce. Cut the matsutake in 8 similar slices and add to the soup. After a few minutes (depending on the size of the matsutake) add four slices of kamaboko and the shrimps. Taste and add some more soy sauce and or yuzu if needed. Serve immediately when the shrimps are ready. If available add some mitsuba.

Dashi

Stock

For most of us ‘stock’ begins with a combination of fish or meat with vegetables such as carrot, onion, leek and celery together with herbs like bay leaf, thyme and parsley. Dashi, the classic stock from the Japanese cuisine, is very different: it takes between one and four ingredients and takes only 30 minutes to prepare. The ingredients are kelp (kombu), dried small anchovies or sardines, dried shiitake and dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi). The simplest dashi is made from kombu only. Its taste is gentle with a touch of umami. Great vegetarian stock.
The best known is (awase) dashi and it’s made from kombu and katsuobushi. This one is the basis for oden, miso soup and many other dishes. It’s also the basis of our Dashi with Matsutake and Shrimps. If you add a splash of dashi and some Japanese mustard (karashi) to your mayonnaise you can make your own Japanese mayonnaise.

Katsuobushi is made from bonito or tuna. It’s a complex and time-consuming process, so don’t be surprised to pay between € 10,00 and € 15,00 per 100 gram. For one litre of dashi you only need 20 gram, so don’t worry too much about the costs. And you can make a ‘second’ dashi by repeating the process with the same kombu and katsuobushi.

A true Japanese chef will begin her or his day with shaving katsuobushi. We simply buy shaved katsuobushi. It comes in bags of 25 or 40 grams.

What You Need

  • 1 litre of Water
  • 20 gram of Kombu
  • 20 gram of Katsuobushi

What You Do

With a wet cloth gently clean the kombu. Put the kombu in the cold water and heat slowly to 80° Celsius or 175° Fahrenheit. Take you time! When the temperature has reached 80° Celsius or 175° Fahrenheit, remove the kombu (and store for using it for a second dashi). Bring the liquid to the boil, reduce heat, add the katsuobushi, bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes or so until the katsuobushi has sunk to the bottom. Pass the liquid through a sieve. You can also use a clean cloth, but don’t squeeze it. You want a clear broth. The dashi can be used immediately, stored in your refrigerator for a few days or kept in the freezer for a few weeks.

Ingredients of Dashi © cadwu
Ingredients of Dashi © cadwu

No-Knead Bread – UPDATE

Slow Rise Fermentation

A few months ago we shared a recipe of no-knead bread, based on the recipe courtesy of Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery, New York. It was published in the New York Times in 2006 and can also be found in his book My Bread. It takes a bit of planning but preparing no-knead bread is simple and straightforward with a great result. We truly love it.
The recipe is based on slow rise fermentation. With only one gram of yeast in combination with 18+2 hours of rest, the yeast will do a wonderful job. The dough will be perfect. And kneading, as you would expect, is not required.

UPDATE – Talmière

Recently when enjoying the luxury of having a classic French bakery around the corner of our holiday apartment, we explored a range of beautiful French bread. One of these was the Talmière. It is enriched with various seeds, such as poppy seed, linseed, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. Sometimes honey is added. The Talmière came with a beautiful crust and a rich taste. The bread is a bit compact compared to the usual Baguette or Tradition, probably as a result of the seeds in the dough.
We combined our ingredients with blue poppy seed and brown linseed.
Our best bread ever?

What You Need

  • 400 gram of Flour (we use 200 gram of Whole Grain Flour, 100 gram of Plain White Flour and 100 gram of French T65 Flour, but you will also have a great result when using 200 gram of Whole Grain Flour and 200 gram of Plain White Flour)
  • 25 gram Blue Poppy Seed
  • 25 gram Brown Linseed
  • 1 gram Instant Yeast
  • 4 gram Salt
  • 310 gram Water
  • Additional Flower
  • Bran

What You Do

The easiest way is to read and follow the recipe and video as provided by the New York Times.
Or if you feel confident: mix flour, seeds, yeast and salt. Add water and create one mixture. Let rest in a bowl covered with foil for 18 hours. Dust your worktop with a generous amount of additional flour. Remove dough from bowl and fold 4 times. Let rest on a towel also generously dusted with flour and bran for 2 hours. Heat your oven to 230˚ Celsius or 450˚ Fahrenheit. Make sure the pot is also hot. We used a 20 cm Le Creuset Cast Iron Round Casserole. Put the dough, seam side up, in the pot, close it and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for 15 minutes until it is nicely browned. Let cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing you no-knead with blue poppy seeds and brown linseed.

Flan with Prawns, Blue Cheese, Spinach and Dill

Something on a Spoon

A glass of white wine, perhaps a glass of Crémant d’Alsace or maybe even a glass of Champagne; such a great way to start dinner (or lunch when you feel like treating yourself). You enjoy some bread with homemade Tapenade, or a few nice olives. All good. And then suddenly the chef presents you her or his Amuse-Bouche. Something very special and an indication of the chef’s talent. But in most cases it’s something on a spoon and not very special.

A bit of background: amuse-bouche is actually not a French term. Restaurateurs made it up because they think amuse-gueule (the correct term) is a bit harsh. ‘Gueule’ can refer to both humans and animals. And ‘ferme ta gueule’ is far from polite. So restaurateurs started using ‘bouche’, to eliminate the impression that they think their guests have a snout.

Some say the concept of the amuse was invented by the Nouvelle Cuisine in the 1960s. Not really. In 1946 Francis Ambrière, in his book Les Grandes vacances, writes … Une côtelette à midi. Quelques amuse-gueule à l’heure du goûter. Et le soir, ô splendeur, un gigot bien saignant, le premier gigot depuis l’an 40!

Today’s amuse-gueule is a dish in its own right that amuses the mouth, fools your appetite and makes you want to start on the first course. Small, tasty, full of flavours and maybe a bit out of the ordinary.

We use a traditional coddler for this amuse-gueule, but you could also use a small ramequin. No spoon, please.

Wine Pairing

Typically the amuse-gueule is combined with your aperitif. We combined this amuse gueule with a glass of German Sekt, to be more precise with a glass of Reichsrat von Buhl – Pfalz – Sekt – Spätburgunder Brut rosé 2016, which is a superb pale pink wine, made from 100% Pinot Noir and produced by one of the leading wineries in Germany. Think red berries, brioche, a delicate texture with a nice mousse, fresh acidity and a long-lasting aftertaste.

What You Need (for 4)

  • One Egg
  • Four Medium Sized Raw Prawns
  • 75 grams Spinach
  • ½ Shallot
  • A Generous Tablespoon of Crème Fraiche
  • Dill
  • Blue Cheese
  • Chives
  • 4 Edible flowers

What You Do

Start by cleaning the prawns, removing the head, the shell and the vein. We used Argentine red shrimps. The meat is fairly soft and they become beautifully red when cooked. Fry the shrimps is some olive oil for 3 minutes. Remove the shrimps from the pan, set aside and let cool. Gently fry the shallot in the same pan for 10 minutes until glazed. Remove from the pan and let cool. In a different pan quickly cook the (dry and clean) spinach in some olive oil. Keep stirring! Drain if so required, set aside and let cool.
Cut the prawns in smaller bits. Chop the spinach using a large knife. Whisk the egg until completely smooth. Now add the (cool) bits of prawn, the spinach and the shallot. Whisk with a spoon. Add the Crème Fraiche. Add some chopped dill (depending on your taste), a bit of blue cheese (not too much, just to add a dimension to the dish) and a generous amount of chives. Mix. Coat the coddlers or ramequins with butter. Add the mixture to the coddlers or ramequins. Heat your oven to 170° Celsius (or 340° Fahrenheit). Place the coddlers or ramequins in a shallow dish. Add boiling water up to 2/3 of the height of the coddler or ramequin. Close the oven and reduce the temperature to 120° Celsius (or 250° Fahrenheit). After 30 minutes au bain marie your amuse-gueule should be ready. Test with a needle. Let cool.
If using a coddler, remove and dry the lid, add the flower and close.

Amuse-Gueule © cadwu
Amuse-Gueule © cadwu

 

 

 

Matsutake with Ginger and Spinach

Autumn

A very special mushroom, to say the least. Well known throughout Japan, China and South Korea as a true delicacy.  Matsutake smells like a pine wood forest and its taste is intense, aromatic, lasting and unique. As if you could taste Autumn.
It’s an expensive mushroom (around 110 euro per kilo) with very limited availability. But if you happen to find it, be sure to buy it. Between 75 and 100 grams is fine for two.
The Matsutake makes this into an unforgettable dish. It will bring you back to earth in a split second. Smell it, taste it and feel how satisfying and relaxing it is.

Wine pairing

Best served with a dry sake. We prefer Junmai Taru Sake as produced by Kiku-Masamune. This fine sake is matured in barrels made of the finest Yoshino cedar. The aroma has indeed clear hints of cedar. The sake will clear your palate and allow for a more intense taste of the Matsutake.

What You Need

  • 75 – 100 gram of Matsutake
  • Some Spinach (preferably what is called the ‘wild’ version, cleaned and without the stem)
  • Ginger
  • Soy Sauce (reduced salt)
  • Olive Oil
  • Sesame Oil

What You Do

Clean the Matsutake and cut in small dices. The size you would like to eat them (Matsutake doesn’t shrink like many other mushrooms; it remains firm). Warm the soy sauce, add a touch of sesame oil and flavour with very small cubes of ginger. Fry the Matsutake gently in a skillet in some olive oil, no longer than 3 minutes. In parallel blanch the spinach in the liquid. Quickly drain the spinach and set aside. Reduce the liquid and taste. Add some excellent sesame oil and whisk. In parallel chop the spinach.
Put spinach on a plate, gently add some sauce and then sprinkle the Matsutake over the spinach..

Grilled Octopus Tentacles

Portugal

The Portuguese kitchen is not known for its subtleness or refinement. But that should not stop you from enjoying it! Portuguese cuisine comes with powerful flavours, lots of fish of course, bacalhau, Caldo Verde, octopus, cuttlefish, and the well known chicken piri-piri and pastel de nata. Same for Portuguese wine: perhaps not the most subtle wine (apart from Madeiras and Port wines), but how about an excellent Vinho Verde, a red wine from the Dão region made with Touriga Nacional or a red wine from Alentejo? We love flavors and we very much enjoy the bold dishes from Portugal.

Recently when in Brussels we booked a table at Chez Luis, a Portuguese Bar à vin and Restaurant. Tasty dishes like Pasteis de bacalhau, Cassolette de palourdes and Polvo lagareiro. Served with Portuguese wine, of course. And Chez Luis has an excellent choice! So we drank a vibrant espumante and a refreshing Vinho Verde (Longos Vales Alvarinho 2016). The Polvo made us think of one of our favorites: Octopus with summer vegetables. And since one octopus is way too much for two people, we simply bought two cooked tentacles. Feel free to buy a whole octopus, clean it, cook it, braise it and then follow the recipe below.

Wine Pairing

A Portuguese white wine will be a excellent choice, for instance a Vinho Verde like we enjoyed at Chez Luis. You could also go for a Spanish Verdejo from Rueda. Look for characteristics like fresh, fruity, clear acidity, subtle bitterness and full bodied.

What You Need

  • 2 Octopus Tentacles (cooked)
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 gloves of fresh Garlic
  • 1 Spring Onion
  • Jerez Vinegar
  • Black pepper
  • (Optional) Parsley
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil

What You do

Clean the red bell pepper and slice in 4 to 6 chunks. Grill it in your oven until nicely burned. Transfer to a plastic container and close the lid. Wait a few hours before peeling the bell pepper. Slice it into cubes (not too small). Remove the pits from the tomato. Slice in similar cubes. Slice the garlic (again, not too small). Slice the spring onion. Mix the vegetables and fry gently in a hot pan with olive oil. Set to low heat. In parallel heat your grill pan. Remove the gelatinous substance from the tentacles, dry them, coat with olive oil and grill for 4*2 minutes, creating a nice brown criss-cross pattern. It will not be very visible, but it will be crunchy. Just before serving the dish, add some Jerez vinegar to the vegetables, turning it into something like a salsa. Perhaps some parsley and black pepper. Serve the hot tentacle on the vegetables and add a slice of lemon.

grilled octopus tentacles

Risotto with Mushrooms

And on the 8th day he remembered he had forgotten to create food. So he quickly created something so simple, so tasty, so fulfilling that he knew people would still enjoy it, many, many years later. He called it Risotto.

Five Challenges When Making Risotto

We’re always too busy! We are tempted to buy risotto rice that cooks quickly and can be served in under 10 minutes.
Never rush a risotto. And by the way, what is so important that you don’t have 34 minutes to cook your own lovely, genuine, risotto? Why would quick be more important than tasty?

And since we are too busy anyway: why look for fresh cèpes if you can buy a pack of risotto rice with cèpes. Second mistake. You will not taste cèpes but a series of nasty E numbers and salt. Just look at the package! It will probably contain 0,01% of cèpes.

We think risotto is too basic, so we prepare a luxurious version! Let’s add tomatoes, or salmon, or spinach and pumpkin, or chicken, or saffron, shrimps and peas.
Please don’t. It will only ruin the lovely combination of rice, butter, stock and Parmesan cheese. With or without mushrooms, that’s your only choice.

Risotto is too heavy, let’s use Crème fraîche and not butter, or Mozarellla and not Parmesan and butter, or let’s simply skip the butter. Fourth mistake: butter and Parmesean cheese are essential, for the taste, the mouthfeel and the consistency.

We buy risotto-rice without checking if it’s the right rice. We use beautiful Carnaroli rice, superfine quality, produced by Acquerello. It doesn’t come cheap (we pay € 11,95 per kilo) but why would you not treat yourself to the best risotto rice? It has all the right qualities and the taste is outstanding.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Risotto with a glass of Soave. Some acidity, touch of bitterness, nicely balanced with the butter and the cheese. It’s light and fruity; it elevates the risotto.

What You Need

  • 70 grams of Acquerello rice
  • 1 Shallot
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • 100 gram of Shiitake
  • 200 gram of mushrooms, for instance Chestnut Mushrooms
  • optional: 100 gram of Cèpes
  • Chicken Stock
  • Parmesan Cheese

What You Do

Peel and chop the shallot. Add butter and olive oil to the pan and glaze the shallot. In parallel clean and slice the various mushrooms. Feel free to use other mushrooms as well. We think the Shiitake is an important one because it adds depth to the taste. Bring the stock to a boil. After 5 minutes add the mushrooms to the pan and fry gently for 5 minutes. Add the rice to the pan and coat the rice for 2 minutes.
Start adding the stock, spoon by spoon and stir the rice frequently. When using Acquerello rice it takes 18 minutes. Check the rice. When okay, transfer the pan to the kitchen counter top and leave to rest for 2 minutes.
Add chunks of butter, stir, add a bit more butter and the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir, a bit of black pepper, add more butter or Parmesan cheese if so required. Serve immediately.

 

Haddock with Shiitake

Popular Fish

When you mention Haddock, Cod is never far away. Two of the world’s most popular fish. Many recipes and foodies describe the two as being very similar in terms of taste and preparation. We humbly disagree. We think Haddock is more flavourful and present compared to the mild taste of Cod. The structures differ as well, although both require your constant attention; they easily overcook.

Shiitake is more and more widely available, which is great! The nutty taste in combination with their firm structure makes them ideal for this dish. Powerful but not overwhelming. The classic white mushroom (or the chestnut coloured variation) will not do the trick; too soft and not sufficiently intense. Shiitake brings umami to the dish.

The white wine sauce is enriched with Classic Dry Noilly Prat, our favourite vermouth. Why favourite? Because Noilly Prat comes with a touch of bitterness, with umami, bringing the sauce and the Shiitake together. The vermouth is made with a number of botanicals, including chamomile. The white wine will bring acidity, but the dish also requires a hint of sweetness. The vermouth will enhance the natural sweetness of the Haddock. We use fish stock to create the sauce, obviously. Spend some money on buying a jar of excellent stock (or make your own).

So on your plate you have an intriguing combination of fish and mushrooms, with all five tastes represented. Nice isn’t it?

Wine Pairing

Our choice was a bottle of Pinot Grigio made by MezzaCorona. This is a dry and crispy white wine with a beautiful deep yellow colour. It’s an elegant wine with just the right acidity to relate to both the fish and the sauce. The producer mentions hints of chamomile.

What You Need

  • 200 grams of Haddock (without the skin)
  • 100 gram of Shiitake
  • Shallot
  • Parsley
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Fish Stock
  • Noilly Prat
  • Dry White wine
  • White pepper

What You Do

Start by cutting the shallot. Fry gently in butter for a few minutes. Clean the Shiitake with kitchen paper and slice. Check the fish for bits you don’t want to eat. Add wine and Noilly Prat to the shallot and let the alcohol evaporate. Then add parsley and some fish stock. Leave for a few minutes and taste. Maybe add a bit more vermouth or fish stock. Be careful with the white wine. In parallel fry the fish in butter and olive oil. Both sides should be beautiful golden brown. Gently fry the shiitake in olive oil. When not yet completely ready (check the flexibility, feel how warm the fish is) transfer the fish to a sheet of aluminium foil. Don’t close it; you only want to keep it warm. Pass the sauce through a sieve and be ready to blender the sauce. Add all juices from the two pans and from the aluminium wrapping. Blend the liquid. You could add a small chunk of ice-cold butter to thicken the sauce.
Serve the fish on top of the sauce and add the shiitake. Perhaps a touch of white pepper.