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.

Amuse-Gueule

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.

So the correct French term is amuse-gueule. 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

 

 

 

Skate with Capers

When you Google for skate with capers you will find many recipes with capers and brown butter. We think you can do better!
The trick in this recipe is to clarify butter and then deep-fry the capers in the clarified butter. The result is a crunchy and salty caper with clear acidity from the brine. This works brilliantly with the meaty, fatty skate.

Clarification

Butter is an emulsion of butterfat, water and proteins. The process of clarification means breaking down the emulsion. The goal is to have pure butterfat, which will not burn and which allows for deep-frying.
The water will simply go when you warm the butter.
How to remove the proteins? Option one is to start by melting the butter and to wait until you see white foam and until the water is gone. Now pour the fat into a jar or cup, carefully keeping the foam in the pan.
Option two is to continue warming the butter until the white foam becomes brown. Be careful not to burn it, this will ruin your butter. The now brown foam will sink to the bottom, which makes it easier to pour the butterfat in a jar or cup. If you want to be even more sure of the quality, use a cheesecloth when pouring. The idea is that using the second option will give the clarified butter a more nutty taste.

Wine Pairing

Skate goes really well with a glass of classic Chardonnay with a touch of oak. The chardonnay comes with a velvety taste which is great with the skate and its consistency. The touch of oak combines very well with the fried capers.

What You Need

  • Skate Wing (let’s say 200 grams for 2 persons)
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper
  • Capers (in brine)
  • 75 grams of Butter (to be clarified)

What You Do

Clarify the butter and set aside. Fry the skate in a non-sticky pan for 5-10 minutes or so, depending on the size and shape. Please notice that there is more meat on one side then on the other side, so it’s not 10=5+5. Transfer the skate to a warm plate. Heat the clarified butter to frying temperature and in parallel wash the capers and dry them with kitchen paper. Fry the capers until crispy. Serve the skate with some black pepper and sprinkle the capers on top of the skate.

Sweetbread with Madeira and Truffle

A Starter to Remember

A culinary treat that is delicate, balanced and overwhelming yet subtle. In a restaurant you will probably get Sweetbread (Ris de Veau, Kalfszwezerik, Kalbsbries, Molleja de Ternera, Animelle di Vitello) dusted with flour (okayish) or breaded (awful idea, it’s not a Wiener Schnitzel). In some countries Sweetbread is grilled, which is an interesting idea. We stick to a very traditional approach that works extremely well because it’s all about the taste of the Sweetbread in combination with Madeira and Truffle.
Sweetbread should of course be hot and soft on the inside and golden and crispy on the outside. Use your non-sticky skillet and a bit of butter for a beautiful result.
Sweetbread should be between rosé and well done. It requires a bit of attention, but it’s hard to overcook Sweetbread. Although some restaurants are very capable of creating rubber.
It is essential to clean Sweetbread. For some the process of removing the membrane from Sweetbread is intimidating, but don’t be put off. Just watch the video!

Wine Pairing

First the Madeira: don’t be tempted to buy so called ‘cooking Madeira’. This is some horrible, sweet liquid that is not even close to Madeira. One for the bin. We bought a bottle of Santa Maria Fine, Medium Dry, Vinho Madeira. It is perfectly suited for this recipe. The story behind Madeira is complex so if you get the chance to buy one that is 10 or 15 years old, please give it a try. Just sip and enjoy.

We’re looking for a wine that will be supporting the delicate taste and the sweetness, earthiness and the slight nuttiness of the sauce. If you want to drink a glass of white wine, then it should be a full-bodied Chardonnay, although not too oaky. Chablis will be a good choice. If you go for red, then we recommend a Beaujolais Cru (St. Amour or Fleurie) or a Bourgogne. It’s about soft tannins, aromas like dark cherries and licorice and on the palate a lean texture and dry.

What You Need

  • 200 grams of Sweetbread
  • Two leaves of Bay Leaf
  • Crushed black pepper
  • Butter
  • Shallot
  • Veal Stock
  • Madeira
  • Preserved Truffle (preferably without additional flavours)
  • Jus de Truffes

What You Do

Start by filling a big pan with water. Add the crunched pepper and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Now add the sweetbread and make sure the water remains close to boiling. Blanch the sweetbread for let’s say 5 minutes, depending on the size and shape of the sweetbread.
Transfer the sweetbread to a large bowl with ice-cold water and cool the meat as quickly as possible.
Now it’s time to clean the sweetbread. Remove the bits of fat, the fleeces, any membrane, the veins and anything else you don’t like. Best way to do this is with your hands and a very sharp small knife. Once your sweetbread is clean, you will be able to see how to slice it later on. But first put it on a flat plate, seal it with plastic foil, put a similar flat plate on top of it and put something heavy on top of the plate. Transfer to the fridge and leave it for a few hours. The idea is twofold: on the one hand the sweetbread will be firm and easy to partition. And it will lose some liquid because of the weight.
With the sweetbread in the refrigerator it’s time to think about your sauce. Cut the shallot in small bits and glaze in butter. Aftre a few minutes add the veal stock and the Madeira. Mix and reduce. Add one preserved truffle. Blender the liquid after five minutes. Pass through a small sieve and warm what is the beginning of your sauce. Add Jus de Truffes. This is an essential ingredient because it brings volume and depth to the sauce. It’s not to be confused with Truffle Oil, which in most cases is some kind of horrendous chemical invention. Taste and perhaps add some more Madeira or stock. A pinch of pepper may also be helpful. Keep warm for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. You will notice that the sauce becomes more intense and mature, which is exactly what you want.
In parallel cut 2-3 cm thick slices of sweetbread. Fry them for 5 minutes or so in a very warm (but not hot), non-sticky skillet with butter. It’s simple: when the sweetbread is golden and beautiful they are ready to be served. If in doubt: there is bound to be a small slice, one that you can use to test. Remember it’s offal, so you don’t want to take a risk.
Take two warm plates, add sauce and carefully put the slices of sweetbread on the plate. You could add slices of (fresh) truffle on top.

Video

 

Vitello Tonnato

Fish and Meat

Who came up with the idea to combine veal, tuna, anchovy, mayonnaise and capers?
The story goes that in the 19th century veal was prepared as if it was tuna. Sounds a bit far fetched, but tuna wasn’t eaten raw (at least not in Europe) but cooked in water with various herbs and then stored in brine or oil. Tha approach to prepare veal as if it is tuna was described in 1836 by the French Monsieur Burnet in his recipe Manière de donner au veau l’apparence et le goût du thon mariné.
In 1862 (according to Luca Cesari) a medical doctor from Milan was the first to combine tuna and veal.

Anchovy

Not a remarkable ingredient at all!
(Salted) anchovy has been used as a flavour booster in meat dishes and sauces for many centuries. For instance in the combination of leg of lamb with anchovy and garlic it will bring depths, umami and saltiness. When making a remoulade sauce you should not forget to add anchovy. And why not prepare a wonderful French Anchoiade? Or dip your vegetables in Bagna Cauda? And let’s not forget the joy of crusted bread with Tapénade (black olives, capers, garlic, anchovy and olive oil). What would a classic Caesar salad or a salade Niçoise taste like without the anchovies in the dressing? Such a useful fish!

Wine Pairing

The obvious choice is to drink a glass of Italian white or rosé wine with the vitello tonnato. A fresh wine, with a touch of acidity and not too complex, for instance a Bardolino Chiaretto or a Soave.

What You Do (Classic approach)

Given the origin of Vitello Tonnato the meat should be cooked in water with carrots, onion, leek, clove, bay leaf, thyme and pepper. The trick is not to cook it too long; you want a touch of pink in the meat when it is served. Keep some of the cooking juices to add to the sauce later on.
Create the mayonnaise by mixing egg yolks, lemon and a neutral oil (peanut or grape seed oil).

What You Need

  • 150 gram of Veal (top side or silver side)
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Mayonnaise
  • 75 gram of canned Tuna (in brine)
  • 1 Anchovy fillet (or 2 depending on your preference)
  • Lemon
  • Capers (in brine)

What You Do

We prefer to fry the meat, even if it’s historically and culinary incorrect. We think frying is quicker and gives you more control over the cuisson. Plus we feel that cooking the meat means losing flavours.
Fry the meat in a heavy iron skillet in some butter and olive oil. Not too hot! Sear the meat, lower the temperature and fry the meat until nicely rosé. Transfer the meat to a sheet of aluminium foil and let rest until lukewarm or cool. Wrap the foil around the meat, let cool and transfer to the refrigerator.
Just before serving, blender the tuna, the anchovy, a few capers, the juices from the meat (in the foil) and some lemon juice until completely smooth. Add some mayonnaise to a bowl, add a spoonful of the mixture and taste. Continue until you have the right balance. Thinly slice the veal, serve on a plate and top with the sauce. Make sure some of the meat is still visible. Decorate with the capers.

Vitello Tonnato © cadwu
Vitello Tonnato © cadwu

Insalata Caprese

Tomatoes

In 2013 the German culinary press characterised Dutch tomatoes as ‘wasserbomben’, let’s say ‘water balloons’. And they were right. Even more so, many tomatoes were, and still are, tasteless and watery. And since the Netherlands are in the top 3 of tomato exporting countries, you run the risk of buying a red balloon. Which is of course not what you want to do. So if you plan to make one of the simplest and tastiest starters ever, you have to find the best tomatoes ever. Or grow your own of course.

Mozzarella

Meaning Buffalo mozzarella, made from the milk of the Italian buffalo. Since 1993 it’s a DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) and protected under EU law. It’s a young, moist, tasty cheese with a lovely soft, elastic but not chewy texture and it comes with a skin as a result of the shaping and pickling. The taste is more robust than mozzarella made from cow milk and it’s ideal for a salad. The cow version is best used for cooking. The smoked version should be ignored.

Basil

Someone should write ‘The Case of the Dying Basil’. A whodunit in which a clever detective will reveal why the basil plant you buy from the green grocer or supermarket will very likely die within 3 days, regardless what you do. And since they always die on us, we buy ‘fresh’ leaves.
The most used variety of basil is sweet or Genovese basil. Others are Thai basil (slightly spicy with a hint of anise) and red (or purple) basil (similar to sweet basil but more powerful). Alain Passard’s book Collages et Recettes includes a recipe for purple carrots with purple basil and cinnamon. Wonderful colours and a delicate taste.

Insalata Caprese

This salad stands or falls on the quality of the ingredients. And it requires the talent to keep things simple, so you have to stick to the 5 (five!) ingredients, meaning tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil and pepper. The salad does not come with balsamic vinegar, lettuce, pineapple nuts, salt, honey, croutons, oregano, mustard or a vinaigrette. Five ingredients. That’s it.
You wonder why? Because this way the Insalata Caprese is at its best. Tasty, sweet, rich, moist, fresh and a reflection of Italy and of summer. Adding an ingredient will worsen the concept of the salad and reduce its taste.

Wine Pairing

We suggest an excellent rosé, one with flavour and depth. For instance Monte del Frà Bardolino Chiaretto 2018. You’re looking for a wine with delicate scents of berries accompanied by light and refreshing hints of green apples and subtle spicy tones. On the palate the wine should reveal juicy sensations of red berries along with an appealing and refreshing acidity.

What You Need

  • Two Excellent Ripe Tomatoes
  • One Ball (125 gram) of Excellent Buffalo Mozzarella
  • Fresh Basil
  • Excellent Olive Oil
  • Fresh ground Black Pepper

What You Do

Slice the tomatoes, slice the mozzarella and create the ‘tricolore’. Add fresh black pepper and drizzle generously with olive oil.

Insalata Caprese © cadwu
Insalata Caprese © cadwu

No-Knead Bread

Slow Rise Fermentation

The taste of fresh bread! The crust! What better to eat? We love a baguette, a croissant or a whole grain loaf of bread. Provided, of course, it’s not some kind of factory baked product with lots of unnecessary ingredients and E-numbers.

So why don’t we bake our own bread? Probably because it seems to be too much work as it would require baking 3 or 4 times per week.

But things have changed since we found a recipe for no-knead bread, 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’s time consuming (it’s nearly 24 hours from start to finish) but not labour intensive. It’s 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.

Origin

The origin of the recipe is not very clear. Earlier references include 1999 (Suzanne Dunaway from California), 1972 (Albert E. Brumley) and numerous grandmothers in the UK, France and Germany. Perhaps the oldest reference is to Elizabeth Moxon who described a no kneading bread recipe in 1764 as shown in this nice instructive video.
Her recipe: To half a peck of flour, put a full jill of new yeast, and a little salt, make it with new milk (warmer than from the cow) first put the flour and barm together, then pour in the milk, make it a little stiffer than a seed-cake, dust it and your hands well with flour, pull it in little pieces, and mould it with flour very quick; put it in the dishes, and cover them with a warm cloth (if the weather requires it) and let them rise till they are half up, then set them in the oven, (not in the dishes, but turn them with tops down upon the peel;) when baked rasp them.
Interesting that she rasps the bread: she is not interested in the crust!

What You Need

  • 400 gram of Flour (we used 200 gram of Whole Grain Flour for a small bread. Also nice: combine 100 gram of Flour with 300 gram of Whole Grain Flour)
  • 1 gram Instant Yeast
  • 4 gram Salt (this is less than usual, most recipes for bread would say 6-8 gram)
  • 300 gram Water (we used 315 given the use of whole grain flour)
  • Additional Flower

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, yeast and salt. Add the water and create one mixture. Let rest in a bowl covered with foil for 18 hours or so (24 hours is also fine, it simply depends on your planning). Remove from bowl, fold 4 times, dust with additional flour and let rest on a towel dusted with flour for 2 hours or until doubled in size. Heat your oven to 235˚ 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 to 30 minutes until it is nicely browned. Let cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing it.

PS One of our favourite combinations is 200 gram of whole grain flour with 200 gram of T65 meal (from France). Use 300ml of water and reduce the first proof to 12 hours. Tasty bread with a beautiful crust! Bake for 30+15 minutes.

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Pimientos de Padrón

Lovely and Simple Starter

Pimientos de Padrón are mild, sweet tasting and small green peppers, originally from the Galicia region in Spain, but now widely available in Spain and Portugal. Story has it that one in a hundred (or more?) is actually very spicy, but rest assured, we have eaten many more and never encountered a spicy one. Ask your greengrocer for these lovely peppers because we’re sure you will enjoy them.

Wine Pairing

We would suggest drinking a Vinho Verde with the Pimientos de Padrón. Vinho Verde is a wine from the most northern part of Portugal, between the Douro and Minho rivers. Verde refers to the fact that the grapes are harvested very early in the year. This implies that the grapes contain a fairly small amount of sugar. As a result of this the wine (in most cases) has a fairly low percentage of alcohol (think 10%). But don’t be surprised if you find one with a higher percentage.

About Vinho Verde

In general we feel Vinho Verde is undervalued. It’s a great, very taste wine; one that is not just wonderful on a summers evening.
Vinho Verde is not a wine to store, so make sure you buy one from the most recent harvest.
Most Vinho Verde wines are white. They tend to have a very subtle bubble. The taste is light, floral and the wine comes with some clear acidity.
We also found a rosé and a red Vinho Verde. Seldom have we seen a wine with such an intense colour! To balance the acidity of the red Vinho Verde you must be combined with fat meat or rich sauces. We combined it with grilled Secreto of Iberico pork, which is a treat in its own right. Secreto is a thin, juicy cut from acorn fed, free range Iberico pigs.

Secreto

As an extra: for two people buy 300 grams of Secreto. In a way the structure of the secreto resembles skate. One side of the secreto will look nice, fat and meaty, the other may look like if you have to remove extra fat. Which is exactly what you need to do! After having done that, heat a heavy grill pan (or the barbeque) and grill the meat for 4 times one minute, creating a nice pattern. The cuisson should be rosé. It’s not a problem if the thinner parts of the secreto are well done because the meat will be very juicy anyway, thanks to the fat. Serve with a sautéed courgette. The bitterness and the sweetness of the courgette combines really well with the juicy secreto. The red Vinho Verde will balance the fat and will turn the combination of secreto and courgette into an intriguing dish.

What You Need

  • Pimientos de Padrón
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt

What You Do

Clean the Pimientos de Padrón and dry the peppers. Heat a heavy skillet, add olive oil and fry the peppers for a few minutes. Make sure they are fried but not cooked. Sprinkle some sea salt over the Pimientos de Padrón, fry for a few seconds making sure the salt is somewhat adsorbed in the olive oil. Serve immediately.

White Asparagus with Sauce Gribiche

End Of Season

This tends to be a combination we like to serve towards the end of the asparagus season. The combination of asparagus with capers, cornichons and chives is unusual but it works really well with both green and white asparagus.

In most countries the season for asparagus is well-defined. It starts around April 23rd (St.George’s Day) and finishes on June 24th (the nativity of Saint John the Baptist). Green asparagus tend to be available all year round, however we recommend being careful. It’s a bit silly to buy the very skinny ones grown in darkest Peru. Nothing wrong with Peru, we love Paddington, it’s just that following the season and focusing on local, organic products is our preferred approach, but not in a dogmatic way.

Sauce Gribiche

This sauce is made with chives, chervil, parsley and tarragon. In this case we use chives only because especially the tarragon would be too much for the asparagus. Chives give it a touch of onion, which is exactly what the sauce needs.
Two notes regarding the oil: when you want to make a true sauce Gribiche (so with chervil, parsley and tarragon plus more vinegar) you would add more oil to give it volume and smoothness. In this case you want a very rich sauces with clear presence of all ingredients. And (second note) because we use less oil we use excellent olive oil only. Otherwise you would use a combination of olive or grapeseed oil with a more neutral oil like sunflower or arachis (peanut) oil.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Asparagus with sauce Gribiche with a glass of Macon (Louis Jadot Mâcon Villages Grange Magnien). The wine (100% chardonnay) comes with some gentle acidity and minerality, which is great with the acidity of the Sauce Gribiche. It’s fruity with a floral scent.

Interestingly you can also combine the dish with wine made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes. We very much liked the combination with a glass of Menetou-Salon from the house of Clement Chatenoy. A remarkable Sauvignon with citrus and passion fruit, freshness and an exceptional length in the mouth. The wine has flavours and complexity very similar to the sauce and to the asparagus, making it a harmonious pairing of food and wine.

What You Need

  • Two Eggs
  • Dijon Mustard (1 tea spoon)
  • (White Wine) Vinegar (1 small tablespoon)
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Pepper
  • Chives
  • Cornichon
  • Capers (in brine)
  • Asparagus

What You Do

Start by boiling the eggs, making sure the yolk is set but not too much. Depending on the size add them to boiling water and leave them in the simmering water for 7-9 minutes. We steamed them for 8 minutes. Remove and let cool.
Once cold, peel the eggs, separate the white from the yolk. Cut the white in very small bits and store. Crush the two yolks using a fork. Make sure it becomes a paste-like substance. Add the mustard, stir, add the vinegar and stir well. Continue stirring (spoon preferred) and slowly add the olive oil, as if making a mayonnaise. Which is basically what you’re doing anyway! Main difference is that cooked yolk is less powerful when it comes to emulsifying. So the amount of olive oil you can add is (more) limited.
Once you’ve added the olive oil, add a bit of lemon juice, taste and decide if more mustard, vinegar, pepper or lemon is needed.
Now add the chopped egg white, the finely chopped chives, the drained and chopped capers and the thinly sliced cornichon.
The sauce should be ‘stable’ so feel free to store in the refrigerator.
Steam or cook the white or green asparagus and enjoy!