Risotto with Beetroot and Gorgonzola

Contemporary Classic

Enrico Bartolini (Castelmartini, Italy, 1979) is an extremely talented chef with restaurants in Italy, Hong Kong and Dubai. He is the only chef to have been awarded four Michelin stars at the same time. In his restaurant Mudec in Milan he showcases his motto Contemporary Classic by exploring new worlds and new flavours, without forgetting origins and traditions. One of his many signature dishes is Risotto with Beetroot and Gorgonzola (Risotto alle rape rosse e salsa al gorgonzola). An intriguing combination because beetroot can be very sweet which could easily ruin the taste of the risotto. Which is exactly what happened the first time we prepared this dish. We did more research only to read recipes we didn’t like because the beetroot was added at the beginning of the preparation process (giving the risotto a gluey texture) or honey, mint, balsamic vinegar, oranges or salty goat cheese (to balance the sweetness of the risotto!) was added.

We decided to take a different approach and see this as a combination of two dishes with the gorgonzola as connection. Now we could focus on preparing a savoury beetroot puree that would be tasty in its own right and create a brilliant combination with the risotto.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our risotto with a glass of Bianco di Custoza 2018, 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. In general you’re looking for a light, aromatic dry white wine.
You could also serve 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

  • For the Risotto
    • 70 gram Carnaroli Rice (for instance from Acquerello)
    • (Vegetable) Stock
    • 1 Bigger Shallot
    • Parmesan Cheese
    • Butter
  • For the Beetroot Puree
    • 1 Fresh Beetroot
    • 2 Tablespoons of White (Cider) Vinegar
    • 1 Tablespoon of White Wine
    • 3 Freshly Grated Cloves
    • Black Pepper
  • For the Sauce
    • Gorgonzola Dolce
    • Milk

What You Do

The day before wash the beetroot and wrap in aluminium foil. Leave in the oven on 180° Celsius (or 355° Fahrenheit) for 60+ minutes. Cool and store in the refrigerator.
Thinly chop the shallot and glaze in butter. In parallel peel the beetroot and chop. Combine a third of the shallots with the beetroot, the white wine, the vinegar and finely grated clove. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust. In the mean time prepare the risotto. With a fork combine the soft Gorgonzola Dolce with the milk until it’s smooth and has the consistency of custard. Depending on the ‘blue’ in the cheese you may want to use a blender. Warm both the beetroot puree and the Gorgonzola sauce in the microwave or Au Bain Marie.
Time to start assembling the dish. Add butter and Parmesan to the risotto. Add more Parmesan than usual to create the right balance. Now start adding the beetroot puree, spoon for spoon. You’re looking for a balanced taste and a bright red colour. Perhaps add a drop of lemon and some black pepper. Transfer to the plate and using a spoon or a small sauce bottle add the sauce (drop-wise).

Risotto with Beetroot and Gorgonzola © cadwu
Risotto with Beetroot and Gorgonzola © cadwu

Haddock Marinated in Miso

Saikyo Yaki

The original recipe is from Kyoto and combines fresh fish with Saikyo miso. This is a white, slightly sweet, low sodium miso. The fish is marinated in miso and then grilled and served with pickled ginger. Lots of umami of course and the intriguing combination of miso and fish. Nowadays salmon is often used when preparing this popular dish.

Our approach is slightly different. We use white fish (haddock preferred, but rouget, halibut or cod are also fine) and marinate it in red miso for four or five days. The flesh will become beautiful deep red and the miso will gently flavour the fish, without overwhelming it. It’s not a subtle starter but the taste is great especially when combined with pickled cucumber and karashi (Japanese mustard). 

Sake 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 marinated haddock.

What You Need

  • Two slices of Haddock (thin is best)
  • Red Miso (preferable with less salt)
  • Cucumber Pickles
  • Karashi

What You Do

Start four or five days in advance. Fully coat the haddock with miso. Cover the dish with foil and transfer to the fridge. Check on a daily basis if the fish is still fully coated.
Using a small spoon carefully remove most of the miso. Rinse the haddock with water and dry it with kitchen paper. The white flesh should now be red. Heat a non sticky pan until warm, but not hot, through and through. If too hot, the fish will burn. We set our induction hob to 6 (where 9 is the maximum). Add a bit of olive oil and then fry the fish for 2*2 minutes. Serve on a warm plate with pickles and karashi.

Baba Ghanoush

Eggplant

Baba Ghanoush is tasteful and easy to make. Combine it with olives, pickles and flat bread (naan) to create a delicious starter to share. Don’t be tempted to buy Baba Ganoush at the supermarket. Most of these products lack the typical taste as a result of charring the eggplant.
Sumac is an ingredient from the Levantine cuisine. Basically sumac powder is the result of crunching dried berries of the sumac plant. The taste vaguely resembles cranberries with a touch of lemon. In this case it adds fruitiness to the dish. The sweetness of the berries combines well with the garlic.

Wine Pairing

Enjoy Baba Ganoush with a glass of white Lebanese wine, but since that’s hard to find a nice glass of Cava is also a good choice.

What You Need

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1 Garlic glove
  • 1 Tablespoon of Tahini
  • Olive Oil
  • Greek or Turkish yoghurt
  • Lemon Juice
  • Sumac
  • Pomegranate

What You Do

Start by grilling the eggplant (in the oven in our case) to the point of charring. Ideal would be a char coal grill, but an oven grill also does the trick. Then leave the eggplant in the hot oven until very soft; maybe 30-45 minutes in total, depending on the seize of the eggplant. Some suggest rubbing the eggplant with olive before grilling it that’s not necessary.
Transfer the eggplant to a plate and let cool. Now cut in half and use a spoon to separate the flesh from the skin. Use a kitchen knife to cut the flesh very thinly. Put the mixture in a sieve and reduce the amount of liquid in the mixture. Add the garlic and mix well.  Add tahini and while stirring slowly add olive oil to create a thick mixture. Add yoghurt and some lemon juice. Taste well and adjust by adding more tahini, yoghurt or lemon juice. Allow to integrate for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Spread the baba ghanoush on a small plate, add a splash of excellent olive oil and sprinkle some pomegranate seeds and sumac to finish.

 

Carpaccio

A Favourite Starter

Don’t you love your Carpaccio! Such a simple, delicious starter. All you need is a few thin slices of tenderloin or sirloin, some Parmesan cheese, rocket salad, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pine nuts plus maybe some truffle mayo-STOP!
Don’t go there! That’s not a Carpaccio!

The Real Carpaccio (and a bit of history)

Vittore Carpaccio was an Italian painter, born in Venice around 1460. Nearly 500 years later, in 1950, an exhibition was held in the Doge’s Palace in Venice, showing many of Carpaccio’s work. In the mean time chef Giuseppe Cipriani of Harry’s Bar was preparing a dish for one of his regular guests, the Contessa Amalia Nani Mocenigo. Her doctor had ordered her to eat uncooked food, especially raw, red meat. Most likely she suffered from anemia. The poor Contessa was used to excellent food, so something raw on a plate wasn’t very appealing. Chef Cipriani created a special dish for her, which he named after, indeed, the painter Carpaccio. Some say this was a tribute to the whites and reds as used by Carpaccio.
By the way, Giuseppe Cipriani was also the creator of the Bellini, a very nice cocktail based on white peaches, named after the painter.

Wine Pairing

We suggest enjoying your Carpaccio with a glass of Pinot Grigio or a Soave. It should be a fruity, not too powerful wine. Carpaccio is about the taste of the meat. The sauce and the wine should simply support this.

What You Need

  • 50 grams of excellent Tenderloin or Sirloin (per person) thinly sliced, cold but not frozen.
  • (Home made) Mayonnaise
  • Worcester Sauce
  • Lemon
  • White Pepper (freshly ground)
  • Mustard (optional)
  • Milk

What You Do

Take one or two spoons of mayonnaise and add two teaspoons of Worcester sauce, two teaspoons of lemon juice and some white pepper. Taste and adjust. Now add milk, creating a thin sauce. Remove the meat from the refrigerator, flatten the meat if so required and transfer to a cold plate. Create a nice pattern with the sauce, using a sauce bottle. Serve immediately.

 

Farfalle with Ramson (or Wild Garlic) and Parmesan Cheese

Ramson

In a number of countries ramson is a protected plant, so we don’t suggest you run out of the door and start picking it. But if it’s not protected, feel free to start running!
Ramson is much-loved in Germany, Austria (Bärlauch) and other parts of Europe. Its taste is like a combination of onion and garlic, but much greener, more intense, longer lasting and with a touch of bitterness at the end. Works very well as a pesto, but equally nice with potatoes or gnocchi. Once we made ramson soup, but that was not the best idea ever.
The flowers may have (if you’re lucky) a touch of sweetness because of the nectar in the flower. Always taste the leaves and the flowers before using and feel free to adjust quantities.

Wine Pairing

We would suggest a Soave to go with the dish. The Garganega grape combines very well with the specific taste of the ramson, given the wine is fresh with a subtle bitterness.

What You Need

  • 20 or so leaves of Ramson
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Farfalle
  • Lemon Juice

What You Do

Cut the leaves in smaller bits and blitz the leaves with grated Parmesan cheese. If you want to soften the taste, now is the moment to add some toasted almonds or pine nuts. Slowly add the olive oil until blended and smooth. Maybe you want to add a bit of lemon juice.
Cook the farfalle and serve with the pesto and some grated Parmesan cheese.
You can store the pesto for a week or so in the refrigerator if you add some extra olive oil to the jar, covering the pesto.

Haddock with White Beech Mushrooms

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.

Beech Mushrooms are more and more widely available, which is great. The slightly nutty  taste in combination with their texture makes them ideal for this dish. And the golden colour of the fried white beech mushrooms is perfect with the golden colour of the fried haddock.

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 mushrooms.

What You Need

  • 200 grams of Haddock (without the skin)
  • 100 gram of Beech Mushrooms
  • Butter
  • White Pepper

What You Do

Clean the beech mushroom with kitchen paper and half. Check the fish for bits you don’t want to eat. Fry the fish in butter. Both sides should be beautiful golden brown. In parallel gently fry the beech mushrooms in butter.
Serve the beech mushrooms on top of fish. Perhaps a touch of white pepper.

Haddock with white Beech Mushrooms © cadwu
Haddock with white Beech Mushrooms © cadwu

Oysters à la Antonio Carluccio

When It’s Spring

Combining ingredients and creating something new and tasty is difficult. On the one hand we have known combinations (tomatoes and basil, duck and thyme, macaroni with ham and cheese), on the other hand we want to be surprised by new combinations. Unfortunately many chefs don’t really have the required creative talent but they serve their unlikely combinations (gnocchi with kale, piccalilli, smoked oyster and black pudding) anyway.

Antonio Carluccio‘s combination of fresh oysters with a white wine sabayon and white truffle 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.

Carluccio uses white truffles in his recipe, but given the costs we decided to go for the more affordable bianchetto. This truffle is available from mid January to the end of April, that’s why it is also called March truffle (marzuolo). Maybe less subtle, but the result is nevertheless wonderful.

The recipe (Ostriche con zabaglione e tartufo bianco) can be found in his Complete Mushroom Book. Best to use oysters with a mineral flavour and a mild brininess. Definitely not creamy oysters, given the richness of the sabayon.

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

Salade Niçoise

Pan Bagnat

The origin of the Salade Niçoise goes back to the days that life on the French Côte d’Azur was harsh. It was a remote and poor region and people tried making a living trough fishing, harvesting flowers for the perfume manufacturers and growing olives. Not a tourist in sight and no fancy lunches. Bread would be baked once every fortnight and people would soak the stale, day-old bread with water, olive oil or ripe tomatoes. Over the years this developed into what is known today as Pan Bagnat: bathed bread. Interestingly enough the stuffing became a dish in its own right: the Salade Niçoise.

Today’s Salade Niçoise is of course much more than water, olive oil and tomatoes. According to the founders of the label Nissarde Cuisine the Salade Niçoise is a combination of tomatoes, boiled eggs, salted anchovy, tuna in oil, spring onion, small black Niçoise olives, basil and olive oil. Optional ingredients are artichoke, broad beans, green pepper, garlic and radish.
And now I can hear you think: but how about the haricots verts and the potatoes? And haven’t you forgotten the vinegar?

Let’s start with the vinegar: a few drops are allowed but the idea goes back to the Pan Bagnat. So little or no vinegar and certainly no balsamic vinegar, mustard or mayonnaise. 

It was Auguste Escoffier who introduced the haricots verts and the potatoes as ingredients of the Salade Niçoise. For the guardians of the Nissarde Cuisine this is clearly a ‘no go’ (also because Escoffier was not from Nice). We were brave and did a small experiment by preparing both variations.

We expected the Escoffier version to be the winner of our small competition, but the stars clearly go to the Nissarde version: elegant, light, full of flavours and a tribute to the ingredients. Forget about haricots verts, potatoes, vinegar and grilled fresh tuna!

What You Need

  • Tomatoes
  • Salted Anchovy
  • Tuna in Oil
  • Spring Onion
  • 2 Boiled Eggs
  • Small Black (Niçoise) Olives
  • Basil
  • Olive oil
  • Optional
    • Artichoke
    • Broad Beans
    • Green Pepper
    • Garlic
    • Radish
  • Version Escoffier
    • Haricots Verts
    • Potatoes
    • Mesclun
    • Vinegar
    • Black Pepper

What You Do

For the Nissarde Cuisine version: cook the eggs until nearly set, clean the vegetables, wash and slice the anchovy. Then combine quartered tomatoes, sliced spring onion, tuna, anchovy, olives and basil. Drizzle with excellent olive oil and garnish with eggs. Toss briefly to make sure all ingredients are coated with oil.
For the Escoffier version: briefly cook the haricots verts and cool in cold water. Cook the potatoes until done. Cook the eggs until nearly set. Wash and slice the anchovy. Clean the vegetables. Combine quartered tomatoes, sliced spring onion, tuna, anchovy, olives, cubed potatoes, haricots verts and basil. Mix olive oil and vinegar. Drizzle with the dressing and garnish with eggs. Toss briefly to make sure all ingredients are coated with the dressing.
For a more luxurious version replace the canned tuna with grilled tuna.

Stuffed Courgette or Zucchini Flowers

A Tempting Flower

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? Tomatoes? Egg? And how to make a filling that remains inside the flower and isn’t too firm?‘.
We prefer a simple approach: stuff the flowers with a perfect combination: courgette, thyme, shallot, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Firm, tasty and all about zucchini. Enjoy as a starter or combine the stuffed flowers with grilled lamb or chicken.

What You Need

  • Small Courgettes with their flower
  • One Courgette (small and firm; you need 1 small courgette to stuff 4 flowers)
  • One Shallot
  • One Garlic Clove
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Thyme or Herbes de Provence
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Remove the stamens from the flowers. Peel the additional courgette, slice the shallot and the garlic very thinly. Warm a heavy iron pan and gently glaze the shallot. After a few minutes add the garlic. Remove the seeds from the courgette and grate coarsely. When the shallot and the garlic are sufficiently glazed, add the grated courgette and the thyme or Herbes de Provence. Mix and warm for 15-20 minutes, making sure the liquid evaporates. Try to keep the structure of the coarsely grated courgette. Add finely grated Parmesan cheese, mix and taste. Adjust with cheese, black pepper and thyme or Herbes de Provence. Set aside and let cool.
Heat your oven to 180° Celsius or 360° Fahrenheit. Stuff the flowers, close them and transfer to the oven, sprinkle with olive oil and cook for 15 – 20 minutes. Depending on your oven you may need to use ‘traditional’ or a combination with a small grill. You want the flowers to become crisp. Allow them to cool for a few minutes before serving.
PS In case the grated courgette looses its structure and the mixture becomes too dense, then beat an egg white until very firm and gently spoon this through the cold mixture before stuffing the flowers.

 

Risotto With Squid

A Tasty Bonus

Combining rice with squid is an excellent idea. Just think about Arroz Negro, the black rice from Valencia. We combine rice (Acquerello, of course!) with fresh (or frozen) squid. Cleaning squid can be a bit intimidating, but it’s not difficult at all. The result is much better than the already cleaned frozen tubes you can buy plus you get the tentacles as a tasty bonus. Becky Selengut’s video is very helpful. This is how we do it:

  • Start by removing the head from the body. When you do this gently, you will also remove most of the internal organs of the squid. You may want to secure the ink for later use.
  • Just below the eyes, cut off the tentacles using a knife or scissors. Remove the beak (located at the base of the tentacles). Discard internal organs and beak. Transfer the tentacles to a bowl.
  • With your fingers remove the cartilage (this is the part that looks like it is made of plastic).
  • Now you have a choice: you could leave the skin on; it does add extra colour to the stew. But you could also remove the skin of the tube and fins. Best is to start in the middle and then gently pull the skin towards the top and bottom.
  • Remove the fins and transfer to the bowl.
  • Turn the tube inside out by pushing the top into the tube. This allows you to remove all internal organs and the membrane.
  • Turn the tube outside in by pushing the top into the tube. Transfer to the bowl.
  • Wash the tube, fins and tentacles with cold water.

Wine Pairing

Best is to combine this seafood risotto with a light, aromatic white wine. One that is fresh and dry. We enjoyed our risotto with a glass of Bianco di Custoza 2018, made by Monte del Frà in Italy. It is a well-balanced, dry white wine, with a fruity nose. Its colour is straw yellow, with pale green highlights. It is made from a variety of grapes: Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano, Trebbianello and Cortese. An excellent combination with the seafood risotto.

What You Need

  • For the Squid Stew
    • 500 grams of Squid (to be cleaned)
    • Olive Oil
    • Shallot
    • 2 Garlic Gloves
    • 200 grams of Tomatoes (peeled, seeded and cut in chunks)
    • 1 Red Chilli
    • Red Wine
    • Two Fresh Bay Leaves
  • For the Risotto
    • 100 gram of Risotto Rice (Acquerello)
    • Fish Stock
    • Shallot
    • Butter
    • Parmesan cheese
    • Black Pepper
    • Crispy Japanese Seaweed

What You Do

A day before serving the risotto, prepare the stew: use a heavy, iron skillet. Cut the shallot in small bits and glaze gently in olive oil. Once the shallot is glazed add the garlic and the deseeded, chopped red chilli. After a few minutes add the squid (chopped tube and fins, tentacles ). Fry for a few minutes, add the tomatoes, a glass of red wine and the bay leaf. Allow to simmer for 4 hours. If necessary add a splash of water. Stir every 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, cool and store in the refrigerator.

The next day start by peeling and chopping the shallot. Add butter and olive oil to a pan and glaze the shallot. In another pan bring the light fish stock to a boil. After 5 minutes add the rice to the pan with the shallot and coat for 2 minutes. Add the squid stew and mix. 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 grated Parmesan cheese. Stir, a bit of black pepper, add more butter or Parmesan cheese if so required. Serve immediately with some crispy Japanese seaweed.

Risotto with Squid © cadwu
Risotto with Squid © cadwu