Warm Tapenade

On one of the last, warm, long evenings of this summer we wanted to enjoy something with lots of flavours and depth, but we didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. Then we remembered a tapenade like mixture that worked nicely with monkfish. Why not combine it with excellent beef? The result was what we hoped for: lots of flavours and we only needed 15 minutes to prepare it.

Wine Pairing

Enjoy with a glass of full-bodied red wine, for instance Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec. The tannins of such a wine will combine very well with the depth and richness of the tapenade and the beef.

We enjoyed a glass of Les Terrasses Occitanes Fitou produced by Mont Tauch from the Languedoc region in France, made with Grenache, Carignan and Syrah grapes. A not too complex, full bodied dry wine with aromas of red fruit and a lasting taste.

What You Need

  • 150 grams of Excellent Beef (Sirloin, Bavette)
  • For the Tapenade:
    • Shallot
    • Garlic
    • Black Olives
    • Capers
    • Thyme
    • Rosemary (optional)
    • Anchovies
    • Olive Oil

What You Do

Let the beef rest on a plate until it reaches room temperature. This could take an hour. Chop the shallot and the garlic, halve the black olives and remove the thyme leaves from the stalk. If using fresh rosemary, make sure to chop the leaves. Dry the capers with kitchen paper. Mash the anchovies with a fork until you have a paste-like substance. Warm a pan, add some olive oil and glaze the onions. After a few minutes add the garlic. Add the olives, the thyme, the capers and the anchovies. The result should be a rather chunky, rich tapenade.
Add olive oil to a hot skillet and quickly fry the beef. Leave to rest for a few minutes before serving with the warm tapenade. Add some black pepper.

PS

Not using anchovies is not an option. They bring umami and saltiness to the tapenade. One fillet is enough to have the right result.

Beef with Warm Tapenade ©cadwu
Beef with Warm Tapenade ©cadwu

Zucchini with Oregano and Parmesan Cheese

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

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

Wine Pairing

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

What You Need

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

What You Do

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

Salmorejo

A delicious, rich, creamy, velvety, elegant, complex, delicious, cold tomato soup from Andalucía (southern Spain) with lots of generous flavours. It is ideal on a hot summer’s evening and great as a vegetarian starter. It is very simple to make: purée skinned, fresh, ripe tomatoes with stale, white bread, olive oil and garlic. Garnish with Jamón Serrano (also from Andalucía) and hard-boiled egg.

Salmorejo and Gazpacho are very different soups. Gazpacho comes with red bell pepper, chili and onions; Salmorejo is purely about tomatoes and is much creamier and softer, because bread is a key ingredient. It’s nice to decorate gazpacho; Salmorejo must be garnished. Salmorejo is a beautifully balanced soup.

Removing the skin is mandatory when making Salmorejo. The idea to roast the tomatoes is a twist that enhances the flavours of the tomatoes, but it is not part of the original Salmorejo, so feel free to skip this step.

What You Need

  • 500 grams of Excellent Ripe Tomatoes
  • Slice of stale White Artisanal Bread without the crust
  • 1 small Garlic Clove
  • 1 tablespoon of Jerez Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 hard-boiled Egg
  • (optional) diced Serrano Ham
  • Black Pepper
  • (optional) Salt

What You Do

Peel the tomatoes. Soak the bread in water for 10 minutes. Optional: slice the tomatoes in two and transfer to an oven (200 °C or 390 °F) for 15 minutes and let cool. Chop the garlic clove. Blender the tomatoes, the bread (and the water) and the garlic until very smooth. It should be really smooth, cream like; this may take 1 minute on turbo! On low speed add the vinegar and slowly add the olive oil. Taste, add salt and pepper if required and perhaps some more olive oil. Allow to cool for at least 2 hours.
Serve in cold bowls and garnish with roughly chopped hard-boiled egg and diced Serrano ham.

PS

If you enjoy cold soups as much as we do, then we have more recipes for you: Gazpacho, Ajo Blanco and Avocado and Cucumber Soup.

Salmorejo ©cadwu
Salmorejo ©cadwu

Mussels with Tomato Sauce

Earlier this month the mussels season started in the Netherlands. Time to prepare Moules Marinière, Mosselen met Look, Mussels in Beer, Mussels with Anise or Mussels with Tomato Sauce. Serve with crusted bread or French fries and you will have a delicious lunch, starter or main course.
Mussel-wise we prefer small ones, they seem to be tastier and juicier. For a lunch or starter we suggest 1 kilo for two persons, when served as a main course it’s 1 kilo per person. Please read our post about mussel basics if you’re not familiar with cleaning and cooking mussels.

Wine Pairing

The sauce is a touch spicy, so we suggest a white wine with more intense flavours. Could be a Picpoul de Pinet, could be a wine made with Verdejo or Albariño grapes. We enjoyed a glass of Bodegas Piqueras Almansa Wild Fermented Verdejo. This is an organic white wine from the Spanish Rueda region. The wine has a beautiful yellow colour. Its aromas are intense and slightly exotic. The wine has a subtle touch of wood, is balanced and has a long finish. A wine that accompanies the mussels plus the spiciness and the acidity of the sauce perfectly.

What You Need

For the Mussels

  • 1 kilo of Mussels
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1 Garlic Glove
  • Bouquet Garni (Parsley, Bay Leaf, Thyme)
  • White Whine

For the Sauce

  • 4 Ripe Tomatoes
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Shallot
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 Garlic Gloves
  • ½ Red Chili Pepper
  • Red Wine
  • Bouquet Garni (Parsley, Bay Leaf, Thyme)
  • And later on:
    • 2 Ripe Tomatoes
    • Grounded Chili Pepper

What You Do

Make the sauce one day ahead. Wash the tomatoes, the bell pepper and the chili pepper. Remove the seeds from the pepper and the bell pepper and slice. Chop the tomatoes. No need to remove the pits. Peel the shallot and garlic gloves and chop these. Glaze the onion, garlic and chili pepper in olive oil. Ten minutes on low heat. Add the tomatoes, the bell pepper, some red wine and the bouquet garni. Cook for at least two hours. Remove the bouquet garni, transfer the mixture to the blender and make a very smooth sauce. Pass through a sieve. Transfer back to the pan and reduce until it’s a nice, rich sauce. This may take 30 minutes. Cool quickly and transfer to the refrigerator. It freezes very well.

Clean the mussels with a small kitchen knife. Scrape off all the nasty bits. If you don’t do this, these will end up in your sauce and that’s not what you want.

Chop the garlic and the shallot. Warm a fairly big pan and gently glaze the shallot in olive oil. Then add the chopped garlic. Add a glass of white wine and the bouquet garni and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, allowing for the flavours to integrate.
Wash the tomatoes, remove the seeds and slice in nice small cubes. Warm the sauce. The moment you add the mussels to the pan, you add the cubed tomatoes to the sauce. Add some chilli powder to the sauce, just to give the sauce an extra push.
Turn up the heat to maximum and when really hot add the mussels and close the pan with the lid. Listen and observe: you will be able to hear when content of the pan is becoming hot again. You will see steam, more steam. Check the status of the mussels. Close the lid, listen and observe. Overcooking the mussels will make them chewy which is awful. Remove mussels with a slotted spoon, transfer to a warm soup dish and label the warm and spicy tomato sauce over the mussels.
You could add a spoonful of cooking liquid to the sauce, if you want to.

Mussels with Tomato Sauce ©cadwu
Mussels with Tomato Sauce ©cadwu

Gazpacho

Simple, tasty, refreshing and quick: what more could you ask for on a summer’s evening? We love a cold soup, for instance Ajo Blanco or Avocado and Cucumber Soup.

Gazpacho, another Spanish classic, is not just a mixture of tomatoes, bell pepper, chili, garlic and white onion. It absolutely needs Jerez vinegar and excellent olive oil. The olive oil will give that velvety, rich feeling in your mouth and the vinegar with the chili gives the gazpacho that typical, sharp freshness.
You will need the very best of vegetables: ripe, tasty and with a firm structure.
The bell pepper should, according to some recipes, be a green Cubanelle pepper. Hard to find for us, so we’re happy to use a green bell pepper.

Prepare the Gazpacho 8 hours in advance and serve in cold bowls. 

What you need

  • 4 large, meaty, tasty red Tomatoes
  • ½ white (Spanish) Onion
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 2 Fresh Garlic Gloves
  • ½ Red Chili
  • 1 small Cucumber (optional in our view)
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Jerez Vinegar
  • Pinch of Salt

What You Do

Cut the tomatoes in 4 and remove the seeds. Transfer to a sieve and use the back of a spoon to squeeze out the liquid. Discard the seeds. Chop the tomato chunks, onion, bell pepper, gloves and chili. Use a blender to mix tomato chunks, tomato juice, onion, bell pepper, gloves and chili until you have a fairly smooth soup. Add olive oil and Jerez vinegar and pulse. Taste, add pinch of salt and more olive oil or vinegar if needed. Transfer to refrigerator to let cool. You could decorate with green bell pepper or chopped tomato (provided it’s peeled and seeded).

PS

Most recipes mention passing the mixture through a sieve. This way you will get a smoother, but also thinner soup. That’s probably why these recipes suggest adding white bread to the mixture.

Gazpacho ©cadwu
Gazpacho ©cadwu

Asparagus!

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

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

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

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

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

Wine Pairing

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

Asparagus ©cadwu
Asparagus ©cadwu

Asparagus with Kimizu

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

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

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

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

Wine Pairing

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

What You Need

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

What You Do

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

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

Asparagus à la Flamande

One of the classic ways of serving asparagus is à la Flamande (Op Vlaamse wijze) with melted butter, boiled eggs, parsley and nutmeg. The nutmeg is an essential element of the dish. It enhances the flavour of the asparagus, and it’s a bridge between the egg mixture and the asparagus.
There are two main variations: the first one is to serve the asparagus with small potatoes. Not a great idea, unless you’re hungry, because the potatoes soften, weaken the flavour of the asparagus. The dish is about enjoying asparagus, so why would you add potatoes?
The second variation is to add lemon to the butter and egg mixture. This makes the dish a bit lighter and fresher. If you want to do so, be careful with the wine you serve. You need to balance the acidity in the wine and the food.

Wine Pairing

Serve the asparagus à la Flamande with a dry, white wine. We enjoyed a glass of Silvaner produced by the German Winery Thörle. The wine comes with freshness, some acidity, minerality and fruit (pear, green apples). Excellent with our asparagus.

What You Need

  • 4 Asparagus per person
  • 3 Eggs
  • Parsley
  • Butter
  • Nutmeg
  • White Pepper

What You Do

We use our Russel and Hobbs food steamer to prepare this classic dish. An essential kitchen aid for only 50 euro or US dollar. 
Clean and peel the asparagus. Steam them for 10+5+5 minutes. After 10 minutes add the eggs to the steamer basket. After 5 minutes, turn the eggs upside down. Another 5 minutes later the asparagus and the eggs are ready. If you like your asparagus softer, then steam for 12-15 minutes. The eggs should be hard. Depending on the size you may need to steam them a bit longer. In parallel heat a very generous amount of butter. Chop the parsley. Peel the egg and mash with a fork, creating a ‘mimosa’ of egg. Combine mimosa and parsley. Add some white pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Add the mixture to the butter and combine. Spoon the egg mixture on top of the asparagus.

Asparagus a la Flamande ©cadwu
Asparagus a la Flamande ©cadwu

The Art of Sauces: Kimizu

Yamazato

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

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

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

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

Wine Pairing

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

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

What You Need

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

What You Do

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

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

Raspberry Vinegar

Many years ago, we had the pleasure of being regular guests at the Auberge des Seigneurs in Vence, France. In those days the restaurant offered a wide range of beautiful dishes from the days of King François I, such as blue trout, roasted chicken, quail with Pruneaux d’Agen and tender lamb cooked on a spit before an open fire in the dining room.
Ah, Madame Rodi, we treasure these evenings, the beautiful food, the local wine, your dog (known to regular guests as monsieur Tim) and your infinite hospitality. We also remember your wonderful Coca Cola Light, which you would serve after dinner. It came in a huge Biot bottle and to the surprise, astonishment, shock of most of your new guests it was everything but light. It was a strong grappa with Boutons de Fleur d’Oranger (orange blossom buds). We can still see the broad smile on your face when yet another guest would take too big a sip of your powerful concoction.

Adding fruit can be a disastrous idea (just think about strawberry tea or sole Picasso) but the touch of acidity of raspberries makes them ideal to combine with vinegar. We follow Madame Rodi’s approach when making raspberry vinegar: simply combine the two and enjoy.

Use the raspberry vinegar wisely, for instance combine it with strong flavours, preferably umami. We use it in our favourite autumn salad with Porcini and Smoked Duck. The colour, the aromas, the taste: the vinegar and the raspberries integrate perfectly.

What You Need

  • 250 grams of Excellent Organic Raspberries
  • 250 ml White Vinegar

What You Do

Clean the raspberries, crush them with a fork and combine with the vinegar. Put in a jar and transfer to the refrigerator for one week, making sure to stir at least once a day.
Pass the mixture through a sieve, applying light pressure only. Pass the vinegar through a white cloth, squeeze very gentle. The result is probably a bit cloudy, so leave for a few days before using.