Omelette with Artichoke

We love artichokes! It’s such fun to serve a steamed artichoke with a nice dipping sauce made of mayonnaise, whole grain mustard and some lemon juice. Thoroughly relaxing food. And when we have time on our hands, we prepare them à la barigoule.
Recently we wrote about la Cuisine Niçoise d’Hélène Barale. In this very informative book about the traditional food of Nice, you will find a recipe for an omelette with artichokes. We liked the idea, did our shopping and followed the instructions. Unfortunately, sorry Madame Barale!, we were not too happy with the result. The recipe suggests frying the omelette on medium heat on both sides. We think that’s a bit too much: in our case the flavours of the fried egg overwhelmed the subtle taste of the onion, artichoke and garlic. We tweaked the recipe (see below) but that shouldn’t stop you from buying the book and preparing the original.

The taste of the omelette is sweet thanks to cynarine, an intriguing chemical especially found in the leaves of the artichoke. Cynarine will enhance even the slightest trace of sweetness, in this case the sweetness of the onions and the cooked garlic. The taste of the artichoke is also nutty and bitter in a gentle way, which works really well with the eggs.

Wine Pairing

The cynarine will also enhance any sweetness in your wine, so you need a bone-dry, crisp, unoaked white wine with clear, present acidity. For instance a Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner or Albariño.

What You Need

  • 1 Large Artichoke
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 Eggs
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Clean the artichoke, steam for 45 minutes depending on the size and let cool. Use a spoon to remove the ‘meat’ from the leaves (bracts) of the artichokes. Use a fork to make a chunky mash of the heart. Set aside.
Chop the shallot. Warm a heavy iron skillet, add olive oil and gently fry the shallot. Add the artichoke, mix and leave for 10 minutes on low heat. Mash the cooked garlic and add to the mixture. Add some black pepper. Beat two eggs, a bit longer than usual. Add the eggs to the mixture and allow to set, very slowly, making sure the omelette is baveuse (moist, warm and soft).

Lemon Curd

A Lemon Meringue Pie, a Tarte au Citron or Scones with Lemon Curd: tasty, refreshing, bitter, sour, a bit sharp and sweet. We love it! Provided of course that the lemon is more than just juicy and sour.

This has been a bit of an issue over the past years. Similar to the German consumers who complained about the watery and flavourless Dutch tomatoes they bought around 1990, we think that most lemons lack aroma and taste. We tried limes, bought more expensive lemons, added a bit of yuzu, but in the end, we still missed the true taste and aroma of an old-fashioned lemon.

Until one day we bought a Bergamot lemon. Its aroma is intense, floral and long. The juice is sour, deeply citrusy, refreshing and bright. Exactly what we were looking for! We went home and prepared a lovely curd.

Recently we had a similar experience when we visited a dear friend. She grows a Kaffir Lime tree, also known as Makrut Lime, in her garden mainly because she wants to use the fresh leaves in Thai and Indonesian dishes such as Tom Yum, Soto Ayam and various curries. The leaves have a complex citrus flavour with floral notes. We talked about the lovely yellow fruit and how you could use its very aromatic zest as well.
The fruit contains little juice, so when preparing a curd with Kaffir limes, you need to add lime, Bergamot or lemon juice.

What You Need

  • 65 ml of Lemon, Lime, Bergamot and/or Kaffir Lime Juice
  • 65 grams of Butter
  • 100 grams of Sugar
  • One Egg
  • Zest

What You Do

Beat the egg, melt the butter and combine all ingredients. Make sure the sugar is dissolved. Cook Au Bain Marie until you have the right consistency. Or transfer to your microwave, put it on 50% or 70% power and heat with intervals of 20-30 seconds. Mix between the intervals. This is a very precise way of heating the mixture and it gives you full control over the process. Towards the end of the process you may want to reduce the power or shorten the intervals. The percentage and the duration of the intervals depend on your microwave and the bowl you use. We use a microwave saucepan (£1,29 only) and it works perfectly. The material doesn’t absorb warmth, so the mixture doesn’t get extra heated when you stop the microwave. Pass through a sieve (you don’t want the zest in the curd), cool in a water bassin and store in a jar.
The curd keeps for a week in the refrigerator .

PS

Around 1992 a German television program characterised the Dutch tomatoes as watery and tasteless, and called them ‘wasserbombe’. The short-term impact was enormous: the Dutch tomato went from 50% market share in Germany to something close to zero. Longer term the impact was very different: Dutch producers invested in their product, making their tomatoes tastier, richer and more diverse.

Beet Greens Pie

Such a cheap and delicious vegetable: beets! Grilled, cooked, braised, combined with other vegetables or on its own, as a salad or straight from the oven. And so many varieties! Deep red, orange (chiogga), purple, golden and even white. All these beets have one thing in common: they come with leafs, with greens. Most retailers (and their customers) are not interested in the greens and therefore the leaves are discarded before the beets reach the shop. Which is a pity because they are as tasty as the beets. Use the greens in a salad, prepare them like you would prepare spinach or, even tastier, use the leaves as main ingredient of a pie.

Tourte de Blette

Some time ago we published the recipe for Tourte de Blette. When preparing it we were inspired by a dear friend who bases her Tourte on the Italian Torta Verde del Ponente Ligure. This is a very similar dish with zucchini, chard, basil, sage, rise, onion, Grana Padano or Parmesan and eggs. The dough of the Torta Verde is easy to work with and the result is both tasty and crunchy. It works really well for our Tourte de Blette so we decided to use it for this pie as well.

Wine Pairing

A not too complex white wine will be a great idea. You could also drink a glass of rosé with it, for instance a Côtes de Provence. Drinking a beer with your pie is also an excellent idea.

What You Need

  • For the Dough
    • 100 gram of Flour
    • 50 gram of Water
    • 10 gram of Olive Oil
    • 1 gram of Salt
  • For the Mixture
    • Greens of 3 or 4 Beets
    • One Shallot
    • Olive Oil
    • 50 grams of Cooked Rice
    • 1 or 2 Eggs
    • 50 gram Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
    • Black Pepper

What You Do

Cook the rice and leave to rest.  Combine flour, salt, water and olive oil. Make the dough, kneed for a minute or so and store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the leaves from the stem and chop the stems. Slice the leaves coarsely. Best is to have the stem slices the size of the cooked rice. Same for the shallot. Warm a large heavy skillet, gently fry the shallot. After 10 minutes add the chopped stems. Leave for 10 minutes and then add the leaves. Cook for a few minutes until done. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
Slice the mixture using a kitchen knife. Whisk the two eggs. Combine the vegetables, the egg, the rice and the freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Add black pepper.
Cut the dough in two, one part slightly bigger than the other. The bigger part will be the bottom, the smaller part the top. Roll out the bigger one with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Coat a 15 cm or 6 inch round baking form with oil (or use a sheet of baking paper). Place the first disk in the baking form, add filling and close with the second disk of dough. Fold the edge of the top piece of dough over and under the edge of the bottom piece of dough, pressing together. Make holes in the top, allowing for the steam to escape. Transfer to the oven for 40 – 50 minutes on 180˚ – 200˚ Celsius or 355˚ – 390˚ Fahrenheit. Immediately after having removed the pie from the oven, brush the top with olive oil. This will intensify the colour of the crust. Let cool and enjoy luke warm.

Mushroom Caponata

There must be hundreds of recipes for Caponata. The dish originates from Sicily and should contain (at least, we think so) eggplant (aubergine), celery and vinegar. Sugar is often added to enhance the sweetness and intensity. Nowadays it’s often a combination with tomatoes, shallot, capers, olives and perhaps raisins, pine nuts, oregano and basil.
The flavour of caponata should be slightly bitter (the eggplant) with a touch of sweetness (sugar, onion), acidity and saltiness (celery). The texture should be moist, but not sauce-like.
We love to enhance the flavours by adding mushrooms. And since we’re not keen on using sugar, we make sure the onions bring sufficient sweetness.

Enjoy your caponata as an appetizer, for instance with some crusted bread or bruschetta. A nice glass of white wine or rosé will be perfect with it. It’s also great as a side dish, with fish or even merguez.

Whatever the combination, caponata must be made one day ahead.

What You Need

  • 1 Aubergine
  • 200 grams of Mushrooms (preferably a mix with Shiitake)
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 cm Red Chilli Pepper
  • Parsley
  • Celery
  • 2 tablespoons of White Wine Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Fine Salt

What You Do

Wash the eggplant and slice. We slice the eggplant lengthwise in 8 and then we slice these strips. Salt them generously, transfer to a sieve and allow to drain for one or two hours. The more liquid they lose, the better! Rinse the eggplant with cold water and dry them with a kitchen cloth. Fry the aubergine in a heavy iron skillet until nicely golden brown. Set aside. Slice the red onion, clean and chop the mushrooms. Chop the garlic and the chilli pepper finely. Add some olive oil to the pan and fry the onion. Remove and set aside. Now fry the mushrooms. After 5 minutes or so add the garlic and the chilli pepper. After a few minutes add the mushrooms and the eggplant to the pan. Add chopped parsley and celery. Mix well. Add two spoons of white wine vinegar and leave on low heat for 10 minutes. Add black pepper to taste. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Keep in the refrigerator for the next day.

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

No-Knead Bread

Two or three times per week we enjoy the taste of fresh home-made bread. The crust, the flavours, the aromas! And how about the singing of the bread when it’s just out of the oven? Baking your own bread is such a pleasure.

Our recipe is based on a recipe published by 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 excellent book My Bread. The process is time consuming (it’s 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 1 gram of instant yeast in combination with 19+3 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

In 1764 Elizabeth Moxon describes a no kneading bread recipe 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!

Jim Lahey

My Bread is such a wonderful book. The first chapters describe the background, the process and the basic recipe. In the next chapters you will find recipes for special bread, such as Fresh Corn Bread and Banana Leaf Rolls plus inspired recipes for Pizza Fungi and Focaccia.

My Bread is available via your local bookshop and the usual channels for something between 20 and 30 euro or US dollar.

What You Need

  • 200 grams of Whole Grain Flour
  • 230 grams of Plain White Flour
  • 1 gram Instant Yeast
  • 25 grams Blue Poppy Seed
  • 30 grams Brown Linseed
  • 4 grams Salt (this is less than usual, most recipes for bread would say 8 gram)
  • 350 grams Water
  • Additional Flower
  • Bran

What You Do

Simplest is to buy My Bread or look at the recipe and movie as provided by the New York Times.

Mix flour, yeast, seeds and salt. Add water and create one mixture. Let rest in a covered bowl for 19 hours. Remove from bowl, fold 4 times, dust with additional flour and let rest on a towel dusted with flour and bran for 3 hours. Check that the pot (and the handles!) can be used in a really hot oven. Transfer the pot to the oven and heat your oven to 235˚ Celsius or 450˚ Fahrenheit. Put the dough, seam side up, in the pot, close it and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for 15 minutes or until it is nicely browned. Let cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing it. Listen to your bread signing!

Maitake

Legend has it that maitake got its nickname The Dancing Mushroom because foragers danced with happiness when finding it. It still is a much loved culinary mushroom, with a very specific aroma, interesting texture and intense flavours.
Nowadays maitake can be wild or cultivated. Both are fine; we actually prefer the cultivated one because it’s milder. Make sure you cook maitake through and through, otherwise you may upset your stomach (and other parts of your body). 

Maitake combines very well with beef and thyme. It is also great when combined with shrimps, crab, scallops, coriander, dill and parsley; a salad created by Antonio Carluccio and published in 2003 in the Complete Mushroom Book. Our Maitake soup, made with dashi, ginger and rice, is a gentle soup, with some umami and bitterness. 

In this case we combine fried maitake with various other ingredients to create a well-balanced (vegetarian) meal.

Wine Pairing

A flavourful dish! Sweetness in the tomatoes, umami in the maitake, freshness in the mash et cetera. Wine wise you have lots of options. We preferred a not too complex pinot noir, because it’s supportive and combines very well with the various flavours.

What You Need

  • 200 grams of Maitake and Olive Oil
  • Parsley Root, Jerusalem Artichoke, Crème Fraîche, White Pepper and Nutmeg
  • Small Ripe Tomatoes, Thyme, Rosemary, Garlic and Olive Oil
  • Lentils, Shallot, Parsley, Vegetable Stock and Black Pepper
  • Celeriac, Butter, Caraway Seed, Fennel Seed and Black Pepper

What You Do

For the lentils: slice the shallot and gently fry it in olive oil. After a few minutes, add the washed lentils (check for pebbles!), coat them with oil, add vegetable stock and cook until ready. Perhaps 20 minutes. Drain but keep some of the liquid, add chopped parsley and black pepper.
For the tomato confit, see an earlier post.
For the mash: clean and chop 2 parsley roots and 1 Jerusalem artichoke. Cook for 10 minutes or so in water until nearly done. Drain. Add a generous spoonful of crème fraîche and warm on low heat for 10-20 minutes. The idea is for the vegetables to absorb some of the crème fraîche. Blender the mixture, pass through a sieve and serve with white pepper. A touch of freshly grated nutmeg will be great. If you like more color on your plate, then add some chopped parsley to the mash.
The celeriac is cooked in the oven with a coating of fennel and careway seed. The recipe from Dutch chef Yvette van Boven is available via YouTube. She combines it with a home-made citrus marmalade, but that’s not necessary for this dish. Use the YouTube settings if you want to have subtitles in your own language.
Slice the maitake and fry in olive oil until done and slightly crunchy.
Serve on a colourful plate.

Mushroom Tapenade

Years ago our favourite green grocer was the shop of Joop and Trudi Petersen, close to Amsterdam’s China Town. Not only did they sell the tastiest vegetables, fruit and mushrooms, but they also sold homemade mash (the one made with potatoes and rapini (or broccoli rabe) was wonderful), desserts, ravioli with pumpkin and Trudi’s mushroom tapenade. When Joop turned 65 in 2008 they retired and closed the shop. Obviously, we asked for the tapenade recipe, but alas, all we got was a nice, friendly smile.

In our post about the Mushroom Book by Michael McLaughlin and Dorothy Reinhardt (Illustrator) we mentioned that the recipe for Mushroom Tapenade is amongst our favourites. His tapenade is a combination of mushrooms, garlic, various herbs, red wine, anchovies, black olives and capers. Very nice, tasty and powerful, but not as delicious as Trudi’s version.

Mushroom tapenade comes with lots of umami, thanks to the mushrooms and the olives. Thinking back of Trudi’s tapenade, we’re pretty sure she enhanced the umami flavor, probably by adding some oyster sauce from the toko next door. We think that the recipe below is very close to what she created.

What You Need

  • Fresh Button Mushrooms and Shiitake (ratio 2:1)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • Olive Oil
  • Thyme and Rosemary
  • White Wine
  • Black Olives
  • Excellent Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper
  • Half a teaspoon of (Thai) Oyster Sauce

What You Do

Don’t use dried mushrooms. In general they have a nasty, bitter taste, not even close to the flavor, aromas and textures of fresh mushrooms.
Clean and chop the mushrooms. Finely chop the rosemary, the thyme and the garlic. Fry the mushroom in olive oil in a heavy iron skillet. Reduce heat, add herbs and garlic. After 10 minutes add a splash of white wine. Continue on low heat and wait until the wine and juices have evaporated. No rush. Chop a few black olives. Transfer the mushroom mix to a plate, let cool and add the olives. When cool, transfer to a kitchen aid and on low-speed start adding excellent olive oil. The result should be a tapenade, so not smooth and not oily. Add black pepper to taste. Add a small amount (1/4 teaspoon to begin with) of (Thai) Oyster Sauce. Be very careful, it should only enhance the umami.
Store in the refrigerator for at least one day before using.

Hilaire Walden

Some chefs love the limelight, some prefer to stay in the background, focusing on cooking and writing. Hilaire Walden is clearly one of them. 

She is author of some 40 books and she has written for prestigious magazines and newspapers about food, cooking and restaurants. She wrote The Great Big Cookie Book, The Book of Tapas and Spanish Cooking, the Book of French Provincial Cooking, The Singapore CookbookQuick After Work Summer Vegetarian CookbookThe Book of Fish and Shellfish and more recently I Love My Barbecue. Indeed, a broad culinary spectrum!

The Loire

One of our favourites is Loire Gastronomique. In this book she follows the course of the French river and describes the various regions, local products, local recipes and of course the wines that go with it. Cheese, cookies, pies, everything. The Loire region is known as the Garden of France. In this garden you’ll find wonderful castles (Azay-le-RideauChambordChinon), great wine (MuscadetSancerrePouilly-Fumé) and beautiful food (asparagus, lots of fruit, artichokes and of course Lentille Verte du Puy). The book is inspiring and it will make you dream of a walk along the Loire, with a view on Amboise and a glass Crémant de Loire in your hand.

Recipes

One of the benefits of Hilaire Walden’s recipes is that they are always correct. Sounds odd, but as we all know, unfortunately, often recipes are simply not complete or correct.
If you prepare a dish for the first time, simply follow her instructions and you’re fine.

She started publishing books around 1980, so perhaps your favourite book will be second hand, but don’t worry, it will not be outdated.