This delicious dish with cabbage, sausage and potatoes looks a bit wintery but actually thanks to the taste and the texture of the Savoy Cabbage it’s uplifting and even a bit refreshing. The structure of the leaves is very firm, so we cook the leaves before adding them to the stew. The risk is, as with all cabbages, to overcook them, which will cause the typical nasty sulphur smell. The leaves can also be used to make a roulade, or a dolma shaped snack.
We used Saucisse de Morteau which is a smoked sausage from the Franche-Comté region. In general, you’re looking for a smoked pork sausage. The Saucisse de Morteau is smoked for 48 hours so the taste is very present, which allows you to buy a small sausage. The main role in this dish is for the Savoy Cabbage!
A medium bodied red wine will be great, but we could also imagine enjoying it with a beer. The flavours are bold, so a not too complex beer or wine will be perfect.
What You Need
Two Garlic Cloves
Half a Savoy Cabbage
One Smoked Sausage
What You Do
Heat a pan with water. Wash the potato and cook until nearly ready. Use a potato that remains firm when cooked. We used Mona Lisa, a tasty, starchy all purpose potato. Remove the potato from the boiling water. Peel off the outer leaves of the cabbage and discard. Peal off the reaming leaves, remove the veins and cook for 3-5 minutes in hot water. Remove the leaves, cool with cold water and let dry. Add the sausage to the pan, 20 minutes in hot (not boiling) water should be fine. In parallel quarter the onion and fry in olive oil. After a few minutes add the chopped garlic. Now it’s time to combine all ingredient in an oven dish. Set your oven to 180 °C or 355 °F and leave for 20 minutes. You could toss gently after 10 minutes. Add some chopped parsley and black pepper just before serving
This edible, very productive plant (Tropaeolum Tuberosum ) is originally from the Andes. It grows very well in colder climates, it’s not very demanding and comes back year after year thanks to its tubers. Other names include Capucine Tubéreuse, Knollige Kapuzinerkresse en Knolcapucien. We saw Mashua Tubers in our local bio supermarket and we bought them, without having a clue how to prepare the tubers.
The leaves are supposed to taste like Indian Cress (same family) and the deep orange-red trumpet flowers will do very well in a salad. The leaves can also be turned into pesto or prepared like spinach. The tubers (vibrant yellow with an intriguing purple pattern) are often used in stews and soups. They can be eaten raw in a salad, grated or thinly sliced. Not our favourite. The taste is radish like, but sharper and not very elegant. The taste and the texture of the cooked mashua tubers took us by surprise: delicate cocoa but not sweet, moist and with a pleasant structure thanks to the peel.
We combined our Mashua with chicken and shiitake, a combination that worked very well, although we must admit we were a bit overwhelmed by the Mashua!
A medium bodied, fruity, non-oaked red wine will go very well with the Mashua. A glass of Merlot perhaps?
What You Need
For the Mashua
5 Mashua Tubers
For the Chicken
2 Organic Chicken Thighs
50 grams of Shiitake
What You Do
Wash the mashua (don’t peel them) and cook for 5 minutes. Let cool. Slice the tubers lengthwise in two. Dry with kitchen paper. Peel the shallot, quarter and slice. Warm a small skillet. Add a generous amount of olive oil to the pan, glaze the shallot for a few minutes, add cumin (crushed seeds preferred) and then add the halved mashua. Leave for 30+ minutes until just a bit soft. Turn them occasionally to coat the roots with the flavours of the oil, the shallot and the cumin. No need to colour them. Add some extra cumin 5 minutes before serving. In parallel, fry the chicken thighs and transfer to the oven (60 °C or 140 °F). Clean and slice the shiitake, add to the pan and fry. Add the chicken, allow to integrate. Add black pepper to taste.
One of our favourite dishes is Duck Breast with Orange Sauce. Not difficult to make and the result is always tasty. Use a combination of fresh orange juice, thyme, rosemary, butter, Mandarine Napoléon, Cointreau, chicken stock and/or orange peel to make a tasty, not to sweet sauce. Mandarine Napoléon is preferred because it gives bitterness and depth to the sauce. The juicy meat, the sweetness of the duck and the orange, the nice aromas, the herbs and the velvety mouthfeel of the sauce make this an excellent combination.
Last week we were lucky, very lucky when we spotted Orange Amère on our local market. Bitter Orange! Also known as Seville Orange, Bigarade Orange or Pomerans. Finally! The ideal ingredient to make Orange Curd, Marmalade and of course Orange Sauce.
We bought a handful and as soon as we were at home, we wanted to taste it. The Bitter Orange does not contain much juice, their seize is similar to that of a clementine and the seeds are relatively big. The taste is sweet and gentle at first, and then you have bitterness, some astringency and length. Wow! We rushed to our butcher, bought an excellent magret de canard and later enjoyed a perfect Duck Breast with Orange Sauce.
Bitter Oranges are normally available from late December until the end of February. Ask your greengrocer!
The combination of potatoes and truffle is an interesting one. Because one is the opposite of the other in terms of price and availability? Because both grow underground?
Dutch chef John Halvemaan (also winner of the prestigious Johannes van Dam prize) created a no doubt delicious combination, using butter, veal stock, parsley and cooked bacon. Also very tasty: a recipe for a gratin with crème fraîche and eggs and a recipe by chef Claude Deligne (Le Taillevent in Paris) with foie gras. All far too complex for us, so we prepared a very rich and tasty potato purée with lots of truffle.
If you look for recipes with potatoes and truffle, you will find suggestions using truffle oil. It’s not the real thing, however, if you find quality truffle oil and use only a little bit, your purée will be yummy. The sad news is that some (most?) truffle oil comes with 2,4-dithiapentane, a synthetically produced, aromatic molecule. Producers add this because it gives the impression that the oil contains truffle. Unfortunately, the flavours of 2,4-dithiapentane are not even close to the aromas and taste of a real truffle.
In this case you have to spend some money on both the truffle and the potatoes.
We combined our purée with an excellent rib eye and served it with its own jus and the purée.
We enjoyed a glass of Camino de Caza Almansa Garnacha Tintorera-Monastrell 2020. An organic red wine produced by Bodegas Piqueras and made grapes from the Almansa region in Spain. It’s a full-bodied wine with soft tannins and a hint of vanilla and chocolate. In general, you’re looking for a smooth wine with notes of red fruit and oak, medium acidity and with a long, dry finish. One that goes very well with for instance red meat and game (hare, deer).
What You Need
What You Do
Make your favourite purée! Cook the potatoes until ready (meaning: until the blade of a knife inserted in the potato goes easily through it). Drain. Mash with a fork, add cold butter, combine, add warm milk and/or cream and use a spatula to get the right consistency. You could add a beaten egg yolk (also because eggs and truffle work together wonderfully). Add salt to taste. Perhaps some white pepper. Grate the truffle and add half of it to the purée. The taste of a winter truffle benefits from the warmth of the purée. Just before serving add the remaining truffle.
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.
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
1 Garlic Glove
Bouquet Garni (Parsley, Bay Leaf, Thyme)
For the Sauce
4 Ripe Tomatoes
1 Red Bell Pepper
3 Garlic Gloves
½ Red Chili Pepper
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.
A traditional Japanese dish, often enjoyed in winter. It is tasty, light and full of surprises. Oden is a meal that requires a bit more work (and of course time) then you would expect. It also requires some shopping, given some of the ingredients are not easy to find. We enjoyed our first Oden at the Taishunken restaurant in the famous Sankeien Garden in Yokohama. Loved it! We are not from Japan so we humbly present our version of this classic. We hope it inspires you to cook Oden and enjoy it as much as we did.
A cup of Japanese green tea is the obvious choice. You could also combine your oden with a glass of Chardonnay (with a touch of oak perhaps), for instance if you serve it for dinner. Oden is rich in flavours, umami of course, but not spicy, so we would not suggest a Gewürztraminer or a Sauvignon Blanc. A glass of cold, dry sake will also be great.
What You Need
For the Dashi
1 litre of Water
20 grams of Dashi Kombu (Rishiri Kombu)
20 grams of Katsuobushi (Bonito Flakes)
For the Stew
One Pack of Konnyaku
1 sheet of Hayani Kombu
Chikuwa Fish Cakes
One Pack of Gobo Maki Burdockroot Fish Cakes
2 boiled eggs
Abura Age Fried Tofu
Mochi (Sticky Rice Cake)
Soy Sauce (preferably one with less salt)
Rice with ginger
What You Do
First step is to peel the daikon and slice it (2 centimeters is best). Now use a sharp knife to plane of the edge of the daikon. This improves the presentation, and it is supposed to stop the daikon from falling apart. Cook the daikon for one hour in water. Drain and set aside. In parallel: cut the konnyaku in triangles and cook these in water for 15 minutes. Konnyaku is made from the konjac plant and is specific for the Japanese cuisine. Also in parallel: cook the sheet of Hayani Kombu for 5 minutes. This is young kombu and edible, different for the one you use when preparing dashi. Let cool a bit, slice and knot ribbons. Not sure why but is looks great when you serve it. (Yes, well spotted, it’s not in the picture; unfortunately, we couldn’t find Hayani when we prepared our oden.) Make 1 litre of dashi. This seems simple but requires precision. Clean the kombu with a wet cloth and put into one litre of cold water. Gently raise the temperature to 80 °C or 175 °F. Remove and discard the kombu. Bring the liquid to a boil, add the katsuobushi, bring to a boil and immediately set heat to zero. Wait 5 minutes or so. The katsuobushi will sink to the bottom of the pan. Now very gently pass the liquid through a wet towel or a sieve. Do not squeeze, just give it time. The result will be a great, clean dashi.
Now it’s time to add the dashi to the pan (should be a clay pot, but we stick to our Le Creuset), add one tablespoon of mirin, one (or two, depending on your taste) of light soy sauce, add the daikon, the konnyaku, the chikuwa fish cakes and the gobo maki burdockroot fish cakes. Allow to simmer for at least 2 hours. 30 minutes before serving add boiled eggs, two Hayani ribbons, fried tofu and mochi. The last two ingredients must be combined by putting the mochi into the tofu. Serve with karashi (Japanese mustard, which is different from wasabi by the way) on the side.
When asked for a typical Flemish dish, award winning chef Jeroen Meus immediately mentioned Belgian Endive with Cheese Sauce and Ham. At home we found the recipe in my mother’s kookschrift, a notebook with recipes she learned as a young woman. She would cook the dish often, typically on a Sunday evening, and serve it with mashed potatoes. Her recipe is fairly straightforward: wash and clean the Belgian endive and cook it for 30 minutes (the recipe is from 1950!) in salted water. Then make a béchamel sauce, add cheese, wrap the endive in ham, spoon the sauce over the vegetables, add butter and breadcrumbs and transfer the combination to the oven for 15-20 minutes. Done!
Actually, her recipe is not very different from how Jeroen Meus prepares the dish. He doesn’t use breadcrumbs and he adds nutmeg and a splash of lemon to the sauce. He suggests steaming or braising the endive.
Most recipes mention removing the bitter core of the Belgian endive. Perhaps that was necessary in 1950, but today’s Belgian endive is not as bitter, so there is no need to do that. Belgian endive must have some bitterness.
Enjoy your Belgian Endive with a nice glass of red wine, one with a bite and not too complex. For instance a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from France, a Carmenère from Chili or a Spanish Rioja (Crianza or Joven).
What You Need
For the Endive
4 Belgian Endive
4 slices of Excellent Organic Cooked Ham
For the Cheese Sauce
20 grams of Flour
20 grams of Butter
75 grams of grated Cheese (preferably a combination of Gruyère and Emmentaler)
optional: one Egg Yolk
For the Mash
What You Do
Chop the bottom of the base of the endive and remove the outer leaves if they don’t look great. Steam the endive or braise it in butter. We prefer braising in butter, which may take 30 minutes on low heat. This way you keep all the flavors and the texture. If steamed: make sure you squeeze the endives gently to get rid of the water excess. Make the cheese sauce with flour, butter and milk, adding most of the grated cheese when the béchamel is ready. Add grated nutmeg and white pepper to taste. You could turn it into a classic Sauce Mornay by adding one egg yolk to the sauce. Preheat the oven (200°C or 390 °F). Wrap a piece of ham around each endive and arrange in a shallow baking dish. You don’t want any space between the endive. Spoon sauce over the endive. Sprinkle remainder of the cheese over the sauce. Bake until golden brown on top, 15 to 25 minutes. We prefer using the grill.
For the Mash: clean and dice the root parsley and the parsnip (ratio 1:1). Cook quickly in a limited amount of water. When ready, drain and mash using a blender. Add nutmeg and white pepper. Just before serving add lots of finely chopped fresh parsley.
A classic choucroute is a tribute to winter food. You could go for a rich version with confit de canard or pheasant (Choucrouted’Alsace) or for an unexpected combination with fish (Choucroute de la Mer). We decided to make a simple but very tasty version with pork sausages, bacon and pork meat. The choucroute is moist and soft, the meat comes with some nice fat and a light smoky aroma, the juniper berries are full of flavours. Ah, it makes you love winter. Preparing choucroute can be done in various ways, including cooking in water. We prefer the slow approach in an oven at 80° Celsius or 175° Fahrenheit during four to six hours.
Some add goose fat to the choucroute to enhance the taste, but that’s too much for us. We actually prefer a light version of the vegetable, allowing the meat to bring fat to the dish and a velvety mouthfeel.
The obvious choice is probably a white wine from the Alsace region in France. Which is exactly what we did. We were looking for a refreshing, round white wine and decided to drink a glass of Pinot Gris as produced by Cave de Beblenheim. Perfect with the present flavours of the choucroute.
What You Need
400 grams of Sauerkraut
4 strips of Bacon or Pancetta
Dry White Wine
Two Bay Leaves
Various Sausages and Pork Meat (all organic)
Optional: a mash made with Parsnip and Parsley Root
What You Do
Taste the sauerkraut. If too much acidity, then squeeze and remove some of the liquid. Peel and slice the shallot. Crush the juniper berries and the caraway seed lightly. Slice the strips of bacon or pancetta in 6 or 8. Combine the sauerkraut with the shallot, the caraway seed, the berries and the bacon. Add some white wine, a splash of olive oil and two bay leaves. Transfer the mix to a heavy (iron) oven dish. Put some aluminium foil on top of it, making sure you press it on the sauerkraut (as if it’s a cartouche). Leave for 4 – 6 hours in the oven on 80° Celsius or 175° Fahrenheit. Check the choucroute every hour to make sure it’s sufficiently moist. Also move the slightly browned choucroute at the edge to the centre of the dish. One or two hours before serving add the meat to the dish. Serve with some Dijon mustard.
We love to eat this very tasty, juicy, rich combination during winter. We use meat from the leg of the turkey (the thigh) because it has lots of flavours and a great texture. You could of course make your own chestnut butter, crème or spread; we prefer using Clément Faugier’s Chestnut Spread. It’s nutty, sweet (but not too sweet) and earthy.
A medium bodied, red wine will be a great accompaniment of the roulade. In general you’re looking for a red wine with aromas of black fruit, floral notes and delicate wood. The tannins should be soft or well-integrated. We enjoyed a glass of Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) as produced by Von der Mark-Walter. The winery is located in Baden, Germany, at the foothills of the Black Forest.
What You Need (Filling)
150 grams of Mushrooms
Chop the shallot and glaze in a pan with olive oil for 5 minutes. Clean the mushrooms and cut into smaller chunks. Add the mushrooms and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add a generous amount of thyme. Transfer from the pan and allow to cool. Once lukewarm, use a kitchen knife to create a lovely duxelles. Add a teaspoon of chestnut spread. Taste and adjust by adding more chestnut spread and black pepper.
What You Need (Roulade)
One Turkey Thigh
Pancetta or Bacon
Kitchen twine and needle
Remove the bone (if any) and ‘unfold’ the meat by slicing the thicker part, making it longer. Make a strip of pancetta from left to right, without covering the lower and upper part of the meat. Put the filling on top of the strip and then spread it out, making sure the top and bottom remain not covered. Put 4 or 6 strings of kitchen twine underneath the roulade and start rolling. Not too tight. Use one longer string of kitchen twine to close the sides (so the two strings are at right angles to each other). You may need a needle to close the roulade. Wrap the roulade in plastic foil and keep in the refrigerator. Ready to cook? Fry the roulade in lots of butter and olive oil to give it a nice colour and then transfer it to the oven at 160 ˚C or 320 ˚F. It’s ready when the centre has reached a temperature of 70 ˚C or 160 ˚F. Transfer from the oven and wrap in aluminium foil. Leave to rest for 15 minutes. Add some chicken stock to the pan and deglaze. Transfer to the blender and create a smooth, thick sauce. Transfer back to the pan and leave on low heat. Add some cream, taste and leave for 10 minutes or so. In the mean time steam the Brussels sprouts. When ready coat with some olive oil. Serve two or three slices of turkey roulade per person with the sauce and some Brussels sprouts. A touch of black pepper on the turkey and some fresh nutmeg on the sprouts.
Perhaps you’re looking for some extra inspiration menu-wise for the Holiday Season? Let us help you with a few suggestions.
It’s of course great to serve a glass of Champagne, but why not start with a glass of Crémant de Bourgogne or Alsace? Or a Spanish Cava? The fun is that you can buy a slightly more expensive Crémant or Cava and enjoy a refined sparkling wine. Serve with Terrine de Foie Gras on toast or with a small prawn cocktail, served in a peeled tomato.
Scallops with fluffy cauliflower purée is a wonderful combination of flavours. The practical advantage is that you can prepare the purée a day ahead and grilling the pancetta is also something you can do in advance. Serve with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Dry, some acidity, touch of fruit.
Canard à l’Orange, served with steamed Brussels sprouts and potatoes fried in butter: a dish that supports the festive character of your evening: sweetness, a touch of bitterness and crispy, rich potatoes. Enjoy with a beautiful Bordeaux. In general you’re looking for a powerful red wine, with aromas of berries and a touch of oak. The flavour must be round and long with subtle tannins.
We tend to go for the classic combination of Stilton and Port. Spend some money and buy a Late Bottled Vintage Port.
Continue the British tradition and enjoy a slice of Christmas Pudding with a coffee and a glass of Cognac or Calvados. No need to serve the pudding with brandy butter.