Oden

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.

Pairing

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 Daikon
    • 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)
    • Mirin
  • Karashi
  • 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.

  • Oden ©cadwu
  • Oden with names of Ingredients ©cadwu

Belgian Endive with Cheese Sauce and Ham

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.

Wine Pairing

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
      • Milk
      • 75 grams of grated Cheese (preferably a combination of Gruyère and Emmentaler)
      • optional: one Egg Yolk
    • Nutmeg
    • White pepper
  • For the Mash
    • Root Parsley
    • Parsnip
    • Nutmeg
    • Fresh Parsley
    • White Pepper

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.

Choucroute

A classic choucroute is a tribute to winter food. You could go for a rich version with confit de canard or pheasant (Choucroute d’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.

Wine Pairing

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
  • One Shallot
  • Juniper Berries
  • Caraway seed
  • 4 strips of Bacon or Pancetta
  • Dry White Wine
  • Olive Oil
  • Two Bay Leaves
  • Various Sausages and Pork Meat (all organic)
  • Dijon Mustard
  • 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.

Roulade of Turkey with Mushrooms and Chestnuts

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.

Wine Pairing

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)

  • Shallot
  • Olive Oil
  • 150 grams of Mushrooms
  • Thyme
  • Chestnut Spread
  • Black Pepper

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
  • Filling
  • Kitchen twine and needle
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Cream
  • Black Pepper
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Nutmeg

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.

Season’s Greetings

Perhaps you’re looking for some extra inspiration menu-wise for the Holiday Season? Let us help you with a few suggestions.

Apéretif

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.

Starter

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.

Main Course

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.

Cheese

We tend to go for the classic combination of Stilton and Port. Spend some money and buy a Late Bottled Vintage Port.

Dessert

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.

Season’s Greetings 2021 ©cadwu
Season’s Greetings 2021 ©cadwu

Himmel Und Erde

It’s not often that we write about German cuisine. Actually, we never do. But with the wintery weather it’s time to visit the Bürgerliche KücheHimmel und Erde is a dish you would typically order when you’re at a local German Brewery, enjoying a beer of course. It combines potatoes and onions (Erde) with apples (Himmel), black pudding, bacon and butter. That may sound simple, but actually it’s a bit more work than you would expect. The flavours combine surprisingly well.

The trick is to use two kinds of apples. A sour one that will break down and can easily be combined with the mashed potatoes and a sweet one that will add character to the dish. Without the small chunks of sweet apple the mash becomes bland. Adding strips of fried bacon makes the mash even more tasty.

Drink Pairing

A slightly bitter beer is an excellent choice, but you could also go for a Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). You’re looking for a medium bodied red wine, with lots of fruit and perhaps a touch of oak.

What You Need

  • Black Pudding or Boudin Noir
  • Mash
    • 1 medium sized Crumbly Potato
    • 1 large, Sweet Apple
    • 1 large, Sour Apple
    • Butter
    • Nutmeg
    • Black Pepper
    • Pinch of Salt
    • Bacon
    • More Butter
  • 1 large Onion
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Start by peeling the onions. Quarter and slice. Add olive oil to a heavy iron skillet on medium to low heat and fry the onions until brown. This may take a few hours. Take your time for the best result! When the onions are ready it’s time to prepare the other four elements of the dish, all in parallel. Peel and dice the potato and the apples. Cook separately. When the potato is ready, add a generous amount of butter and a pinch of salt. Mash with a fork. Cook the apples with a limited amount of water until the sour one is completely soft. Stir with a spoon. Fry the black pudding until done. Grill the bacon until crispy. Slice the grilled bacon in smaller bits, let’s say 1 cm. Heat the onions to make sure they are a bit crispy. Now it’s time to assemble the dish. Combine potatoes and apples with some extra butter. Be generous! Add some black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Taste and when okay, add the grilled bacon. Serve on a hot plate with the fried onions and the black pudding.

Himmel und Erde ©cadwu
Himmel und Erde ©cadwu

Pumpkin Soup (with Kombu Dashi)

It’s autumn, so obviously we want to cook pumpkin soup. A nice and warm combination of pumpkin, ginger, chilli and orange lentils for instance. Or with Jus de Truffe for a bit of extra umami and exclusivity.  Both are excellent vegetarian dishes, perfect for lunch with some crusted bread or as a starter.
Having recently prepared kabocha with shrimps, we decided to prepare a vegetarian soup with it. The basis of the soup is Kombu Dashi (made with dried Kelp). The dashi and the soy sauce bring saltiness and umami to the soup, which combines very well with the exceptional sweetness of the pumpkin and the mirin.

You could prepare the soup with the skin of the kabocha, but we love the intense orange colour of the inside.

What You Need

  • 20 grams of Kelp
  • 1 litre Water
  • 1 Kabocha
  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Mirin
  • Purple Shiso

What You Do

Add the kelp to one litre of cold water. Put on low heat and wait until it has reached 80 °C or 175 °F. Overheating it will make the dashi bitter. In the meantime, wash and peel the kabocha, remove the seeds and dice. Remove the kelp from the pan, discard and add the kabocha. Allow to simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes until the kabocha is soft. Remove some of the liquid and blender the kabocha. Add liquid until you have the right consistency. In our experience you will need one litre of water to cook the kabocha but it might be too much liquid for a nice, velvety consistency of your soup. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of mirin and 1 or 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce.  It’s a matter of your preference, ripeness of the kabocha and the kelp.
Best to decorate with some purple shiso, or with sprouts (as we did), provided they’re not too spicy.

Pâté with Mushrooms

Let’s celebrate the season by preparing a Pâté! The combination of a crispy crust, a structured, colourful filling and various flavours is always a pleasure. Making a pâté (or better: a Pâté en Croûte) can be a bit intimidating (especially if you look at the pâté’s prepared during the World Championship!) but that should not stop you from giving it a try. It’s a pleasure to think about the ingredients, work on the construction and enjoy the wonderful aromas from your oven while baking the pâté. And the joy when slicing it: is the pâté as beautiful as you expected it to be?
Feel free to make your own puff pastry, but if you buy ready-made pastry, please check it’s made with butter, flower, salt and water only and not with rapeseed oil, palm oil, yeast etcetera.

Wine Pairing

A red, medium bodied wine will be a great accompaniment of this Pâté en Croûte. 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 Pinot Noir from La Cour Des Dames

What You Need

  • 150 grams of Cèpes
  • 250 grams of Champignon de Paris
  • 1 small Shallot
  • Handful of Spinach
  • Half a cup of Rice
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Parsley
  • One Egg
  • Puff Pastry
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Start by cooking some rice, you will probably need a tablespoon of cooked rice. Clean the cèpes and see how they best fit in the pâté baking mould. Perhaps you need to trim the stems or the caps to have the best result when it’s ready. Set the cèpes aside.
Clean the champignons and wash the spinach. Peel and finely chop the shallot. Warm a heavy iron skillet, glaze the shallot, add the cleaned and lengthwise halved mushrooms (and the leftovers of the cèpes) and cook them on medium heat for 10 minutes or so. In parallel blanch the spinach, drain and squeeze. Also in parallel, coat the mould first with baking paper and then with puff pastry. Make sure you have some extra pastry to create the lids for the chimneys. Chop the cooked mushrooms. Chop the spinach. Add the egg to a large bowl and whisk. Add the cooked mushrooms to the bowl, add some black pepper, chopped parsley and finely grated Parmesan Cheese. Add some spinach, just to have some extra colour. Add the rice. The rice will help absorb additional juices from the cèpes, so how much rice you need is a matter of looking at the mixture and the cèpes.

Now it’s time to build the pâté: start by creating a bottom with the mixture, position the cèpes and add the remainder of the mixture. Make sure the mixture envelops the mushrooms. Close the pâté with the pastry. Make two holes in the roof of the pâté and use baking paper to create 2 chimneys. Transfer to the oven (180 °C or 355 °F) for 45 minutes. Use the remainder of the puff pastry to make 4 mini cookies that will function as lid on the chimney (of course, you only need 2, but baking 4 allows you to choose the best). After 45 minutes add the 4 cookies, bake for another 10 minutes. Mix some egg yolk and coat the pâté and the cookies. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. The duration and temperatures very much depend on the shape of the mould and the pastry.

Transfer from the oven, remove the chimneys, glue the lids on the chimneys using some egg yolk and let cool. Once cool, remove from the mould, transfer to the refrigerator and wait until the next day. 

Japanese Pumpkin with Shrimps

The traditional Japanese way of preparing Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) requires a bit of work but is not overly complex. The result is a combination of delicate, fresh pumpkin flavours with clear umami as a result of simmering the pumpkin in a dashi-based stock. You could replace the Japanese Pumpkin with a more common winter squash or with a red Hokkaido pumpkin.

Combining shrimps and pumpkin seems a bit odd, but it’s actually very nice. The combination is colourful and the various flavours come together nicely, also thanks to the dashi.
The first time we enjoyed this combination was when we prepared Takiawase, following the recipe from author and Michelin Award winning chef Akira Oshima. The recipe is included in his book Yamazato, Kaiseki Recipes: Secrets of the Japanese Cuisine. It’s a mouth-watering dish but unfortunately fairly difficult to prepare. Typically, Takiawase is a combination of vegetables and fish. Every ingredient requires its own preparation and is simmered in its own dashi-based stock. Indeed: four different kinds of homemade stock. The recipe of Akira Oshima combines kabocha, eggplant, okra and shrimp.

Drink Pairing

We prefer a glass of sake with our Kabocha with Shrimps, for instance a Junmai sake with fresh aromas and good acidity. The sake must be dry and well-balanced with a clean finish. You could enjoy a glass of white wine with the dish, provided it’s dry and mineral. Or a more adventurous choice: a glass of Manzanilla or Fino sherry. Manzanilla is a dry sherry with a flowery bouquet, a delicate palate and subtle acidity. It works beautifully with the dashi and the sweetness of both the kabocha and the shrimps.

What You Need                                                                         

  • For the Dashi
    • 10 grams of Kelp
    • 10 grams of Katsuobushi
  • For the Kabocha
    • Mirin
    • Light Soy Sauce (Usukuchi)
    • Sake
  • For the Shrimps
    • Sake
    • (Olive) Oil
    • Mirin
    • Light Soy Sauce (Usukuchi)
  • Pickled Cucumber

What You Do

Start by preparing 500 ml of dashi.
Peel and devein the six shrimps. We prefer to leave the tail on. Transfer the shrimps to a bowl, add some sake and transfer to the refrigerator for a few hours.
Peel the Kabocha, remove the seeds. Halve and then slice in 6 equal parts. Combine 400 ml of dashi with 25 ml of mirin, 25 ml of light soy sauce and a tablespoon of sake. Add the slices of kabocha and let is simmer for some 10 minutes or until nearly done.
In parallel heat a heavy iron skillet, add oil, dry the shrimps with kitchen paper and then fry them quickly, let’s say 4 minutes. Transfer to a warm oven. Remove the oil from the pan with kitchen paper. Reduce the heat to low. Mix 50 ml of dashi with 25 ml of mirin and a small spoon of light soy sauce. Deglaze the pan and let the mixture reduce. Transfer the shrimps back the pan and coat them quickly with the mixture. Serve the slices of kabocha with the fried, coated shrimps and the pickled cucumber.

Horn of Plenty with Cumin and Pork Fillet

The name Horn of Plenty refers to the shape (very much like a funnel without a stem) of the mushroom and to the mythical goat Amaltheia, whose horn would be filled with everything you whished for. It’s also called Black Chantarelle, which is very appropriate because it’s a chantarelle and truly black when cooked. The more morbid name is Trompette de la Mort, as if the buried use the mushrooms to play the Marche Funèbre.

More importantly to us: they are very edible with a pleasant fibrous and chewy texture. The only downside is that they quickly become soggy and smelly, so make sure you buy (or harvest) dry ones and use them the same day or the next.

For some reason Horn of Plenty simply loves cumin. We also added coriander and fennel seed to give some additional lightness and freshness to the combination.
And as always, only use the very best organic pork.

Wine Pairing

A medium bodied, not too complex, red wine will be perfect. Think Merlot, Tempranillo, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Carménère.

What You Need

  • 150 grams Horn of Plenty
  • One Red Onion
  • Cumin, Coriander and Fennel (seeds)
  • Black pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Pork Fillet

What You Do

Clean the mushrooms thoroughly. This can be time consuming. Slice the pork fillet to create 6 medallions. Heat a heavy iron skillet and fry the medallions in olive oil until just underdone. Wrap in aluminium foil and leave to rest. Slice the red onion, add some olive oil to the pan and fry the onion. Grind cumin, coriander and fennel seeds and fry the spices. Lower the heat, perhaps add some more olive oil and fry the mushrooms for 5-10 minutes. Taste, adjust and add some black pepper. Add the juices from the pork to the pan, deglaze and serve.

  • Horn of Plenty with Cumin and Pork Fillet ©cadwu
  • Horn of Plenty ©cadwu