What better way to start the mushroom season than serving Classic Cèpes? The recipe is very simple and the result is about cèpes and cèpes alone. The stems a bit firm, the caps moist, the flavours intense and the taste rich and earthy, with a touch of freshness from the parsley. It’s a classic in Germany (Steinpilze auf klassische Art), France (similar to Cèpes a la Bordelaise), Italy and many other countries.
If you want to enjoy the cèpes with a glass of white wine, then we suggest drinking one that is fresh, fruity, round and balanced, for instance of a glass of Bodegas Mocén Selección Especial made from verdejo grapes. A glass of rosé with similar flavours is also a good idea. The idea is to support the cèpes by adding fruitiness and freshness to the dish.
When you decide to drink a glass of red wine, then we suggest a full-bodied red wine with gently fruit and present tannins.
What You Need
200 gram Cèpes
One small Shallot
What You Do
Clean the mushrooms and slice lengthwise. Finely chop the shallot and the parsley. Add butter to a relatively hot heavy iron skillet. Reduce the heat and fry the cèpes for a few minutes. Add the shallot. Cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add chopped parsley, add more butter, black pepper and stir. Serve on a warm plate.
One of our favourites for a grey, wintery evening. Warm, rich and full of flavours. Let’s first talk about the chicken: we prefer using chicken thighs, organic, obviously. Great texture, layered and a bit of fat. You could also use chicken legs, but then we suggest removing the main bone; you don’t want to struggle while eating.
The second main ingredient is the red wine. A classic Coq au Vin is made with Bourgogne, a relatively expensive red wine from France made from Pinot Noir grapes. According to some people the wine you use for the stew must be the same that accompanies the dish. Which would mean that part of your beautiful Bourgogne ends up in the stew. Hm. We think that the background of this ‘rule’ is about the quality of the wine you use for the stew: it must be a nice, dry, red wine; one you would be perfectly happy to drink. So not some left over red wine, or a wine you didn’t like. A perfect stew requires quality ingredients, that’s all.
The third main ingredient is the pearl onion, that lovely small, silver onion. Great to pickle, but for a Coq au Vin you need fresh ones.
We enjoyed our Coq au Vin with a glass of Révélation Pays d’Oc Syrah-Viognier produced by Badet Clément. It’s a full-bodied wine with flavours of blackberry and spices. Touch of oak as well. The 15% Viognier gives the wine a nice, light touch. Great wine for a very reasonable price.
Clean and quarter the mushroom, slice the strips of pancetta or bacon in four, peel the onions, slice the thighs in two or three, peel the garlic and chop. Add olive oil to a warm heavy pan. Begin by frying the pancetta or bacon until crispy. Remove from the pan and let drain on kitchen paper. Add (whole) pearl onions to the pan and fry until golden. Remove from the pan and let drain on kitchen paper. Add mushrooms to the pan and fry until golden. Remove from the pan and let drain on kitchen paper. Add chicken thighs to the pan and fry until golden. When golden add the garlic and fry for 3 minutes on medium heat. Add pancetta, mushrooms and onions to the pan. Add chicken stock, red wine and perhaps some water. The chicken should be nearly covered. Add bouquet garni and leave to simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken.
Remove chicken, mushroom, pancetta, garlic and bouquet garni from the pan. Discard the bouquet. Return one or two mushroom to the liquid. Transfer the remaining ingredients to an oven at 60 °C or 140 °F. Blender the liquid for one minute. Reduce the liquid until it has reached the right consistency. The fun is that a liquid thickened with blended mushrooms doesn’t split. Return the ingredients to the sauce and boil the snow peas. Combine the coq au vin with the parsley, add some black pepper. Steam or quickly cook the peas, coat with excellent olive oil and add some freshly grated nutmeg.
Think France, think a small restaurant in a small street, nice and simple, no Michelin star in sight. It’s 12.30, time for a quick lunch. You enter the restaurant, take a seat and order today’s dish, the plat du jour. It turns out to be a generous helping of lentils with confit de cuisse de canard and parsley. After having enjoyed your lunch, you think about the joy of good food and the beauty of lentils. Lentille Verte du Puy, such a treat! The combination of the confit, the lentils and the parsley with the sweetness of the shallot and the garlic is elegant, moist and full of flavours.
Feel free to buy ready-made confit. You could of course make it yourself but it is fairly time consuming and not something you would do for two confits only. In our experience most of the confits you can buy (tinned or vacuumed) will be fine. If you’re lucky your local butcher will make his or her own confits. We have included an alternative recipe below.
We suggest a glass of not too complex red wine; a well-balanced wine with notes of red fruit, gentle tannins and not too oaky. We enjoyed a glass of Bordeaux-Supérieur, Château Picon.
What You Need
1 Garlic Glove
Lentils (Lentille Verte du Puy O.P & A.O.C. from Sabarot)
Finely chop one shallot and glaze gently in olive oil. In the mean time check the lentils for small pebbles; wash them. Once the shallot is glazed add the crushed coriander seed and the lentils. Heat and stir for one minutes, as you would do with risotto rice. Add some chicken stock and water (the stock is only intended to give the lentils a small push) and leave to simmer on low heat. When the lentils are nearly done, finely chop the other two shallots and glaze gently in olive oil and in the fat that comes with the confit. In parallel warm the two confits. After a few minutes add the finely chopped garlic to the shallot. Chop the parsley. When the garlic and shallot are nicely soft and sweet, add the parsley, some black pepper and then mix with the lentils. Remove the skin from the confit and serve the duck on top of the lentils. Perhaps serve with a simple green salad.
Alternative Way of Making Confit of Duck
Start by crushing a nice amount of juniper berries. Take a sheet of strong aluminium foil, add some crushed berries, a bay leaf and put one duck leg (skin side up) on top. Drizzle with plenty of olive oil. Add the remainder of the berries and a second bay leaf. Wrap the meat in foil, making sure it is tightly closed and the foil intact. If not sure wrap with a second piece of foil. Transfer to a warm oven (90° Celsius or 200° Fahrenheit) for at least 8 hours.
Gioachino Rossini (1792 – 1868) was a gifted, talented and great composer. Not only did he compose some 40 operas, many songs and the beautiful Petite Messe Solennelle, he was also an expert with regard to food. Perhaps expert is not the right word: he was a gourmand, an excessive eater and drinker plus a culinary inspiration. Chefs would name dishes after him, such as Filets de Sole Rossini (poached Dover sole wrapped around goose liver and truffle served with a white wine sauce), Cocktail Rossini (strawberries and prosecco), Macaroni Soup alla Rossini (a soup with partridge quenelles and Parmesan cheese) and many others.
The soup was created by Marie-Antoine Carême, a very dear and close friend of Rossini. He was Roi des Cuisiniers et Cuisinier des Rois having been chef to Napoleon, the Prince of Wales (the later King George IV), Tsar Alexander 1st and Baron de Rothschild. He created the concept of the four mother sauces (Allemande, Béchamel, Espagnole, Velouté) and was an essential inspiration for Auguste Escoffier. Marie-Antoine Carême is one of the most influential chefs ever, a brilliant patissier and author of several books on cookery, including L’Art de la Cuisine Française.
Very likely it was Escoffier who came up with the word tournedos, but the combination of bread, meat, goose liver, truffle and Madeira was a creation by Marie-Antoine Carême, inspired by and prepared for his friend Gioachino Rossini.
Tournedos Rossini is a culinary pleasure. It’s elegant, full of flavours and exquisite. It’s simply gorgeous.
A classic red Bordeaux will be a perfect match. Dry, full-bodied and fruity. We enjoyed a glass of Château Gaillard Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2015. This is a dry, cherry-red coloured wine. It features medium woody, fruity and vegetal scents and offers a broad texture as well as medium tannins.
Originally you would need demi-glace sauce, but we take a short cut. Make sure you have everything ready. The oven should be at 70° Celsius (160° Fahrenheit), one heavy iron pan and one non-sticky pan both warm, nearly hot, through and through. Make sure the meat is at room temperature. We prefer a small steak (75 gram). Start by frying the two slices of bread in butter until golden. Transfer the bread to the oven. Clean the pan with kitchen paper and add butter. Quickly fry the meat, it must be saignant (no options here). Wrap in foil and set aside. Reduce heat. Add stock to the pan and deglaze. Add Madeira. Thinly slice the fresh winter truffle (no options here). Add the smaller slices and crumbles to the sauce. Put the beef on top of the bread. Keep warm. Fry the goose liver for just a few seconds in the hot non sticky pan until golden/brown. Now plate up: the bread with the beef and the goose liver on top. Pour over the sauce, add the bigger slices of truffle and serve immediately.
After having prepared Kimizu with White Asparagus, we continued our experiment by making Kimizu with tarragon, indeed, Béarnaise based on Kimizu. Great result! The taste was wonderful with the tarragon clearly present in combination with a touch of sweetness (shallot) and acidity (rice vinegar). The sauce is elegant on the stomach compared to Béarnaise, which can be rather filling (as a result of the butter) in combination with red meat.
Obviously we want to drink a glass of red wine with our steak and Béarnaise. In general the fattier or more marbled the meat is, the more robust the wine needs to be. A Côte du Rhône, Syrah or blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre is perfect with a rib eye. A Bordeaux with clear tannins would also be a good choice. With a leaner fillet we would serve a Pinot Noir or a Gamay (Beaujolais).
What You Need
Two Egg Yolks
4 Tablespoons of Castrique
3 Tablespoons of Rice Vinegar
3 Tablespoons of White Wine
2 Tablespoons of Fresh Tarragon
2 coarsely crushed Peppercorns
Chopped Fresh Tarragon
Optional: Shopped Fresh Parsley and/or Chervil
What You Do
Start by making the castrique. Basically this is a tarragon and shallot flavoured liquid with a some acidity that replaced the water in the Kimizu. Same difference between Hollandaise and Béarnaise. Thinly chop the shallot. Combine the vinegar, shallot, white wine, peppercorns and tarragon in a small pan and slowly reduce the liquid until you have four tablespoons of castrique. Check the acidity. If needed add an extra table spoon of rice vinegar or an extra tablespoon of water and reduce again. Pass through a sieve, let cool and set aside.
Whisk the two egg yolks, add the castrique 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 or 3 steps of 10 seconds, move to steps of 5 seconds on 30% power. Whisk, whisk again and feel free to find your own way. When the sauce is ready take it out of the microwave, continue whisking gently and (optional) cool slightly in a water bath.
In parallel add olive oil to a hot iron skillet and quickly sear the rib eye. Once it has a nice colour and is saignant transfer it to some aluminium foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Don’t wrap the meat in the foil, because then the cooking will continue and the meat will be medium. If you however prefer the meat to be medium, then reduce the heat after having seared the meat, add some butter to the pan and turn the meat for a few minutes.
Add chopped tarragon (and chervil and parsley) to the sauce, stir and serve with the steak, rib eye or fillet.
This is a true classic, so many will claim to have the one and only original recipe. This dish is all about beef, onions and brown Belgian beer. Herbs like parsley and bay leaf, spices like nutmeg plus mustard and cider vinegar. Definitely not bacon, stock, prunes and garlic. Maybe some brown sugar if you prefer a sweet touch to the dish. Given it’s a true classic many traditional restaurants in Belgium (or better said Flanders) will have this on the menu. Try it with some bread and a glass of brown Beer, preferably draught. We serve the stew with two vegetables: celeriac and green beans. You could also go for mashed potatoes or fries, but balancing the rich stew with vegetables and bread is (we think) a much healthier idea. And typical for a good stew: make it a day in advance. Don’t worry if you made too much, the stew will keep for months in the freezer.
If you go for a glass of red wine, make sure it is full-bodied and rich, because the stew is really hearty. Bordeaux is a good choice. We drank a glass of Chateau Beaulieu, Cotes de Bourg, 2012. It is a wine with lots of dark fruit and a touch of oak. The wine is a blend of the traditional Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc plus 10% Malbec.
What You Need (for 4 persons)
1 kilo of excellent, fat, marbled Beef
4-6 large White Onions
1 tablespoon of all purpose Flour
2 bottles (33 cl) of Belgian Brown Beer (we prefer Westmalle)
Bouquet garni, consisting of Thyme, Bay Leaf and Parsley
Slice of Bread
What To Do
Start by slicing the meat. Don’t make the cubes too small; they will shrink during the cooking process. Heat butter and olive oil in a large pan and start frying the meat. You probably will have to do this in 2 or 3 batches. Make sure the meat is nicely colored. Add some more olive oil and caramelize the sliced onions. Again, not too thin, they should be visible in the stew. Now add the flour and coat the onions and the beef. Add nutmeg, the beer, the cider vinegar and the bouquet. Close the pan and keep on a low heat for 2 to 3 hours. Check the meat and add one slice of bread (not the crust). Add a nice spoon of French mustard. Leave to simmer for another hour. By now the bread will be dissolved. Stir and check the meat. If okay, then remove the meat from the pan and reduce the sauce. Discard the bouquet. Transfer the meat back into the pan, reheat, then cool and transfer to the refrigerator until the next day. Reheat slowly and serve with Celeriac and Beans.
PS How to Prepare Celeriac?
Good question! Clean the celeriac and cut in cubes. Transfer to a pan with some water and one or two generous slices of lemon. One or two you ask? Well, the answer depends on the size of your celeriac and the acidity of the lemon. If in doubt, then go for one slice. Cook the celeriac until nearly done. Remove the water and the lemon. Now add (single) cream to the pan. Keep on a low heat for 10 minutes. The celeriac will absorb some of the cream. Transfer the mixture to the blender and create a smooth puree. Serve with nutmeg.
PS How to Cook Green Beans?
Short is the only answer. Serve with excellent olive oil. Normally we would add some nutmeg, but given it’s already on the celeriac and in the stew you may want to skip it. Olive oil is essential to coat the beans and make them nuttier. Butter will also coat them, but it is much more mouth filming and the butter will not emphasize the nuttiness of the beans.
White asparagus is such a great vegetable! In this recipe we describe the classic way of serving asparagus: A la Flamande. This way you will be able to taste the slight bitterness and sweetness of the asparagus. The butter and egg bring a feeling of velvet to your palate, which is ideal to taste the asparagus. The parsley and white pepper give a touch of sharpness to the dish.
Serve the white asparagus with a dry Muscat from the Elzas. The delicate, slightly sweet but dry taste, the hint of bitterness and the rich aromas work very well with white asparagus. Muscat to us means the smell of fresh fruit. When drinking it is if you’re tasting the original grape. Wonderful wine and wonderful combination. We recently combined the asparagus with a Riesling (2015, Trocken, Meulenhof) from the German Mosel region. Worked very well.
What You Need
3 or 5 White Asparagus per person
100 gram Ham
What You Do
Steam the white asparagus and cook or steam the eggs medium, making sure the yolk is not set but also not running. Peel the egg and cut in four. Chop the parsley. Serve the asparagus and eggs warm on a plate. Dress the plate with ham (please make sure it has a bit of fat) and butter; sprinkle the parsley over the plate. Add some white pepper. As an alternative warm the butter and pour it gently over the asparagus.