Omelet with Black (Winter) Truffle

Omelet with Black (Winter) Truffle with a glass of Kuentz-Bas Alsa­ce Pi­not Blanc

It’s mid March so still some time left to enjoy tasty winter food. Treat yourself to Choucroute with pork, sausage and Confit of Duck. Or pumpkin soup with ginger and jus de truffes.
Talking about truffles, black truffles are harvested from November to March, so be extravagant and buy one before the season closes. The one we bought was 17.6 grams, so you could imagine how happy we were to find it. When buying truffle, please ask if it’s okay to smell them, because the aroma will tell you everything you need to know about the quality.
Black truffle combines really well with warm purée of potatoes, risotto and egg.
Hint: if you need to store a black truffle for a day or so, please store it in a small box with some rice and an egg. The rice will prevent the truffle of becoming too wet and the egg will embrace the aromas of the truffle and become a treat in its own right.
We used our truffle to make one of the simplest and tastiest truffle dishes ever: an omelet with truffle and Parmesan cheese.

A white wine goes very well with this omelet, best would be a classic Pinot Blanc or Riesling from the Alsace region (for instance Kuentz-Bas AOC Alsa­ce Pi­not Blanc Tra­di­ti­on). Think fruity aromas, floral characteristics, minerality and a touch of sweetness. If you want to drink a red wine, then go for a blend like Feteasca Neagra with Syrah as produced by Radacini from Moldavia. Sounds a bit exotic, so if you can’t find it go for a fruity (ripe cherry, plum), spicy red wine with a velvety structure; serve it slightly cooled.

Here is what you need

  • 2 Eggs
  • Butter
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • 10 grams or (budget permitting) more Black Truffle
  • White Pepper

Clean the truffle if necessary. Take a fairly small iron skillet and make sure the pan is warm through and through but not hot. Using a fork (a spoon is even better) whisk the two eggs together. Add butter to the pan and wait until it is melted. It should not change colour or sizzle. An omelet should not be fried; the bottom must remain yellow. Add the whisked egg to the pan and wait until the egg is beginning to set. Check the consistency with your fingers. There is no alternative to baveuse! Take your time.
Serve the omelet on warm dishes with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, white pepper and grated black truffle.

Kimchi Soup

Kimchi Soup

A very tasty soup, nice as a starter to your Korean evening or as a quick and nourishing lunch. Kimchi soup can be made with pork belly or with tofu. We prefer the vegetarian option.
It’s not difficult to prepare kimchi from scratch (see below) but you can also buy kimchi from your local Korean shop.

Here is what you need (soup)

  • Kimchi
  • Onion
  • Garlic clove
  • Spring onion
  • Soybean paste (Korean Doenjang or Japanese Miso)
  • Red chili paste (Korean Gochujang)
  • Fish sauce
  • Tofu

Start by chopping the onion, the garlic and the spring onion. Keep some spring onion for decoration. Fry the garlic and onions in some oil. Add the soybean paste, the red chili paste and the chopped kimchi. Stir fry the mixture because this will enhance the flavours. Add water and leave for 15 minutes. Taste the soup and add fish sauce, soybean paste or red chili paste to your taste. Leave to simmer for another 15 minutes. Then add chunks of tofu and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes. Decorate with spring onion.

Kimchi background

Hipster food or the traditional Korean way of preserving cabbage? The latter of course. But we must admit, all the foodie-talk about Kimchi inspired us to join a workshop at Mediamatic in Amsterdam. Marrit Kuyng Ok Schakel ran an excellent workshop and not only did she share her passion for Korean food and Kimchi, she also showed us how to make our own Kimchi using white cabbage.

Making Kimchi is all about fermentation: a controlled biological process to change ingredients into food that can be preserved. Fermentation is at the heart of our food production. Beer, cheese, wine, bread, yoghurt, tea, coffee, classic Dutch haring et cetera: fermentation is an essential aspect.

 

Here is what you need (kimchi)

  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Red chili paste (Korean Gochujang)
  • Fish sauce
  • Spring Onion

The quickest way to make kimchi is by thinly slicing the cabbage, add salt, grated ginger, sliced garlic, red chili paste and fish sauce. The preparation is simple: just mix with your hands (do so for 5 minutes) store in a jar and wait for 5 – 10 days. The fermentation will produce some carbon dioxide so make sure to open the jar on a daily basis. The smell could be rather powerful in the beginning. In this case the amount of salt required depends on how much fish sauce was used. We suggest tasting the mixture and expect between 1% and 2%.

The better way to make kimchi? Slice the cabbage, starting at the bottom, but not completely. Tear the halves apart. Leave the cabbage in water with salt (5% is recommended) for 1-2 hours. Remove the cabbage, wash with cold water and taste if not too salty. If so, wah a bit more. Make a mixture of red chili paste, fish sauce, garlic and ginger. Using your hands, gently work the paste into the cabbage until all leaves are thoroughly coated. Move to a jar and leave to ferment

Also try making kimchi with Daikon, White Cabbage or Pak Choi. We will continue the experiment by using chicory.

A Classic for you – 1

Ratatouille

Think summer vegetables, think Ratatouille! Which is also a comedy released in 2007 about a rat called Remy with a passion for cooking. If you want to see how he prepares ratatouille then simply enter Remy cooks ratatouille as search term in YouTube (or buy the DVD if you’re old fashioned like us).
Ratatouille brings back memories of summer, of the South of France, of the Mediterranean. Or for some, of their youth. It combines very well with a simple sausage, with lamb, with grilled chicken.
However you prepare your ratatouille, be sure to use courgette or zucchini, aubergine or eggplant, tomato and bell peppers. Also make sure you prepare it a day ahead. The taste becomes much more integrated after a day (or two) in the refrigerator.
Our recipe is very much the recipe of a dear friend. She taught us how to make ratatouille in her summer kitchen, overlooking the pool and the garden with herbs and vegetables. Indeed, fond memories.
To our surprise she added cilantro (you would expect thyme or basil) and many years later we are still grateful for this twist. The cilantro enhances the feeling of summer and it supports the various vegetables in a beautiful way.

We enjoyed our ratatouille with a glass of simple, red wine with lots of red and black fruits. Spicy. A wine that brings summer to your glass.

Here is what you need:

  • Aubergine
  • Courgette
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Chili Pepper
  • Tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic (optional)
  • Olive oil

If you combine 1 of each, with the exception of 3 tomatoes, this will serve 4 people.
Start by cutting the aubergine in small but not too small chunks. Drizzle with salt and mix. Let the mixture rest for a few hours, allowing for the aubergine to loose water and become firm. Best way to do this is by putting the aubergine in a sieve and let it rest above a bowl.
The tomatoes require some attention as well. You could peel them, but that’s optional. What is not optional is to separate the tomato meat and juices from the pits. First step is to remove the internal hard bits and the pits and put these aside. You now have the outer part of the tomato, which you can slice. Cut the remainder of the tomatoes roughly, add to a sieve and by using the back of a spoon make sure you capture the juices. Be surprised about the volume of tomato juice and the small amount of tomato bits that remain in your sieve.
Peel the courgette, slice in the way you sliced the aubergine and fry over medium heat in olive oil. In the mean time cut the bell pepper into long slices and add these to the pan. Continue frying. Add the finely chopped chilli pepper (not the seeds of course). Add the firm aubergine after having removed the remaining salt with water. After a few moments add the tomato chunks, fry a bit more, add the tomato juice (and the optional garlic) and leave on a medium heat for 30 minutes. Try not to stir too much; otherwise you risk creating mashed vegetables. Cool, set aside and store in the refrigerator.
The next day gently warm the ratatouille, add some chopped cilantro, mix and add more cilantro just before serving.

 

 

Apricot Chutney

One For The Cupboard

Something you have to have in your cupboard (or refrigerator in our case): chutney. Why? Because once in a while you don’t feel like making a sauce when you eat duck, rib eye or grilled lamb chops. Or because you want to eat something nice, simple and vegetarian, like rice with lentils and, there we are, chutney.
If there would be a top three of main ingredients for chutney it would read mango-tomato-apricot. The basic recipe is the same for all three; it’s a matter of adjusting the quantities and choosing the spices.
Chutney needs to integrate, much more than jam or marmalade. So cook it for an hour or so and leave it in a jar for at least a week before using it. The fact that it needs to integrate will create a hopefully nice surprise when opening the jar. If not, there is little you can do (eat more quickly, give a jar to a not too close friend et cetera).
We use just a bit of sugar so our chutney needs to be stored in the refrigerator. Too much sugar (200 grams on 1 kilo of mango for instance) will only hide the taste of the mango. Chutney is a balance of sweet (fresh fruit, onion, garlic, cinnamon), sour (vinegar), bitter (the skin of the apricot or tomato), spiciness (ginger, red chilli, garlic) and depth (cardamom, nutmeg, cumin). Too much sugar will only disturb the balance. Cooking is about pairing tastes and textures, not about creating a simple, one-dimensional product.
Why would we make apricot chutney if it’s our number 3? Simple: we like the touch of bitterness that comes with the apricot.
When making mango chutney, try using unripe mangos. The chutney will be much tastier and complex!

What You Need

  • 1 kilo stoned Apricots (meaning 1,25 kilo of Apricots)
  • 2 Shallots
  • Olive Oil
  • 2+2 gloves Fresh and Cooked Garlic
  • 1 Red Chilli
  • 100 ml Vinegar
  • 100 ml Water
  • 50 grams of Sugar
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Spices such as
    • Cardamom
    • Mustard Seed
    • Coriander
    • Cinnamon
    • Nutmeg
    • Cumin

What You Do

Stone and quarter the apricots. Cut the shallots in 4 and slice (not too thin). Slice the fresh garlic. Same with the seeded red chilli. Cut let’s say 5 cm of ginger in small bits. Start by glazing the shallots for 10 minutes in olive oil, making sure they will enhance the sweetness of the chutney. Then add all other ingredients to the pan, mix, add the grated ginger, the spices of your choice, mix and bring slowly to a simmer. We used vinegar and water given the acidity of our apricots. If your apricots are really sweet and ripe use 200 ml of vinegar. Spices wise we prefer using cardamom, cinnamon, and a touch of cumin and nutmeg. Leave to simmer for at least one hour. Stir occasionally but gently. After an hour increase the heat and transfer to very, very clean glass jars. Close the jars, leave them to cool a bit, then put in cold water and later on transfer to the refrigerator.

 

Grilled Swordfish with a Spicy Tomato Sauce

Red List

Before we start cooking, be aware that Swordfish is on the Greenpeace red list, so try to find the origin of your swordfish. Having done that assess the quality of the swordfish. No doubt it was frozen, so an extra reason to look carefully and smell. As always: if fish smells like fish, then don’t buy it.
If swordfish looks it has been pre-prepared (sometimes salt or smoke are used) or the flesh is not transparent: don’t buy it. For some reason you need to be extra critical when buying swordfish. But once you’ve found good, fresh swordfish, you have found yourself a great starter.
Also note that swordfish is a predator. Some organisations mention the risk of mercury when eating swordfish, so don’t eat it too often we would say.

If you scan the various recipes for swordfish, you will notice the massive use of marinades. We would not suggest using a marinade when preparing swordfish. The fish has a delicate, slightly sweet taste, which begs for a clever combination, not for a taste bomb like a marinade.
Often the fish is brushed with a mixture of oil and lemon. Sorry, wrong idea. Lemon is probably used to hide a fishy taste (in which case you shouldn’t have bought the fish). The lemon juice will burn when grilling because of the sugar in the juice, so your grilled stake will not just be grilled, it will also show traces of burned sugar. Not tasty, not healthy, not pleasant.
There are only three things you need to do pre grilling swordfish: prepare your tomato sauce, transfer the steak 30 minutes prior to grilling from the fridge to a plate and brush generously with a decent olive oil.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our grilled swordfish with a glass of Radacini from the Codru region in Moldova. The wine is made from chardonnay grapes and comes with a beautiful yellow colour. It made us think of apricots and maybe a touch of vanilla. It is not oaked, which is an exception for chardonnay. A wine with a round, velvety taste, but also fresh and fruity. The mouth feel is coating. The velvety aspect goes really well with the fish and the fruitiness is a great combination with the sweetness of the sauce. As an alternative go for an un-oaked, fruit-forward chardonnay.

What You Need

  • Steak of Swordfish
  • Olive Oil
  • Shallot
  • Chilli
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 Garlic gloves
  • 2 Anchovies fillets
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • Bouquet Garni (Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley)
  • Capers (in brine)

What You Do

Start by slicing the shallot and glaze it gently in olive oil. Cut half of the bell pepper and the chilli in smaller chunks and add to the pan. Stir and then add the garlic. Cut the tomatoes in quarters, add the tomato meat to the sauce and press the remainder through a sieve, making sure you get all the lovely juices. Add the juice to the sauce. Add the bouquet garni and the anchovies. Leave on small heat for two hours.
Remove the bouquet garni, blender the sauce very well and make sure it is a spicy combination of tomatoes and a touch of bell pepper.
Brush the steak generously with olive oil, heat your grill (we use a Le Creuset pan, see picture) and grill for maybe 8 minutes. The meat of swordfish is firm and needs longer than you would expect when grilling fish.
Serve the fish on a hot plate with the tomato sauce. The capers are crucial; they add a bit of acidity, which works really well with the spiciness of the sauce and the gentle sweetness of both the fish and the tomatoes.

PS In case your swordfish looks great but is from the wrong region according to Greenpeace, simply buy the fish, enjoy eating it and donate some money to Greenpeace.

 

 

Haddock with Shiitake

One of the Most Popular Fish

Well known of course as one of the most popular fish used for Fish and Chips. And when you mention Haddock, Cod is never far away. According to many recipes and foodies the two are very similar in terms of taste and way to prepare.
That’s where we disagree. We think Haddock has a much more delicate taste compared to Cod. Plus its structure is more compact. When frying Cod it’s not difficult to see and feel what the cuison is. The compact structure of Haddock implies that you have to test the cuison in a different way. Frying haddock requires your constant attention.

Shiitake is more and more widely available, which is great! The nutty taste with the firm structure makes them ideal for this dish. Powerful but not overwhelming. The classic White Mushroom (or the chestnut coloured variation) will not do the trick; too soft and not sufficiently intense. The Shiitake brings umami to the dish.

The white wine sauce is actually enriched with Classic Dry Noilly Prat, our favourite vermouth. Why favourite? Because Noilly Prat comes with a touch of bitterness, with umami, bringing the sauce and the Shiitake together. The vermouth is made with a number of botanicals, including chamomile. The white wine will bring acidity, but the dish also requires a hint of sweetness. The vermouth will enhance the natural sweetness of the Haddock. We use fish stock to create the sauce, obviously. Spend some money on buying a jar of excellent stock (or make your own).

So on your plate you have an intriguing combination of fish and mushrooms, with all five tastes represented. Nice isn’t it?

Wine Pairing

Our choice was a bottle of Pinot Grigio made by MezzaCorona. This is a dry and crispy wine with a beautiful deep yellow colour. It’s an elegant wine with just the right acidity to relate to both the fish and the sauce. The producer mentions hints of chamomile.

What You Need

  • 200 grams of Haddock (without the skin)
  • 100 gram of Shiitake
  • Shallot
  • Parsley
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Fish Stock
  • Noilly Prat
  • Dry White wine
  • White pepper

What You Do

Start by cutting the shallot. Fry gently in butter for a few minutes. Clean the Shiitake with kitchen paper and slice. Check the fish for bits you don’t want to eat. Add wine and Noilly Prat to the shallots and let the alcohol evaporate. Then add parsley and some fish stock. Leave for a few minutes and taste. Maybe add a bit more vermouth or fish stock. Be careful with the white wine. In parallel fry the fish in butter and olive oil. Both sides should be beautiful golden brown. Gently fry the shiitake in olive oil. When not yet completely ready (check the flexibility, feel how warm the fish is) transfer the fish to a sheet of aluminium foil. Don’t close it; you only want to keep it warm. Pass the sauce through a sieve and be ready to blender the sauce. Add all juices from the two pans and from the aluminium wrapping. Blend the liquid. You could add a small chunk of ice-cold butter to thicken the sauce. We didn’t.
Serve the fish on top of the sauce and add the shiitake. Perhaps a touch of white pepper.

Panna Cotta

Cream, Cream and More Cream

Such a lovely and simple dessert! Provided of course it’s made the right way. So no milk, no yoghurt, no cream cheese, no whipped cream and most certainly no whipped egg white! Just cream. Cooked Cream. And preferably cream with lots of fat because then you will need less gelatine.
You can serve the panna cotta after a few hours (or the next day) with a rich strawberry or raspberry sauce, but we prefer to enjoy the panna cotta with a bit of candied orange zest, simply because we want to balance the sweetness and richness of the panna cotta with the acidity and bitterness of the orange. Home made is preferred, see the recipe for an Orange Flan.

What You Need (For 4)

  • 500 ml fresh Cream
  • 3,5 leaves of Gelatine
  • 1 Vanilla Bean
  • 25 gram Sugar
  • Candied Orange

What You Do

The recipe is for 6 panna cotta (actually should we say 6 panne cotte).
Slowly bring the cream to the boil. Add the seeds of the vanilla but also add the remainder of the bean. Now keep close to boiling for 15 minutes. Stir when necessary. Remove from the heat and while stirring add the sugar until totally resolved. Now pass through a sieve to make sure you remove all the bits you don’t want. Follow the instruction of the gelatine and add the leaves. Stir well until homogeneous. Cool the liquid somewhat before filling the forms. We used a silicone mold. Nice and easy! The only thing you need to do is to make the mold a bit moist with water. Let the panna cotta cool and then store in the refrigerator until set. Don’t forget to seal with cling foil, otherwise your panna cotta will absorb aromas from other food in the refrigerator.

Panna Cotta © cadwu
Panna Cotta © cadwu

Omelet with Oyster Mushrooms and Nasturtium

Try This at Home

Oyster mushrooms were among the first mushrooms to be cultivated. They grow very well on straw so great to grow at home. See pictures!
The vast majority of oyster mushrooms are grey, but we have seen and tasted the yellow and sensational pink oyster mushroom. Since you can eat oyster mushrooms raw, the pink and yellow variety is great in a salad. Oyster mushrooms can be a bit watery, which impacts the taste. A pity because the taste is delicate and soft anyway. Not a mushroom to combine with more powerful mushrooms like shiitake. Oyster mushrooms cook quickly, so great to use in a stir-fry or a soup. You can try using them in a stew, but make sure your chunks are not too small.

Wine pairing

A crisp, floral white wine goes very well with this omelet. Best would be a Pinot Grigio or a combination of Chardonnay and Viognier.

What You Need

  • 250 grams Oyster mushroom
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Spring Onion
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper
  • Chives
  • Nasturtium

What You Do

Harvest your oyster mushrooms or buy really fresh and tasty ones. Tear the mushroom into smaller but not too small chunks. Slice the spring onion in small rings. Fry the oyster mushrooms in olive oil and butter for 3 minutes or so until slightly cooked. Add the white of the spring onion. Perhaps you want to add some butter to the pan. Now make sure the pan is nice and hot. Whisk the eggs well, add the green of the spring onion and add to the pan. After a few seconds reduce the heat to very low and wait 5 to 10 minutes until the egg is nearly set. Take your time but keep an eye on the surface and the consistency. Check with your fingers if the omelet is beginning to set. A good omelet must be baveuse so Timing is All. There is no alternative to baveuse!
Serve the omelet on warm dishes with black pepper, chives and nasturtium (not just for fun, also for the peppery taste of the nasturtium leaves).