The Art of Sauces: Modern Tomato Sauce

We love a good sauce: it supports the flavours, it adds complexity to the dish and it brings components together. Orange sauce with duck, Béarnaise with beef, Sauce Mornay on a Croque Monsieur: the sauce is the key to the dish.

Marie-Antoine Carême (1784 – 1833) was the first chef to analyse sauces and create a classification. He identified four leading (mother) sauces and described how other sauces could be derived from these four. His four leading sauces are Espagnole (made with brown roux, roasted bones and brown stock), Velouté (white roux and light (veal) stock), Béchamel and Allemande (light roux with veal stock and thickened with egg yolks and cream). If for instance you want to make a Pepper Sauce, then you start by making a Sauce Espagnole.

Auguste Escoffier (1846 – 1935) refined the classification and replaced Sauce Allemande with Sauce Tomate as leading sauce. Later Hollandaise and Mayonnaise were added to the list of main sauces.

Sauce Tomate as prepared by Carême and Escoffier is very different from the sauce we use on pizza’s and pasta’s. It’s made with salted pork, veal stock, bones, various aromatic vegetables and of course tomatoes. Among the derived sauces are Sauce Portuguese and Sauce Provençal.
Next week we will share the Classic way of cooking Sauce Tomate in detail; today we share our modern (vegetarian) recipe.
The sauce freezes very well, so ideal to make a nice quantity.

What You Need

  • 4 – 6 Excellent Ripe Tomatoes (depending on the size)
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper (preferably grilled and peeled)
  • ½ Chilli
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Glass of Red Wine
  • Bouquet Garni (Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary, Bay Leaf)

What You Do

Wash the tomatoes and slice in chunks. Peel the onion and chop. Add olive oil to the pan and glaze the onion for 10 minutes or so. Stir and add the sliced bell pepper and the sliced and seeded chilli. Let cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or so. Reduce heat. Add the chopped garlic clove. After 5 minutes or so add the sliced tomatoes, the red wine and the bouquet garni. Leave for 2 hours minimum to simmer. Remove the bouquet garni and blender the mixture. Pass through a sieve and leave to simmer for another 2 hours. Cool and transfer to the refrigerator or freezer.

PS Grilling a bell pepper: slice the pepper in large slices. Set your oven to grill, put a sheet of aluminium foil on the baking tray, put the slices on the foil, skin up and transfer to the oven, as close to the grill as possible. Wait for 10 minutes or until the skin is seriously burned. Transfer the slices to a plastic container and close the lid. Wait for an hour. Using your fingers and perhaps a knife, peel of the skin. Store the bell pepper and the juices in the refrigerator. The taste is deeper and sweeter compared to raw bell pepper.

Duck with Figs

Preparing Duck is always a pleasure, whether with Green Pepper Corn, with Sichuan, with Mirin and Soy Sauce or as Canard A l’Orange: the result is always tasty and your guests will be happy.
Today we combine duck with figs. Not the most obvious combination because the figs are relatively dry and perhaps not as sweet as the combination requires. We clearly need a bridge between the meat and the fruit. The first idea was to use port, perhaps with some veal or chicken stock. Great idea because of the sweetness and light acidity of the port, but perhaps a bit too much for the figs. Aceto Balsamico comes with acidity and sweetness, so we decided to use it as the base of the sauce, in combination with some stock. While preparing it we noticed that it needed more sweetness, so what to do? Sugar, honey? But couldn’t we add something that would bring sweetness, fruitiness and even tartness? Of course! Good old Cointreau, great idea!

Aceto Balsamico

We probably need to say a few words about Aceto Balsamico. You may think it’s overrated and overpriced, this sweet, sugary, dark and mild vinegar. But if you taste original Aceto Balsamico, the one made from grape must and aged for many (25!) years in wooden barrels, then you will be surprised by the intense, concentrated flavour and the dark colour. Always look for I.G.P. (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) or D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta). If this is not mentioned on the bottle, don’t buy it.

Wine Pairing

A red, medium bodied wine will be a great accompaniment of your Breast of Duck with Figs. In general you’re looking for a red wine with aromas of berries, 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

  • Breast of Duck (preferably organic)
  • Lots of Thyme
  • 3 Figs
  • Stock (Chicken or Veal)
  • Aceto Balsamico
  • Cointreau
  • Butter
  • Black Pepper
  • Fresh Green Peas

What You Do

Check the breast of duck for remainders of feathers. Remove the vein on the meat side of the breast (and the odd membrane you don’t like). Put on a dish, cover and transfer to the fridge. Leave in the fridge for a few hours, making sure it’s nice, firm and cold.
Fry the duck in a hot, non-stick skillet for 10-12 minutes on the skin side, straight from the refrigerator. Reduce the heat after a few minutes. You don’t need oil or butter, the duck fat will do the trick. Now fry for 2-3 minute on the meat side and remove. Cover with aluminium foil is such a way that the crispy skin is not covered. The foil should only cover meat. This way the skin remains crispy.
Wash the figs and cut in half. Remove some of the fat and fry the figs until lightly caramelised. When ready, remove from the pan, transfer to a plate and keep warm in the oven. Add stock, thyme, Aceto Balsamico and Cointreau. Probably two spoons of Aceto Balsamico and three spoons of Cointreau. Taste and adjust. You may want to add some butter to push the flavours and create a lovely velvety mouthfeel. Add duck’s liquid. Reduce the heat, add black pepper, taste, adjust, add the figs, coat them with the sauce and plate up. We served the duck with fresh green peas because they have this lovely light sweet flavour that combines very well with the other ingredients.

  • Breast of Duck with Figs ©cadwu
  • Fresh Figs ©cadwu

Fig Jam

Sometimes we dream of having a small garden, with perhaps a few roses, herbs, peonies and definitely a fig tree. Being able to pick figs, all summer long, and enjoy the abundance of the tree, it sounds like magic to us. Figs don’t do well in a pot on a balcony, so we depend on greengrocers and the market. And that’s where we struggle: when you want to buy figs, you’ll notice they’re fairly expensive and hard to find. The ones we bought yesterday were individually wrapped in paper, as if they were very exclusive chocolates. But since we love fig jam, we simply had to buy them.

Wine Pairing

Homemade fig jam combines very well with Foie Gras, toasted bread and a glass of Sauternes, for instance this very affordable Dourthe Grands Terroirs. This wonderful, sweet wine from the French Bordeaux region made from late-harvest grapes affected by noble rot, comes with flavors like apricot, tropical fruit, honey and gently toast. Drinking Sauternes has become less popular, also because it’s often positioned as a wine to accompany your dessert. A concept that seems to be a bit old fashioned. Why not try a glass of Sauternes with some excellent blue cheese, a chocolate cake or simply on its own as aperitif?

What You Need

  • 500 grams of Fresh Figs
  • 100 grams of Sugar
  • 1 Lemon

What You Do

We recommend using only 100 grams of sugar, so 20% of the weight of the figs. Therefore the jam must be stored in the refrigerator and the jar must be finished shortly after opening it. That’s why we prefer using small jars and cooking small quantities of jam.
Start by washing the figs. Remove the stems. Cut the figs in small chunks, add to a pan. Add the sugar and the juice of one lemon. Put on medium heat, for at least 60 minutes, no lid needed (but be careful if the fruit is not ripe). During the cooking process the jam will become bright red. Use a fork to mash some of the figs. We think using a blender ruins the texture.
Make sure your jars are perfectly clean. Fill the jars, close the lid and cool in a cold-water basin. When cool, transfer to the refrigerator.

All Our Recipes For You

A few years ago we created an overview of recipes per season, simply because it’s such a good idea to enjoy what is available in the season. Nice to eat strawberries in Winter, but isn’t it a much better idea to enjoy seasonal slow cooked pears?

We then introduced overviews per course, ranging from side dish to lunch. The categories didn’t always make sense, so we added a few more, making our admin more complicated, especially when we updated a recipe or a picture.

The obvious thing happened: we lost track of recipes, noticed some links were broken and the overviews became incomplete.

So how to organise this blog?

After much debate and intense workshops (not really) we’re pleased to present to you an old fashioned, up to date and very easy to use (and maintain) index of All Our Recipes For You!

All Our Recipes For You ©cadwu
All Our Recipes For You ©cadwu

A Royal Sabayon

Happy Birtday!

Today April 27th we celebrate the King’s Birthday in the Netherlands. Hip hip hurrah! The Dutch Royal Family is known as the House of Orange-Nassau, hence the link to anything orange (oranje in Dutch), including a liqueur called Oranje Bitter. It’s not many people’s favourite; most people prefer another traditional drink: lots of beer.

There are many recipes for Oranje Bitter; most of them with too much sugar and undefined herbs. We prefer the more classic version produced by Van Wees and De Ooievaar. Their Oranje Bitter is made with Pomerans (Citrus Aurantium, the bitter orange) and Curaçao peel.

Our grandmother wasn’t a big fan of Oranje Bitter, but she felt she had to serve it on the (then) Queens Birthday. She combined one tradition with another: she made Dutch Advocaat using Oranje Bitter. Basically Advocaat (similar to Eggnog) is a sabayon-like drink made with egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and a strong alcohol (brandewijn, gin, vodka or grappa), served in a nice glass with a small spoon and possibly topped with whipped cream (but no need for that).

Grandmother cooked her advocaat Au Bain Marie; we prepare our Royal Sabayon using a microwave oven.

What You Need

  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 30 grams of Sugar
  • 80 ml of Oranje Bitter

What You Do

Mix the egg yolks and the sugar well. Make sure the sugar is dissolved before adding the liquid. Transfer to the microwave and very gently heat the mixture. We used intervals of 10 seconds to start with and intervals of 5 seconds to finish. In total only 75 seconds on 30% power. Duration depends on the power of your microwave. Stir well (or whisk, but not too much) after every interval until it becomes thick. The consistency must be similar to a thick pastry cream (crème pâtissière). Cool quickly and store in the refrigerator.

PS Obviously you need fresh eggs when making  a sabayon, mayonnaise, béarnaise et cetera. We don’t think eating fresh, organic eggs is a problem. Eating all kinds of additives, unclear syrops, modified milk ingredients, guar gum, monoglycerides et cetera, that’s a problem.

PS Use the egg whites to make madeleines.

Matsutake with Ginger and Spinach

Autumn

A very special mushroom, to say the least. Well known throughout Japan, China and South Korea as a true delicacy.  Matsutake smells like a pine wood forest and its taste is intense, aromatic, lasting and unique. As if you could taste Autumn.
It’s an expensive mushroom (around 110 euro per kilo) with very limited availability. But if you happen to find it, be sure to buy it. Between 75 and 100 grams is fine for two.
The Matsutake makes this into an unforgettable dish. It will bring you back to earth in a split second. Smell it, taste it and feel how satisfying and relaxing it is.

Wine pairing

Best served with a dry sake. We prefer Junmai Taru Sake as produced by Kiku-Masamune. This fine sake is matured in barrels made of the finest Yoshino cedar. The aroma has indeed clear hints of cedar. The sake will clear your palate and allow for a more intense taste of the Matsutake.

What You Need

  • 75 – 100 gram of Matsutake
  • Some Spinach (preferably what is called the ‘wild’ version, cleaned and without the stem)
  • Ginger
  • Soy Sauce (reduced salt)
  • Olive Oil
  • Sesame Oil

What You Do

Clean the Matsutake and cut in small dices. The size you would like to eat them (Matsutake doesn’t shrink like many other mushrooms; it remains firm). Warm the soy sauce, add a touch of sesame oil and flavour with very small cubes of ginger. Fry the Matsutake gently in a skillet in some olive oil, no longer than 3 minutes. In parallel blanch the spinach in the liquid. Quickly drain the spinach and set aside. Reduce the liquid and taste. Add some excellent sesame oil and whisk. In parallel chop the spinach.
Put spinach on a plate, gently add some sauce and then sprinkle the Matsutake over the spinach..

Today’s Royal Special

Happy Birtday!

Today April 27th we celebrate the King’s Birthday in the Netherlands. Hip hip hurrah! The Dutch Royal Family is known as the House of Orange-Nassau, hence the link to anything orange (Oranje in Dutch), including a drink (liqueur) called Oranje Bitter. It’s not many people’s favourite by the way, most people prefer another traditional drink: lots of beer.
There are many recipes for Oranje Bitter, most of them with lots of sugar and some undefined herbs. We prefer the more classic version produced by Van Wees and De Ooievaar. Their Oranje Bitter is made with Pomerans (Citrus Aurantium, the bitter orange) and Curacao peel. To compensate the bitterness some people add sugar, but the bitter as produced by Van Wees has a great balance between sweet and bitter. Plus a bitter should be bitter.

Our grandmother (or Beppe as we used to call her) wasn’t a big fan of Oranje Bitter, but she felt she had to serve it on the Queens Birthday. She combined one tradition with another tradition: Dutch Advocaat. This drink is similar to Eggnog, with three important differences: Advocaat is made with egg yolks only, no milk is added and advocaat is heated (62° Celsius to be exact). Basically Advocaat is a sabayon-like drink made with egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and a strong alcohol (brandewijn, gin, vodka or grappa), served in a nice glass with a small spoon. You could add whipped cream, but that’s only hiding the taste.

Beppe cooked her advocaat Au Bain Marie; we cook our Oranje Bitter advocaat using a microwave oven.

What You Need (Oranje Bitter Advocaat)

  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 30 grams of Sugar
  • 80 ml of Oranje Bitter

What You Need (Advocaat)

  • 100 grams of Egg Yolks
  • 75 grams of Sugar
  • 5 grams of Vanilla Sugar
  • 125 ml of Vodka

What You Do

Mix the egg yolks and the sugar well. Make sure is dissolved before gently adding the liquid. Transfer to the microwave and very gently heat the mixture. We used intervals of 10 seconds to start with and intervals of 5 seconds to finish. In total only 75 seconds on 30% power. Duration depends on the power of your microwave. Stir well (or whisk, but not too much) after every interval until it becomes thick. The consistency must be similar to a thick pastry cream (crème pâtissière). Cool quickly and store in the refrigerator.

PS Obviously you need fresh eggs when making advocaat, mayonnaise, sabayon, béarnaise et cetera. We don’t think eating fresh, organic eggs is a problem. Eating all kinds of additives, unclear syrops, modified milk ingredients, guar gum, monoglycerides et cetera, that’s a problem.

PS Use the egg whites to make madeleines.

Chicken a la Carolus Battus

In the year 1593

The history of food is interesting for a number of reasons. Following old recipes provides you with the opportunity to discover new combinations, techniques and new flavors, or better said, forgotten combinations, techniques and flavors.
The University of Amsterdam is home to the Special Collections, the material heritage of the University. One of the collections is related to recipes, cookbooks, books on etiquette, nutrition, food et cetera. The oldest cookbook is Eenen seer schoonen ende excelenten Cocboeck, inhoudende alderley wel geexperimenteerde cokagien, van ghebraet, ghesoden, Pasteyen, Taerten, toerten, Vlaeijen, Saussen, Soppen, ende dier-gelijcke: Oock diversche Confeyturen ende Drancken, etc. by Carel Baten (Carolus Battus) published in 1593. The book contains some 300 recipes for a range of food and drink. It was published as an annex to his Medecijn Boec, after all he was a medical doctor.

In 2018 Onno and Charlotte Kleyn published Luilekkerland; a great book on 400 years of cooking in the Netherlands. They must have spent months at the Special Collections going through various cookbooks and manuscripts with recipes. Many thanks for creating ‘a magical mystery tour’ through the kitchens of the past.
In the book they describe one of the recipes of Carolus Battus: een sause op eenen gesoden capoen. Or in English: poached Capon with sauce.
The short version: make a poaching liquid with carrot, leek, celeriac and onion. Add the capon and poach it until it’s done. In parallel combine old breadcrumbs with white almonds, white wine, ginger powder and sugar. Create a sauce by gently warming the mixture with some of the cooking liquid and serve.

Capon is very expensive, so like Onno and Charlotte we go for chicken. Our recipe is for 2 chicken thighs, but we could also imagine making a roulade and then serving a slice of chicken roulade with the sauce as a starter.
The surprise is in the sauce: the combination of bread, ginger and almonds is tasty and complex. The sauce may appear to be filming and fat, but actually it’s not. The texture of the sauce is interesting as well: the bread will make the sauce a bit porridge like and the crushed almonds prevent the sauce from being smooth.
Our version of the recipe is a bit closer to 2018: we’re not the biggest fans of poaching and we don’t see the need for sugar. Plus why use powder if you can get fresh ginger?

Wine Pairing

Best is to go for a white wine with a touch of sweetness, for instance a Gewurztraminer. This will combine very well with the somewhat unusual flavors in the dish. If you go for a glass of red wine, then we would suggest a pinot noir, nice and earthy.

What you need

  • 2 chicken thighs
  • Chicken stock and optional
    • Leek
    • Carrots
    • Celeriac
    • Onions
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • 15 grams of white Almonds
  • 1 – 2 cm of Fresh ginger
  • 1 dl of Dry white wine
  • Slice of toasted Bread

What you do

If your chicken stock needs a boost, then add the vegetables and let simmer for 15 minutes or so. In a small skillet heat the butter and olive oil. Fry the chicken until nearly done. In parallel blender the almonds and the toasted bread. Grate the ginger. Add the white wine and the ginger to the mixture and blender. Add some stock and blender for a few seconds. Transfer the mixture to a pan and warm over medium heat. It requires attention, so keep an eye on the sauce and stir every minute or so. The sauce will thicken so you will probably need to add more stock. Transfer the chicken to a warm oven and let rest. Deglaze the pan with some stock and add this liquid to the sauce. Stir well. Now it’s time to taste. Remember the taste is new, so take your time. Almonds? Bread? Hint of acidity? Ginger? Chicken? Overall? Serve the chicken with the sauce.
We enjoyed the chicken as a main course with some Brussels sprouts, olive oil and nutmeg.

 

Carbonnade à la Flamande (Flemish Beef Stew)

When in Belgium…

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.

Wine Pairing

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
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • 1 tablespoon of all purpose Flour
  • Nutmeg
  • 2 bottles (33 cl) of Belgian Brown Beer (we prefer Westmalle)
  • Bouquet garni, consisting of Thyme, Bay Leaf and Parsley
  • Cider Vinegar
  • Slice of Bread
  • Mustard

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.

 

 

Lamb Shank with Rosemary

When In Paris…

A few years ago when attending a business lunch in Paris (the things we have to endure in life…) we were overwhelmed by the menu. We quickly decided to go for Lamb and told the waiter in our very best French we would like to taste Souris d’Agneau au Vin Rouge et aux Herbes, although not exactly knowing what a Souris might be. So during that lunch we discovered the joys of Lamb Shank.
Most recipes recommend preparing lamb shank in a hot oven (200 °C or so) but that’s actually not the best way to do it. Too hot, too fast, too dry.

Lamb shank has a generous amount of fat which makes it ideal for slow cooking. Our preferred option is to use a pressure cooker. Within 45 minutes the lamb shanks will be perfectly cooked, tender and moist.

Wine Pairing

We would suggest drinking a glass of Bordeaux with the lamb shank. The Bordeaux is in general a classic blend with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The wine should be well structured with lots of fruit. It should support the sweetness of the dish (carrots, lamb, leek). Soft tannins, a smooth texture and sufficient length. We very much enjoyed a glass of Chateau Beaulieu (2012) with our lamb.
Remember to use the same wine for cooking the lamb!

What You Need

  • 2 Lamb Shanks (with fat, please!)
  • 2 Shallots
  • Carrot
  • Leek
  • Celeriac
  • 2 Garlic Gloves
  • Olive Oil
  • Bouquet Garni, for instance:

    • Bay Leaf
    • Parsley
    • Thyme
    • lots of Rosemary (and 2 extra sprigs)
  • Red Wine
  • Water
  • Black Pepper
  • Brussels Sprouts or Carrots

What You Do

Start by colouring the lamb shanks in olive oil. Transfer to a plate and then gently fry the shopped shallot, the leek, the carrot, the celeriac and the garlic. When ready add the red wine and some water, depending on your taste. Add the generous bouquet garni with extra rosemary and some cooked garlic. Transfer the lamb shanks back to the pan and close the pressure cooker. Cook for 30 – 45 minutes depending on the size of the shanks. Transfer the shanks to a warm plate, pass the cooking juice through a sieve (discarding the vegetables), check the sauce, reduce if necessary,  and serve the shanks with a classic branch of rosemary, Brussels sprouts and some bread.
If you want to emphasize the natural sweetness of the dish, then serve with glazed carrots.