White Asparagus with Ham, Egg, Potatoes and Parsley

Finally, it’s spring. The season of white asparagus, morels and many more primeurs. This dish brings together white asparagus with eggs, excellent ham, butter, small potatoes and parsley. Taste the slight bitterness and sweetness of the asparagus, the umami of the potato and enjoy the velvety feeling on your palate as a result of the butter and the egg.
Don’t be tempted to boil white asparagus in water with butter, lemon, sugar or salt. Steaming is by far the best way to prepare them. We love our Russel Hobbs food steamer! Simple, straightforward and the result is a tribute to spring.

Wine Pairing

Ideally we would serve a dry Muscat from the Elzas with our asparagus. 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. As if you taste the original grape. A wonderful wine and a wonderful combination.
Fortunately asparagus are fairly flexible when it comes to wine: a Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris will also be fine.

We opened a bottle of Vinho Verde from Portugal. A light and vibrant wine with clear notes of citrus and floral aromas that combined rather well with the flavours of the asparagus. Not the most exquisite combination, but it worked for us.

What You Need

  • 6 or 10 White Asparagus
  • 2 Eggs
  • 100 gram Excellent, Organic Ham
  • Small Firm Potatoes
  • Parsley
  • Butter
  • White Pepper

What You Do

Peel the asparagus and steam them for 20 minutes. Steam the eggs medium (10 minutes), making sure the yolk is firm but not dry. Wash the potatoes and steam them for 15 minutes. Timing depends on the size. Melt the butter. Peel the egg and cut in four. Chop the parsley. Serve the asparagus and eggs on a plate. Coat the potatoes with butter and parsley. Dress the plate with ham (please make sure it has a bit of fat) and potatoes. Poor the remaining melted butter over the asparagus. Sprinkle the parsley over the egg. Add some white pepper.

White Asparagus with Ham, Egg, Potatoes and Parsley ©cadwu
White Asparagus with Ham, Egg, Potatoes and Parsley ©cadwu

Caudle, Eggnog, Ajerkoniak and Advocaat

In the old days new mothers and their visitors were served Caudle, a combination of white wine, eggs, sugar, cloves, raisins, nutmeg and cinnamon. The idea was to strengthen the new mother and of course to celebrate the occasion. Dutch master Jan Steen painted De Kandeelmakers (The Caudle Makers) around 1665. Note the nutmeg grater!

The ingredients are not too dissimilar to those of Eggnog. Basically this is custard infused with various spices, such as vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. The custard is enriched with whole cream, rum/brandy/whisky/cognac and whipped egg white. Our Eggnog was very tasty, creamy and soft with the right push from the cognac. The spices worked really well, especially the nutmeg. We suggest not adding cream because it actually doesn’t bring much other than a fatty feeling in your mouth.

A less complex version is Ajerkoniak from Poland. It combines egg yolks with non-sweetened condensed milk, sugar and vodka (or plain alcohol). The result is a strong, smooth and sweet drink. The vodka worked very well with the eggs but we thought the condensed milk was a bit too present.

Making Caudle, Ajerkoniak or Eggnog begins with whisking sugar and egg yolks until it’s smooth, pale and creamy. This is called whisking the eggs ruban and may take 10 minutes. Interestingly the result is a dish in its own right called Kogel Mogel.

We also prepared Advocaat from the Netherlands. It is a combination of eggs, alcohol and sugar (so no milk, cream or spices). It can be enjoyed as a drink (but our grandmother used a small spoon, probably because she didn’t want to be heard slurping). Our version is a bit thicker, making it ideal as a dessert.

What You Need

  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 25 grams of Sugar
  • 50 ml of Brandy, Gin or Vodka
  • Whole Cream

What You Do

Mix the egg yolks and the sugar well. It doesn’t need to become ruban but some increase in volume is needed. Now gently add the brandy, gin or vodka. Transfer to the microwave and very gently heat the mixture. We used one interval of 10 seconds to start with and continued with intervals of 5 seconds. In total only 55 seconds on 30% power. Stir well 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. Serve with some whipped cream.

PS Obviously you need fresh eggs when making Ajerkoniak, Eggnog, Kogel Mogel, Advocaat, Mayonnaise, Sabayon, Béarnaise, Kimizu et cetera. We don’t think eating fresh, organic eggs is a problem. Eating all kinds of additives, chemicals such as E102 – Tartrazine to make commercial Advocaat look as yellow as real Advocaat, unclear syrops, modified milk ingredients, guar gum, monoglycerides etcetera, that’s a problem.

  • Advocaat ©cadwu
  • Eggnog ©cadwu
  • Ajerkoniak ©cadwu

Eggs Benedict with Kimizu

Preparing Eggs Benedict comes with two technical challenges: Hollandaise Sauce (Kimizu in our case) and Poached Eggs.
Poaching an egg seems simple and straightforward when you watch the video made by chef Jacques Pepin, But we know that they’re intimidating to make plus it’s really challenging to get them just right: especially the gooey, liquid yolk.

Chef Pepin makes some very important suggestions: the main protein in egg white is Ovalbumin and it sets at 84,5 °C or 184 °F . According to chef Pepin the egg white becomes rubbery when the water temperature is too high. And he is right! Keep the water hot, but not boiling, when ‘boiling’ or poaching an egg.
He also mentions that the eggs must be cold. Makes sense, because then the yolk will remain runny.
And finally he explains how to store pre-poached eggs, reducing stress in the kitchen.

But the challenge remains: poaching an egg requires skills and experience. Or an OXO good grips egg poacher. Yes, we know, it sounds like another disappointing, expensive, and silly kitchen tool, but it actually works really well. Easy to use, easy to clean and great results, again and again.

What You Need

  • For the Poached Eggs
    • 2 cold, organic Eggs
    • Vinegar
  • For the Kimizu
    • 2 Egg Yolks
    • 2 tablespoons of Rice Vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon of Water
    • 2 teaspoons of Mirin
  • English muffins or a slice of home made Bread
  • Salmon
  • Avocado
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Best to make the poached eggs in advance and store them in cold water. Just before serving warm them in a pan of hot water. With the OXO poacher it’s simple: fill a pan with water and add a splash of vinegar. Bring the water to a simmer and crack an egg into the centre of the each poacher. You could also crack the egg into a little bowl or cup and then drop it into the centre of the poacher. After 30 seconds or so you can remove the OXO poacher and use it for another egg. We poached our eggs for 3 minutes maximum. Dry the poached eggs with kitchen paper and trim the egg white if necessary. Serve with toasted muffin or bread, salmon, avocado and of course Kimizu.

Omelet with Winter Truffle

Black truffles are harvested from November to March, so be extravagant and buy one before the season ends. When buying a 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 truffles combine really well with a warm purée of potatoes, with scallops, risotto and everything eggs. We used our truffle to make one of the simplest and tastiest truffle dishes ever: an omelet with truffle and Parmesan cheese.
If you store a black truffle for a day or so, then please store it in a small box with some rice and an egg. The rice will prevent the truffle of becoming wet and the egg will embrace the aromas of the truffle and become a treat in its own right.

Wine Pairing

A not too complex white wine goes very well with this omelet, best would be a classic Pinot Blanc or Riesling from the Alsace region (for instance produced by Kuentz-Bas). Think fruity aromas, floral characteristics, minerality and a touch of acidity and sweetness.

What You Need

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

What You Do

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 a warm dish with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, white pepper and grated black truffle.

Tamagoyaki (Japanese Omelette)

Rolled Omelette

Tamagoyaki is best described as a Japanese rolled omelette and it is often served for breakfast or included in a bento box. It’s made by rolling multiple thin layers of egg; let’s say the concept of a Swiss roll but with much thinner layers. Making Tamagoyaki requires years of practice and a special rectangular pan (a makiyakinabe) using chopsticks only. But we, as western cooks with little patience, we use a round small, non-stick pan and two spatulas. The result is very tasty and it will make you think of a real Tamagoyaki.

The ingredients are a bit of a puzzle. Eggs, soy sauce and mirin for sure. Other ingredients include sugar (for a sweet version), sake and dashi (for a savoury version called Dashimaki Tamago).

The technique of rolling thin layers of egg is a great way of making an omelette. Feel free to replace the Japanese ingredients with some chicken stock and finely grated Parmesan cheese. You will love it!

Wine Pairing

Tamagoyaki comes with some umami thanks to the dashi and a touch of sweetness. Enjoy with a sparkling wine, for instance a Crémant de Bourgogne. Our choice was a glass of Blanc de Blanc Brut made by Vitteaut Alberti. Its aromas are fresh and flowery; the flavours suggest honey and pear. You could also serve a dry Riesling or Sylvaner.
Serving sake is also a good idea; our choice would be a Ginjo-Shu because of its delicate and light flavour.

What You Need

  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons of (Light) Dashi
  • 1 Teaspoon of Mirin
  • 1 Teaspoon of Light Soy Sauce
  • Oil

What You Do

Heat a small non-stick pan (10 -15 centimetre) until warm but not hot. Whisk the eggs, add dashi and mirin. Use kitchen paper soaked with oil to coat the pan. Use a (small) sauce spoon to add a bit of the mixture. Make sure you can repeat this as often as possible, so it has to be a really thin layer of egg. When nearly set, roll it up and move to the side. Coat the pan with oil. Add some of the mixture, make sure it connects to the roll, wait until nearly set and roll it up. Repeat until the mixture is used up. The tamagoyaki should be yellow with perhaps a touch of golden brown.
When done, feel free to shape the tamagoyaki by rolling it in a bamboo sushi mat. Slice and serve, perhaps with some grated daikon on the side.

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.

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.

White asparagus with Egg, Ham, Parsley and Butter

A Classic

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.

Wine Pairing

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
  • 2 Eggs
  • 100 gram Ham
  • Parsley
  • Butter
  • White Pepper

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.

White Asparagus with Egg, Ham and Parsley
White Asparagus with Egg, Ham and Parsley

White Asparagus with Summer Truffle

From Spring to Summer

Time to celebrate! Summer has just begun and the Asparagus season has come to a close. So let’s bring the two together in this slightly extravagant dish. It is earthy, slightly bitter and sweet, velvety and complete.
The Summer Truffle (Tuber Aestivum) is not as intense and overwhelming as the Winter Truffle. It should be used immediately and preferably grated. It loses its taste when heated, so don’t use it for your Tournedos Rossini. This dish should be luke warm, so an excellent environment for a Summer Truffle. Take your time to appreciate the delicate combination in your plate.

Wine Pairing

We drank a glass of Italian Gewürztraminer with our Asparagus with Summer Truffle. This wine has a distinctive fruity flavour with hints of aromatic herbs. The area where the grapes are grown (Alto Adige) is relatively cool and sunny. As a result of this the Gewürztraminer grapes ripe well without losing their freshness. So the wine brings fruit, freshness, warmth and aromatic herbs, which works well with the earthy, aromatic truffle and the sweetness and bitterness of the asparagus. Parsley is essential because it brings freshness to the dish; nicely balanced with the velvety taste of the egg and butter. And butter is the ideal bridge between egg, asparagus and truffle.
In general a glass of Gewürztraminer is ideal with this dish, provided it has a touch of sweetness only. Sometimes Gewürztraminer is simply too sweet. This will not only ruin the hints of aromatic herbs in the wine; it will also ruin the delicate combination of asparagus with truffle.

What You Need

  • 4 Asparagus
  • 2 Eggs
  • 25 grams of Butter
  • 25 grams of Summer Truffle
  • Parsley
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Cook or steam the asparagus. Make sure they are just done. Cook the eggs for 8-9 minutes. The yolk should not be completely firm. Cool the eggs in cold water, peel and mash with a fork. Add the finely chopped parsley and some black pepper. Taste. Melt the butter.
Put two asparagus per person on the plate, pour the warm butter over the asparagus, making sure they are fully covered, add the egg and finish by sprinkling the grated truffle. Poor a glass of excellent Gewürztraminer and enjoy the start of summer by eating the very last of this years asparagus.

 

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.