This year seems to be an exceptionally good year for Matsutake. Antonio Carluccio once described it is a much-overrated mushroom but we dare to disagree. Just smell it! Pine, pine, pine. A unique mushroom. We tried making this soup with shiitake, but the result is not as refined, delicate and well-balanced. The key elements are of course the (home-made) dashi, the matsutake and the shrimps. Kamaboko (made from processed seafood) and Mitsuba (Japanese parsley) add colour (and some extra flavour) to the dish.
What You Need
0,5 l of Water
10 gram of Konbu
10 gram of Katsuobushi
75 gram of Matsutake
Light Soy Sauce
If you want to serve a drink with the soup, then serve taru sake. This is a dry sake characterized by its refreshing taste and the wooden aroma of Yoshino cedar. A wonderful link to the matsutake. And if you bought a bottle of taru sake, then please use this sake for marinating the shrimps.
What You Do
With a damp cloth clean the matsutake. Be careful not to remove the skin. The root should be cut like a pencil. Clean the shrimps and cut lengthwise in two. Let marinade in two tablespoons of sake and transfer to the refrigerator for an hour. Gently warm the dashi, add a small tablespoon of sake and a similar quantity (or less) of soy sauce. Cut the matsutake in 8 similar slices and add to the soup. After a few minutes (depending on the size of the matsutake) add four slices of kamaboko and the shrimps. Taste and add some more soy sauce and or yuzu if needed. Serve immediately when the shrimps are ready. If available add some mitsuba.
Traditionally Leg of Lamb is combined with a mint sauce. Works very well but it’s a bit obvious. In this recipe we combine it with something we call Pasto, which is a pesto made of parsley. Very simple and surprisingly powerful. You will be impressed by the flavour and the way it combines with lamb, especially leg of lamb. Ratatouille is one of our favourite side dishes. Tasty and full of summer flavours. But now is the season of rain, leaves and a touch of snow. So we replace the cilantro with a combination of thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano. All fresh and guaranteed to be the right accompagnement of the lamb.
We enjoyed our leg of lamb with a glass of Syrah produced by Wild Pig, a rich wine with a nose of berries and with a firm finish. The wine has a beautiful deep red colour. Wild Pig wines are made from grapes grown in France’s Languedoc region, near the Mediterranean Sea. It’s the oldest wine-producing region in France. The Languedoc has a warm climate, which is ideal for making wines that are fruity in character with intense aromas.
Here is what you need (Pasto):
Large Bunch of Parsley
Few Celery Leaves
Few Fennel Seeds
Crunch the fennel seeds, remove the stems for the parsley and add the leaves of the parsley together with the celery leaves to a blender. Add a few drops of lemon juice. Pulse a few times and then slowly start adding an excellent olive oil. The celery will add spiciness to the sauce, like black pepper would do, but more gently. Interestingly the celery also add a hint of salt. Taste and add more lemon if so required. Now close your eyes and taste again. Funny isn’t it? A hint of basil and mint! The sauce will keep a few days if covered with plastic foil and stored in the refrigerator.
Bouquet Garni combining fresh Thyme, Rosemary, Sage and Oregano
Prepare the ratatouille as usual and add the bouquet garni. Allow to simmer for an hour or longer. Remove the bouquet and serve the next day allowing for a more integrated dish. The bouquet, especially the oregano, should be really present in the sauce, the courgette and the eggplant.
Here is what you need (Leg of Lamb):
Leg of Lamb
We’re not the world greatest carnivores, but let’s be generous when eating leg of lamb. So we had 350 grams for the two of us. Make sure the leg of lamb is on room temperature. So take it out of the refrigerator let’s say 2 hours in advance. Heat a heavy iron skillet, add olive oil and butter. Fry for something like 5 minutes, depending on the cuisson you prefer. This time round we liked it rosé, but depending on the structure of the meat it could be more towards saignant. Remove from the pan; keep warm wrapped in aluminum foil for let’s say 10 minutes. Note that the cuisson will continue to develop! Use all the juices to make a simple jus.
Serve the meat with the jus, the autumn ratatouille and the parsley sauce on a hot plate and enjoy the powerful herbs and the sweet vegetables in combination with the rich taste of the lamb. The fat of the lamb will coat your mouth and lips and the parsley sauce will refresh them, making you long for the next bite of lamb or ratatouille!
Caesar’s Mushroom with Pappardelle, Parmesan Cheese and a glass of Pinot Noir
Caesar’s mushroom (or Amanita Caesarea) is a true delicacy, especially when eaten very young. And raw. Since the young ones have the shape of an egg, they are called ovoli in Italian. However, it’s not recommended to pick these young ones yourself, unless you’re an expert. The young Caesar’s mushroom looks very similar to young Fly Agaric, Death Cap and Destroying Angels. Ones we would not like to see on (y)our plate. The mature Caesar’s mushroom looks very distinct from these very dangerous mushrooms, so fewer risks involved. The classic recipe for ovoli is to include them in a salad, with shaved white truffle. So raw, which makes it just a touch more dangerous.
When you’re in North America, you will probably be able to buy Amanita Jacksonii or Amanita Arkansana, which seem to be very similar, but not completely. As far as we know eating cooked Amanita Caesarea and Arkansana is not a problem; eating them raw could be.
In this recipe we combine the delicate flavour of the Caesar’s mushroom with thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, a touch of garlic, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Ideally served with pappardelle because the paste will be nicely coated with the cooking juices, but feel free to use good spaghetti as an alternative (like we did).
We enjoyed our Caesar’s mushrooms with a glass of pinot noir. This wine will have earthly tones and these connect very nicely to the earthy taste of the mushroom. Not too much acidity, because that doesn’t go well with the touch of bitterness of the fresh bay leaf. The pinot noir should also be relatively light, allowing for herbal and floral tones.
Here is what you need:
200 grams of Caesar’s mushroom
Fresh Bay Leaf
Clean the Caesar’s mushrooms by removing the dirt and the white veil (or volva). Start by making flavoured olive oil by warming the olive oil in a large skillet and adding the herbs and the garlic. Not too hot, you only want the flavours and essential oils to be added to the olive oil. Remove the herbs and garlic after 10 minutes or so. Squeeze the herbs gently, making sure you capture the flavours as much as possible. Now gently fry the sliced Caesar’s mushroom. Just cooked is perfect. In parallel cook your pasta. When al dente, drain the pasta but keep some of the cooking liquid. If there is too much starch on the pasta, then forget about Italy, think Japan and wash your pasta with water. This will remove the starch and allow for a better result. Remove the Caesar’s mushrooms from the pan and keep warm. Add the pasta to the pan, stir and make sure the pasta is fully coated. Add a spoonful or two of the cooking liquid to the pan. Add some grated Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Stir. Transfer the pasta to a warm plate and put the Caesar’s mushroom on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and black pepper.