Legend has it that maitake got its nickname The Dancing Mushroom because foragers danced with happiness when finding it. It still is a much loved culinary mushroom, with a very specific aroma, interesting texture and intense flavours. Nowadays maitake can be wild or cultivated. Both are fine; we actually prefer the cultivated one because it’s milder. Make sure you cook maitake through and through, otherwise you may upset your stomach (and other parts of your body).
Maitake combines very well with beef and thyme. It is also great when combined with shrimps, crab, scallops, coriander, dill and parsley; a salad created by Antonio Carluccio and published in 2003 in the Complete Mushroom Book. Our Maitake soup, made with dashi, ginger and rice, is a gentle soup, with some umami and bitterness.
In this case we combine fried maitake with various other ingredients to create a well-balanced (vegetarian) meal.
A flavourful dish! Sweetness in the tomatoes, umami in the maitake, freshness in the mash et cetera. Wine wise you have lots of options. We preferred a not too complex pinot noir, because it’s supportive and combines very well with the various flavours.
What You Need
200 grams of Maitake and Olive Oil
Parsley Root, Jerusalem Artichoke, Crème Fraîche, White Pepper and Nutmeg
Small Ripe Tomatoes, Thyme, Rosemary, Garlic and Olive Oil
Celeriac, Butter, Caraway Seed, Fennel Seed and Black Pepper
What You Do
For the lentils: slice the shallot and gently fry it in olive oil. After a few minutes, add the washed lentils (check for pebbles!), coat them with oil, add vegetable stock and cook until ready. Perhaps 20 minutes. Drain but keep some of the liquid, add chopped parsley and black pepper. For the tomato confit, see an earlier post. For the mash: clean and chop 2 parsley roots and 1 Jerusalem artichoke. Cook for 10 minutes or so in water until nearly done. Drain. Add a generous spoonful of crème fraîche and warm on low heat for 10-20 minutes. The idea is for the vegetables to absorb some of the crème fraîche. Blender the mixture, pass through a sieve and serve with white pepper. A touch of freshly grated nutmeg will be great. If you like more color on your plate, then add some chopped parsley to the mash. The celeriac is cooked in the oven with a coating of fennel and careway seed. The recipe from Dutch chef Yvette van Boven is available via YouTube. She combines it with a home-made citrus marmalade, but that’s not necessary for this dish. Use the YouTube settings if you want to have subtitles in your own language. Slice the maitake and fry in olive oil until done and slightly crunchy. Serve on a colourful plate.
The traditional way of making Confit of Duck is not complex. It’s a bit time consuming and it requires some planning, that’s all. The principle is to cure the meat in salt with various herbs (thyme, cumin, rosemary) and garlic. After 24 hours or so the duck is washed with water, patted dry and then slow cooked in goose or duck fat for several hours. When ready cool and store in fat.
We take a different approach by slow cooking the duck legs in olive oil. The result is remarkable: juicy, full of flavours and aromas, provided you use first class duck (label rouge for instance). If not, the meat can become dry and tough. Another benefit: we don’t cure the meat so it’s not salty at all. We serve the confit with celeriac mash. It’s light, nutty and refreshing compared to a mash made with potatoes.
Best choice is a full bodied, red wine with ripe fruit and smoothness. We decided to open a bottle of Herdade de São Miguel Colheita Seleccionada 2020 as produced by Casa Relvas. Such a pleasure! Its colour is deep ruby and the aromas made us think of ripe black fruit and dark cherries with some spiciness. The wine is well balanced with a nice structure and smooth tannins. Works very well with the juicy duck and the mash with its creamy texture and lemonish, celery flavours.
What You Need
For the Confit
2 Duck Legs
4 Bay Leaves
For the Celeriac Mash
Slice of Lemon
Take a sheet of aluminium foil and place the leg in the middle. Add lightly crushed juniper berries and two bay leaves. Perhaps some crushed garlic. Add a generous amount of olive oil and make sure everything is covered. Wrap foil around the duck. Take a second sheet of foil and wrap it around the package, making sure it’s closed. Repeat with the second leg. Transfer both packages to an oven at 120 °C or 240 °F. After one hour reduce the heat to 100 °C or 210 °F. After in total 4 to 5 hours, depending on the size of the legs, remove the legs from the oven, open the package and let cool. Then transfer to the refrigerator for use later on.
Heat the oven to 200 °C or 390 °F. Put the legs in an iron skillet, transfer to the oven and 15-20 minutes later the legs are ready. If the skin is not yet crispy, use the grill for 2 or 3 minutes. Another idea is to pull the meat and use it to top a salad.
The Celeriac Mash: clean and dice the celeriac. Cook in minimum water with a nice slice of lemon until nearly done. Remove the lemon and drain. Add cream. Put on low heat for a few minutes; the celeriac should absorb the cream. When the celeriac is done, use a blender to create the puree. Pass through a sieve. Perhaps add extra lemon or cream. Just before serving add white pepper. Serve with freshly grated nutmeg.
It’s not often that we write about German cuisine. Actually, we never do. But with the wintery weather it’s time to visit the Bürgerliche Küche. Himmel und Erde is a dish you would typically order when you’re at a local German Brewery, enjoying a beer of course. It combines potatoes and onions (Erde) with apples (Himmel), black pudding, bacon and butter. That may sound simple, but actually it’s a bit more work than you would expect. The flavours combine surprisingly well.
The trick is to use two kinds of apples. A sour one that will break down and can easily be combined with the mashed potatoes and a sweet one that will add character to the dish. Without the small chunks of sweet apple the mash becomes bland. Adding strips of fried bacon makes the mash even more tasty.
A slightly bitter beer is an excellent choice, but you could also go for a Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). You’re looking for a medium bodied red wine, with lots of fruit and perhaps a touch of oak.
What You Need
Black Pudding or Boudin Noir
1 medium sized Crumbly Potato
1 large, Sweet Apple
1 large, Sour Apple
Pinch of Salt
1 large Onion
What You Do
Start by peeling the onions. Quarter and slice. Add olive oil to a heavy iron skillet on medium to low heat and fry the onions until brown. This may take a few hours. Take your time for the best result! When the onions are ready it’s time to prepare the other four elements of the dish, all in parallel. Peel and dice the potato and the apples. Cook separately. When the potato is ready, add a generous amount of butter and a pinch of salt. Mash with a fork. Cook the apples with a limited amount of water until the sour one is completely soft. Stir with a spoon. Fry the black pudding until done. Grill the bacon until crispy. Slice the grilled bacon in smaller bits, let’s say 1 cm. Heat the onions to make sure they are a bit crispy. Now it’s time to assemble the dish. Combine potatoes and apples with some extra butter. Be generous! Add some black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Taste and when okay, add the grilled bacon. Serve on a hot plate with the fried onions and the black pudding.
We do like our mashed potatoes, for instance with a nice, hearty stew or with a wintery Choucroute. But isn’t it a bit too obvious, mashed potatoes? Of course it is! Especially during the colder months your green grocer offers a range of vegetables that are ideally suited for making a purée.
A purée of Jerusalem Artichokes is savory, sweet, delicate and nutty. Great with game, pork stew and choucroute. The mash of Celeriac and Lemon is a great accompaniment of many a dish. It’s fresh and light. Simply serve it whenever you think ‘let’s serve with mashed potatoes’. Give it a try when you want to eat roast cod. A purée of Parsley Root and Parsnip has an intriguing taste. Yes, definitely parsley, but more complex, more lasting. Excellent when combined with a stew or roasted pork-belly.
Jerusalem Artichokes and Parsnips contain (like potatoes) a significant amount of starch, however different from potatoes you can use a blender when preparing the purée.
What you need
Jerusalem Artichokes and white pepper
Or Celeriac, four slices of Lemon and nutmeg
Or Parsley Root, Parsnip and white pepper
What you do
Clean and dice the vegetables and cook (with the lemon) until nearly soft. Drain (and remove the lemon) and add some cream to the pan. Leave on very low heat for 10 minutes or so. The idea is that the vegetables will absorb some of the cream. Mash (or blender) until smooth and pass through a sieve to make it perfect. Serve with white pepper and nutmeg (if required).