Asparagus à la Flamande

One of the classic ways of serving asparagus is à la Flamande (Op Vlaamse wijze) with melted butter, boiled eggs, parsley and nutmeg. The nutmeg is an essential element of the dish. It enhances the flavour of the asparagus, and it’s a bridge between the egg mixture and the asparagus.
There are two main variations: the first one is to serve the asparagus with small potatoes. Not a great idea, unless you’re hungry, because the potatoes soften, weaken the flavour of the asparagus. The dish is about enjoying asparagus, so why would you add potatoes?
The second variation is to add lemon to the butter and egg mixture. This makes the dish a bit lighter and fresher. If you want to do so, be careful with the wine you serve. You need to balance the acidity in the wine and the food.

Wine Pairing

Serve the asparagus à la Flamande with a dry, white wine. We enjoyed a glass of Silvaner produced by the German Winery Thörle. The wine comes with freshness, some acidity, minerality and fruit (pear, green apples). Excellent with our asparagus.

What You Need

  • 4 Asparagus per person
  • 3 Eggs
  • Parsley
  • Butter
  • Nutmeg
  • White Pepper

What You Do

We use our Russel and Hobbs food steamer to prepare this classic dish. An essential kitchen aid for only 50 euro or US dollar. 
Clean and peel the asparagus. Steam them for 10+5+5 minutes. After 10 minutes add the eggs to the steamer basket. After 5 minutes, turn the eggs upside down. Another 5 minutes later the asparagus and the eggs are ready. If you like your asparagus softer, then steam for 12-15 minutes. The eggs should be hard. Depending on the size you may need to steam them a bit longer. In parallel heat a very generous amount of butter. Chop the parsley. Peel the egg and mash with a fork, creating a ‘mimosa’ of egg. Combine mimosa and parsley. Add some white pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Add the mixture to the butter and combine. Spoon the egg mixture on top of the asparagus.

Asparagus a la Flamande ©cadwu
Asparagus a la Flamande ©cadwu

Carpaccio

With A Twist?

Carpaccio has evolved into an anything-goes combination of something sliced (beef, veal, (smoked) salmon, beetroot) with a dressing and garnished with for instance pine nuts, cheese, lettuce, capers, tomatoes, spring onion etcetera, which is a pity because the original Carpaccio is actually rather perfect.
We’re not culinary puritans but nevertheless we were slightly shocked when we found the next version of Carpaccio in our local supermarket: with wasabi mayonnaise, teriyaki glaze and roasted sesame seeds. Help?

Original Version

Let’s go back to the original Carpaccio as it was created (in 1950) by chef Giuseppe Cipriani of Harry’s Bar in Venice for one of his regular guests, the Contessa Amalia Nani Mocenigo. Her doctor had ordered her to eat uncooked food, especially raw, red meat. Most likely she suffered from anemia. The poor Contessa was used to excellent food, so something raw on a plate wasn’t very appealing. Chef Cipriani created a special dish for her, which he named after, indeed, the Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio. Some say this was a tribute to the whites and reds as used by Carpaccio.

Sauce

The sauce is a very clever combination of mayonnaise, Worcester sauce, lemon juice, white pepper and milk. The velvety mayonnaise works very well with the lean meat, the acidity of the lemon is a perfect match for the sweetness of the beef and the Worcester sauce brings umami and depth. The milk gives the sauce the right consistency.

Next time when you think about preparing Carpaccio, why not try the original version and forget about all the extra’s.

Wine Pairing

We suggest enjoying your Carpaccio with a glass of Pinot Grigio or a Soave. It should be a fruity, not too powerful wine. Carpaccio is about the flavour of the meat. The sauce and the wine should simply support this. You could also go for a Pinot Noir, provided it has a light character.

What You Need

  • 50 grams of Excellent Tenderloin or Sirloin (per person) thinly sliced, cold but not frozen.
  • (Homemade) Mayonnaise
  • Worcester Sauce
  • Lemon
  • White Pepper
  • Milk

What You Do

Take one or two spoons of mayonnaise and add two teaspoons of Worcester sauce, one or two teaspoons of lemon juice and freshly ground white pepper. Taste and adjust until you have the perfect balance. Now add milk, creating a thinner sauce. Remove the meat from the refrigerator, flatten the meat if so required and transfer to a cold plate. Create a nice pattern with the sauce, using a sauce bottle. Serve immediately.

Grilled Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese

We enjoyed this dish as a starter when in Milan, on a beautiful evening, eating al fresco and enjoying the wonderful combination of the sweetness and bitterness of the asparagus, the slightly caramelised sugars as a result of grilling the asparagus and the salty and sweet cheese. A glass of Pinot Grigio was all we wanted.
In Milan we enjoyed grilled green asparagus, but it works equally well with white asparagus.
This is typically a dish to prepare when the asparagus season is at its high and outside temperatures feel like summer.

Wine Pairing

Serve with a glass of Pinot Grigio, a Muscat or Pinot Gris from the Alsace region or a rosé with character. The wine needs to combine with a range of very diverse flavors so it should be a bit complex.

What You Need

  • 3 Asparagus per person
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Peel the asparagus and cook or steam until slightly tender. Depending on the size we would say 10-15 minutes in the Russel Hobss steamer. Leave and let cool. Take a plate, add some oil to the plate and use it to coat the asparagus with oil. Heat the pan and grill the asparagus for 4*1 minute, making sure you have a lovely brown (not too dark) pattern. Or use a contact grill for 2*2 minutes. Serve on a plate, add some grated Parmesan cheese and pepper. Add a generous drizzle of very excellent olive oil.

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

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.

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).