History on Our Plate

A few years ago, we had the pleasure of attending a lecture by food historian and award winning author Peter G. Rose. She talked about America’s Dutch past and the influence of the Dutch settlers on today’s American food. She explained how the founders of New Netherland (currently the states of New York, Delaware, Connecticut and New Jersey) brought Dutch recipes, tools, herbs and fruit to the US. And she showed how the Dutch influence is still present in today’s food in the USA.

Recipes

In her book History on Our Plate (2019) she writes in more detail about this topic, also by providing various food and drink recipes from New Netherland (1609 – 1664). The recipes are based on publications like Een Notabel Boecxken van Cokeryen (a Notable Little Book of Cookery, 1514) and the 13th century publication Le Viandier de Taillevent. The recipes include both the original and a modern version, allowing you to recreate food from the 17th century. Fried cod with mace, waffles, mushroom casserole, artichokes with a bread, cinnamon and wine sauce: they all sound amazing.

In her introduction she describes the joy of baking bread in a hearth, the fun (and challenges) of preparing food in her home fireplace and the candlelight dinners that follow. When reading the well written recipes, you sense that she (and her husband who is in charge of the fire) aims to let her readers enjoy the cooking and eating as much as they did.

Quiche or Clafoutis?

We were intrigued by a recipe for Mushroom Quiche without a Crust. It made us think of clafoutis. Replace the cherries by mushrooms, change the seasoning and you have a delicious vegetarian starter or main course. The recipe was first published in 1668 by Franciscus van Sterbeeck  in his book Tractaet van de Kampernoeljes, Genaamd Duivelsbrood (or Treatise of Mushrooms, named Devils’s Bread).
You’ll find a detailed recipe in History on Our Plate.

We enjoyed our Mushroom Quiche without a Crust (or should we say, Flaugnarde with Mushrooms?) with a glass of Rioja d’Oliva Gran Reserva, Altos d’Oliva, 2013. A full bodied, red wine with lots of character that worked really well with the mushrooms, the oregano, and the Gouda cheese.

Buy the Book

History on Our Plate is available via the well-known channels and your local bookstore for approximately 15 euro or 10 US$.

Classic Cèpes

What better way to start the mushroom season than serving Classic Cèpes? The recipe is very simple and the result is about cèpes and cèpes alone. The stems a bit firm, the caps moist, the flavours intense and the taste rich and earthy, with a touch of freshness from the parsley. It’s a classic in Germany (Steinpilze auf klassische Art), France (similar to Cèpes a la Bordelaise), Italy and many other countries. 

Wine Pairing

If you want to enjoy the cèpes with a glass of white wine, then we suggest drinking one that is fresh, fruity, round and balanced, for instance of a glass of Bodegas Mocén Selección Especial made from verdejo grapes. A glass of rosé with similar flavours is also a good idea. The idea is to support the cèpes by adding fruitiness and freshness to the dish.

When you decide to drink a glass of red wine, then we suggest a full-bodied red wine with gently fruit and present tannins. 

What You Need

  • 200 gram Cèpes
  • Butter
  • One small Shallot
  • Parsley
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Clean the mushrooms and slice lengthwise. Finely chop the shallot and the parsley. Add butter to a relatively hot heavy iron skillet. Reduce the heat and fry the cèpes for a few minutes. Add the shallot. Cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add chopped parsley, add more butter, black pepper and stir. Serve on a warm plate.

Mushroom Season

Hurray! The mushroom season has started! Last Saturday we bought delicious cèpes and chanterelles. Such a treat. It does of course mean that summer is over, which makes us a bit sad, but it also means the joy of eating wonderful dishes such as Cèpes à la Bordelaise or Salad with Mushrooms and smoked Duck (see below). Last year we prepared a Pâté with bay boletes, which was both beautiful and delicious. Will we be able to buy them this year? Or perhaps the intriguing Japanese Matsutake? It’s been some time since we last saw them on the market, and we would really love to make Matsutake with Spinach and Ginger again. How about Caesar’s mushroom with Udon?

Books

If you’re looking for useful mushroom recipes, then we suggest Antonio Carluccio’s The Quiet Hunt or Mushroom by Johnny Acton and Nick Sadler. Or look at our list of mushroom recipes.

Wine Pairing

Combining wine and salad is never obvious. In the case of a salad with mushrooms and duck we need to consider umami (mushrooms, duck), a touch of sweetness (smoked or cured meat) and the acidity of the dressing. We choose Domaine de Rimauresq Côtes de Provence Cru Classé rosé. A classic wine from the French Provence with grapes such as grenache noirmourvèdreugni blanc and rolle. The wine comes with delicate fruity, fresh flavours and aromas. It is very well balanced, dry and mouth filling and it combines beautifully with all aspects of the salad.
In general you’re looking for a white or rosé wine that has complexity and length, without being overpowering.

What You Need

  • 150 grams of Mushrooms (Cèpes preferred but also great with Oyster Mushrooms or a mix of Champignon de Paris, Shiitake and others)
  • Mesclun
  • Dried or Smoked Breast of Duck
  • Olive Oil
  • Vinegar (Red Wine, Jerez or Raspberry)

What You Do

Clean and slice the mushrooms. Heat a heavy iron skillet and fry the mushrooms in olive oil. Make a dressing of oil and vinegar. Toss the mesclun and the dressing. Transfer the salad to a plate, add mushrooms and finish with 3 or 5 slices of duck.

Earthly Delights

The Mushroom Book by Michael McLaughlin and Dorothy Reinhardt (Illustrator) is a lovely, small book with some 35 recipes and 60 very delightful full-colour wood-cut illustrations. Just look at the cover! It’s the kind of book that we bought because it looks good. A book you simply want to have.

Only later did we find out that it discusses the history and other interesting back ground information of various mushrooms, including information on choosing, storing and preparing them. The book offers an introduction to the joy of cooking with mushrooms such as button mushrooms, morels, oyster mushroom, truffle, trompette de la mort, chanterelle, shiitake, cèpes and huitlacoche, a Mexican mushroom that grows on corn.
Michael McLaughlin is also known as co-author of The Silver Palate Cookbook with recipes from Manhattan’s celebrated gourmet food shop.

Amongst our favourite recipes are Mushroom Tapenade and Raw Mushroom, Fennel and Provolone Salad.

The Mushroom Book was published in 1994. It’s available (in most cases second hand) via channels such as Amazon and e-Bay for something like 15 euro. Ii is an ideal and friendly introduction to the world of earthly delights. 

The Mushroom Book
The Mushroom Book

Salad of Cèpes and Smoked Duck

Both Salade Landaise and Salade Périgourdine combine cold ingredients (salad, tomatoes, green beans) and warm ingredients (lardons, confit of duck gizzards) with a dressing made of oil, mustard and (red wine) vinegar. Serve the salad with excellent bread and a glass of rosé and you will have a perfect lunch.
Our salad is perhaps a bit too subtle for a hearty lunch, but it does work very well as an additional starter.

Wine Pairing

Combining wine and salad is never obvious. In this case we need to consider the raspberry flavour, the umami from the cèpes and the duck plus the acidity of the dressing. We choose Domaine de Rimauresq Côtes de Provence Cru Classé rosé. A classic wine from the French Provence with grapes such as grenache noirmourvèdreugni blanc and rolle. The wine comes with delicate fruity, fresh flavours and aromas. It is very well balanced, dry and mouth filling and it combines beautifully with all aspects of the salad.
In general you’re looking for a rosé that has complexity and length, without being overpowering.

What You Need

  • Cèpes (Porcini, Penny Bun)
  • Corn Salad (Lamb Lettuce, Mâche)
  • Olive Oil
  • Raspberry Vinegar
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Black Pepper
  • Smoked Duck Breast

What You Do

An hour before serving, transfer the slices of smoked duck breast from the refrigerator to a plate. The duck must be at room temperature. Clean the mushrooms and slice. Heat a large iron skillet and add olive oil. Fry the mushrooms and when coloured reduce the heat somewhat. In parallel make a dressing by combining excellent olive oil, white wine vinegar and raspberry vinegar. Taste and adjust. Perhaps some black pepper. Add the salad and toss. Add some of the smaller bits of mushroom and toss again. Quickly serve the salad, adding 2 or 3 slices of smoked duck per person plus the fried cèpes. 

Raspberry Vinegar

Many years ago, we had the pleasure of being regular guests at the Auberge des Seigneurs in Vence, France. In those days the restaurant offered a wide range of beautiful dishes from the days of King François I, such as blue trout, roasted chicken, quail with Pruneaux d’Agen and tender lamb cooked on a spit before an open fire in the dining room.
Ah, Madame Rodi, we treasure these evenings, the beautiful food, the local wine, your dog (known to regular guests as monsieur Tim) and your infinite hospitality. We also remember your wonderful Coca Cola Light, which you would serve after dinner. It came in a huge Biot bottle and to the surprise, astonishment, shock of most of your new guests it was everything but light. It was a strong grappa with Boutons de Fleur d’Oranger (orange blossom buds). We can still see the broad smile on your face when yet another guest would take too big a sip of your powerful concoction.

Adding fruit can be a disastrous idea (just think about strawberry tea or sole Picasso) but the touch of acidity of raspberries makes them ideal to combine with vinegar. We follow Madame Rodi’s approach when making raspberry vinegar: simply combine the two and enjoy.

Use the raspberry vinegar wisely, for instance combine it with strong flavours, preferably umami. We use it in our favourite autumn salad with Porcini and Smoked Duck. The colour, the aromas, the taste: the vinegar and the raspberries integrate perfectly.

What You Need

  • 250 grams of Excellent Organic Raspberries
  • 250 ml White Vinegar

What You Do

Clean the raspberries, crush them with a fork and combine with the vinegar. Put in a jar and transfer to the refrigerator for one week, making sure to stir at least once a day.
Pass the mixture through a sieve, applying light pressure only. Pass the vinegar through a white cloth, squeeze very gentle. The result is probably a bit cloudy, so leave for a few days before using.

Cèpes à la Bordelaise

What’s In A Name?

Porcino, Steinpilz, Eekhoorntjesbrood, Cèpe de Bordeaux, Penny Bun, Seta (de) Calabaza, Herrenpilz: a diverse range of beautiful names referring to one of the tastiest and most common mushrooms (in Europe): the Boletus Edulis.

The French name refers to the city of Bordeaux and is linked to the classic dish Cèpes à la Bordelaise. It brings out the texture and the flavours perfectly. The standard ingredients of the dish are cèpes, (fresh of course, the dried version can’t be compared to the real, fresh mushroom), olive oil, pepper, shallot and parsley. Some people add breadcrumbs (which doesn’t add any flavour so forget about it).

The interesting aspect of the Bordelaise is that the caps and stalks are separated. The caps are cooked for some 15 minutes; the chopped stalks for 5 minutes. This is a really clever approach because the caps become very tasteful and moist, while the chopped stalks add volume and texture. The downside (we think) is that the shape of the mushroom is gone. That’s why we prefer to slice the mushroom vertically in six parts. Two slices of the side of the cap, two centres (stalk with cap) and two slices of stalk (to make the stalk-with-cap slices more even). We chop the last two slices.

Originally Cèpes à la Bordelaise is a starter, but we prefer to combine it, for instance with an omelet as a starter or with beef or fillet of deer as a main course.

Wine Pairing

This very much depends on how you serve your Cèpes à la Bordelaise. If served as a starter we could imagine a glass of Bordeaux (quelle surprise!). In general a full bodied red wine with gently fruit and present tannins will be a great choice.
With our omelet we drank a glass of Bodegas Mocén Selección Especial made from verdejo grapes. This Spanish wine has big aromas, for instance ripe tropical fruit. In the mouth it is fresh, fruity, round and balanced. Not too complex.
With our beef we enjoyed a classic Medoc: Château Moulin de Taffard with aromas and flavours of red fruit. It is well balanced, with rich, smooth tannins.

What You Need

  • For the Cèpes à la Bordelaise
    • 200 gram Cèpes (or 300 gram if you serve it as a starter)
    • Olive Oil
    • One Shallot
    • Parsley
    • Black Pepper
  • For the omelet
    • Two eggs
    • Parmesan Cheese
    • Butter
  • For the Beef
    • 150 gram of excellent Beef (we served Rib Eye)
    • Olive Oil

What You Do (Cèpes à la Bordelaise)

Clean the mushrooms and slice. Chop the remainder of the stalks. Chop the shallot and the parsley. Add olive oil to a relatively hot heavy iron skillet. Reduce the heat and fry the caps and centre slices of the mushrooms for 5 minutes. Turn and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the chopped stalks and the shallot. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir gently, making sure the chopped stalks are nicely coloured. Add chopped parsley, stir and add fresh black pepper. Serve on a warm plate.

What You Do (Omelet)

Whisk the two eggs and add a bit of fresh Parmesan Cheese. Warm a very small heavy iron pan (or a non stick pan if that’s what you prefer) add the mixture and let it set on low heat. This could easily take 10-15 minutes. The omelet must be moist (baveuse) and the bottom may not be colored.
Quarter the omelet and serve with the Cèpes à la Bordelaise.

What You Do (Beef)

Transfer the beef from the refrigerator a few hours (not 30 minutes, that’s too short) before you start cooking. It’s important that the meat is at room temperature. Heat a heavy iron skillet, add olive oil and fry quickly. Let rest. Slice the beef and serve on top of the Cèpes à la Bordelaise.

Roulade of Pheasant with Mushrooms and Steamed White Cabbage

A Challenging Bird

Pheasant is not the simplest bird to prepare. It is too big to take the approach we prefer for partridge and it’s too low in fat to create a Faisan Rôti. The choice is between applying bacon on the outside and stuffing the bird. Both are not among our favourites: the bacon will overwhelm the taste of the pheasant and an old fashioned stuffing with chestnut, sausage meat, butter and onions is simply too much for us: we prefer a light, tasty cuisine. Our approach is to make a small roulade using the breast of pheasant. This is probably the driest part of the bird, but combining the meat with mushrooms will make it tender and moist. The mushrooms and thyme in the roulade support the delicate game-taste of the pheasant, making it into a most enjoyable dish for November and December.
Duxelles is an essential element of a Beef Wellington. We make a variation by using mushrooms, butter and thyme only. We don’t want the mushrooms too finely chopped, see picture, but feel free to give it more of a duxelles texture.
The right internal temperature for pheasant is between 60° and 65° Celsius (between 140° and 150° Fahrenheit). Best is to set your meat thermometer to 60° Celsius and allow the roulade to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. This way the meat will be lovely pink.

Wine Pairing

Both red and white are possible. The wine should not be too powerful, given the delicate taste of the pheasant. If you go for white, then Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc are a good choice. Given the white cabbage with cumin Riesling is also a nice idea. If red, then we would suggest a Beaujolais or a Pinot Noir.

What You Need

  • 2 Fillets of Pheasant
  • For the Duxelles
    • 150 grams of (Chestnut) Button Mushrooms
    • 50 grams of Porcini
    • Thyme
    • Butter
    • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Crème Fraiche
  • Mustard
  • Chicken stock
  • For the Vegetables
    • White cabbage
    • Cumin
    • Excellent Olive oil

What You Do

Clean and chop the mushrooms and add to a warm pan with butter. The idea is to reduce the volume of the mushrooms but not to fry them. This may take 20 minutes. Halfway add the thyme. Take two sheet of foil and put one below a fillet and one on top. The former skin side of the breast should be visible. We use a small bottle to flatten the fillet. This does not require a lot of strength and be careful not to create holes in the meat. You’re looking for doubling the size, so not as thin as the veal for a Wiener Schnitzel or a Scaloppini a la Milanese. Now figure out how to combine the two flattened fillets, making sure you have some overlap. Spread the mushrooms on top, roll it up and create the roulade. Wrap it in foil and transfer to the refrigerator, allowing for the flavours to integrate and the roulade to set.
Heat your oven to 120° Celsius (250° Fahrenheit). Warm a heavy iron pan, add some olive oil and gently colour the roulade. Then transfer to the oven, add some butter and wait until the centre has reached 60° Celsius. When the roulade is ready, wrap it in aluminium foil and let it rest. Make a sauce of the cooking juices, mustard, crème fraiche and perhaps some chicken stock. Steam the cabbage for five minutes, add excellent olive oil and crushed cumin seeds and mix. Add the sauce to a warm plate, slice the roulade and serve with the cabbage.