Saffron Milk Cap with Red Bell Pepper and Chorizo

This mushroom is absolutely delicious, which is reflected in its Latin name Lactarius deliciosus. When you cut a thin slice of the stem, you will see the intense, orange colored milk of the mushroom.
The mushroom may be a bit green, which is the result of bruising, so nothing to worry about. Cleaning it may require rinsing with cold water because leaves and mud may be stuck to the cap.

It is a popular mushroom in Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Scotland, Poland, Russia and many other countries. In Spain they are combined with garlic and parsley, in Turkey with spinach to make börek or used in a rich tomato stew and in Poland and Russia they are salted with herbs such as dill and caraway.

Many recipes suggest blanching the mushrooms for 2, 3 or even 10 minutes, but that’s not necessary. Much better idea is to use them in stew like recipes, allowing for the flavours to integrate. Talking about flavours, Saffron Milk Cap is a touch nutty, sweet and mild.

The season is relatively short, from August until October, November. Which in a way makes the joy of buying and preparing these delicious mushrooms even greater!

Wine Pairing

We very much enjoyed a glass of Portuguese Segredos de São Miguel, a full bodied, warm red wine, made from grapes such as Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira. You will taste lots of fruit and a touch of toast.

In general you’re looking for a full bodied wine, with some acidity and smooth tannins. A glass of Malbec will also be a good choice.

What You Need

  • 150 grams of Saffron Milk Caps
  • Roasted Red Bell Pepper
  • 50 grams of Sliced Chorizo
  • Parsley
  • One Garlic Glove
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Clean the mushroom and slice (not too thin). Chop the garlic. Peel the skin of the roasted bell pepper and slice. Warm a skillet, add olive oil and gently add the sliced Spanish chorizo (yes, we know, it seems a bit odd. You would expect us to use fresh chorizo, which is great when you want to create something like a sauce or ragu, but we like the idea of being able to taste all three main elements, on their own and in combination). Add the garlic. After a minute or so add the mushrooms and the bell pepper. Fry gently. After 5 or 10 minutes add some chopped parsley. Leave on low heat. Add some more parsley. Just before serving add the remaining parsley and some black pepper.

PS

Roasting a red bell pepper before using it, is such a good idea. Simply slice the bell pepper in 4, put on the highest rack in the oven and grill for 10 minutes or until truly burned. Remove from the oven, put in a container, close it and wait for an hour or so. Remove the skin of the bell pepper and it’s ready to use. Roasted bell peppers are sweet and intense, with only a touch of smokiness.

Confit of Duck: a home made alternative

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.

Wine Pairing

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
    • Juniper berries
    • 4 Bay Leaves
    • Olive Oil
    • (optional) Garlic
  • For the Celeriac Mash
    • 1 Celeriac
    • Slice of Lemon
    • Cream
    • White Pepper
    • Nutmeg

Confit

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.

Mash

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.

Field Peas with Summer Savory

Seasonal products, we simply love them! Fresh field peas are available for a few weeks in June and July only. They are easy to recognise by their purple pod. An old and forgotten vegetable, perhaps because the (older) peas tend to be starchy and not very tasteful.
Young field peas, however, are sweet and moist with a good texture. Combining them with summer savory is a great idea, but if you want to give your field peas a more modern twist, then replace the savory with fresh oregano.
Field peas, different from fresh green peas, require some fat or oil. The combination with for instance crispy fried pork belly works really well. Simple, a bit old fashioned and delicious.

Wine Pairing

We combined our field peas with pork fillet. The dish is robust, so we decided to drink a red wine from the Dão region in Portugal, to be more precise we enjoyed a glass of Prunus as produced by Gotawine. One of our favourites! It has lots of dark fruit (plums, blackberries, cherries), it is lightly oaked and its taste is fruity, long and well balanced. Grapes include Jaen (also known as Menci), Tempranillo and Touriga Nacional. In general you’re looking for a medium bodied, not too complex, yet elegant red wine.

What You Need

  • Fresh Field Peas
  • Sprigs of Summer Savory
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Shell the peas and steam them for 4 minutes maximum. Let cool and set aside. Heat a small skillet, add olive oil, reduce heat and very gently fry the peas. Add some finely chopped summer savory. Mix. Just before serving add the remaining chopped savory, mix and serve.

If you combine the field peas with pork fillet, then use excellent organic fillet only. Fry the fillet in a heavy iron skillet until nearly done. Wrap in foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Add the meat juices to the pan, add some mustard and (vegetable, veal or chicken) stock. Reduce. Add some cold water to help the emulsification. Slice the fillet. It should be a touch pink. Serve with some black pepper and the jus.

  • Field Peas with Summer Savory ©cadwu
  • Fresh Field Peas ©cadwu
  • Prunus Label ©cadwu

Grilled Octopus Tentacles

Portugal

The Portuguese kitchen is not known for its subtleness or refinement. But that should not stop you from enjoying it! Portuguese cuisine comes with powerful flavours, lots of fish of course, bacalhau, Caldo Verde, octopus, cuttlefish, and the well known chicken piri-piri and pastel de nata. Same for Portuguese wine: perhaps not the most subtle wine (apart from Madeiras and Port wines), but how about an excellent Vinho Verde, a red wine from the Dão region made with Touriga Nacional or a red wine from Alentejo? We love flavors and we very much enjoy the bold dishes from Portugal.

Recently when in Brussels we booked a table at Chez Luis, a Portuguese Bar à vin and Restaurant. Tasty dishes like Pasteis de bacalhau, Cassolette de palourdes and Polvo lagareiro. Served with Portuguese wine, of course. And Chez Luis has an excellent choice! So we drank a vibrant espumante and a refreshing Vinho Verde (Longos Vales Alvarinho 2016). The Polvo made us think of one of our favorites: Octopus with summer vegetables. And since one octopus is way too much for two people, we simply bought two cooked tentacles. Feel free to buy a whole octopus, clean it, cook it, braise it and then follow the recipe below.

Wine Pairing

A Portuguese white wine will be a excellent choice, for instance a Vinho Verde like we enjoyed at Chez Luis. You could also go for a Spanish Verdejo from Rueda. Look for characteristics like fresh, fruity, clear acidity, subtle bitterness and full bodied.

What You Need

  • 2 Octopus Tentacles (cooked)
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 gloves of fresh Garlic
  • 1 Spring Onion
  • Jerez Vinegar
  • Black pepper
  • (Optional) Parsley
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil

What You do

Clean the red bell pepper and slice in 4 to 6 chunks. Grill it in your oven until nicely burned. Transfer to a plastic container and close the lid. Wait a few hours before peeling the bell pepper. Slice it into cubes (not too small). Remove the pits from the tomato. Slice in similar cubes. Slice the garlic (again, not too small). Slice the spring onion. Mix the vegetables and fry gently in a hot pan with olive oil. Set to low heat. In parallel heat your grill pan. Remove the gelatinous substance from the tentacles, dry them, coat with olive oil and grill for 4*2 minutes, creating a nice brown criss-cross pattern. It will not be very visible, but it will be crunchy. Just before serving the dish, add some Jerez vinegar to the vegetables, turning it into something like a salsa. Perhaps some parsley and black pepper. Serve the hot tentacle on the vegetables and add a slice of lemon.

grilled octopus tentacles

Pimientos de Padrón

Lovely and Simple Starter

Pimientos de Padrón are mild, sweet tasting and small green peppers, originally from the Galicia region in Spain, but now widely available in Spain and Portugal. Story has it that one in a hundred (or more?) is actually very spicy, but rest assured, we have eaten many more and never encountered a spicy one. Ask your greengrocer for these lovely peppers because we’re sure you will enjoy them.

Wine Pairing

We would suggest drinking a Vinho Verde with the Pimientos de Padrón. Vinho Verde is a wine from the most northern part of Portugal, between the Douro and Minho rivers. Verde refers to the fact that the grapes are harvested very early in the year. This implies that the grapes contain a fairly small amount of sugar. As a result of this the wine (in most cases) has a fairly low percentage of alcohol (think 10%). But don’t be surprised if you find one with a higher percentage.

About Vinho Verde

In general we feel Vinho Verde is undervalued. It’s a great, very taste wine; one that is not just wonderful on a summers evening.
Vinho Verde is not a wine to store, so make sure you buy one from the most recent harvest.
Most Vinho Verde wines are white. They tend to have a very subtle bubble. The taste is light, floral and the wine comes with some clear acidity.
We also found a rosé and a red Vinho Verde. Seldom have we seen a wine with such an intense colour! To balance the acidity of the red Vinho Verde you must be combined with fat meat or rich sauces. We combined it with grilled Secreto of Iberico pork, which is a treat in its own right. Secreto is a thin, juicy cut from acorn fed, free range Iberico pigs.

Secreto

As an extra: for two people buy 300 grams of Secreto. In a way the structure of the secreto resembles skate. One side of the secreto will look nice, fat and meaty, the other may look like if you have to remove extra fat. Which is exactly what you need to do! After having done that, heat a heavy grill pan (or the barbeque) and grill the meat for 4 times one minute, creating a nice pattern. The cuisson should be rosé. It’s not a problem if the thinner parts of the secreto are well done because the meat will be very juicy anyway, thanks to the fat. Serve with a sautéed courgette. The bitterness and the sweetness of the courgette combines really well with the juicy secreto. The red Vinho Verde will balance the fat and will turn the combination of secreto and courgette into an intriguing dish.

What You Need

  • Pimientos de Padrón
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt

What You Do

Clean the Pimientos de Padrón and dry the peppers. Heat a heavy skillet, add olive oil and fry the peppers for a few minutes. Make sure they are fried but not cooked. Sprinkle some sea salt over the Pimientos de Padrón, fry for a few seconds making sure the salt is somewhat adsorbed in the olive oil. Serve immediately.