Himmel Und Erde

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 KücheHimmel 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.

Drink Pairing

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
  • Mash
    • 1 medium sized Crumbly Potato
    • 1 large, Sweet Apple
    • 1 large, Sour Apple
    • Butter
    • Nutmeg
    • Black Pepper
    • Pinch of Salt
    • Bacon
    • More Butter
  • 1 large Onion
  • Olive Oil

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.

Himmel und Erde ©cadwu
Himmel und Erde ©cadwu

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

Seared Scallops with Truffle and Potato Mousseline

Truffles Are a Chef’s Best Friend

Truffles range from affordable summer truffles (€100 per 100 gram) via expensive winter truffle (€150 per 100 gram) to extremely expensive white truffles (starting at €375 per 100 gram). Cultivated truffles are considerably less expensive but unfortunately they have less flavour and taste.

Commercially it’s a clever idea to introduce high end products like Risotto with Truffle, Truffle Mayonnaise, Crisps with Truffle, Butter with Truffle Flavour or Black Angus Truffle Burger. The addition of truffle allows the producer to charge more compared to the regular product. So you wonder, how much truffle is actually added? Well, don’t be surprised: it ranges from hardly any truffle to absolutely no truffle at all.

The risotto rice for instance contains 0,2% of truffle per 100 gram. Probably it will be a cultivated truffle, so the impact of the 0,2% is zero. Especially if you take into account that summer truffle (and white truffle to be complete) loses its flavour when heated. Let’s look at the figures: the truffle risotto rice comes at €8,50 per kilo (containing 98,8% of rice) and the same rice without truffle at €2,75 per kilo. So for nearly 6 Euro difference you buy 2 gram of cheap truffle, 8 gram of porcine, parsley, garlic and chives. Yes, indeed, it’s Liza Minnelli singing Truffles makes the world go round, the world go round!

But I Did Taste Truffle!

Of course you didn’t. You imagined you tasted it because it said so on the pack and because the producer most likely added 2,4-dithiapentane, a synthetically produced, aromatic molecule. Products containing 2,4-dithiapentane taste and smell like a bad chemical version of the real thing. It’s especially sad because people confuse the smell of 2,4-dithiapentane with the smell of real truffle.
If people say they don’t like truffle they actually say they don’t like 2,4-dithiapentane, which is great.

Life is simple and truffles are expensive. So get rid of the truffle flavoured rice, oil, mayonnaise, preserved truffle and what have you and enjoy spending some real money on a good product!

An Exciting Combination

In this recipe we combine winter truffle with scallops and potatoes. Winter truffle improves in taste when warm. And it loves potatoes. Perhaps because both grow underground and have a similar odd shape?

Wine Pairing

You need a medium bodied wine to match the powerful taste and flavours. One that brings freshness, citrus, purity and character. We enjoyed a glass of Costieres de Nimes Nostre Pais 2016. You could also go for a Chardonnay with a touch of wood. Combining it with a Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris or Picpoul de Pinet is not a good idea because you then miss out on the necessary earthy tones in the wine.

What You Need

  • 3 Fresh Scallops (preferably in the shell)
  • 1 Starchy Potato
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • White Pepper
  • Salt
  • 10+ Gram of Black (Winter) Truffle

What You Do

Start by making the mousseline: peal the potato and cook until done. Make a mash with a fork or a potato squeezer. Optional: pass potatoes through a fine sieve. Warm the milk and add to the mash. Add a generous amount of butter. Use a whisk to make the mousseline. Add white pepper. The mousseline must combine with the intense taste of the scallops, so a touch of salt is also needed. Keep warm. Half the scallops and fry quickly in a touch of butter in a non sticky pan. When nearly ready, grate the truffle. Take two warm plates, dress with the mousseline, add the three scallops and top with black truffle.