Fairy Ring Mushroom with Pork Chops

Spring brings us several edible or even delicious mushrooms, such as the Fairy Ring Mushroom, Morels and the Mushroom of Saint George.

The Fairy Ring Mushroom is a very common mushroom in many countries. The name is not very helpful since many mushrooms grow in the pattern of a ring. The German and Dutch names (Rasen-Schwindling and Weidekringzwam) are more helpful; these refer to the fact that they grow in meadows and lawns.

In France the Mushroom of Saint George is called mousseron and the Fairy Ring Mushroom faux mousseron. But because of the limited availability of the Mushroom of Saint George the faux (false) is dropped in the second name and the Fairy Ring Mushroom is often referred to and sold as mousseron.

It’s a small, very edible mushroom, available from early spring until late autumn. Its taste is a bit sweet and perhaps that’s why some people suggest using them to make sweet cookies. Hm, we think you can do better than that!

We combine the Fairy Ring Mushroom with excellent organic pork (also a touch of sweetness), cream, white wine, fresh sage and a splash of cognac to give the dish a nutty component.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Fairy Ring Mushrooms and pork with a glass of Austrian Zweigelt, produced by Weingut Prechtl. This red wine is fruity and elegant with notes of blackberry and cherry. The tannins are well structured but not overly present. In general you’re looking for a full bodied red wine with fruit and not too much acidity.

What You Need

  • 2 Organic Pork Chops with lots of nice fat (Sirloin or Shoulder)
  • 100 gram of Fairy Ring Mushroom
  • Half a glass of Dry White Wine
  • Fresh Sage
  • Chicken Stock
  • Crème Fraîche
  • Splash of Cognac
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Start by cleaning the mushrooms with kitchen paper. Remove the stems. Fry the caps in olive oil. When the liquid has evaporated, add some dry white wine and two finely chopped leaves of sage. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes or so. Add some crème fraîche and a few moments later a splash of cognac. Stir and leave to simmer for another 5 minutes. In parallel fry the pork chops until brown and leave to rest in aluminium foil. Remove the pork fat from the pan and deglaze with chicken stock. Reduce. Now add the liquid from the pan to the mushrooms, add more finely chopped sage and some black pepper.

  • Fairy Ring Mushrooms with Pork ©cadwu
  • Fairy Ring Mushrooms ©cadwu
  • Zweigelt made by Weingut Prechtl

Asparagus with Scrambled Eggs and Shrimps

Asparagus and eggs, it’s a match made in heaven. For instance à la Flamande (with boiled egg, butter, parsley and ham) or more exotic with Kimizu or with scrambled eggs, chives and shrimps.

Shrimps?

Indeed, with small excellent shrimps, preferably freshly peeled; not used as an ingredient but as an element of flavour. The first time we tasted this combination we were surprised by the role of the shrimps. The salty, intense taste, balanced with the very rich eggs and the sweet-bitter asparagus is a very clever idea. The chives in the scrambled eggs lift the dish to a higher level.
Unfortunately we don’t know who created it, so we offer the recipe with a caveat.

Scrambled eggs?

Preparing scrambled eggs, it seems obvious and simple, but actually we are looking for a version that is more like a sauce. Gordon Ramsey’s instructive and hilarious video shows you how to make scrambled eggs, so no need for us to explain. You need to stop a bit earlier, given it needs to have a sauce-like consistency.

Wine Pairing

We decided to drink a glass of Rivaner from the house Gales in Luxembourg. The aroma made us think of grapefruit, ripe melon and apple. The taste is elegant with a touch of sweetness, acidity and minerality. Ideal with our dish! The sweetness with the asparagus, the acidity in combination with the scrambled eggs and chives, the minerality with the shrimps. And the taste is surprisingly long lasting, which is perfect with such a rich dish.

What You Need

  • 6 White Asparagus
  • 2 Eggs
  • Butter
  • Chives
  • Crème Fraiche
  • White Pepper
  • A Few Small (unpeeled) Shrimps

What You Do

Peel the asparagus and steam for 20 minutes or so. They should have a bite. Prepare scrambled eggs à la Ramsay. Serve the asparagus with the scrambled eggs and just a few shrimps. Done!

White Asparagus with Sauce Périgueux à la Kimizu

The French Périgord is the truffle heart of France. The region is also known for its culinary products, such as Confit de Canard, wines from Bergerac and MonbazillacFoie Gras and Sauce Périgueux. This sauce is a classic in the French kitchen. Its basis is a white sauce made with shallot, a reduction of white wine, (goose) fat, stock and lots of truffle. The ‘original’ recipe of this truffle sauce can be found in La Bonne Cuisine du Périgord written in 1929 by La Mazille. The sauce works beautifully with Tournedos and Magret de Canard. And since white asparagus love truffles, why not combine them with Sauce Périgueux?

We don’t think a roux-based sauce will go very well with asparagus, so we combined two recipes: the flavors of Sauce Périgueux with the lightness and consistency of Japanese Kimizu.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our asparagus with a glass of Riesling, produced by Bott Geyl in the French Alsace. This fresh, aromatic, dry white wine with a hint of sweetness and high acidity combines very well with the sweetness of the asparagus and the intense, rich flavor of the sauce. The wine supports the dish perfectly.

What You Need

  • 6 White Asparagus
  • 1 Small Truffle
  • For the Sauce
    • 1 Shallot
    • 1 Glass of Dry White Wine
    • 3 Black Peppercorns
    • ½ tablespoon Simple White Vinegar
    • Two Cubes of Jus de Truffe*
    • 2 egg yolks
  • White Pepper

What You Do

Chop the shallot, crush the peppercorns coarsely, add to a pan and add a glass of white wine. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes. Add a splash of white vinegar. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Add the two cubes of jus de truffe and leave to simmer for another 10 minutes. Pass through a sieve. If all is well you should have 4 tablespoons of liquid. If necessary reduce. Set aside and leave to cool.
Peel the asparagus and steam for 20 minutes, depending on the size. When there is still 10 minutes on the clock, start working on the sauce. Whisk the two egg yolks well, add the 4 tablespoons of liquid, mix and heat in the microwave on 30% power. Start with one interval of 10 seconds, stir, followed by an interval of 5 seconds, stir and continue with intervals of 5 seconds until you have the right consistency. Total time in the microwave will be approximately 60 seconds. Allow to cool for a minute or two. In the meantime grate the truffle. Serve the sauce over the asparagus, add some white pepper and sprinkle the truffle over the sauce and the asparagus.

* Best to buy a can of jus de truffe and freeze the content in an ice cube bag.

  • White Asparagus with Sauce Périgueux à la Kimizu ©cadwu
  • White Asparagus and Truffle ©cadwu
  • Bott Geyl Riesling ©cadwu
  • Jus de Truffes (Chabert-Guillot) ©cadwu

Guineafowl with Morels and Gnocchi

Preparing guineafowl can be a bit of a challenge because it’s easily overcooked. Guineafowl requires some liquid (oil, butter, wine, stock) when cooking it, but not too much. It’s actually not at all like chicken; just compare the meat and notice the difference. Guineafowl is structured, meaty, dense. Cooking guineafowl as coq au vin doesn’t work. Grilled guineafowl? Not a good idea either.

In The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook (written by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers) you will find a great recipe of guineafowl with grappa, junipers, sage, white wine and pancetta. The combination of grappa and junipers is amazing and the idea to have these two support the guineafowl is simply stunning. The combination emphasises the wild and nutty taste of the guinegowl. Buy the book and start cooking!

Spring is the best season to prepare this dish, because morels are a spring mushroom. You could use dried morels; they can be as tasty as fresh ones. Other dried mushrooms are expensive, not very tasty and not even close to the real thing. Dried morels are the exception to the rule.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our guineafowl with a glass of an elegant, medium-bodied red wine, with aromas and flavours of red fruit. A wine made from gamay grapes will be a good choice, for instance Domaine La Tour Beaumont Val de Loire.

What You Need

  • 2 legs of Guineafowl
  • 50 gram of fresh Morels or 10 gram of dried Morels
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Chicken Stock
  • Mustard
  • Crème Fraîche
  • Black Pepper
  • Gnocchi

What You Do

Pre-heat the oven to 180˚Celsius or 355˚ Fahrenheit. Add the two legs of guineafowl to a shallow dish with butter and olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes. If using dried morels: soak in hot water for 15 minutes. Otherwise clean the morels with some kitchen paper. Turn the legs upside down after 10 minutes. Cook for another 10 minutes. Turn them a second time, skin up. Add the morels to the dish, leaving the skin free. The legs should be ready after in total 30 minutes. Transfer the guineafowl and the morels to a plate and keep warm. Add chicken stock to the cooking liquid. Add crème fraîche, mustard and pepper to the sauce, stir well and allow to warm through and through for 5 minutes. Taste the sauce and if necessary add more mustard.
Serve with gnocchi. (Yes of course, we will be happy to explain how to make gnocchi in the near future.)

  • Guineafowl with Morels and Gnocchi © cadwu
  • Soaked Morels © cadwu
  • Guineafowl © cadwu

Caudle, Eggnog, Ajerkoniak and Advocaat

In the old days new mothers and their visitors were served Caudle, a combination of white wine, eggs, sugar, cloves, raisins, nutmeg and cinnamon. The idea was to strengthen the new mother and of course to celebrate the occasion. Dutch master Jan Steen painted De Kandeelmakers (The Caudle Makers) around 1665. Note the nutmeg grater!

The ingredients are not too dissimilar to those of Eggnog. Basically this is custard infused with various spices, such as vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. The custard is enriched with whole cream, rum/brandy/whisky/cognac and whipped egg white. Our Eggnog was very tasty, creamy and soft with the right push from the cognac. The spices worked really well, especially the nutmeg. We suggest not adding cream because it actually doesn’t bring much other than a fatty feeling in your mouth.

A less complex version is Ajerkoniak from Poland. It combines egg yolks with non-sweetened condensed milk, sugar and vodka (or plain alcohol). The result is a strong, smooth and sweet drink. The vodka worked very well with the eggs but we thought the condensed milk was a bit too present.

Making Caudle, Ajerkoniak or Eggnog begins with whisking sugar and egg yolks until it’s smooth, pale and creamy. This is called whisking the eggs ruban and may take 10 minutes. Interestingly the result is a dish in its own right called Kogel Mogel.

We also prepared Advocaat from the Netherlands. It is a combination of eggs, alcohol and sugar (so no milk, cream or spices). It can be enjoyed as a drink (but our grandmother used a small spoon, probably because she didn’t want to be heard slurping). Our version is a bit thicker, making it ideal as a dessert.

What You Need

  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 25 grams of Sugar
  • 50 ml of Brandy, Gin or Vodka
  • Whole Cream

What You Do

Mix the egg yolks and the sugar well. It doesn’t need to become ruban but some increase in volume is needed. Now gently add the brandy, gin or vodka. Transfer to the microwave and very gently heat the mixture. We used one interval of 10 seconds to start with and continued with intervals of 5 seconds. In total only 55 seconds on 30% power. Stir well after every interval until it becomes thick. The consistency must be similar to a thick pastry cream (crème pâtissière). Cool quickly and store in the refrigerator. Serve with some whipped cream.

PS Obviously you need fresh eggs when making Ajerkoniak, Eggnog, Kogel Mogel, Advocaat, Mayonnaise, Sabayon, Béarnaise, Kimizu et cetera. We don’t think eating fresh, organic eggs is a problem. Eating all kinds of additives, chemicals such as E102 – Tartrazine to make commercial Advocaat look as yellow as real Advocaat, unclear syrops, modified milk ingredients, guar gum, monoglycerides etcetera, that’s a problem.

  • Advocaat ©cadwu
  • Eggnog ©cadwu
  • Ajerkoniak ©cadwu

Spicy Grilled Octopus

We have all experienced chewy, fibrous and tasteless octopus, so how to make sure your octopus is juicy, tender and full of flavours?

Since octopuses don’t have bones, they have very tough connective tissue (collagen) between the muscles. When heating the octopus for a few hours, the collagen will break down into soft gelatine and the meat will become tender and juicy, just as you would like it to be.

‘How to speed up the process’, you wonder?
You could add vinegar to the cooking liquid, you could prepare the octopus by storing it in brine for a few hours, you could beat and pound the flesh, you could freeze the octopus for a few days, you could try adding a wine cork to the cooking liquid (hilarious!).
Unfortunately none of these short cuts make a significant difference.

The best method is to stew the octopus in a large pot or in the oven. This may take 4 hours or more. Octopuses contain a fair amount of juices and you want to capture these and their lovely flavours, which is exactly what you do when stewing an octopus.
Cooking an octopus in water for hours means losing these flavours; not something you want to do.

There is only one alternative to slow cooking: buy (frozen) baby octopuses. Marinate them for a few hours, grill them for 2 minutes and enjoy with a glass of wine or a nice cold beer.

What You Need

  • 6 Baby Octopuses
  • For the Marinade
    • Neutral Oil
    • Soy Sauce
    • Sweet Soy Sauce (Kecap Manis)
    • Fresh Ginger
    • One Garlic Glove
    • Teaspoon of Cumin
    • Tablespoon of Chilli Bean Sauce (Toban Djan)
    • Water (optional)
  • Chinese or Japanese pickles

What You Do

Clean the octopuses and remove the beak. Grate the ginger, chop the garlic and combine with the other ingredients. You’re looking for a powerful marinade with lots of chilli and (sweet) soy sauce. Allow the octopuses to marinate for a few hours.
Heat your grill, dry the octopus and grill for 2*1 minute. We prefer using a non-stick contact grill. Cut of the mantle and slice the tentacles in two. Serve on a warm plate with pickles and share.

Cod with Bleu d’Auvergne

Bleu d’Auvergne is amongst our favourite cheeses. It’s creamy, semi-hard, moist, powerful, pungent and not too salty. It was created around 1850 in France when a farmer combined cow milk curd with the mould of rye bread. He also noticed that the cheese benefits from increased aeration using needles (similar to the process used when making Stilton cheese). Nowadays Bleu d’Auvergne is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), just like the other excellent cheeses from that region (for example Saint-Nectaire and Cantal).
For some reason Bleu d’Auvergne combines extremely well with cod. We tried other combinations, experimented with adding butter, cream or crème fraîche but we always return to this one. It’s a tribute to both the fish and the cheese.

Wine Pairing

The combination may be very specific; wine pairing is not too difficult. In general a fairly present, white wine will be great choice. Could be a Verdejo from Spain, a mildly oaked Chardonnay or a glass of your favourite white wine. No reason to open a bottle of Chablis; the flavours are too bold for a really elegant wine.

What You Need

  • Skinless Cod Loin
  • Bleu d’Auvergne (preferable mature)
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Heat a heavy cast iron skillet through and through, add olive oil, dry the cod with kitchen paper and fry on the firm side (where the skin used to be) until it’s nice and golden. Flip the fish, reduce the heat and start adding chunks of cheese. It will melt, but make sure you still have these blue bits in there. Baste the fish with the melting cheese. Check the cuisson of the cod (the fish must be opaque and flaky) and serve on a warm plate.

  • Cod with Bleu d’Auvergne ©cadwu
  • Blue d'Auvergne ©cadwu

Langoustine

Such a delicious starter! Perhaps it makes you think of Italy or France. A Plateau de Fruit de Mer, with oysters, shrimps, lobster, clams, periwinkles and langoustines.  The name sounds French, so perhaps the langoustine is local to the Mediterranean Sea? Not really.
Its Latin name (Nephrops norvegicus) is a nice indication of its habitat. Langoustines live in the North-Eastern Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea from Norway to Portugal. The langoustine-catch is very important for the Scottish fishing industry.

So why is it that so few people in countries around the North Sea enjoy langoustines? Difficult to prepare? Difficult to eat?

Let’s start with how to eat a langoustine. You begin by pulling away the head and claws, then you squeeze the belly to crack the shell. Start from the belly side and peel away the shell. Then de-vein by running a sharp knife along the back and remove the black vein (the intestinal tract). With a lobster cracker and a lobster curette you remove the meat from the claws. A bit of extra work, but it’s truly delicious.

So they’re easy to eat and, see below, very easy to prepare.

Wine pairing

We enjoyed a glass of Château Pajzos Tokaj Furmint 2019. This dry, white wine made from the well-known Hungarian Furmint grape is fresh, clean and slightly floral. It supports the langoustine beautifully.
In general we would suggest a white, clean, dry wine. It could be a German Riesling, a Sauvignon Blanc (a French Sancerre for instance) or an unoaked Chardonnay.

What You Need

  • 6 Langoustines (preferably fresh)
  • Mixed Salad
  • Olive Oil and Vinegar
  • (home-made) Mayonnaise

What You Do

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Some chefs add salt or lemon. No need for this. Add the langoustines and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Make sure you don’t overcook them. Smaller ones (like the ones we bought) require no more than 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and use a colander to drain them. We like to cool them quickly with a splash of cold water, to stop the cooking process. The meat must be moist and soft, not firm and rubbery. Leave the langoustines on a plate with kitchen paper while making a simple dressing. Toss some salad with the dressing.  Serve the warm langoustines with the salad and a generous helping of mayonnaise.

Langoustine ©cadwu
Langoustine ©cadwu

Canard a l’Orange

Preparing Duck is always a pleasure, whether with green peppers or with Szechuan, the result is tasty and your guests will be happy. So let’s revisit another classic from the 1960’s: Canard A l’Orange is a delicious combination of duck with a multi-layered orange sauce.

So what did we change compared to the 1960’s-recipe? We don’t use a whole duck, due to the lack of availability but also because cooking a whole duck is far more challenging than cooking a whole chicken or turkey. We also don’t use (caramelized) sugar and we use butter instead of flower or corn starch to create a nice, velvety sauce.

Wine Pairing

A classic wine from the Bordeaux region will be wonderful with your duck. We enjoyed a glass of Château Cap Saint-Martin Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux Le Cabernet d’en face 2017. This wine is made from 100% Cabernet-Sauvignon grapes, which is to be expected for Bordeaux wines from the left bank of the Gironde. Hence the d’en face (opposite or other side) in the name, because Blaye is situated on the right bank of the Gironde (where Merlot is the dominant grape for red wine).
In general you’re looking for a wine with soft aromas of dark berries, vanilla and spices. On the palette it should be round with present tannins. A wine that will combine with the sweetness and depth of the sauce in combination with the rich, juicy and slightly sweet duck meat and its crispy skin.

What You Need

What You Do

Check the breast of duck for remainders of feathers. Remove the vein on the meat side of the breast (and the odd membrane you don’t like). Put on a dish, cover and transfer to the fridge. Leave in the fridge for a few hours, making sure it’s nice, firm and cold.
Fry the duck (straight from the refrigerator!) in a hot, non-sticky skillet for 10-12 minutes on the skin side. Reduce the heat after a few minutes. You don’t need oil or butter, the duck fat will do the trick. Now fry for 2-3 minute on the meat side and remove. Cover with aluminium foil in such a way that the crispy skin is not covered. The foil should only cover the meat. The skin must remain crispy.
Clean the orange, make thin zest and press the orange. Remove some of the fat and add stock, a generous amount of zest, orange juice, garlic, thyme and Mandarin Napoleon. Stir and make sure the garlic becomes integrated in the sauce. Allow to reduce by half. Add liquid from the duck. Taste and adjust. Later on butter will be added  softening the taste so at this stage the flavours need to be clearly present. You may want to add some mustard to push the flavours and help the sauce emulgate. Add more of the duck’s liquid. Reduce the heat and add cubes of cold butter. Keep stirring, taste, add black pepper, perhaps extra thyme and plate up. We served the duck with green beans (olive oil, freshly grated nutmeg) and fried potatoes.

Canard a l'Orange
Canard a l’Orange ©cadwu

Omelet with Winter Truffle

Black truffles are harvested from November to March, so be extravagant and buy one before the season ends. When buying a truffle, please ask if it’s okay to smell them, because the aroma will tell you everything you need to know about the quality.
Black truffles combine really well with a warm purée of potatoes, with scallops, risotto and everything eggs. We used our truffle to make one of the simplest and tastiest truffle dishes ever: an omelet with truffle and Parmesan cheese.
If you store a black truffle for a day or so, then please store it in a small box with some rice and an egg. The rice will prevent the truffle of becoming wet and the egg will embrace the aromas of the truffle and become a treat in its own right.

Wine Pairing

A not too complex white wine goes very well with this omelet, best would be a classic Pinot Blanc or Riesling from the Alsace region (for instance produced by Kuentz-Bas). Think fruity aromas, floral characteristics, minerality and a touch of acidity and sweetness.

What You Need

  • 2 Eggs
  • Butter
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • 10 grams or (budget permitting) more Black Truffle
  • White Pepper

What You Do

Clean the truffle if necessary. Take a fairly small iron skillet and make sure the pan is warm through and through but not hot. Using a fork (a spoon is even better) whisk the two eggs together. Add butter to the pan and wait until it is melted. It should not change colour or sizzle. An omelet should not be fried; the bottom must remain yellow. Add the whisked egg to the pan and wait until the egg is beginning to set. Check the consistency with your fingers. There is no alternative to baveuse! Take your time.
Serve the omelet on a warm dish with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, white pepper and grated black truffle.