Salad of Small Artichokes

The season of artichokes varies depending on the variety and where you are based. In Italy it’s from mid-winter until early spring, in other countries from March to June, or September and October. And in other countries they peak in August. Best is to decide based on quality and price. An artichoke should feel heavy, look fresh and the leaves should be closed. If the leaves are wide open, the artichoke is older and it could be dry with lots of choke (the hairs) and dry inner leaves.

Don’t cook artichokes in boiling water. They must cook for 45+ minutes and during the long cooking process they will lose most of their flavour. Best is to steam artichokes.

Serve large artichokes as a relaxing starter or use them to make Artichoke Barigoule or a Pie. We use smaller ones to make a salad.  You can serve it to accompany an aperitif, or with some bread as a starter. Make sure you have plenty of dressing!

Wine Pairing

It’s not straightforward to pair artichokes with wine. According to various researchers this is due to cynarin, a chemical especially found in the leaves of the artichoke. When the wine and the cynarin meet in your mouth, the natural sweetness of the wine is enhanced, making it taste too sweet. So you have to pair freshly cooked or steamed artichokes with a bone-dry, crisp, unoaked white wine with clear, present acidity. For instance, Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner or Albariño.
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 Salad of Artichokes beautifully.

What You Need

  • 6 small Artichokes
  • Olive Oil
  • Vinegar
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard
  • Garlic
  • Thyme
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Remove the stem of the artichokes and steam the artichokes for 45 – 60 minutes, depending on the size. Remove and let cool. Peel of the first layers of the outer leaves. Make the dressing by turning the mustard and the crushed garlic into a smooth paste. Then gently add the other ingredients and whisk well to make it really smooth, thick dressing. Cut the artichokes in 6 or 8 parts. Add to the dressing, mix well, coating all artichokes. Sprinkle lots of thyme and mix again. Put in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Mix again, taste, add some more thyme and serve!

Walnut Sauce

Michelin Award winning Japanese chef Akira Oshima is author of Yamazato, Kaiseki Recipes: Secrets of the Japanese Cuisine. The book contains recipes from the kitchen of the Yamazato restaurant in Amsterdam. It is amongst our favourite cookbooks. The recipes can be very challenging and time consuming as is getting hold of the right ingredients.
One of the recipes is for Takiawase, a mouth-watering combination of vegetables and fish. Every ingredient requires its own preparation and is simmered in its own dashi-based stock. The recipe of chef Oshima combines kabocha, eggplant, okra and shrimp. Indeed: four different kinds of homemade stock.

When shopping at Amazing Oriental we saw Garland Chrysanthemum, which made us think of another tasty dish, a combination of walnut sauce, chrysanthemum and shiitake called Shungiku Kurumiae. It’s actually two recipes, one for walnut sauce and one for chrysanthemum. The walnut sauce is a combination of roasted and blended walnuts, white miso, dashi, sake, light soy sauce and mirin (in that exact order). Very tasty with lots of umami and depth. It serves as a vinaigrette for the salad which is a combination of blanched and in dashi marinated chrysanthemum and grilled shiitake.

Yamazato, Kaiseki Recipes: Secrets of the Japanese Cuisine is available via the well-known channels, both in English and Dutch, second hand. The Dutch version is available via the webshop of the publisher for €34,50.

Drink Pairing

We prefer a glass of sake with our Shungiku Kurumiae, for instance a Junmai sake with fresh aromas and good acidity. The sake must be dry and well-balanced with a clean finish. You could enjoy a glass of white wine with the dish, provided it’s dry and mineral.

PS

We made too much walnut sauce for the salad, so we stored what was left in the refrigerator. But we were out of garland chrysanthemum (we wanted to use the remainder for our Matsutake dish) so what to do? The next day we fried some excellent organic pork belly and served it with Brussels sprouts and walnut sauce. Lovely combination!

Matsutake with Garland Chrysanthemum

A very special mushroom, to say the least. Matsutake smells like a pine wood forest and its taste is intense and unique. It’s also expensive and rare. If you happen to find it, be sure to buy it.

Earlier we used Matsutake to make a soup and we combined it with spinach and ginger. In this recipe we combine Matsutake with Garland Chrysanthemum (Glebionis coronaria) also known as Tong Ho or Shungiku. It is a widely used vegetable in Japan, China, Vietnam and Korea. Its taste is delicate, a touch bitter and different (unless you’re familiar with chrysanthemum tea); one that goes very well with dashi, sesame seeds, mushrooms, mirin and soy sauce. If the vegetable is young, you can eat the stalks and the leaves. Also great as tempura. We use the leaves only for making a salad.

Wine and Sake pairing

We enjoyed a glass of Camino de Caza Almansa Sobre Lías Verdejo 2021. An organic white wine produced by Bodegas Piqueras and made with selected verdejo grapes from the Almansa region in Spain. It’s an aromatic, fresh wine with flavours that will make you think of yellow fruit (peach) and it has a welcome touch of bitterness.
The combination of the intense Matsutake and the intriguing Chrysanthemum begs for a dry, white wine with character.
You could also serve a glass of a cold, not too crispy sake, for instance a Taru Sake (a sake aged in barrels made of Japanese cedar).

What You Need

  • 75 grams of Matsutake
  • 200 grams of Garland Chrysanthemum
  • 150 ml Dashi
  • 3 teaspoons Light Soy Sauce
  • 3 teaspoons Mirin
  • Walnut Oil
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Make 150 ml of dashi. Let cool. Add light soy sauce and mirin. Mix. Remove the stems of the Chrysanthemum. Wash the leaves in water. Add to a pan with boiling water and blanch for 45 seconds. Transfer the leaves to a basin with cold water. When the leaves are cold, gently remove the excess water and transfer to the dashi mixture. Leave in the refrigerator for one hour.
Clean the matsutake. Take your time to do this. Remove the lower half of the stem. Slice the mushrooms, chop the stem. In a non-stick pan heat a little olive oil, just enough to gently fry the mushrooms. When ready, remove the leaves from the mixture, combine with the chopped mushroom, mix. Add the salad to a plate, decorate with the fried slices of matsutake and add a small drizzle of walnut oil.

  • Matsutake with Chrysanthemum ©cadwu
  • Cleaned Matsutake ©cadwu
  • Matsutake on the market ©cadwu

Lamb Gascogne

It was not your ordinary butcher, not your ordinary delicatessen, it was something very, very special. It said slagerij (butcher) on the window, but it was so much more, so very special. It was the only place in Amsterdam where you could buy Wagyu and truffles before they became popular, foie gras, quails, Spanish veal, bread from Paris, oysters with wasabi sabayon, Iberico pork, capon and home-made black pudding and pastrami. Expensive, delicious and always of the highest quality. Owners Yolanda and Fred de Leeuw and their staff were clearly passionate about what they did, what they sold and what they prepared. And if it wasn’t busy, they would gladly tell you how to prepare sweetbread or how to make sure you got the perfect cuisson for your bavette.

Expensive? Yes. But as Fred explained, quality meat was, is and will always be expensive, so it’s better to enjoy quality once a week than to eat industry produced meat 7 days per week. “And if you want to know why”, they said in 1999, “just read the papers”.
Which is, unfortunately, still very true in 2022.

In 1999 chef Alain Caron and author Lars Hamer published a book about the shop, the meat, the patés, the sausages, the salads and the dishes they prepared on a daily basis. 

Truffle Salad

One of our favourite recipes is for Yolanda’s truffle-egg salad. Beautiful, intense flavours and so much better and tastier than the ready-made misery that’s being sold today. Her salad is easy to make and only requires mayonnaise, eggs, truffle oil and yes, of course, lots of summer truffle!

Another great recipe is for Lamb Cascogne-style. The anchovies add saltiness and umami to the meat, the garlic brings lovely aromas and the spring onion sweetness. Use the cooking liquid to make a simple jus and you have a perfect meal. Some recipes suggest coating the lamb with tomato puree, others suggest making a tomato sauce with carrots, celeriac and the cooking liquid, but we prefer serving the lamb with tomato confit.

Het Vleesboek (Dutch only) by Alain Caron and Lars Hamer is out of print. A second-hand copy will probably cost around 10 euro.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed a glass of Pontificis, a red wine produced by Badet Clément in France. It is made of the classic combination of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes (GSM). In general you’re looking for an aromatic red wine, with tones of red fruit and a touch of oak. Medium bodied and well balanced.

What You Need

  • Leg of Lamb (boneless)
  • Anchovies
  • Young Garlic
  • Spring Onion
  • Olive Oil
  • Tomato Confit

What You Do

Slice the meat, allowing you to press bits of anchovies, garlic and onion into the meat. Heat your oven to 180 °C or 355 °F. Fry until the centre is 60 °C or 140 °F. Allow to rest under aluminium foil for at least 10 minutes.

PS

You may think this is a rather low temperature. In the US it seems that 145 °F is the bare minimum for leg of lamb. The temperature in the centre will of course increase during the resting period. Feel absolutely free to go for 145 °F before removing the meat from your oven. Fred and Yolanda sold only the very best of meat, so serving it a touch seignant was never a problem.

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.

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.

Lentils with Sausage and Beetroot

Think France, think a nice small bistro in a small street, off centre, nothing posh, no Michelin star in sight. It’s 12.30, time for a quick lunch. You enter the restaurant, take a seat and order today’s dish, the plat du jour. It turns out to be a generous helping of lentils, fried sausages, mashed potatoes and mustard. A beer works beautifully with it. After having enjoyed your lunch, you think about the joy of good food, French mustard and the beauty of lentils. Time for a coffee. And perhaps a glass of Calvados?

In our recipe for Cod with Lentils and Cilantro we mentioned the joy of lentils, especially the joy of eating Lentille Verte du Puy A.O.P & A.O.C. from Sabarot.

We’re not too keen on mashed potatoes so we decided to combine the lentils and sausage with a beetroot salad.

Sausage wise we suggest coarsely ground (so not minced) organic porc sausages with sage, for instance Lincolnshire sausages. The texture of the sausages is great in combination with the size of the lentils. 

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our lentils with a glass of red Pays d’Oc wine, with grapes such as Grenache and Syrah. The Syrah brings an intense colour, aromatic strength and structure. The Grenache reveals red berry flavours. For instance wine from Domaine La Colombette. This producer is well known for its innovative light wines and its Super Bio wines, made with grapes (Cabernet Noir, Souvignier Gris) that have a natural resistance to various diseases, meaning that no pesticides are needed in the vineyard.

What You Need

  • For the Lentils
    • Shallot
    • Olive Oil
    • Green or Du Puy Lentils
    • Parsley
  • For the Sausages
    • 2 or 4 Sausages (organic pork with sage, coarsely ground)
    • Olive Oil
  • For the Salad
    • Beetroot
    • Spring Onion
    • Vinegar (plain and white wine)
  • French Mustard

What You Do

One day before serving, wash the beetroot, wrap in foil and put in the oven on 180° Celsius or 365° Fahrenheit for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size. Transfer, remove foil and let cool.
Cut the shallot in small bits and glaze gently in olive oil. In the mean time check the lentils for small pebbles; wash the lentils. Once the shallot is glazed, add the lentils and heat them for a few minutes, as you would do with risotto rice. Add some chicken stock and water (the stock is only intended to give the lentils a small push) and leave to simmer on low heat. Fry the sausages in olive oil in a heavy iron skillet. Remove the skin of the beetroot, slice the beetroot and combine with thinly sliced spring onion and vinegar. Mix. Drain the lentils, chop the parsley and add to the lentils.
Serve the sausage on top of the lentils. Definitely a good dash of French mustard on the side!

  • Lentils with Sausage and Beetroot ©cadwu
  • Du Puy Lentils AOP AOC © cadwu

White Asparagus with Chervil

A salad can be an excellent starter of your lunch or dinner, provided it’s one with lots of flavour and gentle acidity. For instance a Salade Ni­çoi­se, a Salade Caprese or a salad of White Asparagus and Chervil.

Chervil is a very delicate herb. It tastes like anise, but it is much more refined. Chervil looses its taste almost immediately when heated. The salad needs to be prepared well in advance, allowing for the flavours to be well integrated.

Honey can easily ruin a salad (and sugar will always ruin a salad). In this case we use only a touch of honey to create an environment for the sweetness of the white asparagus. The honey should act as a trigger.

The salad is a great example of the complexity of white asparagus: you will taste the sweetness and the freshness of the asparagus. The mouth feel of the salad is very nice, because the asparagus will be both juicy and crispy, with the chervil, honey and vinegar in a supporting role.

After having mixed the salad you will notice that the asparagus and chervil absorb the dressing. During the time in the refrigerator the asparagus will loose some juices, which is actually the beginning of a great dressing.

Wine Pairing

Combining salad and wine is not straightforward. Especially the acidity of the dressing creates a challenge. One solution is to use verjuice and not vinegar. Verjuice is made by pressing unripe grapes. The idea is that verjuice links to wine, whereas classic vinegar or lemon juice would compete with wine. In this case we choose a wine that reflects the flavours of the salad: a hint of anise, a touch of sweetness and florality. Typical notes you will find in a wine from the Alsace region, for instance a Pinot Blanc or a Pinot Gris.

What You Need

  • 2 White Asparagus per person
  • Excellent Olive Oil
  • White Wine Vinegar or Verjuice
  • Lots of Chervil
  • Touch of Honey
  • White Pepper

What You Do

Steam the asparagus for 10 minutes. Let cool. Dry with kitchen paper if needed. Prepare a dressing with the olive oil and vinegar. Chop the chervil and add to the dressing. Add a touch of honey and stir well. Add some white pepper. Taste the dressing: it should be a balance, meaning that none of the ingredients is overly present. Now slice the asparagus in nice chunks, let’s say 3 centimetres long. Mix, cover and transfer to the refrigerator for 6 hours. Mix the salad every two hours. Check the taste after 4 hours, you may want to adjust. Mix the dressing just before serving.

Chioggia Beet Salad

An elegant Starter

What better way to start a nice long dinner than a dish that is light, colourful, surprising and refreshing? A Consommé of Yellow Tomatoes for instance? Or Scallops with Winter Truffle? Or would you prefer a salad made with Bietola da orto tonda di Chioggia? Sounds exotic, but actually it’s a salad made with Chioggia beet: a delicious beet with deep pink and white spirals. It originates from Italy or, to be more precise, from the coastal town of Chioggia, not far from Venice. When cooking the beet its colours fade, creating an even more enticing dish.

Another forgotten vegetable that is worth remembering when you do your Christmas shopping.

Wine Pairing

The dressing comes with firm acidity, balanced by the sweetness of the beet and the spring onion. Wine pairing is a not straightforward because of this combination. Our suggestion would be a Sauvignon Blanc. We enjoyed a glass of Domaine La Tour Beaumont Haut-Poitou Sauvignon Blanc 2019. It has clear fruity and citrus notes and it is well balanced with a good combination of freshness and roundness.

What You Need

  • One Chioggia Beet
  • Excellent Olive Oil
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Spring Onion (or Scallion)
  • White Pepper

What You Do

The day before wash the beetroot and wrap in aluminium foil. Leave in the oven on 180° Celsius or 355° Fahrenheit for 60+ minutes. Cool and store in the refrigerator.
The next day peel the beet and use a vegetable slicer (or mandoline) to make ridges. This will not only make the dish look more inviting, it will also enhance the taste given there is more coated surface and more air when chewing it. Make a simply, relatively acidic dressing with olive oil and vinegar. Thinly slice the spring onion; best to use the green part only. Test a small slice of beet with the dressing and adjust when necessary. Perhaps some fresh white pepper? If you’re happy with the combination, toss the slices with the dressing making sure everything is nicely coated. Plate up and sprinkle the sliced spring onion on top of it.

Salad of Chioggia Beet ©cadwu
Salad of Chioggia Beet ©cadwu