Clam Chowder

We have fond memories of the food we enjoyed when in New England: local oysters, lobster, Boston cream pie and of course clam chowder. Ah, yes, fond memories indeed.
Since then, clam chowder has become one of our favourite starters. Unfortunately, most restaurants (even in New England!) turn the clam chowder into a potato soup and even worse: they used canned clams. Help! 

The main ingredients of New England clam chowder should of course be lots of fresh clams plus vegetables, bacon, cream and potato. The soup must be about clams, with all the other ingredients in a supporting role.

We’re not from New England, so our clam chowder is far from original. But being Dutch we love our seafood and most certainly do we love our kokkels, also known as the common cockle. You can find a probably more original Manhatten version (meaning: without cream) in The Silver Palate Cookbook.

Finding the right potato is a bit of a struggle, also because some recipes suggest using waxy potatoes, so potatoes that remain firm. Not a good idea because it means that the potato doesn’t thicken the soup and the potato is far too present. We prefer using a starchy potato, one you would use for a purée, mash or mousseline. If you can find one with a golden colour, that’s even better. If you’re familiar with vichyssoise, then use the same potato.

What You Need

  • 500 grams of Clams, preferably washed
  • Chopped Carrot, Celeriac, Onion and Leek
  • Bouquet Garni (Parsley, Bay Leaf, some Thyme)
  • 4 strips of Bacon
  • White Wine
  • Water
  • 200 grams of Starchy Potato
  • 50 ml Cream
  • Olive Oil
  • White pepper

What You Do

Check the clams: discard broken ones or ones that will not close. Add a little olive oil to a pan and then chopped carrot, celeriac, onion and leek. Leave for 20 minutes until soft and sweet. Add the chopped bacon, fry for a few minutes until slightly crispy. Now add white wine, water and the bouquet garni. Leave for another 20 minutes. Turn up the heat, add the clams quickly and certainly not too long. If you heat them too long, then they will become rubbery when heated for the second time. Use a slotted spoon to remove the ingredients from the stock. Keep the bacon, the clams (without the shells) and the bouquet garni. Discard all other ingredients: onions, leek, celeriac, carrot and shells. Transfer the bacon and the bouquet garni back to the liquid. Add the chopped potato. Let simmer until the potato has broken down. Use a fork to thicken the soup. Add cream. Feel free to add a bit more, it’s all about taste and consistency at this stage. If you’re not happy with it, then you could add some potato starch. Keep the soup warm for 10 minutes or so, turn up the heat, add the clams and quickly heat them. Add some freshly grounded white pepper. Serve immediately.

Clam Chowder ©cadwu
Clam Chowder ©cadwu

Halibut with Morels

Seasonal eating is such a great idee. Simply buy (locally produced) seasonal fruit, vegetables and mushrooms, enjoy fresher and better tasting ingredients, reduce your carbon footprint and support your local community. And it creates lots of tasty opportunities: celebrate the beginning of the truffle season, the start of the asparagus season, the first red wine from the Beaujolais region – all good fun.

Part of the concept (at least, we think so) is commemorating the end of a season. In the Netherlands the morel-season ends early May. This year was a particularly good year for morels, we had some beautiful, tasty ones, for a reasonable price. But now it’s time to prepare the last morel dish of the season. And the last one with Ramson! A very tasty dish, one that requires a bit of work, but the result is absolutely yummy!

Wine Pairing

The richness of the dish requires a full-bodied white wine, for instance a glass of Chardonnay; one that has a touch of oak and vanilla plus a lightly buttery finish. Our choice would be the Chardonnay of La Cour des Dames

What You Need

  • Halibut
    • Halibut (slice with skin and bone preferred)
    • Olive Oil
  • Morels
    • 50 grams of Morels
    • Olive Oil
  • Sauce
    • Shallot
    • Olive Oil
    • Fish Stock
    • Noilly Prat
    • Crème Fraîche
    • Butter
    • White Pepper
  • Ramson (Wild Garlic)

What You Do

Clean and half the morels. Fry these gently in a heavy iron skillet for at least 10 minutes.
In parallel heat a small heavy iron skillet, gently fry the chopped shallot. When soft, add the garlic and one or two ice cubes of fish stock. Add a splash of Noilly Prat. When warm, blender the mixture, pass through a sieve and return to the pan. Add some crème fraiche. Warm through and through.
In parallel fry the halibut in a separate (non-stick) pan. First on the skin side, then turn the fish, remove the skin and turn again. The result should be golden. Whilst still in the pan, remove the bone. This gives you two portions of fish per person.
Slice a few leaves of ramson lengthwise, removing the vein.
When the fish is opaque, it’s time to add a bit of butter to the sauce and a touch of white pepper.
Serve the fish on top of the sauce, add the morels and the leaves.

PS

We served the halibut with morels on plates designed by Walter Gropius and produced by Rosenthal; a classic plate in Bauhaus Style.

Halibut with Morels ©cadwu
Halibut with Morels ©cadwu

Asparagus with Kimizu

The combination of white asparagus and Hollandaise is classic. The sweetness and bitterness of the asparagus together with the velvety, rich flavours of the sauce is just perfect.

A few years ago we enjoyed Kimizu-Ae (white asparagus with Kimizu) at Yamazato in Amsterdam. We were immediately intrigued by this combination. The Kimizu is a rich and light sauce; it comes with a velvety feeling, a touch of sweetness, a bright yellow colour and perfect acidity. So yes, the next day we prepared our own Kimizu.

Kimizu is based on two main ingredients: egg yolk and rice vinegar. You could add some mirin and a pinch of salt. Kimizu does not contain butter (the egg yolk being the only source of fat) so Kimizu, although it seems similar to Hollandaise, is lighter, easier to digest and fresher.
Many recipes for Kimizu include starch, probably because the cook has trouble making a warm, emulgated sauce. Our advice: never use starch or beurre manié. The consistency is an essential element of the sauce and must be the result of carefully heating the mixture of egg yolk, vinegar, mirin and water.

Using a microwave oven to make Kimizu is a great idea (see our recipe for Hollandaise), although it does require more whipping and more attention compared to making Hollandaise.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Asparagus and Kimizu with a glass of Sancerre, Domaine Merlin Cherrier. This classic wine reflects the chalky terroir of Sancerre beautifully. The combination of Sauvignon Blanc (citrus, minerals) and Kimizu (touch of sweetness, present but not overpowering acidity) works really well. A wine of true class and complexity with a long finish.

What You Need

  • Two Egg Yolks
  • 2 tablespoons of Rice Vinegar
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of Water
  • Teaspoon of Mirin (optional)
  • Pinch of salt (very optional)
  • 6 Asparagus

What You Do

The amount of water you’ll need depends on the acidity of the rice vinegar and the size of the egg yolks. Whisk the two egg yolks, add the rice vinegar, the mirin, the water and whisk some more. Now transfer to the microwave and give it let’s say 10 seconds on 30% power. Remove from oven and whisk well. Repeat. You will now feel the consistency changing. If not, don’t worry, just repeat the step. After 2*10 or 3*10, move to steps of 5 seconds on 30% power. Whisk, whisk again and feel free to find your own way. When the Kimizu is ready, take it out of the oven, continue whisking gently and perhaps cool slightly in a water bath.
In parallel steam the asparagus (depending on the size 20 or 25 minutes; they should be well done for this dish).
Serve the asparagus with a generous helping of Kimizu.

White Asparagus with Kimizu ©cadwu
White Asparagus with Kimizu ©cadwu

Pasta with Mushrooms and Bell Pepper

Udon is such a wonderful noodle. What better comfort food than a warm soup made with dashi, vegetables, tofu, udon and thinly sliced spring onions? Perhaps some tempura on top of the soup? Or would you prefer a very simple dish, called Mori Udon? The cold udon is served with a sauce of mirin, dashi and soy sauce on the side.
Udon is also a great alternative to Italian pasta, for instance with Caesar’s Mushrooms.

In this recipe we combine udon with roasted bell pepper and Trompettes de la Mort. We’re not sure why, but this combination works really well. Is it because of the smokey aroma of the roasted bell pepper mixed with the aromas of the mushroom? The crispy pancetta in combination with the soft textures of the other ingredients, including the udon? The overall richness and umami thanks to the Trompettes de la Mort?

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our pasta with a glass of Bianco di Custoza, made by Monte del Frà from Italy. It is a well-balanced, dry white wine, with a fruity nose. Its colour is straw yellow, with pale green highlights. A glass of Soave, made from the Garganega grape, will also be an excellent choice. In general you’re looking for a fresh, aromatic dry white wine. 

What You Need

  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Bunch of Udon
  • 100 grams of Trompettes de la Mort
  • 1 Glove of cooked Garlic
  • 4 slices of Pancetta
  • Black pepper
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Clean the bell pepper and cut in 4. Transfer to the oven and grill or roast for 10 minutes or until well charred. When still hot, put the bell pepper in a plastic container and close it. After one hour it’s easy to remove the skin of the bell pepper. Slice lengthwise to make nice strips. Set aside.
Slice the mushrooms in two and clean them with a soft brush. Check carefully for grit and other things you don’t like to eat.
Fill a large pan with water (no salt!) and bring to a boil. Add the udon and cook it according to the instruction. When nearly done, add some cooking liquid to a cup and set aside. Drain the udon.
In parallel heat a large heavy iron skillet, add olive oil and fry the mushrooms. Once they become a bit dryer, add the sliced bell pepper. Add the cooked garlic, crush it with a fork and mix. Now add the udon and continue mixing. Add cooking liquid until the pasta is sufficiently moist.
Also in parallel: grill the strips of pancetta (perhaps 5 minutes).
Add some black pepper to the pasta and serve with the grilled pancetta.

Pasta with Mushrooms and Bell Pepper ©cadwu
Pasta with Mushrooms and Bell Pepper ©cadwu

Fish Cakes by Jean Beddington

Jean Beddington: a culinary, passionate creative! She was chef at five restaurants, owned her own successful restaurant, and still is an inspiration to many. One of her motto’s is ‘seemingly simple’, not with the intention to impress but with the intention to surprise and enhance the sensation when enjoying her food and the way it is presented.

Background

In her book Absolutely Jean Beddington she writes about her background, her youth in England, her eagerness to cook, the holidays with her father when they would stay at budget hotels and eat at Michelin Star restaurants, her travels, her years in Japan and her education (she studied Arts and Chemistry). When she moved to the Netherlands, she decided to become a chef, which is the obvious choice for someone with such a talent. She was one of the first to bring new ingredients to the classic French cuisine. For instance, she began using cilantro and yuzu. She was also inspired by the Japanese way of presenting food: beautifully designed and served on a variety of plates. She began doing this when most guests still expected bread and garlic butter at the beginning of their lunch or dinner.

Books

She published several books. One is dedicated to stock: the basis of soups, sauces and dishes. She explains how to make stock and how to create delicious food, for instance green vegetables in stock with couscous, yogurt and harissa sauce. 

Her book Absolutely Jean Beddington is very dear to us. It has three main chapters: the first one is called Glossy with beautifully presented food, the second one is called Real Time with food as you could expect to eat at her restaurant (which is closed, unfortunately) and our favourite chapter is called Daily. Indeed, recipes that are easy to follow and help prepare tasty, wonderful food, every day.

Fish Cakes

We prepared her fish cakes with a beetroot, ginger, apple and onion chutney. The fish cakes are intriguing and the chutney is the perfect accompaniment. Yummy!

Antonio Carluccio’s Oysters with Bianchetto

Last Saturday we were extremely lucky. Not only did we buy the very first fresh morels of the season, we also bought a small bianchetto. This affordable white truffle is available from mid January to the end of April. It is also called March truffle (marzuolo).

In his book Complete Mushroom Book, Italian chef Antonio Carluccio combines fresh oysters with a white wine sabayon and white truffle: Ostriche con zabaglione e tartufo bianco. The result is spectacular. The combination of the distinct aroma of the white truffle with the oyster is intriguing. The sabayon brings everything together in terms of taste, consistency and structure. And just to show you how clever Carluccio’s combination is: the sabayon in itself is not pleasant. We prepared the dish with bianchetto. Maybe less subtle than when prepared with a white truffle, but the result is nevertheless wonderful.

Wine Pairing

With such a great dish you many want to drink a glass of Chablis or Champagne. We enjoyed a glass of Crémant de Bourgogne, produced by Vitteaut-Alberti. A refined wine, soft and with delicate fruit. The bubbles are small and pleasant.

Oysters a la Carluccio © cadwu
Oysters à la Carluccio © cadwu

Quails and Snails in a Green Sauce

Many years ago we were looking for a place to eat in Fréjus. It was our last evening in France before returning home and obviously we were looking for something special, something typical Provençal. The area of our hotel wasn’t very promising, so we were ready to settle for pizza until we saw a small restaurant with a very interesting menu. It offered Tisane de RomarinCailles et Escargots and many other exciting dishes we unfortunately can’t remember. We entered the restaurant and had a perfect evening.

Combining quails and snails isn’t the most obvious idea, but rest assured, it works beautifully, also thanks to the very intriguing green sauce. It took us some time to make the sauce as it should be, but after a few attempts we think this is the right bridge between the quails and the snails.

Of course, we made a note of the name of the restaurant and of course, we lost it. A pity, although preparing this dish brings us back to a lovely evening in Fréjus.

Wine Pairing

Enjoy your Quails and Snails with a glass of Bourgogne: a chardonnay with a touch of oak. The wine must be dry, mineral and medium bodied. We enjoyed a glass of Bourgogne as produced by Louis Jadot. The wine partly matured in stainless steel tanks and partly in oak barrels. The result is a wine that has citrus and apple aromas in combination with oak and vanilla. Great with the freshness of the herbs and the richness of the sauce. It balances very well with both the quails and the snails. Two sides to everything in this dish!

What You Need

  • 2 Quails 
  • 6 Snails (click here when you want to know which snail to buy)
  • For the Sauce
    • 1 Bunch of Parsley
    • ½ Bunch of Tarragon
    • A few Leaves of Young Spinach
    • Cream
  • Vegetable Stock
  • Olive Oil
  • White Pepper

What You Do

Wash the snails with plenty of water. Set aside. Clean the quails. Best is to use the breasts only. (You could also serve the legs, provided you remove the main bone. It’s a bit of extra work, also for your guests.) Make sure you have a warm heavy iron skillet ready and a small pan with warm vegetable stock. Set your oven to 60 °C or 140 °F.

Blanch parsley, tarragon and spinach in boiling water and cool immediately in ice water. Blender parsley, tarragon and spinach with some ice water until you have a very smooth green liquid. Set your blender to turbo! Press using a sieve and store the green liquid. It will remain stable for at least an hour.

Fry the breasts quickly in olive oil. Warm the snails in the vegetable stock. Transfer the breasts to the warm oven. Clean the pan with kitchen paper, add cream and chicken stock. Let reduce for 5-10 minutes or until you’re happy with the consistency. Add liquid from the quails. Stir and taste. Perhaps some white pepper? Add green liquid until you have the right colour and taste. Be very careful, if you overheat the sauce it will lose its vibrant green colour. Serve the breasts and the snails in the sauce.

Quails and Snails in a Green Sauce ©cadwu
Quails and Snails in a Green Sauce ©cadwu

Escargots de Bourgogne

We noticed that more and more supermarkets and shops sell snails. Canned, frozen or with garlic butter ready to be cooked in the oven, all very tempting. Snails are high on protein, low on fat, high on minerals, low on calories. A glass of white wine and some crusted bread; what more do you need as a healthy starter?
But before buying snails it’s important to look at the label and find out what kind of snail you’re buying.

The snail used for the classic Escargots de Bourgogne is called Helix Pomatia. It’s protected in many countries. Farming of this snail is not profitable. Excellent taste, expensive and hard to find.
There are three alternatives: Helix Aspera (either the small one called Petit Gris or the large one called Gros Gris) and Helix Lucorum. The last one is considered to be less tasty than the other three, but when prepared well, it’s a very nice, affordable alternative. All three can be farmed.

It could also say Achatina on the label. This is a different kind of land snail, much larger than the first four. It’s taste and texture are okayish.

Sometimes it simply says ‘Escargots’ and ‘Gros’ on the tin. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, it may and it may not. Some companies cook larger (sea) snails, chop these, and sell the chunks as ‘Escargots’. The term ‘Gros’ is supposed to make you think of the Gros Gris. Don’t be fooled: they are rubbery, tasteless and a waste of money.

The classic Escargots de Bourgogne are prepared with butter, garlic and parsley. We like to add a bit of tarragon and a pinch of salt. Traditionally they are served in the shell and you need a tong and a special fork to eat them. The ones we use are from a can, so no special equipment required. 

Wine Pairing

The obvious choice is a glass of Bourgogne: a chardonnay with a touch of oak. The wine must be dry, mineral and medium bodied.

What You Need

  • 12 snails
  • Butter
  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Tarragon
  • Salt
  • 2 Snail Plates

What You Do

You could of course buy fresh snails (which makes us think of the amazing market in Valencia! So much choice, such excellent quality. Also various kinds of snails, fresh and alive, obviously, also the Caragolus, the snail that is required when you prepare a traditional Paella Valenciana) but otherwise buy them canned. Remove them from the can, wash carefully with lots of water and set aside.

Chop parsley, tarragon and garlic very fine. Using a fork, combine butter, herbs, garlic and a pinch of salt. Transfer six snails to a snail plate, add a chunk of butter to every snail, transfer the snail plate to an oven at 160 °C or 320 °F for 10 minutes or until boiling hot. Serve the snail plate on a cool plain white plate.

Escargots de Bourgogne ©cadwu
Escargots de Bourgogne ©cadwu

Carpaccio

With A Twist?

Carpaccio has evolved into an anything-goes combination of something sliced (beef, veal, (smoked) salmon, beetroot) with a dressing and garnished with for instance pine nuts, cheese, lettuce, capers, tomatoes, spring onion etcetera, which is a pity because the original Carpaccio is actually rather perfect.
We’re not culinary puritans but nevertheless we were slightly shocked when we found the next version of Carpaccio in our local supermarket: with wasabi mayonnaise, teriyaki glaze and roasted sesame seeds. Help?

Original Version

Let’s go back to the original Carpaccio as it was created (in 1950) by chef Giuseppe Cipriani of Harry’s Bar in Venice for one of his regular guests, the Contessa Amalia Nani Mocenigo. Her doctor had ordered her to eat uncooked food, especially raw, red meat. Most likely she suffered from anemia. The poor Contessa was used to excellent food, so something raw on a plate wasn’t very appealing. Chef Cipriani created a special dish for her, which he named after, indeed, the Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio. Some say this was a tribute to the whites and reds as used by Carpaccio.

Sauce

The sauce is a very clever combination of mayonnaise, Worcester sauce, lemon juice, white pepper and milk. The velvety mayonnaise works very well with the lean meat, the acidity of the lemon is a perfect match for the sweetness of the beef and the Worcester sauce brings umami and depth. The milk gives the sauce the right consistency.

Next time when you think about preparing Carpaccio, why not try the original version and forget about all the extra’s.

Wine Pairing

We suggest enjoying your Carpaccio with a glass of Pinot Grigio or a Soave. It should be a fruity, not too powerful wine. Carpaccio is about the flavour of the meat. The sauce and the wine should simply support this. You could also go for a Pinot Noir, provided it has a light character.

What You Need

  • 50 grams of Excellent Tenderloin or Sirloin (per person) thinly sliced, cold but not frozen.
  • (Homemade) Mayonnaise
  • Worcester Sauce
  • Lemon
  • White Pepper
  • Milk

What You Do

Take one or two spoons of mayonnaise and add two teaspoons of Worcester sauce, one or two teaspoons of lemon juice and freshly ground white pepper. Taste and adjust until you have the perfect balance. Now add milk, creating a thinner sauce. Remove the meat from the refrigerator, flatten the meat if so required and transfer to a cold plate. Create a nice pattern with the sauce, using a sauce bottle. Serve immediately.

Mushroom Soup with Pancetta and Thyme

This morning when we looked outside, we saw a grey, foggy city. Knowing it would take hours for the fog to clear, we started thinking about something warm for lunch. Perhaps some soup with crusty bread? We opened our refrigerator. Various mushrooms, thyme, rosemary, cream, a carrot, some left over stock. Yes! We knew what we wanted to cook for lunch: Mushroom Soup with Pancetta. A hearty, rich soup, ideal for a cold, grey day. The combination of mushrooms, pancetta and cream works very well; the celery and leek add complexity and the thyme brings character.

Wine Pairing

It was much later that afternoon before the fog left the city, but since we also had some left over Chardonnay in the fridge, which we enjoyed with our soup, we didn’t mind that much.

What You Need

  • Pancetta
  • Shallot
  • Mushrooms (Best is a Mix of Champignons, Shiitake etcetera)
  • Celery
  • Leek
  • Carrot
  • Garlic
  • Stock (Chicken or Vegetable)
  • Bouquet Garni (Thyme, Rosemary and Bay Leaf)
  • Black pepper
  • Cream
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Keep two strips of pancetta apart (to be grilled just before serving). You probably need 4-6 strips in total. Slice the remaining pancetta and fry in olive oil on medium heat. Remove the pancetta from the pan, chop the shallot and glaze it in the fat and perhaps some extra olive oil. Clean and slice the mushrooms, slice half a stalk of celery, half a leek, a small carrot, chop two gloves of garlic and add this to the shallot. Gently fry for a few minutes. Add the pancetta, the stock and the bouquet garni. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni. Blender the soup, pass through a sieve and leave on low heat for 10 minutes. The mushrooms will emulgate the soup, so no need to add a roux. Now it’s time to taste the soup and perhaps add some black pepper. Add cream and fresh thyme and leave for another 5-10 minutes. In the meantime grill the two strips of pancetta until brown and crispy. Cut the stripes in five pieces depending on the size. Serve the soup in a warm bowl with the pancetta on top of it.