Fried Large Prawns

Prawns and shrimps are very popular, just think shrimp cocktail, paella, salad with shrimps, pasta with seafood, stuffed eggs with shrimps, curry with shrimps and fried shrimps with garlic and lemon. Most of these prawns and shrimps are cultivated, frozen and then shipped. For this recipe you need really large, fresh, wild or organic prawns because the dish is all about the prawn, its flavour and aromas. The result fully depends on the quality of the prawn.
We use the shell, the legs and the so-called swimmerets of the prawns to create a sauce; a bisque like sauce. 

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Prawns with a glass of Picpoul de Pinet produced by Gérard Bertrand. A dry white wine, with a pale straw yellow color. It has aromas of citrus and gooseberries. The wine is full and round with minerality which is typical for a Picpoul de Pinet.
You could also combine the prawns with a glass of Chablis, Verdejo or Soave.

What You Need

  • Two large Prawns, fresh, either wild or organic
  • For the Bisque
    • One small Shallot
    • Chili Pepper
    • Olive oil
    • Armagnac or Cognac
    • Garlic
    • Tomato Paste
    • One Saffron Thread
    • Water
    • Bouquet Garni (Thyme, Parsley)
  • For the Tomato
    • One excellent dark Tomato
    • Olive Oil
    • Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper
  • Crusted Bread

What You Do

We start by making a bisque-like sauce, using the shell of the prawns.
Chop the shallot and a bit of chili pepper and glaze gently for 10 minutes in olive oil. In parallel use scissors to cut the shell of the prawn. Start behind the head and cut towards the tail. Just before the tail turn 90 degrees and make a cut around the prawn. This allows you to remove the shell and the legs of the body but keep the head and the tail on the prawn. Remove the black vein (the prawn’s intestines) and the slurry in the head (if any). Since you serve the prawn with the head (and tail) it is essential that the prawn is clean. You could gently rinse the prawn if you want to be absolutely sure about this. Transfer the prawns to the refrigerator.

Break the shell into smaller chunks. Add these to the pan and fry for a few minutes until red. Add a small splash of Cognac or Armagnac and flambé. Never do this when using the exhaust or range hood. Add one garlic glove, water, a teaspoon of tomato paste, the bouquet garni and the saffron. Stir well, cover the pan and let rest on low heat for 30 minutes.
Remove the bouquet and the shells from the pan. Use a spoon and a sieve to squeeze the juices from the bouquet and the shells, then discard. Blender the mixture and pass through a sieve. Taste the mixture, add pepper if so required. Leave for another 30 minutes on very low heat, allowing for the flavors to integrate and for the liquid to reduce.

Make a dressing by combining olive oil and vinegar. Wash and slice the tomato. Coat the slices with the dressing. Dry the prawns and fry them in a skillet in oil (depending on the size maximum 4 minutes in total) on both sides and on the back. Use warm plates, and serve the prawn on top of the sauce. Touch of black pepper on the prawn is fine. Enjoy with crusted bread.

PS

A few years ago we made a video showing you in detail how to prepare this dish.

Fried Large Prawn ©cadwu
Fried Large Prawn ©cadwu

Dorade

The Gilt-Head (Sea) Bream, better known as Daurade, Dorade (Royale) or Orata is a popular fish in France, Greece, Italy, Spain and many other Mediterranean countries. Delicious when stuffed with herbs such as thyme, rosemary or marjoram, grilled and served with a slice of lemon. The firm, juicy meat is aromatic and a culinary treat.
Serving a whole fish can be a bit uncomfortable. You must remove the head, dissect the fish and look carefully for hidden bones. Serving a fillet makes enjoying fish much easier. The downside is that a fillet is less tasty and perhaps a touch dry. When you buy a fillet, make sure it’s fresh and enjoy it the same day.
We combine the Dorade with typical Mediterranean ingredients. A combination that is both light and tasty.

Wine Pairing

The dish is full of flavours, so we would suggest a glass of Spanish Verdejo or Italian Custoza. In general you’re looking for a full, fragrant dry white wine with a fruity aroma and a round, long, full and dry taste.

What You Need

  • 200 grams of Dorade Fillet
  • 2 ripe Tomatoes
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • Capers (in brine)
  • Basil
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Remove the pits from the tomato and dice. Chop the garlic. Coarsely slice the capers. Add olive oil to the pan, heat the garlic for a few seconds, add tomatoes. Leave for a few minutes, add the capers. Taste and adjust. One minute before serving add half of the basil. Add black pepper.
In parallel fry the dorade until golden. Serve on a hot plate and add the remaining basil.
PS When you use salted capers, wash these thoroughly to remove the salt. You need lemon juice to get the right acidity.

Dorade ©cadwu
Dorade ©cadwu

Tomate aux Crevettes

This simple and delicious starter is normally served in Belgium on special occasions. There are three key ingredients: tomatoes, small (grey) shrimps and mayonnaise. The tomato brings sweetness, umami and some acidity, the mayonnaise richness and a velvety mouthfeel and the shrimps saltiness and sweetness. Ideal combination.
We prefer to peel the tomatoes, because it makes it easier to jenjoy the dish, but it’s not necessary.
We thought it would be nice to tweak the recipe slightly. These ingredients are listed as optional.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Tomate aux Crevettes with a glass of Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Lie produced by Domaine Raphael Luneau. This is a very aromatic wine with a strong flavour and a long finish, which goes very well with the taste of the shrimps and the mayonnaise. The term ‘sur lie’ indicates that during a few months the wine stays in contact with the dead yeast cells left over after fermentation. This technique makes the wine more complex.
In general you’re looking for a fresh, light wine with a clear acidity. 

What You Need

  • 6 excellent ripe Tomatoes
  • 100 grams of (grey) small Shrimps
  • Mayonnaise
  • Black Pepper
  • Optional
    • Ketchup
    • Worcestershire Sauce
    • Lemon
    • Mustard
    • Walnut Oil

What You Do

Classic version: peel the tomatoes, cut of the top, remove the green centre, remove the inside of the tomato and discard. Dry the inside of the tomatoes. Dry the shrimps. Add some black pepper to the shrimps and mix. Put some mayonnaise inside the tomato, then a layer of shrimps, some mayonnaise and finish with shrimps. Put the top back on the tomato and decorate with a few shrimps.
Alternative version: mix the mayonnaise with the optional ingredients. A squeeze of ketchup and teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, lemon, mustard and walnut oil should be fine. Taste, adjust and follow the steps in the classic version.

Tomate aux Crevettes ©cadwu
Tomate aux Crevettes ©cadwu

Your Favourites in 2022

We have been baking our own bread for several years, based on the method of no-knead bread (see Jim Lahey’s book My Bread for more detail) and using the ingredients of the French Talmière. The technique is a bit challenging, so we were very pleased to test the simplified method described by Le Creuset. You were also pleased to learn about this easier method for No-Knead Bread, because it’s our number one post this year!

Kimizu is the classic, golden sauce from Japan, made from Egg Yolks, Rice Vinegar, Water and Mirin. The recipes for Kimizu and Kimizu with Tarragon continue to be very popular. Although this is a classic sauce, we use a microwave to prepare it. A great tool to be in control of temperature and consistency.

If you’ve been following this blog for a few months, perhaps years, then you’ll know we love mushrooms. We are especially interested in the seasonal ones, such as Morels, St. George’s mushroom, and Caesar’s Mushroom. We combine these with Japanese Udon, creating a very tasty starter, full of flavours and texture. Also one of our personal favourites.
Another favorite is the Bay Bolete. Actually a fairly common mushroom, as tasty as Cèpes, but much more affordable.
During the season we saw lots of interests in Bay Boletes and Caeser’s Mushroom, so next season we will publish new recipes with these two delicious mushrooms.

The classic Cèpes à la Bordelaise was also amongst your favourites. You can also use more available mushrooms for this great combination. Always a pleasure to serve, with eggs, with meat, with more present fish.

Ajerkoniak was a dish we looked into when we were exploring dishes/drinks based on egg yolks, such as caudle, eggnog and advocaat. Perhaps not our personal favourite, but why nog give it a try?

We wish you a happy and inspiring 2023!

Your Favourites in 2022 ©cadwu
Your Favourites in 2022 ©cadwu

Rose Fish

One of our favourite starters! It’s light, full of flavours and it comes with various textures. The homemade pickled radishes are refreshing in combination with the fish and the mushrooms.

There are many names for the fish we use: rose fish, Norway haddock (perhaps because of its Latin name Sebastes norvegicus), ocean perch, roodbaarsRotbarschvanlig uer and sébaste orangé. The meat is firm and flaky, the taste is fairly neutral with a touch of sweetness. Ideal to combine with shiitake and a light soy sauce.
The fillets are difficult to fry because the skin is rather thin and ideally you want it to become crispy and keep some of its beautiful colour.

Wine Pairing

A Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc with a touch of oak will be a perfect match with the mushrooms and the fish. Full bodied, elegant, balanced and with the aromas of ripe yellow fruit.
We enjoyed a glass of Révélation Pays d’Oc Chardonnay 2021, produced by
 Badet Clément with our Rose Fish and Shiitake.

What You Need

  • For the Rose Fish
    • two small Fillets of Rose Fish 
    • Olive Oil
  • For the Mushroom Mix
    • 100 grams Shiitake
    • 1 scallion
    • Light Soy Sauce
    • Olive Oil
    • Sesame Oil
  • For the Pickled Radishes
    • Red Radishes
    • Shallot
    • White Wine Vinegar
    • Sugar

What You Do – Pickled Radishes

Take a cup of white wine vinegar, add it to a bowl, add sugar, perhaps some water (depending on the acidity of the vinegar), mix very well and taste. The mixture should be both sweet and sour. Slice the radishes and chop the shallot. Add to the mixture, stir and leave in the refrigerator for a few hours. Over time the colours will blend. The vegetables will keep well for a few days.
Feel free to use the same approach with other (firm) small vegetables.

What You Do – Mushrooms

Clean the shiitake, remove the stems and chop. Fry in olive oil until juicy and soft. Add the chopped scallion. After a few minutes add some light soy sauce and one or two teaspoons of sesame oil. Tate and adjust.

What You Do – Rose Fish

Heat a non-stick pan and fry the fish in olive oil. Best is to start with the meat side, push the meat towards the pan and fry until nearly done. Turn the fish, fry for a few seconds and serve immediately on a hot plate with the mushrooms and pickles.

Rose Fish ©cadwu
Rose Fish ©cadwu

Date with Foie Gras and Bacon

It’s such a pleasure to serve a warm snack (appetizer, finger food, quick nibble). In an earlier post we described how to make crostini with mushrooms and taleggio. A delicious vegetarian appetizer. This one is also simple and quick, but requires some shopping.

Let’s start with the bacon. Ideally you would use bacon made of pork belly, cooked in water with spices such as cloves, bay leaf and mustard seed, then rubbed with sugar, smoked and dried. The result is a moist, slightly sweet, cured bacon. The Dutch call it Katenspek.

Foie gras is always a bit of a debate. We are flexible and enjoy eating it, provided it comes with an authenticity label, perhaps with an award of an agricultural show and of course with positive reviews from connaisseurs. Ethical foie gras, made without force feeding the geese, is of course the preferred option. One that is nearly impossible to find. The Guardian published an interesting article about making Foie Gras without gavage.

The combination of these three ingredients is savoury and sweet, with a texture that is soft, crispy and a touch chewy. We love it.

What You Need

  • Excellent Dates
  • Excellent Terrine de Foie Gras (Goose preferred)
  • Sweet Cured Bacon

What You Do

Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. Stuff the dates with foie gras and wrap it in one rasher of bacon. Fry quickly in a non-stick pan. The bacon should be crispy, the foie gras soft, the date warm. Serve immediately on a warm plate.

Date with Foie Gras and Bacon ©cadwu
Date with Foie Gras and Bacon ©cadwu

Crostini

You don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen when serving drinks and you want to enjoy a warm appetizer (snack, finger food, quick nibble)? What to do? Of course: serve crostini! You can prepare them in advance and the only thing you need to do is put them under the grill for 3-5 minutes. A nice crunchy appetizer with a rich taste and intense aroma.

We use taleggio, a semi-soft cheese from Italy with a mild taste. It melts easily, so you need to keep an eye on your oven! If you can’t get hold of taleggio, then use mozzarella instead and add a bit more flavour to the mushroom topping.

What You Need

  • For the Mushroom Topping
    • Button Mushrooms and Shiitake
    • Garlic Cloves
    • Olive Oil
    • Thyme and Rosemary
    • Black Pepper
    • (Excellent) Olive Oil
  • For the Crostini
    • Old, stale Bread (Baguette preferred)
    • Garlic (optional)
    • Excellent Olive Oil
  • Taleggio

What You Do

One day before serving the crostini: clean and chop the mushrooms. Finely chop the rosemary, the thyme and the garlic. Fry the mushroom in olive oil in a heavy iron skillet. Reduce heat, add herbs and garlic. Continue on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mix to a plate and let cool. Transfer to a kitchen aid and on low speed add some olive oil. Taste and add some black pepper. You’re looking for a coarsely chopped mixture, one that you can easily distribute over the crostini. Store in the refrigerator.

Also one day before serving the crostini: slice the bread and toast it. Halve a garlic clove, very gently rub the top of the toasted bread with the garlic and then brush with olive oil. An alternative is to preheat your oven to 180 °C or 350 °F, brush both sides with olive oil and bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Perhaps you need to turn the slices over once. Store in a plastic container.

A few hours before serving the crostini: slice the taleggio (with crust!), top the bread with the mushroom mixture and then with a slice of cheese.

Set your oven to grill, transfer the crostini to the top of your oven, wait for a few minutes and serve immediately.

Crostini with Mushrooms and Taleggio ©cadwu
Crostini with Mushrooms and Taleggio ©cadwu

Bouchot Mussels

When you buy champagne, Cornish Clotted cream, Parmigiano-Reggiano or Kalamate Olives, you want to be sure it’s really champagne, clotted cream, Parmigiano or a Kalamata olive. There are various ways of protecting food (and wine) for instance by law, by creating and protecting a brand, or by systems such as the Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) also known as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). AOP/PDO is based on unique aspects of a region. For instance, the AOP for Comté cheese reflects the use of milk from specific cows from a region in the French Jura with a unique flora. This determines the cheese, its flavour and quality.

Another system focuses on the way food is produced. If this is done in a unique traditional way, the product can be labelled with Spécialité Traditionnelle Garantie (STG) or Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG).

Bouchot Mussels carry both labels and they come with a special logo. Obviously, you wonder why.
The mussels grow in a unique way, benefitting from the large tide near Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy. They grow on ropes strung from wooden poles (so called bouchots) in the sea. During a significant part of the day the mussels sit above sea level and therefore they grow slowly. The influence of the tide makes the bouchot mussels typical for the region and the use of poles makes the way the mussels grow unique.

Perhaps you also wonder if these aspects have an impact on the mussel and its taste. The answer is yes. They are small, clean, very tasty, flavourful, juicy and meaty plus they are free of sand and grit.

Preparing bouchot mussels is very simple, because adding flavours will only interfere with the already delicious taste.

Perhaps a bit more expensive than other mussels, but given they are so very tasty and rich, we think it’s perfectly fine to buy less than usual.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our Bouchot Mussels with a glass of Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Domaine Raphaël Luneau. The wine originates from the Loire Valley and is made with 100% Melon de Bourgogne. The wine is stored on its ‘lees’ for several months before bottling. Lees are leftover yeast particles. They add flavour and structure to the wine.
In general, you’re looking for a white wine with minerality, fruit, structure and expression. It must be aromatic with a long taste.

What You Need (Starter)

  • 500 grams of Bouchot Mussels
  • White wine
  • One garlic Glove
  • Parsley
  • Crusted Bread

What You Do

Finely chop the garlic and the parsley. Add white wine to a pan and add the garlic. Bouchot mussels don’t release much liquid when you cook them, so use a little more wine than you would do with regular mussels. Leave for 10 minutes. Clean the mussels. Cook the mussels as quickly as you can, lid on the pan, until they are open. Add the parsley and combine. Serve immediately on a hot (soup) plate.

Saffron Milk Cap with Squid and Tomatoes

It’s nearly the end of the season for this delicious mushroom. And what better idea than to close the season with a new recipe! Normally we would combine Saffron Milk Cap with Chorizo and roasted Bell Pepper. Thinking more about Spain and its markets (the one in Valencia is our all-time favourite) we came up with the idea of combining the mushroom with fish? Or gambas? Or perhaps squid?

Wine Pairing

We opened a bottle of Domaine Font-Mars Picpoul de Pinet 2021. Picpoul de Pinet (Son terroir c’est la mer) is a white wine from the South of France between Narbonne and Montpellier. The terroir (think calcareous soil) is influenced by the sea, which is reflected in the mineral taste of the wine. The story is that Picpoul could be read as pique poul which translates into something like ‘stings the lip’; a nice reflection of the high acidity of the grapes. This acidity guarantees a refreshing white wine, which is exceptional given the warm climate. The wine is bright yellow with a very subtle touch of green. It’s aromatic, floral and fruity. The taste has notes of citrus and apple.
In general we suggest drinking a refreshing, unoaked white wine that goes well with seafood.

What You Need

  • For the Squid
    • 150 grams of Squid
    • 4 Tomatoes
    • One Garlic Clove
    • Red Wine
    • Thyme
    • Olive Oil
  • 150 grams of Saffron Milk Cap
  • Parsley and or Celery Leaves
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

The day before serving: clean the squid. Slice (not too thin). Peel, seed and dice the tomatoes, use a strainer to get as much tomato juice as possible. Chop the garlic finely. Heat a skillet, add olive oil and add the sliced squid. Fry for a few minutes, add the garlic and the tomatoes. Reduce the heat. After a few minutes add the tomato juice, half a glass of red wine and thyme. Leave to simmer for 2 hours or until the squid is ready both in flavours and texture. Cool and transfer to the refrigerator.

The next day clean the mushroom and slice (not too thin). Chop the parsley and or celery leaves. Heat a skillet, add olive oil and add the sliced mushroom. Fry for one minute, then reduce heat. Add the squid mixture and cook for a few minutes. Taste and add cayenne pepper. You’re looking for a fairly sharp, spicy taste. Add half of the chopped parsley/celery. After a few minutes serve the mixture and garnish with parsley/celery. The idea is to have a mixture (not a sauce) of squid and mushrooms, coated with tomatoes. 

Ragù Napoletano

Ragù Napoletano is all about beef and tomatoes. Combining these two creates umami, one of the five tastes, because the tomatoes contain amino acid glutamate and the beef inosinate
Whereas Ragù Bolognese is made with finely chopped meat, Ragù Napoletano is prepared with whole cuts of beef, seasoned and rolled up. Best is to use Blade Steak (or Top Blade), Rump Cap or Top Rump. Our butcher suggested using Knuckle Side Roast (or Knuckle Plate Muscle) which is rather lean so a touch dry after simmering for many hours. On the other hand, it kept its structure and flavours very well. Best is to ask your butcher for advice.
Many recipes suggest adding pork ribs to the dish, but we wanted to focus on the combination of beef and tomato. We did however add a bit of fatty bacon.
Tomato-wise you need lots of tomatoes: fresh ones, passata, puree and/or canned.
Best to prepare one day ahead.

Wine Pairing

A red, full bodied wine from Italy made with Sangiovese grapes will be a great accompaniment for both the starter and the main dish. We opened a bottle of Les Petits Rigolos, a red wine from the Tolosan region in south western France made with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. A round wine with notes of strawberry and blackcurrant. A touch spicy, which worked very well with the rich flavours of the Ragù Napoletano.

What You Need

  • For the Beef
    • 2 slices of Beef
    • Parmesan Cheese
    • Raisins
    • Fresh Parsley
    • Fresh Oregano
    • 1 small Garlic Clove
    • Optional: Pine Nuts
    • Olive Oil
  • For the Sauce
    • Small Onion or Shallot
    • Olive Oil
    • Bacon (or better: Lardo)
    • 250 ml of White Wine
    • Fresh Tomatoes
    • Tomato puree
    • ½ can of Tomatoes
    • Passata
  • For the Starter
    • Rigatoni
    • Parmesan Cheese
  • For the Main Course
    • Vegetables

What You Do

Soak the raisins in water for an hour. Drain. Chop parsley, oregano, raisins and garlic. In a bowl, combine raisins, garlic, oregano, parsley and freshly grated cheese. Flatten the meat if it’s difficult to roll up. Scatter the mixture over the meat, roll the meat up and tie with two strings of kitchen twine.
If using fresh tomatoes, peel and seed them. Chop coarsely. Chop the onion and slice the bacon. Heat a large saucepan, add olive oil, add onion and bacon. Leave on low heat for some 10 minutes or until the onion is glazed. Add the two rolls and fry them on all sides until evenly golden brown. Take you time to do this. Add the wine, let the alcohol evaporate and reduce. Add the tomatoes, the passata and the puree. Leave the stew on low heat and turn the meat occasionally. This stage is about stewing the meat as gently as possible and reducing the sauce. If you feel it’s going too fast, then put a lid on the pan, but only partially.
Once the meat is ready (this may take 4+ hours) remove the meat from the sauce, keep it warm (an oven at 50 °C or 120 °F will be perfect) and allow the sauce to reduce even more, as slowly as possible. Wait for the sauce to become dark and shiny.
For the first course: serve the sauce with pasta and freshly grated Parmesan cheese (we used Rigatoni because of the ridges).
For the second course: warm the meat in the remaining sauce, slice it and serve with sauce and vegetables.

PS

We would probably be kicked out of Naples (and Italy) with our version of Ragù Napoletano (oregano? French wine?). It is, however, a very tasty two course meal with lots of umami, as expected.