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.

More mushrooms!

Mushroom is one of the first books by Johnny Acton, Nick Sadler and Jonathan Lovekin (photographs), published in 2001. The book offers some 70 recipes plus very interesting background information on the history of mushrooms and their hallucinating, psychedelic and culinary aspects. The book comes with many beautiful drawings and photographs. It has specific sections on cèpes, morels, chanterelles and truffles. It is very well written, fun to read and the recipes are accurate.

They have also written books on Soup, Preserves and one called The Complete Guide to Making, Cooking & Eating Sausages.

Recipes

One of the benefits of the book is that the recipes range from relatively easy to make (pasta with cèpes or clear soup with enoki for instance) to exotic and mouth-watering dishes (lobster and cauliflower fungus ravioli with saffron butter). The book is a great addition to more classic books on mushrooms such as The Mushroom Book by Michael McLaughlin, The Mushroom Feast by Jane Grigson or Antonio Carluccio’s Complete Mushroom Book.

In most cases it’s not too difficult to buy the required mushroom. Shopping at your local Asian toko will also help, for instance if you need shiitake, enoki or wood ear (they offer a recipe for a very nice Chinese chicken soup with ginger, pak choi and dried wood ear).

Our favourite? Perhaps their salad with shiitake, watercress and tofu. A modern, light dish with lots of flavours (cilantro, ginger, sesame oil, lemon).

Mushroom is available (in most cases second hand) via channels such as Amazon and e-Bay for between 10 and 25 euro.

Mushroom

Earthly Delights

The Mushroom Book by Michael McLaughlin and Dorothy Reinhardt (Illustrator) is a lovely, small book with some 35 recipes and 60 very delightful full-colour wood-cut illustrations. Just look at the cover! It’s the kind of book that we bought because it looks good. A book you simply want to have.

Only later did we find out that it discusses the history and other interesting back ground information of various mushrooms, including information on choosing, storing and preparing them. The book offers an introduction to the joy of cooking with mushrooms such as button mushrooms, morels, oyster mushroom, truffle, trompette de la mort, chanterelle, shiitake, cèpes and huitlacoche, a Mexican mushroom that grows on corn.
Michael McLaughlin is also known as co-author of The Silver Palate Cookbook with recipes from Manhattan’s celebrated gourmet food shop.

Amongst our favourite recipes are Mushroom Tapenade and Raw Mushroom, Fennel and Provolone Salad.

The Mushroom Book was published in 1994. It’s available (in most cases second hand) via channels such as Amazon and e-Bay for something like 15 euro. Ii is an ideal and friendly introduction to the world of earthly delights. 

The Mushroom Book
The Mushroom Book

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

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

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.

Stuffed Eggs with Summer Truffle

Summer Truffle

One of the obvious benefits of the summer truffle is its price. We paid € 3,50 per 10 gram last week, which is a very reasonable price for a genuine truffle. And 10 gram is sufficient for these delicious stuffed eggs.
Summer truffles are harvested between May and August in France, Italy and Spain. They come with a few characteristics that you have to take into account. First of all, summer truffle loses most (if not all) of its flavour when heated. A better idea is to shave the truffle over a warm dish, for instance asparagus or pasta, just before serving. Second aspect to keep in mind: summer truffles are not as powerful in terms of aroma and flavour as other truffles.

Truffles love eggs, love potatoes, love foie gras, love Madeira, love morels. Tournedos Rossini, Antonio Carlucci’s pasta with Morel & Truffle Sauce (described in The Complete Mushroom Book) and the classic Pâté Périgueux: all delicious.

We combine our summer truffle with eggs and mayonnaise. We crush the truffle to add a crunch to the dish. Please prepare the dish a few hours before serving, allowing the truffle to become more present. You will be surprised about the richness of these stuffed eggs!

Wine Pairing

Best to combine with a not too oaky Chardonnay, for instance French Burgundy. An excellent choice would be Bourgogne Couvent des Jacobins, made by Louis Jadot.

What You Need

  • Three eggs
  • (Homemade) Mayonnaise
  • 1 Anchovy
  • 10 gram of Summer Truffle (more preferred)
  • Black Pepper
  • Fresh Lemon

What You Do

Boil or steam the eggs until just done. Peel and let cool. Slice the eggs in two. Mash up the three egg yolks with a fork. Add a small spoon of mayonnaise and mix. Mash 1 cm of anchovy and add to the mixture. Crush the summer truffle and add to the mixture. Add a few drops of lemon juice and a bit of black pepper. Taste but keep in mind that the truffle will become much more present. Stuff the eggs, cover with foil and let cool. You could decorate the eggs with a thin slice of summer truffle.

Tournedos Rossini

The First King of Chefs

Gioachino Rossini (1792 – 1868) was a gifted, talented and great composer. Not only did he compose some 40 operas, many songs and the beautiful Petite Messe Solennelle, he was also an expert with regard to food. Perhaps expert is not the right word: he was a gourmand, an excessive eater and drinker plus a culinary inspiration. Chefs would name dishes after him, such as Filets de Sole Rossini (poached Dover sole wrapped around goose liver and truffle served with a white wine sauce), Cocktail Rossini (strawberries and prosecco), Macaroni Soup alla Rossini (a soup with partridge quenelles and Parmesan cheese) and many others.

The soup was created by Marie-Antoine Carême, a very dear and close friend of Rossini. He was Roi des Cuisiniers et Cuisinier des Rois having been chef to Napoleon, the Prince of Wales (the later King George IV), Tsar Alexander 1st and Baron de Rothschild. He created the concept of the four mother sauces (Allemande, Béchamel, Espagnole, Velouté) and was an essential inspiration for Auguste Escoffier. Marie-Antoine Carême is one of the most influential chefs ever, a brilliant  patissier and author of several books on cookery, including L’Art de la Cuisine Française.

Very likely it was Escoffier who came up with the word tournedos, but the combination of bread, meat, goose liver, truffle and Madeira was a creation by Marie-Antoine Carême, inspired by and prepared for his friend Gioachino Rossini.

Tournedos Rossini is a culinary pleasure. It’s elegant, full of flavours and exquisite. It’s simply gorgeous.

Wine Pairing

A classic red Bordeaux will be a perfect match. Dry, full-bodied and fruity. We enjoyed a glass of Château Gaillard Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2015. This is a dry, cherry-red coloured wine. It features medium woody, fruity and vegetal scents and offers a broad texture as well as medium tannins.

What You Need

  • 2 Tournedos (Fillet Steaks)
  • Butter
  • Madeira
  • Fresh Goose Liver
  • Winter truffle
  • Stock (Chicken or Veal)
  • 2 Slices of Old Bread

What You Do

Originally you would need demi-glace sauce, but we take a short cut. Make sure you have everything ready. The oven should be at 70° Celsius (160° Fahrenheit), one heavy iron pan and one non-sticky pan both warm, nearly hot, through and through. Make sure the meat is at room temperature. We prefer a small steak (75 gram). Start by frying the two slices of bread in butter until golden. Transfer the bread to the oven. Clean the pan with kitchen paper and add butter. Quickly fry the meat, it must be saignant (no options here). Wrap in foil and set aside. Reduce heat. Add stock to the pan and deglaze. Add Madeira. Thinly slice the fresh winter truffle (no options here). Add the smaller slices and crumbles to the sauce. Put the beef on top of the bread. Keep warm. Fry the goose liver for just a few seconds in the hot non sticky pan until golden/brown. Now plate up: the bread with the beef and the goose liver on top. Pour over the sauce, add the bigger slices of truffle and serve immediately.

Tournedos Rossini © cadwu
Tournedos Rossini © cadwu

 

White Asparagus with Summer Truffle

From Spring to Summer

Time to celebrate! Summer has just begun and the Asparagus season has come to a close. So let’s bring the two together in this slightly extravagant dish. It is earthy, slightly bitter and sweet, velvety and complete.
The Summer Truffle (Tuber Aestivum) is not as intense and overwhelming as the Winter Truffle. It should be used immediately and preferably grated. It loses its taste when heated, so don’t use it for your Tournedos Rossini. This dish should be luke warm, so an excellent environment for a Summer Truffle. Take your time to appreciate the delicate combination in your plate.

Wine Pairing

We drank a glass of Italian Gewürztraminer with our Asparagus with Summer Truffle. This wine has a distinctive fruity flavour with hints of aromatic herbs. The area where the grapes are grown (Alto Adige) is relatively cool and sunny. As a result of this the Gewürztraminer grapes ripe well without losing their freshness. So the wine brings fruit, freshness, warmth and aromatic herbs, which works well with the earthy, aromatic truffle and the sweetness and bitterness of the asparagus. Parsley is essential because it brings freshness to the dish; nicely balanced with the velvety taste of the egg and butter. And butter is the ideal bridge between egg, asparagus and truffle.
In general a glass of Gewürztraminer is ideal with this dish, provided it has a touch of sweetness only. Sometimes Gewürztraminer is simply too sweet. This will not only ruin the hints of aromatic herbs in the wine; it will also ruin the delicate combination of asparagus with truffle.

What You Need

  • 4 Asparagus
  • 2 Eggs
  • 25 grams of Butter
  • 25 grams of Summer Truffle
  • Parsley
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Cook or steam the asparagus. Make sure they are just done. Cook the eggs for 8-9 minutes. The yolk should not be completely firm. Cool the eggs in cold water, peel and mash with a fork. Add the finely chopped parsley and some black pepper. Taste. Melt the butter.
Put two asparagus per person on the plate, pour the warm butter over the asparagus, making sure they are fully covered, add the egg and finish by sprinkling the grated truffle. Poor a glass of excellent Gewürztraminer and enjoy the start of summer by eating the very last of this years asparagus.