Scallops with Winter Truffle

Just One?

Scallops, or Coquilles Saint Jacques, can be delicate, special and tasty. But very often they are basic, chewy and tasteless. The reason is very simple: the ready-to-cook scallops were frozen, shipped from Canada or China and quickly defrosted, maybe days before you bought them as ‘fresh’. The result is on your plate.
The solution is also simple: buy fresh scallops. Then the flavours and aromas will overwhelm you. The structure of the meat (either raw or cooked) will be exactly as it should be.
Agreed, fresh scallops are much more expensive. But the advantage is that one per person is all you need, so yes, just one per person.

Combining fresh and thinly sliced raw scallops with thinly sliced black winter truffle is a marriage made in heaven. Just a few drops of olive oil and black pepper and your starter is ready. We go for a slightly more complex preparation, bringing various flavours together: earthiness and umami from the truffle with sweetness, light acidity and bitterness of the Noilly Prat, with the sweetness and sharpness of the leek, the crispiness of the leek and the truffle with the soft structure of the scallops. And of course: the colours are amazing as well.

And in case you’re not sure how to open and clean a scallop: this is an excellent video that will show you how.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our scallops with a glass of Chablis, Antonin Rodet, Premier Cru, Montmains, 2016. It has a clear and pale golden colour. It comes with mineral notes and a touch of lemon. The taste is delicate and persistent with aromas of fresh citrus. It goes very well with the ‘long’ taste of the dish and the citrus is ideal with the scallop and the Noilly Prat. Combining the scallops with a Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris will also work, as long as the wines are delicate, fresh and not sweet.

What You Need

  • 2 Scallops
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • White of Leek
  • Noilly Prat
  • White Pepper
  • Black Winter Truffle

What You Do

Begin by opening and cleaning the scallops. Clean the two bottom shells because we will use them to serve the scallop. Now thinly slice the leek. Warm the Noilly Prat, allowing for the alcohol to evaporate. Add the leek and allow to cook very gently for 5 minutes. Use a non-sticky skillet with a dash of olive oil and a little butter to fry the scallops. The trick is to fry them until 1/3 has changed colour, then turn them and fry the other 1/3. Add some leek to the shell, a bit of sauce, then the scallop, a touch of white pepper and the thinly sliced black winter truffle on top.

 

 

Roulade of Turkey with Chestnuts, served with Brussels Sprouts and Madeira Sauce

 

Time to start cooking for friends!

This exciting dish is a combination of classic ingredients, things you love to eat in December: turkey, Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts. Our version of Roulade of Turkey with Chestnuts, served with Brussels Sprouts and a Madeira Sauce is tasty, tender and juicy. The pancetta and the chestnuts in the roulade combine extremely well with the sprouts (tip of the day: steam Brussels sprouts, let cool and set aside. Warm butter gently in a skillet and add sprouts, crumbled chestnuts and slices of bacon or pancetta. Bit of nutmeg on top and a it’s ready to serve.)
The dish does require a bit of preparation, so make sure you start early or even better, start the day before.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our roulade with a bottle of 2016 Malbec, produced by Kaiken, Argentina. The wine comes with a hint of plum. It is soft, intense purple-red, has velvety tannins and is round in its taste. This combines very well with the sweetness of the chestnuts and the Madeira. In general you are looking for an intense but not overpowering red wine, one that is both soft and present. 

What you need (Chestnut Butter)

  • 250 grams of fresh Chestnuts
  • Butter

With a sharp knife make a cross in the chestnuts. It doesn’t really matter where you do this; it’s just to help you remove the outer shell later on. Wash the chestnuts and cook them for 10 minutes or so. Cool and remove the shell. Transfer back to a pan of water and cook them for another 30 minutes or so. Let cool and peel of the skin of the chestnuts. This requires patience! Blender half of the chestnuts with some butter until you have a nice, tasty chestnut butter.

What you need (filling)

  • 350 grams of Chestnut Mushrooms
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • 50 grams of Pancetta
  • Cognac
  • Chestnut butter
  • Chestnuts

Clean the mushrooms and cut into smaller chunks. Fry the mushrooms for a few minutes and then add the very thinly sliced pancetta. Fry for another few minutes. Add the cognac and allow for the alcohol to evaporate. Crumble the chestnuts. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and combine with the chestnut butter and the crumbled chestnuts. Season with a bit of pepper. You will now have a dough like mixture of mushrooms and chestnuts. Let cool before using it.

What you need (Roulade of Turkey)

  • Two whole legs of Turkey
  • Pancetta
  • Filling
  • Kitchen twine and needle

Remove the bone from the legs and ‘unfold’ the meat, making it longer. Combine the two parts into one, making sure they are overlapping and that the meat on the outside is covered with skin. This can be a bit of a puzzle! Make a strip of pancetta from left to right, one-third from the bottom. Put the filling on top of the strip and then spread it out, making sure the top and bottom are not covered. Put 4 or 6 strings of kitchen twine underneath the roulade and start rolling. Not too tight. We closed the two sides of the roulade using a meat-stitching needle. After all, the filling needs to be inside the roulade. Wrap the roulade in plastic foil and keep in the refrigerator for 6 hours minimum.
Ready to cook? Fry the roulade to give it a nice colour and then transfer to an 180˚ Celsius oven. It’s ready when the centre has reached a temperature of 80˚ Celsius. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. In the mean time gently fry the steamed Brussels sprouts and in parallel create the Madeira sauce.

What you need (Madeira Sauce)

  • Chicken stock
  • Carrot
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Bay leaf
  • Madeira (medium dry Madeira is fine. Keep the dry Madeira as an aperitif)

Creating a true Madeira sauce actually requires a Sauce Espagnol (which is funny because Madeira is part of Portugal) but we take a short cut by pimping chicken stock. Cook the stock with a few slices of carrot, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. After 30 minutes you will have the most powerful chicken stock ever. Pass through a sieve. Combine Madeira, stock and the juices of the cooked Turkey in a pan, reduce the liquid for 10 minutes or so and then stir in two or three lumps of very cold butter.

Serve two slices of Turkey Roulade per person with the sauce and some Brussels sprouts. A touch of black pepper on the turkey and some fresh nutmeg (from Sri Lanka, of course!) on the sprouts.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Let’s Mash!

We do like our mashed potatoes, for instance with a nice, hearty stew or with a wintery Choucroute. But isn’t it a bit too obvious, mashed potatoes?
Of course it is! Especially during the colder months your green grocer offers a range of vegetables that are ideally suited for making a purée.

A purée of Jerusalem Artichokes is savory, sweet, delicate and nutty. Great with game, pork stew and choucroute.
The mash of Celeriac and Lemon is a great accompaniment of many a dish. It’s fresh and light. Simply serve it whenever you think ‘let’s serve with mashed potatoes’. Give it a try when you want to eat roast cod.
A purée of Parsley Root and Parsnip has an intriguing taste. Yes, definitely parsley, but more complex, more lasting. Excellent when combined with a stew or roasted pork-belly.

Jerusalem Artichokes and Parsnips contain (like potatoes) a significant amount of starch, however different from potatoes you can use a blender when preparing the purée.

What you need

  • Jerusalem Artichokes and white pepper
  • Or Celeriac, four slices of Lemon and nutmeg
  • Or Parsley Root, Parsnip and white pepper
  • Cream

What you do

Clean and dice the vegetables and cook (with the lemon) until nearly soft. Drain (and remove the lemon) and add some cream to the pan. Leave on very low heat for 10 minutes or so. The idea is that the vegetables will absorb some of the cream. Mash (or blender) until smooth and pass through a sieve to make it perfect. Serve with white pepper and nutmeg (if required).

Parsnip, Celeriac, Parsley Root and Jerusalem Artichoke © cadwu
Parsnip, Celeriac, Parsley Root and Jerusalem Artichoke © cadwu

 

Carbonnade à la Flamande (Flemish Beef Stew)

When in Belgium…

This is a true classic, so many will claim to have the one and only original recipe. This dish is all about beef, onions and brown Belgian beer. Herbs like parsley and bay leaf, spices like nutmeg plus mustard and cider vinegar. Definitely not bacon, stock, prunes and garlic. Maybe some brown sugar if you prefer a sweet touch to the dish.
Given it’s a true classic many traditional restaurants in Belgium (or better said Flanders) will have this on the menu. Try it with some bread and a glass of brown Beer, preferably draught.
We serve the stew with two vegetables: celeriac and green beans. You could also go for mashed potatoes or fries, but balancing the rich stew with vegetables and bread is (we think) a much healthier idea.
And typical for a good stew: make it a day in advance.
Don’t worry if you made too much, the stew will keep for months in the freezer.

Wine Pairing

If you go for a glass of red wine, make sure it is full-bodied and rich, because the stew is really hearty. Bordeaux is a good choice. We drank a glass of Chateau Beaulieu, Cotes de Bourg, 2012. It is a wine with lots of dark fruit and a touch of oak. The wine is a blend of the traditional Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc plus 10% Malbec.

What You Need (for 4 persons)

  • 1 kilo of excellent, fat, marbled Beef
  • 4-6 large White Onions
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • 1 tablespoon of all purpose Flour
  • Nutmeg
  • 2 bottles (33 cl) of Belgian Brown Beer (we prefer Westmalle)
  • Bouquet garni, consisting of Thyme, Bay Leaf and Parsley
  • Cider Vinegar
  • Slice of Bread
  • Mustard

What To Do

Start by slicing the meat. Don’t make the cubes too small; they will shrink during the cooking process. Heat butter and olive oil in a large pan and start frying the meat. You probably will have to do this in 2 or 3 batches. Make sure the meat is nicely colored. Add some more olive oil and caramelize the sliced onions. Again, not too thin, they should be visible in the stew. Now add the flour and coat the onions and the beef. Add nutmeg, the beer, the cider vinegar and the bouquet. Close the pan and keep on a low heat for 2 to 3 hours.
Check the meat and add one slice of bread (not the crust). Add a nice spoon of French mustard. Leave to simmer for another hour.
By now the bread will be dissolved. Stir and check the meat. If okay, then remove the meat from the pan and reduce the sauce. Discard the bouquet. Transfer the meat back into the pan, reheat, then cool and transfer to the refrigerator until the next day.
Reheat slowly and serve with Celeriac and Beans.

PS How to Prepare Celeriac?

Good question! Clean the celeriac and cut in cubes. Transfer to a pan with some water and one or two generous slices of lemon. One or two you ask? Well, the answer depends on the size of your celeriac and the acidity of the lemon. If in doubt, then go for one slice. Cook the celeriac until nearly done. Remove the water and the lemon. Now add (single) cream to the pan. Keep on a low heat for 10 minutes. The celeriac will absorb some of the cream. Transfer the mixture to the blender and create a smooth puree. Serve with nutmeg.

PS How to Cook Green Beans?

Short is the only answer. Serve with excellent olive oil. Normally we would add some nutmeg, but given it’s already on the celeriac and in the stew you may want to skip it. Olive oil is essential to coat the beans and make them nuttier. Butter will also coat them, but it is much more mouth filming and the butter will not emphasize the nuttiness of the beans.

 

 

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin

Such a simple, tasty, inexpensive and vegetarian soup! What more can you ask for? A bit of jus de truffe maybe?
Make sure to buy organic pumpkins. This allows you to use the skin; so two benefits: there is no need to peel the pumpkin and the soup will be better tasting.
Red lentils will become completely soft when cooked for 30 minutes; very different from green or black lentils. We add the lentils not only because of their taste, but also because they improve the texture of the soup.
Give the soup a finishing touch by adding pumpkin seed oil, jus de truffe or truffle flavoured olive oil (for instance produced by Moulins de la Brague).

Here is what you need

  • Small Pumpkin
  • Red Onion
  • Two Garlic Gloves
  • 6 cm Fresh Ginger
  • 2 Chilli Peppers
  • Tablespoon or more Red Lentils
  • Water
  • Olive oil
  • Pumpkin Seed Oil, Jus de Truffe or Truffle Flavoured Olive Oil
  • Cilantro

Chop de red onion in smaller but equal sized bits and put in a pan with olive oil. Put on moderate heat and give it some 5 to 10 minutes. Now add the chopped and seeded chilli pepper, the garlic and stir. Continue for 5 minutes on moderate heat. Add the chopped pumpkin and the lentils and stir for another 5 minutes. Peel the ginger, cut in cubes and put on a small wooden stick. This way you can easily remove the ginger later on. Now add boiling water and leave for 30 minutes to simmer or until the pumpkin is very, very soft.
When done remove the ginger. Taste the ginger and decide how much ginger you want to add to the soup. We just love fresh ginger so we would add most of it. Blender the remainder into a smooth soup. You could pass it through a sieve to make sure it’s like a lovely velouté. Cool and transfer to the refrigerator for the next day.
Warm the soup and add a splash of truffle flavoured olive oil or pumpkin seed oil and lots of cilantro before serving.
You can also make a milder version by reducing the amount of chilli and ginger. Then add jus de truffe, a bit of olive oil and maybe some pepper before serving.

Pumpkin Soup © cadwu
Pumpkin Soup © cadwu

Today’s Royal Special

Hip hip hurrah! Today April 27th we celebrate the King’s Birthday in the Netherlands. The Dutch Royal Family is known as the House of Orange-Nassau, hence the link to anything orange (Oranje in Dutch), including a drink (liqueur) called Oranje Bitter. It’s not many people’s favourite by the way, most people prefer another traditional drink: lots of beer.
There are many recipes for Oranje Bitter, most of them with lots of sugar and some undefined herbs. We prefer the more classic version produced by Van Wees and De Ooievaar. Their Oranje Bitter is made with Pomerans (Citrus Aurantium, the bitter orange) and Curacao peel. To compensate the bitterness some people add sugar, but the bitter as produced by Van Wees has a great balance between sweet and bitter. Plus a bitter should be bitter.

Our grandmother (or Beppe as we used to call her) wasn’t a big fan of Oranje Bitter, but she felt she had to serve it on the Queens Birthday. She combined one tradition with another tradition: Dutch Advocaat. This drink is similar to Eggnog, with three important differences: Advocaat is made with egg yolks only, no milk is added and advocaat is heated (62° Celsius to be exact). Basically Advocaat is a sabayon-like drink made with egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and a strong alcohol (brandewijn, gin, vodka or grappa), served in a nice glass with a small spoon. You could add whipped cream, but that’s only hiding the taste.

Beppe cooked her advocaat Au Bain Marie; we cook our Oranje Bitter advocaat using a microwave oven.

Here is what you need (Oranje Bitter Advocaat)

  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 30 grams of Sugar
  • 80 ml of Oranje Bitter

Here is what you need (Advocaat)

  • 100 grams of Egg Yolks
  • 75 grams of Sugar
  • 5 grams of Vanilla Sugar
  • 125 ml of Vodka

Mix the egg yolks and the sugar well. Make sure is dissolved before gently adding the liquid. Transfer to the microwave and very gently heat the mixture. We used intervals of 10 seconds to start with and intervals of 5 seconds to finish. In total only 75 seconds on 30% power. Duration depends on the power of your microwave. Stir well (or whisk, but not too much) after every interval until it becomes thick. The consistency must be similar to a thick pastry cream (crème pâtissière). Cool quickly and store in the refrigerator.

PS Obviously you need fresh eggs when making advocaat, mayonnaise, sabayon, béarnaise et cetera. We don’t think eating fresh, organic eggs is a problem. Eating all kinds of additives, unclear syrops, modified milk ingredients, guar gum, monoglycerides et cetera, that’s a problem.

PS Use the egg whites to make madeleines. Recipe next week!