Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Coq au vin

The recipe : Perfect coq au vin

Serves 4.

a large chicken, jointed into 6 or 8 pieces, giblets and carcass saved
an onion, a carrot and a few peppercorns for the stock
150g pancetta or unsmoked bacon in the piece
30g butter
2 medium onions
a large carrot
2 ribs of celery
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsps flour
2 tbsps cognac
a bottle of red wine
4 or 5 small sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
40g butter
12 small onions, peeled
200g small mushrooms
boiled or steamed potatoes, to serve

Put the chicken carcass, its giblets and any bits and bobs of bone and flesh into a deep pan, cover with water, add an onion and a carrot, half a dozen whole peppercorns and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer until you need it.

Cut the pancetta into short strips; they need to be thicker than a match but not quite as thick as your little finger. Put them, together with the butter, into a thick-bottomed casserole - one of enamelled cast iron would be perfect - and let them cook over a moderate heat. Stir the pancetta from time to time - it mustn't burn - then, when it is golden, lift it out into a bowl, leaving behind the fat in the pan.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place them in the hot fat in the casserole, so that they fit snugly yet have room to colour. Turn them when the underside is pale gold. The skin should be honey coloured rather than brown - it is this colouring of the skin, rather than what wine or herbs you might add later, that is crucial to the flavour of the dish. Lift the chicken out and into the bowl with the pancetta. By now you should have a thin film of goo starting to stick to the pan. This is where much of your flavour will come from.

While the chicken is colouring in the pan, peel and roughly chop the onions and carrot, and wash and chop the celery. With the chicken out, add the onions and carrot to the pan and cook slowly, stirring from time to time, until the onion is translucent and it has gone some way to dissolving some of the pan stickings. Add the garlic, peeled and thinly sliced, as you go. Return the chicken and pancetta to the pan, stir in the flour and let everything cook for a minute or two before pouring in the cognac, wine and tucking in the herbs. Spoon in ladles of the simmering chicken stock until the entire chicken is covered. Bring to the boil, then, just as it gets there, turn the heat down so that the sauce bubbles gently. Cover partially with a lid.

Melt the butter in a small pan, add the small peeled onions and then the mushrooms, halving or quartering them if they are too big. Let them cook until they are golden, then add them to the chicken with a seasoning of salt and pepper.

Check the chicken after 40 minutes to see how tender it is. It should be soft but not falling from its bones. It will probably take about an hour, depending on the type of chicken you are using. Lift the chicken out and into a bowl.

Turn the heat up under the sauce and let it bubble enthusiastically until it has reduced a little. As it bubbles down it will become thicker - though not thick - and will become quite glossy.

Return the chicken to the pan and serve with the potatoes.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lamb stock

Put 1 kilo of lamb bone in a large heavy-based saucepan with 1 large carrot (quartered), 1 onion (quartered), half a celery stick (quartered), 1 bay leaf, 2 large sprigs of thyme, a generous sprig of parsley, 6 black peppercorns (crushed) and 1 tsp salt. Pour in 3 liters water. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 2 hours.

Strain and return to the pot. Reduce until 1,3 liters of stock. When frozen you can keep this three months.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tribute Xi Hu Long Jing ("Dragon Well")

Tribute (or Gong in Chinese) is one of the four major Xi Hu Long Jing production companies.

Xi Hu Long Jing has more than a thousand years of recorded history and was mentioned in the first ever tea book The Classic of Tea (Cha Ching) by Lu Yu during the Tang Dynasty. The name Long Jing means "Dragon Well".

Xi Hu ("West Lake") is now a protected area. Only the leaves picked within the designated 168 sq km of Xi Hu area can be considered as Xi Hu Long Jing.

Harvest Period: Spring 2009. I bought 50 grams of A-grade for USD 16,50. This is not the best quality. AAA Grade and Jing Pin Grade are even more expensive.

Brewing guide
Rinse tea cup and teapot with hot water. Use about 2 grams of tea leaves (1-2 teaspoons) for every 150ml of water. Steep tea leaves in hot water at 70°c to 80°c for 1 minute for the first and second brewing. Gradually increase steeping time and temperature for subsequent brewing.

A Grade Infusion:

AAA Grade Infusion:

Jing Pin Grade Infusion:

Chicken stock

Seems straightforward enough. Still, some points of consideration.

Source: the excellent website coquinaria.nl.

1 halve soepkip (anderhalve kilo dus)
500 gram gesneden prei
500 gram gesneden winterwortel
250 gram (eko)uien, met schil en al, gewassen en in stukken
3 stengels bleekselderij
1 takje tijm
flink witte peper uit de molen
paar stukjes foelie
2 laurierblaadjes
4 tot 5 liter water

De soepkip bevat veel vet. Zet daarom de kip in een braadslee in een hete oven, tot hij bruin is. Het vet is dan gesmolten, dat scheelt straks weer bij het ontvetten van de bouillon. Overigens is dat kippevet goed te gebruiken. In de joodse keuken wordt het gebruikt om te braden. Het wordt schmaltz genoemd. Zeef het vet, en bewaar het in de koelkast in een afgesloten potje.

De kip gaat nu in de soeppan, met de groenten en kruiden, en 4 tot 5 liter water. De pan mag toch wel minstens 7 liter inhoud hebben om dit allemaal te bevatten. Zet de pan op het vuur, en breng het water tegen de kook aan. Schuim af indien nodig. Laat nu de hele dag of nacht trekken (minstens acht uur) op heel laag vuur. Je hele huis gaat lekker ruiken.

Zeef de bouillon als hij voldoende is getrokken. Kook de bouilon nu in tot drie-en-een-halve liter, en laat daarna snel afkoelen. Gebruik hem meteen, of verdeel wat je niet dadelijk verder verwerkt in diepvrieszakjes/bakjes en vries in. Vergeet niet te etiketteren.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Braised Fennel with Orange and Pernod

[ Photo's will follow ]

Saute fennel wedges in unsalted butter, so that they get brown all over, and slightly caramelised.

Braise the fennel in: a teaspoon of sugar, salt and pepper, a splash of fresh orange juice, a small dash (?) of Pernod, some meat stock, and a dash (?) of balsamic vinegar.

Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. The sauce should be reduced.


Attempt 1: 1 fennel bulb, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon Pernod, 1 tablespoon vinegar, just enough stock (Maggi cube) to cover the fennel. I didn't have an orange, so I skipped the orange juice. [Too sour, skip the vinegar, use chicken stock, not Maggi. FAIL]

Variations: add onion.

Attempt 2: Saute fennel and onion in butter. 1 fennel bulb, 1 shallot, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon Pernod, no stock, juice of one orange, one tablespoon butter. Simmer for 15 minutes. Reserve some orange zest to garnish. [ I taste a little too much orange, try juice of half an orange. Not perfect ]

Attempt 3: Saute fennel and onion in butter. 1 fennel bulb, 1 shallot, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon Pernod, 2 tablespoons orange juice, 4 tablespoons chicken stock (stock cube), one tablespoon butter. Simmer for 15 minutes. Reserve some orange zest to garnish. [ almost okay, need to saute & simmer the fennel a bit longer, next time use home made chicken stock. Some balsamic vinegar from the original recipe, but not more than 1 teaspoon. ]

Another take on this recipe:

In an ovenproof braising pan, heat 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the fennel (one for each tablespoon of butter) and onion and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the onion is softened.

Grate the zest from 1 orange and reserve. Cut all oranges in half (1 for each fennel bulb) and squeeze the juice into the pan. Add 1 tablespoon Pernod, ignite it to burn off the alcohol, then bring the liquid to a brisk simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Simmer until the liquid reduces by half, then add 1,5 cups of chicken stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. When incorporated, cover the pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the fennel is tender.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the reserved orange zest and fennel fronds and serve.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Indian pumpkin lentil soup

A great soup for all year around. For best results use Hokkaido pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima var. hubbaridianna). This pumpkin has its origins in Japan, but is widely available in Europa.

Hokkaido pumpkin has a great sweet taste. The Hokkaido pumpkin is a result of Japanese farmers cross breading the American giant pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima), which was first brought to Japan in 1878.

The basic ingredients:

2 tomatoes
1 potato
1 onion
fresh ginger (shredded)
2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
1 liter water
100 gram red lentils
Tamarind (according to taste, start with 2 tablespoons ), use tamarind pulp.
1 Hokkaido pumpkin

Before firing up the stove, make sure these ingredients are ready:

Fry the onion and ginger in 2 tablespoons of oil until brown.

Add tomatoes and potato and fry for 5 minutes:

Add spices (coriander, cumin, turmeric, chili, coconut) and fry for 3 minutes:

Add 1 liter of water and 100 gram red lentils. Bring to a boil:

Prepare pumpkin:

Add pumpkin to soup and simmer until soft. Add water if needed:

Puree the soup with a strong mixer:

Add tamarind juice according taste. This functions as a souring agent, much like lemon or lime. At this stage also add salt. Taste for the best result.

Mix well. Garnish with fresh coriander or mint leaves.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Irish Stew

Irish stew in the Farmgate Café, in The English Market, Cork:

First you need a proper stock.

You can use lamb (sheep less than a year old), but mutton (sheep at least 2 years old) is a better choice.

Put sheep bones in a large heavy-based saucepan with 1 large carrot (quartered), 1 onion (quartered), half a celery stick (quartered), 1 bay leaf, 2 large sprigs of thyme, a generous sprig of parsley, 6 black peppercorns (crushed) and 1 tsp salt. Pour in 3 liters water. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 2 hours.

Strain and return to the pot. Reduce until 1,3 liters of stock. When frozen you can keep this three months.

Make the stew:

Cut a little less than a kilo of middle necks of mutton in small chunks or use together with bone. The meat will fall of the bone easily. Peel 1.3 kilo potato and cut in similar sized chunks, half floury (kruimig) potatoes and half waxy (vastkokend) potatoes. Peel 1 kilo carrots and cut into slightly smaller pieces. Slice two onions into thick rings. You can quarter the potatoes and carrot.

Put the mutton in a large saucepan. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Skim off foam, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the floury potatoes, carrots and onions. Season generously (salt & pepper) and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

Add the waxy potatoes and half a tsp fresh thyme leaves. Simmer until mutton is tender. Take off heat and leave for another 15 minutes (don't stir).

Garnish with chopped fresh chives and parsley.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Callaloo (Trinidad)

Went to a Trinidad & Tobago restaurant yesterday: Trinbago (1e van Swindenstraat 44, Amsterdam). Ordered callaloo with beef.

From Wikipedia: "Callaloo is widely known throughout the Caribbean and has a distinctively Caribbean origin, created by African slaves using ideas of the indigenous people along with both African (okra) and indigenous (Xanthosoma) plants (See Palaver Sauce for the West African dish)."


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped celery
1/4 cup fresh thyme
1/2 cup chopped chives
15 okra, sliced
1/2 cup chopped west indian pumpkin (substitute butternut squash)
15-20 dasheen leaves, washed and coarsely chopped (or 1 bunch swiss chard and 1/2 bunch spinach)
1 cup coconut milk
1 maggi seasoning, cube plus
4 cups water or chicken stock
2 live blue crabs, cleaned and washed in lime juice (or 5-6 pieces salted beef or salted pigtail)
1 whole scotch bonnet pepper (Congo pepper)
2 tablespoons golden ray cooking margarine
1 teaspoon salt (if using maggi cube taste first before adding salt or the soup will be too salty.)

1 Put salted pork pieces in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Drain off this water. Repeat this process to draw off the excess salt from the salted meat.
2 Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onion, garlic, celery and fresh herbs. Sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add okras, pumpkin and dasheen leaves and sauté for another minute or so. Add the coconut milk and stock or water, crab and hot pepper.
3 Keep an eye on that hot pepper use one that is not bruised. You DO NOT want that pepper to burst while cooking. The heat from the burst pepper will overpower the other flavours.
4 Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 35 minutes.
5 Taste and add salt if needed.
6 Remove hot pepper and crab or meat, and swizzle the callaloo, or put in a blender or you can use an immersion type blender, and beat until smooth. Return the crab or meat pieces to the soup. Add the cooking margarine or butter. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Stir well.
7 Serve hot as a soup on it's own or as a side dish.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kartoffel Kapern Salat

From www.marions-kochbuch.de. An excellent way to prepare potatoes a day or even more in advance. Basically, you marinate boiled potato slices in vegetable stock with onion and an olive oil-vinegar dressing.

Recipe for 600 gram potatoes (cook them in shell and peel when warm):

1 - Simmer in a pan for 5 minutes: about 200ml vegetable stock and one onion, cut in small cubes.

2 - Prepare dressing from: 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar (or: white balsamico vinegar), pressed garlic, pepper and salt.

3- Pour stock and dressing over the cooked potato slices.

4 - Add (this is just a reference): fresh parsley, anchovies, 5 teaspoons caper, 12 black olives, 120 gram cherry tomatoes (halved).

Let the potatoes marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This will keep for a few days.



Voor 4 personen:
kilo vastkokende aardappelen
ongeveer 150 ml hete kippen- of groentebouillon
1 el gladde mosterd
3 – 4 el witte azijn
3 – 4 el zonnebloemolie
1 middelgrote ui, fijngehakt
8 zure augurkjes, fijngehakt
of 3 el kappertjes, afgespoeld
of de helft van allebei
blaadjes van 1 – 2 takjes dragon, fijngehakt
handje bladpeterselie, fijngehakt