Thursday, December 17, 2009

Carpano 'sweet red vermouth'

Apparently vermouth was invented in 1786 by Antonio Benedetto Carpano (1764, Turin - 1815, Turin). The brand Carpano still exists and it's marketed as a vermouth based on the old recipe: Carpano Antica Formula. It's well worth the investment. Carpano Antica Formula is a sweet red vermouth 'Italian style' and full of spice overtones, orange, vanilla ... It's great to drink on it's own, but also an important ingredient for the Manhattan (whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters) and the Negroni (gin, Campari, red vermouth). But I would start drinking Carpano Antica Formula as an apéritif.

Carpano Antica Formula is nowadays made by the Italian distiller Branca.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Captain's dinner

A dish from the era of the great sailing ships. While the crew survived on hard biscuits the captain had a somewhat more luxurious lifestyle.

Heat a jar of kapucijners, a type of pea (Pisum sativum L. subsp. sativum var. arvense (L.) Poir). Kapucijners are brown rather than green. Other Dutch name: blauwschokkers, grauwe erwt. In English: Dun pea, Dry pea, Field pea, Soup pea, Grey pea, Purple-flowered pea, Canning pea, Austrian winter pea.

Fry sliced onion on a low fire. Fry smoked bacon (Dutch: spek), cut in small cubes. Drain the kapucijners, spread them out on a plate, add fried onion and bacon. Serve with pickled gherkins, Dutch piccalilly and pickled onions (Dutch: zilveruitjes).

It's a simple dish, but rather effective.

Captain's dinner being served on the billiards table in 't Schippershuis, a small café in Hoorn:


Labskaus is a northern German dish, popular in the harbor cities Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen. It's basically mashed potatoes with beet and corned beef, garnished with pickled gherkins, rollmops and a fried egg.

Boil between 500 gram and 1 kilo potatoes. Mash potatoes with some warm milk and meat stock. Mix with 100 gram shredded (pre-cooked) beet, 1 table spoon of beet juice, one fried onion and 300 gram corned beef, cut in very small cubes (fried in pan and still warm). Add salt and pepper.

Because of the mashing, this dish can cool rapidly. Preheat the plates and make sure ALL the ingredients are warm, otherwise you'll end up with a cold labskaus on your plate. Leftovers can be heated in the oven and still taste great the next day.

Not all corned beefs are created equally. For the best result you need 'Deutsches Corned Beef' (German corned beef), which is more tastier since it's embedded in aspic.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Miso soup

Dashi is the stock used for miso soup. You need just two ingredients: kombu (dried sea kelp) and katsuobushi (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna ).

Soak the kombu for a couple of hours, make some incisions to release the flavor. Add kombu to one liter of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and take out the kombu just before the water starts to boil (don't boil the kombu!). Add 10 gram katsuobushi (also called bonito flakes) to the stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain stock through a cheesecloth. It takes about 15 minutes to make dashi.

Ingredients miso soup:

1 full tablespoon miso paste (you can use shiro-miso or aka-miso)
Silken tofu, in small cubes
Spring onion
Dried wakame
Optional: 1 tablespoon shin mirin (Japanese cooking wine, use the type with less than 1% alcohol)

Miso paste should never be boiled. Put a tablespoon of miso paste in a bowl. In the meantime bring the dashi stock to a boil.

Add a little hot dashi and mix.

Add more dashi, silken tofu, spring onion, wakame and mirin. Wait 5 minutes until the wakame is fully reconstituted. You can soak the wakame beforehand if you wish. That way you'll wash away any 'dust' from the wakame.

This is a basic miso-shiru (literally: miso broth). Many variations are possible.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Snert: Echte Hollandse erwtensoep

- 500 gram split peas
- 1 piece of pork hock (=hamschijf), about 500 gram, or two pig's trotters
- 100 gram streaky bacon or Dutch "sauerkraut bacon" (zuurkoolspek): streaky pork, salted but not smoked, preferrably with rind.
- 1 smoked sausage (rookworst)
- 2 large onions, chopped not too small
- 1 large carrot
- 2 leeks
- 1 celeriac (knolselderie)
- 2 potatoes
- 1 bunch celery
- pepper and salt to taste
- 2 liter water to start with

For serving:
- rye bread (pumpernickel), with slices of "katenspek" (lightly streaked pork, first boiled and then smoked black)


Boil the (washed) split peas with the meat (excluding the rookworst).

Remove the thick layer of foam which will form. Discard water. Add clean water and bring to a boil again.

Cut ingredients in small cubes; carrots in 'half moons', cut leeks 'cross wise' (see photo).

Add all vegetables (but not the celery leaf) and simmer for 1,5 tot 3 hours.

Remove meat and cut in small pieces (remove bones). Pork hock contains an amazing amount of fatty skin. Perfect for an hungry 19th century farmer, maybe not so great in the 21st century. Discard some of the fat. Return boiled meat to pot, add rookworst and a handful of chopped celery leaf. Season with salt and pepper and leave standing overnight.

You can leave out the rookworst, or even all the meat. Serve with rye bread and sliced katenspek.