I wanted to end my Piemonte-themed wine and food evenings with a nice dessert. The first thing I thought of was bounet, but I had already made that before for a similar evening so I asked my friend Resi (who is from Piemonte and helps me with my blog in Italian) for suggestions. She suggested a walnut cake with chocolate pastry cream as typical dessert from Piemonte. That sounded great and like a good combination for the barolo chinato I had made.
The resulting cake was absolutely delicious. It has a very full walnut flavor and it’s not surprise that the chocolate pastry cream was nice as well. If you like dark chocolate, you can add cocoa powder to the chocolate cream to give it a more hefty chocolate flavor. The resulting cake will pair better with the barolo chinato. Continue reading
As a main course for the serata piemontese I prepared Brasato al Barolo, beef braised in Barolo wine. I used a wagyu brisket for this that was cooked sous-vide with 2 bottles of Barolo and aromatics for 48 hours at 57ºC/135ºF. The meat was tender and juicy and the sauce was amazing. I asked my friend Resi, who was born and raised in Piemonte, still lives there, and helps me out with my blog in Italian, for suggestions for a side dish for the brasato. She suggested a gratin of cauliflower, fennel, or cardoons. I chose fennel and it was indeed a great combination. Continue reading
As an appetizer for my Piemonte-themed evening I decided to make bagna càuda. This is a hot dip sauce made with olive oil, anchovies, and garlic and served with raw or cooked vegetables to dip. There are many varieties, with a lot of them including butter besides olive oil or even milk or cream. Also the vegetables used are endless. Continue reading
Today it is exactly two years ago that I started this blog. This is the 486th post, there have been almost 150,000 views, and more than 5,000 comments. It has been a great ride so far and I never could have imagined I would have learned so much from it. The fun and learning is thanks to the interaction with my readers and the blogs I follow myself — so keep it coming please!
This is an appropriate moment to try something new: at the bottom of each post I will feature a ‘flashback’ to a post from two years ago, as there are some very nice recipes there that you may have missed because I didn’t have many readers in the beginning.
And now for today’s recipe. Yesterday evening was the first serata piemontese, and it was a great success. Tonight is the next installment, with the same food but mostly different wines. I will do a full report in a later post. I included two primi piatti in my Piemontese menu: agnolotti and risotto al barolo con salsiccia. Risotto is usually made with just a bit of white wine, but Piemonte has the speciality of using red wine and quite a lot of it so the main flavor of the risotto is that of the wine. The end result will thus depend on the quality of the wine used, and though it may seem like a waste of a good barolo, I strongly urge you not to use a cheap red wine for this as that would ruin the dish. Last night everyone agreed that this risotto was different, but delicious. Continue reading
Stuffed pasta such as ravioli can probably be classified as my signature dish. I love to prepare them and I love to eat them. Twice a year I organize a wine & food extravaganza for my friends — two evenings with a multi-course dinner with two different paired wines with each course to compare them and find out which one is the best match. After the Burgundy theme earlier this year, it is now time for the Italian region of Piemonte. Piemonte is the home of great wines such as Barolo and the home of great Italian food. After the Barolo Chinato (which I will serve with the dessert) I wrote about yesterday, today’s post is about the one of the primi piatti (pasta dishes) I will serve during my serata piemontese: Agnolotti.
Barolo Chinato is a spiced wine from the Italian region of Piemonte that was invented as a medicine in the late 19th century by pharmacist Giuseppe Cappellano in Turin. Commercial versions of Barolo Chinato are matured for over a year in oak barrels, but it is possible to make a very acceptable version at home. That is great, because Barolo Chinato is very good with chocolate and chocolate-based desserts, and it is quite hard to find outside of Italy. After maturation in the bottle only it is not the same as the commercial product, but a very acceptable substitute. It is very easy to make and only requires some patience (about a month). Continue reading
After yesterday’s post about duck stock, it won’t come as a surprise that today’s post features duck. I love duck meat and this duck breast with a demi-glace sauce made from duck stock and red wine was particularly nice. It also won’t be a surprise what my next post will be about, as the side dish (a butternut squash tartlet) will have a post of its own.
Now there is more to this dish than just the use of duck stock to make a demi glace (which in the modern form is just duck stock reduced until it is thick and syrupy and loaded with duck flavor). You see, I took a bit of a risk when I cooked the duck breast and duck skin separately and glued them together with Activa, and then called this ‘Perfect’ duck breast. Grant from An American Baker in London left a comment saying that he had seen something similar on Masterchef, but with the duck skin cooked sous-vide rather than in the oven to render the fat out of it before gluing it to the duck breast. The advantage of cooking the duck skin sous-vide would be avoiding shrinkage. Cooking the skin sous-vide sounded like music to my ears, and I quickly forgot that my previous version was perhaps not as perfect as I had thought it was. Continue reading
The flavor of soups, sauces, and especially risottos depends heavily on the quality of the stock used. Bouillon cubes are terrible because they are usually more than 99% salt. Store-bought stocks usually also have a very high salt content, which renders them useless for sauces and risotto. And it is so easy to make your own stock, it only takes a bit of patience.
From the comments of my readers and recipes on many other blogs, I’m starting to get the impression that many cooks out there believe there are only about four types of stock: vegetable stock, chicken stock, beef stock, and fish stock. However, stock can be made from virtually anything and each ingredient gives off a characteristic flavor. So you can also prepare lamb stock, shrimp stock, pork stock, rabbit stock, hare stock, pheasant stock, etc. If you make a lamb dish with a sauce or a lamb stew, you will get more lamb flavor if you use lamb stock rather than beef stock.
So even though making duck stock is not different from making chicken stock (except that you use duck rather than chicken), I’m posting about it anyway to emphasize that duck stock exists, easy to make at home, and preferable to chicken stock in most cases for duck dishes. Continue reading
Recently we took a plane to Dublin for a return visit to Conor and ‘the wife’ (a.k.a. Sharon). They showed us a really great time.
We stayed in a wonderful house with a huge kitchen by Lough Derg (a beautiful lake in the county of Tipperary). Continue reading
Octopus cooked sous-vide is very flavorful and tender, and sliced thinly as carpaccio is a great way of serving it. Last year I prepared octopus carpaccio, but the slices fell apart. I tried adding gelatin and that didn’t help. Then I decided next time I would try to use a ‘meat glue’ enzyme called transglutaminase. I didn’t get around to doing that, and then I forgot about it until the succesful experiment I performed with Activa and duck breast. I prepared it exactly the same way, except that I added 2% transglutaminase by weight. And guess what? It worked! Perfect slices that didn’t fall apart. Continue reading