Beef Wellington

This history of this dish and the origins of its name are uncertain according to Wikipedia, but it definitely plays an important role in my personal food history as Beef Wellington was one of the first gourmet dishes I learned to prepare. It was at the christmas party at my first job back in 1997. We were a small team at the office and since many of us loved to cook, for a christmas party we cooked our own dinner under supervision of a chef. I loved it and have since prepared it many times following the same recipe, even though I later found out that Beef Wellington often also includes pâté (which is not included in this recipe). Beef Wellington is beef tenderloin, wrapped in puff pastry with a umami bomb called duxelles (mushrooms, ham, tomato paste, shallots, garlic, and parsley). I always serve it with haricots verts and a strong red wine sauce. It is a great dish for festive occasions.  Continue reading “Beef Wellington”

Pork Chop in Tomato Sauce (Primo + Secondo)

map
We are back home from our travels through Australia. Since this is a food blog rather than a travel blog, let me suffice by showing you a map of the route we have traveled (6000 km or almost 4000 miles altogether) in a camper van from coast to coast.

In the other posts I wrote about cooking in the Outback, I told you about how we would on most days kept the cooking to a bare minimum and simply put meat like beef, lamb or kangaroo on our small BBQ. But on one day during a long drive from the West MacDonnells to Kings Canyon I had plenty of time to think and decided to make something that would require more actual ‘cooking’ with the ingredients I had in the camper and of course taking into account the very limited equipment at my disposal. We did not have time to do any shopping, so I used only the ingredients I had bought without a clear idea of how I would use them.

I thought it would be nice not to use the BBQ for a change, and so I decided to simmer pork chops in tomato sauce and then serve the tomato sauce over pasta with additional mushrooms as a primo piatto, followed by the pork chops with the remaining tomato sauce as a secondo (click here if you’d like to know more about the Italian menu structure). I would have liked to use a better marbled shoulder chop for this, but I only had a loin chop so that is what I used. The result was quite nice and I will probably repeat this at home with a shoulder chop or perhaps even sous-vide. Here’s what I did. Continue reading “Pork Chop in Tomato Sauce (Primo + Secondo)”

Risotto alla Bartolini

When I saw that John had shared the recipe for one of his family’s crown jewels, the Bartolini family risotto, I knew immediately I was going to prepare it. Even though one of its main components is chicken gizzards, an ingredient I’ve never cooked with before. But I trust the culinary wisdom of John and his Zia (aunt), and it was no surprise that this risotto turned out great. First, because John’s recipes are always top notch, and second, because the idea to parcook the chicken gizzards and prepare the stock for the risotto at the same time makes a lot of culinary sense. The combination of mushrooms and chicken gizzards in the risotto works really well. We liked both the flavor as well as the texture.

Continue reading “Risotto alla Bartolini”

Parsley-Crusted Steak with Mushroom Ketchup and Garlic Puree

One of the best ways to become a better cook is to learn from others. I asked my modernist cooking friends Teun and Albert to join forces with me to create dishes together. This dish is the first result of that collaboration. It was loosely based upon a dish that Albert had cooked before out of the Big Fat Duck cookbook. We wanted to do something with wagyu sous-vide. The idea for the mushroom ketchup came from the Big Fat Duck dish. As parsley and garlic are friends of mushrooms in Italian cuisine, we decided to coat the steak with parsleyed bread crumbs and serve it with a garlic puree.

For me the main success of this dish was the crust. The wagyu flank steak was very tender and flavorful because it had been cooked sous-vide, and had additional flavor because it was finished on a charcoal grill. The tender beef was complemented very nicely by the crunchy parsley crust. The combination with the mushroom ketchup, mushrooms, and the garlic puree also worked very well. Continue reading “Parsley-Crusted Steak with Mushroom Ketchup and Garlic Puree”

Veal Rib Eye with Mushrooms

According to my butcher, you will live to be 100 if you eat veal on a regular basis. This is not a scientifically proven statement (he bases it on a few people he knows who used to eat veal on a regular basis and have lived to be 100) and since he’s selling the veal his objectivity is questionable. I do like to eat veal though, and it is great with mushrooms.

Fresh porcini mushrooms are very difficult to obtain around here, as they are in many other places around the world. A trick I’ve developed is to soak dried porcini mushrooms in hot water, sauté the reconstituted porcini mushrooms with fresh cultivated mushrooms, and then simmer all of the mushrooms in the porcini soaking liquid to boost the flavor of all the mushrooms. The mushrooms are sautéed with parsley and garlic, which is called funghi trifolati in Italy. Together with the deep fried fennel I posted about yesterday and a good glass of white wine, this makes a great meal for Easter. Continue reading “Veal Rib Eye with Mushrooms”

Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin is a prime example of classic French cooking. It is a lot of work, but worth it. “Coq” is French for rooster, and in times when people still ate roosters they were old and thus so tough that they needed to be stewed in wine to make them edible. Nowadays most chicken only gets to live about 6 weeks, so it is not needed to cook it like that anymore. But the flavor of the classic dish is so good that people keep making it anyway. Those old roosters had a lot of flavor, so this dish will benefit from using an older chicken like the one I discovered recently.

I have looked at various recipes online, most of them in French, and noted that they are all very similar. Chicken is browned, covered in red wine and stock, and then stewed until tender. It is served with sautéed mushrooms and braised pearl onions. Since Julia Child has been very important for introducing French cuisine to America, I thought it would be nice to follow her recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She made some adaptations to ingredients available in America, for instance she cooks the chicken only for a short time (because young chickens don’t need that long) and she blanches the bacon before using it (I think this is because bacon in America was — or still is? — too salty).

I believe the key success factors for a good Coq au Vin are: the quality of the wine, the quality of the chicken, the quality of the chicken stock, and cooking the onions and mushrooms separately and only adding them at the end. This will allow the mushrooms and onions to keep their own flavor. If you’ve never made braised onions before, I bet you’ll like them so much that you will make them again. Braised onions are very tender, flavorful, and sweet, and very different from raw or sautéed onions. Continue reading “Coq au Vin”

Pizza ai Funghi (Pizza with Mushrooms)

Now that I’ve got the hang of making great pizza at home using cold-fermented dough and baking it tender but crispy in 3 minutes on an aluminum plate, it is time to make pizzas with different toppings. Mushrooms are always a favorite, and the most important thing to get it right is to always sauté the mushrooms before putting them on a pizza. When you bake the mushrooms raw, they will release a lot of liquid that will make your pizza soggy. For additional flavor I like to sauté the mushrooms trifolati, with garlic and parsley. Ingredients For 1 pizza cold-fermented … Continue reading Pizza ai Funghi (Pizza with Mushrooms)

Tempura

Tempura is one of my favorite Japanese dishes, that was actually introduced into Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Seafood and vegetables are battered and deep-fried and served with a dashi-based dipping sauce. Just like with sushi you are probably not able to obtain the quality of professionally made tempura, but if you follow the recipe it should still be delicious! Making good tempura requires both some skill (to get a light and crunchy crust) and fresh high-quality ingredients. Tempura should be eaten as quickly as possible, so it’s best to make it in an informal setting where … Continue reading Tempura

Pappardelle ai funghi (Pappardelle with mushrooms)

A long-time favorite of Kees is home-made pappardelle with mushrooms. So when I asked him what he’d like to eat, it wasn’t a surprise that he asked for this dish. If fresh porcini mushrooms are available, you could of course use those. But since they are hardly ever available at a good quality around here, I usually make this with dried porcini mushrooms. This has the added advantage that you can use the soaking liquid for the sauce. You could also make this pasta with store-bought pappardelle, but it’s better with home-made because of the more interesting texture. Ingredients For … Continue reading Pappardelle ai funghi (Pappardelle with mushrooms)