Tag: Ingredients Glossary

Legendary Dishes | Mămăligă and Polenta (boiled cornmeal)

Balkans | Italy

 

Polenta stares at us from the past.

Of all the foods of antiquity none bar unleavened bread has the longevity of polenta.

Coarse ground grains and pulses have been an intregral element of our daily diet for tens of thousands of years. By the time they were written into timeless history, their evolution beyond flours had been forgotten and despite archeological evidence all we can do is guess what our ancient ancestors did with them.

Modern polenta, made from dried corn meal, is a clue.

Before corn was introduced into Europe and ingenious cooks mixed it with local cheeses, herbs and meats to form the polenta dishes we know today in the Balkans, in Italy, Sardinia and Sicily, polenta was made with barley, millet, sorghum and spelt grains, and with countless varieties of peas and beans, and with chestnuts – a tradition that continues in Italy.

Like the polenta of today it was made without addition or adornment. In some regions it was enriched with whatever was at hand, fresh berries, herbs and other fruits of the forest, as was the tradition in alpine Italy.

There were no rules, and definitely no recipes.

If anyone did record polenta recipes it was the Etruscans, the Italic people who occupied northern and middle Italy before the invading Phoenicians and the conquering Romans.

These pagan people transformed the forests and swamps of Etruria into fields and gardens, growing the grains and legumes that accompanied the fauna, fish and fowl served at their sumptuous banquets and feasts.

It is not a huge stretch of the imagination to envisage the Etruscan table with a
thick pulmentario made from ground barley cut into slices and adorned with fish and meat.

Not when it is now possible to eat squares of corn polenta adorned with prosciutto or sardines in a modern Florentine cafe.

The history of polenta becomes interesting when the contrasting recipes of the Balkans and Italy are examined, and old recipes, with chestnut flour or semolina, are reinterpreted.

The potential of polenta has always been there, and the connections are closer than we think.

Pellegrino Artusi refers to a 19th century recipe that calls for corn polenta cooked in milk with salt and baked with layers of béchamel and parmigiano. This is not that dissimilar to the mămăligă and kačamak made on the Balkan side of the Adriatic.

 

Mămăligă

 

1.2 litres water
500 g corn meal, coarse ground
500 g curd cheese, creamed
300 ml sour cream
100 g butter
2 eggs, beaten
15 g salt
10 g black pepper, freshly ground
Olive oil, for greasing
Semolina, for dusting

 

Boil the water with salt.

Using a funnel pour the corn meal in a steady flow into the water, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon.

Vladimar Mirodan describes this procedure in his Balkan Cookbook: ‘When the water begins to bubble, sprinkle two tablespoons of the maize (corn) flour over the surface of the water.

‘Allow the water to boil furiously and pour the rest of the maize flour in a steady trickle stirring all the time with a wooden spoon in a clockwise circular motion; do not change the direction of the stirring.

‘Lower the heat to moderate and allow the porridge to boil for 25-30 minutes, uncovered.’

The result is a thick polenta. Leave to cool.

Mirodan: ‘Romanian polenta dishes should be too thick to stir and have a strong, almost crunchy texture.’

Divide the cooked polenta into two equal portions, one into a large bowl with the butter.

After ten minutes stir the polenta into the melted butter.

Combine the cheese with the eggs.

When the polenta with the butter has cooled, add the cheese-egg mixture and mix with a fork into a creamy consistency.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Lightly grease a large baking tray with the oil, sprinkle with semolina, then the pepper.

Press the plain polenta into the semolina-pepper, covering the tray.

Place the cheese polenta on top, covering the bottom layer.

Smooth with a wide blade or make ridges with a fork.

Bake for 35 minutes until the surface has taken on a golden brown colour.

 

Mămăliguţă cu brânză şi Smântână

 

2 litres water
500 g corn meal, coarse ground
500 g curd cheese, creamed
500 ml sour cream
300 g hard cheese, grated
300 g smoked bacon, diced
50 g butter, unsalted

 

Prepare the polenta using the previous method, then stir the butter in while it is still hot. This will produce a softer polenta.

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Fry bacon over a medium heat for five minutes until it is crispy, pour fat into a large baking tray.

Spread a thin layer of potenta on the tray, sprinkle the grated cheese followed by the sour cream, dots of curd cheese and the bacon, repeat until there is only cheese and cream left. Finish with a layer of grated cheese, curd cheese and sour cream.

Bake for 45 minutes, until the top begins to brown.

 

A note on cheese and cream: Mămăligă is made throughout the Balkans, the cheeses and creams being the specific difference between regions.

Generally the choice is curd cheese made from cow, goat and sheep milk, Sirene in Bulgaria, Feta in Greece, Telemea in Romania.

The choice of hard cheese is Cașcaval (aka Kachkaval).

The choice of cream varies between thick sour cream known throughout the Balkans and eastern Europe as smetana (smântână in Romania), and home made fermented cream called kajmak.

Kajmak is preferred in the eastern Balkan countries where mămăligă is known as kačamak.

La Polenta di Castagne

 

2 litres water
500 g chestnut flour
Salt, pinch

 

Boil the water with salt.

Using a funnel pour the chestnut flour in a steady flow into the water, stir to incorporate, then leave to cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

Serve with ricotto, pancetta and sausage.

 

Crostini di Polenta

 

1.5/2 litres water
500 g polenta flour, fine
180 g Ricotta, creamed
180 g Emmental, grated
1 egg yolk, beaten
75 g Parmigiano, grated fine for garnish
Salt, pinch, for cooking water and sauce
Olive oil, for cooking water, frying, greasing and sauce

 

Follow the cooking instructions from the packet of polenta for amount of water and cooking time.

Boil the water with salt and a splash of oil.

Using a funnel pour the corn meal in a steady flow into the water, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until cooked.

Pour out into a deep sided short baking tray, lightly greased.

When the polenta has cooled turn it out onto a work surface, cut into squares, 5cm x 5cm x 1cm.

Whip a tablespoon of olive into the egg yolk, combine with the emmental and ricotta in a saucepan over a very low heat, cook until bubbles begin to appear on the surface.

Fry the polenta squares in a tablespoon of oil, two minutes each side.

Serve with the cheese sauce, garnish with parmigiano.

 

Sgonfiotto di Farina Gialla

 

This is an adaptation of Artusi’s recipe for polenta soufflé.

 

350 ml milk
105 g corn meal/polenta flour, fine ground
4 egg whites
20 g butter
2 egg yolks, beaten
10 g sugar
Salt, pinch
Butter, for greasing

 

Bring milk to the boil over a high heat.
Using a funnel pour the corn meal in a steady flow into the milk, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until cooked.
Remove to a bowl, stir in butter, sugar and salt.
When the polenta is cold stir in the egg yolks.
Preheat oven to 160°C.
Beat the egg whites, stir into the polenta, and transfer to buttered ovenproof moulds.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the polenta soufflé rises.
Serve in moulds.

 

Polenta di Sardinia

 

Sardinia, outside the circuit of civilisation as D. H. Lawrence put it, has always produced traditional food a class apart from the peninsula, and the method with polenta is no different. It compares with the Balkan tradition, which is interesting. Ideas being transferred by the fishers of the Mediterranean seas perhaps? It wouldn’t be the first time.

 

2 litres water
500 g corn meal, coarse ground
200 g pancetta, diced
100 g pecorino, grated
100 g salami, diced
100 g onions, chopped
50 ml passata
6 cloves garlic, chopped
Basil, large pinch
Parsley, large pinch
Salt, pinch

Follow the cooking instructions from the packet of polenta for amount of water and cooking time.

Boil the water with salt.

Using a funnel pour the corn meal in a steady flow into the water, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until.

After ten minutes add the remaining ingredients, continue to stir and when ready pour out onto a clean work surface, cut in slices and serve, or use cold with adornments of your choice.


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS
Advertisements

Ingredient | Egg

Egg-LayingHen-Sometimes
Egg layer – when the mood takes her

 

Hens say it will be new year before we can expect any eggs from them … and perhaps a story to accompany the event …


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

Ingredient | Duck

ADuck
Duck

 

 

Duck is eaten throughout Europe, continuing a tradition thousands of years old. While the Egyptians and Chinese are credited for the domestication of the wild duck, it appears the Slavs also had the same idea – more than 3000 years ago.

There are several European breeds, of which the Barbary is preferred because of its lean firm flesh.

In France a cross from the Barbary and Nantes breeds called the Mulard is raised for the production of foie gras, the fattened duck (or goose) liver that is one of Europe’s most recognisable traditional foods. Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat devotes several pages of her History of Food to the fascinating and long history of foie gras.

Wild ducks are very much the preserve of haute cuisine in western Europe these days, while eastern Europeans treat them the way they have always done – by keeping traditional dishes made with wild duck on the menu.

Duckings
Ducklings

Mallard and Teal are the popular breeds.

Traditionally only the breasts were considered edible. When the whole duck was cooked, it was simmered in an aromatic stock and served with a punguent sauce.

Vladimir Mirodan records a dish he suspects was brought to Bessarabia by invading Tartars, who slow baked duck in a herb and vegetable stock, then served it with a cherry sauce.

Duck fat is treasured in some European food cultures. Potatoes par-boiled, then roasted in duck fat remain an essential traditional food in eastern Europe and Russia.

Whether domesticated or wild, the flesh and liver of ducks is perfect for making pâtés and terrines.

 

Pâté de Canard d’Amiens – 1

 

This duck pâté, originally made in the 17th century, is still popular despite many changes to the original recipe.

 

Dough 
500 g pastry flour 
125 g butter 
2 eggs 
25 ml water 
Salt
Filling 
1.5 kg duck, deboned 
Duck heart, liver, chopped 
100 g veal, chopped 
100 g pork belly, cubed 
100 g mushrooms, chopped 
2 shallots, chopped finely  
2 eggs, beaten 
1 onion, chopped finely
1 tsp allspice  
1 tsp pepper 
1 tsp salt
Brandy, splash
Finish 
Butter, for dough wash 
Egg yolk, for glazing

Make the pastry dough, rest in fridge for at least two hours. Combine the offal, pork and veal with the onions, mushrooms and shallots, seasonings and eggs. Mix well, add a generous splash of brandy. Preheat oven to 180°C. Lay the duck flat on an oiled surface, cover with filling, bring together and carefully sew the edges. Roll the dough to fit into and cover your terrine or dish. Brush dough with butter and place the stuffed duck inside. Bring the dough over the duck, sealing the edges with more butter. Decorate, glaze, then pierce the dough lid in two places, creating small holes to allow steam to evaporate. Bake for 105 minutes, 150°C for the last 45 minutes.

Pâté de Canard d’Amiens – 2

This version includes ingredients that were once typical, and this has a genuine paté filling. The bacon, duck and veal is chopped and put through a mincer for a coarse mix, which is then sieved into a paté. The rabbit fillet is left whole. This recipe has a higher proportion of meat, and much less fat.

Dough 
2 kg pastry flour 
500 g butter/lard 
300 ml water 
10 g salt
Filling 
1.5 kg duck, deboned, skinned, chopped, minced 
Duck heart, liver, chopped, minced 
250 g pork belly, chopped, minced 
150 g rabbit fillet, whole 
100 g veal, chopped, minced 
2 eggs
75 g duxelles*1
50 g butter
30 g foie gras, diced 
10 g black truffle, sliced, sautéed in butter, cooled
15 g salt 
Brandy, splash 
Water
Finish 
Butter, for dough wash 
Egg yolk, for, glazing 
30 g aspic*2

 

Prepare the dough a full day ahead of baking. Leave in the fridge or a cold place.

Combine all the meat except the rabbit fillet in a large bowl.

Add foie gras, truffles and seasoning, then the duxelles and eggs. Add brandy and some water to loosen it.*3

Divide the dough into two pieces, one to cover the inside of the terrine and one for the lid, each with a little overlap.

Stuff the filling into the terrine with the rabbit fillet in the middle, place the dough lid on top, sealing the edges.

Decorate, brush with butter and make two small holes. A piece of rolled cardboard or foil can be used to make a funnel in each hole. This allows steam out and prevents the paté from cracking.

Bake at 200°C for 75 minutes, 150°C for the last 30 minutes.

Remove chimneys and pour the aspic into the holes, allowing some to overflow. Leave to cool, place in fridge.

*1: Sauté one chopped onion, five shallots and 25 g of mushrooms gently in butter over a medium heat. Leave to cool.

*2: Aspic for terrines is usually made with marrow-rich bones, usually pig and specifically trotters, slow cooked in a large pot with carrots, leeks, onions, seasoning and plenty of water, reduced, strained, clarified over a gentle bubbling heat with one egg white per 1.2 litres of stock and herbs, usually chervil and French tarragon, enriched with port of sherry, and strained again. For a dense aspic add some carrageen during the clarification stage.

*3: Hard apples peeled, cored and cut into cubes replace the duxelles in some recipes.

 

Duck Terrine

 

The exact quantities depend on the size of your terrine tins or suitable vessels, how much you want to make and what you want to flavour it with.

This is a guide.

 

1.5 kg duck, deboned, breast meat cut into strips, 
dark meat retained
500 g belly pork, rind removed, cubed
100 ml brandy
5g peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1 bay/laurel leaf
1 sprig of thyme
6 blades rosemary
4 sage leaves
2 juniper berries
1 cardamon pod, seeds
Allspice, ground, pinch
Chillies, dried red, power, pinch
Paprika, smoked, pinch
Pomegranate powder, pinch
Salt, pinch

Marinade for 24 hours.

Drain, leaving meat free of any bits, strain liquid into a pot, reduce over a medium heat to a smooth consistency, leave to cool.

 

Duxelles

Ratio 
250g white mushrooms, chopped
250 g onions, chopped
30 g butter
Nutmeg, large pinch
Black pepper, large pinch
Salt, pinch

 

Saute onions in butter over a low heat for 15 minutes, add mushrooms and allow to reduce, season and leave to cool.

 

Forcement Rough

Ratio 
Duck dark meat, chopped
350g pork belly, rind removed, chopped
125 g red onion, chopped
125 g orange, zest 
50 g cranberries
2 eggs
30 g seasonings of choice

Combine the ingredients, mix in the duxelles and the marinade sauce and stir thoroughly.

Forcemeat Smooth

Ratio
500g mushrooms, chopped
350g duck liver
250g bacon, chopped
200 ml stout/malted beer
3 eggs
50g onions, chopped

 

Blend all the ingredients.

Assembly
Streaky bacon rashers, stretched

Lay bacon into the terrine tin or tins, allowing each rasher to drop over the side. When the terrines are filled with the meat and forcemeat, the rashers should fold back over the top, without any gaps.

Lightly place a layer of the smooth forcemeat on top of the bacon. Follow with a thick layer of rough forcement and then the marinaded meat. Repeat the rough forcement and meat mixture layers until the tin or tins are nearly full, finish with another thick layer of smooth forcement.

Fold the bacon slices over to complete the seal.

Place the tin or tins in a bain marie, cover with parchment and weigh with blindbake balls or something heavy to apply pressure to the surface.

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Bake for 130 minutes.

Drain the liquid from the tins, reserve. Quickly and carefully place the terrines into trays with enough room around each side. Pour as much liquid into the trays as each will take. Leave to cool.

Remove from trays. When the terrines are cold, smooth residual fat and jelly over the sides, to make a seal. The duck fat poured out at the start of the process can also be used to seal and preserve the terrine.

Wrap in parchment, store in fridge.

 

Roast Duck

Oriental flavours penetrated the recipe for roast duck over a century ago, so much that they are no longer thought of as foreign.

 

Large duck, no smaller than 1.5 kg
1.5 litres water
350 ml white wine
250 g carrots, chopped
250 g onions, sliced
150 g tomatoes, chopped
50 g boletus mushrooms, fresh, chopped
50 g white mushrooms, fresh, chopped
30 g honey
30 ml oyster sauce
25 g ginger root
15 g sweet soy
3 garlic cloves, crushed
10 g black pepper, freshly ground
5 g palm sugar
5 g salt
10 sage leaves
3 sprigs thyme
1 bunch parsley

Dry duck.

Season cavity with salt and pepper, garlic, ginger, palm sugar and sweet soy. Cover and set aside.
Put giblets (not liver) in the wine with the carrots, onions and tomatoes. Bring to the boil, add salt and parsley, thyme, sage and water.

Bring back to the boil, then reduce heat to low, simmer for an hour.

You should be left with roughly one and a half litres of stock.

Pre-heat oven to 170°C.

Stuff cavity with mushrooms.

Place duck on a rack or grill over a deep baking tray, cover loosely with foil, cook for an hour breast side up, then for another hour breast side down, drain fat.

Put half of the stock in the tray, re-cover with foil, cook for a hour.

Combine honey and oyster sauce.

Remove foil, pour out and reserve liquid from tray. Pour in remaining stock.

Rub honey oyster sauce mixture over all of the duck, brush and baste every ten minutes for forty minutes. Do not let the skin burn.

Reduce the reserved liquid to make a gravy.

Serve with baked apples, and potatoes roasted in duck fat.

 

Traditional Duck Dishes

Pečená Kachní Prsa 

Dodine de Canard


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

Ingredient | Eel

EelWorkers
Eel workers in Toomebridge at Lough Neagh in the north of Ireland

 

 

Ireland is home to some of the tastiest eels in Europe.

Every year between May and October, Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operative Society ship boxes of live eels packed in ice from Belfast International Airport to Heathrow and Schipol.

In England they are jellied, in Holland they are smoked, but in Ireland they are shunned.

An oily fish rich with omega 3, the Dutch eat more smoked eel than fresh eel.

Dutch eel-smokers only smoke the fatter fish, because it tastes better, and that is why they covet Irish eels.

When the Dutch do cook fresh eel they follow a centuries old tradition that can be traced from the Flanders shore northwards into the Fresian sands and around into the Baltic. This is eel soup.

Another tradition has eels lightly dusted with flour and fried in hot oil. This dish is still popular on both shores of the Adriatic.

In Italy it is served in a tangy sauce.

On the Balkan shore, in Montenegro, the eels of Lake Skada are a treasured delicacy. Here fried eels are served with rice.

 

Hamburger Aalsuppe

 

Hanseatic Hamburg shared a culinary tradition with the coastal and river towns from the Thames of London across to Flanders, Holland up to the Wadden islands around into the Baltic.

This was characterised by the varying methods of cooking popular fishes, which for many seafarers was the enigmatic eel. More often than not it was a choice between soup and sauce.

Jan Morris, that intrepid travel writer of the post-WWII era, described the soup as ‘one of the great seamen’s dishes of Europe’. In Hamburg’s wharf restaurants it was served with prunes and onions, garnished with herbs and ‘washed down with beer-and-schnapps’.

It still is, but it is a little bit more expensive than it used to be.

 

1.5 litres fish stock
1 kg eels, cut into 5 cm pieces
500 g prunes/pears, sliced
250 ml white wine
100 g peas
1 carrot, cubed
1 celery stalk, sliced, cubed
1 white leek stalk, chopped
4 parsley sprigs, chopped
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
Salt, pinch
Wine vinegar, splash

 

Simmer eel pieces in stock, vinegar and seasonings for 15 minutes, strain stock into separate pot, set eels aside.

Put the vegetables into the stock, pour in the wine, cook over a medium heat until carrots are soft, add eel pieces and prunes/pears, simmer for five minutes.

Garnish with parsley.

 

Aalsoep

 

This is the Dutch version.

 

1.5 litres salted water
1 kg eels, cut into 5 cm pieces
50 g capers, chopped
45 g butter
45 g flour
12 parsley sprigs, chopped
Salt, pinch

 

Simmer eel pieces in salted water for 15 minutes, remove eels.

Combine flour and butter with three tablespoons of eel stock.

Put the capers, parsley and roux into the stock, bring heat up, boil for five minutes.

Reduce heat, simmer for ten minutes.

Arrange eel pieces in soup bowls, cover with stock, garnish with parsley.

 

Paling in’t Groen

 

Further south in Flanders eel was served with a green sauce made with fresh river herbs and wild leaf vegetables, one or more of a choice from chervil, sorrel, spinach, watercress and wild garlic leaves.

The sauce should be aromatic and not too thick.

 

1 kg eel, cut into 5 cm pieces
1 litre fish stock
300g green herbs/vegetables, chopped small
25g butter
25g flour
1 lemon, juice
1 mint sprig
1 parsley sprig
Black pepper, freshly ground, pinch
Salt, pinch

Poach eel in stock over a low heat for 15 minutes. Make a light roux, add 350ml of stock, bring to the boil, add greens, lemon juice and seasonings, reduce heat and cook for five minutes. For a thinner sauce use a little more stock. Coat the eel pieces with the sauce, garnish with mint and parsley. Serve with fries.

Anguille Incarpinate

 

500 g eels, cut into small pieces
120 ml vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 sprig rosemary
Flour, for dusting
Oil, for frying
Salt, large pinch

Combine flour with salt, and dust the eel pieces lightly.

Heat oil to almost smoking point, fry eel pieces quickly on all sides, remove and keep warm.

Boil vinegar with garlic and rosemary for five minutes.

Arrange eel pieces in a large bowl. Drizzle vinegar sauce over eels, serve.

 

 

Jegulju na Orizu

 

JeguljunaOrizu-low-res
Eels on Rice

 

 

Lake fish – carp, eels, perch, pike, trout – are one of the great delicacies of Europe.

The Swiss will argue that their lake cuisine is unquestionably the most diverse.

The Hungarians will question that haughty assumption.

The Montenegrins will shake their heads at these notions and suggest a visit to Lake Skadar.

Shared with Albania, this basin of water sits inside the mountains that separate the Adriatic coastline from the Podgorica plain.

Carp dishes predominate and grilled eel is popular, but it is eel on rice that attracts diners to lake shore restaurants.

 

1 kg eel, cut into 4 cm chunks
300 g rice, parboiled
200 g carrots, chopped
200 g onions, chopped
1 lemon, juice
4 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
10 g Vegeta
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp salt
Olive oil, for frying and cooking
Water, for cooking

 

Dust eel pieces with salt, dry in oil in a frying pan over a high heat, two minutes each side, remove, set aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan, and sauté carrots, garlic and onion, about ten minutes.

Add rice, seasonings and spices, stir, reduce heat to low, adding three tablespoons of water, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, leave to rest for ten minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Spoon rice mixture into oiled baking tray, arrange eel chunks on top, splash each with a little oil.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.

 


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

 

Ingredient | Cod

http://pictures.seafood.no
The Subtle Art of Cod Drying

 


 

Every year, between January and April, the Atlantic cod migrates to the nutrient-rich sea around Lofoten and Vesterålen off the coast of Norway in the artic circle.

And every year, since the 1100s, the fishers of this region have caught mature cod, brought it home, and hung it out to dry in the northern winds, the sun’s reflection in the snow tanning the fish a rich golden colour.

This natural process preserves the gutted and beheaded fish, reduces the water content and increases the protein content, 68-78% compared with 18% in fresh cod.

When fully dried the solid flesh has a concentrated aroma, and is stick-like, known as stockfish.

Once the stable of many coastal communities on the Atlantic fringe, cod need specific climatic conditions to dry completely in the open air. The people of northern Norway are the last to maintain this centuries old tradition.

Like the Norwegians, the Portuguese have a long tradition of catching cod in the north Atlantic.

Unlike the Norwegians, who fished off-shore, the Portuguese travelled further into the wide ocean to catch cod.

To preserve the fish they beheaded and gutted it on board and immediately immersed it in salt, completing the drying when they returned home.

This process resulted in a dried fish with a distinctive dark yellow colour, prominent flakes and an intense flavour.

The Portuguese have managed to continue this salting and drying tradition, safe with the knowledge that they are contributing to the longevity of an iconic food that is now truely legendary — Bacalhau | Bacalao | Baccalà!

Let’s start with the Portuguese tradition.

This is the basic version of their celebrated fish balls.

 

Bolinhos de Bacalhau

 

1 kg salt-dried cod, 
soaked for 48 hours in 12 changes of fresh water, 
skinned, deboned, shredded small
650 g potatoes, baked, mashed
2 egg whites, whisked into a stiff foam
30 g parsley, chopped
10 g white pepper, ground
Olive oil, for greasing
Vegetable oil, for frying
Salt, large pinch

 

With wet hands combine the cod and potatoes in a large bowl, knead for five minutes.

Add parsley, pepper and salt.

Fold in the egg whites.

Grease hands with oil, shape into small balls or croquettes.

Shallow fry, drain on paper towels.

 

Associação dos Industriais do Bacalhau

 

Baccalà Mantecato

 

In 2001 a calender event of significance was noted when an assortment of Venetian artists, historians, restauranteurs, writers and baccalà lovers launched the Dogale Confraternita del Baccalà Mantecato.

Their aim was the dissemination of the traditional recipe – cod, garlic and olive oil – because baccalà mantecato is not just food. ‘It is history, religion, adventure, secrets handed down from cook to cook, from mother to daughter: the pleasure of the palate, mind, heart.’

Stockfish is imported into northern and southern Italy, to Calabria, Campania, Liguria, Sicily and Veneto, taking two-thirds of the Norwegian production.

In northern Italy they like their stockfish lean and thin, in southern Italy they prefer it fat and thick but in Venice they demand the best and it is graded as such, imported by fish merchants from the Polesine, south of the lagoon city.

In 2014 packets of stockfish cost between €23 and €40 a kilo in the shops and supermarkets.

Baccalà is stick, mantecato is beaten, thus whipped stick fish.

Legend has it that Venetian merchant Pietro Querini and 68 sailors sought refuge from a storm on the Lofoten Islands, where they witnessed the art of air drying the north Atantic cod, turning it into hard stick-like fish.

It is not known whether they brought recipes as well as dried fish from Norway.

That was in the 1430s. In 1563, after the Council of Trent and the directive on a required abstinence from meat, dried cod dishes were served every Wednesday and Friday in parts of Italy.

Bartolomeo Scappi, chef de cuisine of Pius V, established baccalà mantecato as a traditional dish.

This is the original recipe and method as determined by the Dogale Confraternita del Baccalà Mantecato.

 

250g stockfish, 
soaked for 48 hours in 12 changes of fresh water, 
skinned, deboned
Olive oil 
1 bay leaf
1 lemon
Salt, pinch 
Black pepper, pinch

 

Put the cod in a pot, cover with lightly salted cold water and bring to a low boil, simmer for 20 minutes with lemon and bay leaf.

Whip the cod by hand with a wooden spoon, letting it absorb the drizzled oil ‘as if it were a mayonnaise’ to produce a shiny homogenous mass.

Season and finish with a little of the cod cooking water.

‘The dish is traditionally garnished with chopped parsley and accompanied by fresh or grilled Venetian white pearl polenta.’

 

Other Baccalà

 

Alla Bolognese

stockfish, butter, flour, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, white pepper

Alla Cappuccina

stockfish, anchovies, bay leaves, breadcrumbs, cinnamon, fish stock, flour, milk, nutmeg, olive oil, pine nuts, raisins, sugar, white wine, seasonings

Alla Fiorentina

stockfish, flour, garlic, olive oil, tomato sauce, seasonings)

Alla Livornese – 1

stockfish, basil, garlic, olive oil, onion, parsley, red wine, tomato sauce, seasonings

Alla Livornese – 2

stockfish, chilli, flour, garlic, olive oil, parsley, tomatoes, salt

Alla Messinese

stockfish, celery, chilli, olives, olive oil, onions, potatoes, salted capers, tomatoes, salt

Alla Napoletana

stockfish, black olives, chilli, flour, garlic, olive oil, parsley, salted capers, tomatoes

Alla Romana

stockfish, bay leaves, carrot, celery, chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, parsley, rosemary, tomatoes, seasonings

Alla Triestina

stockfish, anchovies, breadcrumbs, butter, cream, parsley, white pepper

Alla Vicentina

stockfish, anchovies, flour, milk, grana padano/parmigiano, parsley, olive oil, onions, seasonings

 

Brandade de Morue

 

 

The tradition in coastal Provence suggests a relationship with the Venetian version, the differences being added milk and extra garlic.

 

300 g stockfish, 
soaked for 48 hours in 12 changes of fresh water, 
skinned, deboned
110 ml milk, warmed
110 ml olive oil, warmed
4 cloves garlic, crushed, chopped small
Salt, large pinch
Black pepper, large pinch
Water, for cooking

 

Put cod and a pinch of salt in a large pot, cover with sufficient cold water, bring to a low boil simmer for 30 minutes.

Flake, skin and remove any bones.

Warm milk and oil in separate saucepans over low heat, do not boil.

In a large bowl combine the cod and garlic, then gradually add the milk and oil, beating and breaking the flakes of fish with a strong wooden spoon to create a creamy mash.

Serve with a salad.

 

Brandada de Bacalao

 

This is an adaptation of Basque chef Martín Berasategui’s version.

 

500 ml cream
500 ml milk
300 g salt-dried cod, 
soaked for 48 hours in 12 changes of fresh water, 
skinned, deboned, shredded small
300 g potatoes, baked, mashed 
45 ml olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 g parsley, chopped
2 sprigs thyme
Salt, pinch
White pepper, pinch

 

Place half of the garlic and the thyme with the milk in a saucepan, bring to a low boil, add cod. Remove from heat, cover and leave for 30 minutes. Drain, flake cod.

Sauté remaining garlic in the oil in a frying pan over a low heat for five minutes, add cod and potatoes, stir, gradually adding the cream.

Reduce over a low heat for 40 minutes.

Season and serve with with toasted crusty bread, garnish with parsley.

 

Empanada de Bacalao y Pasas

 

Not every flake of cod is whipped into a frenzy. Some pieces go into these delicious empanadas from Galicia.

 

Dough
300 g flour
1 egg
50 ml water, warmed
50 ml lemon juice/white wine
40 g yeast
20 g lard
Salt, pinch

Filling
500 g salt-dried cod, 
soaked for 48 hours in 12 changes of fresh water, 
skinned, deboned
200 ml olive oil
200 ml water
2 onions, chopped
100 g raisins
2 red peppers roasted, peeled, cut into small pieces
1 egg
15 g tomato sauce
Saffron threads
1 tbsp chopped parsley
5 g pimentón
Black pepper, large pinch
Salt, pinch

 

Soak raisins in water.

Dissolve yeast in the water and wine.

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl, add the egg and lard.

Fold out onto a clean surface, knead into a soft dough. Cover and leave to rise for an hour.

Fry onions over a gentle heat for 15 minutes, add pimentón, tomato sauce and parsley. Stir, then add the cod, peppers and saffron. Season.

Leave to cool.

Divide the dough into two pieces, roll each into a rectangle shape.

Place one sheet on a greased baking tray.

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Place the filling on the first sheet, cover with filling, then the second sheet, crimp to seal the edges. Brush surface with egg.

Bake for 40 minutes.

 

Salt Cod Exporter

 

 

Frityrstekt Bacalao med Hvitløksaus

 

And back up in Norway they are just as inventive with their cod.

 

… recipes to follow …

 

Klippfisk Baller

dried cod balls

 

Klippfisk Grateng

dried cod gratin

 

Klippfisk med Grønnsaus

dried cod with green sauce

 

Norsk Bacalao Gryte

Norwegian bacalao casserole

 

 

Traditional Dried Cod Dishes

 

 

Stockfish photo courtesy of Norwegian Seafood.


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS

Ingredient | European Flour

Flours
L-R – Gluten-Free Flour from Switzerland, Polish t-550 Flour, Chestnut Flour from Italy, Polish t-450 and Rye Flour from Switzerland

 

 

In Europe hard and soft wheats are used to produce bread, cakes and pastries.

Durum wheat is used to produce pasta and semolina.

Spelt is used largely to make dumplings and noodles, and gradually now to make bread, cakes and pastries.

Rye is used to make bread and pastries.

France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and Turkey grade their flour according to the amount of ash, measured in milligrams, obtained from burning, the French with 10g of flour, the Germans and Swiss with 100g.

This indicates the gluten content. Hard wheat flour is high (between 11% and 13%), soft wheat is low (between 9% and 11%).

This translates as:

White flour (high gluten), for bread – for example French type 65, German type 812.

Pastry flour (medium), for all purposes, French 45, German 405.

Baking flour (medium), for bread and pastries, French 55.

Cake flour (low), for biscuits and cakes.

These are the types of flour available in France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

 

 

France

 

 

Type 45
Soft wheat white flour for pastry. 
Low gluten.

Type 55
Hard and soft wheat white flour for general use. 
Low gluten.

Type 65
Hard and soft wheat white flour for artisan use. 
High gluten.

Type 80
Hard organic whole wheat and white flour for bread. 
High gluten.

Type 110
Hard whole wheat and white flour for bread. 
High gluten.

Type 150
Hard whole wheat flour, bran and germ. 
High gluten.

 

Germany

 

Type 405
Soft wheat white flour for pastry. 
Low gluten.

Type 550
Hard and soft wheat white flour for general use. 
Low gluten.

Type 630
White spelt flour. 
High gluten.

Type 812
Hard wheat white flour for bread. 
High gluten.

Type 1050
Hard wheat flour for bread. 
High gluten.

Type 1150
Rye flour. 
Low gluten. 

Type 1600
Hard whole wheat and white flour for bread. 
High gluten.

Type 1700
Whole wheat flour, bran and germ. 
High gluten.

 

 

Switzerland

 

OrganicSpelt
Irish organic spelt and that aphid eater … again!

 

 

The Swiss grade their flour for specific breads, cakes, confections and pastries and sell it as prepared combinations.

If you want to make a high energy bread you buy a packet of ‘Fitness Meal’ containing shredded wheat (type 1700), crushed rye and wheat bran, wheat flour with flakes (type 900), rye flour (type 720), wheat, oat and barley flakes, vegetable oils and fats (partially hydrogenated), skimmed milk powder, salt with iodine, pre-gelatinised wheat flour, corn flour, dextrose, lactic acid, and sorbitol.

If you want to replicate the delicious rye bread of the Valais/Wallis canton you buy a packet of ‘Walliser Flour Fix’ containing rye flour (type 700), wheat flour (type 1100), salt with iodine, pea fibre, lactic acid, roasted wheat, wheat gluten, sugar, caramel and barley malt.

 

Type 400: Soft wheat white flour.
Type 550: Hard and soft wheat white flour.
Type 600: Spelt flour.
Type 700: Rye flour.
Type 700: Light rye flour.
Type 720: Hard whole wheat and white flour.
Type 720: Rye flour.
Type 720: Hard wheat flour.
Type 750: Spelt flour.
Type 800: Light rye flour.
Type 900: Hard whole wheat flour.
Type 990: Rye flour.
Type 990: Light rye flour.
Type 1100: Dark rye flour.
Type 1100: Hard wheat flour.
Type 1200: Rye flour.
Type 1250: Dark rye flour.
Type 1500: Spelt flour.
Type 1500: Hard wheat flour.
Type 1600: Spelt flour.
Type 1700: Shredded wheat.
Type 1800: Graham flour.
Type 1800: Rye flour fine.
Type 1900: Spelt flour.
Type 1900: Rye flour.
Type 1900: Whole grain rye flour.
Type 1900: Hard stone ground wholemeal flour.
Type 1900: Hard wholemeal flour.

 

 

Italy

 

 

ArnaldoCavallari'sCiabattaFlours
Arnaldo Cavallari’s Ciabatta Flours

 

 

Italian flour is milled from soft wheat, known by 00, 0, 1, 2 and integrale.

Types 00 and 0 are now available with different degrees of strength, denoted by the range 90W to 400W (see W chart). The higher values indicate higher gluten.

Types 1 and 2 have small percentages of bran, integrale is the whole wheat. Strong white flour from Canada, sold as Manitoba, has become popular, adding gluten to flour mixes.

Semolina from durum wheat is combined with hard wheat flour to make pasta.

 

Grano Duro
Hard wheat, for bread and pasta.

Grano Tenero 00
Soft wheat white flour, fine ground 
(see W chart for gluten strength and uses).

Grano Tenero 0
Soft wheat white flour, 
(see W chart for gluten strength and uses).

Grano Tenero 1
Soft wheat white flour, bran, for bread.

Grano Tenero 2
Soft wheat flour, bran and germ, for bread.

Grano Tenero Integrale
Whole soft wheat flour, bran and germ.

Manitoba (Canada)
Hard wheat.

Semolino
Coarse ground from durum wheat.

Semola di Grano Duro Rimacinata
Fine ground from durum wheat, for bread and pasta.

 

 

W Chart

 

90-130W: biscuits.
130-200W: breadsticks, crackers.
170-200W: biscuits, bread, cakes, focaccia, pastries, pizza.
220-240W: baguettes, ciabatta, 
dough with six hour fermentation.
300-310W: pastries, 
dough with 15 hour fermentation.
340-400W: brioche, croissants, panettone, 
dough with 15+ hour fermentation.

 

Domestic 00 and 0 sold in supermarkets ranges from 170-200W so it needs to be strengthened for use in Italian bread dough. Adapted from Professor Franco Antoniazzi, University of Parma, reported by Dario Bressanini.

 

Other European Flours

 

Millers across Europe use the ash system to grade their flours. The Polish type 450 is used for cakes and pastries. Type 750 is a high-gluten bread flour. The Turkish types 550 and 650 are all-purpose flours for bread rolls, for pitta and pouch breads, for pasta and thin pastry dough. Type 850 is a high-gluten bread flour. Elsewhere the system is the same: a low number means low gluten, a high number high gluten. Low is light flour, high is dark flour.

Ingredient | Damson

DamsonTree
Damson Tree

 

 

Named after Damascus, the dark damson or damask plum gradually penetrated every region in Europe by the way of Italy, and became famous because of its association with liqueurs such as slivovitz in the Balkans.

Damsons are also used to make prunes, and for a time were the binding material in fruit mixtures for fruit breads, but that tradition has almost died out in Europe.

Even fresh damsons are hardly used anymore in fruit breads.

These delicious small plums have survived in tarts, one in particular that is now a national dish of Luxembourg, and remains popular in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

This is the quetschentaart (quetscheflued in Austria, zwetschgenkuchen or zwetschgenfladen in Germany and Switzerland), made from the dark quetsche plum native to central and western Europe and believed to be related to the damson plum.

This is a recipe from the turn of the 20th century.

 

Quetschentaart

 

600 g flour
160 ml milk, lukewarm
60 damsons, halved, pitted
80 g butter
50 g sugar
25 g yeast
5 g salt

 

This quantity will make two large pies in 26-30 cm diameter pie moulds.

Activate the yeast in half the milk with a tablespoon of flour. Leave to froth, about 20 minutes.

Combine the remaining flour with salt, the remaining milk and butter. Knead into a soft dough.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

On a floured surface, roll dough thinly, cut out two rounds with a sufficient diameter to leave an overlap at the edges of your moulds. Cut two rounds to fit over the top.

Lightly place the dough into the base. Leave both sets of dough to rise for 30 minutes.

Pack the plums tightly against each other, skin side down to keep the juice in. Sprinkle with sugar.

Cover with the remaining rounds, seal the edges.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Quetschentaart in Luxembourg is still made with variations of this yeast pastry.

 

Birnbrot

 

Damson plums or prunes were also one of the fruits included in the pear bread still popular in parts of Switzerland.

They have lost their place to apples, so here is a recipe from the early decades of the 20th century.

 

800 g pears, cored, mashed
700 g bread dough
225 g walnuts
200g damsons, halved, pitted/prunes
165 g apricots, halved, pitted
150 g sultanas
125 g candied orange peel
125 g sugar
Egg, for brushing
Water, for brushing

 

Thoroughly mix all the fruit with the sugar, allow to stand for an hour.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

On a floured surface roll out the bread dough, 2 cm thick, cut into 40 cm x 20 cm rectangles.

Brush the surface of each dough rectangle with water, place a deep layer of the fruit mixture down the centre, fold the dough over and seal all edges, wash with egg.

Repeat with remaining rectangles.

Place on greased baking trays. Pierce with a fork the tops of each birnbrot.

Bake for 40 minutes.


FRESH FRICOT | THE FRONT PAGE


EDITORIALS     EURO SNACKS     FOOD CONNECTIONS     FOOD STORIES     
GLOSSARY     HIGH FIVES     LEGENDARY DISHES     
RECIPES     REVIEWS     STREET MARKETS