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.


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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 …


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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


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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.

 


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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.


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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.


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Ingredient | Cornsalad

Cornsalad
The Swiss call these little leaves ‘nut salad’ because of their nutty flavour

Traditionally the European green salad was an hors d’oeuvre, a light dish to whet the appetite. Its association with haute cuisine damaged its reputation in the eyes of less sophisticated diners, who could not see the point of eating tasteless lettuce with insipid vinegar and rancid oil.

The French, Italians and Swiss changed this attitude by developing varieties of wild green leaves specifically for the purpose of serving them in a salad dressed with impeccable oils and vinegars.

Perhaps the best example of this innovation is cornsalad or lamb’s lettuce.

The wild valérian variety (mache or rampon in French, nüsslisalat or feldsalat in Swiss-German, valerianella in Italian) was deliberately cultivated to produce a nutty flavour.

Grown throughout the year it is now an essential ingredient in green salad, and as the favoured lettuce in countless salads.

 

Nüsslisalat mit Frucht Vinaigrette

300 g cornsalad, washed, dried
45 ml olive/walnut oil
30 ml balsamic vinegar
15 ml apricot/pear nectar
Black pepper, large pinch
Salt, pinch

 

Combine nectar, oil and vinegar, dress cornsalad, season and serve.

 

Mâche et de Roquette dans l’écrou Vinaigrette

150 g cornsalad, washed, dried
150 g rocket, washed, dried
45 ml hazelnut/walnut oil
30 ml apple cider vinegar
30 g hazelnuts, roasted, cooled, chopped
30 g walnuts, roasted, cooled, chopped
10 g almonds, ground
Black pepper, large pinch
Salt

Combine oil amd vinegar with almonds, dress leaves, mix in nuts, season and serve.

 

Insalata di Valeriana

 

300 g cornsalad, washed, dried
150 g pecorino, shavings
25 cherry tomatoes, halved
30 ml olive oil
15 ml balsamic vinegar
5 g black pepper

Mix cornsalad with cheese and tomatoes, combine oil and vinegar with the pepper, dress and serve.


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Ingredient | Butter

ButterwithSage-lowres
Home-made Butter

 

 

The butter is all about the cream.

The cream is all about the milk.

The milk is all about the grass and herbs.

The grass is all about the soil.

And the soil is all about the environment.

Butter from the Soria region in Spain is specifically characterised by climate and environment. At 1026 metres above sea level, Soria is a harsh terrain. The dryness of the pasture, which produces tough flora, gives the milk specific qualities that are passed on to the butter.

If you can find cream made with milk from dairy cows fed on natural grasses and herbs, you can make high quality butter, just like they do in Soria.

 

Farmhouse Butter

 

Butter&Whey
Butter and Buttermilk

The original butter, easily made in the home using cream bought from a reliable supplier, or from farm cream.

 

1 litre mature whole cream

 

Whip the cream by hand or machine until it forms into grains the size of rice and begins to leave a milky liquid.

ButterinBowl
Home-made butter with sage leaves

Drain this liquid into a bowl, keep in fridge and use quickly.

Wash the butter under a cold water tap until the resulting liquid
becomes crystal clear. Shake the butter free of excess water.

Using two wooden spatula, work butter into desired shape.

Freeze or keep in the refrigerator, use fresh.

For Beurre de Culture (cultured butter) use one litre of
crème fraîche or sour cream, or a combination of both. Kefir is
also an option.

 

Cooking with Butter

 

Cooking with butter is a culinary art rooted in traditional preparations.

Nowadays the use of butter to fry or sauté is often frowned upon, but a little flavoured oil and a lower heat conveys two advantages – a reduction of fat and a better cooking medium.

While butter is still an essential element in the construction of a roux, it has lost some of its glamour for binding sauces and soups to other non-fat emulsifiers.

However, with traditional biscuits, breads, cakes, confections and pastries, butter has held its lofty position.

Therefore seeking the best butter for baking and cooking is essential.

Unsalted butters enhance flavour, but discretion should be taken when a recipe calls for a specific butter – whether aromatic, salted, sweetened or unsalted.

Aromatic butters, such as those of Bresse, Charentes-Poitou, Charentes, Deux-Sèvres and d’Isigny, give French breads and pastries that unmistakable flavour, and should be sought out to make brioche or croissants.

 

Brioche à Tête | Parisien Brioche

The classic brioche dough is made with almost equal amounts of butter and flour, eggs, milk or water, sugar and yeast.

The standard method involves a three-stage process for developing the dough and a two-stage process for a longer fermentation.

 

450 g butter, softened
300 g soft flour (t45/t450)
200 g strong white flour
100 g eggs (2)
90 ml milk/water, warm
30 g sugar
20 g yeast
Salt, large pinch
1 egg yolk/white, for brushing

 

Dissolve yeast in milk or water with the milk and sugar.

Mix flours with salt, pour onto a clean work surface.

Make a well in the flour, add yeast mixture and eggs, work into a smooth dough.

Divide dough into three pieces.

Knead butter into a smooth paste on the work surface. Gradually work the butter into one of the dough pieces.

When it is smooth, work in the second piece, and then the final piece.

Place dough in a large bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and leave for four hours.

Degas, leave for two hours.

Shape into 300 g balls and place in greased moulds. Leave for two hours.

Brush surface with white or yellow egg wash.

Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes.

 

Lyonnaise Brioche

 

500 g pork sausage
150 g eggs (3)
150 g soft flour (t45/t450)
125 g butter, softened, cut into small pieces
100 g strong white flour
25 ml milk, warm
10 g sugar
10 g yeast
5 g salt
1 egg yolk, for brushing
Broth, for cooking sausage

Simmer sausage in broth for 45, leave to cool.

Dissolve yeast in milk and sugar.

Combine flour, salt, yeast mixture and eggs in a large bowl.

Gradually add butter, fold out onto clean work surface, knead into smooth dough.

Place back in bowl, cover and leave for two hours, degas, leave to rise again for two hours.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Flour work surface, roll dough into a rectangle 4 cm longer at each end than the length of sausage and wide enough to fold over and encase the sausage. Seal dough at both ends, leave to rise on a greased baking tray for an hour.

Brush with yolk, bake for 45 minutes.

 

Brioche Vendéenne

 

These enigmatic brioche are characterised by a method that requires hand rather than machine kneading, a long fermentation and low temperature baking in a slow oven.

The Brioche Vendéenne is a golden, plaited brioche, available in round or oval shapes or as a stick and weighs a minimum of 300 grams. It has a balanced aroma of butter and alcohol with a hint of vanilla or orange blossom.

The Association Brioche de Vendée describe the method.

‘The use together of a starter culture and yeast ensures a balanced action (gentle initially and then strong) and produces an airy, moist brioche with a stringy but melting texture. The presence of water or milk promotes fermentation and this quite unique melting texture.

‘In addition, the Brioche Vendéenne has a high sugar content. In fact, the brioche has to be cooked at a low temperature so that the sugar is not caramelised. Unlike other brioches with a higher total fat content, the Brioche Vendéenne is made exclusively with butter. The Brioche Vendéenne is also flavoured with alcohol or other flavours.’

Understandably Brioche Vendéenne is now one of the most popular pastry breads in France, taking one sixth of the brioche market.

Made with butter, eggs, flour and milk indigenous to the Vendée region, Brioche Vendéenne is manufactured by artisan bakers who favour a 24 hour fermentation and baking in old-style ovens at a low temperature.

 

550 g flour
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
125 g butter
90 g vanilla sugar
80 ml milk, warm 
20 g liquid sourdough/pre-ferment
20 g yeast
10 g salt
Brandy, splash

 

Dissolve yeast in milk and sugar.

Pour the flour out onto a clean surface, make a well in the centre, add salt followed by the brandy, eggs, starter and yeast mixture.

Carefully bring the ingredients together to form a loose dough. Do not work too much.

Divide dough into three pieces.

Knead butter on the work surface, then with a light hand work in one piece of the dough.

Work in the second piece with the remaining milk, then the final piece. Apply a light touch to the kneading.

Leave to rise for four hours in a room where the ambient temperature is no less than 25°C. This is known as the pousse directe.

Alternatively leave for 24 hours at low temperature, the pousse dirigée.

Divide dough into four equal pieces, roughly 260 g each.

Preheat oven to 160°C without fan. Bake for 40 minutes.

 

 

Flavoured Butters

 

Almond

Anchovy

Garlic

Green

Hazelnut

Horseradish

Lemon

Mustard

Pepper

Prawn

Tarragon


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Ingredient | Broccoli

Descended from wild brassica plants from the mustard family native to the Mediterranean, the stems were eaten before the flower heads came to be treated as a delicacy by the Italians who claimed its heritage, broccoli coming from the Italian brocco (shoot).

The Italians remain faithful to the plant, finding that it slips into their comfort zone when combined with olive oil and anchovy or garlic or both to make sauces for pasta.

Orecchiette con Broccoli e Acciughe (pasta with broccoli, anchovies, olive oil, garlic and chilli flakes) is popular throughout Italy, from Bari in the east to Sicily in the south.

In the north of the peninsula, a lighter sauce is made with broccoli, olive oil and garlic and served with spaghetti.

Broccoli contains vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.

Broccoli Raab has dark green leaves and thin stalks. It makes a pungent cream of broccoli soup.

Broccoli and cream are an unusual culinary marriage but they compliment each other.

Calabrese is a variety of broccoli, named for Calabria, with green or purple tight heads. It can be blanched, cooled and eaten in salads.

 

Bulviniai Paplotėliai su Brokoliais

 

The general tradition in Europe these days is to fry a potato mixture in a greased frying pan, either as pancakes, as hash browns or as loose rösti.

Slow cooking them dry on a griddle or skillet is an older tradition and baking them in an oven probably began in the 19th century.

Unlike most of Europe, Lithuania has maintained that old tradition.

Adding broccoli was culinary genius.

 

750 g floury/mealy potatoes, peeled, quartered
250 g broccoli, whole, stalk removed
100 g butter
1 egg, beaten
10 g dill, chopped
Salt, large pinch
Black pepper, freshly ground, large pinch

 

Boil potatoes and broccoli in lightly salted water in separate pots.

Drain potatoes, put in a large bowl with the butter, season.

Drain broccoli, reserve some of the liquid.

Mash potatoes with three tablespoons of broccoli liquid until smooth and creamy. When cool stir in egg.

Cut broccoli into small pieces, stir into mash. Season again and add dill. Make eight large balls.

Alternatively add dill to the potato mixture, roll into 16 small balls.

Make an indent in each ball, and place a small piece of broccoli into the centre, seal.

Lay balls on an oiled tray, flatten with a light pressing of the hand and bake for 30 minutes at 180°C.

In Lithuania they serve these cakes with sour cream and a hearty skanaus.

 

Broccogli

 

1 kg broccoli, stalks removed, chopped into large pieces
30 ml olive oil
6 garlic cloves, crushed, chopped small
Wine vinegar, splash
Salt, large pinch
Water, for boiling

 

Bring a pot of salted water with one clove of garlic to the boil.

Add broccoli pieces, cook for five minutes. Drain.

Put oil in a frying pan. Over a low heat sauté broccoli with the garlic and a little wine vinegar, about 15 minutes.

Serve with pasta or on its own.

 

Broccoli Romani – 1

 

Pellegrino Artusi gives an interesting twist to broccoli cooked with pork belly and sweet white wine.

 

500 g broccoli heads, washed, blanched, 
cooled in ice water bath, drained
250 g fatty pork belly, chopped small
250 ml sweet white wine
5 g black pepper
Salt, large pinch

 

Chop broccoli coarsely.

Heat a frying pan and start rendering the fat from the pork belly. Add the broccoli and cook until the pork starts to brown.

Add wine, cook covered over a medium heat until all the liquid has been absorbed.

 

Broccoli Romani – 2

500 g broccoli/calabrese heads, washed, cut small
100 ml water, warm
100 ml white wine
30 ml olive oil
9 garlic cloves, cut into thin slices
Seasonings, large pinch

 

Saute the garlic in the oil until it starts to turn brown at the edges, add broccoli and stir for three minutes.

Add water. Cook until water evaporates, add wine.

Reduce heat and cook covered until the broccoli is soft, season and serve with pasta.

 

Orecchiette con Calabrese e Acciughe

 

Orechiette
Calabrese with Pasta and Olive Oil

This ear-shaped coin pasta, associated with Bari on Italy’s east coast, is made for the sauces the people of the peninsula keep to themselves.

Once such sauce is anchovy and garlic flavoured calabrese drenched in olive oil.

The amount of olive oil seems at first excessive but it is necessary to absorb the calabrese, cling to the orrechiette and hold the cheese.

Fresh calabrese should be used.

The anchovies should come in oil, of Mediterranean origin.

 

1 kg calabrese whole stalks, washed
500 g orecchiette
150 ml olive oil
10 garlic cloves
100 g anchovy fillets
50 g parmigiano, grated
50 g pecorino, grated
15 g pepper
10 g peperoncini/chilli flakes
1 tsp salt

 

Cut stem ends from broccoli. Boil broccoli, flower heads up, in a large covered pot of salted water, stems in, heads out of water. Remove to a large soup plate when the stems are al dente.

Cut stems into small pieces, leave flower heads whole.

Heat oil in a large wide frying pan, brown garlic, add broccoli, anchovies and chilli flakes, season.

Cook pasta, drain and mix into broccoli, dress with cheese.


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Ingredient | Aubergine

Dried AuberginesAn Asian native (from the Burmese region), aubergine is a member of the nightshade family (which includes peppers, potatoes and tomatoes) and is essentially a fruit not a vegetable.

Aubergines were grown in Sicily over a thousand years ago and were distrusted by the natives who ate them reluctantly during famine years.

Confusion over the true nature of the fruit led physicians to claim it caused fevers and fits. Eating aubergines certainly caused flatuence and a certain amount of hysteria. Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, agreed at first with the superstition. He applied the latin suffix for insanity, for solanum insanum. Then he changed his mind and gave the aubergine its modern latin name – solanum melongena.

Brought daily into the eastern and southern Mediterranean region by Arab caravans, the Moors of northern Africa delighted in its distinct fried oyster flavour and numerous uses. When the Moors invaded Spain in the 12th century they attempted to grow aubergine seeds in the slightly colder climate. The plant thrived in the porous well-drained soil.

Aubergine is now grown in southern Italy, southern Spain, south-eastern France, Turkey and Greece. It is the main ingredient in MOUSAKA (Balkans, Greece and Turkey) INVOLTINI DI MELANZANE E PROSCIUTTO (Italy), RATATOUILLE (France) and IMAM BAYILDI (Balkans, Turkey).

Aubergines can be boiled or baked, cooked and fried in oil, grilled, steamed and roasted, stuffed and added to vegetables in various combinations or as an accompaniment to meat. It is added to plov/pilaf, baked with a plain cheese topping and served with tomato sauce. It is also made into a purée. In Azerbaijan and in France, the aubergine is the main ingredient in traditional omelettes.

Modern nutritionists extol its virtue, because it lowers cholesterol, aids the digestive system, combating constipation (hence the flatulence), stimulates the liver and generally helps the body deal with internal problems.

Despite being 90 percent water for every 100 grams and low in protein (just one gram), the aubergine is rich in calcium, iron, niacin, phosphorus, potassium plus vitamins PP, A, B1 and B2.

Modern varieties of aubergine are not as bitter as their ancient cousins. They do not need excessive salting. Although salting also draws out water, it requires washing to reduce the saltiness. This is unnecessary. Soaking cubes or slices in oil is a better method for softening. Then the oil can be squeezed out and re-used.

The aubergine also has its own story.

A long time ago, perhaps around the time of the Arabian Nights, a young girl known as a good cook was selected by an imam for marriage. As a dowry the priest asked her father for 12 large jars of virgin olive oil.

Returning from her wedding, the girl cut several aubergines and left them to soak in the olive oil her father had put aside for her dowry. After 11 days the aubergine slices had soaked up all the oil.

When the imam saw this he fainted at the shock of the loss of the oil.

This is why many restaurants serve aubergine fried in oil and call it Imam Bayildi – ‘the priest fainted’.

An alternative version suggested the priest swooned after tasting the declicious dish the girl eventually made with the aubergines.

Aubergines come in several shapes and numerous colours. The large egg-shaped, glossy deep purple aubergine is the most common but it also comes in black, green, yellow and white.

Before cooking aubergine take a look at the Belladona plant, the queen of the nightshade family, and look at their similarity.

Melanzane di Foggia

2 large aubergines, 
cut into 1 cm thick slices along the length
100 ml olive oil
50 g breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
20 ml milk
10 g peperoncini/chill flakes

Arrange the aubergine slices on a large plate. Using the tips of your fingers rub oil into the slices on each side. Leave for an hour.

Spread breadcrumbs on a separate plate.

Whisk milk into egg.

Place aubergine slices on top of each other, press down to push out excess oil.

Dredge slices in the egg-milk mixture.

Lightly coat each slice with breadcrumbs, then sprinkle a little peperoncini/chilli on each one.

Cook under a hot grill, three minutes each side, or bake on a large wide tray, the slices separated from each other, in a 180°C oven for 20 minutes.

 

Imam Baialdi

One of the classic Ottoman dishes, and always associated with Turkey’s traditional cuisine, the fainting or swooning priest left an impression in the former colonies of the empire – especially in the Aegean and Balkan regions.

This is the Romanian version.

750 g aubergines, small 90-95 g each
180 g cabbage, shredded
3 onions, sliced
1 garlic bulb, crushed
1 parsnip, grated
1 carrot, grated 
1 celery stalk, grated
1 green pepper, grated
50-200 ml olive oil
500 g tomatoes
15 g paprika, hot
10 g pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Water

Remove stalks from aubergines, wash and cut four deep slits along their length.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil, blanch aubergines for ten minutes.

Arrange aubergines on a wooden cutting board, place a second board over them and something weighing at least one kilogram on the board. This will allow excess water to drain out. Leave for two hours.

The amount of oil used in this dish is a personal choice. For this amount of vegetables 20 ml of oil is sufficient to sauté the onion and garlic, leaving 30 ml for the sauce.

When the onion is transparent, sprinkle the paprika and a pinch of salt, and remove from heat.

Make a sauce with the oil, pepper, sugar and tomatoes.

Mix the cabbage, carrots, celery, pepper and parsnip with garlic-onion-paprika, and stuff into the slits in the aubergines.

Place the aubergines in a casserole or deep baking tray. Cover aubergines with the tomato sauce.

Bake in a 200°C oven for 30 minutes.

The traditional Turkish version calls for the aubergines to be submerged in salted water for 15 minutes after two incisions have been made along the length of each one.

Dry, then fry lightly in 80 ml olive oil until golden brown. Remove from oil and place alongside each other in a large wide saucepan.

Add another 80 ml of olive oil to the saucepan the aubergines were fried in and sauté eight cloves of crushed garlic and two large onions sliced into rings until soft.

Remove from heat and add 350 g diced tomatoes, 120 g chopped parsley, thin slices from one garlic clove.

Stuff this onion-tomato mixture into the slits in the aubergines, add 500 ml of water, cover and and simmer for an hour, until the aubergines are soft.

If only large aubergines are available, cut them in half along their length, remove the pulp after frying and stuff with onion-tomato mixture. The water in the saucepan should not cover the aubergines.

Some cooks bake their stuffed aubergines, a method that can produce tough skins.

Melitzanes Fournou

The Greeks, who are masters at baking aubergines, make meat, vegan and vegetarian versions of this delicate dish.

1 kg aubergines, cut into 1cm long slices
500 g plum tomatoes, mashed to a paste
250 g onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste
30 ml olive oil
Pepper
Salt

Sauté onions in olive oil over a low heat for 10 minutes.

In a separate pot cook garlic and tomatoes over a medium heat for five minutes.

Incorporate garlic-tomato sauce with onions. Season the sauce.

Oil a casserole dish, and arrange the aubergines with a smear of the garlic-onion-tomato sauce on each slice. Continue until all the slices have been used up, pour remaining sauce on top. Season with pepper.

Bake in a 190°C oven for 45 minutes.

For the meat version brown 500g of beef mince and add to the sauce with 25 ml olive oil and 50 ml water, bake for two hours.

Roughly 500 g of cheese, usually cașcaval and feta, can be spread on top 20 minutes before the end of baking.

Involtini di Melanzane e Prosciutto

In Italy they combine their aubergines with parmigiano, proscuitto and tomatoes to make delicious snacks.

3 large aubergines, cut lengthwise 
into 5 mm thick slices
400g prosciutto, thin sliced
Parmigiano, fresh, sliced and grated
240 g fresh or tinned tomatoes
Basil (optional)
6 cloves garlic 
Olive oil, for frying
Salt

Grill aubergine slices under a hot grill, three minutes each side.

Leave to cool on a rack.

Sauté garlic in oil in a deep frying pan, add tomatoes, season with salt, cover and cook until the pulp has dissolved.

Cover each aubergine slice with a slice of prosciutto and two slices of parmigiano, finishing with two or three basil leaves, if available.

Roll tightly, pushed together.

The aubergine rolls can be cooked in the frying pan with the tomato sauce, but fasten each roll with a toothpick, and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Alternatively transfer the tomato sauce to a small deep baking tray, place the aubergine rolls tight against each other and bake for 30 minutes in a 160°C oven.

With ten minutes to go, spoon some sauce over the aubergines and sprinkle with grated parmigiano.

Patlicanli Borek

Back in Turkey the love affair with aubergines shows no sign of abating.

500 g minced meat
30 g sunflower oil
2 onions, chopped
3 large aubergine, cubed
4 large tomatoes, mashed 
Salt
Pepper
500 g borek pastry dough
200 ml milk
100 g yoghurt
30 g sunflower oil
2 eggs
30 g sesame seeds

Cook onions in oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat for five minutes.

Turn heat up full and fry aubergines, adding more oil if they stick to the pan, until they start to wilt. Turn heat down, cover and sauté gently for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add meat, cook until brown, seasonings and tomatoes. Cook covered for ten minutes.

Whisk eggs, milk, oil and yoghurt.

Grease a deep baking tray.

Cut dough into four 125 g pieces, roll each into a square, 48 cms wide. Cut each piece into quarters.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

On each quarter of pastry spoon some of the meat mixture followed by half as much yoghurt mixture.

Roll into a tube, twist into a rose shape, or take each corner and bring together to make a parcel.

Place each one tightly together on the tray, top with remaining sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Other Aubergines

Baklažano Suktinukai LITHUANIA Aubergine Rolls

Beğendi TURKEY Aubergine Puree

Brungiel Mimli MALTA Stuffed Aubergine

Imam Baialdi/Imam Bajalldi/Imam Bayildi ALBANIA KOSOVO MONTRNEGRO TURKEY Stuffed Aubergine

Involtini di Melanzane e Prosciutto ITALY Aubergine and Ham Rolls

Khorovats ARMENIA Barbecued Beef/Chicken/Fish/Lamb/Pork, Aubergine, Peppers, Tomato

Melitzanes Fournou GREECE Baked Aubergines

Moussakás/Moussaka GREECE MACEDONIA MONTENEGRO Aubergine Bake

Patlicanli Borek TURKEY Borek With Aubergine Filling

Plov AZERBAIJAN Basmati Rice with Chicken/Lamb, Aubergine, Dried Fruit

Ratatouille Niçoise FRANCE Aubergines with Garlic, Onions, Peppers, Tomatoes, Zucchini and Olive Oil

Türlü TURKEY summer stew


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Ingredient | Garlic

PolishGarlic
Polish Garlic

A member of the onion family, garlic is a native of southern Europe and was extensively cultivated and used liberally in cooking by Mediterranean peoples since the beginnings of civilisation.

Garlic is used raw and cooked, from salads to sauces, in soups and stews. It is prominent in the food cultures of France, Italy and Spain, especially in sauces.

The white garlic of the Polesine in north-east Italy is regarded as among the best in Europe.

French and Spanish garlic is also special to several traditional dishes. See lists below.

 

 

Polesine Bruschetta

 

 

The ‘white gold of the Polesine’ is the white garlic associated with the classic traditional Italian dish of spaghetti with garlic, oil and peperoncino.

Not as pungent as other garlics, these bulbs, grown throughout Veneto, contain cloves that emit a pleasant earthy aroma. Freshly crushed, they are tantilising and perfect on bruschetta.

8 slices ciabatta
150 g of tomatoes, diced
20 g olive oil
10 g anchovies, mashed in olive oil
4 cloves white garlic, crushed, chopped fine
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

Toast bread on both sides, spread each slice with garlic, then anchovies, tomatoes and finally pepper. Dress each slice with a drizzle of olive oil.

 

Garlic Varieties

 

Polesine

 

Traditional Garlic Dishes

 
Ajoarriero SPAIN Salt Cod, Red Peppers, Tomatoes 
 
Frityrstekt Bacalao med Hvitløksaus NORWAY Deep Fried Bacalao with Garlic Sauce 
 
Genoa Pesto ITALY Basil, Cheese, Garlic Olive Oil and Pine Nuts Paste 
 
Humus EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN Chickpea, Garlic, Olive Oil and Sesame Seed Paste 
 
Marengo FRANCE Brandy, Garlic and Tomato Sauce
 
Meatballs-Attriaux FRANCE Pork, Liver, Garlic, Onion 
 
Mushrooms with Garlic and Olive Oil MEDITERRANEAN 
 
Pa amb Tomaquet ANDORRA Garlic and Tomato Toast
 
Pain Bagnia/Pan-Bagnat FRANCE Garlic, Olive Oil Marinaded Bread
 
Risotto col Brodo di Pesce dell’artusi ITALY olive oil, carrot, celery, garlic, onion, parsley, seasonings, passata, vialone, fish stock, butter, grana padano, dried porcini
 
Risotto con Carciofi ITALY olive oil, garlic, onion, artichoke hearts, vegetable stock, marjoram, butter, onion, white wine, carnaroli, artichoke mixture, cream, parmigiano
 
Risotto con Gamberi ITALY olive oil, carrot, celery, garlic, onion, parsley, unshelled prawns, seasonings, passata, baldo, water, prawn paste, butter, parmigiano
 
Risotto nero alla Fiorentina dell’artusi ITALY olive oil, garlic, onion, cuttlefish, cuttlefish ink, chard, arborio, fish stock, butter, parmigiano
 
Risotto con le Vongole ITALY olive oil, garlic, white wine, clams, carnaroli, seasonings, parsley
 
Salo UKRAINE Garlic-flavoured Pork Fat on Bread
 
Salsa Peposa ROMAN garlic/onions, juniper berries, lovage, rosemary, peppercorns, reduced red wine
 
Sauce-Green Mojo CANARY ISLANDS cilantro, garlic, green peppers, parsley, salt, olive oil, vinegar, water, white wine
 
Sauce-Red Mojo CANARY ISLANDS garlic, olive oil, paprika peppers/chilli peppers, sweet red peppers, wine vinegar, salt, cumin-optional
 
Sauce-New Romesco CATALONIA fried bread, dried red nora chilli, dried red peppers, garlic, olive oil, toasted almonds, toasted hazelnuts, tomatoes, white wine, wine vinegar
 
Sauce-Old Romesco CATALONIA bread, garlic, olive oil, toasted almonds, toasted hazelnuts, wine vinegar
 
Sauce-Sofregit CATALONIA garlic, olive oil, onions, tomatoes, salt, vegetables-optional, white wine
 
Sauce-Roasted Pepper EUROPE garlic, green peppers, olive oil, tomato sauce
 
Sauce-Vin Rouge FRANCE mirepoix/fish stock, butter-1, red wine, garlic, mushrooms, butter-2, anchovies, cayenne/paprika
 
Sauce-Rouille FRANCE SPAIN garlic, paprika peppers, white bread
 
Sauce-Battuto/Soffritto ITALY diced carrots, celery, garlic, onion, parsley, olive oil, prosciutto-optional, tomatoes-optional
 
Sauce-Sala di Pomodoro ITALY basil, celery, garlic, onion, parsley, olive oil, salt, white pepper, tomatoes
 
Sauce-Tarator TURKEY garlic, lemon juice, sesame seed paste-Tahini
 
Skordalia GREECE Garlic, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Potatoes, Walnuts
 
Smør Kylling SCANDINAVIA Butter, Garlic Chicken
 
Spaghetti Aio e Oio ITALY Spaghetti with Olive Oil, Garlic and Chillies
 
Stoficado FRANCE Cod, Garlic, Olive, Onion, Potato, Red Pepper, Tomato Stew
 
Tahini CYPRUS Garlic, Lemon, Olive Oil, Tahini Paste
 
Tapenade FRANCE Capers, Garlic, Lemon Juice, Olives with Anchovy 
 

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Walnut

The tan-coloured walnut is the common walnut of Europe, introduced by the Persians into ancient Greece. Ancient Romans brought it to the rest of Europe.

The Persian walnut (also known as the English and Italian walnut) has a high oil content, and is used as a salad dressing because of its pungent nutty flavour.

Walnuts featured heavily in the traditional foods of ancient eastern Mediterranean civilisations, from the Aegeans and Phoenicians to the Greeks, but it was the Ottoman Turks who introduced walnut cookery to Europe, evidenced by the amount of walnut pastries baked daily from the Balkans to the Caucasus.

Pakhlava – 1

 

The sweet walnut pastries eaten throughout the Balkans, the Caucasus, Greece and Turkey are older than the hills.

Cut into exquisite diamonds or shaped into delightful parcels they are still thought of as the food of the gods, just as they were 3000 years ago when the Assyrians decided to coat their flatbreads with date molasses and crushed walnuts.

The layered pastries we know today as baklava were refined over centuries of improvisation.

The Arabs and Armenians added cardamom, cinnamon and cloves to improve the flavour. The Greeks invented the thin leaf-like dough known as filo. The French enriched the dough. And throughout the Ottoman empire – in Armenia, the Balkans, Egypt, Greece, the Levantine, the Mediterranean, northern Africa, Persia and Turkey – cooks worked their individual culinary magic on these pastries.

Pistachio rivalled the walnut, sugar syrup replaced date molasses and honey seduced those who believed it was an aphrodisiac.

This is the original, made by the Assyrians eons ago.

500 g chapati flour
250 ml mineral water
250 g date molasses/Basra date syrup
250 g walnuts, crushed, chopped
50 ml water

Make a firm dough with the flour and mineral water. Shape into small balls, roll each one on a floured surface to the size of a tea-plate, 20 cm diameter.

Put a flat iron pan on a high heat for five minutes. Adjust heat, place a disk on the pan, cook for two minutes, flip over and give the other side two minutes. Repeat until all the dough is used up.

Dilute date molasses/syrup in water if necessary.

Spread each disk with a thin layer of molasses, sprinkle with walnuts, roll tightly into a cylinder, and smear molasses over the top. Finish with walnut dust.

Pakhlava – 2

 

In Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Crimea, Georgia, Russia and the Ukraine, walnut pakhlava is a sweet multi-layered pastry.

Dough
500 g pastry flour
150 ml milk, lukewarm
150 ml sour cream
2 eggs
50 g butter
15 g yeast
1 tsp sugar
Salt, pinch

Filling
250 g butter
250 g icing sugar
250 g walnuts, crushed, chopped
Cardamom, large pinch
1 tsp cinnamon 
1 vanilla pod, deseeded

Topping
1 egg, beaten
Walnut halves

Syrup
150 g honey
100 ml water

Dissolve yeast in milk and sugar.

Sieve flour into a large bowl. Mix in butter, eggs, sour cream, salt and yeast liquid.

Form into a dough on a floured surface, knead for 10 minutes. Leave forban hour.

Put the walnuts into a bowl, mix with sugar and vanilla, then cardamom and cinnamon.

Grease a large deep rectangular baking tray.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Cut dough into 13 pieces, form two pieces into one ball.

Roll the large ball out to cover the surface area of the tray and each of the four sides. The dough should be thin, no thicker than 1 mm.

Using the rolling pin, fold the thin sheet over the tray, push down into the corners, leave an overlap.

Melt the butter and brush the dough.

Roll a ball of dough to the size of the surface area of the tray, and, using the rolling pin, lay it on the bottom sheet. Brush with butter and sprinkle the walnut mixture over it.

Repeat with remaining balls.

Bring the sides of the bottom sheet over to enclose the layers. Brush with butter, sealing the edges with the egg.

Brush the top with the egg and cut squares, stopping the knife before the bottom layer. Press one walnut half into each square.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Make honey syrup, remove tray from oven, and brush top with butter. Spoon some of the syrup over the top, allow it to seep into cracks between the squares.

Put back in the oven until it takes on a reddish colour.

Allow to cool, remove from tray and cut into squares.

Dip each square into honey syrup. Give each side of the square three seconds to absorb the syrup.

Leave to cool.

Kadaif/Kadayif

 

In the Balkans they are faithful to the Ottoman tradition of using shredded filo pastry dough, using margarine instead of butter.

1.5 kg sugar
1.5 litres water
750 g tel kadayif (wire pastry dough)
360 g margarine/butter
300 g honey
150 g walnuts, crushed, chopped
50 g vanilla sugar
1 lemon, juice

Flake kadayif over a large rectangular baking tray, sprinkle walnuts on top, then another layer of kadayif, finally the margarine or butter.

Bake at 160°C for 35 minutes, until golden.

Cover and cool.

Dissolve sugar in water, bring to the boil, simmer until the liquid forms into a light syrup.

Heat honey, vanilla sugar and lemon juice.

Pour syrup evenly over the pastry.

Cut into squares.

Dip each square into honey liquid.

In Sarajevo, tradition calls for the kadaif to be served with olives and radishes.

 

Kataïfi

 

A Greek interpretation.

1.5 kg sugar
1.5 ml water
750 g filo pastry sheets
375 g walnuts, ground
350 g butter
30 g breadcrumbs, toasted
15 g cinnamon
1 lemon, juice
1 vanilla pod, deseeded

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Combine breadcrumbs, cinnamon and walnuts.

Grease baking tray.

Lay a sheet of pastry on a damp linen towel, cover with one tablespoon of walnut mixture, roll into a sausage shape and place in tray. Repeat until pastry and filling are used up.

Heat butter, drizzle one tablespoon on each sausage.

Bake for 40 minutes, until golden.

Allow to cool.

Dissolve sugar in water, bring to the boil, simmer until the liquid forms into a light syrup.

Add lemon juice and vanilla.

Pour syrup over sausages.

Cevizli Çörek

 

These walnut parcels from Turkey evolved out of a desire to produce a simple variation of the walnut baklava.

1 kg pastry flour 
500 g walnuts, ground
200 g butter
20 g yeast
15 ml milk, lukewarm
15 g sugar

Disssolve yeast in milk and sugar.

Sieve flour into a large bowl, incorporate butter and yeast mixture.

Form into a dough on a floured surface, knead for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Roll dough out and cut into 4cm diameter rounds, 5mm thick.

Spoon some walnut into centre of each round. Fold into a parcel.

Place each pacel on a greased baking tray.

Bake at 160°C for 45 minutes, until the crusts are golden.

Harire

 

A modern Assyrian interpretation, albeit not a pastry. That’s evolution for you.

1.2 litres water
250 g flour
250 g grape molasses
250 g sugar
250 g walnuts
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp ginger

Blend flour, molasses, sugar and water. Boil on low heat until the mixture reaches a thick consistency. Stir in spices, pour into bowls and garnish with chopped walnuts.

 

Traditional Walnut Dishes

 

Chicory | Radicchio | Succory

Chicory-lowres
Treviso Radicchio

A student contemplates the stoney space, sits gracefully and takes a bulb of Florence fennel from her satchel, begins to eat it raw like a forest animal content in its habitat.

She is surrounded by beauty and youth in the Piazza Giuseppe Verdi off the Via Zamboni in the cultural heartland of intellectual Bologna.

Then she munches on the purple-red radicchio of Chioggia, and suddenly we are at the southern edge of the Venetian lagoon, embracing the Adriatic, afraid to leave.

It is the end of October, festival time, the new harvest is in – amalfi lemoni, calabrian arancione, cachi mela, cipolla rossa, finocchio, marroni, porcini, the late radicchio! Fruits of field and forest.

Golden leaves fall and are quickly swept away, like her thoughts.

Our departure is also imminent, and her lunch has made us hungry.

The chicory and fennel of Italy compliment each other. They come together in risotto, are often baked, braised, stewed and stuffed, but mostly they make a crunchy aromatic salad or raw vegetable side dish.

There are two varieties of Chioggia radicchio (radicio de ciosa) – early (April-July), grown in and around Chioggia and late (September-March), grown further afield in Rovigo, Padua and Venice. Both are keenly desired and found in the groceries of Abruzzo, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardia, Marche and Puglia.

The rounded red leaves encase a spherical heart, shaped like a rose. Sweet and bitter at the same time, the Chioggia radicchio resembles its parent, radicchio Trevisiano, in flavour and taste and is sought after because it has a high mineral and vitamin content.

Radicchio is favoured over all other varieties of chicory (Belgian, French, red chicory, succory – which are all very bitter) in salads.

A member of the dandelion family, chicory is also used as a vegetable, cooked and uncooked. Chicons au Gratin is now one of Europe’s most popular traditional dishes.

 

Radicchio e Finocchio

1 bulb Florence fennel
1 head Chioggia/Treviso radicchio
Oregano
Olive oil, extra virgin
Pepper
Salt

Wash the fennel and radicchio thoroughly, cut into small pieces. Season with fresh ground pepper and sea salt, a splash of good olive oil and fresh oregano.

Dress with balsamic vinegar for a salad.

 

Calzone con Verdure

 

This crescent-shaped stuffed bread from Lazio is yet another traditional dish of Europe that is succumbing to competition from the fast-food industry’s obsession with meat.

Stuffed with summer vegetables, sweetened with raisins and spiced with chilli, the secret is with the seal, to allow the vegetables to cook evenly inside the baking dough.

Dough
140 ml water, warmed
100 g white spelt flour
30 g whole spelt flour
15 g olive oil
10 g yeast
5 g honey
Salt, large pinch

Dissolve yeast and honey in warm water, leave for ten minutes.

Sieve flours into a large bowl, add salt, yeast mixture and olive oil. Bring together, then knead into smooth dough on a clean floured surface.

Cover dough with bowl, leave to rise for 50 minutes, degas, leave for an hour.

Filling
250 g chard leaves and stalks, cut into strips
250 g radicchio/chicory, cut into strips
200 g zucchini, cut into strips
30 g olive oil
30 g raisins, soaked in 15 ml warm water for an hour
5 g peperoncini/chilli flakes
3 g black pepper, crushed coarsely
Salt, large pinch
Oil, for brushing and greasing

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Combine oil , raisins, vegetables and seasonings in a bowl, mix and leave for
15 minutes.

Roll dough to slighlty more than the diameter of a large plate.

Grease plate, place dough sheet on top, spoon vegetable mix into middle, fold dough over to form a crescent shape.

Seal edge tightly, brush both surfaces with oil.

Bake for 30 minutes.

 

Anguille con Radicchio di Chioggia

 

 

A traditional dish of Chioggia and the Po Delta is radicchio with eels on a bed of creamed black-eyed peas.

 

800 g eel
200 g black-eyed beans, cooked
150 g radicchio, sliced
120 g ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten (optional)
80 g onion, chopped
40 g carrots, cubed small (optional)
40 g celery, cubed small (optional)
40 ml olive oil
40 g red cabbage, cubed small (optional)
40 ml red wine
20 g butter
10 g black pepper, ground
Salt, pinch
500 ml fish stock

 

For those wary of eating eel, filleted mackerel is a good substitute for this dish. Radicchio, however, has no substitute.

Fry half of onion in butter, add radicchio and allow to wilt, about two minutes, season and braise with wine. Cook until wine is reduced.

Cool, stir into ricotta and egg.

Place fish in between two layers of greaseproof paper, flatten with a gentle pressing of a rolling pin, season with pepper. Arrange on a layer of foil, spoon sufficient stuffing on each fillet, roll tightly. Fold foil into a package, wrap in a second layer of foil and cook in stock for 15 minutes.

Fry remaining onion in oil with a choice of either cabbage, carrot or celery, add the beans and sufficient water to cover. Cook until the vegetables are soft.

Push the bean mixture through a sieve into warm oil. Spoon into an ovenproof dish and keep warm in a 75°C oven.

Serve creamed beans on a warmed plate, place eels on top, garnish with thin pieces of eel dried in the oven or (with mackerel) crispy onions.

 

Chicons au Gratin

Chicory is versatile, a traditional vegetable loved by many. In Belgium, Flanders and northern France they produce a variety called endive, a white vegetable known as chicon, witloof (white leaf) and Brussels endive. They combine it with ham and cheese to make a heavenly dish.

 

Endive, 1 head per diner
Ham, 1 slice per head
Béchamel sauce made with gruyère or edam cheese
25 g sugar
Pepper
Salt
Gruyère or comté, grated
Nutmeg, grated

 

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Wash endive, removing bad leaves and hard root, braise or steam for ten minutes, leave to cool.

Roll each endive head in a slice of ham, place in a casserole dish, and fill the spaces between the heads with béchamel sauce.

Season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 40 minutes, sprinkling cheese on top after 25 minutes, and cook until a golden skin has formed. Finish with nutmeg.

 

Risotto alla Radicchio

 

1.5 litres vegetable stock, heated
350 g arborio
250 g radicchio, chopped
100 g onion, chopped
40 g Grana Padano, grated (optional)
30 ml cream (optional)
30 g dry white wine
30 g olive oil
Black pepper, pinch
Salt, pinch
Sugar, pinch

Sauté onions in oil in a deep, wide frying pan saucepan over a low heat, about ten minutes.

Add radicchio, rice, white wine and stir constantly.

Add the stock a ladleful at a time to absorb the rice, about 20 minutes.

The cheese, cream and sugar counteract the bitterness of the radicchio, but the omission of the cheese and cream turns this into a vegan dish. Just add more sugar instead.

Finish with cheese, cream, seasonings and sugar, or seasonings and sugar for the vegan choice.

Leave to rest for five minutes.

 

Stamppot

 

 

The stamppot is a mashed potato stew filled with meat and vegetables (or fruit), and despite its associations with other regions (kale and potato in Ireland and Scandinavia for example) it is uniquely Dutch and still outrageously popular.

Kale has replaced cabbage in recent years, while chard or endive mixed with smoked bacon and white mushrooms is gaining in popularity, but still preferred is sauerkraut with smoked sausage.

The variations are now endless, potatoes being the common base.

 

1.5 kg floury/mealy potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 kg endive, chopped
250 g cured/smoked bacon piece, diced
250 g white mushrooms, sliced
150 ml milk/cooking water, hot
50 g butter/sunflower oil
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
Nutmeg, grated, large pinch
Salt, pinch

Boil potatoes with a pinch of salt in sufficient water to cover in a large pot, strain, retaining the cooking liquid and keeping it hot.

In a deep, wide frying pan sauté bacon in three tablespoons of oil or 50g of butter over a low heat for five minutes, increase heat, add mushrooms, stir and cook until mushrooms release their liquid, add greens, cover, remove from heat.

Mash potatoes with milk or cooking liquid.

Fold bacon-mushroom mixture into mash with nutmeg and pepper.

The bacon can be omitted to make this a vegan dish using the oil instead of butter and water instead of milk.

 

Traditional Radicchio Dishes

 


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Bean, Broad | Fava Fave

Used in Mediterranean cooking as a green unripe or brown ripe ingredient, as a dressed accompaniment or mashed with olive oil or with bacon and pasta, the broad bean is gradually reasserting itself as an essential ingredient.

Known by southern European countries as the fava, fave, haba or horse bean, modern recipes call for it to be used fresh.

The revival of the fava bean owes much to a disdain for old superstitions. Black fava were believed to contain the soul of the dead. The ancient Romans launched the Feast of the Lemures to chase away the ghosts of the departed, beating a copper pot while spitting out the vile beans.

The green fava bean, always eaten raw or cooked young, had only one function when allowed to dry in many countries, it was replanted to make the new crop.

Just in case!

The white fava or cannelini bean is a recent addition, from America, and is preferred in sausage and bean recipes throughout the Iberian Peninsula, Italy and the Balkans as a dried alternative to the broad bean.

Bacon, gammon, ham, pancetta, prosciutto, belly pork, pork cheek and sausages made with various cuts of the pig compete for the attention of the bean – especially when it is fresh.

In Italy sautéd onions in olive oil are followed by cubes or strips of pancetta until they are crisp. The fresh beans are coated in the oil, and seasoned with pepper. Several tablespoons of water allow the beans to cook gently until tender, between 10 and 20 minutes depending on the size of the beans. There should be no liquid left in the pan when the beans are done. A pinch of salt finishes the dish.

In France the beans are picked early in the season, boiled until tender, fried with bacon cubes in a little flour and some of the cooking water, and finished with two tablespoons of double cream. Béchamel sauce is often added when bacon is used, flour and milk with pork. The French are also inordinately fond of broad beans puréed as an accompaniment with pork.

The Belgians make a variation of the French method, bringing a 500g piece of bacon or pork gradually to the boil, making a roux and adding some of the meat stock. They add one clove, one bay leaf, a pinch of thyme to the sauce, combining the meat cut up with the cooked beans, serving with boiled whole new potatoes

In Spain the beans are also combined with pork, in a slow-cooked casserole called Fabada featuring chorizo sausage, morcilla black pudding, salt pork belly, smoked gammon, saffron, herbs, spices and olive oil.

In the Balkans the beans are cooked, added to pork crackling, onion, smoked bacon and tomato fried in oil, and baked in a hot oven with chopped garlic, marjoram, parsley and thyme, paprika and pepper.

In Slovenia this recipe takes on a unique flavour with the addition of zaseka, smoked fatty pork belly pieces infused with bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns and salt. They serve their baked broad beans and zaseka sprinkled with sour milk on rye bread, chased by apple cider.

But it is back in Italy that the most traditional of all beans and pork dishes is still popular. Fave al Guanciale – broad beans and pork cheek features in many a Roman trattoria as an antipasto , served with crusty white bread. This is a seasonal dish, served in the spring when the beans are young.

In southern Italy and in Sicily, where the beans continue growing into the summer, it is a main course.

 

Fave al Guanciale

1 kg fresh young beans, 
blanched in boiling water, chilled
250 g pork cheek, sliced
1 large onion, chopped finely
50 g olive oil
Sea salt
Pepper, freshly ground
Water

Fry the onion in the oil until it takes on colour at the edges. Add the pork, coating it in the oil and onion and fry gently for three minutes. Turn the heat down and carefully incorporate the beans. Some chefs like to remove the husks for a sweeter flavour from the beans but it is not necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in enough water to half cover the mixture. Check the tenderness of the beans after ten minutes. They are ready when they are soft to the bite.

Dried fava beans are no substitute for the fresh beans, but you don’t have to visit the shores of the Mediterranean or arrive in Rome in the spring to appreciate this delicacy. Asian stores sell fresh fava and the dried beans are relatively easy to grow.

Tinned broad beans should be avoided. Cooked ham or pork are reliable options but the broad beans must be fresh.

The ratio of beans to bacon should be 2:1, beans to pork to 4:1. Some versions call for both bacon and pork.

 

Pasta ai Fagioli e Pancetta

 

There is a Venetian variation that replaces the pork cheek with bacon or pancetta, rounding the dish with penne rigate pasta. It works with ditaloni pasta, and with various cuts of bacon.

250 g fresh young broad beans, 
blanched in boiling water
250 g bacon, smoked or unsmoked, cubed
400 g pasta
30 g olive oil
50 g parmigiano cheese, grated
Herbs (optional)
Spices (optional)
Salt (optional)
Pepper

Coat the beans with 20 g of olive oil, a tiny pinch of salt and a choice of herbs and spices.

Modern versions of this dish call for chilli flakes or crushed cumin seeds, and for lovage, rosemary or sage. The choice is purely personal. Any herb will work. Spices needed to be added with a subtle touch.

Cook the pasta.

Fry the bacon until crisp in the remaining olive oil.

Seasoning at this stage depends on the saltiness of the bacon.

Stir in the beans, drain the pasta and add to the pan. Increase the heat and turn the pasta into the beans and bacon, about two minutes. A few quick twists of the pepper grinder will add piquancy.

Serve garnished with the cheese.

 

Fabada Asturiana

 

Spain has an enduring love affair with this delightful combination and Fabada Asturiana is the most celebrated of all the traditional beans and pork dishes in the Mediterranean.

500 g dried broad beans, soaked overnight
250 g bacon, soaked overnight with ham bone
200 g ham bone
2 chorizo, whole, punctured
2 black sausages, whole, punctured
Garlic
Water, sufficient to cover bacon and ham
Saffron, large pinch
Salt, pinch
Pepper

Fill a large saucepan with the soaking water from the bacon and ham, add the beans and bring to a fast boil.

Add the bacon, black sausages, chorizos and ham bone, and bring back to the boil.

Remove any scum that floats to the surface, turn heat down to lowest setting, cover and simmer for two hours.

During this period remove two tablespoons of broth to a bowl containing the saffron, as much as you like. Once the broth has absorbed the flavour of the saffron return it to the saucepan.

If the stew starts to become too thick add water.

When the beans are tender, taste the stew and season according to taste.

Remove the meat, cut into pieces, return to the saucepan and take off the heat. Leave for an hour to rest, then serve.


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Pear

Valais-WallisPear-low-res
A Pear in the Valais, Switzerland

Italy is the spiritual home of the pear in Europe.

In a good frost-free warm year production in the pear growing areas, largely Emilia-Romagna and Mantua, will be close to a million tonnes.

In a bad year, a third less. Varieties include Abaté Fétel (sweet, yellow), Beurré Bosc/Kaiser (sweet-spicy, brown), Conference (sweet, yellow-green), Doyenne du Comice (sweet, green-brown) and the popular table pear William Bon Chrétien (juicy-sweet, green-yellow).

Soil and climate make all the difference to the pear crop.

Spain, with its Mediterranean climate – hot and dry in the summer, cold and semi-dry in winter, produces the blanquilla (juicy, green), ercolini (juicy, yellow-green), conference and limonera (sweet, green- yellow) varieties.

A good year will bring half a million tonnes.

Switzerland, by comparison, is lucky if it produces 30,000 tonnes in a good year. What it does produce is good-quality William Bon Chrétien, whose origins are disputed between England and Italy.

At Martigny in canton Valais, the Rhöne river turns sharply to the east towards Sion and Sierre. Here, under the high alps, 200 growers will produce Beurré Bosc/Kaiser, Guyot (juicy, yellow), Louise Bonne (juicy, green-brown) and William BC varieties using the espalier method.

Travellers passing these pear orchards will see rows of supported trees in various stages of growth.

Pear trees require four years of careful training before they bear fruit. In full bloom they will produce a crop for 25 years.

In the Rhöne valley the pears are harvested green from August 20 for three weeks. They are stored until they turn yellow, about 15 days, when they will be full of juice.

Four-fifths of the Williams BC crop goes to Distillery Morand in Martigny, where they are mashed and distilled into Williamine, their famous pear brandy.

 

Cholera

GommerCholeraSlice-low-res
A slice of Cholera

The 1830s were difficult for the people of the hidden Swiss valleys.

Cholera swept across the land, confining people to their homes, where they relied on the stable foods of the land – cured and dried meat, cheeses, fruit, leaf and root vegetables.

Packing leftovers into a pie encased with pastry provided a pragmatic solution.

Out of adversity a traditional dish emerged and survives today.

500 g puff pastry
400 g potatoes, boiled whole, 
peeled, sliced 
400 g raclette cheese, sliced
250 g apples, sliced
250 g Bosc pears, sliced
150 g leeks, halved, sliced, 
braised in butter

 

Pear Varieties

 
BELGIUM 255,000 tonnes
Conference
Doyenne du Comice
Durondeau
 
CZECH REPUBLIC 103,000
Conference
William Bon Chrétien
 
FRANCE 124,000
Conference
Doyenne du Comice
Guyot
Passa Crassana
William BC
 
ITALY 717,000
Abaté Fétel
Beurré Bosc/Kaiser
Conference
Doyenne du Comice
Guyot
Passa Crassana
William BC
 
NETHERLANDS 208,000
Conference
Doyenne du Comice
 
PORTUGAL 179,000
Rocha
 
SPAIN 349,000
Blanquilla
Conference
Ercolini
Guyot
Limonera
Passa Crassana
William BC

Traditional Pear Dishes

 
Armut Tatlisi TURKEY carmelised pears 
 
Birnenkuchen SWITZERLAND pear cake
 
Birnweggen SWITZERLAND pear wedges 
 
Gaufres avec Pomme et de Poire Sirop BELGIUM waffles with apple, pear sauce
 
Hutzelbrot GERMANY fruit cake
 
Oie Rôtie aux Fruits FRANCE roast goose with apples and pears and prunes
 
Pečená Kachní Prsa CZECH REPUBLIC duck breasts in pear sauce
 
Peras al Vino SPAIN pears in red wine


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Kale

Kale-low-res
It’s green it’s mean and it packs a punch

A coarse large-leaf cabbage with a curly crinkled appearance, kale is the cultivated variety of the wild cabbage native to the Mediterranean, and rich in minerals and vitamins.

The ancient Romans introduced it to northern Europe and today it is still popular in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, where recipes gradually found their way to the Atlantic fringe – Ireland, Portugal and Scandinavia in particular.

Curly kale is the most cultivated variety along with local varieties adapted to their environment, such as Portuguese kale (couve) used to make caldo verde.

Being the good collectors that they are, the Flemish took kale to their culinary hearts.

Kale is an essential ingredient in stoemp, a mash made with potatoes, leaf and root vegetables.

Cooked with butter and cream it forms part of the Danish grønlangkål med skinke – kale with ham and caramelised potatoes.

The combination of kale, butter, buttermilk or cream, potatoes and spring onions/scallions or leeks is believed to be one of the oldest dishes in northern Europe.

Kale has made a comeback in recent years, because the colder climates improves its flavour.

 

Colcannon

 

500 g kale
500 g potatoes, whole
10 leeks/spring onions/scallions, chopped 
150 ml cream/milk
100 g butter/buttermilk
Salt
Pepper

Soak the kale in cold then warm water to remove dirt amd chase away the small spiders that love to weave their webs among its leaves.

Leave to drain for 30 minutes.

Remove stems, cut into leaves into strips then small pieces.

Bring to the boil in a little water, reduce heat and cook until al dente. Drain surplus water.

Boil the potatoes in their skins.

Cook the spring onions in the milk/cream over a low heat.

In a heavy based saucepan mash potatoes with the milk/cream and spring onions over a low heat.

Combine kale, seasoning and the butter, blend with a wooden spoon until the mash assumes the colour of the greens. Buttermilk can replace the butter to give a tangy taste.

 

Grønlangkål med Skinke

 

1 kg kale
75 g butter
20 ml cream
30 g flour
2 tsp sugar
Salt
Pepper
1 kg potatoes small 
40 g sugar
50 g butter

Boil the potatoes in their skins, peel and leave to cool.

Heat sugar in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the butter. When it foams add the potatoes and coat in the sugar-butter mixture.

Keep the heat controlled until the potatoes are browned and heated through. Make sure they do not burn.

Prepare kale.

Make a roux in a heavy based saucepan, add kale and two tablespoons of water. Cook over a medium heat, adding a little more butter, finishing with sugar, salt and pepper.

Serve with cooked smoked ham, pork sausages, pork on the bone and head cheese.

 

Stamppot

 

1.5 kg floury potatoes, peeled, cubed 
1 kg kale leaves
4 smoked sausages
100 ml milk, hot
75 g butter
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground 
Salt, pinch
Mustard, for dressing

Boil onions and potatoes with a pinch of salt in sufficient water to cover in a large pot, strain, retaining the cooking liquid.

Put the kale in a large bowl with the liquid, cover and leave until leaves wilt.

Transfer kale and sufficient liquid to cover it to a saucepan, cover and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes, drain, squeeze out liquid and chop small.

Put the sausages in the remaining liquid, cover and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes.

Mash onions and potatoes with butter and milk, fold in the kale, season. Serve with pieces of sliced sausage dressed with mustard.

 

Traditional Kale Recipes

 
Caldo Verde PORTUGAL kale sauce
Vrzotovka SLOVENIA kale soup


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Bean, Common | Borlotti Haricot

FagioliSaluggia
The saluggia bean of north-west Italy

Borlotti is the general name in Italy for the varieties of beans cultivated from the common bean brought to Europe by the Spanish from America.

These include the fagiolo di lamon of Valbelluno and the fagiolo di saluggia of Piedmonte. Between them these two types of borlotti have captured the imaginations of chefs and cooks in Italy. As a consequence traditional dishes that were falling out of favour have made a resurgence.

In October 2013 lamon beans sold at €25 a kilo in the grocers and markets of Veneto.

Who would have thought that a common borlotti bean, once the only source of protein for upland herders and field workers, would become an expensive delicacy?

Not Pope Clement VII in 1532, that’s for sure. When he gave Piero Valeriano some of the bean seeds he had received from the court of Spain he optimistically expected the Venetian humanist to go forth and multiply.

Piero did just that, and now, almost five hundred years later, this unassuming brown bean has reached the heavens and the mountain farmers of the Lamon plateau are now eternally grateful.

LamonBean-low-res
The Lamon Bean

They weren’t at first.

‘This legume is not as bad as some infer,’ wrote Valeriano in defence of the Pope’s bean. ‘On the contrary it is tasty and palatable as long as it is removed from the pod.’

Several varieties of the lamon are cultivated on the plateau. The frost-free, dry and warm climate produces a thin-skinned firm bean, high in protein, with a delicate flavour. Lamon is also larger than most borlotti.

The saluggia bean has similiar organoleptic properties and, like the lamon, has been a stable in the Piedmonte region since the sixteenth century. Climate, soil and timing also contribute to its success.

Borlotti with pasta, borlotti with sausage, borlotti in soup, borlotti in salad, each time these tender beans are desired.

Always popular among the cognoscenti, the lamon and saluggia beans stand high and mighty with chefs and cooks reviving traditional food.

Fasoi in Tocio, the aromatic beans and tomato sauce dish, has made a comeback.

Panissa, beans with rice and sausage, is also popular again along with its counterpart from the eastern reaches of the Po Valley.

Above all the lamon and saluggia beans are recognised as beans that absorb flavour during cooking.

Across the border in France the common bean took a different route. Also established in the 16th century – after Valeriano, again, gave a bag of the American beans to the Médici family to include them in the dowry of Catherine de Médici for her marriage to Henri, the son of the king of France, in October 1553 – they became known as haricot beans.

Haricot is now a catch-all term for all the beans known as borlotti, brown, coco, dwarf, flageolot, French, green, lima, lingot, navy, runner, snap and white.

These haricot beans became popular in France when they replaced the broad bean in cassoulet, the baked bean dish made in most French homes.

Numerous indigenous varieties are now established, significantly the haricot tarbais of Provence and the fagiolo di sorana of Pescia.

The cannellini or white kidney bean was developed in Italy (in Atina and Sarconi) and  Spain (in Asturiana and Lourenzá) from American varieties. It is used in soups and stews, and as a salad dressed with olive oil.

The broad bean, known by southern European countries as the fava, haba or horse bean, is a native of the Mediterranean – a different bean altogether.

 

Fasoi in Tocio

300 g lamon, soaked overnight (600 g fresh borlotti)
150 g onions, chopped
6 sage leaves, whole
50 g bacon/pork rind, chopped (optional)
50 g passata
30 ml olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
10 g black pepper, freshly ground Salt, pinch
Water, for boiling

Cook beans until tender (an hour for fresh, three hours for rehydrated) in a pot of water seasoned with bay leaves, cinnamon and salt. Drain, set beans aside.

Brown bacon/rind and onions in oil over a low heat for ten minutes, add sage and allow to wilt.

Increase heat, add beans, stirring into the mixture, then the passata.

Reduce heat, simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.

Serve, garnished with pepper.

 

Risotto alla Carnarola

This cane gatherers risotto from Veneto is similiar to the panissa vercelli of Piedmonte. The first uses the lamon bean from Veneto, the second the saluggia or cigliano bean from Piedmonte. Cotechini is an integral ingredient in both dishes. Vercellese rice is used in the panissa, carnaroli rice in the carnarola.

2 litres water
1.5 litres stock, heated
450 g cotechino/zampone, chopped or sliced
350 g carnaroli rice
150 g fagioli di lamon, soaked for 24 hours 
with one water change
125 ml wine white 
100 g onions, chopped 
30 g garlic, crushed
15 ml olive oil
20 g butter
10 g pepper
1 tsp parsley, chopped 
Salt, pinch

Prick the cotechino/zampone (to stop it breaking up during cooking). Put the beans and water in a large pot, bring to the boil, remove scum. After ten minutes turn heat to low, slip in the cotechino/zampone and cook for three hours.

Remove cotechino/zampone, then the beans from the stock. Keep stock simmering. Mash beans.

Sauté onion and garlic in the oil in a deep, wide frying pan over a low heat, about ten minutes.

Increase heat to high, coat rice, toast for three minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour in the wine and allow to evaporate, decrease heat to medium, add a ladleful of the hot stock, simmer and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat with ladlefuls of stock soaking up the rice for 12 minutes.

Add beans, more stock, stir until the rice is al dente, about five minutes.

Remove from heat, leave to rest for ten minutes. Season and serve with cotechino/zampone.

 

Traditional Bean Dishes

 

Bazzoffia ITALY beans, bread, eggs and vegetable soup

Bigilla MALTA spicy bean paté

Bou’neschlupp LUXEMBOURG bean soup

Botifarra amb Mongetes SPAIN sausage and beans

Cassoulet FRANCE bean, herbs, meat and vegetable casserole

Chorba BALKANS/CAUCASUS bean, herbs, paprika, vegetable soup

Fabada Asturiana SPAIN beans, bacon and sausage

Fasolaki Yiahni CYPRUS bean and feta stew

Fasolecchi ITALY beans, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes

Fasoulia BALKANS bean-olive oil mash

Paniscia/Panissa ITALY rice with beans, salami, sausage, red wine and vegetables

Pasta ai Fagioli e Pancetta ITALY pasta with beans and bacon

Salata de Fasole Boabe ROMANIA bean salad

Tavče Gravče MACEDONIA bean casserole

 

Adapted from Tastes of Europe


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Apple

Apples are a versatile fruit.

The quest to grow an eating apple with organoleptic qualities has consumed the time of apple connoisseurs for several centuries, but the need to produce a versatile apple is now more pressing than ever.

Traditionally cooking apples have been acidic and tart. Numerous dishes that call for apples in a recipe need an apple that won’t lose its shape in cooking, and retain its sweetness and crunch.

French and Swiss growers are closer than anyone to solving this problem. Unfortunately they do not export their fabulous apples.

Gruyere&Apple-low-res
Apple and Gruyère

In southern Switzerland their apples are made into pies and eaten with freshly roasted chestnuts and chunks of mature Gruyère.

In western Switzerland and across the Jura mountains in France they are made into beignets, delicious donuts that are irresistible.

 

Beignets de Pommes

1.5 litre vegetable oil
4 large crunch, sweet apples, peeled, 
cored, cut into rings
250 g flour
200 g icing sugar
2 eggs, separated
50 g butter (optional) 
30 ml milk
100 ml Belgian beer 
50 ml brandy
10 g yeast
Salt
Fruit jelly

Dissolve yeast in warm milk.

Sift flour into a bowl, make a well, add the egg yolks, then the yeast mixture and beer. Whisk into the flour to make a batter. Add salt.

Cover the bowl and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Prepare the apples, douse with brandy, dust with sugar.

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan or deep frier, around 170°C.

Beat sugar into the egg whites until stiff, gently fold into the batter.

Dip apple rings in the batter, removing them with a skewer into the oil.

Test and adjust the heat.

The donuts will rise when they are nearly cooked, about eight minutes. Turn to ensure an even colour. They should be golden brown.

Drain on paper towels. Dust with sugar.

Serve with fruit jelly.

 

Apples grown in Europe

(origin in capitals)

Gala&Glockenapfel
Gala and Glockenapfel for sale in Landi supermarket, Switzerland
 
Akero SWEDEN sweet
 
Alexander UKRAINE acidic
 
Ananas Reinette NETHERLANDS sweet 
 
Braeburn NEW ZEALAND sweet 
 
Bramley ENGLAND/IRELAND tart-acidic
 
Fuji JAPAN sweet
 
Gala NEW ZEALAND sweet 
 
Glockenapfel SWITZERLAND sweet-acidic
 
Golden Delicious AMERICA sweet-acidic 
 
Gravenstein DENMARK tart-acidic
 
Maigold du Valais SWITZERLAND sweet 
 
Red Delicious AMERICA sweet
 
Renetta FRANCE acidic to sweet-acidic

 

Traditional Apple Dishes

 

Apfelrösti SWITZERLAND pan-fried apples
 
Apfelsalat LIECHENSTEIN apple salad
 
Apfelstrudel AUSTRIA apple pastry
 
Baked Apples EUROPE
 
Cholera SWITZERLAND pie with apples, cabbage, onions,
pears, potatoes
 
Chräpfli SWITZERLAND apple pastry
 
Gaufres avec Pomme et de Poire Sirop BELGIUM waffles
with apple and pear sauce
 
Jablkova Zemlovka CZECH REPUBLIC apple and bread pudding
 
Kartoffeln mit Äpfeln und Bratwürst GERMANY potatoes
with apple and sausage
 
Kartoffelpuffer/Reiberdatschi mit Apfelmus GERMANY
potato pancakes with apple sauce
 
Mischleta SWITZERLAND apple, cheese, corn and potato gratin
 
Oie Rôtie aux Fruits FRANCE roast goose with apple, pear,
dried apricot, prune
 
Roast Pork and Apple Sauce with Crackling ENGLAND DENMARK
 
Sellerie Apfel Salad GERMANY SWITZERLAND apple and celery salad
 
Sellerie Apfel Suppe GERMANY SWITZERLAND apple, celery and walnut soup
 
Stamppot Hete Bliksem NETHERLANDS apple/pear and potato
with crispy bacon/chicken liver/minced meat
 
Torta di Mele ITALY apple/pear sponge
 
Tufahije BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA stuffed apples


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Anchovy

In Catalonia it is the ‘famous little blue fish’. In the Polesina the ‘healthy blue fish’. In Anatolia the ‘little fish with a big reputation’.

From Norway to Denmark, from France to Spain, and from Italy to Turkey, the loveable anchovy is the ingredient that makes a traditional dish memorable.

Collioure is a fishing port on the Catalan coast in south-east France. The blue anchovy is its symbol. The people of the port have anchovies in their blood, going back a very long time.

The preparation process is ancestral, passed down to those who would become Anchoïeuses – women who select the best of these little blue fish.

They are carefully beheaded, gutted, layered with salt in drums, and left to mature for several months. This produces a ‘fillet of dark brown colour, soft texture and with a mountain ham-like scent’.

AnchoviesJar-50-I-1
Anchovies in Oli

These days they also pack the anchovies in brine, in oil, in vinegar and produce anchovy cream, a product that is becoming a delicacy.

There was a time when this activity was commonplace throughout the coastal regions of the western Mediterranean Sea and the

Tyrrhenian Sea between Sardinia and the Italian peninsula, especially along the coast south of Naples.

Across the peninsula, in the Adriatic Sea, anchovies are still fished all year round. Where the alpine rivers flow into the lagoon, these small, slender, silver-blue fish grow fat on concentrations of plankton.

In the Polesine below Venice, chefs treat them with respect, knowing they are rich in fluorine, iodine, omega 3, fluorine, iodine, phosphorus, selenium and vitamins A and B.

Hamsiyi is the collective name for dishes containing anchovy in Turkey. Half of the fish caught in Turkish waters, mostly in the Black Sea, are hamsi, and every cook in the towns and villages of the Black Sea region knows what to do with them.

What they don’t do is cure them for later use. The basic recipe is hamsi cooked over a low heat in olive oil, parsley, salt and water, then served dressed with lemon for a tasty snack. Leave the hamsi whole, add vinegar and this is the concoction that is exported.

These Black Sea blue fish are also added to bakes, bread, soups, stews, meatballs and rice.

 

Orecchiette con Broccoli e Acciughe

 

Orecchiette, the ear-shaped coin pasta associated with Bari on Italy’s east coast, is made for the sauces the people of the peninsula keep to themselves.

Orechiette-low-res
Orechiette with broccoli, cheese, olive oil and anchovies

One such sauce is anchovy and garlic flavoured broccoli drenched in olive oil.

The amount of olive oil seems at first excessive but it is necessary to absorb the broccoli, cling to the orrechiette and hold the cheese.

Fresh broccoli should be used. If the stems are tough, they will be fibrous, so peel them. This is a melt-in-the-mouth experience that does not work with chewy vegetable fibres.

The anchovies should come in oil, of Mediterranean origin.

1 kg broccoli, whole stalks, washed
500 g orecchiette
150 ml olive oil
10 cloves garlic
100 g anchovy fillets
50 g parmigiano, grated
50 g pecorino, grated 
15 g pepper
1 tsp salt

Cut stem ends from broccoli. Boil broccoli, flower heads up, in a large covered pot of salted water, stems in, heads out of water. Remove to a large soup plate when the stems are al dente.

Cut stems into small pieces, leave flower heads whole.

Heat oil in a large wide frying pan, brown garlic, add broccoli and anchovies, season.

Cook pasta, drain and mix into broccoli, dress with cheese.

 

Traditional Anchovy Dishes

 
Anjovislåda SWEDEN anchovy and potato gratin
 
Escalivade de Légumes aux Anchois FRANCE summer vegetables with anchovy
 
Leverpostej DENMARK liver pâté with anchovy
 
Pissadadière ITALY flat bread with anchovy
 
Salsa Tonnata ITALY tuna sauce with anchovy
 
Tapenade FRANCE capers, garlic, lemon juice, olives with anchovy
 
Yaitsa Farshirovannye RUSSIA devilled eggs stuffed with anchovy


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