Tag: Food Connections

THE GREAT EUROPEAN FOOD ADVENTURE | Vincennes | Rendezvous with Rousseau-5 — Elemental and Ornamental

The woodland of Vincennes © Marie de Paris

Around the same time that Cammas (and Gopnik) were re-focusing French food, the Festival of French Gastronomy was launched to promote ‘gourmet food, produce, and expertise’. French Food Minister Frédéric Lefebvre said it was ‘so ubiquitous that we had forgotten to celebrate it,’ and once again the focus was aimed at haute cuisine and the celebrity chefs who championed decaying aristocratic cuisines when it should have been directed toward the commodification of food and the hegemony of the fast food industry.

What Lefebvre missed are the salient facts that gourmet chefs design fast food products for the corporate food industry and that most fast food has its origins in traditional food, for example kebabs, pizzas and the very Parisian pommes de terre Pont Neuf (aka chips or frites). Expertise has nothing to do with it! Knowledge has everything to do with it! Ignorance was absolute!

Back in the 1990s the arrival of Slow Food appeared to suggest that a movement dedicated to the promotion of sustainable food production and consumption would alert the world to the plight of traditional food cultures.

By the end of the decade Mara Miele was confident. ‘Because, in the Italian context, traditional eateries retain a close connection to local food production systems, Slow Food argued that their protection requires the general promotion of local food cultures. Thus, Slow Food was established on the basis of a local structure, coordinated by a central headquarters in Bra (which now employs around 100 people). The local branches effectively engage in a range of activities aimed at strengthening local cuisines. These branches were initially established in all the Italian regions (and were called condotte) but soon began to spread to other European countries and then further afield (where they are called convivia).’

Slow Food is now a global entity, with convivia in many countries. Whether it has succeeded in its aims is a debate for another day. What is clear is that there are competing sensibilities, which are determined by personal economic and lifestyle factors. Slow Food attracted people who could afford to visit restaurants specialising in locally sourced food and buy artisanal products at food fairs and festivals, street markets and specialist shops.

This activity might be aesthetically pleasurable but none of it could be described as a tenet of sustainable food security, because like most food activity in our modern world it is not part of an integrated holistic system designed to produce that security. What might be different is a realisation that it must be communal, centred on self-sufficiency and focused on sustainability. Food that is produced locally, that is not imported, produce that is indigenous, products that are practical and activity that is not exploitative. There is scant evidence despite the efforts of many around the world that anything will change anytime soon.

Ironically, and we are sure minister Lefebvre has noticed, it is the French with their Ici.C.Local (Here it’s Local) programme who have identified a practical model for fresh produce and local products. In this moment it would appear Ici.C.Local is economically and politically sustainable.

Can we now hope for the demystification of food preparation?

All this philosophising is mentally exhausting so we are going to amble back to Saint-Germain via the most direct route from a map of Paris and its surrounds by César-François Cassini de Thury, an 18th century cartographer. In the mid-1700s this was via the Avenue of Vincennes along to the Bastille, down to the island of Saint-Louis and across to the Latin Quarter. Plane trees of the type that line most Parisian streets give ambiance and shade to Avenue de Paris.

As we approach Porte de Vincennes, the oval road bridge over Paris’ arterial ring-road, we notice a clump of south-facing trees on the opposite side of the wide avenue. We decide to investigate, because these might be mature oaks. Standing tall and strong they look healthy in their restricted low-walled plots. When we reach the other side of the bridge, on Cours de Vincennes, plane trees punctuate the pavements at interviews while chestnut trees grow out of soil portals between the hedgerows. We are not surprised to see beech, chestnut, lilac, oak and plane trees in the round reservation of the Place de la Nation. We are surprised to find a string of walnut trees among the plane trees on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine.

As we approach Place du Bastille it is all plane trees although there is a suggestion that some of the smaller, thinner trees are cherry and pear. On Rue du Rivoli we finally notice a proliferation of the trees that once lined Parisian boulevards — the elm. On the island of Saint-Louis the flowering paulownia trees we saw along the route add colour to the expanse. They were not in Paris during the time of Diderot and Rousseau. Across in Saint-Germain a few cedars and dogwoods add contrast to the plane trees. The walk has taken us more than two hours.

So did Rousseau really collapse under a grand old oak tree to experience an epiphany on the road to Vincennes? As a man who studied nature it is hard to believe he would not have known the difference between the large elms that dominated the boulevards of Paris and the oaks of Vincennes. When we first looked at the orientation of Vincennes we made the assumption that Rousseau had arrived in the park along what is now the Avenue di Daumesnil, the grounds of Paris Zoo and the landscaped area around Lake Daumesnil north of the ancient village of Bercy. In the mid-1700s this area became the residencies of 13 nobles whose terraced gardens fell toward the river Seine. The boulevards that separated these estates would have been planted with oaks.

Rousseau was known to be fanciful yet we cannot believe he believed he managed to walk from the centre of Paris to the park of Vincennes in 60 minutes.

The oak story?

That we do believe. Whether you believe us as well is another story, but there you go and here we go. We are going to start with a legendary classic of the traditional food canon – flamiche! Food simplicity!


The theme of this first section in The Great European Food Adventure is also the subject of the introduction to volume one of the Traditional Tastes of Europe series.

Legendary Dishes | Salpicons sur Toast (grilled diced bacon, cheese, mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes on toast)

FRANCE EUROPE

Salpicons are diced ingredients used in numerous food preparations including fillings, garnishes and sauces. In French cooking they are traditionally found in barquettes, canapés, croustades, cutlets, pies, rissoles and tartlets, and in European cooking in devilled eggs, stuffed poultry and game, and as the filling in flattened meat shaped into rolls.

If that was not enough, the salpicon assumed a new identity in the 1980s as a cheese-rich topping for slices of bread heated to a crisp under a grill.

The amount and choice of cheese is personal.

  • 4 slices farmhouse loaf bread / 4 bread rolls each cut into 3 slices
  • 125 g semi-soft cheese, diced small
  • 125 g hard cheese, grated
  • 65 g blue cheese (optional)
  • 8 bacon slices, grilled, diced, cooled (alternative)
  • 180 g salami, diced (alternative)
  • 1 courgette, diced (alternative)
  • 1 apple, cored, diced small
  • 1 red onion, diced small
  • 6 white mushrooms, diced small, fried with garlic
  • 1 red pepper, diced small (alternative)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 12 capers (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed, fried with mushrooms
  • 6 anchovies, cut small
  • 5 g black pepper
  • Salt, pinch
  • Oil, for frying

Prepare the mushrooms and, if using, the bacon, leave to cool.

Preheat a grill.

Lightly toast the slices of bread, leave to cool.

Combine choice of ingredients plus the grated cheese in a large bowl, stir gently to incorporate everything without breaking it up.

Arrange the slices of toast bread on a baking tray, top with the mixture. Place the tray under the grill for five minutes, remove, sprinkle cheese on top and cook until it has melted into the mixture.

Serve hot.


European Culinary Connections | Meat Rolls

ITALY LATVIA LITHUANIA
PorkRoll
Breaded Pork Roll

Cūkgaļas Rulete – 1

  • 2 kg pork belly / shoulder with skin
  • 200 g mushrooms, quartered, sliced
  • 150 g onions, chopped
  • 100 g carrots, grated
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika flakes
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Oil, for frying Thread, for tying

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Sauté onions in oil over a medium heat for ten minutes, add mushroom, cook until they wilt and residue liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool.

Cut a third of the skin from the pork, set aside.

Score skin into 2cm strips.

Turn pork onto its skin side and beat out the meat without the skin, season with chilli, paprika, pepper and salt.

Spread carrots over the central area, followed by the mushroom-onion mixture, season with pepper and thyme.

Roll the pork tightly starting with the end without skin, secure with four ties.

Sprinkle coarse salt on skin, pushing into the cracks.

Roast for 25 minutes, turn down down 175°C for 50 minutes, turn heat up to 190°C for 30 minutes.

Rest for 30 minutes before slicing.

Serve with mashed potatoes.


Cūkgaļas Rulete – 2

  • 2 kg pork shoulder
  • 200 g sweet pepper, chopped
  • 150 g onions, chopped
  • 100 g carrots, grated
  • 50 g prunes, stoned, chopped
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika flakes
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Oil, for frying
  • Thread, for tying

Flatten shoulder into a long wide rectangular shape, season with chillies, paprika, pepper and salt.

Sauté onions in oil over a medium heat for 15 minutes, add peppers and cook for five minutes until soft.

Combine onion-pepper mix with carrots and prunes. Spread on meat, roll tightly, secure with four ties.

Simmer roll in broth for three hours.

Take out and leave to rest for 30 minutes, remove string, cut into slices.


Involtini di Vitello alla Milanese

Stock

  • 750 ml water
  • 150 g carrots
  • 150 g onions
  • 30 g peperoncino
  • 15 g black peppercorns
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 sprigs thyme

Filling

  • 100 g chicken / veal liver, chopped finely
  • 60 g pecorino, grated
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 25 g parsley, chopped finely
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed, chopped small
  • 15 g black pepper, freshly ground

Rolls

  • 8 (x 60 g) small veal escalopes, flattened
  • 600 ml spicy broth
  • 8 slices prosciutto
  • 8 sage leaves
  • Black pepper, pinch
  • Salt, pinch
  • Butter, for frying
  • Flour, for dusting
  • Oil, for frying

Boil then simmer carrots, onions, peperoncino and peppercorns in water for two hours, strain and keep warm.

Mix the egg yolk, garlic, parsley, pecorino, liver and pepper into a thick paste.

Season escalopes, spread with filling.

Roll, then wrap with a slice of prosciutto, placing a sage leaf between the ham and veal.

Dust in flour, set aside.

Gently heat butter and oil in a wide saucepan.

Sauté the rolls in the butter-oil, browning all sides.

Deglaze saucepan with broth, add rosemary and thyme.

Cover and poach over a low heat for 20 minutes.


Veršienos Suktinukai

  • 4 veal fillets
  • 250 g cottage cheese
  • 30 g almonds, crushed
  • 20 g butter
  • 15 g mayonnaise
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Oil, for frying

Lay a fillet on a clean work surface, place a sheet of clingfilm on top and using a roller gently beat the fillet to flatten it, repeat the action.

Season flattened fillets, and spread each one with a half teaspoon of mayonnaise.

Leave for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Crush cheese in a large bowl, add butter, garlic and parsley, season with salt and mix thoroughly.

Spread the cheese mixture on the fillets, sprinkle almonds on top and twist into rolls.

Put the egg in a wide soup plate, the breadcrumbs in another.

Preheat oven to 190°C.

Dip a rolled fillet in the egg, then the breadcrumbs, repeat and set aside.

Over a medium heat brown the fillets.

Place fillets on a greased baking tray.

Bake for 20 minutes.



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European Culinary Connections | Fermentations

FRANCE GERMANY ICELAND NETHERLANDS TURKEY

Tarhana

Tarhana, a fermented cereal food associated with ancient Asian cooking and regarded as an essential source of proteins, minerals, acids and vitamins, is the epitome of a popular traditional dish.

When made into tarhana çorbasi, the easily digested Turkish thick creamy soup, it is consumed by all ages and desired by the poorly and sick, inevitably the clue to its longevity.

Cereal flour (wheat or corn or chickpea), yoghurt, yeast, onions, tomatoes, green peppers and red peppers, herbs and spices (from garlic, mint, thyme, dill, tarhana herb), and salt make up the usual ingredients.

The vegetables and spices are blended cooked or uncooked in sufficient water to make a paste. Some methods use commercial tomato, green and red pepper pastes. Flour, yeast and yoghurt are added to the paste to make a thick batter, which is kneaded daily and fermented over several days.

When the moisture has been reduced and the fermentation has slowed, the mixture is broken into pieces, then oven dried.

Finally it is ground into powder for use in soup or rolled into layers for a snack. In powder form it can be stored for up to three years without deterioration.

In Turkey generations of experimental cooks have made tarhana a variable feast. Flavourings have been used to relieve the sour acidic yeasty taste. Mint is especially popular and garlic is revered, but the tarhana herb, a member of the parsley family, is the secret ingredient gradually being revealed.

Long before food scientists realised that the yoghurt to flour ratio affected the taste and the quality, local cooks played with the amount of yoghurt and their results are reflected in the regional variations of tarhana made in the home. Scientists now argue that more yoghurt and the use of set yoghurt increases the nutritional benefits.

Traditionally tarhana was made without yeast. Despite the argument from the food scientists that the yeast-yoghurt formula increases the amount of beneficial lactic acid, many home cooks prefer to take their yeast from the air.

Although it is produced commercially in huge quantities, tarhana (pronounced tra-hana) has never left the home. Fermented in the cool of the kitchen, it is dried in the heat of the sun, packed with love and sent out to family and friends.

Tarhana Çorbasi

  • 800 ml water
  • 100 g tarhana powder

Mix the powder with some of the water to make a paste in a saucepan. Add the remaining water and bring gradually to a low boil, simmer for ten minutes. Serve with a small cube of butter in each bowl.


Crème Fraîche

Crème fraîche is made from milk fat subjected to a souring process (specifically 6°C for a maximum of 30 days) using lactic acid.

The result is a fat content between 30% and 40%, and a thick cream much less acidic than most sour creams.

Small quantities can be made in the home by mixing fresh heavy cream with light yoghurt.

Among its countless uses, none is more relevant to the success of a recipe than crème fraîche is to chantilly cream, the tantilising vanilla dessert from Picardy in France.

Many a chantilly has been ruined by heavy cream inexpertly diluted with milk.

Chantilly Cream

  • 500 ml crème fraîche, refrigerated
  • 75 g icing sugar, refrigerated
  • 1 vanilla pod, desseded
  • Whisk / beaters, refrigerated
  • Bowl, refrigerated

Mix all the ingredients in the cold bowl.

Hand beating results in an airy chantilly, so it is favoured over the machine method. The chantilly is done when the delicate peaks hold their shapes.


Kefir

Of all the fermented dairy products none hold as much promise as kefir, the light yoghurt-like multi-purpose foodstuff associated with northern and eastern Europe, and now widely popular because of its beneficial properties – probiotic bacteria and natural yeast.

Traditionally made with cow’s milk, and occasionally with the milk of buffalo, goats and sheep, kefir can also be made with coconut, rice and soya milk. This makes it a desirable product to other food cultures.

In Europe its use has been widespread. It features in blinchiki, potato bread and cakes, as a marinade for shashlyk and is generally consumed as a refreshing cold drink.

The alcohol, bacteria and yeast in kefir is replicated in milk and, with a starter (called grains), kefir can be made in the home.

If possible the kefir grains should be replicated in raw milk, which makes soya milk a viable option for vegans wanting an alternative food addition to dairy products in specific recipes.


Sauerkraut

  • 1 large white cabbage
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Juniper berries
  • Stoneware jar with wooden disk / lid

Weigh the cabbage and for every 100 grams set aside 4 grams of salt, 4% of the cabbage weight.

Remove the hard core and outer leaves, retain the inner green leaves whole, and shred the cabbage into thin strips, then wash and drain. Place the leaves in the bottom of the jar.

Put a thin layer of strips on top with an even sprinkling of salt and a few juniper berries.

Repeat until the strips are used up or three-quarters of the jar has been filled.

Cover tightly with cloth or muslin, the disk or lid and an object heavy enough to exert pressure on the mixture.

Within 24 hours a foamy liquid should flood the lid. Spoon out the foam and keep doing so past four weeks. The sauerkraut is ready when no more liquid rises to the surface, up to eight weeks.

It is more beneficial eaten within a couple of weeks. After each portion is taken out remove surface liquid and replace with fresh water, changing the cloth and washing the lid.

Sauerkraut recipes are numerous, featuring berries, spices, vegetables and wine, served with bacon or sausage.


Skyr

Once of Scandinavia, skyr is an integral aspect of Icelandic traditional cuisine.

A fermented cheese, skyr has the appearance and taste of thick yoghurt and is eaten like yoghurt, mixed with berries and fruit among countless uses.

This is a recipe for home-made skyr from Halldóra Eggertsdóttir and Sólveig Benediktsdóttir translated by Jo Gunn.

  • 10 litres unpasturised skimmed milk
  • 45 g rennet
  • 10 g skyr / buttermilk / live culture sour cream

1. Heat the skim milk up to 86-90°C, and cool slowly for about two hours, down to 39°C. Stir a little scalded milk into the starter to make a thin paste and mix into the skim milk with the rennet (if you are using dry rennet, dissolve in a little water before adding).

2. Close the cooking pot and wrap in towels or a thick blanket. The milk should curdle over a period of about five hours. If it curdles in less than four and a half hours, the curds will be coarse, but if it curdles in more than five hours, the skyr will be so thick it will be difficult to strain. When the milk is curdled, cut into the curds with a knife. When you can make a cut which will not close immediately, then you can go on to the next stage.

3. Line a sieve or colander with cheesecloth or a fine linen cloth and pour in the skyr. Tie the ends of the cloth together over the top and hang over a bucket or other container so the whey can drip off. If the skyr-making has been successful, there will be little whey, and it will not float over the curds, but will be visible along the edges of the sieve and in the cuts you made into the surface. You can judge the quality of the skyr from the appearance of the curds when you pour them into the sieve. If the skyr is good, it will crack and fall apart in pieces, but should neither be thin nor lumpy. Do not put a layer thicker than 7-9 cm into the sieve. Keep the sieve in a well ventilated room, with a temperature no higher than 12° and no lower than 0° Celsius. The skyr should be ready to eat in 12-24 hours.

4. The skyr should be firm and look dry when ready. The whey can be used as a drink, to pickle food, or as a replacement for white wine in cooking.

Problems you may encounter, and how to solve them:

If the whey does not leak off the curds or floats over the curds, or the curds do not shrink from the edges of the sieve, then something is wrong. The milk has not been heated to a high enough temperature or has been cooled too quickly, so that the rennet has not had time to work. The more milk you curdle at a time, the relatively less starter and rennet you need. A large container cools slower than a small one, and the effects of starter and rennet last longer.

It is best to use skyr for the starter. If the skyr is sour, it should be mixed into the milk while it is still 80°-90°C. This will remove the sourness. Don’t add the rennet until the milk has cooled to approx. 40°C. When the weather is cold, it is best to mix it in when the milk is a little over 40°C (say, 41° or 42°). In cold weather, the milk also needs to be covered more tightly while it curdles. This is especially important if you are making a small portion of skyr.

Skyr can be stored for 4-5 days in a closed container.

Skyr Original


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Culinary Connections | Vegetable Pasties

MONACO FRANCE

The ravioli-like vegetable pastries called barbagiuan belong to Monaco but they are rooted in the culinary traditions of the French Riviera, each area with its own version.

Chard is the vegetable of choice in the principality, spinach in others. Italian cheeses – a blend of ricotta and parmigiano or pecorino – are constants. Leeks and onions complement the greens. Oregano is the obligatory herb. Eggs provide the binding.

Other fillings include cooked rice and squash.

The Monegasque casing is made with a yeast dough, heavily flavoured with olive oil. Elsewhere along the coast, the dough is flour, oil and water. Some versions contain egg.


Barbagiuan Monegasque

Dough

  • 200 g flour
  • 1 small egg (approximately 55 g)
  • 40 ml olive oil
  • 25 ml spinach water, lukewarm
  • 10 g yeast
  • Salt, pinch

Filling

  • 75 g onions
  • 50 g chard / spinach, blanched, drained weight, retain cooking liquid
  • 50 g percorino cheese / ricotta cheese
  • 2 egg whites
  • 10 g oregano
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • Black pepper, pinch
  • Salt, pinch
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Dissolve yeast in water.

Sieve flour and salt into a large bowl, add oil, egg and yeast mixture, knead into a firm, smooth dough, adding more water if necessary. Leave to rise for an hour.

Sauté onions in oil for ten minutes. Allow them to brown. Add chard or spinach, wilt. Take off the heat, leave to cool, stir in the cheeses and egg yolks for a creamy mixture. Add pecorino to thicken, if necessary.

Roll dough thin, about 2 mm thick. Make 20 short rounds using a cutter or rim of a small cup or glass.

Put one heaped tablespoon of filling on each round, brush edge with egg white, fold into semi-circles.

Seal edges with prongs of a fork.

Heat vegetable oil in a saucpan, deep fry barbagiuans for five minutes.


Barbajuan

This is the Toulon version.

Dough

  • 200 g white wheat flour / white spelt flour
  • 100 ml chard / spinach water or …
  • 50 ml chard / spinach water and 2 egg yolks
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • Salt, pinch

Filling

  • 75 g onion, chopped
  • 75 g chard / spinach, blanched, drained weight, retain cooking liquid
  • 2 egg whites
  • 50 g parmigiano cheese, grated
  • 50 g rice, cooked in chard / spinach water until soft
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • Black pepper, large pinch
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • Water, to seal pastries

Sieve flour and salt into a large bowl, add water and oil, form into a smooth dough, adding more water if necessary. Leave to rest in fridge for an hour.

Soak chard in boiling water, drain, chop.

Sauté onion in olive oil for ten minutes, add chard. Leave to cool in a bowl.

Add eggs, parmigiano, parsley and rice, season.

Roll dough thin, about 2 mm. Make ten rounds.

Put 35 g of filling on each round, brush edge with water, fold into semi-circles. Seal edges with prongs of a fork.

Fry barbajuans in peanut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat for eight minutes, turning once.


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Culinary Connections | Spinach Pies

ALBANIA BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA FRANCE GREECE KOSOVO TURKEY

Byrek me Spinaq / Pita Zeljanica

These traditional cheese and spinach filled filo pastry pies are ubiquitous throughout the Balkans, the Trans-Caucasus, down into the eastern Mediterranean.

The pies made in Bosnia-Herzengovnia and Kosovo are similar to the Albanian pies.

The Greek pie, containing milk, is lighter while the Turks have traditionally used butter instead of oil between the filo layers.

Tinned spinach purée is an option for this version if fresh spinach is not available.

  • 1 kg spinach, chopped small
  • 500 g filo pastry
  • 375 ml olive oil
  • 300 g Feta
  • 250 g scallions / spring onions
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt, large pinch

Preheat oven to 175°C.

Cut a sheet of filo to fit into choice of baking tray with an excess edge to come up and over the sides (use two sheets if one is not long enough). Cut remaining filo into equal sizes to fit into bottom of tray.

Divide these sheets into two piles.

Grease the tray with oil, lay the large filo sheet/s, tucking in the corners, brush liberally with oil.

Place sheets from the first pile on top, brushing each sheet with oil before placing the next one on top.

Whisk cheese and egg together with 185 ml of oil and onions, pour this mixture into the tray.

Mix spinach and salt by hand, squeezing out any liquid, place on top of the cheese mixture.

Place remaining filo sheets on top, brushing each one with oil.

Fold the bottom sheet over, brush entire surface with oil.

Bake for 35 minutes.


Spanakotirópita

This is the Greek version.

  • 1 kg spinach, fresh, chopped small
  • 500 g filo pastry
  • 375 ml milk
  • 375 ml olive oil
  • 300 g Feta
  • 300 g onions, chopped small
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tsp nutmeg, grated
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Oil, for frying

Salt the spinach, sauté in a splash of oil a large frying pan over a high heat until it wilts, about three minutes, drain, leave to cool.

Preheat oven to 175°C.

Cut a sheet of filo to fit into the base of a deep baking tray, repeat with remaining filo. Divide these sheets into two piles.

Grease the tray with oil, lay a filo sheet on top, brush with oil, repeat until the first pile is used up.

Return to the spinach, and using hands squeeze out all the liquid.

Whisk cheese, egg and milk together with all the seasonings, add 185 ml of oil, the onions and spinach. Pour this mixture into the tray.

Place remaining filo sheets on top, brushing each one with oil.

Bake for 35 minutes.


Ispanakli Tepsi Böregi

This is the Turkish version.

  • 1 kg spinach, fresh, chopped small
  • 500 g filo pastry
  • 375 g onions, chopped
  • 300 g butter
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • Salt, large pinch

Sauté onions in 100 g of butter over a low heat for ten minutes, add the spinach and allow to wilt, season and leave to cool.

Preheat oven to 175°C.

Melt remaining butter in a saucepan over a low heat.

Cut a sheet of filo to fit into choice of baking tray with an excess edge to come up and over the sides (use two sheets if one is not long enough). Cut remaining filo into equal sizes to fit into bottom of tray.

Divide these sheets into two piles.

Grease the tray with butter, lay the large filo sheet/s, tucking in the corners, brush liberally with butter.

Place sheets from the first pile on top, brushing each sheet with butter before placing the next one on top.

Spoon spinach mixture into the tray.

Place remaining sheets on top, brushing each one with butter.

Fold the bottom sheet over, brush entire surface with butter.

Bake for 35 minutes.


Mini Quiche au Fromage et aux Épinards

Compare the spinach pies of the eastern Mediterranean with those of France, especially these creamy mini quiche – products of master patissiers in Paris and not unknown in the provinces.
Fresh eggs and young spinach leaves are essential for their success.

  • 250 g shortcrust pastry
  • 250 g spinach, washed, stalks removed, cut thin
  • 2 eggs
  • 65 g Emmental / Gruyére, chopped small
  • 50 ml cream
  • 40 g Parmigiano, grated
  • Nutmeg, grated, large pinch
  • Black Pepper, pinch
  • Salt, pinch
  • Butter, for frying and greasing

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Sauté spinach in butter over a high heat for three minutes, drain, retain liquid, leave spinach to cool.

Put spinach liquid in fridge.

Cut pastry into 12 rounds, place in moulds in a greased baking tray.

In a bowl, beat the egg with the cream, brush the pastry with a little of this mixture.

Using a fork, prick the pastry dough and bake for ten minutes.

The butter used to sauté will have harded and taken on a rich green colour, scoop this off the top of the spinach liquid, place in bowl with cream-egg mixture.

Add emmental, nutmeg and seasonings, stir, pour into pastry moulds.

Sprinkle with parmigiano.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Note: This quantity of ingredients made twelve 10 cm diameter mini quiche.


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Culinary Connections | Cabbage Rolls

TRANS EUROPE

From Belarus to the Caucasus via Moldova across the Balkans to the Baltic Sea into Scandinavia, the tradition of making stuffed cabbage rolls is alive and well.

Generally the filling is meat and rice with herbs and spices, but there is also a tradition of using grains, legumes and vegetables.

Sarma

  • 1.5 kg cabbage, cored
  • 1 litre water, for cooking whole cabbage
  • 500 ml (approximately) water for cooking cabbage parcels
  • 400 g bulgar, cooked
  • 400 g onions, chopped small
  • 100 g tomato paste
  • 30 g butter
  • 15 g cilantro, chopped
  • 15 g lovage, chopped
  • 15 g paprika flakes
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Rapeseed oil, for frying

Put the cabbage and one litre of water in a large pot, cover and bring to the boil, strain, cool and separate leaves from the head.

Cut out the bumped rib from each leaf.

Sauté onion in oil over a low heat for 30 minutes until it begins to brown and crisp, leave to cool.

Mix the bulgar, onions and half the tomato paste in a large bowl, add the herbs, spices and seasonings, knead for five minutes.

Place a tablespoon of this mixture at the base of each leaf, fold in the sides and roll into a cylinder shape. Repeat with remaining leaves and filling.

Arrange in layers in a large pot, cover with remaining tomato paste, butter and sufficient water, place a plate that will fit inside the pot, put the lid on cook over a low heat for an hour.

Serve with yoghurt.


Japraci

These cabbage rolls are made throughout the Balkans using the traditional cabbage varieties of collard and rastan grown in the region.

  • 1.5 kg collard / rastan
  • 1 litre meat stock
  • 400 g shoulder beef, minced
  • 200 ml oil
  • 150 g onions, chopped small
  • 80 g rice
  • 15 g parsley, chopped
  • 5 g salt
  • Black Pepper, pinch
  • Water, for washing and cooking leaves

Fill a large bowl with ice cold water.Carefully separate leaves from the collard/rastan head.

Cut out the bumped rib from each leaf, then blanch in salted boiling water for three minutes. Immerse quickly in cold water, drain and set aside.

Combine the beef, oil, onions, parsley, rice and seasonings in a bowl, knead until the fat starts to separate.

Place 75 g of mixture at the base of each leaf, roll to shape the filling into a cylinder, fold in each end and roll again.

Arrange together in one layer in the bottom of a steamer. Add stock to the pot and steam for 65 minutes. Repeat until all the wraps are done.

Alternatively, arrange in layers in a large pot, cover with stock and cook over a low heat for two hours.


Kāpostu Tīteņi Golubci

The art of the cabbage roll has been refined through years of practice and the tradition of passing secrets from mother to daughter, nowhere more so than in northern Europe.

In Latvia their cabbage roll tradition is unique.

  • 1.5 kg cabbage, cored
  • 250 g beef, minced
  • 250 g pork, minced
  • 200 ml sour cream
  • 125 g onions, chopped small
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 60 g flour, for dredging
  • 50 g tomato paste
  • 50 g white bread, soaked, drained
  • 15 g cumin seeds
  • 15 g potato starch
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Rapeseed oil, for frying
  • Water, for cooking the cabbage

Bring a kettle of water to the boil.

Put the cabbage in a large pot, pour over the hot water, cover and cook for ten minutes, until the leaves start to separate from the head. Strain, reserve the cooking liquid.

Remove the leaves. Using a meat mallet, carefully tenderise the bumped rib of each leaf, without breaking the leaf. Set leaves aside.

Combine the meat with the cumin seeds, bread and onions, mix in the eggs, potato starch and seasonings.

Place a tablespoon of this mixture at the base of each leaf, fold in the sides and roll into a cylinder shape.

Dredge each cylinder parcel in flour, set aside on a floured plate.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Brown the parcels on all sides over a medium heat.

Transfer to a deep casserole dish.

Stir the cream into half of the cooking liquid, and pour over the cabbage parcels, adding more liquid if necessary.

Cover the casserole, bake for 30 minutes.

Carefully remove the cabbage parcels from the casserole dish, drain the liquid into a saucepan.

Pour in the tomato paste, reduce over a medium heat, season.

Serve cabbage parcels in sauce with mashed potatoes.


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Culinary Connections | Potato Dumplings

FRANCE ITALY LITHUANIA SLOVAKIA

To egg or not is the question good cooks ignore when making perfect potato dumplings or gnocchi as they are known in Italy and throughout the Mediterranean basin.

The addition of eggs is associated with Alsace and Piedmont where the technique aids the kneading process, but produces harder gnocchi.

The Alsace version calls for larger pieces, shaped between two spoons. A ratio of 2:1 raw grated potatoes to cooked puréed potatoes is mixed with two eggs and sufficient flour to make a smooth paste. These gnocchi are seasoned with salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.

In Veneto expert gnocchi makers select potatoes that will not absorb too much flour and hold their shape while cooking. A 4:1 ratio of boiling potatoes to white flour should produce the light fluffy effect demanded by gnocchi aficionados but beware, there are some difficulties.

Marcella Hazan gives one of the best descriptions for shaping Veneto gnocchi using the prongs of a fork. She recommends small gnocchi, 2.5 x 2 cm pieces, which are pressed against the inside prongs and flipped toward the handle of the fork. ‘When gnocchi are shaped in this manner, the middle section is thinner and becomes more tender in cooking, while the ridges become grooves for the sauce to cling to.’ In Slovakia, where they marry old potatoes to a tangy sheep’s cheese called bryndza, the debate is also a matter of preference. The traditional method for making bryndzové halušky is without eggs and a high potato to flour ratio of 5 to 1. Then try eating bryndzové halušky with a 3 to 1 ratio made with egg, coated with grated cheese and sour cream, and served with more cream!

Bryndzové Halušky (potato dumplings with sauce)

  • 500 g gria / Bintje / Desirée potatoes, peeled, grated to a purée
  • 300 g Bryndza / sheep’s cheese, grated
  • 250 g smoked bacon, cubed
  • 200 ml smetana / sour cream (optional)
  • 100 g flour
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Water, for boiling

In a large bowl work potatoes, flour and salt (and if using the egg) into a light dough until it comes away from the edges of the bowl. Rub or cut into small dumplings.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add the dumplings, cook until they rise to the surface, about ten minutes.

Drain, retaining the cooking liquid.

Spoon 100 ml of the liquid into a bowl with the cheese, fork and whisk into a thin sauce.

If desired mix half of the sour cream into the cheese sauce.

Fry the bacon until the fat runs, drain the fat and crisp for three minutes, turning constantly.

Arrange the halušky in a bowl, cover with the bryndza sauce, top with the bacon.

Serve with remaining sour cream.


Maneghi (sweet potatoes)

  • 300 g sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled, mashed
  • 200 g flour
  • 100 g butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 30 g caster sugar
  • 30 g Grana Padano, grated
  • 10 g cinnamon, ground
  • Water, for boiling

Combine the potatoes with the egg and flour, form into large gnocchi.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add the dumplings, cook until they rise to the surface, about 20 minutes.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, fry the cinnamon for ten seconds, add sugar and grana.

Toss maneghi in the spicy-sweet butter.


Gnocchi (loose)

Gnocchi are not always dumplings, sometimes they are made like polenta.

  • 600 ml milk 
  • 120 g flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Butter, for greasing and spreading
  • Hard cheese, for sprinkling

Boil milk, add salt and flour in small amounts. Cook for ten minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the egg, stirring constantly to prevent it cooking.

Pour the mixture onto a clean surface and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Cut into squares 4 cm x 4 cm.

Grease a small baking tray, arrange a layer of squares, dotted with pieces of butter and sprinkled with cheese.

Repeat until the squares are used up, finish with butter and cheese.

Bake until a brown crust forms.


Gnocchi (sweet)

This is the sweet version.

  • 250 ml milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 30 g sugar
  • 30 g vanilla sugar
  • 15 g potato starch
  • Butter, for spreading

Combine ingredients in a heavy based saucepan, and bring the hear up slowly, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.

Pour the mixture onto a clean surface and allow to cool. Preheat oven to 180°C. Cut into squares 4 cm x 4 cm.

Grease a small baking tray, arrange a layer of squares, dotted with pieces of butter.

Repeat until the squares are used up, finish with butter.

Bake until a brown crust forms.


Gnocchi (with specialist potatoes0

Every Italian will tell you quietly that the secret to gnocchi is hidden in the choice of potato.

These would be the varieties of Agate, Agria, Amber, Arizona, Chopin, Finka, Marabel, Monalisa, Universa and Vivaldi grown in Viterbo, between Umbria and Tuscany.

The moderate Lake Bolsena climate and potassium-rich volcanic soils produce potatoes with a pasty consistency, ideal for preparing gnocchi.

That secret is out.

Since 1977 an annual Gnocchi Festival has been held in St. Lorenzo Nuovo.

  • 900 g Patata dell’Alto Viterbese potatoes, boiled whole in skins, cooled
  • 250 g flour
  • 10 g salt
  • Water, for boiling
  • Parmigiano / pecorino, grated fine, for dressing

Pass potatoes through a fine colander or potato masher.

Add half the salt salt.

On a clean surface combine potatoes with flour into a pasty dough.

Roll into a sausage 5 cm thick, cut into 2 cm slices.

Press each piece with the handle of a knife, to form a cup shape.

Bring a large saucepan with water and remaining salt to a rolling boil.

Add gnocchi in batches.

When they rise to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon.

Serve with a dressing of cheese.


Gnocchi di Castagne al Pesto (with potatoes and basil paste)

Also sweet but rich.

  • 700 g potatoes, baked, mashed
  • 100 g strong white flour
  • 100 g chestnut flour
  • 1 egg
  • Salt, pinch
  • White pepper, pinch

Pesto

  • 100 g basil leaves
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 40 g Parmigiano
  • 40 g pecorino
  • 30 g pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt, pinch

Combine potatoes, the two flours, egg and salt in a large bowl.

On a floured surface roll into a sausage 5 cm thick, cut into 2 cm slices.

Bring a large saucepan with salt and water to a rolling boil.

Add gnocchi in batches.

When they rise to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl.

Toss in the pesto.


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Culinary Connections | Small Breads

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GERMANY SCOTLAND SWITZERLAND FINLAND

Rowie

Through the backlit window pane of an artisan bakery, golden-brown buns are a tantilising sight, an invitation to indulge.

Generally made with high-gluten flours, a large ratio of butter or lard, fresh yeast and sugar with milk, salt, and an egg or milk glaze, the ubiquitous roll of Vienna was for many years the epitome of this type of bread.

In Aberdeen around the time that Viennoiserie was evolving in Paris, a flaky bread became popular with fishermen. Using the same technique for making croissants, the Rowie was neither crescent nor roll, and it was made with beef dripping. It was also excessively salty and is now exclusively authentic – a product of its time and not easily replicated in the domestic kitchen.

  • 500 g strong white wheat flour
  • 350 ml water, warmed to 38ºC
  • 250 g butter / lard or 50:50
  • 20 g yeast
  • 10 g salt
  • 10 g sugar

Dissolve yeast in sugar and warm water. Sieve flour and salt, add yeast water and work into a soft smooth dough. The high water ratio makes this a tough dough to work, about 20 minutes of hard kneading.

Cover the dough and leave to rise for an hour.

Degas, leave for a further hour.

Cut the fat into small cubes, divide into three portions. On a floured working surface roll the dough into a rectangle, about 40 cm x 30 cm. Place the cubes of fat from one portion on two-thirds of the rectangle. Fold the non-fat end into the middle, and then again over the final third.

Leave to rest for 15 minutes, covered.

Flour the surface, roll the dough out again with a little flour to aid the process, repeat once more.

Flour the surface with flour and roll the dough again, then divide it into 15 pieces (roughly 80 g each), shape into ovals or rectangles, arrange on greased baking trays.

Leave to rise until the doughs have risen considerably.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Place a tray of water in the bottom of the oven. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is aberdeen-rowie.jpg

DDR Brötchen

Ostalgie, the nostalgic trend for the humdrum German Democratic Republic, has brought with it a yearning for the simple traditional food once served in the cafes and canteens of Berlin, Leipzig and other East German cities. These breakfast rolls were soft and salty, and were made more often than not with margarine and whey.

Pre-ferment

  • 250 g white wheat flour, t405 / t550, warmed
  • 250 ml milk, full-fat / whey, warmed to 38ºC
  • 20 g yeast

Dissolve yeast in a little of the milk or whey. In a large bowl stir remaining milk or whey into the flour with the yeast mixture. Rest overnight at room temperature.

Second Dough

  • 250 g white wheat flour, t405 / t550
  • 75 g sugar
  • 25 g butter / lard / margarine
  • 15 g salt
  • 5 g barley / wheat malt
  • Milk, for brushing

Sieve flour into a large bowl, add salt and sugar, incorporate the butter, lard or margarine, then add the pre-ferment. Knead into a soft smooth dough, about 10 minutes. Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Degas, leave for an hour, cut into 12 pieces (roughly 65 g each), shape into balls, arrange on baking trays. Cover.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

When they have risen, brush lightly with milk.

Place a tray of water in the bottom of the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes.


Bürli

A popular bread in eastern Switzerland, bürli are eaten with St Gallen bratwürst. Generally made with prepared flour, bürlimehl (wheat flour, wheat gluten, barley malt flour and acerola powder). Artisanal hand-made handbürli are preferred to maschinenbürli, the mass produced version, but they are difficult to make.

Pre-ferment / Sourdough

  • 150 ml water
  • 75 g strong white wheat flour / white wheat flour, t550
  • 75 g white spelt flour, t630
  • 5 g yeast

Stir flours into water and yeast in a large bowl. Rest overnight at room temperature.

Final Dough

  • 300 g sourdough
  • 175 g white wheat flour, t550, warmed
  • 100 ml water / milk, warmed to 38ºC
  • 50 g rye flour, warmed
  • 50 g wholewheat flour t1050, warmed
  • 20 g yeast
  • 10 g salt
  • 5 g barley malt flour
  • Warmed water for wash

Dissolve yeast in milk or water. Work flours, malt, salt and yeast liquid into
pre-ferment to make a soft elastic dough, about 20 minutes’ hard kneading. Rest for three hours. Preheat oven to highest setting. Cut dough into 80 g pieces, shape into rolls, lightly wash with warm water, make a deep cut on the top of each roll. Place on floured baking trays. Leave to rest for an hour. Place a tray of water in the bottom of the oven. Reduce heat to 230°C, bake for 20 minutes, opening oven to allow residual vapour to escape, then bake for a further ten minutes. This will produce dark crusts on the breads. For lighter crusts reduce starting heat to 210°C and take out after 20 minutes.


Korvapuustit

This is the cinnamon bun of Finland.

  • 500 g strong white wheat flour
  • 200 ml milk, warmed to 38ºC
  • 120 g sugar + 60 g sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg
  • 60 g butter, semi-hard, cubed
  • 60 g sour cream
  • 60 g cinnamon
  • 25 g yeast
  • 15 g cardamom seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pearl sugar

Pour milk into a large bowl containing the yeast. When it froths stir in 100 g of flour to make a loose paste. Add cardamom, salt, four tablespoons of sugar and stir in the egg with remaining flour. Work in the cream. Knead for 20 minutes until the dough stretches easily without breaking.

Leave to rise for an hour, degas. Divide into two pieces. Roll dough into a rectangle sheet, about one centimetre thick.

Divide butter cubes into two portions. Place the cubes on the first sheet, and with a wide knife, spread in an even layer to the edges. Sprinkle with cinnamon andremaining sugar.

Starting at the narrow end, roll the sheet tightly, finishing with the seam underneath. Repeat with second batch.

With a sharp knife, cut the rolled dough at an angle to make triangles, 5 cm x 2 cm, for a total of twenty buns. Turn each bun with the narrow side on top. With both thumbs squeeze the bun in the middle to make it bulge.

Remove buns to baking trays layered with greaseproof paper. Leave to rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Glaze buns with egg wash, sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake for 12 minutes. Eat them slowly, they are a treat to be treasured.


Zuckerbrötchen

Sugar buns? An indelicate description for these delightful breads.

  • 500 g zopf flour or 300 g strong white flour, 195 g white spelt flour, 5 g barley malt flour
  • 165 ml milk, full-fat, lukewarm
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50 g butter, softened
  • 45 g vanilla sugar
  • 1 orange, zest
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 45 g pistachios, chopped
  • 45 g currants
  • 20 g yeast
  • Saffron powder, pinch
  • Salt, large pinch

Glaze

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 45 g pearl sugar

Dissolve yeast and saffron in half the milk. Leave to froth. Sieve flours into a large bowl with salt and sugar. Work in the butter, add remaining milk, yeast mixture and egg. Fold in the zest. Knead into a smooth dough, about 15 minutes, cover and leave to rise for an hour. Add pistachios and sultanas, knead, leave for a second hour. Degas, divide into equal pieces, around 80 g each. Place on baking trays covered with greaseproof paper, leave to rise for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush buns with egg wash, sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake for 25 minutes.


Assorted Breakfast Breads

The Aberdeen, Berlin and Vienna breads are plain compared with the bread rolls that are now prominent in Austria and Germany, and in Switzerland.

Among the assorted breads found in a Swiss bakery are small rolls containing multi-varied ingredients.

The secret to the success of these breads are flour combinations from the millers. For example:

Halbweissmehl is a semi-white flour made with barley flour, wheat flour and wheat gluten. It is used to make enriched breads.

Zopfmehl is strong white flour with barley, spelt and wheat gluten. It is used to make plaited bread.

Bakers also make up their own combinations, mixing spelt with strong white, maize with spelt, white with rye.

The results produce specialist yeast bread rolls like these:

Apfelmost-Brötchen 
wheat flour - apple juice and cream
Aprikosen-Brötli 
semi-white, maize flours - apricots, 
butter, milk
Gewürzzopf-Brötchen 
kopf flour - butter, milk, spices and yoghurt
Hölzlibrotli 
white, wholewheat flours - butter, 
herbs, milk
Kartoffel-Baumnuss-Brötchen 
semi-white flour - potato, walnuts
Käse-Brötchen
white flour - baking powder, butter, 
gruyére cheese, milk
Maisbrötchen
maize, spelt flours - curd cheese / quark 
and milk (also made yeast-free, with baking soda)
Nussbrötli 
semi-white flour - milk, walnuts
Zöpfliknoten 
kopf flour - butter, honey, kirsch and milk, 
and an egg-saffron glaze

This cornucopia reflects a trend with modern traditional baking in Europe, where the simple bun made with butter and milk is being gradually replaced by breads that cater for all tastes.


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Culinary Connections | Hot Sandwiches

ENGLAND FRANCE IRELAND ITALY SWITZERLAND

Croque-Monsieur

This Parisien snack has travelled to the four corners of Europe since it appeared in 1910.

The buffet car on the TGVs between Paris and Geneva once served grilled croque-monsieur as good as any Parisien café, proving the maxim that quality ingredients make the dish!

These being artisan bread, gruyère cheese and cured ham.

The deluxe version contains a gruyère béchamel topping.

A baked or poached egg on top turns monsieur into madame!

  • 16 slices (8 cm x 8 cm)
  • Gruyère 8 slices (10 cm x 10 cm)
  • 8 slices white bread, crusts removed (8 cm x 8 cm)
  • 8 slices ham
  • Butter, for spreading
  • 4 baked / poached eggs (optional)
  • 60 g béchamel (optional)

Place a slice of ham between two slices of gruyère, then between slices of buttered bread, grill for five minutes each side until the bread takes on a light toast.

For a rich croque-monsieur, spread béchamel made with gruyère on top after grilling one side, grill until a brown skin forms.

A baked or poached egg turns monsieur into madame!


Bookies Sandwich

The bookies sandwich got its name a long time after it was established as a packed lunch eaten by workers in various labouring jobs and people involved with hunt and race meetings.

In England it was a thick seasoned sirloin steak grilled, sometimes fried, and placed between thick loaf crusts spread with horseradish and mustard condiments.

In Ireland it was a thick seasoned rump steak grilled and placed between white soda farls spread with carmelised onions.

The English version was wrapped in paper and cold pressed for 30 minutes.

By the middle of the 20th century the ‘bookmakers sandwich’ was a pub food in Britain and Ireland, and in Irish pubs across Europe and America.

The Vienna loaf replaced the batch loaf crusts and soda bread, then the ciabatta replaced the Vienna.

In Ireland the Waterford blaa is used to hold the steak, because it is seen as the ideal bread bun for soaking up the juices from the meat and the flavourings from the condiments and seasonings

Elsewhere the condiments betray its origins, and the meat will be beef or veal tenderloins, the latter in continental Europe.

Batch Loaf Version

  • 700 g (4 x 175 g beef sirloin steaks, thick)
  • 8 (4 cm) thick bread crusts
  • 100 g creamed horseradish 
  • 100 g English smooth mustard
  • 15 g black pepper, freshly ground
  • 10 g salt

Spread four crusts with horseradish and four with mustard, according to taste.

Season steaks, heavy with pepper for a spicy flavouring, grill or fry according to preference.

Place a steak and juices between each set of crusts, wrap in greaseproof paper, leave each sandwich under a heavy weight for an hour.

Eat cold.


Vienna / Ciabatta Bread Version

  • 700 g (4 x 175 g beef / veal tenderloin steaks, thick)
  • 2 breads, side cut along length, halved
  • 100 g Dijon coarse mustard
  • 25 g soft butter
  • 15 g black pepper, freshly ground
  • 10 g salt

Spread four pieces of bread with mustard, and four with butter, according to taste.

Season steaks, heavy with pepper for a spicy flavouring, grill or fry according to preference.

Place a steak and juices on buttered breads, top with mustard breads, wrap in greaseproof paper, leave each sandwich under a heavy weight for an hour.

Eat cold.


Soda Farl Version

  • 700 g (4 x 175 g beef rump steaks, thick)
  • 4 farls, side cut along length
  • 500 g onions, halved, sliced
  • 25 g soft butter
  • 15 g black pepper, freshly ground
  • 10 g salt
  • Oil, for frying

Sauté onions in oil over a low heat for an hour, until they are brown and almost crispy.

Spread four farl halves with butter, four with onions.

Season steaks, heavy with pepper for a spicy flavouring, grill or fry according to preference.

Place a steak and juices on onion farls, top with buttered farls, press down with hands, leave to cool.

Eat cold.


Focaccia Panino / Focaccia Farcite

Cafes in Italy have offered focaccia filled with cheese, meat, vegetables and sauces for so long now it seemed inevitable that someone would think of baking the filling inside the flat bread – a tradition that is not new, especially in Asian Europe.

Stuffed focaccia is unlikely to rival the Napolese pizza anymore than the Genoese pizza did when their fates were shared. Technically focaccia farcite is not a sandwich but its popularity is increasing, especially among the young, so you never know.

Focaccia fillings include brie, emmental, fontina, gorgonzola, grana padano, gruyère, mortadella, mozzarella, pancetta, pecorino, porcini, prosiutto, ricotta, salami, spinach and whatever vegetable is available.

Therefore stuffed foccacia – made with potato dough, sweetened egg dough and plain dough, and hardly ever with olive oil drenched dough or traditional sweet dough – is a meal in itself.

Perfect for lunch!


Focaccia Farcite – 1

  • 400 g 00 flour 
  • 300 g potatoes, cubed, cooked, cooled
  • 125 ml water, tepid
  • 30 g olive oil
  • 30 g olive oil, for greasing
  • 25 g yeast
  • Sugar, large pinch
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Milk, for brushing

This potato dough focaccia will take any filling you care to put in it, suggestions below.

Dissolve yeast in sugar in water, leave for 15 minutes.

Sieve flour into a large bowl, add salt and potatoes, and gradually work them into the flour with a tablespoon of oil.

Pour in the yeast liquid, mix and knead, add another tablespoon of oil.

Fold out onto a clean surface, knead for ten minutes until the dough is smooth, add more water if necessary.

Cover and leave to rise for an hour, degas, rise for a second hour, degas again.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Roll into a large rectangular to cover the base of baking tray, greased, leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Place fillings on one half, fold the other half on top, seal with milk, leave to rise for 15 minutes.

Bake at 200°C for 30 minutes, turning the tray once.

Suggested fillings and quantities:

125 g mozzarella / ricotta

90 g emmental / gruyère

90 g prosiutto / mortadella

75 g spinach / tomatoes


Focaccia Farcite – 2

This version produces a lighter bread, suitable for a thick cheese and ham filling.

  • 230 ml water, tepid
  • 200 g strong white flour
  • 200 g white wheat flour 
  • 180 g prosciutto
  • 45 g brie
  • 45 g fontina
  • 45 g gorgonzola
  • 45 g grana padano / pecorino, grated
  • 30 g olive oil, for greasing
  • 25 g yeast
  • 15 g sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Dissolve yeast in sugar in water, leave for 15 minutes.

Sieve flours into a large bowl, add salt and work in the yeast mixture.

Fold out onto a clean surface, knead for 15 minutes until the dough is smooth.

Cover and leave to rise for an hour, degas, rise for a second hour, degas again.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Roll into a large rectangular to cover the base of baking tray, greased, leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Place fillings on one half, fold the other half on top, seal with milk, leave to rise for 15 minutes.

Bake at 200°C for 30 minutes, turning the tray once.


Focaccia Farcite – 3

For sweet tooths.

  • 500 g 00 flour
  • 5 eggs (250 g), 1 separated
  • 250 g sugar
  • 150 g apricots, dried, chopped small 
  • 90 ml date syrup
  • 50 g vanilla sugar
  • 25 ml grappa
  • 15 g baking powder
  • 2 lemons, zest, grated
  • 2 oranges, zest, grated

Sieve flour and baking powder into a large bowl, stir in the plain sugar, vanilla sugar, lemon and orange zest, add the grappa and eggs (leaving the white of one egg aside), mix and leave to rest for an hour.

Preheat to 180°C.

Fold out onto a clean surface, knead for five minutes into a smooth dough.

Divide into two equal pieces, shape each into a rectangular shape, place on baking trays lined with greaseproof paper, brush surface with egg white.

Bake for 35 minutes.

Spread date syrup across the surface of each focaccia, stopping short at the edges, sprinkle apricot pieces on top, cut into squares, sandwich!


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Culinary Connections | Potato Pancakes

RUSSIA LITHUANIA SLOVAKIA

Kartofel’nyy Blin

This is the standard Russian version of the potato pancake, more like a fritter than a pancake.

  • 500 g floury potatoes, peeled, grated small, drained
  • 150 g onions, chopped small
  • 2 eggs
  • 45 g flour
  • 45 ml kefir
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Oil, for frying.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly.

Using an oiled tablespoon transfer onto hot oil in a frying pan, cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes, turn once.


Bulvinių Blynų / Bulviniai Blynai

This traditional Lithuanian version generally omits the flour and kefir, and uses less egg.

  • 500 g floury potatoes, peeled, grated small, drained
  • 150 g onions, chopped small
  • 1 egg
  • Black pepper, freshly ground, pinch
  • Salt, pinch
  • Oil, for frying

Combine potatoes, onions, egg and seasonings in a large bowl, mix thoroughly.

Fry a heaped tablespoon of the mixture over a high heat, about a minute.

Turn, fry for a minute, reduce heat to low.

Serve with sour cream.


Kėdainių Blynai

Named after the Lithuanian town on the Nevėžis river, this meat-filled potato pancake is a very old recipe, and still a popular dish.

  • 1 kg floury potatoes, peeled, grated small, drained
  • 300 g pork mince
  • 150 g onion, chopped small
  • 2 eggs
  • Black pepper, freshly ground, large pinch
  • Salt, pinch
  • Oil, for frying

Mix potatoes and onions with eggs and salt in a large bowl, set aside.

In a separate bowl combine meat and seasonings.

Begin to fry five heaped tablespoons of potato mixture in oil in a large frying pan over a high heat.

Top each potato pile with a level tablespoon of meat mixture.

Turn heat to medium.

Finish with another heaped tablespoon of potato mixture on top of the meat mixture, press down with a spatula.

Turn heat high, carefully turn pancakes, fry for two minutes, reduce heat to low.

Transfer to a tray, bake in a 140°C oven for ten minutes.

Serve with mushroom and sour cream sauce.


Zemiakové Placky

This is the aromatic Slovakian version.

  • 1 kg floury potatoes, peeled, grated small, drained
  • 180 g flour
  • 60 ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 15 g salt
  • 10 g marjoram
  • Black pepper, freshly ground, large pinch
  • Oil, for frying

Mix potatoes and garlic with egg and salt  in a large bowl, work in flour and milk, season with marjoram and pepper, set aside.

Fry in small batches over medium heat until golden brown, about 15 minutes, turning once.


Food Connections | Minced Meat Preparations

BALKANS BULGARIA NETHERLANDS SERBIA

Hacked or minced meat is dominant in Serbian food culture, in Ðevrek Pljeskavice (bagel-shaped veal burgers), Pljeskavice (beef burgers), Uštipci (stuffed meatballs) and significally the ground beef rissoles known as Ćevap or Ćevapčići.

The method for ćevap is almost unique to the Balkans, although the Bulgarians make a similar product called kebapcheta.

In the Netherlands they use the same method in the artisanal production of Slavinken.

Ćevap (Ćevapčići) – 1

  • 750 g beef, neck, cubed, minced
  • 250 g mutton / pork lean, minced
  • 45 ml water
  • 15 g black pepper
  • 10 g salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed, chopped

Remove gristle and fat from beef, salt and leave for two hours.

Mince all the meat with a good proportion of pepper.

Make a paste out of garlic and water.

Bring all ingredients together in a large bowl and knead until the fat in the meat starts to separate onto the hands.

Refrigerate for two hours.

Knead and shape into forefinger thick sausages.

Put back into fridge for an hour.

Grill until brown.


Ćevap (Ćevapčići) – 2

  • 1 kg beef, minced
  • 45 ml water
  • 10 g paprika, ground
  • 10 g salt
  • 10 g pepper
  • Olive oil, for greasing

Bring all ingredients together in a large bowl and knead until the fat in the meat starts to separate onto the hands. Leave to stand for an hour in a cold place.

Shape into croquettes, about 10cm long, 3cm thick.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Oil a baking tray and place them together without touching each other.

Bake for 30 minutes.


Kebapcheta Кебапчета

Traditionally made with a pinch of soda and a little soda water these meat rissoles are popular throghout the Balkans and eastern Europe.

  • 450 g pork shank with 30% fat, minced
  • 450 g pork shoulder with 30% fat, minced
  • 100 g bacon, minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
  • 150 ml soda water / water (optional)
  • 15 g black pepper
  • 15 g salt
  • 5 g caraway / cumin, ground
  • 1 g baking soda (optional)
  • Vinegar
  • Water

Combine the meat in a large bowl, add the seasonings, spices and, if using, the garlic.

If the soda version is preferred, add the soda and soda water or just water at this stage.

Knead for a couple of minutes. divide into 50 gram pieces.

Splash some vinegar into a bowl of water, dip hands in water, shape the pieces into long sausages, around 12 centimetre.

Refrigerate for at least eight hours.

Bake sausages on a hot grill, rotating each side for four turns.

Serve with salad.


Slavinken

The slavink was originally a songbird wrapped in a double combination of fatty bacon and pork fillet, and cooked under a hot grill. When this practice was frowned apon and banned in northern European countries, the fillet was wrapped around minced veal. Gradually minced pork was wrapped in bacon.

In the Netherlands slavinken are available ready-to-cook in the shops but they are better freshly made with a personal choice and quantity of seasonings.

  • 1 kg pork, minced
  • 450 g white bread loaf, sliced, crusts removed
  • 60 slices streaky bacon
  • 1 egg
  • 30 g nutmeg
  • 15 g black pepper
  • Butter, for frying
  • Water, for soaking

Soak bread in water for ten minutes.

Break the egg into a bowl, add nutmeg and pepper to taste.

Squeeze water out of the bread, add to bowl.

Add meat.

Knead the mixture until the fat begins to separate.

The assembly of slavinken is tedious, but necessary.

The amount of meat filling depends on the size of the bacon slices.

Arrange the wrapping for each slavink by placing two slices of bacon at right angles to each other, one slice off to the left like misplaced cross sticks. Place a third slice adjacent the upright left sided slice.

Spoon some stuffing across the width of the two slices. Shape into an oblong.

Looking at the arrangement from above, fold the bottom left slice over the stuffing, followed by the top right slice. Fold the end slices, on the left and right, on top of the previous slices. Finish by folding the remaining slices on the top left and the bottom right.

Melt butter in a frying pan over a high heat. Add sufficient slavinken to fill the pan. Sear quickly on each side. Reduce heat, cover the pan and fry for six minutes each side.

Repeat until all the slavinken are cooked.


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Culinary Connections | Sausage Preparations

ITALY NETHERLANDS PORTUGAL

Amêijoas na Cataplana

The cataplana is a clam-shaped copper utensil for cooking light stews. A large wide saucepan is an admirable substitute.

The clams favoured by the Portuguese are medium-sized, anything smaller like the Italian vongole or larger like the Atlantic scallop won’t work with this dish.

The preferred place of cooking is outside, a half-moon on the horizon.

  • 1.5 kg clams, soaked in salt water
  • 500 g tomatoes, blanched, skinned, diced
  • 500 g chorizo, thick sliced
  • 150 g onions, chopped
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Black Pepper, large pinch
  • Parsley, for garnish
  • Pimento, flakes, for garnish

Sauté garlic and onion over a low heat for ten minutes.

Turn up heat, pour wine and reduce for five minutes.

Add tomatoes, bring to boil. Add chorizo.

Turn heat down, simmer for ten minutes.

Remove clams from brine, rinse in cold water.

Add to tomato mixture, cook for ten minutes until clams open.

Serve immediately. Garnish with parsley and pimento flakes.


Zuurkool met Worst

Traditionally this dish was made with fresh sausages, potatoes and sauerkraut. The sauerkraut was simmered in salted water for 30 minutes, then sliced potatoes and whole sausages were added until cooked.

White beans replaced potatoes in some recipes.

Gradually this recipe morphed into a stamppot. The potatoes were mashed after being cooked. Onions were fried with smoked bacon in butter. The sausages were fried and braised.

Modern versions of zuurkool met worst tend to be bittersweet and savoury.

  • 700 g smoked sausage, thick sliced
  • 600 g sauerkraut, rinsed, drained
  • 2 apples, cored, peeled, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 100 g bacon, diced
  • 75 g brown sugar
  • 15 g caraway seeds
  • 6 juniper berries
  • Butter, for greasing

In a heavy bottomed pot place apple, caraway, juniper, sauerkraut and sugar, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for two hours over a low heat.

Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease a wide baking tray.

Fry bacon and onion over a high heat until both are crispy and caramelised. Add to sauerkraut mixture.

Fry sausage pieces over a high heat.

Add to sauerkraut mixture.

Pour into tray, bake for an hour.


Pollo Colle Salsicce

Nineteenth century Europe for those with land was a place of plenty.

Everything was produced on the farm – cottage and farm cheeses, cured pork, potted meat, terrines and the like, and most of all home-made sausages.

These became essential ingredient in sauces and stews.

One recipe was ubiquitous, sautéed chicken with sausages, largely because it was made with home produce, and chickens were plentiful.

Across Europe there were countless variations.

This is an adaptation of one recipe collected by Pellegrino Artusi in his Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

‘Chop half an onion very fine and put it in a saucepan with a bit of butter and four or five thin slices of prosciutto about a finger in width. On top of these ingredients put a whole chicken. Season with pepper and a little salt, and put on the fire. When it has browned all over and the onion has completely dissolved, moisten with broth or water and add three or four freshly-made whole sausages. Cook over a slow fire, making sure some liquid remains at the end.’

  • 1.5 kg chicken, whole
  • 250 ml chicken broth
  • 6 pork sausages
  • 1 onion
  • 6 slices prosciutto
  • 15 g butter
  • Oil, for frying
  • Black Pepper
  • Salt

Wrap chicken in prosciutto, carefully brown in oil, turning several times in a wide saucepan. Season.
In a large deep pot, sauté onion in butter for 20 minutes.

Put chicken into pot, add broth, bring to boil, cover and simmer for an hour.

Add sausages and simmer until chicken is cooked, about 30 minutes.


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Culinary Connections | Duck

CZECHIA FRANCE

Pečená Kachní Prsa

Bohemian dishes are defined by an unrequited love for crispy roast meats, delicious vegetables, fat dumplings and melt-in-the-mouth sauces.

Chance by the Czech Club Restaurant in London and you will smell the wild hog roast with creamy and cheesy sauce and dumplings; the beef roast in blended cream and vegetable sauce and dumplings; the goose roast, sauerkraut and dumplings; the pork roast with sauerkraut and dumplings; and not least the duck roast leg, boiled sauerkraut and dumplings.

Cold cuts of beef, chicken, duck, goose, lamb, salmon, trout, veal and wild hog perfectly roasted served with various salad choices, potato pancakes and potato dumplings treats to be savoured, butter and cream prominent in the cooking, this is Bohemian traditional food.

You get the idea. So did the Czechs. In 2009 a gastronomic festival was established in Karlovy Vary, the town with the big hotels, to push their food into the 21st century. In 2013 Grandhotel Pupp, Queen Latifah’s getaway in Last Holiday, won the prize. Their chefs took Bohemian cuisine onto another level.

They transformed that basic meat-veg-dumpling-sauce combination, producing new culinary masterpieces. One such dish was roast duck breasts, traditionally a simple pan-sealed slow baked plentiful meat served with vegetables, dumplings and sauce.

Pears replaced vegetables, cumin gave an oriental touch, light gnocchi was preferred to heavy dumplings and bacon was added to counter the sweetness with salt. The pear sauce complimented both duck and gnocchi.

  • 600 g duck breasts, skin scored
  • 600 g potatoes
  • 250 ml chicken / duck stock
  • 120 g bacon, cubed small
  • 100 ml double cream / yoghurt
  • 80 g spring onion
  • 40 g honey
  • 2 pears, halved, cored
  • 35 g butter
  • 20 ml oil
  • 20 ml pear juice
  • 10 g white flour
  • Cumin seeds, large pinch
  • Salt, large pinch

Marinade duck breasts in honey for 30 minutes, squeeze out liquid and rub with salt, thoroughly seal in hot oil, transfer to oven at 80°C for 90 minutes, 60 minutes if duck skin is thin.

Cook potatoes whole until tender. Make a creamy mash with butter and cream.

Brush all but one half pear with honey marinade and bake in oven for 45 minutes. Drain honey from pears.

With 15 minutes to go until the duck is done, heat three teaspoons of oil in frying pan. Incorporate two teaspoons of white flour into the oil until browned. Add chicken stock.

If the breasts are taken from a whole duck, make a stock with the bones and use instead.

Season with salt and crushed cumin seeds. Add honey liquid, pear juice and half pear cut into small pieces. Bring to boil, reduce. Strain.

Sauté bacon in butter and oil with chopped spring onions, pour in cream or yoghurt, keep warm on a low heat.

Slice duck breasts. Serve basted with pear sauce, potatoes or mash, gnocchi and bacon.

A simpler version is produced when the duck breasts are seasoned with salt and pepper, sealed with olive oil in a frying pan, splashed with a liqueur and allowed to simmer in ground cinnamon, chicken or duck stock for 20 minutes and served with ripe pears dressed with a squeeze of lemon juice, added to the stock after ten minutes.

Another version replaces the pears with plums, using whole plums, plum brandy or red wine and plum jam to make a rich sauce, served sliced with a potato purée, garnished with parsley.

A cold version calls for the breasts to be marinaded in lavish amounts of crushed pepper, sea salt and cane sugar in the fridge for two days, washed and dried, then pan-fried and left to cool. One large pear and a handful of walnuts are combined with a little oil over a medium heat, taken out and followed by onions, slowly caramelised. Iceberg is the preferred lettuce, the dressing white wine vinegar and olive oil.


Dodine de Canard

In her Recipes of all Nations, Marcelle Morphy gives an adaptation of the ‘quaint original recipe in old French’ from the 14th century Le Grand Cuisinier de Toute Cuisine of this classic duck dish.

Alas all to no avail!

The more complicated boned version, triumphed by Prosper Montagne in his Larousse Gastronomique, has completely usurped the rustic version to the extent that it is now almost forgotten.

Here is an adaptation of Countess Morphy’s Dodine de Canard.

  • 2 kg duck, jointed in 8 pieces
  • 600 ml dry red wine
  • 250 g mushrooms, quartered
  • 100 ml brandy
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • Parsley, handful
  • 15 g olive oil Salt Pepper

Marinade duck pieces with the brandy, onion and wine, and large pinches of salt and pepper. Leave for three hours.

Strain the marinade liquid, dry duck pieces.

Brown the duck pieces in oil over a high heat in a heavy based saucepan. Add marinade liquid, the herbs, garlic and mushrooms.

Turn heat down, simmer for 60 minutes.

Serve with cooking liquid, and a choice of vegetables.

Version 2

This is an adaptation of the boned, stuffed version.

  • 2 kg duck
  • 1 litre broth
  • 250 g fatty bacon / pork belly (half fat-half flesh), chopped small
  • 250 g pork tenderloin, chopped small
  • 250 g veal, chopped small
  • 250 g white mushrooms, chopped
  • Duck liver, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 45 g almonds, ground
  • 1 slice of fresh foie gras (optional)
  • 45 ml brandy / cognac
  • 15 g + 5 g salt
  • 15 g butter
  • 10 g ground mixed spices (from caraway, cinnamon, cloves, fennel)
  • 5 g + 5 g black pepper
  • 5 parsley stalks with leaves, chopped
  • 5 sage leaves, chopped

Starting at the back, debone the duck without damaging the skin. Remove all the flesh from the skin, cut the flesh into small pieces. Keep the breasts intact, remove the skin and fat, cut into strips, place in a bowl with brandy or cognac and half of the ground spices, refrigerate for 24 hours. Season the skin on both sides.

Sauté the duck liver in the butter for a few minutes, remove from heat and leave to cook. Combine the bacon or pork belly, pork loin, veal and the flesh from the duck. Season this mixture with remainder of spices, the black pepper and salt. Add the almonds, eggs, mushrooms, parsley and sage and, if using, the foie gras. Work this mixture with your hands for a few minutes.

Spread the mixture over the middle of the duck skin. Place the marinated breast strips on top. Bring the skin together, tie the neck and tail ends with string. Tie some string around the dodine to hold it together.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the dodine in a casserole dish, pour the broth and the liquid from the marinade, cook for arpound two hours. Baste with the cooking liquid from time to time. When the dodine is cooked remove from the oven. Leave to rest for a few minutes, then cut the string.

Put four tablespoons of the cooking liquid into a small saucepan, add half a glass of wine, reduce by half.

If a cold dodine is required, leave to cool in the liquid, then cut off the string. Spoon 500 ml of the cooking liquid into a pot, reduce until there is only about four tablespoons left, leave to cool. Cover the duck with the resulting jelly and place in the refrigerator. Retain the jelly and repeat a second time several hours later. Leave the dodine in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

Serve cold, sliced with a salad

Version 3

This is a modern interpretation of the original recipe.

  • 3 x 350 g duck fillets, skinned
  • 250 g duck liver, sliced
  • 200 g pork loin, chopped
  • 200 g veal, chopped
  • 150 g fat bacon, chopped
  • 130 ml brandy
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 80 g 1-day old white bread roll
  • 45 ml milk
  • 45 g truffles, sliced (optional)
  • 20 g butter
  • 12 sage leaves, sliced
  • 1 tsp allspice, ground
  • Black pepper, large pinch
  • Salt, large pinch
  • 1 pork caul

Cut duck fillets into 2cm thick slices, marinade in brandy and seasonings overnight.

Soak bread bun in milk for 20 minutes, squeeze to remove liquid.

Brown the liver in butter, leave to cool.

Combine the allspice, bacon, bread, duck, liver, pork, sage, seasonings and veal in marinade liquid.

Soak the caul in cold water.

Stuff caul with meat mixture, tie with string.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Place caul in a baking tray.

Bake at 160°C for two hours.

When cold remove to fridge for 12 hours before serving.

Version 4

This version is cooked slowly in broth.

  • 2 litres broth
  • 1.5 kg duck
  • 500 g pork tenderloin, sliced
  • 250 g veal, sliced
  • Duck liver, sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 ml brandy
  • 10 g salt
  • 1 tsp allspice, ground
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Butter, for frying

Open the duck from the back, slowly stripping back the skin. Carefully remove the flesh from the skin and excess fat, taking each breast out whole. Debone.

Cut the breast into little slices, like aiguillettes.

Fry liver in butter for five minutes, leave to cool.

Slice the rest of the duck flesh and add to the liver, pork and veal in a large bowl. Season with allspice, pepper and salt, mix in the eggs and brandy.

Return to the spread-out duck, season liberally with pepper, and spoon the meat mixture over the central area. Salt the aiguillettes and lay them evenly over the mixture.

Being all the edges of the duck skin together and sew tightly. Wrap in muslin, tie both ends.

Put in a large pot with the broth, bring to a slow boil, then simmer for two hours.

Serve hot or cold.


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Culinary Connections | Almonds

Croissants de Provence

The forgotten crescent of Europe, these delightful little almond pastries are a traditional treat in the south of France.

150g almonds, ground
150g sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp apricot jam, sieved
Vanilla water
25g almonds, shredded

Preheat oven to 190°C.

Whisk the egg whites into ground almonds, sugar and jam to make a soft paste.

Divide into walnut-sized balls, roll into 10cm long sausages.

Beat egg yolks, brush each sausage and roll in shredded almonds.

Place on greaseproof paper, bent into crescents, on a warmed baking tray.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Galllina en Pepitoria

The traditional savoury almond dish of the Spanish regions.

1.8 kg chicken, divided into breast, 
leg, thigh pieces
500 ml fish stock
225 ml sherry
150 ml olive oil
125 g onions, chopped
100 g almonds, roasted, ground
1 egg, hard-boiled yolk
15 g flour
2 garlic cloves, chopped
10 g parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp saffron, ground
1 tsp sea salt
Pepper, pinch
Oil, for frying

Heat oil in a large frying pan, brown chicken pieces, set aside.

Sauté garlic and onion in the same oil over a low heat for 15 minutes.

Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon, add wine and incorporate for five minutes.

Replace chicken pieces, add bay leaf, pepper and parsley, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

Remove lid, cook for 15 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, take out chicken pieces and keep warm.

Mix egg yolk into almonds, stir into frying pan, heat for five minutes.

Season with salt, garnish with saffron.

Serve chicken with sauce.

Gelato alla Mandorla

Almond ice cream is reknown throughout Italy, found in gelateria nationwide, nowhere more so than in Sicily where the almond crop rivals that of Mallorca.

250 ml cream
250 ml milk
125 g almonds, ground
50 g sugar

Bring milk to a low boil, add sugar, stir and cook gently for 20 minutes. Pour into a food processor, add almonds and cream, blend.

Pour into metal moulds, seal and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Rogan Josh

This spicy hot curry from the northern regions of the Indian sub-continent has become one of the most popular dishes in Britain.

1.5 kg lamb shoulder, 3 cm pieces
550g plum tomatoes, skinned, 
chopped (or 2 x 400g tins)
250 g onions, chopped small
150 ml water, for blending
100 g root ginger, fresh, chopped small
100 ml sunflower oil 
75 g almonds
75 g yoghurt
30 g coriander seeds
15 g cumin seeds
25 peppercorns
10 cardamom pods
5 cloves garlic, crushed
5 chillies, whole round red Indian
10 cloves
Turmeric, large pinch
Nutmeg, pinch
Salt, pinch

Roast almonds, coriander and cumin seeds in a dry frying pan for 30 seconds, remove to a bowl.

Fry cardamons, chillies, cloves and peppercorns in hot oil, reduce heat and brown the meat in batches, setting each batch aside.

Remove fried spices with a slotted spoon to a blender with the roasted almonds and roasted spices, garlic and ginger, nutmeg and turmeric, and water. Blend into a smooth paste, adding more water if necessary, about five minutes.

Fry onions over a high heat in the pan used to brown the meat, about five minutes stirring constantly.

Stir in the paste, lower heat and cook for five minutes.

Gradually stir the yoghurt into the paste, followed by the tomatoes.

Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened.

Add meat and salt, cover, reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer for two hours.

Turrón

500 g almonds, blanched, roasted
250 g sugar
125 ml honey
Rice paper

Pound almonds and sugar together, spoon into a saucepan with the honey amd cook over a medium heat until the mixture browns and thickens.

Pour onto a baking tray lined with rice paper, leave to harden.

Cut into squares.


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Culinary Connections | Lamb Preparations

ICELAND ITALY MONTENEGRO MOROCCO NORWAY TURKEY WALES

Agnello all’acciuga

Only the Sicilians would conjure a liasion between fresh anchovies and young lamb. Each is delicate and that is the secret of this dish. Cook it low and slow.

  • 1 kg lamb, cut into 3 cm dice, floured
  • 350 g anchovies, fresh, deboned
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 45 g wheat flour
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp wine vinegar
  • 10 g black pepper, cracked
  • Salt, large pinch
  • 1 sprig parsley

In olive oil flavoured with a parsley sprig over a medium heat fry the cloves of garlic. When the garlic is evenly brown remove from the oil, increase heat and fry the floured pieces of lamb. Season the lamb, cook covered over low heat for 40 minutes. Remove the lamb from the pan and and keep warm. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, add the anchovies and allow them to melt into a sauce. Replace the lamb in the pan, leave to cook covered for a few minutes until the lamb has absorbed the anchovy flavour.


Brav u Mlijeku

The shimmering meadows of the Montenegrin mountains and the grassy pastures of the Welsh valleys are geographically separate in distance and time yet both are reknown for producing succulent lamb.

Hidden from view for an aeon, Montenegro has emerged out of the ashes of the old Yugoslavia with its south slav identity entact and its traditional food now regarded as among the best in Europe.

And if one dish epitomises that cultural and culinary identity it is lamb braised in milk.

  • 2 litres milk, full fat
  • 1.5 kg lamb shoulder / blade
  • 1 kg potato, whole
  • 6 carrots, whole, peeled
  • 5-25 peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 25 g parsley
  • 2-5 bay / laurel leaves

The amount of milk needed for the lamb depends on the width of your cooking pot. The meat should be covered. Add the spices, as little or as much as your tastes require, and the carrots.

Slow cook for four to five hours depending on the size of the piece. A one and a half kilo piece needs no less than four hours over a very low heat. It is done when it falls apart.

The potatoes for this dish can be baked or boiled, preferably the latter. Time the cooking to have them ready with the lamb.

Mash the potatoes in a large warmed bowl. Cut up the meat and carrots, add to the potatoes. Mix together with some or all of the cooking milk, including the peppercorns. Discard the bay leaves.

Serve decorated with parsley.


Buhara Pilavı

  • 400 g lamb, cut into 3 cm dice
  • 400 ml meat stock / water, boiled
  • 300 g rice, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, drained
  • 200 g carrots, peeled, cut into small dice
  • 150 g onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp butter / oil
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Melt a tablespoon of butter or pour oil into a frying pan, begin to sauté the onions. Cover and fry gently for 15 minutes until the onions are soft and creamy. Place the fried onions in the bottom of a deep saucepan. Put the lid on, and keep warm.

Add a tablespoon of butter or oil to the frying pan, sauté carrots for 10 minutes. Add the carrots to the onions. Heat through.

Add two tablespoons of butter or oil to the frying pan, fry the lamb for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Stir into the carrots and onions in the saucepan.

Spoon the rice on top of the carrot-onion-lamb mixture, season and pour in stock or water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Once dimples form on the rice, place a paper towel between the pan and the lid. Turn the heat down to lowest setting. Cook for 5 minutes.

Take the pilaf off the heat, rest for 15 minutes with lid on. Before service, gently turn the rice over to a plate to place the lamb mixture on top.


Mrouzia

This sweet lamb tagine of Morocco is now popular throughout Europe.

  • 1.5 litres water
  • 1 kg lamb neck / shoulder, cut into 3 cm dice
  • 300 g almonds, blanched, skinned, dry-roasted in frying pan
  • 300 g dried apricots / raisins, soaked in 300 ml water overnight, drained
  • 300 g onion, chopped small
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 90 g sesame seeds, dry roasted
  • 60 g clarified butter / Smen (see below)
  • 60 g forest honey
  • 30 g Moroccan spice mixture / Ras-el-Hanout
  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 cm ginger root, grated / 10 g ginger powder
  • 5 g black pepper, pinches x 2
  • 5 g saffron threads, large pinches, crushed x 2
  • 5 g salt, pinches x 2
  • 5 g turmeric powder, large pinches

Place the lamb in a large bowl, add the ginger, saffron, turmeric, seasonings and spice mixture. Rub spices into the meat. Pour sufficient water to cover, refrigerate overnight.

Melt butter in oil in a saucepan over a low heat, add the onion and salt, sauté for ten minutes. Add the meat, increase heat and brown. Pour sufficient water to cover, add cinnamon, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the meat is cooked.

Remove cinnamon sticks and discard. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Add the honey and apricots or raisins to the remaining liquid, reduce to a sauce consistency. Put meat back in the sauce, heat through.

Serve with the dry-roasted almonds and roasted sesame seeds.

Smen (clarified butter)

  • 250 g unsalted butter
  • 5 g salt

Melt butter, then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through muslin several times until the liquid is clear, add salt, pour into a sterlised jar.


Ofnbakað Lambalæri

In Iceland a leg of lamb is smeared with seasoned melted butter, slow-roasted on a rack with stoch, then served with carmelised potatoes, vegetables and a sweet sauce made with the juices of the roasting tray. Modern versions will include garlic and herbs.

  • 2.25 kg leg of lamb
  • 750 ml broth
  • 30 g butter, melted
  • 5 garlic cloves, quartered (optional)
  • 4 rosemary sprigs (optional)
  • 4 thyme sprigs (optional)
  • 10 g black peppercorns, coarse ground
  • 5 g salt

Sauce

  • 300 ml cream
  • 100 ml lamb juices
  • 30 g butter
  • 30 g flour
  • 30 g redcurrant jelly
  • Seasonings

Accompaniments

  • 1 kg small potatoes, boiled, skinned, cooled
  • 100 g sugar
  • 30 g butter

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the lamb on a rack in a baking tray. Mix the melted butter with the black pepper and salt, smear over all sides of the lamb. If using the garlic make cuts in the flesh of the lamb, insert the garlic pieces and, if using the herbs, some spears of rosemary. Pour the stock into the tray and, is using, the thyme. Roast lamb for 50 minutes at 180°C. Decrease to 140°C . Roast for two hours. Baste occasionally. Increase heat to 200°C top and bottom heat. Roast for 20 minutes, turning once, until a crust forms on the skin of each side.

Make a roux, add the cream and jelly, strain in some of the lamb juices and heat gently.

Season the sauce.

Gently heat the sugar in a frying pan until it begins to brown, add the butter. Stir and heat through for a minute or two. Add the potatoes, stir into the mixture, heat gently.

Serve the lamb sliced withj the sauce and carmelised potatoes.


Sodd

Traditionally made with lamb or mutton, sodd is sometimes made with beef. More of a soup than a stew, sodd is characterised by the gentle flavour of the stock and the separately coooked vegetables. The carrots should not be overcooked. One of Norway’s most popular traditional dishes.

Lamb / Mutton

  • 5 litres water
  • 1.5 kg lamb or mutton leg / neck / shoulder, 250 g lean and a little fat removed, fine minced
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp nutmeg, grated
  • 1 tsp salt

Cut 250 g lean meat and a little fat from the chosen piece of meat, add salt, mince. Tradition calls for a dozen runs through the mincer, and one more for luck!

Braise the meat in salted water, remove the foamy scum that forms on the surface, reduce heat to slow, simmer for three hours, until meat is tender, strain liquid and keep warm.

The meat should fall off the bone, cut into large cubes.

Vegetables

  • 1.5 kg water
  • 1 kg potatoes, cut large
  • 500 g carrots, chopped small
  • 10 g salt

Cook the potatoes in the same volume of water until almost ready
Cook the carrots in just enough water to cover them until they are al dente.

Broth Balls

  • 500 ml lamb stock
  • 250 g lamb mince
  • 75 ml cream
  • 2 tsp cornflour / potato flour
  • 2 tsp ginger, ground
  • 1 tsp nutmeg, grated
  • Black pepper, freshly ground, large pinch
  • Salt, pinch

Stir cornflour or potato flour, spices and cream into the minced lamb, shape with wet hands into walnut-sized balls, around 25 grams each.
Poach in lamb stock for 10 minutes. When they rise to the surface they are ready.

Finish

  • Broth balls
  • Lamb meat
  • Lamb stock
  • Cooked carrots
  • Cooked potatoes
  • Crispbread

Pour the stock into bowls, add the carrots, broth balls and braised lamb.
Serve with crispbread and potatoes on the side.


Welsh Lamb

In Wales they do it in a slightly different way.

  • 1.5 kg lamb leg, neck or shoulder, chilled
  • 300 cl dry white wine / cider
  • 60 g honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 rosemary sprigs
  • Black pepper, pinch
  • Salt, pinch

Score the fat deep into the meat.

Mix garlic, honey, rosemary, seasoning and wine or cider in a bowl large enough to hold the lamb. Marinade for an hour.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Place lamb on a wire rack above a deep tray. Baste with all the marinade. A one and a half kilogram piece needs 40-45 minutes for pink meat, 90 minutes for dark meat. Turn heat down to 200°C after 30 minutes.

Baste several times after 30 minutes. Reduce heat further if the top of the meat is looking burnt.

Cut into pieces or slices and use the cooking juices as a sauce.

Mashed or puréed potatoes with butter and a parsley garnish are a good accompaniment, as are sautéd sliced carrots.


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