Tag: France

Fricot Feature | Who is Killing the Cheese Makers? Part Two


Formaggio-di-Malga-Stravecchio-36-mesi2-lowres
36-month old Malga Stravecchio

Producing cheese from raw milk and natural rennet, heat and fermentation is older than history. Archaeologists and historians have an idea when it started. That idea, or story if you prefer, is based on a presumption.

The story involved a merchant in an ancient caravanserai – a camel train – on a journey under the hot sun across ancient lands. When the merchant arrived at the destination, milk carried in a bag made from a sheep’s stomach was discovered to be lumpy, churned into curds by the constant jogging of the camel on uneven ground under the heat of that sun.

The same argument has been made for the discovery of yoghurt. Same principle.

Of course it is possible it might have been a deliberate experiment. Meat was tenderised under the saddles of the horsemen who travelled long distances, a tradition that continued until horses became sports stars and lost their natural status in society. Our ancestors never ceased to discover methods to preserve their food, using microbial fermentations and elaborate techniques that are still in use today and cannot be replicated fully by modern methods.

It is the old cliche, if it isn’t broken …

Reportáž z byndziarne vo Zvolenskej Slatine.© Dušan Kittler
The Making of Bryndza, the soft sheep’s cheese of Poland and Slovakia

Whether it was accidental or deliberate is no longer relevant. Somewhere, somehow, someone realised that the character of milk could be altered to produce a food with a longish life – cheese!

Whether this happened 5000 years ago or 3500 years ago is relevant for one reason. The pasteurisation of milk is modern – very modern, a speck in time.

This leaves us with a dilemma. In the countries where cheese has become an integral aspect of the character of farming – ancient and modern – there is a strong raw milk tradition in its preparation.

This includes many European countries, in fact mostly European. That should not be a shock to anyone who knows the history of food. It is also not a surprise that cheese making is a mountain and valley occupation, that goat’s milk rather than sheep’s milk and certainly not cow’s milk has been the driver through time.

The environment is the medium.

Goat’s milk makes fresh cheese, sheep’s milk makes cheese that is adaptable, and cow’s milk makes cheese that has a relatively long life, certainly in the maturation period. Each has a tradition that is unique in the countries where these animals graze the fields and meadows and upland slopes.

It is not a surprise that some of the best cheese in the world comes from countries with high country snow, where the flora is rich in the organoleptic qualities that are transferred to the cheese via the milk.

Adding-the-Rennet.lowres
Pouring the Rennet

America does not appear to have a milk or a cheese tradition, yet it is the Americans who are driving the campaign, if it can be called that, to eradicate cheese made from raw milk. They would prefer to ban all products made with raw milk.

Deaths from food poisoning have generally come from mass-produced industrial food or from food that has been contaminated by industrial processes or food tainted by toxic waste. Deaths from eating cheese made with raw milk do not compare.

Is there an agenda? People who know cheese believe there is.

It starts with the microbes that inhabit the world, the single cell organisms called bacteria. They are present in the milk and are present in the rennet, the enzymatic preparation that clots milk, changing it into curds. These microbes digest the lactose in milk and, in the process, produce lactic acid, which acts as a preservative.

The enzyme is called chymosin. It is found in the stomachs of ruminants – which is why the milk curdled on that famous journey.

When chymosin is introduced to the milk as rennet it converts the proteins from liquid into solid. This coagulation process is the result of a catalytic action. Casein makes up the majority of milk proteins. There are four casein molecules in milk – alpha-s1, alpha-s2, beta and kappa.

Without kappa casein, milk would spontaneously coagulate. Milk proteins are soluble because of kappa casein. When chymosin interacts with kappa casein it converts it into a protein called macropeptide. The milk can no longer hold its liquid state. It clots and changes into curds.

Bacteria are maligned, yet not all bacteria are malignant, many are beneficial and without them our food web would disintegrate. We would have no fermented food, including the aromatic cheeses that allow you ‘to taste the animal’.

The secret of cheese making is the skilful management of microbes, and the management of moisture before and after the process. Therefore cheese should be made with milk that is as fresh as it comes, before any kind of harmful microbial activity can take place. It should be stored in conditions that are not receptive to microbial activity. And, ideally, cheese consumers should be knowledgable when they buy and store cheese.

The pasteurisation of milk will destroy harmful bacteria but it will also produce a different kind of cheese. In their book, Reinventing the Wheel – Milk, Microbes and the Fight for Real Cheese, Bronwen and Francis Percival are typically patronising in their approach to this issue. If the book was less about them and more about cheese, it would be educational. It is not the first book on cheese to patronise its potential readers and it won’t be the last. There is knowledge and wisdom in the Percival book, unfortunately it is hidden among the paragraphs that state ‘look at us, aren’t we clever when we write about cheese?’

Campaigners for real cheese, they are not!

This is the problem and sadly it is not confined to the likes of the Percivals. Ignorance of ‘real’ cheese among the general population has allowed supermarket chains to sell ‘cheap’ cheese, especially in the English speaking world. In their profit before people behaviour, supermarkets dictate what the people purchase. Cheese connoisseurs naturally go elsewhere and are not typically concerned about those who have no understanding of ‘slow food’ and no informed knowledge about artisanal products. That said, not everyone can afford to shop at Neal’s Yard Dairy, where Bronwen Percival is the cheese buyer.

Rene Ryser manages a cheese grotto and a cheese shop in the Swiss Alps

Real Cheese from Bern country in south-west Switzerland, where farmers are strongly supported by the Swiss government and local cantons

Sadly we now live in a world where ‘real’ cheese is for those with purchasing power and ‘plastic’ cheese is for everyone else. If there is concern about the demise of ‘real’ cheese makers in the English language-speaking countries, it is not manifest among those who are used to hopping over to France, Italy or Switzerland to buy the cheeses that do not travel, like the best Abondance or Appenzeller or Fontina or Malga or Tomme or Sbrinz – all cheeses with strong local traditions, that become expensive when they are purchased at specialist outlets in Dublin or London or New York.

Cheese, as Bronwen Percival is not slow to demonstrate, is a continental European sensibility, where cheese can be bought from a dedicated artisanal shop – a fromagerie – or from a market stall, sometimes from the cheese maker themselves, or from a supermarket chain that is sensitive to the desires of its customers.

In Britain and Ireland it is difficult to find a supermarket that has on its shelves ‘real’ cheese. Abondance, the wonderful cheese of the Savoyard region of the French Alps, found its way into the Tesco chain in Ireland, interestingly at a price lower than at Auchan and Carrefour in France and Italy. Miracles do happen!

But we digress.

Reinventing-the-Wheel
Published by Bloomsbury

The most interesting chapter in Reinventing the Wheel is chapter seven. For those not as knowledgable about the cheese world as Bronwen Percival, this chapter is worth the price of the book.

When the Percivals state that the regulation of cheese – ‘deciding what is and what isn’t safe to eat’ – is ‘caught up in the fraught discussion of milk hygiene and safety,’ they make a very important point, which they are not slow to elucidate: ‘cheese is not liquid milk’.

As someone who is lactose intolerant and was forced to drink warm milk in school as a child, I find it difficult, 50 years later, to trust those who are entrusted to look after public health. Anyone with a brain, who was forced to drink raw milk as a child during the middle decades of the 1900s in certain countries, worked that out and were told to keep quiet. The pasteurisation of milk solved one problem, authority and morality remain.

Food safety has been an issue since the first nomads settled down in central Anatolia over 11 000 years ago, it came with civilisation and remained all the way into the modern era. Those with knowledge might argue that the French and the Swiss have better standards of food safety than the Americans, yet there is an argument that American-led laboratory science has been let loose on a world that is now scared of its own shadow – rightly so in many instances, but not with cheese made with raw milk and prepared in traditional ways. The Reblochon story in the Percival book is an example of the kind of ‘rational pragmatism’ that should be adopted toward raw milk cheese making.

ReblochonCheese-Ice-T.lowres
This is the Swiss reblochon

If the Americans want to impose a zero risk regulation to ensure food safety, that is their prerogative. For those of us who love raw milk cheeses, from the Camembert of Normandie to the Reblochon de Savoie – two cheeses singled out by the Percivals, we will continue to take our chances. Thankfully not everyone lives in the USA.

Unfortunately the future of raw milk cheeses in Britain and Ireland is bleak, because of the American influence. A tradition that is young and weak cannot compete with a tradition that is old and strong. Elizabeth Bradley makes a cheese just as good as any of the similar cheeses made in France and Italy. Her years do not compare with their years. America’s baleful influence on other countries is a worry to those who care about ‘real’ food, never mind ‘real’ cheese.

Of course we here in Fricot are biased. We have absolute faith in traditional methods. All the preserved foods come from an ancient lineage of expertise that resulted in techniques that have been passed down the generations and work as well today as they did thousands of years and countless generations ago.

Mechanisation does not produce good food, that is obvious to anyone who understands the lack of an organoleptic characteristic in anything that is mass produced. It certainly does not produce food as good as cheese made from raw milk.

So what is the real issue?

It might be obvious to say it is about food corporations and their desire to make profits from the mass production of cheese made with ‘safe’ milk. Certainly making money is a strong criteria for those who need to make money.

That would be the easy explanation, the truth this time is hard and complicated.

For now we should celebrate those who want to make cheese because they have a strong desire to produce a product that has organoleptic qualities, that has a unique taste and a depth of flavour, that is the consequence of its environment and their skill.

Tète de Moine (Photo: Ezequiel Scagnetti)

Fricot Feature | Who is Killing the Cheese Makers? Part One

Goat farmer Elizabeth Bradley is a cheese-maker in Ballybrommel in the flatlands below Mount Leinster in east Carlow, south-east of Dublin. A few kilometers away in Shillelagh under the gaze of the mountains in west Wicklow dairy farmer Tom Burgess uses a portion of his summer milk to make cheese.

They make two of the most aromatic cheeses in Europe, one with goat’s milk, one with cow’s milk. In industry parlance they are artisanal, making hardly enough to mark the shadow of an impression in the billions of exports in dairy products. That is because they sell to local markets. That is one of their problems!

They have other problems, that have nothing to do with making and selling cheese. These problems are shared by most cheese makers across Europe, especially artisanal producers who are not concerned with packaging and supermarkets, with dairies, commerce and exports, and with the glossy promotional images of farmers and cheese that have nothing to do with reality. People who like to be small and be very good at what they do.

Cheese-making in Ireland was an ancient activity. It was part of the fabric of society. Michael Ó Sé, writing about old cheeses (and other milk products) in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society in 1948 referred to the traditional coagulants used in cheese-making. Binit (calves rennet) and binit uain (lambs rennet) were used as animal rennets, and mothan (bog violet) as a vegetable rennet. Sadly this tradition died with many of the old ways and for several hundred years Irish cheese-making was just another myth.

By referring to the old methods, using the same raw materials, farmers returned to cheese-making in the 1900s and within two generations Irish cheeses were back on the shelves. Bord Bia, in their promotions for farmhouse cheese-making, noted the fact. “The cheese-makers developed their craft, and enthusiastic friends, enlightened local chefs and shopkeepers put in orders for cheeses and the amateurs slowly evolved into professionals. Experience and knowledge passed to other interested farms and slowly a new food culture began to emerge.”

In Ireland, say Bord Bia (the governmental food department), our farmhouse cheeses are unique to each producer, expressing terroir in the true sense of the word. “This has the advantage of allowing for innovation and creativity, while still respecting the values of traditional cheese-making. Our European neighbours find it hard to believe that each cheese is only produced on one farm and is the result of the passion and dedication of one family.”

“The personality of the cheese-maker is often reflected in aspects of their cheese; from the wild and unpredictable to the precise and consistent. The large range of Irish farmhouse cheeses now available is exceptional considering the youth of the industry and the small size of our island.”

Elizabeth Bradley has just collected 500 litres of raw cow’s milk from a dairy farmer in Bagnelstown. She will pay the fixed market rate of 39 cents a litre. “Most dairy farmers will not sell their milk to small cheese-makers, because they are afraid of any consequences,” she says, driving back to her small farm with the milk in tow. She pumps the milk into her 500 litre vat, adds the starter culture and gradually brings the milk up to 32ºC. Several hours later the curds of cheese rest in containers under a press.

Over in Shillelagh Tom Burgess explains why the grass is the hero of his Irish cheddar. “It is made from grass-fed milk, other cheddars are not made from grass milk. So my cheddar is a yellow colour. English cheddars are white. It is still-growing grass, living, a natural environment.”

His 150 cows graze 200 acres. They calve in February and March, and milk through the summer when the grass is growing. Milking is stopped in November and December. For that reason he realised he needed a product with a long shelf life and decided on cheddar.

“There was already a demand for cheddar, and I felt the customer would move onto a stronger cheddar and pay more for a better sample. It melts well, cooks well, people know cheddar. It fitted my production profile, which was seasonal production.”

“It is a mature cheddar so I make the whole year’s production and then I store it. We make about 200-250 kilos a day over 80 days, that’s 16 tonnes. And we are still increasing. We are selling it but we would like to put it in the supermarkets where it will sell in volume.”

He employs two people to make the cheese. “I am able to pay them, instead of working on my own, the milk lorry arriving in the middle of the night, and still make a sustainable living out of my cattle.”

Pressing-the-Cheese-lowres

The Moo Man film makers Andy Heathcote and Heike Bachelier might come to Ireland to feature the work of raw milk cheese-makers. After the success of their film about Sussex dairy farmer Steve Hook and his small organic raw milk business, it is no surprise to hear that the next stage of the process – cheese-making – is on their agenda.

Heathcote was drawn to the story of Errington Cheese who were forced to close their business after the authorities in Scotland implicated them in an outbreak of ecoli and has decided that the wider issue of bacteria in raw milk cheese should be investigated. His initial investigations tell him that there are numerous agendas, and for those reasons there are genuine fears for raw milk cheese-makers like Bradley and Burgess.

Rules that do not apply to raw milk cheese makers in France, Italy or Switzerland, where raw milk cheeses are celebrated as part of a regional food culture that attracts tourists and customers, are being applied to Irish and Scottish cheese-makers.

Dubliner Ben Sherwood has just finished his thesis on the future of raw milk cheese in Ireland. He is optimistic about Irish cheese but not sure about the future. “We could end up losing all our raw milk cheese-makers unless we do something,” he says. “There do not seem to be many new cheese-makers. Between 1995 and 2015 we lost about two-thirds of our raw milk cheeses.”

Elizabeth Bradley has another theory. “Part of it is the fact that there are very few people depending solely on raw milk cheeses for a livelihood so are therefore not going to take the risk.”

Ben Sherwood wonders whether the Food Safety Authority of Ireland are taking a lead from the Food and Drug Administration in the USA, where soft raw milk cheeses are not allowed. “You cannot sell or import two-month old raw milk cheese.”

This policy is part of the precautionary principle and the FSAI believe they serve the public by being cautious. Earlier this year supermarkets removed a pasteurised cow’s milk brie from their shelves. “As a precautionary measure, SuperValu is recalling batches of Wicklow Blue, due to the possible presence of Listeria monocytogenes,” the FSAI stated in a public announcement.

In 2005 University College Cork food sciences professor Alan Kelly surveyed food scientists on the public understanding of food risk issues and messages, and found that these experts had “little confidence” in the public’s understanding of food risk issues. “The public under-assesses the risk associated with some microbiological hazards and over-assesses the risk associated with other hazards such as genetically modified organisms and bovine spongiform encephalopathy.” They also said that the “media tend to communicate information that is misleading”.

Another reason for FSAI’s concern.

Paolo-Verona-Cheeses.lowres

During his student years Ben Sherwood worked part-time in a shop with a specialist cheese counter. It gave him a window into the world of cheese consumers. “Only a small minority who come into the shop come up to the cheese counter,” he says. “People who know their cheeses know what they want, they have their favourites, the ones they are familiar with. Then there are people who haven’t a clue, but want to learn. Those are the best moments, that small interaction and the change in peoples outlook that one piece of cheese can make. They are the key to improving our culture.”

At the street markets across the country it is the same. Some people buy the cheeses they know, while other people want to know more about cheese. If the seller is also the cheese-maker they are in luck. “I think people do care,” says Elizabeth Bradley, “but are bombarded with information, have very busy lives, huge demands from the complex system around them.”

There is, according to Ben, a blissful ignorance about cheese. Despite attempts by the state, through Bord Bia, and others, like Sheridans cheesemongers, to promote Irish cheese, the medium does not convey the message.

Something is wrong.

Who is killing the cheese-makers? We all are, if you believe those who care about cheese, raw milk cheese in particular. From those in authority who display a “terrible arrogance” to those in the artisanal food sector who appear to be ruled by “arrogance and fear” to the consumer who has a “blissful ignorance” and sees food as an entertainment rather than a culture, to a media that has no excellence in food writing.


… continued in part two.

Legendary Dishes | Petits farcis Sardines et Thon (tomatoes stuffed with sardines and tuna)

Petits farcis Sardines et Thon FRANCE tomatoes stuffed with sardines and tuna

Traditionally these are made with the large tomatoes of southern France. Beef tomatoes are a good substitute, and one per person is not an absolute. The filling amounts are a guide, the volume of fish in cans varies from country to country. We have taken the liberty of adding an Italian touch to this very French dish by suggesting ricotta cheese instead of crème fraîche for the topping and a grating of parmigiano or pecorino as a dressing. The choice is yours.

4 large tomatoes, cored, pulp retained
250 g onions, chopped small
150 g ricotta cheese / crème fraîche

Canned sardines in oil, approximately
100 g
Canned tuna in oil
1 small long red pepper, chopped small
1 small zucchini / courgette, chopped small
45 ml olive oil
30 g hard cheese, grated, for garnish

2 garlic cloves
10 g black pepper, fresh ground
5 g salt
Rocket, for garnish

Boil onions for 20 minutes in salted water, drain and retain water to cook the zucchini for five minutes. Meanwhile sauté garlic in oil, add onions, tomato pulp and any liquid from the tomato and cook over a high heat until all the moisture has evaported, to leave a paste. Cool.

Mash tuna in own oil, add the paste, zucchini and seasonings.

Drain oil from sardines, mash with ricotta or crème fraîche.

Stuff tomatoes with tuna mixture. Heap creamed sardines on top. Use a fork to make peaks.

Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.

Garnish with a sprinkle of hard cheese. Serve with undressed rocket.


INDIGENOUS INGREDIENTS =  Olive Oil | Red Peppers | Sardines | Tomatoes | Tuna | Zucchini (Courgette)

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Legendary Dishes | Farçon (puréed potatoes with fruit, eggs, herbs and spices)

FRANCE
Farçon baked in casserole dish

A speciality of the French Alps, farcement and farçon are generally interchangeable in Savoy, although it would seem that farçon recipes in the rest of France exclude the bacon to produce a vegetarian version baked in a casserole-type dish in the oven. The elegant farcement mixture is contained in a mould, the rustic farçon mixture in the frying pan or skillet, so don’t worry if you cannot find a suitable utensil, just bake it in the oven. Farçon is generally eaten hot but it is just as delicious made cold.

  • 1.2 kg potatoes, cooked whole, peeled
  • 150 ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g apples, cubed small
  • 100 g blueberries
  • 100 g pears, cubed small or 50 g dried pears, sliced thin
  • 100 g raisins
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 15 g sugar (optional)
  • 1 sprig rosemary, chopped small
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh marjoram
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • Black pepper, large pinch
  • Cinnamon, large pinch
  • Nutmeg, large pinch Salt, large pinch

Purée the potatoes in milk with one or two eggs, add fruit, herbs and spices, pour into a tray greased with oil, bake in oven at 180ºC for 30 minutes. For the cold version purée the potatoes in milk, add choice of fruit, herbs and spices and extra salt and some sugar.


INDIGENOUS INGREDIENTS =  Apples | Blueberries | Dried Pears / Pears | Eggs | Marjoram | Milk | Potatoes | Raisins | Rosemary | Thyme

Text & Photo © Fricot Project 1998-2019

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Legendary Dishes | Rillettes de Fumé Haddock et Cuillères Citronnées (potted smoked haddock on bread spoons)

FRANCE

A curious tradition has begun to emerge in Europe with the availability of silicon moulds for cooking. One of the more creative inventions is a dish made with bread spoons topped with potted haddock. The recipes vary from baker to chef and back again via the domestic cook. This version is a firm potted haddock served on a bread spoon flavoured with rosemary and lemon.

Bread

  • 150 g flour 
  • 60 g butter 
  • 30 g hard cheese, grated
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 1 small lemon, juiced 
  • 5 g rosemary, chopped
  • Seasonings

Rillettes

  • 300 g smoked haddock fillets, cooked in fish stock, cooled, mashed
  • 1 egg, hard-boiled, cooled, mashed
  • 45 ml lemon juice
  • 20 g butter
  • 20 g flour
  • 5 g black pepper
  • Salt, large pinch

Preheat oven to 180°C. For the bread spoons rub the butter into the flour, add the cheese, rosemary and seasonings followed by the juice and zest, form into a loose dough. Roll dough to a thickness 1 cm, press into spoon moulds. Bake spoons for 30 minutes. Leave to cool.

For the rillettes, make a roux, add lemon juice. Flambé, add the egg and haddock, stir to incorporate the roux. Spoon into ramekins, leave to cool, refrigerate for an hour.

Serve with a dollop of potted haddock on each spoon.

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Legendary Dishes | Oeufs à la Pipérade (slow-cooked peppers, onions and tomatoes with eggs)

PAYS BASQUE / BASQUE COUNTRY 

Not an omelette and not scrambled eggs, this dish from the Basque region is one of the great traditional treats of Europe. Famously featured in Floyd on France when the gastronome from Bristol got a cooking lesson. ‘The peppers are not cooked, the eggs are scrambled,‘ his Pays Basque host chastises him in an acerbic tone. ‘It might be good television but it is not good food.‘

800 g tomatoes, blanched, skinned, quartered
800 g green and red peppers, sliced thin
8 eggs, beaten
300 g onion, sliced thin
10 garlic cloves, crushed, chopped
60 ml olive oil
30 g piment d'Espelette / hot paprika / mild chilli, 
ground (150 g fresh)
5 g sea salt

Flash fry the peppers in the oil over a high heat for three minutes, cover and remove to a medium-low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, add the tomatoes. After 15 minutes add the garlic, onions and salt, cook for 30 minutes. Remove the cover, add the piment and reduce, about an hour depending on the liquid content of the tomatoes, until everything is stewed. Increase heat to highest setting, pour a little oil into a large heavy-based frying pan, add a quarter of the pepper-tomato mixture. Slowly pour two eggs into the pan, stirring them into the vegetables, about two minutes. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

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Legendary Dishes | Marengo Viande de Veau (veal in garlic, tomato and wine sauce)

FRANCE

Chef Dunand‘s original creation for Napoleon Bonaparte after the battle of Marengo in 1800 involved a jointed chicken fried in oil, finished in a delicious brandy, garlic and tomato sauce. Over the years, white wine replaced brandy, onions were added, and veal joined chicken as the choice of meat.

  • 2 kg veal from shoulder, cubed
  • 1 kg tomatoes, peeled, chopped
  • 240 g onions, chopped
  • 200 ml white wine
  • 150 ml water
  • 125 ml olive oil, for frying
  • 12 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • Salt, pinch
  • Parsley, for garnish

In a large saucepan sauté garlic and onions in half of the oil, about two minutes.

Add water, tomatoes and salt, cook over a medium heat for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated..

Brown veal in a separate pan in remaining oil, add to sauce.

De-glaze pan with wine and add to sauce, cover, simmer for an hour.

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Legendary Dishes | Mâche et de Roquette dans l‘écrou Vinaigrette (cornsalad and rocket leaves with nuts)

FRANCE

This is one portion!

  • 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 and vinegar with almonds, dress leaves, mix in nuts, season and serve.

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Legendary Dishes | L’estocafic (stockfish stew)

FRANCE MONACO

The air-dried salted cod from the Lofoten Islands was revered as much as the local fish that went into bouillabaisse, and its origins in the villages between Nice and Monaco are still shrouded in mystery.

Made with the whole stockfish, a bucketful of tomatoes and almost as many potatoes with a bouquet garni, garlic, onions, olive oil and black olives, it was a slow-cooked stew with countless variations on the basic recipe.

Also known as E’stocafi, Estofinado and Stoficado, this dish goes through a transformation when the cod is poached in a court-bouillon made with the garlic-herb-onion-sweet pepper-tomato mix, mashed with potatoes, butter, cream, eggs, garlic, parsley and hot walnut oil.

Some chefs now make both the stew and the mash with fresh cod, and make a baccalà-like dish by poaching the cod and adding the perfectly cooked flakes to mashed potatoes, olive oil and parsley, finishing with a garnish of grated parmigiano and anchovy fillets.

This is the original.

  • 1 kg tomatoes
  • 600 g potatoes, peeled, quartered
  • 600 g stockfish
  • 500 g red peppers, chopped
  • 400 g onions, chopped
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 100 g black olives
  • 100 g garlic, crushed
  • 75 ml olive oil
  • Brandy, splash
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • Bouquet garni (fennel, marjoram, savory, thyme)
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Soak stockfish in cold water for 72 hours, changing the water twice a day. Skin and remove everything except the firm flesh, place bits in a saucepan with sufficient water to cover. Add a bay leaf, some of the chopped onions and two cloves of garlic. Bring to the boil and simmer for an hour. Strain and set liquid aside.

Cut cod into small pieces. Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan over a medium setting. Sauté the fish gently, adding a splash of brandy and a glass of white wine. Evaporate the alcohol and remove the fish to a bowl. Deglaze the pan with the tomatoes, add the garlic, bouquet garni, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt and pepper.

Reduce on a high heat for 15 minutes, then add the fish. Cover and simmer for an hour and a half, adding the fish stock to loosen when the stew becomes thick. In a separate saucepan blanch the potatoes for 15 minutes. Add olives, potatoes, peppers and remaining onions.

Serve in soup bowls. Pureed anchovies with basil and garlic, and chopped parsley are traditional accompaniments.

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Fricot Feature | The Goulash Story in Five Recipes

BELGIUM FRANCE HUNGARY LIECHTENSTEIN LUXEMBOURG NETHERLANDS ROMANIA

1: Kalbsrahmgulasch LIECHTENSTEIN creamy veal stew

This is the meat stew most people believe is goulash. It is a dish that became popular during the Austro-Hungarian era, now a traditional dish in Austria, Germany and Liechtenstein. Beef shoulder can be used as a substitute. This is an adaptation of the recipe by chef Christian Helmreich at Restaurant Engel in Vaduz. This stew is generally served with the small dumplings known as spätzle.

  • 1 kg veal shoulder, 4 cm cubed
  • 500 ml veal stock / beer
  • 375 g onions, sliced
  • 150 ml double cream / crème fraîche
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 125 g long red peppers, sliced
  • 100 g sweet apple purée
  • 60 ml rapeseed oil
  • 30 g sweet paprika powder
  • 15 ml lemon juice
  • 15 g tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed, mashed
  • 10 peppercorns, crushed
  • 6 juniper berries, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt, large pinch

Fry onions, peppers and garlic in half of the oil for five minutes over a high heat, reduce heat, cover and sweat for 30 minutes. Place onion-pepper mixture in an ovenproof pot, add paprika powder, tomato paste, apple purée, crushed spices and bay leaves. Heat gently for five minutes. Deglaze frying pan with the wine, add contents to the pot. Brown veal cubes in remaining oil, set aside with a slotted spoon, deglaze pan with some of the stock. Add the stock from the pan and remaining stock to the pot. Add the meat and bring to a low boil, add lemon juice and seasonings. Transfer to oven. Bake, uncovered in the middle of the oven, at 160ºC for 100 minutes, add cream and finish at 140ºC for 20 minutes.

2: Tokány ROMANIA paprika stew

This is the original meat and paprika stew. Vladimir Mirodan says it was brought south to Bucharest by young Transylvanian girls in search of services and fortune. The kidneys can be from calves, lambs or pigs. The marjoram, mushrooms, paprika and sour cream are essential. Without them it does not have the distinctive flavour that make it one of the region‘s most popular traditional dishes. This is an adaptation from Károly Gundel’s Hungarian Cookery Book.

  • 500 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 350 g beef, cut into strips
  • 350 g pork, cut into strips
  • 350 g pork kidney, blanched, cut into strips
  • 300 g sour cream
  • 200 ml water
  • 150 g onions, chopped small
  • 150 g smoked bacon, cubed
  • 60 g sunflower oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 30 g hot paprika
  • 10 g black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tsp mild paprika
  • 5 g marjoram, fresh or dried
  • Salt, two large pinches

Sauté onions in oil in a large frying pan over a low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add hot paprika, allow to soak in. Put pan back on heat, add beef, garlic, marjoram and seasonings, sauté until beef is brown. Add half the water, simmer for 10 minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Add pork, brown, simmer for 10 minutes in remaining water. In a separate frying pan sauté bacon and kidneys over a medium heat. When the kidneys are cooked add mushrooms and seasonings, cook for five minutes. Pour contents of bacon pan into beef pan, simmer for ten minutes, add mild paprika, then the cream and bring to a low boil. The aroma from this stew deters night creatures, so heavy with the garlic.

3: Carbonnades Flamandes / Stoofvlees op Vlaamse Wijze BELGIUM FLANDERS FRANCE LUXEMBOURG NETHERLANDS beef and beer stew

The western goulash, a sweet slightly acidic traditional dish of the low countries centred on Flanders. Chimay and Rodenbach are the preferred traditional beers for this iconic dish. Leffe Brune is acceptable. Stale bread spread with mustard was the traditional method of thickening the liquid, now gingerbread with its subtle spice flavours is used.

  • 2 kg brisket / shoulder beef, cut into 3 cm pieces, seasoned
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • 600 g onions, sliced
  • 375 ml dark brown beer
  • 250 g fatty bacon, cubed
  • 2 slices gingerbread bread / white bread, crusts removed, spread with mustard
  • 60 g butter
  • 30 g brown sugar
  • 30 g white wheat flour
  • 30 g mustard
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 10 g salt
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 5 g black pepper, freshly ground
  • 5 juniper berries, crushed
  • Green peppercorns, large pinch
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves

Brown beef in half the butter and oil in a large heavy-based pot over a medium heat in batches, remove and set aside. Add remaining butter and oil to pan, turn heat to low and sauté the bacon for five minutes, then the onions for 15 minutes. Stir the flour into the onions and brown lightly. Deglaze the pan with three tablespoons of stock, then pour in remaining stock with the beer and herbs and juniper berries. Bring slowly to the boil. Add the beef, then, if using, place the mustard bread on top, mustard side down or add the gingerbread and mustard. Add the garlic, black peppercorns and seasonings, turn heat to low to medium, and simmer for two and a half hours, stirring occasionally during second hour. Sweeten with sugar and cook for 30 minutes uncovered. Season, serve with pasta or potatoes, chipped or mashed.

4: Bogracsgulyás HUNGARY kettle stew

A traditional dish of the steppes, the essential ingredient was meat dried on the saddle. The Magyars added the meat to a large pot of water, then finished the dish with the addition of dumplings or root vegetables, heavily spiced with paprika.

  • 1.5 kg beef, 2 cm cubed
  • 1.5 kg floury potatoes, peeled, 2 cm cubed
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 500 g onions, sliced
  • 250 g fatty pork belly, cubed small
  • 30 g Szeged sweet paprika
  • 10 g Szeged hot paprika
  • Seasonings

Fry pork over low heat in a large pot until the fat begins to separate and the meat turns crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon, set aside. Fry onions in fat over a high heat, about five minutes, remove and set aside. Brown beef, return the onions to the pot with the water, bring to the boil. Add the sweet paprika, cover and simmer for an hour. Carefully slip the potatoes into the pot, bring back to the boil, reduce heat to low, season, cover, leave for 20 minutes. Sprinkle half of the hot paprika on top of the stew, leave uncovered for five minutes. Serve in deep bowls, adding a pinch of hot paprika to each dish, a chunk of bread on the side to mop up the juices.

5: Gulyásleves HUNGARY beef soup

Buda and Pest are among the few centres of civilisation in Europe where the peasant culture is still reflected in the choice of traditional foods available in restaurants. In Budapest soups start every meal, and most of the time that meal is a stew. The exception is gulyásleves, the beef soup known as goulash. It is often served as a main course accompanied with egg-flour noddles. Kéhli, one of the city’s oldest restaurants, specialises in traditional food including bean, beef, chicken and fish soups and the range of stews. Sípos Halászkert serves a diverse range of fish soups.

  • 1.5 litre of water
  • 900 g beef, cubed 2 cm
  • 500 g potatoes, diced small
  • 500 g onions, chopped
  • 300 g parsnip / turnip, diced
  • 300 g tomatoes
  • 250 g carrots, diced
  • 250 g green or red peppers
  • 100 g celery, cut small
  • 30 g lovage leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 10 g paprika, hot or sweet
  • 5 g caraway seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • black pepper, pinch
  • salt, pinch
  • Oil, for frying

Sauté the onions in the oil for 30 minutes, increase heat and brown the beef. Reduce heat, stir in the tomatoes and peppers, add the garlic and cover. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes. Add the bay leaves, caraway seeds and paprika. After five minutes add the vegetables, remaining seasonings and water. Cook until the potatoes are al dente.


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Legendary Dishes | Fondue (aromatic cheeses, melted with wine, served with bread cubes) + Fondue Story

Cheese, garlic, kirsch, potato (or corn starch) and white wine are the essential ingredients of fondue. Emmental, Gruyère and Vacherin, the cheeses that form the base for a classic Swiss fondue, only tell part of its story.

FRANCE | SWITZERLAND 

Across from the railway station in Lausanne is a rising cobbled street. It leads to a busy road in the heart of the lakeside city. Located in an alleyway across from a nondescript church is the august establishment known as Café Romand. We looked around and wondered where we could sit. A sign above the kitchen celebrated the year 1951. Immediately we were transported into Switzerland’s past, when the country was still clinging to its culture, its traditions and its unique forms of language – Swiss-French along its western border with France, Swiss-German throughout almost two-thirds of its 26 cantons, Italian in the south and Romanche in the east. Yet here, on the rising shore of Lake Geneva, Café Romand epitomised this distinctiveness and uniqueness.

The Swiss are a courteous, generally friendly people with a strong sense of identity, an even stronger sense of belonging rooted in place, especially in the mountains. This is evident in the café.

A thin, gaunt woman dressed in a white apron and black dress, money belt hung loosely around her slight waist, asked us for patience. We waited. We were standing close to the kitchen, while waitresses darted in and out.

Meanwhile the waitress who had told us to be patient began dragging a smallish square table to an area between similar sized tables and several oblong tables joined together. She motioned for us to follow her.

In a flash she whipped out a white table cloth, produced cutlery from somewhere, chairs from somewhere else and told us to sit while she bought the menu cards. A badge on her waitress uniform told us she was Virginia.

We thanked her and ordered fondue. It was the reason we had come, ‘the best fondue in Lausanne is in the Café Romand,’ we were told.

It was. 

Then we heard an interesting story. The high mountains that divide France from Switzerland are believed to be the birthplace of this comforting winter dish and there is ample evidence to suggest that fondue is a product of the dairy farmers who have tended cattle for centuries on high meadows, in the areas of France and Switzerland once known as the Duchy of Savoy. It stretched across the Alps into Piedmont in Italy, and in the departments of Haute Savoy and Savoy in France and in the cantons of Vaud and the Valais the people shared the same food culture.

The western Swiss cantons of Fribourg, Jura, Neuchâtel and Vaud all specialise in fondue but Emmental, Gruyère and Vacherin – the classic cheeses that form the basis for a classic Swiss fondue – only tell part of the fondue story.

The Vacherin cheese of Fribourg is preferred by fondue aficionados because it adds full flavour to the mildness of the Emmental and the piquancy of the Gruyère – the combination for the classic Neuchâteloise.

Neuchâteloise, Moitié Moitié (half Gruyère, half Vacherin) and the fondue served in Salvan restaurants and along the valley canton are among the most popular with Swiss people. If you want to know which cheeses go into which fondues served high in the Alps you will have to ask. This is another clue to the origins of fondue.

More than likely you will be told a story about black and white cows, sonorous bells and hidden valleys. The semi-hard ‘delicious, fatty, sweet and soft’ cheeses of the Bagnes and Goms valleys are associated with the lively Hérens cows, as much a part of Swiss alpine scenery as the chalet and cable car, and the fondue of the region.

An older, more romantic fondue! Yet not that different from the fondue served in the valleys of Haute Savoy, across Lake Geneva, across the high peaks between the Valais canton.

High above Martigny in the valley canton of Switzerland, the picturesque town of Salvan is an alpine vision of perfection. Here, and all along the Trient valley towards Chamonix – the ski resort in the French Alps, the restaurants serve a special fondue made from mountain pasture cheese, in the tradition of their fore-bearers.

Of course the popularity of this amazing cheese dish may also have something to do with the tradition that demands punishment when a diner loses their bread in the fondue pot.

A man must buy a bottle of wine or a round of drinks.

A woman must kiss all the men in the company.


Fondue Savoyarde

Beaufort, Emmentaler

Made with milk from the abondance and tarine cows found grazing alpine flora. Beaufort is known as the prince of mountain cheeses in Haute Savoy and Savoy, and usually the principle ingredient in this distinctive fondue.

  • 1 large farmhouse loaf, cut into cubes
  • 400 g beaufort cheese, grated
  • 400 g emmentaler cheese, grated
  • 375 ml dry white wine
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • Nutmeg, large pinch
  • Black pepper, large pinch

Rub the inside of the fondue pot (caquelon) with garlic. Add the cheeses white wine. Warm over a low heat, stirring thoroughly with a wooden spoon to obtain a smooth, blended mixture. Add pepper and grated nutmeg. Let the fondue cook for five more minutes, stirring constantly. Place the fondue pot over its warmer and enjoy the fondue by dipping the pieces of bread using long forks.


Fondue Rustique

Appenzeller, Emmental, Gruyère, Vacherin

  • 1 large farmhouse loaf, cut into cubes
  • 300 ml white wine
  • 200 g appenzeller cheese, grated
  • 200 g gruyère cheese, grated 200 g smoked bacon, cubed
  • 200 g vacherin fribourgeois cheese, grated
  • 150 g ham, cut into thin strips
  • 100 g emmentaler cheese, grated  
  • 75 ml kirschwasser (sour cherry spirit – schnapps)
  • 20 g potato starch
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • Lemon juice, splash
  • 1 sprig tarragon
  • Black pepper, pinch
  • Paprika, pinch 
  • Nutmeg, pinch

Sauté the bacon in a frying pan over a low heat. When the fat begins to separate add the ham strips and tarragon. Remove from heat. Rub fondue pot (caquelon) with the garlic clove. Add the cheeses, potato starch and wine, warm slowly. When the cheese starts to bubble on the surface, reduce heat, stir in the lemon juice and kirsch followed by the bacon and ham pieces. Season and leave the fondue to cook for five minutes over a low heat. Transfer the pot to its warmer and enjoy the fondue by dipping the pieces of bread using long forks.


Fondue Simpilär

Gruyère, Raclette

Less well known are the individual fondue of the mountain valleys. In their 2012 cookbook the farmer’s association of the Wallis canton offer a fondue made with local raclette and local wine.

  • 400 g gruyère mature cheese, grated
  • 400 g raclette full-fat cheese, grated
  • 20 g cornstarch
  • 20 ml Walliser white wine
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • White bread, cubed

Rub caquelon with the garlic, add wine and reduce. Turn the heat low, stir in the cheese and allow to melt gradually. Make a paste with the cornstarch and a little wine. Add to the fondue and reduce. Serve with bread, keeping the fondue warm.


Fondue Neuchâtel

Emmental, Gruyère, Vacherin

The classic fondue in Switzerland.

  • 800 g mixture of emmental, gruyère, vacherin, grated
  • 240 ml kirschwasser
  • 35 ml white wine
  • 20 g /cornstarch
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • nutmeg, grated
  • White bread, cubed

Usual procedure. Add the lemon juice with the cornstarch and wine, then the kirschwasser, finishing with the nutmeg.


Fondue Apfel Walnuss

Gruyère and Vacherin with apple and walnuts

  • 400 g gruyère cheese, grated
  • 400 g vacherin Fribourgeois cheese, grated
  • 2 apples, diced small
  • 240 ml apple brandy
  • 50 g walnuts, coarsely chopped, toasted
  • 40 ml white wine
  • 20 g cornstarch
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • Nutmeg, grated
  • Cayenne pepper, pinch
  • White bread, cubed

Replace kirschwasser with apple brandy. Once cheese is melted add walnuts, then carefully stir in the apple pieces. Finish with the cayenne and nutmeg.


Älpler Fondue

Appenzeller, Emmental mature, Emmental mild, Sprinz with macaroni and bacon

Inside the Cheese Grotto in the Swiss Alps
  • 350 g emmental mature cheese, grated
  • 350 ml white wine
  • 240 ml kirschwasser
  • 200 g bacon, cut into strips
  • 150 g appenzeller extra cheese, grated
  • 150 g emmental mild cheese, grated
  • 150 g sprinz, grated
  • 20 g  cornstarch
  • 15 g butter
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped small
  • Pepper, pinch
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Älplermagronen pasta (amount of choice)

Stir cornstarch into kirschwasser. Fry bacon and garlic in butter in the fondue pot. Deglaze with wine, add cheese. Stir until cheese melts, add cornstarch mixture. Season. Serve with älplermagronen.


LEGENDARY DISHES


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Legendary Dishes | Chicons au Gratin (chicory in cheese sauce)

BELGIUM FRANCE

In Belgium and France they produce a variety of chicory called endive, a white vegetable also known as chicon, witloof  (white leaf) and Brussels endive. Combine with ham and cheese it is one of Europe‘s most popular traditional dishes.

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

Preheat oven to 180°C. Braise or steam endive heads for ten minutes, leave to cool. Roll each head in a slice of ham, place in casserole dish, fill the spaces between the heads with béchamel. Season with pepper, salt and sugar. Bake for 40 minutes, sprinkling cheese on top after 25 minutes, until a golden skin has formed. Finish with nutmeg.

LEGENDARY DISHES


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Legendary Dishes | Omelette aux Fruits de Mer (fish omelette)

Omelette aux Fruits de Mer

Another omelette that lays claim to the best on the continent is this classic fish combination.

  • 12 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 400 g shrimp cooked
  • 400 g crab meat cooked
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 50 cream
  • 30 g shrimp sauce / soy sauce
  • 30 g cilantro / coriander / mint / parsley
  • 25 g shrimp butter
  • 1 tbsp chervil
  • Black Pepper, pinch
  • Salt, pinch
  • Rapeseed Oil, for frying

Combine eggs, onion, herbs and seasoning in a large bowl. Pour a quarter of the mixture onto an omelette pan or wide saucepan. Tilt pan to cover the entire base and cook for three minutes. Remove and repeat to make another three omelettes.

Combine the crabmeat and shrimps in your choice of sauce, spoon the mixture onto the centre of an omelette, fold into a wrap and place in an ovenproof dish. Repeat with remaining omelettes, packing them close together.

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Whip shrimp butter* into the cream, coat each omelette.

Bake omelettes for 20 minutes.

Traditionally this omelette is made with any combination of crab and lobster meat, prawns and shrimps, clams, mussels and scallops.

*Shrimp butter can be made by mixing six parts butter with one part shrimp paste.

Other Omelettes

Armenia 
butter, cheese, corn, eggs, ham, milk, 
onion, peas, tomato, salt
Austria
butter, cheese, eggs, flour, milk, parsley, 
salt, tomatoes

Azerbaijan 
aubergines, eggs, oil, onion, 
parsley, pepper, salt

Baltics 
eggs, mushrooms, sour cream

Bavaria
eggs, oil, onions, potatoes, smoked bacon

England
butter, eggs, pepper, salt

France
1 eggs, ghee
2 bacon, butter, eggs 
3 butter, ceps, eggs, parsley
4 butter, eggs, rum, salt, sugar
5 butter, cream/milk, eggs, pepper, salt
6 anchovy purée, butter, cream/milk, eggs, 
pepper, salt
7 asparagus tips, butter, cream/milk, eggs, 
pepper, salt
8 butter, egg whites, egg yolks, 
mashed black pudding
9 aubergines, eggs, garlic, oil, parsley, 
tomato
10 bacon, butter, cheese, eggs, herbs, 
mushrooms, pepper, salt
11 cheese, eggs, mustard, olive oil, 
onions red and white, pepper, salt, 
shallots, sugar, thyme

Ireland
butter, eggs, smoked salmon

Italy
1 butter, eggs, cheese, artichokes/asparagus/
long beans/onions/pasta/potatoes/tomatoes/
zucchini, olive oil, pepper, salt
2 butter, eggs, ham, olive oil, mozzarella, 
onions, parmigano, parsley, pepper, salt, 
spaghetti cooked, tomatoes

Germany
bacon, butter, chives, eggs, flour, milk, 
nutmeg, pepper, salt

Hungary
eggs, olive oil, onion, paprika, parsley, 
red pepper, salt, tomatoes

Malta
cheese, eggs, olive oil, parsley, pepper, 
salt, spinach, vermicelli

Netherlands
eggs, leeks, mushrooms, onions, peas, 
pepper, peppers, potatoes, salt

Poland
butter, eggs, onion, pepper, potato, 
salt, zucchini

Portugal
1 butter, eggs, garlic, pepper, raw ham, 
salt
2 butter, eggs, lemon juice, 
orange flower water, salt, sugar

Russia
eggs, milk, parsley, salt, tomatoes

Scotland
butter, cheese, eggs, milk

Turkey
eggs, feta cheese, maize flour, milk, 
olive oil, paprika, parsley, pepper, salt

Legendary Dishes | Carbonnades Flamandes / Stoofvlees op Vlaamse Wijze (beef and beer stew)

BELGIUM | FRANCE | NETHERLANDS

The western goulash, a sweet slightly acidic traditional dish of the low countries centred on Flanders. Chimay and Rodenbach are the preferred traditional beers for this iconic dish. Leffe Brune is acceptable. Stale bread spread with mustard was the traditional method of thickening the liquid, now gingerbread with its subtle spice flavours is used.

  • 2 kg brisket / shoulder beef, cut into 3 cm pieces, seasoned
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • 600 g onions, sliced
  • 375 ml dark brown beer 
  • 250 g fatty bacon, cubed
  • 2 slices gingerbread bread / white bread, crusts removed, spread with mustard
  • 60 g butter
  • 30 g brown sugar
  • 30 g white wheat flour
  • 30 g mustard
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 10 g salt
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 5 g black pepper, freshly ground
  • 5 juniper berries, crushed
  • Green peppercorns, large pinch
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary 
  • 2 bay leaves

Brown beef in half the butter and oil in a large heavy-based pot over a medium heat in batches, remove and set aside. Add remaining butter and oil to pan, turn heat to low and sauté the bacon for five minutes, then the onions for 15 minutes. Stir the flour into the onions and brown lightly. Deglaze the pan with three tablespoons of stock, then pour in remaining stock with the beer and herbs and juniper berries. Bring slowly to the boil. Add the beef, then, if using, place the mustard bread on top, mustard side down or add the gingerbread and mustard. Add the garlic, black peppercorns and seasonings, turn heat to low to medium, and simmer for two and a half hours, stirring occasionally during second hour. Sweeten with sugar and cook for 30 minutes uncovered. Season, serve with pasta or potatoes, chipped or mashed.

LEGENDARY DISHES


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Festive Food | Roasted Almonds

RoastedAlmonds-lowres

 

Gebrannte Mandeln
AUSTRIA GERMANY SWITZERLAND
roasted almonds

 

They are crispy and sweet, very addictive, and are probably the world’s oldest confection. They are sugared nuts, almonds in particular, which were a favourite treat with the ancient Romans. Sugared almonds were given as gifts and according to Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat they were distributed at private and public ceremonies.

Almonds and hazelnuts have been coated in a syrup made originally from honey, then from molasses and nowadays beet or cane sugar, and served as a festive treat for countless centuries.

These days it is the method that is a keen subject for debate and the amount of sugar. Once apon a time the ratio was 3:2 in favour of sugar, now it is 3:2 or 2:1 in favour of the nuts, mostly almonds, especially in central, northern and western Europe.

From Italy the idea of combining spices with sugar and coating almonds and pine kernels with the caramelised mixture caught on in France, where these confections became associated with fairs and festivals.

In the Germanic countries, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla-flavoured sugar and water are brought to the boil, almonds are added and slowly cooked in the syrup. The coated nuts are poured out onto a sheet greased with butter, separated and left to cool.

In England the nuts are roasted in the oven and then added hot to a sugar and water syrup. Because of the formation of acrylamide, a chemical identified as a possible carcinogen, during the roasting of almonds the oven temperature should be at 129°C or lower.

The Spanish largueta almond is regarded as the perfect variety for this delicious confection, because of its intense flavour.

This is the German version with reduced sugar.

 

200 g largueta almonds, unpeeled
50 g sugar
50 g vanilla sugar
50 ml water
5 g cinnamon
Butter, for greasing

 

Boil the sugars with cinnamon and water, add almonds and cook over a low heat stirring constantly until the water has been absorbed and the sugar begins to dry. Spoon the sugared almonds onto a buttered baking sheet. Separate the almonds with two forks, leave to cool.

Legendary Dishes | Tapénade (anchovy and caper olive oil paste)

Tapénade FRANCE anchovy and caper olive oil paste
Tapénade, a dish of the Provençal region of south-east France and specific to Marseille, was originally made by pounding fresh capers with anchovy fillets in a mortar, gradually drizzling olive oil and lemon juice into the mixture, finishing with a grinding of black pepper. This mixture was added to pounded hard-boiled egg yolks and stuffed into halved eggs, then served as an hors d’œuvre. Over time stoned black olives were added to give the tapénade depth, and to allow it to be served pâté-like. Some recipes called for tuna fish, others for garlic, herbs and mustard. Tapénade remains a dish of Provence, because the ingredients – especially the capers (which give this sauce its name) – need to be fresh.

Tapénade – 1

  • 100 g anchovy fillets
  • 100 g capers, fresh
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Black pepper, pinch
  • Brandy, splash

plus …

  • 8 hard-boiled eggs, halved length-wise, yolks retained
Pound the anchovies and capers in a mortar (or blender), add oil, brandy and sufficient lemon juice to make a sauce, thicken with the hard-boiled yolks, season with pepper.
Stuff the mixture into the eggs, serve with a drizzle of the tapénade over each halved egg.

Tapénade – 2

  • 240 ml olive oil (quantity with garlic and olives)
  • 100 g anchovies
  • 100 g capers
  • 100 g black olives, de-seeded (optional)
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 4 cloves garlic (optional)
  • Pepper

The quick method is with the food processor. Garlic and olives enrich this paste. If that is your choice, blend the anchovies, capers, garlic, onions and lemon juice. Strain through a sieve, then blend again with the oil and pepper. For the simpler version, pound anchovies and capers in a mortar with the lemon juice, adding sufficient oil to produce a creamy smooth texture. Spread on fresh white bread.


Tapénade – 3

  • 275 g black olives, pitted
  • 100 g anchovies in olive or sunflower oil
  • 100 g capers, fresh or brined
  • 100 g tuna in oil (optional)
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 1 lemon, large, juiced
  • 10 g mustard
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf, crushed
Blend everything in a food processor, serve on toasted fresh bread.

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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 (see Mini Quiche for recipe)
  • 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.

Add spinach to the cream-egg 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-spinach 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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Legendary Dishes | Mohrenköpf (chocolate balls)

EarlyBeckMilkTruffles
Truffles – the new chocolate balls

Traditionally these are cylindrical dome shaped confections with a marshmallow or sponge filling, a biscuit base and chocolate coating. Artisan production is dwarfed by the commercial specialists who insist the mechanical method produces better products.

Originally a German confection with a foam filling, made with egg, flour and jam, the Swiss claimed the ‘Moor’s Head’ for their own when the Germans and French adopted a more politically correct name, and began to significantly alter the traditional recipe.

The Germans renamed them Chocolate Kisses, and began to produce a different dessert.

The French altered the recipe so much that Boule Meringuée au Chocolat is closer to the Mohrenköpf than Tête Choco, which is effectively a chocolate ball.

The Swiss remain loyal to the original recipe, convinced by the popularity of their filling – a sugary foam made with egg whites for an airy texture.

But tastes are clearly moving from the light into the dark and this is reflected in the different versions of the Mohrenköpfe.

In French-speaking Switzerland the Mohrenköpfe is a Boule Meringuée au Chocolat – a chocolate ball filled with sponge cake and lemon or vanilla cream filling, sold and eaten fresh.

But this is one chocolate confection that is gradually losing its shine, so here are a few recipes for those who like these things.

The first one is an adaptation of the Swiss Mohrenköpfe, the cream and sponge fillings replacing the foam.


Mohrenköpfe

Sponge

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 75 g pastry flour
  • 75 g vanilla sugar
  • 25 g cornflour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Salt, pinch

Cream Filling

  • 400 g cream, whipped
  • 1 lemon, zest

Jam Filling

  • 250 ml milk
  • 45 g apricot jam
  • 25 g sugar

Biscuit Base

  • 175 g breadcrumbs
  • 50 g flour
  • 50 g mixed nuts and seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • 20 g butter
  • Salt, pinch

Coating

  • 250 g 70% chocolate, chopped
  • 30 g butter

Equipment

  • 2 bun trays with 12 moulds
  • 12 silicon moulds, same diameter at large end as bun tray moulds

Beat egg yolks, add flour, cornflour, baking soda and salt. Beat egg whites and 75 g sugar until stiff. Fold into yolk mixture. Pour batter into 12 moulds. Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes. Leave to cool on wire rack.

Form breadcrumbs, butter, egg and nuts into a soft dough. Bake in the same sized moulds as the sponges at 180°C for 20 minutes.

Leave to cool.

Boil milk, add remaining 25 g sugar. Heat jam, stir into milk-sugar mixture. Leave to cool.

Arrange the biscuits on greaseproof paper on a small tray. Spread jam-milk mixture thickly on each biscuit, top lightly with sponges.

Melt chocolate and butter in a bain-marie.

Whip cream with lemon zest.

Pour the tepid chocolate into each silicon mould, evenly coating the inside of the mould.

Refrigerate for an hour.

Place a large dollop of lemon cream inside each mould, place a biscuit-sponge sandwich on top, seal with a layer of chocolate.

Refrigerate for two hours.

Turn out of moulds.

Schokoküsse

GiantChocolateHead
Giant Chocolate Kiss

Sponge

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 75 g pastry flour
  • 75 g vanilla sugar
  • 25 g cornflour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Salt, pinch

Mousse

  • 250 g 70% chocolate
  • 150 ml cream, whipped
  • 5 egg yolks, beaten
  • 5 egg whites, whisked

Coating

  • 250 g 70% chocolate, chopped
  • 30 g butter

Equipment

  • 1 bun tray with 12 moulds
  • 12 silicon moulds, same diameter at large end as bun tray moulds

Beat egg yolks, add flour, cornflour, baking soda and salt. Beat egg whites and 75g sugar until stiff. Fold into yolk mixture. Pour batter into 12 moulds. Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes. Leave to cool on wire rack.

Melt chocolate for the mousse in a bain marie while beating the yolks. Stir into the melted chocolate after 15 minutes. Whisk the egg white, fold carefully into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the cream.

Refrigerate.

Melt chocolate and butter for the coating. When it has cooled pour the tepid chocolate into each silicon mould, evenly coating the inside of the mould.

Refrigerate for an hour.

Place a large dollop of mousse inside each mould, place a sponge on top, seal with a layer of chocolate.

Refrigerate for two hours.

Turn out of moulds.

Boule Meringuée au Chocolat

EarlyBeckAssortment
Chocolates are Evolving – this is a selection from the Early Beck shops in Switzerland

Sponge

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 120 g vanilla sugar
  • 40 g almonds, ground
  • 40 g butter, melted
  • 20 g pastry flour

Cream-Chocolate Filling

  • 200 ml Chantilly cream, whipped
  • 150 g 70% chocolate, chopped
  • 50 g butter

Dressing

  • 75 g 55% chocolate, flaked
  • 50 g cocoa powder

Equipment

  • 1 bun tray with 12 moulds

Mix eggs with sugar, sieve flours on top followed by a slow dribble of butter. Pour this batter into 12 buttered and floured moulds. Bake for 20 minutes in 170°C oven.

Boil cream, add 70% chocolate and whip into a soft paste with the butter.

Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Cut each sponge in two, spread a thin layer of cream on one side and cover with the second side.

Top each sandwich with cream, dot with 55% chocolate flakes and dust with cocoa powder.


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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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