Tag: Fricot

The Fricot Project

The Fricot Project

This is the quest to find the origins of Europe‘s favourite ingredients, the recipes that have evolved through generations, the traditional foods that have remained popular, their re-emergence in the kitchens of imaginary bakers and visionary chefs … the start of a new food revolution that has roots in sustainable food security and the protection of localised employment.

This is the interaction between people and place … the fields and forests, the seas, rivers and lakes, the mountain pastures, the settled estuaries, the plains and steppes, the allotments, plots, rooftop gardens, terraces … and produce!

The Fricot Project is identifying all the indigenous produce and products that make up the traditional, popular foods and the baking and cooking methods throughout Anatolia, the Caucasus and Europe.

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This is the opportunity to talk to artisanal and small-scale food producers  — bakers, cafe cooks, cattle (beef and veal), goat, pig, poultry and sheep farmers, cheese makers, chef-restaurateurs, chocolatiers, confectioners, fish processors, food educators, food innovators, freshwater, inshore and offshore fishers, grain farmers, grocers, legume farmers, patissiers, vegetable farmers and assorted people working in small-scale and family food production — to discover whether fresh and local are the true ingredients in a new world order of food that is not dominated by exports and imports.

This is the Fricot Project:-

attempting to localise the value-chain system;

assessing the bio-economic and eco-social impacts of short chains;

learning the reasons for success and failure among artisanal food businesses;

questioning the role of the state in small-scale food production, innovative marketing, promotion and selling;

questioning the benefits of EU policy and the significance of grant-aid;

understanding the necessity for educational support, co-operative systems and strategic applications (such as centralised distribution – from small-scale producer to small-scale grocer) and;

realising the benefits and implications from small-scale food activity on sustainable food security.

The Fricot Project exists to promote traditional food cultures, clever food tourism, indigenous food produce and artisanal products … to celebrate and define sustainable food security.

Legendary Dishes | Shortbread

Scotland

 

Shortbread
Shortbread made with brown sugar and semolina

Traditionally made with butter, sugar and oatmeal, shortbread can be made with rice, semolina, spelt and wheat flour or with combinations.

It is also flavoured with herbs (thyme) and spices (cumin) and decorated with flaked almonds and candied fruit.

Lemon or orange zest can also be added to the dough.

This is a modern version that produces a crispy shortbread.

 

350 g baking flour
350 g butter, cut into small pieces
150 g semolina, coarse
75 g brown sugar
75 g white sugar
1 lemon, zest, grated
3 thyme sprigs, leaves
5 g black pepper

 

Preheat oven to 150°C.

Sieve baking flour into large bowl, add butter and rub in.

Add sugar and second flour, and seasonings.

Form into a dough and press into a baking tin. Prick surface liberally with fork.

Bake for 70 minutes, until the shortbread takes on a rich brown colour.

While still warm, cut into desired shapes.


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Street Food | Northern England

Meat and Potato Pie with Peppered Crust

Meat and potato pies are a traditional dish of northern England, especially the counties of Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, where meat and potatoes have always formed the basis for a hearty meal. Packed in a pastry the meal becomes portable.

These pies have never been a home-baked product, largely because they have always been ubiquitous in the cafe and chip shop culture of north-west England, Holland’s version being the most popular of the mass-produced brands.

Made with beef, potato and yeast extract in a shortcrust pastry, Holland’s meat and potato pies are also synonymous with sporting events.

Meat and potato pies, as they are known today, began as a workhouse product, are probably related to Irish mutton pies, and were hardly known as a recipe in cookbooks.

Charles Elme Francatelli’s A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes, published in 1852, describes a meat pie and a potato pie.

Meat Pie

Of whatever kind, let the pieces of meat be first fried brown over a quick fire, in a little fat or butter, and seasoned with pepper and salt; put these into a pie-dish with chopped onions, a few slices of half-cooked potatoes, and enough water just to cover the meat. Cover the dish with a crust, made with two pounds of flour and six ounces of butter, or lard, or fat dripping, and just enough water to knead it into a stiff kind of dough or paste, and then bake it for about an hour and a-half.

Potato Pie

Slice up four onions and boil them in a saucepan with two ounces of butter, a quart of water, and pepper and salt, for five minutes; then add four pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut in slices; stew the whole until the potatoes are done, and pour them into a pie-dish; cover this with stiff mashed potatoes, and bake the pie of a light brown colour.

Our version has an Irish stew filling and a peppered crust.


Meat and Potato Pie with Peppered Hot Pastry Crust

Filling

  • 1 kg potatoes, peeled, quartered
  • 750 g lamb, cut into 2 cubes
  • 750 g onions, chopped
  • 30 g black pepper, freshly ground
  • 25 g salt
  • Water

This is essentially an Irish stew recipe. The quantity is much more than you will need for the filling. Arrange lamb in the bottom of a large pot, turn heat to medium and allow fat to run out of the bones. Stack potatoes on top of the lamb, then the onions and seasoning, more pepper than salt. Fill the pot with water, three-quarters up to the level of the onions, bring to the boil. Cover, turn heat to lowest setting and cook for three hours.

The result should be a thick meat and potato stew, with the onions completely melted.

Dough

  • 450 g strong white flour
  • 150 ml water
  • 125 g lard
  • 10 g black pepper
  • 10 g salt
  • 5 g icing sugar

Bring the lard and water to the boil.

Sieve flour and salt into a large bowl, add pepper and sugar.

Pour the hot liquid into a well in the centre of the flour, and using a sturdy wooden spoon quickly form into a soft dough.

Divide dough into eight equal pieces (approximately 90 g each), cut again – two thirds for the base, one third for the lid.

Push the dough into the bottom and sides of small deep pie tins, diameter 8 cms.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Pack the tins with the filling, roll the remaining dough out, place over the top of the filling, crimping the edges. Pierce a hole in the centre of the lid.

Reduce oven temperature to 180°C, bake for 90 minutes.


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[Fricot Editions] Ice Trains and Snow Food | Press Release

Ice Trains and Snow Food (Stamboul Trains, Ski Resorts, Magic Carpets, Long Tunnels and Culinary Comforts in White Europe: Istanbul and Paris the Long Way Round in Winter with 101 recipes)  is now available on kindle.

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ICE TRAINS AND SNOW FOOD – STAMBOUL TRAINS, SKI RESORTS, MAGIC CARPETS, LONG TUNNELS AND CULINARY COMFORTS IN WHITE EUROPE – ISTANBUL AND PARIS THE LONG WAY ROUND IN WINTER

The book is a travel narrative through the seven countries of the European Alps plus Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia and Slovenia, featuring stories and recipes.

The print edition will be published in September 2016.

The Ice Travel series will continue with Ice Travel and Snow Food: Culinary Adventures in Alpine Switzerland and Ice Travel and Snow Food: Culinary Adventures in Alpine Italy, with the ebooks of these editions appearing in 2016..

Fricot Editions editor Robert Allen said: ‘This is the first in a series of pocket books about the traditional foods of Europe and how they are being reinterpreted by clever cooks and creative chefs.’

‘There is renewed interest in the foods our great grandparents took for granted. These dishes are part of the fabric of community life, in the cities, towns and villages, and nowhere is this better illustrated than in alpine Europe, where traditions have a habit of remaining faithful while being constantly updated.’

Ice Trains and Snow Food is the first volume in a series of pocket books about the alpine and carpathian regions of Europe.

 


 

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Book Review | Science In The Kitchen and The Art of Eating Well

Pellegrino Artusi is a legend in Italy, an artist in Florence, where he resided for many years, and a god in Forlimpopli, where he was born and is now celebrated by Festa Artusiana, an annual festival of food.

For a country with an endless number of cookbooks, it is hard to believe sometimes that the Italian home cook always returns to the great favourite – the Artusi interpretation of regional Italian food (and more besides), first published in 1891 by the author after his tome was rejected by numerous publishers.

Artusi had an edge. His book was the first to be written with the home cook in mind, especially those who could not speak or read French, the language of cookbooks in 19th century Italy.

Italian language publishers did not see the point of producing a cookbook for the home cook. Artusi persevered. He employed Florentine typographer Salvatore Landi and managed to get the Florentine publisher Bemporad and Figlio to distribute the book. By 1910 La Scienza in Cucina had sold 52,000 copies and was being recognised, according to Luigi Ballerini, as ‘the most significant Italian cookbook of modern times’.

With 790 recipes Artusi set a trend that continues today with modern Italian cookbooks that often contain 800 recipes in big thick tomes. Many of these modern cookbooks are compiled by food writers who collect recipes from chefs and cooks clearly influenced by Artusiana. The Artusian influence resonates down the years to us. Yet one thing is always missing in these modern cookbooks and that is Artusi’s idiosyncratic prose.

Knowing it would be foolish to patronise a home cook he kept his instructions to a minimum and always imparted a little wisdom. Some have said his manner was typical of the Florentine he had become. More likely he realised he would not get away with anything but common sense.

His opening lines in the section on broths, aspic and sauces (always the place to start in any kitchen) illustrate this perfectly.

‘As common folk know, to make a good broth you must put the meat in cold water, and bring the pan to a very slow boil, never letting it boil over. If, instead of a good broth, you prefer a good boiled beef, then put the meat in boiling water without any special care. Everyone knows that spongy bones add flavour and fragrance to broth, but a broth of bones is not especially nutritious.’

His explanations often touched on irony.

‘Couscous is a dish of Arab origin, which the descendants of Moses and Jacob, in their peregrinations, have carried around the world. But who knows how many and what kind of modifications it has undergone in its travels. Nowadays it is used as a first course by the Jews of Italy, two of whom were kind enough to let me taste it and see how it is done. I then made it again in my own kitchen as a test, and can therefore guarantee its legitimacy. However, I cannot guarantee I shall make you understand it:

For it is no simple thing to seek this odd concoction fully to describe,

For a tongue that human words can speak.’

(The latter being a play on words from Dante’s Inferno, where he has difficulty describing the bottom of the universe – the lowest circle of hell.)

He laced his entries with anecdotes.

‘I questioned a street vendor in Romagna on the subject (of castagnaccio – chestnut cake). I described this chesnut cake to her, and asked why she did not try to earn a few pennies selling it.

“What can I tell you,” she replied. “It’s too sweet, nobody would eat it.”

“But those cottarone you are selling, aren’t they sweet? Still they are selling,” I said. “Why don’t you at least try the chestnut cake,” I added. “At first, distribute them free to the children, give them a piece as a gift to see if they start liking the taste. And then the grown-ups are very likely to come after the children.”

‘It was no use, I might as well have been talking to a stone wall.’

In her foreward to the University of Toronto Press English language edition, Michele Scicolone makes a very relevant point.

‘The recipes in La Scienza in Cucina have withstood the test of time and rarely seem dated or outmoded. Ricotta cake, saltimbocca, and frittatas are as familiar and as easily prepared and enjoyed today as they were one hundred years ago. Few restaurants that claim to be Italian would be without bolognese-style ragu, ravioli filled with meat or cheese, pasta with beans, risotto, and roasted and stewed meats on the menu, all of which can be found in La Scienza in Cucina. Though Artusi would never have imagined it, his recipes continue to be used by cooks the world over who appreciate Italian home cooking.’

The fact of the matter, as Artusi might have said, is obvious. If you want to know what traditional Italian food is then look no further than this book.

It is one of a kind! Arguably one of the most entertaining cookbooks ever written.


La Scienza in Cucina has been translated into various languages.

A complete translation in English with an interesting foreword and an extensive introduction is available here.

See here for biographical and current information on Artusi and his legacy.


All books reviewed in FF will shortly be available to purchase direct from Small World Wholesale.


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Book Review | Cool Cuisine

BOOK REVIEW

With Cool Cuisine Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir has made an attempt to modernise Iceland’s traditional recipes for a global audience.

CoolCuisineFrontCover
Cool Cuisine by Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir

The result is a gem of a cookbook with numerous iconic recipes that can only be described as mouth watering. What makes this book absolutely fabulous is the fact that the recipes are flawless. Her method in each recipe is precise. A joy to cook!

Rögnvaldardóttir can be regarded as the keeper of Iceland’s traditional food heritage. She has taken up the trend started by Elín Briem, who produced the first influential Icelandic cookbook in 1889, later elaborated on by the Danish-flavoured cookbooks of Jóninna Sigurðardóttir and Helga Sigurðardóttir.

Rögnvaldardóttir has described Helga Sigurðardóttir as the ‘grand lady of Icelandic cooking,’ a title Rögnvaldardóttir probably now deserves for herself, if only because she has researched and interpreted the traditional food of this north Atlantic island with a passion and panache missing from most cookbooks.

Helga Sigurðardóttir championed what Rögnvaldardóttir has called ‘the epitome of Icelandic-Danish cooking, the comfort food modern-day Icelanders feel nostalgic about but rarely cook themselves; flour-thickened sauces, the Sunday roast leg of lamb, pork roast with cracklings, lemon mousse, prune compote, fish salad with mayonnaise sauce, meatballs in brown sauce with jam, and Danish apple charlotte’.

Rögnvaldardóttir has gone for traditional dishes that combine largely Icelandic ingredients – fish, lamb, potatoes, berries, game, sea birds and sea vegetables, and dairy produce – with a few overseas ingredients.

As she puts it, ‘many recipes mix traditional Icelandic ingredients and exotic vegetables, fruits, and spices’. She has been sparing with the exotic influences.

The result is a book full of interesting recipes. She has divided these into four areas – ocean, coast, countryside and mountain.

Curried Haddock with Pineapple, Pepperoni Haddock, White Chocolate Skyr Tart, Cocoa Soup, Cinnamon Rolls, Lamb in Curry Sauce, Dried Fruit Soup and Reindeer Steaks with Red Wine Sauce are her examples of the native-exotic tradition. TroutwithDulseSaucePic&Recipe

Then there are the dishes that are uniquely Icelandic – Rye Flatbread, Skyr with Berries, Iceland Moss Soup, Braised Wild Goose, Juniper-Cured Salmon, Blood Pudding, Leaf Bread, Smoked Leg of Lamb, Trout with Dulce Sauce, Marinated Seabird Breasts, Halibut (or sweet-sour) Soup, Grilled Langoustines and Fish Balls.

Cool Cuisine does not do justice to the range of work produced by Rögnvaldardóttir. Her best work has not been translated from Icelandic, and this delightful colour production only hints at her culinary genius. It disguises some of the most tantalising recipes available from any cookbook anywhere in Europe.

She makes the relevant point herself. ‘It has never been so easy to cook good food – and never so easy not to cook at all.’


An English language edition is available online. CoolCuisineBackCover


All books reviewed in FE will shortly be available to purchase direct from Small World Wholesale.


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Legendary Dishes | Gnocchi (potato dumplings)

Italian potato specialists Antonio Ruggiero recommend agata, arrow, frisia and marabel for gnocchi.


To egg or not is the question good cooks ignore when making perfect potato dumplings, known as gnocchi in Italy.

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 Veneta 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!


Gnocchi

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

These would be the varieties 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 5cm thick, cut into 2cm 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 chestnuts and basil paste)

Sweet and 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 Toscano Pecorino
  • 30 g pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove Salt, pinch

Combine potatoes, the two flours, egg and salt in a large bowl. On a floured surface roll into a sausage 5 centimetre thick, cut into 2cm 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.


Maneghi (sweet potatoes)

A whole different potato dumpling.

  • 300 g American (sweet) potatoes
  • 200 g flour
  • 100 g butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 30 g hard cheese, grated
  • 30 g icing sugar
  • 10 g cinnamon, ground

Bake potatoes in 160°C oven for 45 minutes, peel and mash. Leave to cool. In a large bowl mix potatoes with the egg and flour. Shape into gnocchi. Bring to the boil in a pot of hot water. Reduce heat. When gnocchi rise to the surface they are ready. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, fry the cinnamon for ten seconds, add sugar and grana. Toss maneghi in the spicy-sweet butter.

LEGENDARY DISHES


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Legendary Dishes | Pesto (basil paste)

Pesto has origins in several Italian regions. Like the pizza and its association with Naples, the most famous pesto is an iconic traditional dish of Genoa.

Pesto

  • 180 g parmigiano / grana padano, fine grated
  • 120 ml olive oil
  • 100 g basil leaves
  • 60 g pecorino / sardoor / toscano, fine grated
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 30 g pine nuts
  • 10 g sea salt

Pound basil with garlic, about 30 leaves for every clove. Use salt to aid grinding.

When the mixture turns into a bright green liquid, add pine nuts. Pound until incorporated.

Add Italian cheese of your choice, then the oil a drop at a time until the consistency is just right.

Fresh pesto is dangerous. Use your imagination and don’t eat too much in one go.


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Legendary Dishes | Oie Rôtie aux Fruits (roast goose with fruit)

FRANCE

Truely one of the great traditional dishes of Europe, a masterpiece of rustic perfection if cooked correctly.

Sadly this dish is beginning to fade from the menus of provincal France because it is no longer an integral aspect of rural life, more often an expedient set of choices from the supermarket.

Having said that all the ingredients can be bought in a good Carrefour during festive times, but to give this feast full recognition the ingredients need to be of the highest quality.

Apples and pears are more popular than apricots and prunes as the fruits to go with roasted goose these days. The intrepid cook usually finds a way to use all four fruits, which can be fresh or dried.

As for the goose, something between three and four kilos is perfect, with giblets and liver included.

Good hunting!

Roast

  • 3.5 kg goose
  • 250 g potatoes, rough cut large
  • 125 g onion, quartered
  • 100 g carrot, rough cut large
  • 100 g parsnip, rough cut large
  • 4 garlic cloves, whole
  • 10 g rosemary, large sprig
  • Black pepper, pinch
  • Salt, pinch

Filling

  • 200 g cooked rice / marrons / walnuts
  • 125g apple, grated
  • 125 g goose liver, chopped coarsely
  • 100 g carrots, grated
  • 100 g orange confit / marmalade, fine chopped
  • 100 g red onions / shallots, sliced
  • 75 g smoked bacon, cubed
  • 50 apple brandy / calvados
  • 50 g currants, soaked in brandy
  • 30 ml brandy
  • 30 g butter
  • 15 g parsley root, fine chopped
  • 5 g sage leaves, fine chopped
  • Black pepper, pinch
  • Nutmeg, pinch
  • Salt, pinch
  • Olive oil, splash

Sauté onions or shallots in the butter for ten minutes over a low heat, add bacon and cook until crispy, then finish with the liver, about five minutes. Leave to cool.

Combine bacon-liver mixture with the marrons, rice or walnuts, add parsley root, raisins, orange confit or marmalade, sage and apple brandy or calvados.

Work in the apple and carrots, add two splashes of brandy, season with nutmeg, pepper and salt.

  • 100 ml white wine
  • 50 ml orange juice, from fresh orange
  • Allspice, pinch
  • Black pepper, pinch

Accompaniments – 1

(Baked Apples stuffed with Prunes)

  • 4 (x 125 g) apples, cored 12 prunes, dried, pitted

Stuff three prunes into the core of each apple, bake for at least 30 minutes below the roasting vegetables.

Accompaniments – 2

(Apricots stuffed with Almonds, wrapped in Bacon)

  • 24 almonds, blanched, skinned
  • 24 apricots, dried, soaked overnight
  • 300 g streaky bacon, cut into 24 slices

Make a small slit in each apricot, insert an almond, wrap in a slice of bacon. Grill turning until the bacon is crispy.

Preparation and Cooking

Preheat oven to 210°C.

Stuff goose, sew tightly both ends.

Place goose on a rack above a deep roasting tray.

Cook for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 180°C, then start basting with the fat that has gathered in the tray every 15 minutes for an hour.

Turn the goose.

Pour out the fat, then pour in 250 ml of boiling water. Place giblets in this water.

Parboil potatoes for ten minutes, leave to cool.

Baste the goose with the fatty water every 15 minutes for two hours.

Turn the goose half way through this stage.

When you are sure the goose is fully cooked, take it out of the oven, and leave to rest for 45 minutes to an hour while you prepare the vegetables. Pour the remaining liquid from the tray into a saucepan and
keep warm. Add the giblets to the pan.

Increase oven temperature to 210°C.

Pour four tablespoons of the goose fat into a separate roasting tray, fill with the carrots, parsnips, potatoes and onions. Season, throw in the garlic and place rosemary sprigs on top.

Roast for 45 minutes, test vegetables and cook further if necessary.

During this time bake the apples, grill the bacon wrapped apricots and make the sauce.

De-glaze the goose tray with the wine and orange juice, add three tablespoons of giblet liquid, season and reduce.

Serve the goose with the roast vegetables, baked apples and apricot wraps, the sauce in a jug.

Afterwards – Cranberry, Beetroot, Goose and Pork Pies

The dark meat and the fruit and nut stuffing from the roast goose with fruit are the essental elements in this dish, albeit as a means to use leftovers.

LEGENDARY DISHES


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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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Fricot Feature | The Risotto List

ITALY
CarnaroliRice

Risotto is not a dish, it is a theme with countless variations. For the story of risotto go here, for a glimpse of the various dishes read on.

Risotto all'Ardenza
arborio, olive oil, peperoncino, fish stock, mussels, prawns, scallops, squid, parsley

Risotto con gli Asparagi 
vialone nano, olive oil, celery, onion, white wine, vegetable stock, seasonings, parsley

Risotto col Brodo di Pesce dell'artusi 
vialone nano, olive oil, carrot, celery, garlic, onion, parsley, seasonings, passata, fish stock, butter, grana padano, dried porcini

Risotto con Castagne e Porcini 
carnaroli, olive oil, shallots, parsley, mushrooms, butter, 
chestnuts, vegetable broth, parmigiano, black pepper

Risotto con Carciofi 
carnaroli, olive oil, garlic, onion, artichoke hearts, 
vegetable stock, marjoram, butter, onion, white wine, artichoke mixture, cream, parmigiano

Risotto con Fegatini 
vialone nano, butter, shallots, chicken livers, beef marrow, 
white wine, beef broth, butter, parmigiano, seasonings

Risotto con Funghi 
arborio, olive oil, onion, mushrooms, vegetable stock, 
butter, parmigiano

Risotto con Gamberi 
baldo, olive oil, carrot, celery, garlic, onion, parsley, 
unshelled prawns, seasonings, passata, water, 
prawn paste, butter, parmigiano

Risotto al Limone 
carnaroli, butter, olive oil, white wine-prosecco, 
lemon-vegetable broth, lemon zest, robiola-parmigiano, butter

Risotto nero alla Fiorentina dell'artusi 
arborio, olive oil, garlic, onion, cuttlefish, cuttlefish ink, chard, fish stock, butter, parmigiano

Risotto con Piselli 
carnaroli, butter, olive oil, onion, seasonings, white wine, vegetable stock, butter, peas, parmigiano

Risotto con la Salsiccia 
vialone nano, butter, onion, chopped sausage, passata, seasonings, beef broth, seasonings

Risotto alla Sbirraglia 
arborio, olive oil, carrot, celery, onion, chicken pieces, white wine, passata, rosemary, seasonings, water, chicken stock, chicken pieces, butter, parmigiano

Risotto con di Sécole 
carnaroli, butter, onion, beef/veal scraps, black pepper, white wine, beef broth, cinnamon / nutmeg, parmigiano

Risotto alla Veronese 
vialone nano, tastasale-Veronese salami, white wine, rosemary, beef broth, cinnamon, parmigiano

Risotto con le Vongole 
carnaroli, olive oil, garlic, white wine, clams, seasonings, parsley

Risotto con Zucca 
carnaroli, butter, oil, rosemary, pumpkin, white wine, 
vegetable broth, black pepper, butter

More Recipes-1

More Recipes-2


Legendary Dishes | Mămăligă and Polenta (boiled cornmeal)

Balkans | Italy

 

Polenta stares at us from the past.

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

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

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

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

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

There were no rules, and definitely no recipes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mămăligă

 

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

 

Boil the water with salt.

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

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

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

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

The result is a thick polenta. Leave to cool.

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

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

After ten minutes stir the polenta into the melted butter.

Combine the cheese with the eggs.

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

Preheat oven to 180°C.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mămăliguţă cu brânză şi Smântână

 

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

 

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

Preheat oven to 160°C.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

La Polenta di Castagne

 

2 litres water
500 g chestnut flour
Salt, pinch

 

Boil the water with salt.

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

Serve with ricotto, pancetta and sausage.

 

Crostini di Polenta

 

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

 

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

Boil the water with salt and a splash of oil.

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

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

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

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

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

Serve with the cheese sauce, garnish with parmigiano.

 

Sgonfiotto di Farina Gialla

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Polenta di Sardinia

 

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

 

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

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

Boil the water with salt.

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

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


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

Indigenous Ingredients | Hen Egg

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

It is common knowledge among those who keep poultry that birds cannot
count! To steal an egg from a clutch is therefore relatively easy if the bird is
elsewhere keeping up its own strength.

What it cannot see it will not miss.

Eggs have always tempted those with empty stomachs but tradition shunned this activity because the little tapered ovals hatched into ducks, geese, guinea-fowl, quail and chickens, ultimately providing a much more substantial meal.

Europe’s love affair with eggs began 2500 years ago when clever chickens managed to make their way from eastern Asia into the eastern Mediterranean, and were corralled in the poultry farms of the ancient Greeks and their neighbours.

Egg whites and yolks were used in various concoctions (early avgolémono and mayonnaise), whole they were boiled, fried, souffléd and sucked, used as stuffing and in sauces. Gradually eggs became integral to the baking of cakes, biscuits, breads, confections, pasta and pastries, for the making of batters and omelettes, to bind meatballs and thicken sauces, for coating and glazing, and for turning a plain hard-boiled egg into an elegant dish through the simple process of mashing the yolk with a variety of ingredients.

Throughout Europe eggs are breakfast and brunch events, ingredients in meals that transcend the ordinary, like the Danish stjerneskud open sandwich (hard-boiled egg), the Russian blini (beaten egg) the cheese toast of Switzerland (fried egg) and the Welsh breakfast (poached egg).

A battery hen’s egg generally weighs between 55 grams and 65 grams, a free-range egg between 50 grams and 60 grams, the latter richer because of the hen’s varied diet, especially if they are not coralled.


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Indigenous Ingredients | Duck

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

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

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

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

Mallard and Teal are the popular breeds.

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

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

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

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


Pâté de Canard d’Amiens, version 1

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

Dough

  • 500 g pastry flour
  • 125 g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 25 ml water
  • Salt

Filling

  • 1.5 kg duck, deboned
  • Duck heart, liver, chopped
  • 100 g veal, chopped
  • 100 g pork belly, cubed
  • 100 g mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 shallots, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt Brandy, splash

Finish

  • Butter, for dough wash
  • Egg yolk, for glazing

Make the pastry dough, rest in fridge for at least two hours.

Combine the offal, pork and veal with the onions, mushrooms and shallots, seasonings and eggs. Mix well, add a generous splash of brandy.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Lay the duck flat on an oiled surface, cover with filling, bring together and carefully sew the edges.

Roll the dough to fit into and cover your terrine or dish.

Brush dough with butter and place the stuffed duck inside. Bring the dough over the duck, sealing the edges with more butter.

Decorate, glaze, then pierce the dough lid in two places, creating small holes to allow steam to evaporate.

Bake for 105 minutes, 150°C for the last 45 minutes.


Pâté de Canard d’Amiens, version 2

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

Dough

  • 2 kg pastry flour
  • 500 g butter / lard
  • 300 ml water
  • 10 g salt

Filling

  • 1.5 kg duck, deboned, skinned, chopped, minced
  • Duck heart, liver, chopped, minced
  • 250 g pork belly, chopped, minced
  • 150 g rabbit fillet, whole
  • 100 g veal, chopped, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 75 g duxelles*1
  • 50 g butter
  • 30 g foie gras, diced
  • 10 g black truffle, sliced, sautéed in butter, cooled
  • 15 g salt
  • Brandy, splash Water

Finish

  • Butter, for dough wash
  • Egg yolk, for, glazing
  • 30 g aspic*2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Duck Terrine

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

This is a guide.

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

Marinade for 24 hours.

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

Duxelles

Ratio

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

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

Forcement Rough

Ratio

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

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

Forcemeat Smooth

Ratio

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

Blend all the ingredients.

Assembly

  • Streaky bacon rashers, stretched

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

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

Fold the bacon slices over to complete the seal.

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

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Bake for 130 minutes.

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

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

Wrap in parchment, store in fridge.


Roast Duck

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

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

Dry duck.

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

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

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

Pre-heat oven to 170°C.

Stuff cavity with mushrooms.

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

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

Combine honey and oyster sauce.

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

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

Reduce the reserved liquid to make a gravy.

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


Traditional Duck Dishes

Dodine de Canard FRANCE boned stuffed duck
Pečená Kachní Prsa CZECHIA roast duck breasts


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Food Stories | Festive Bread

Stollen Fest

Breadmaking as it is known today probably started with the Romans. Breadmaking as it is known today probably started with the Etruscans and the Romans. Borrowing from a much older tradition in ancient Mesopotamia and a innovative tradition in Anatolia, the sophisticated peoples of the Mediterranean began to change the fabric of bread.

They used flour milled from rye, spelt and wheat.

They made sourdough from boiled flour left to ferment, and got into the habit of keeping a piece of dough back for the next day’s baking.

They used grape juice and honey to sweeten their bread.

They made bread with butter.

And they were very fond of spices, putting aniseed, black and white pepper, caraway, cumin and fennel into their bread.

Panis Alexandrinus might therefore be the first spiced, sweetened bread. It contained cumin and honey, and was probably made with spelt.

However, it was the Assyrians and the Greeks who introduced the concept of spiced, sweetened cake specifically for festive, marriage, religious and ritual occasions.

Their cakes were made with cream, honey and a variety of spices.

More significantly the peoples of these regions put dried fruit and nuts into their cakes, and probably into their breads.

Spiced breads and cakes were popular in northern and western Europe after the 1100s, probably because the food cultures of eastern Europe and western Asia became known. Gradually fruit breads became functional at special occasions, especially at weddings and particularly at rituals and rites of passage – christenings, birthdays, first communions and military initiations.

By the 1600s bread made with sourdough or a pre-ferment, dried fruits, candied citrus fruits, nuts, butter or cream, honey, yeast and sugar was commonplace in virtually every country in Europe.

It seemed though that the tradition was rooted in Celtic, Germanic and Scandinavinan food cultures.

Hutzelbrot – 1

Aromatic and dark, enigmatic and fruity, hutzelbrot is one of Europe’s iconic festival breads. This is a modern recipe.

500 g Schwarzbrotteig/dark wheat flour (t1050, see flour)
500 ml water
250 g apples, dried, diced
250 g figs, dried, diced
250 g pears, dried, diced
250 g plums/prunes, dried, diced
250 g sultanas, dried
250 g sugar (optional)
125 g apricots, dried, diced
125 g candied lemon peel
125 g candied orange peel
125 g currants, dried
125 ml dry red wine, for soaking
100 ml kirsch/apple juice
75 g almonds, whole
75 g hazelnuts, chopped
75 g walnuts, halved
25 g yeast
1 lemon, juice
1 tsp aniseed, ground
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp cloves, ground
1 tsp ginger, ground
Cardamom, ground, pinch
Salt, pinch
Cherries, whole, for decoration
Almonds, sliced, for decoration
Walnuts, chopped, for decoration

Soak fruit overnight in apple juice/kirsch, lemon juice, water and wine. For sweeter breads add sugar to marinade.

Spoon out 500ml of the soaking liquid, bring to a quick boil, cool and add yeast.

Mix flour with spices and salt, add yeast liquid, work into a dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface, knead for ten minutes and leave to rise for two hours. Degas twice, at 45 minute intervals.

Add fruit, nuts and peel, knead for five minutes and form into six oblong loaves. Place on greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Leave to rise for an hour.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Brush loaves with apple juice and decorate with almonds, cherries and walnuts.
Bake for 70 minutes.

Hutzelbrot – 2

Traditionally hutzelbrot was made with fruit grown in the valleys of Bavaria and Swabia, and was unsweetened. Gradually sugar was added, the fruit content increased with more variety of fruits.

1.5 litres water
1.5 kg whole grain wheat flour
750 g pears, dried, chopped
500 g plums, dried, chopped
250 g nuts, chopped
250 ml water 
125 g currants 
125 ml kirsch
125 g sultanas
40 g candied lemon peel, diced
40 g candied orange peel, diced
25 g yeast
10 g cinnamon, ground
1 tsp cloves, ground
1 tsp salt

Soak the pears and plums for 24 hours in the kirsch and one and a half litres of water. The following day place the fruit in a large pot, bring to a boil in the soaking liquid. Cook until soft, then strain, preserving the liquid. When it has cooled, set aside 20ml and add the yeast to the bulk of the remaining liquid.

Warm up the flour and sieve it into a bowl, add spices and salt.

Add yeast water with 250ml water, form into a dough.

Knead for 20-30 minutes until the dough is smooth.

Mix the fruit into the dough. Shape into six small loaves, place on baking trays and leave to rest for three hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Brush with fruit liquid.

Bake for 85 minutes.

Brush with fruit water, return to oven and bake for a further five minutes.

Wrapped in foil the loaves will stay fresh for several weeks. They can also be frozen.

Panettone – 1

Angelo Marchesi makes a traditional panettone at his bakery on the Santa Maria delle Grazie in the heart of Milan using a tried and tested method with an old twist.

Panettone is traditionally made with natural yeast. Most bakers achieve this by fermenting flour and water in a controlled environment.

Marchesi aids the process by macerating hop leaves in mineral water. This liquid is strained and mixed with flour.

Sourdough is then added in stages.

Piergiorgio Giorilli, a master panettone baker, calls this the mother yeast and without it Milan’s favourite sweet bread is not the same.

Without a doubt it is possible to obtain a good panettone using beer yeast,’ he says. ‘However, it will not have the same preservability or the same taste as one prepared with mother yeast. Furthermore, in panettone prepared with beer yeast it is not possible to incorporate the same quantity of eggs and butter.

There are many critical points in the preparation of panettone.

First and foremost, the mother yeast must be of optimum quality, the temperature of the dough, the correct leavening between the first and second kneading and the ingredients that during the second kneading must be added slowly, especially the sugar at the beginning of the second kneading.

The quantity of fruit is significant, and the balance is difficult to achieve to the satisfaction of those who argue that panettone is a sweet bread.

The authentic recipe by Francesco Elmi has that balance, according to panettone lovers.

150 g raisins/sultanas, soaked in water, dried
75 g candied lemon, cubed small
75 g candied orange, cubed small
1 lemon, zest
1 orange, zest
1 vanilla pod, deseeded
First Kneading
250 g strong white flour
160 g egg yolks
165 g butter at 20°C
115 g sugar
100 g natural yeast dough, cubed
100 ml water

Dissolve sugar in the water, add the flour and the natural yeast.

Turn out onto a clean surface, gradually add the butter, then the yolks.

Knead for 15 minutes until the dough stretches without breaking.

Place dough in a bowl large enough to allow it to rise three-fold.

Leave to rise for at least 12 hours in a warm environment.

Desired dough temperature is 26°C.

Second Kneading
60 g strong white flour
40 g butter at 20°C
40 g egg yolks
25 g sugar
1 tsp salt
Butter, for greasing

Knead the flour into the risen dough, work in the sugar, the yolks a little at a time, then the salt followed by the butter and finally the fruit mixture.

Leave to rise for an hour.

Divide into required sizes and place in greased moulds, bearing in mind that the dough will triple in size.

The dough temperature should be 26°C.

Leave to rise for three hours.

Preheat oven to 165°C.

Bake for 55 minutes, until the crust is dark brown.

Test with a skewer.

Turn moulds upside down and leave to rest for three hours before removing from moulds.

Panettone – 2

The remarkable similarities between sweetened breads across Europe would suggest a common heritage, the adventurous Romans perhaps?

They carried herbs, plants and various produce like dried fruit across the continent, and freely shared their recipes as well as their rapaciousness!

The peripheral areas of the ‘British’ Isles were not the only places where they refined the recipe. South of Milan in Florence, Pellegrino Artusi’s cook Marietta Sabatini made a panettone he said was worth trying.

‘It’s much better than the Milanese-style panettone that’s sold commercially, and isn’t much trouble to make.’

This is an adaptation of Marietta’s Panettone.

It uses yeast instead of baking powder and includes fresh along with candied peel.

500 g strong white flour
300 ml milk, warm
150 g butter at 20°C 
125 g sugar
125 g sultanas 
5 egg yolks (100 ml)
30 g candied peel, cubed small
30 g citrus peel, chopped small
50 g yeast
1 lemon, zest
Salt, large pinch
Butter, for greasing
Flour, for dusting (optional)
Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

Dissolve yeast in the milk with a large pinch of sugar.

Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl, add yeast mixture and form into a loose dough.
Combine remaining ingredients, stirring thoroughly with a wooden spoon or with a hand-held mixer.

Pour batter into moulds.

Marietta suggests dusting moulds with powdered sugar mixed with flour.

Leave to rise for 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C, bake for 65 minutes for a large mould.

Stollen Fest

Stollen is a heavy yeast-raised loaf with a high butter and fruit content associated with the German city of Dresden but is found in the months up to the end-of-year festivities throughout Germany and Switzerland, where it is known as stollen fest.

Free-formed by hand and shaped into loaves, stollen come in several sizes. Dresdner stollen, also known as Dresdner Christstollen, has an interesting history. In 1490 Pope Innocent VIII exempted Dresden‘s bakers from the 1450 ban on baking with butter during Advent (which was then a period of fasting). Today‘s Dresden bakers regard this ‘butter‘ letter as an historical document that establishes stollen as a traditional product exclusive to the food culture of their city. The two million stollen produced every year in the city are sold worldwide. A Dresdener stollen has a light aerated crumb, with an aromatic smell and taste.

But stollen is no longer associated exclusively with Dresdener food culture. It has become an integral aspect of alpine food culture, with countless variations on the original ‘butter’ recipe. Butter is still prevalent but spices play a larger role in the alpine version.

1 kg white wheat flour (t550)
500 g raisins
300 g butter, melted, for surface
300 ml whey
200 ml apple and pear purée
200 g butter
175 ml kirsch/rum
150 g almonds, chopped
150 g candied lemon and orange peel, fine cut in blender
150 g icing sugar 
150 g milk
2 eggs 
100 g almonds, ground 
60 g yeast 
25 g vanilla sugar 
15 g honey
10 g salt 
10 g speculaas spices

Dissolve 40 g of yeast in the milk with the honey, and 100 g of the flour. Knead into a loose dough, leave for at least 16 hours.

Soak chopped almonds, peel and raisins in the kirsch or rum.

Dissolve remaining yeast in the sugar and two tablespoons of the whey.

Sieve remaining flour into a large bowl, add salt, yeast mixture, remaining whey, eggs and spices.

Bring together, fold onto a clean surface, knead into a loose dough, add fermented dough and work into a soft dough.

Leave to rise for an hour, degas, leave for a further hour, then work in the softened butter.

Leave to rise again for an hour.

Work two-thirds of the fruit mixture into dough. Do not knead. Leave for an hour.

Combine fruit purée with ground almonds, add remaining fruit mixture.

Divide dough into four 600 g pieces, shape into rectangles, then flatten each one in turn.

Spread almond paste along the middle of each rectangle, take the long end and fold over, to create a tunnel shape.

Leave to rise for an hour.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Bake the stollen in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes.

Increase the heat to 195°C, bake for 15 minutes.

While still hot brush the surface with the melted butter, dust with icing sugar.

Allow to cool.

Leave to mature for two days, then slice and eat.


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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Food Stories | Biscuits

… story to follow …

Cantuccini

 

Artisan biscuit making has been making a comeback with the emergence of cottage bakeries and patissiers.

It is a skill easily achieved with practice, and the results can be mouth watering.

Getting the balance between dry and wet ingredients is the key, and that depends on the quality of the flours, whether chestnut, rye or wheat.

These Tuscan biscuits are so good you’ll want to visit to see if your version is as good as those produced by the region’s biscotti di Prato experts.

 

225 g flour
125 g sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 orange, zest
2 eggs
75 g chocolate pieces

 

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Mix eggs with sugar, add orange zest, baking powder, flour and pistachios or chocolate. Knead for five minutes.

Roll into a large evenly shaped sausage, the length of the baking tray, roughly 6cm wide.

Place on greaseproof paper on a baking tray, flatten a little, bake for 25 minutes (35 minutes for chocolate), until pale golden.

Cool for 15 minutes or longer if necessary.

Reduce temperature to 140°C.

Cut into 2cm slices, place back on paper in tray.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the colour has turned to a golden brown.

 

Biscotti di Castagne – 1

 

250 g chestnut flour
200 ml milk
75 g hazelnuts, chopped small
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp star anise, ground
Salt, pinch
Flour, for rolling

 

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Mix the chestnut flour, salt, soda and star anise with milk to form a compact dough.

Add nuts, roll dough 1 cm thick. Cut into circles.

Bake for five minutes.

 

Biscotti di Castagne – 2

 

200 g chestnut flour
200 g butter
125 g 70% chocolate, broken into pieces
100 g pastry flour
100 g sugar
1 egg
15 g bicarbonate of soda
Salt, pinch
Flour, for dusting

 

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Sieve flours into a large bowl, add butter, rub into flours.

Add egg, sugar, salt and chocolate, combine.

Wrap dough in cling film, leave in fridge for an hour.

Dust a clean surface, roll the dough 1cm thick, cut into circles.

Place biscuits on a greaseproof paper in a baking tray.

Bake for 15 minutes.

 

Pepparkakor – 1

 

Crispy pepparkakor are known throughout Europe as gingersnaps despite being more like ginger breads than ginger biscuits.

Another product of the monastic life, they got their name because ground ginger was believed to be a member of the pepper family. They made a good travelling food eventually making their way into Sweden in the 13th century. Adopted as a traditional treat, they became associated with Lucia during the end of year festivities.

Originally made with flour, honey and ginger, they evolved to include cinnamon and cloves, raising agents and softeners like butter and cream.

The round shape gave way to numerous shapes, from christmas trees to hearts and stars, while the old rounds and squares were made thicker to be used as building blocks for the construction of gingerbread houses.

These days the gingersnap is more like a gingerbread, and is flavoured with all kinds of spice, fruit essence and coated with icing. They are crushed in cheesecakes and trifles, served with cream cheese and smoked salmon and stacked with cream fillings.

The original ginger snaps were aptly named. These are rock hard and require soaking before eating.

 

500 g rye flour
450 g honey, melted
50 g ginger, ground

 

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Stir ginger into honey.

Sieve flour, add ginger honey, make into a ball, knead for a few minutes, then roll out onto a floured surface as thin as possible.

Cut into rounds or squares, about 80 pieces.

Arrange on greaseproof paper on baking trays.

Bake each tray for 12 minutes.

Cool pieces on a wire rack.

 

Pepparkakor – 2

 

Gradually the recipe evolved, molasses or treacle, brown sugar, butter and egg replaced the honey, and other spices were added.

 

500 g pastry flour
175 g molasses
125 g butter, cubed
100 g brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
30 g ginger, ground
15 g cinnamon, ground
10 g cloves, ground

 

Melt molasses and sugar over a low heat for ten minutes, add spices, bring to the boil, then allow to cool.

Pour into a large bowl, whisk in the egg.

Sieve the flour into the bowl, work into a dough. Cut into six pieces.

Roll first piece on a floured surface as thin as possible.

Cut into rounds or squares, about 80 pieces.

Arrange on greaseproof paper on baking trays.

Repeat until dough is used up.

Bake each tray for 12 minutes.

Cool pieces on a wire rack.

 

Pepparkakor – 3

 

Cream started to replace butter, ginger came back into its own, soda was used to give the biscuits a lift and the dough was rested before rolling.

 

500 g pastry flour
150 g brown sugar
150 ml cream, whipped
150 g molasses
35 g ginger, ground
10 g baking soda

 

In a large bowl add the sugar to the cream, fold in the molasses, then the ginger and soda.

Sieve flour into the mixture, leave to rest for three hours.

Cut dough into six pieces.

Roll first piece on a floured surface as thin as possible.

Cut into rounds or squares, about 80 pieces.

Arrange on greaseproof paper on baking trays.

Repeat until dough is used up.

Bake each tray for 12 minutes.

Cool pieces on a wire rack.

 

Pepparkakor – 4

 

Throughout the 19th century it was difficult to distinguish the gingersnap from the gingerbread as the tradition of constructing houses from the shapes became popular across Scandinavia and northern Europe – a tradition that continues today.

 

500 g pastry flour
150 ml cream
150 g syrup
150 g sugar
100 g butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp ginger, ground
1 tsp pepper, ground

 

Bring the syrup, sugar and cream to the boil, then add the butter.

Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool. Add the flour, soda and spices, knead lightly into a dough, leave overnight.

Preheat oven to 175°C.

Roll the dough thin, cut out desired shapes, arrange on greaseproof paper on baking trays.

Bake for five minutes.

 

Pepparkakor med Blåbär Grädde

 

250 g blueberries, mashed
250 g cream
16 gingersnaps
16 blueberries, whole
30 g icing sugar
15 g vanilla sugar

 

Whip sugars into the cream. Gently fold blueberry mash into the cream.

Arrange gingersnaps on a large plate. Pipe blueberry cream onto gingersnaps, top with blueberries.

 

Pepparkakor med Färskost och Rökt Lax

 

125 g cream cheese
16 gingersnaps
16 smoked salmon slices
Dill, pinch
Black Pepper, freshly ground

 

Arrange gingersnaps on a large plate. Top each one with a salmon slice, a dollop of cream cheese, garnish with dill and pepper.

 

Prianiki

 

350g flour
150g honey
1 egg
30g butter
15g ginger powder
15g cinnamon, ground
1 tsp cloves, ground
Baking soda, large pinch
Cardamon, large pinch
Nutmeg, large pinch

 

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Sieve flour and soda into a large bowl, add honey followed by the butter, eggs and spices, mix with a wooden spoon into a soft dough.

Spoon pieces of dough onto greaseproof paper on a baking tray.

Bake for 15 minutes, remove to cool for the 15 minutes, then bake for a further 15 minutes at 140°C.


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Legendary Dishes | Fish and Chips

Jack’s Fish Fillets
ENGLAND IRELAND SCOTLAND WALES

Until the concern about fish stocks in the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean prompted conservation measures, the fish that went with chips was invariably big fleshly cod.

Fish and chips are still made with cod, although it is more likely the fish will be coley, dogfish, haddock, hake, plaice, pollack, skate or whiting.

Less common is a batter made with beer, despite the difference it makes to the flavour of the crispy coating on the fish.

This is the recipe and method for traditional fish and chips made with beer batter.

BelgianBeef
Belgian Beer
  • 1 litre sunflower oil
  • 750 g potatoes, chipped
  • 700 g fish fillets
  • 300 ml beer / carbonated water
  • 200 g flour
  • Baking powder, pinch
  • Salt, pinch

Soak chips for 30 minutes before frying to remove starch.

Heat a deep frier or deep saucepan filled with oil to 190°C.

Deep fry for seven minutes, until al dente. Remove to a large plate covered with absorbent kitchen paper.

Sieve flour into a large bowl, add baking powder, salt and beer. Whisk into a lump-free batter. Leave to rest.

Bring heat back up to 190°C.

Deep fry chips until they are golden and crisp. Drain and keep warm.

Bring heat up to 190°C.

Batter fish, deep fry until the batter is golden.

Place on kitchen paper, then serve with the chips.

LEGENDARY DISHES


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Legendary Dishes | Jellied Eels

Jellied eels are an integral feature of London’s pie and mash shops, many housed in Victoriana, and despite the collapse of eel fisheries across Europe it is still possible to eat this wonderful delicacy in jellied eel shops across the English capital.

  • 1 kg eels, peeled, gutted
  • 600 ml water / fish stock
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 30 g sea salt, coarse
  • 30 ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 5 g sea salt, crushed
  • Black peppercorns, handful
  • Carrageen, handful
  • Carrots (optional)
  • Celery (optional)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Herbs (optional)
  • Nutmeg, grated (optional)

Spread the eels in a bowl with the coarse sea salt, leave for ten minutes, then rinse the salt off.

In a large saucepan, bring the bay leaves, eels, onions, peppercorns, salt and vinegar to the boil, turn heat to low and simmer until the eels are tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove the eels, leave to cool.

Reduce the remaining stock by two-thirds. Strain, add carrageen and lemon juice, reduce until the seaweed has melted. Strain again and leave to cool.

Cut the eels into the desired sizes, place in jars with the stock, the cooked onions and peppercorns on top. Put in fridge or a cold place to set.

For a richer flavour use a fish stock and add herbs, spices and vegetables.


The Jellied Eel

Not for eating, just for reading about sustainable food in London that could not be more traditional.


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Indigenous Ingredients | Eel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Italy it is served in a tangy sauce.

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


Hamburger Aalsuppe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garnish with parsley.


Aalsoep

This is the Dutch version.

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

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

Combine flour and butter with three tablespoons of eel stock.

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

Reduce heat, simmer for ten minutes.

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


Paling in’t Groen

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

The sauce should be aromatic and not too thick.

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

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


Anguille Incarpinate

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

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

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

Boil vinegar with garlic and rosemary for five minutes.

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


Jegulju na Orizu

JeguljunaOrizu-low-res
Eels on Rice

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

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

The Hungarians will question that haughty assumption.

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

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

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

This version is courtesy of Ivan Georgijev at Kormoran.

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

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

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

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

Preheat oven to 180°C.

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

Bake for 30 minutes.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.


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