Tag: Ingredients Glossary

Legendary Dishes | Mămăligă and Polenta (boiled cornmeal)

Balkans | Italy


Polenta stares at us from the past.

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

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

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

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

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

There were no rules, and definitely no recipes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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.



Indigenous Ingredients | Hen Egg

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.


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.


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


  • 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


  • 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.


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


  • 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


  • 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.



  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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


Indigenous Ingredients | Eel

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.


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

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.


Indigenous Ingredients | Tørrfisk (air-dried cod)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s start with the Portuguese tradition.

This is the basic version of their celebrated fish balls.

Bolinhos de Bacalhau

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

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

Add parsley, pepper and salt.

Fold in the egg whites.

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

Shallow fry, drain on paper towels.

Associação dos Industriais do Bacalhau

Baccalà Mantecato

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Baccalà

Alla Bolognese

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

Alla Cappuccina

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

Alla Fiorentina

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

Alla Livornese – 1

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

Alla Livornese – 2

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

Alla Messinese

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

Alla Napoletana

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

Alla Romana

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

Alla Triestina

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

Alla Vicentina

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

Brandade de Morue

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

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

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

Flake, skin and remove any bones.

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

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

Serve with a salad.

Brandada de Bacalao

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

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

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

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

Reduce over a low heat for 40 minutes.

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

Empanada de Bacalao y Pasas

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

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

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

Soak raisins in water.

Dissolve yeast in the water and wine.

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

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

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

Leave to cool.

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

Place one sheet on a greased baking tray.

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

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

Bake for 40 minutes.

Salt Cod Exporter

Frityrstekt Bacalao med Hvitløksaus

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

… recipes to follow …

Klippfisk Baller

dried cod balls

Klippfisk Grateng

dried cod gratin

Klippfisk med Grønnsaus

dried cod with green sauce

Norsk Bacalao Gryte

Norwegian bacalao casserole

Traditional Dried Cod Dishes

Stockfish photo courtesy of Norwegian Seafood.



Indigenous Ingredients | European Flours

Wheat flour — White and Whiter!

In Europe flour is made largely from grains but also from legumes, nuts, roots and seeds.

Almond flour is used primarily in cakes and confections.

Amaranth flour is used as an improver in various doughs.

Barley flour is used to make pre-ferments and as an improver, malted, for rye and wheat doughs.

Buckwheat flour is used to make confections, pancakes and pasta.

Chestnut flour is used to make cakes and confections.

Chickpea flour is used to make confections.

Corn flour (polenta in the Balkans and Italy) is used various preparations.

Millet flour is used in various preparations and as an improver in wheat doughs.

Nut flour, with its high oil content, is generally used to sharpen the taste of cake, confection and pie crust preparations.

Oat flour is generally ground fresh from oat meal for use in confections.

Pea flour is used in various preparations.

Potato flour is used in bread, confections, dumplings, meatballs, soups and savoury preparations.

Rice flour is used in various preparations.

Rye flour is used to make bread and pastries.

Soy flour is used in various preparations.

Wheat (Triticum Aestivum) flour, hard and soft, is used in countless preparations, primarily in bread, cakes, confections, pastry and pasta. Durum Wheat (Triticum Durum) is used to produce pasta and semolina. Spelt Wheat (Triticum Spelta) is used largely to make dumplings and noodles, and gradually now to make bread, cakes and pastries. The origin wheat grains – Emmer Wheat (Triticum Dicoccum) and Einkorn Wheat (Triticum Monococcum) – and old heritage wheat grains are used to make artisan breads and confections.

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

Ash Chart

France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and Turkey grade their flour according to the amount of ash, measured in milligrams, obtained from burning, the French with 10 grams of flour, the Germans and Swiss with 100 grams. This indicates the gluten content. Hard wheat flour is high (between 11% and 13%), soft wheat is low (between 9% and 11%).

This translates as:

  • Dark flour (very high gluten), for wholemeal bread – for example, Swiss type 1900.
  • White flour (high), for bread, French type 65, German type 812.
  • White baking flour (medium), for bread and pastries, French 55.
  • White all-purpose flour, cake and confection (low), for all purposes, French 45, German 405, Poland 450.


Type 700 White wheat flour. High gluten, used in bread doughs from kipfel to strudel.


In England and Wales bread and confectionary flours contain calcium, iron, niacin and thiamin.

Millers in Britain sell a variety of flours from locally grown grains, and some have adopted the Swiss habit of combining ingredients to produce mixes for specific breads and confections.

Malted flours play a huge role, for both the artisan and commercial baker, and one company, EDME in Essex, England, specialise in malted products that enhance flavour.

Flour produced from organically grown grains are prominent, especially among the artisanal millers, listed here at the Sourdough School. Marriage’s, in Essex, England, import strong white wheat flour from Canada. Shipton Mill, in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, specialise in organic flours. Stoates, in Cann Mills, Dorset, produce stoneground flours. At Lodge Farm, in Surrey, Mike Pinard grows and mills the old grains of England. In 2020 he sowed Benefactor, Chidham Red, Millers Choice, Old Kent Red, Orange Rough Chaff and Red Lammas.


Buckwheat Confections and pasta.
Type 45 Soft wheat white flour for pastry. Low gluten.
Type 55 Hard and soft wheat white flour for general use. Low gluten.
Type 65 Hard and soft wheat white flour for artisan use. High gluten.
Type 80 Hard organic whole wheat and white flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 110 Hard whole wheat and white flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 150 Hard whole wheat flour, bran and germ. High gluten.


Einkorn Origin wheat. Low gluten.
Emmer Origin wheat. Low gluten.
Type 405 Soft wheat white flour for pastry. Low gluten.
Type 550 Hard and soft wheat white flour for general use. Low gluten.
Type 630 White spelt flour. High gluten.
Type 812 Hard wheat white flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 1050 Hard wheat flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 1150 Rye flour. Low gluten. 
Type 1600 Hard whole wheat and white flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 1700 Whole wheat flour, bran and germ. High gluten.


Poland has a strong tradition with rye and wheat flours. Millers produce the standard type flours and specialist flour mixes for cakes, dumplings, pancakes, pastries, pies, pizza and various bread dough preparations including multi-cereal flours and rye-wheat combinations. Flours made from organic / bio grains are available in the main flour types.

Szymanowska is among the most popular in Poland with rye and wheat flours milled in Szymanów and sold under the brand Polskie Młyny (Polish Mills). Polskie Młyny specialise in the traditional range of flours and in flour combinations.

Gdańskie Młyny (Gdańsk Mills) also offer a wide range and Melvit is the place to go for flours of all types including buckwheat, chickpea, corn, millet, potato and rice.

Buckwheat Pancakes.
Spelt Wholemeal for bread.
Type 450 White wheat flour for pastry. Low gluten.
Type 480 White wheat all purpose flour. Low gluten.
Type 500 (Krupczatka, Poznań, Wroclaw) White wheat flour for baking, confections, dumplings, pasta.
Type 550 White wheat flour for bread. Medium gluten.
Type 580 Light rye flour for bread and pasta. Low gluten.
Type 630 White spelt four for various preparations. Low gluten.
Type 650 White wheat flour. Medium-High gluten.
Type 720 Rye flour.
Type 750 White wheat flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 800 Rye flour.
Type 850 White wheat flour for bread including pizza dough. High gluten.
Type 950 Dark flour for wholemeal bread.
Type 1150 Rye flour. Medium-High gluten.
Type 1400 Sieved rye and wheat flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 1750 Durum wheat. High gluten.
Type 1850 Graham wheat flour with added bran for bread. High gluten.
Type 2000 Rye wholemeal flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 3000 Rye whole grain flour for sourdough bread. High gluten.


The Workman farm in Dunany, Louth, produce white and wholemeal flours from spelt and wheat.
Neill’s in Belfast, Antrim, produce wholemeal wheat flours for wheaten breads and wheaten farls.


Arnaldo Cavallari’s Ciabatta Flours

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

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

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

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

Grano Duro Hard wheat, for bread and pasta.
Grano Tenero 00 Soft wheat white flour, fine ground (see W chart for gluten strength and uses).
Grano Tenero 0 Soft wheat white flour (see W chart for gluten strength and uses).
Grano Tenero 1 Soft wheat white flour, bran, for bread.
Grano Tenero 2 Soft wheat flour, bran and germ, for bread.
Grano Tenero Integrale Whole soft wheat flour, bran and germ.
Manitoba (Canada) Hard wheat.
Semolino Coarse ground from durum wheat.
Semola di Grano Duro Rimacinata Fine ground from durum wheat, for bread and pasta.

W Chart

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

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


Spelt Grains

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

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

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

Swiss millers are represented by the Dachverband Schweizerischer Müller, which brought together the regional associations of millers and the individual mill companies in 1997.

Mühlilade Balchenstahl in Hittnau specialise in the vast range of flours, grains and flakes produced in the various Swiss mills.

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


Einkorn (known as Siyez) Origin wheat. Low gluten.
Type 550 All-purpose white wheat flour for bread rolls, for pouch breads and for thin pastry dough. Low gluten.
Type 650 All-purpose white wheat flour for bread rolls, for pouch breads and for thin pastry dough.
Type 850 White wheat flour. High Gluten.

This feature is adapted from The Bread with Holes and Other Crusty Stories | The Rise of Artisanal Baking in Europe to be published by Editions Fricot in 2021.

Ingredient | Damson

Damson Tree

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

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

Even fresh damsons are hardly used anymore in fruit breads.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Preheat oven to 180°C.

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

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

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

Cover with the remaining rounds, seal the edges.

Bake for 30 minutes.

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


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

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

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

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

Preheat oven to 200°C.

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

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

Repeat with remaining rectangles.

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

Bake for 40 minutes.



Ingredient | Cornsalad

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nüsslisalat mit Frucht Vinaigrette

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

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

Mâche et de Roquette dans l’écrou Vinaigrette

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

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

Insalata di Valeriana

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

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



Ingredient | Broccoli

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

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

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

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

Broccoli contains vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.

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

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

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

Bulviniai Paplotėliai su Brokoliais

potato and broccoli cakes

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

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

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

Adding broccoli was culinary genius.

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

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

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

Drain broccoli, reserve some of the liquid.

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

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

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

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

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

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


broccoli in olive oil and garlic

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

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

Add broccoli pieces, cook for five minutes. Drain.

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

Serve with pasta or on its own.

Broccoli Romani – 1

dressed broccoli

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

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

Chop broccoli coarsely.

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

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

Broccoli Romani – 2

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

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

Add water. Cook until water evaporates, add wine.

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

Orecchiette con Calabrese e Acciughe

pasta with calabrese and anchovies

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

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

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

Fresh calabrese should be used.

The anchovies should come in oil, of Mediterranean origin.

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

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

Cut stems into small pieces, leave flower heads whole.

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

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



Ingredient | Aubergine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The aubergine also has its own story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melanzane di Foggia

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

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

Spread breadcrumbs on a separate plate.

Whisk milk into egg.

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

Dredge slices in the egg-milk mixture.

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

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


Imam Baialdi

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

This is the Romanian version.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bake in a 200°C oven for 30 minutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melitzanes Fournou

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bake in a 190°C oven for 45 minutes.

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

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

Involtini di Melanzane e Prosciutto

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

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

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

Leave to cool on a rack.

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

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

Roll tightly, pushed together.

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

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

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

Patlicanli Borek

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

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

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

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

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

Whisk eggs, milk, oil and yoghurt.

Grease a deep baking tray.

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

Preheat oven to 180°C.

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

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

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

Bake for 45 minutes.

Other Aubergines

Baklažano Suktinukai LITHUANIA Aubergine Rolls

Beğendi TURKEY Aubergine Puree

Brungiel Mimli MALTA Stuffed Aubergine

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

Involtini di Melanzane e Prosciutto ITALY Aubergine and Ham Rolls

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

Melitzanes Fournou GREECE Baked Aubergines

Moussakás/Moussaka GREECE MACEDONIA MONTENEGRO Aubergine Bake

Patlicanli Borek TURKEY Borek With Aubergine Filling

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

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

Türlü TURKEY summer stew



Ingredient | Garlic

Polish Garlic

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

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

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

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



Polesine Bruschetta



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

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

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

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


Garlic Varieties




Traditional Garlic Dishes

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



Indigenous Ingredients | Walnut

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

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

It is also high in vitamin B6 and ion with a high protein content.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dilute date molasses / syrup in water if necessary.

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



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


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


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


  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Walnut halves


  • 150 g honey
  • 100 ml water

Dissolve yeast in milk and sugar.

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

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

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

Grease a large deep rectangular baking tray.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

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

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

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

Melt the butter and brush the dough.

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

Repeat with remaining balls.

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

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

Bake for 15 minutes.

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

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

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

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

Leave to cool.

Kadaif / Kadayif


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

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

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

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

Cover and cool.

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

Heat honey, vanilla sugar and lemon juice.

Pour syrup evenly over the pastry.

Cut into squares.

Dip each square into honey liquid.

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



The Greek version.

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

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Combine breadcrumbs, cinnamon and walnuts.

Grease baking tray.

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

Heat butter, drizzle one tablespoon on each sausage.

Bake for 40 minutes, until golden.

Allow to cool.

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

Add lemon juice and vanilla.

Pour syrup over sausages.

Cevizli Çörek


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

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

Disssolve yeast in milk and sugar.

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

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

Preheat oven to 200°C.

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

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

Place each pacel on a greased baking tray.

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



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

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

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


Ajika აკაკა GEORGIA

spicy walnut sauce

Aşure TURKEY Noah’s Pudding

wheat pudding with various ingredients including walnuts

Basler Walnussbrot SWITZERLAND

walnut bread with barley, rye starter

Birnenweggen SWITZERLAND

pear wedges with walnuts

Çerkez Tavuğu TURKEY Circassian Style Chicken

chicken with walnuts

Cevizli İncir Dolması / Syka Xerá me Karydia GREECE CRETE TURKEY

dried figs stuffed with walnuts
Layered walnut pastries

Cevizli Sarma TURKEY

layered walnut pastries


bread cake with walnuts

Fondue Apfel-Walnuss SWITZERLAND

cheese sauce with apples and walnuts


sweet walnut cake

Gavurdağ Salatası TURKEY

tomato, cucumber and pepper salad with walnuts


sweet walnut paste

Icli Köfte TURKEY

bulgur, meat balls with walnut filling

Karidópita GREECE

walnut syrup cake

Kartoffel-Baumnuss-Brötchen SWITZERLAND

potato and walnut bread rolls
Potato and walnut bread rolls

Keşli Cevizli Erişte TURKEY

home-made noodles with cheese and walnut sauce

Kharcho ხარკო GEORGIA

meat in walnut sauce

Koripaparani (Cevizli Tavuk Tirit) TURKEY

chicken with walnuts

Lobio ლობიო GEORGIA

beans in garlic-walnut sauce


aubergine with cheese and walnuts

Muhammara TURKEY

bread, red pepper paste and walnuts with yoghurt

Nussbrötchen / Nussbrötli GERMANY SWITZERLAND

milk bread rolls with walnuts

Nüsslisalat mit Frucht Vinaigrette FRANCE SWITZERLAND

cornsalad with fruity vinegar and walnut oil


nut cake with walnuts

Orehove Potica SLOVENIA

walnut bread

Pan de Nueces SPAIN

sweet walnut bread

Rainbow Trout with horseradish, lemon and walnut sauce ENGLAND FRANCE

Walnut rye bread

Roggenvollkorn Walnuss Brot GERMANY SWITZERLAND

walnut rye bread

Salsa di Noci ITALY

walnut sauce


puff-pastry triangles filled with walnuts in syrup


walnut sauce

Skordalia GREECE

garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, potatoes, walnuts

Supë Pule me Arra ALBANIA

chicken and walnut soup

Ynkuyzov Sous Ընկույզով Սոուս ARMENIA

walnut sauce

Indigenous Ingredients | Radicchio

Treviso Radicchio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radicchio e Finocchio

  • 1 bulb Florence fennel
  • 1 head Chioggia / Treviso radicchio
  • 10 sprigs oregano
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt

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

Dress with balsamic vinegar for a salad.

Calzone con Verdure

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

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


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

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

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

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


  • 250 g chard leaves and stalks, cut into strips
  • 250 g radicchio / chicory, cut into strips
  • 200 g courgette, cut into strips
  • 30 g olive oil
  • 30 g raisins, soaked in 15 ml warm water for an hour
  • 1 tsp peperoncini / chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed coarsely
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Oil, for brushing and greasing

Preheat oven to 200°C.

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

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

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

Seal edge tightly, brush both surfaces with oil.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Anguille con Radicchio di Chioggia

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

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

For those wary of eating eel, filleted mackerel is a good substitute for this dish.

Radicchio, however, has no substitute.

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

Cool, stir into ricotta and egg.

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

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

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

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

Risotto alla Radicchio di Verona

There are four distinct geographical varieties of radicchio:–

  • Radicchio di Chioggia – small and large spherical, amaranth, soft bitter and sweet taste, crispy.
  • Radicchio di Verona – small and medium heart-shaped, dark-red, soft bitter taste, crispy.
  • Radicchio Rosso di Treviso – small elongated, wine-red, bitter taste, crunchy.
  • Radicchio Variegato di Castelfranco – medium and large open-round, white-cream, variegated violet-red, light bitter and sweet taste, crunchy.

As you can see each has a varying bitter taste which some cooks like to remove by soaking slices in water and vinegar for 30 minutes, then left to dry. Others prefer to add sugar to the risotto to counter the bitter taste of the vegetable. We don’t feel the need to soak Veronese radicchio for this dish, although a hint of sugar is an option.

  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock, heated
  • 350 g vialone nano rice
  • 1 head of radicchio di Verona, chopped
  • 100 g onion, chopped
  • 40 g Grana Padano cheese, grated (optional)
  • 30 g dry white wine
  • 30 g olive oil
  • 30 g sugar (optional)
  • Black pepper, pinch
  • Salt, pinch

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

Add half of the radicchio and the rice, toast, add the white wine and allow to reduce.

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

After 10 minutes add remaining radicchio.

Finish with seasonings and sugar. Rest for five minutes.

Garnish with cheese.


Indigenous Ingredients | Bean, Broad | Fava | Fave

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

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

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

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

Just in case!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fave al Guanciale

fresh broad beans with cured pork cheek

  • 1 kg fresh young beans, blanched in boiling water, chilled
  • 250 g cured pork cheek, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 50 g olive oil
  • Black Pepper
  • Sea Salt
  • Water

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

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

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

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

Bazzoffia ITALY bean and vegetable soup with bread and cheese

Bigilla MALTA spicy bean paté

Botifarra amb Mongetes SPAIN sausage and beans

Fabada Asturiana SPAIN beans, bacon and sausage



Ingredient | Pear

A Pear in the Valais, Switzerland

Italy is the spiritual home of the pear in Europe.

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

In a bad year, a third less.

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

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

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

A good year will bring half a million tonnes.

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

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

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

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

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

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


A slice of Cholera

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

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

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

Out of adversity a traditional dish emerged and survives today.

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

Pear Varieties

BELGIUM 255,000 tonnes
Doyenne du Comice
William Bon Chrétien
FRANCE 124,000
Doyenne du Comice
Passa Crassana
William BC
ITALY 717,000
Abaté Fétel
Beurré Bosc/Kaiser
Doyenne du Comice
Passa Crassana
William BC
Doyenne du Comice
PORTUGAL 179,000
SPAIN 349,000
Passa Crassana
William BC

Traditional Pear Dishes

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



Indigenous Ingredients | Kale

It’s green it’s mean and it packs a punch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mashed kale and potatoes

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

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

Leave to drain for 30 minutes.

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

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

Boil the potatoes in their skins.

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

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

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

Grønlangkål med Skinke
kale with ham and caramelised potatoes

Kale cooked with butter and cream is well known in northern countries. In Denmark it forms one of the country‘s traditional dishes when it is combined with pork in some form or other and served with caramelised potatoes.

  • 1 kg kale
  • 75 g butter
  • 30 ml cream
  • 30 g white wheat flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt


  • 1 kg Lammefjord potatoes
  • 50 g butter
  • 40 g sugar

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

Heat sugar in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the butter. When it foams add the potatoes and coat in the sugar-butter mixture. Keep the heat controlled until the potatoes are browned and heated through. Make sure they do not burn.

Prepare kale.

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

Serve with cooked smoked ham, pork sausages or pork on the bone.

Boerenkoolstamppot met Rookworst
mashed kale and potatoes with smoked sausages

Another traditional kale dish, this mashed kale and potato stew is a Dutch classic with numerous subtle variations – kale, potatoes, milk and butter the only constants.

Smoked sausages (generally Gelderse) complete the dish but it is also garnished with bacon.

Vinegar is a tangy ingredient in some of the classic preparations, a role also played by mustard while the modern versions call for dried vegetables, herbs and spices.

Leeks have also been known to find their way into the ingredients list because they add a gentle flavour to the kale.

The Dutch ‘Food Web‘ list 162 recipes.

The Gelderland smoked sausage story is told by traditional food specialists Vers-inspiratie (Fresh Inspiration).

  • 1.5 kg floury potatoes, peeled, cubed
  • 1 kg kale leaves
  • 550 g smoked sausages
  • 300 g onions
  • 100 ml milk, hot
  • 30 g butter
  • 5 g black pepper
  • Salt, pinch
  • Mustard, for dressing

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

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

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

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

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

Other Traditional Kale Recipes

Caldo Verde PORTUGAL kale soup
Böreği / Börek TURKEY pies (kale is a filling)
Ekşili Pilav TURKEY bulgur with greens and yoghurt
Graupensuppe mit Kasseler GERMANY pearl barley soup with smoked pork neck
Hamsi Diblesi TURKEY Black Sea anchovies with kale and rice
Kiełbasa z Jarmuż POLAND smoked sausage with kale
Ostfriesische Grünkohl GERMANY kale with bacon, onions and sausages
Pierogi / Pīrāgi / Pirogi Пироги POLAND RUSSIA UKRAINE pies (minced beef, apple, kale and onion filling)
Solyanka Солянка RUSSIA winter soup pot
Sukuma Wiki EAST AFRICA braised greens
Vrzotovka SLOVENIA kale soup
Yaini CAUCASUS meat and vegetable soup

Bean, Common | Borlotti Haricot

The saluggia bean of north-west Italy

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

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

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

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

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

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

They weren’t at first.

Lamon Bean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fasoi in Tocio

beans in tomato sauce

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

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

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

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

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

Serve, garnished with pepper.

Risotto alla Carnarola

rice with beans and cotechino / zampone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Traditional Bean Dishes

Botifarra amb Mongetes SPAIN sausage and beans

Cassoulet FRANCE bean, herbs, meat and vegetable casserole

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

Fasoi In Tocio ITALY beans in aromatic-sauce

Fasoulia BALKANS bean-olive oil mash

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

Pasta ai Fagioli e Pancetta ITALY pasta with beans and bacon

Salata de Fasole Boabe ROMANIA bean salad

Tavče Gravče MACEDONIA bean casserole

Adapted from Traditional Tastes of Europe.



Indigenous Ingredients | Anchovy

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

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

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

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

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

Anchovies in Oli

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orecchiette con Broccoli e Acciughe
broccoil with ear-pasta and anchovies

Orechiette with broccoli, cheese, olive oil and anchovies

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

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

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

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

The anchovies should come in oil, of Mediterranean origin.

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

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

Cut stems into small pieces, leave flower heads whole.

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

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

Traditional Anchovy Dishes

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

Indigenous Ingredients | Almond

Spanish Almonds

Sitting in a tapas bar in Vigo, the talk is about fútbol. Barcelona are in town ahead of a crucial cup game with Shakhtar of Donetsk, both games awaited with bated breath.

It is the first of six thrilling encounters with Barcelona, two in the league, two in the UEFA Cup and two in the Copa del Rey, that season.

When the season ends the Celts of Vigo will have lost only the once to the Catalans, and the game they will all remember is that first one, largely because of Catanha’s 20-minute hat-trick and Patrick Kluivert’s predatory responses, for a 3-3 draw.

We are staying in rooms at the back of the bar, and we are hungry after a long train ride through the Basque Country into Galicia and the deep estuary on the north-west Atlantic shore.

The game is the first memory of that December night, the second is a delicious golden cake made with almonds.

Galicians adore almonds almost as much as they love their fútbol, mixing them into cakes and tarts, confections and desserts.

They aren’t alone. If there is one thing that unites the diverse regions of Spain it is their hard-shelled soft almonds.

From Aragón to Andalusia, they thrive in the relentless Mediterranean sun, resplendent in small orchards.

There are 100 varieties, each one prized, none more so than the Almendra de Mallorca, among the most coveted in Spain.

Majorcans say this native delicacy is unctuous, a description that might be applied to all Iberian almonds!

The rest of Europe completely agrees.

Not that the Spanish export all their sweet almond crop. Most of it goes into the confections – garrapiñadas (caramelized sugar almonds), mazapán (sweet almond cake/paste), peladillas (sweet roasted almonds) and turrón (sweet almond honey nougat) – that are excessively popular in the festive season.

Some goes into the ubiquitous romesco sauce, some intensifies the flavour of traditional dishes like gallina en pepitoria (sautéed chicken in almond and saffron sauce) and some of the best, the sweet nut of Majorca, is made into ice cream, also into oil and snacks, and into flour to make cake.

That golden cake!

Tarta de Santiago

250 g almonds, ground 
250 g (5) eggs
250 g sugar
50 ml (Orujo)/sweet wine 
1 lemon, zest
150 g baking flour
75 g lard
40 ml cold water, approximately 
50 g icing sugar, for decoration

Make the pastry, using sufficient water to loosely bind the flour and lard, refrigerate for 30 minutes, then roll out and carefully fold into a 25cm mould.

Roast the ground almonds in a 120°C oven for ten minutes, remove and leave to cool. Increase oven temperature to 180°C.

Using a machine mixer, combine the eggs and sugar, at top speed for five minutes until a thick ribbon falls off the blades.

Add the zest and choice of alcohol to the egg cream, fold in the toasted almonds and mix, pour into mould.

Bake for 40 minutes until surface is crisp, leave to cool.

For authenticity place a template of the Cross of the Order of Santiago in the centre or to the side of the surface, sprinkle with icing sugar.

Traditional Almond Dishes

Almond and Orange Cake MEDITERRANEAN
Cantuccini TUSCANY almond biscuits
Croissants de Provence PROVENCE almond crescents 
Fyrstekake NORWAY almond cake 
Galllina en Pepitoria SPAIN sautéed chicken with almond sauce
Gelato alla Mandorla SICILY almond ice cream
Janhagel NETHERLANDS spicy almond cakes
Le Galapian MONACO almond honey tart
Mandelküchen GERMANY almond braid cake
Pâte d’Amandes FRANCE sweet almond paste
Potica Mandljev SLOVENIA sweet almond roll 
Rogan Josh ENGLAND spicy almond and lamb curry
Sokolades Torte LATVIA almond, chocolate and cranberry cake
Torta de Amendoa PORTUGAL almond sponge 
Torta Riso ITALY sweet rice cake
Turrón SPAIN almond nougat




Indigenous Ingredients | Apricot

On August 7, 1953 apricot growers and their supporters besieged the small town of Saxon in the Swiss Valais canton to protest about the huge amount of Italian imports they claimed inhibited the sale of their produce. Freight trains carrying the Italian imports were looted and burned. The railway line and main road through the Rhône valley were blocked for several days. Consequently an agreement was made to restrict the foreign imports to aid the sale of the domestic produce.

Eight years later the growers faced another challenge when hazardous emissions from a factory in Martigny began to damage their crops. An 18-year campaign finally brought sanctions against the factory owners and in 1982 the Swiss Federal Court issued an order for compensation to be paid to the growers.

Of the 176 apricot growers in the Valais today most develop the luizet variety, supplying two-thirds of the one million kilos needed to make approximately 120,000 bottles of 70 centilitres Abricotine at the distillery in Martigny.

Two hundreds years after they were first cultivated in the Rhøne valley, apricots (and apricot brandy) are now established in the food culture of the region, the warm, dry Valais climate perfect for the sensitive luizet. Planted on the south-facing embankments of the valley, apricot trees thrive in alluvial soil.

Despite the success of this Swiss apricot story, the best apricots in Europe still come from Anatolia, where the climate and soil has always been conducive to consistently high quality production.

While the Austrians of Wachau and the Swiss of the Valais / Wallis turn their delicate fruit into apricot brandy (and liqueur), the Turks treat the apricot like a fruit from the gods and produce a quarter of the world crop to prove it. They eat apricots fresh, dry them in the sun and extend their usefulness in various ways, because they have always known the health benefits.

beta carotene to thwart cancer
fibre to aid digestion
iron to prevent anaemia
potassium to boost the heart and kidneys
and vitamins A, C and E to keep the body functioning

Nine tenths of the dried apricot market arise from Anatolia and are shipped around the world, where they are appreciated for their nutritional value – 100 grams of dried apricot contains 24 grams of dietary fibre, one gram less than an adult’s daily requirement.

Apricots make their way into a range of baked, cooked and processed foods in Turkey. They preserve their shelf life and consequently their health benefits by making them into jam and paste, starters for countless products.

Turkish apricots are of a higher quality, primarily because they are original cultivars (native species, not cross-cultivated) and have the best growing conditions in Anatolia.

The native roxana is being developed because it is early (July), has a large fruit (80-120 grams) and is resistant to cold. Red with orange flesh, the kernel is sweet.

Armenian, Austrian, Greek and Hungarian apricots are also old species varieties.

The European season is May to July and through to September in some regions.

Breeders are constantly working to produce sweeter apricots by identifying the original cultivars.

Kayısı Reçeli (apricot jam)

  • 1 kg apricots, fresh unblemished
  • 1 kg / 800 g sugar
  • 400 ml water (optional)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Apricot kernels

There are two distinct methods of making apricot jam.

Halve the apricots (retaining the stones) and steep overnight in the juice of one lemon and one kilo of sugar.

Crack open the stones to extract the kernels, which should be blanched to remove the skins.

Put the apricot-lemon-sugar mixture in a heavy-bottomed pan. Bring gradually and slowly to the boil until the sugar crystals have dissolved, about 15 minutes. Add the kernels for the last 10-15 minutes, testing the mixture for solidity.

This done by placing a plate in the refrigerator, spooning some mixture onto the plate. If it forms a skin and begins to set it is ready to go immediately into hot sterilised jars.

The second method calls for less sugar, which should be dissolved in the water before the apricots are added. Boil them in the sugar mixture for 10-15 minutes, add the lemon juice and kernels, reduce and test.

The first method retains the shape of each apricot half, the second produces the consistency of jam and is almost like a paste, which brings us to the next popular apricot product in Turkey.

Kayısı Pestili (apricot paste)

  • 1 kg apricots
  • 100 ml water

Halve the apricots, discarding the stones, and simmer in the water until they are soft, about 20 minutes.

Liquidise, pass through a sieve and place the pulp on a buttered baking dish. Cover with cheesecloth and leave to dry in the sun until dry and leathery.

Alternatively, placed the tray in a low preheated oven, around 90°C, and bake for about two hours.

This apricot leather can be cut and reconstituted in warm water for various uses, in soups and stews, and in cakes and pastries.

One such is the Viennese Sachertorte, arguably Europe’s favourite aristocratic chocolate cake.

Sachertorte (chocolate and apricot cake)

The smooth consistency of the chocolate icing gives this cake its celebrated Viennese appearance but it is the inner apricot glaze that makes it iconic. The recipe for the original Sachertorte, made by 16 year old apprentice chef Franz Sacher at the court of Prince Metternich in 1832, remains a secret.

There are now many versions of the cake. Among the best are found in Bologna at the Neri Pasticceria beyond the gate on via Saragozza and at the Caffe la Serra near the Arsenal in Venice.

Only the Italians!

This is an adaptation of the version provided by Austrian Tourism.

  • 7 eggs, separated
  • 200 g apricot jam or paste, smooth for spreading
  • 200 g dark chocolate (70%)
  • 150 g butter, softened
  • 150 g flour
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 75 g almonds, ground
  • 50 g vanilla sugar
  • 50 g sugar
  • Salt, pinch
  • Butter and flour for cake tin / mould
  • Icing (200 g dark (70% cocoa) chocolate / 250 g sugar / 100 ml water / 50 g butter)

Melt chocolate slowly in a bain-marie. Cream the butter with the icing and vanilla sugars, stirring in the egg yolks one by one.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Grease a cake tin with butter and sprinkle with flour.

Vigourously beat egg whites with sugar to form a stiff peak when lifted. Stir the melted chocolate into the butter-egg paste and carefully fold in the whipped egg whites alternately with the flour and salt, and the ground almonds if preferred.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 55-60 minutes.

Turn the cake onto a board and allow to cool, turn again after 25 minutes. This will give the cake a flat surface on each side.

Reconstitute apricot paste in warm water to make 200 grams of soft jam.

Divide the cake into two equal bases. Smooth jam over each base and place one on the top of the other, coating the edges with the remaining jam. Leave to set.

Dissolve the sugar in the water gradually over a medium heat until it begins to boil. Cook for five minutes, turn off heat and allow to cool.

Break chocolate into small pieces, add a few at a time stirring until the glaze is smooth. In a single movement pour the chocolate glaze over the cake, and with a broad-bladed knife smooth out until the surface and edges are coated.

Apply decorations and leave to cool at room temperature.

Traditional Apricot Dishes

Milk bread rolls with apricots

Amaretti ITALY almond, apricot kernels and honey macaroons

Aprikosen-Brötli SWITZERLAND milk bread rolls with apricots

Aprikosenkuchen mit Streuseln SWITZERLAND apricot crumb cake

Aprikosentörtli SWITZERLAND apricot tart

Birnbrot SWITZERLAND fruit bread

Brac de Gitano ANDORRA apricot cream roll

Hutzelbrot GERMANY festive fruit cake

Marillenknödel AUSTRIA apricot potato dumplings

Marillenkuchen AUSTRIA apricot cake

Oie Rôtie aux Fruits FRANCE roast goose with apple, pear, dried apricot, prune

Plov, Shirin EUROPE basmati rice with apricot, date, plum, raisin, saffron

Plov, Shirin AZERBAIJAN basmati rice with apricot, date, plum, raisin, saffron, fried meat

Tarte Tatin FRANCE apricot tart

Yaini ARMENIA AZERBAIJAN GEORGIA RUSSIA beef soup with dried apricots

Apricot Varieties

Swiss apricots

Aprikoz TURKEY (700,000 tonnes)

Bebeco GREECE (41,000)

Bergarouge FRANCE (160,000)

Bergeron FRANCE

Búlida SPAIN (83,000)

Canine SPAIN


Klosterneuburger / Kegelmarille AUSTRIA


Mitger SPAIN

Orangered FRANCE

Red Galta SPAIN

Rouge du Roussillon FRANCE


Rózsakajszi HUNGARY

Tyrinthos GREECE

Adapted from Fruits of Europe.