Archive for the ‘Wine pairing’ Category

Grilled spring onions to me equals fiesta! Mexican Cambray onions or Catalan Calçots, spring onions with their slightly bulbous base and tender, delicious flesh are the perfect thing to trough on the grill. I buy mine at my local Mexican grocery. They’re the perfect snack or side. You’ll see it’s so easy to make, this hardly requires a recipe.

Freshly picked Cambray onions


  • 20 Cambray onions
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • coarse salt to taste
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges (to garnish)

Prepare your grill.

Clean the onions and trim the ends, leaving about 15 cm (6″) of green stalk and coat them with oil and salt.

Grill over glowing coals for 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened and lightly charred, turning them a few times (Alternatively, you can broil then for 10 to 12 minutes.)

Serve immediately, garnished with lime wedges.

Serves 4

The sweet, lightly charded onions would pair well with simple German Riesling, but then again, what doesn’t!

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A paella is always a festive meal. It’s also fast and easy to make and party friendly. Give it a try!

Paella ready to be served


1 onion, chopped
2 large Portobello mushrooms, cut into thick slices
1 fresh fennel bulbs, trimmed, cut into 8 wedges
3 small zucchinis, halved lengthwise
4 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
500 gr (1 lb) asparagus, trimmed
1 yellow pepper, cut into thick slices
6 fresh baby artichokes, trimmed and halved (or substitute canned)
125 ml (1/2 cup) fresh peas
125 ml (1/2 cup) fresh baby lima beans (or substitute frozen. Do not used canned)
60 ml (1/4 cup) piquillo peppers, cut into strips (or substitute roasted red)
500 ml (2 cups) bomba rice or other medium-grain rice such as arborio
1 L (4 cups) homemade vegetable stock
250 ml (1 cup) dry white wine
60 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
15 ml (1 tbsp) smoked spanish paprika
5 ml (1 tsp) saffron threads, crushed
salt to taste
18 olives
90 ml (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon, cut in wedges, to garnish

Preheat oven to 230C (450F)

Finely mince 1/4 cup parsley and garlic together. Transfer to small bowl. Stir in paprika, saffron and salt.

Heat 60 ml (2 tbsp) oil in paella pan or a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and parsley mixture; stir while cooking 2 minutes. Stir in the stock and wine; bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

toasting the rice

Add the mushrooms, fennel bulb, zucchinis, tomatoes, yellow pepper, baby artichokes, fresh peas and lima beans. Transfer the paella to the oven and bake, undisturbed, for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven.

add the stock than the veges
and more veges

Top the paella with pequillo and olives, cover and let rest in the oven for 15 minutes more or until the rice is tender.

Adjust salt. Sprinkle with remaining parsley, decorate with lemon wedges and serve.


Serves 6

Pair with a fresh and crisp spanish white such as a 2007 Casal Novo Godello Valdeorras

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Cassoulet isn’t a spur of the moment thing but a labour of love. There are several steps involved and you can’t really cut corners. And unlike most of the recipes I’ve posted here, cassoulet isn’t light either. The classic version is a real pork and duck fat fest, coming up with a satisfying vegan interpretation was a little challenging but I’m quite pleased with the result. Here’s a very flavourful, winter, stick-to-your-bones sort of dish and a delicious one at that too.

So if you feel so inclined, this is how I did it.

The finished cassoulet being served.

Step 1 make the

Tempeh bacon


  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) maple sugar
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) smoked salt
  • 30 ml (1 tbsp) smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) cayenne pepper
  • 16 oz (2 packages) tempeh, thinly sliced
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) canola oil

In a large dinner plate, combine the maple sugar, smoked salt, paprika and cayenne pepper. lightly brush the tempeh with oil and dredge the slices one by one, stack them on a separate plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day,  smoke the bacon for 30 minutes before you bake it. (Optional. To improve the smoky flavour. This step requires a special smoker)

Lay the tempeh slice in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Bake at 150°C  (300°F) for an hour or until crispy, turning once. Remove from oven and reserve. (Note: You cannot eat all of this before in goes into the cassoulet).

making the tempeh bacon


Step 2 make the

Roasted Tomato Confit


  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) fresh thyme, minced
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) sugar

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 100°C (215°F). Halve tomatoes lengthwise and place, cut-side up, on an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, sugar and thyme. Roast until tomatoes are golden brown and semi-dried, about 4 hours. Let stand until cool and reserve.

making the roasted tomato confit

Step 3 make the

Smoked tofu confit


  • 1 tsp smoked salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  • 225 gr (8 oz) smoked tofu, cut into bite size
  • 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable oil (approximately)

Preheat the oven to 100°C (215°F). Arrange the tofu in a single layer in a baking dish. Season with salt, garlic, thyme and pepper. Cover with oil and cook for 2 hours. Remove from oven and reserve.

smoked tofu confit

For the cassoulet


  • 225 gr (8 oz) smoked tofu confit
  • 225 gr (8oz) tempeh bacon
  • 450 gr (1 lb) dried Tarbais or cannellini beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil (I used oil left over from the tofu confit)
  • 6 roasted tomatoes confit
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onions, finely diced
  • 3 small celery ribs, finely diced
  • 1 head of garlic, unpeeled and left whole
  • 30 gr (1 oz) dried porcinni mushrooms
  • 2 L (8 1/2 cups) strong mushroom stock
  • 1 bouquet garni: 6 parsley sprigs, 4 thyme sprigs and 2 bay leaves, tied with string
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) smoked Spanish paprika
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) cup fresh bread crumbs

Soak the beans over night.

Drain the beans and put them in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the beans are done but still firm. Drain.

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the carrots, celery and onions, cook over moderate heat stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden, about 7 minutes.Add the head of garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth, dried porcini mushrooms, bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.


the cassoulet ready to go into the oven


Remove from heat. Pick out the head of garlic and reserve. Discard the bouquet garni.
Preheat the oven to 165°C (325°F). Transfer the liquid mixture, the beans, tomatoes and tofu to a large earthenware casserole. Squeeze out the cooked garlic cloves and stir the paste into the ragout. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake the cassoulet for 1 hour.

Gently stir in the skin that has formed on the cassoulet. Add the tempeh bacon and top with bread crumbs, sprinkle with smoked paprika. Bake the cassoulet for 1 hour longer, until it is richly browned on the surface. Remove from oven and rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Serves 8


Wine pairing suggestion

In Toulouse, where Casoulet originates, the locals pour hearty, tannic reds to accompany cassoulet. But has this version isnt as fatty and contains no meat I would suggest you go with a lighter red such a Cinsault/Grenache/Carignane blend from the Languedoc-Roussillon region or more for a more unusual combination, try a lush and smokey german riesling. Its high acidity and touch of residual sugar will pair well with this rich tomatoey dish.

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Steamed artichokes with a mustard vinaigrette

Shaved fennel, blood orange and black olive salad
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2007

King oyster mushroom “osso bucco” over orecchiette drizzled with truffle oil
Cantina dei produttori Nebbiolo di Carema, Carema Riserva 2005


Sorry for the radio silence, I will put up real updates in the coming days.

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Here’s a simple Japanese inspired dinner tonight. I’ve posted variations of most of these recipes before. They’re all very simple and quick, perfect for week night.

The menu:

Baked shiitake & pleurote w sesame oil, garlic and lemon juice
Spicy sautéed green beans
Fat and tender okra roasted with yaki glaze
Cold cha soba w garnishes and dipping sauce

We paired this with Akitabare koshiki junzukuri “Northern skies” saké  which went very well with the mushroom dish but something sweeter would have been better the beans and okra.

Spicy sautéed green beans


  • 30 ml (2 tbsps) peanut or canola oil
  • 500 gr (1 pound) green beans, trimmed, washed, dried
  • 3 dried hot chilis, cut up
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) ginger, minced
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) chili with garlic sauce
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) rice wine vinegar
  • 60 ml (4 tbsps) mirin
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) sugar
  • 45 ml (3 tbsps) tamari
  • 15 ml (1 tbps) toasted sesame oil
  • salt to taste
  • 30 ml (2 tbsps) toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

In a wok on high heat, heat 30 ml oil until hot. Add the dried chilis, garlic and ginger. Stir briskly for about 30 seconds. Add the string beans and cook 4-5 minutes until done but still crispy. Then add the vinegar, wine, sugar, chili sauce and salt, and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil, stir, and serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.

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I had been craving zucchini blossoms for weeks and could not find them at all. It always blows me away when I can’t fin something in NYC. I mean seriously, this is NYC how could it not have XYZ?!? Specially food stuff. Why can’t I just reach for puntarelle, zucchini blossoms, chestnuts, preserved lemons, vin jaune, pain poilâne, vegan crème fraîche, ok maybe that last one is pushing it a little but you get what I saying.

Anyway, I finally found zucchini blossoms last weekend at the Grand Army plaza market. This is what came of it.

Stuffed zucchini blossoms with fava beans and garlic scapes
(sorry for the crappy photo, there was no light left at all)

For the Fava Beans


  • 1.5 kg (3 pounds) unshelled young fresh fava beans
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) garlic scapes, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • salt
  • lemon juice

Shell, blanch and peel the fava beans.

Sauté the garlic scapes in the oil until for a minute. Stir in beans, add water and simmer, covered, for 8 to 12 minutes until the beans are tender.

Add salt and pepper, turn up the heat and cook uncovered until the last of the water has evaporated.

Remove from heat and reserve.

For the stuffed zucchini blossoms


  • 18 zucchini blossoms
  • 350 ml (12 oz) beer
  • 75 ml (5 Tbsp) flour
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) corn starch
  • 60 gr (2 oz) firm tofu
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • one recipe of vegan ricotta
  • vegetable oil for frying

Trim the stems, remove the pistils and very gently wash and dry of the zucchini blossoms.

Prepare the batter by combining the beer, flour, tofu and salt and pepper. Process in a high power blender until creamy. Keep aside.

Use a pastry bag (or a small ziplock) to fill the blossoms with cheese. Reserve.

Heat the oil to 175ºC  (350ºF).

One by one, dip each stuffed blossoms in the batter and drop them in the hot oil. Fry in small batches until golden brown.

To plate

Put a few spoonfuls of beans on each plates. Drizzle with more olive oil and lemon juice. Top with blossoms. Serve right away.

Yields 6 mains or 10 appetizers.

Wine pairing

I would suggest a dry Italian white. Be adventurous, move away from the standard Pinot Grigio and try an herbal Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli, a more floral Vernaccia di San Gimignano or a crisp, mineral and citrusy Vermentino or Trebbiano d’Abruzzo instead.

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I was in the mood for a Calçotada but being short of Calçot (they just didn’t have them at the Union square market today), here’s the menu for our Catalan spring feast.


Olives &  Marcona Almonds
Pa amb Tomàquet (bread with tomato)
Xampinyons a l’all (sautéed mushrooms with garlic)

Espinacs a la Catalana (spinach with raisins and pine nuts)
Arròs a l’Empordanesa
Crema Catalana

Arròs a l’empordanesa

Could this look any more like a shot from a 1970 cookbook?

This rice dish “in the style of Emporda” (a region in north-east Catalunya), is similar in style to paella. Traditionally, the main ingredient are rovellon mushrooms which grow in that area and are pretty much impossible to buy elsewhere, but other flavourful wild mushrooms will do. The addition of almond and pimentón give a smokey richness to the dish.


  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onions, thinly sliced
  • 115 gr (4 oz) wild mushrooms, sliced
  • 115 ml (1/2 c) dry white wine
  • 3 cloves of garlic, made into a paste with a mortar and pestle
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, grated
  • 25 gr (1 oz) almonds, toasted
  • 60 ml (1/4 c) fresh parsley, chopped, plus more to garnish
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch Spanish saffron
  • 350 ml  (1 1/2 c) Bomba rice (substitute good short-grain rice if unavailable)
  • 600 ml (2 1/2 c) vegetable stock
  • 115 ml (1/2 c) fresh peas
  • 115 ml (1/2 c) white beans, cooked
  • 60 ml (1/4 c) pimientos del piquillo, julienned
  • 3 artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • salt to taste
  • lemon wedges, to garnish

Serves: 4-6


Pre-heat oven to 175°C (350°F).

Heat the olive oil in a large paella pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onions and sauté until golden brown, then add white wine and cook until nearly completely reduced.

Add the garlic paste and tomato. Let simmer for 15 minutes, season with salt to taste.

Using a mortar and pestle, make a paste with the almonds, parsley, paprika, cayenne and saffron. Reserve.

Add the rice to the pan and stir, cook for 3 minutes. Add the paste to the pan and stir.

Finally, pour in enough sock to cover the whole dish and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until most of the stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente.

Scatter with peas and white beans, add peppers and artichoke over the rice.

Return dish to oven and turn off the heat. Continue cooking until the rice is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Garnish with more parsley and lemon wedges.


There were a few… And I have to say I have a slight headache this morning, wouldn’t have been a proper Catalan party without.

Raventós I Blanc L’Hereu, Cava Brut Reserva
Producer: Raventós i Blanc
Varietal: 60% Macabeo, 20% Xarel-lo and 20% Parellada
Vintage: NV
Region: Cataluna, Spain
D.O.: Cava

A really great Cava at a decent price. Bright and lively with tiny, persistent bubbles and refreshing acidity. Aromas of lemon, green apple and mineral.

La Gitana Manzanilla
Producer: Bodegas Hidalgo
Grape: Palomino Fino
Vintage: NV
Region: Andalucía
D.O.: Sanlúcar de Barrameda – Jerez
$18 for 500 ml

A Classic in Spain’s tapas bar, this is the most popular Manzanilla and one of the finest. Ideal with tapas but also works great as a table wine.

Pale straw color, bone dry yet rich, salty, seaside flavor with a hint of nuttiness and mineral.

Check the bottling date on the back label and drink within a year of bottling (at max.). Leftover wine, kept in the fridge, is fantastic for cooking.

Gessamí Gramona
Producer: Bodegas Gramona
Grape: 50% Muscat of Alexandria, 20% Muscat of Frontignan, 25% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% de Gewürztraminer
Vintage: 2008
Region: Cataluña
D.O.: Penedés

Pale golden-green colour. Very aromatic and fresh with notes of jasmine, fennel and citrus.

Camins del Priorat 2007
Producer: Alvaro Palacios
Grape: 50% Cariñena, 40% Garnacha, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
Vintage: 2007
Region: Cataluña
D.O.: Priorat

If L’Ermita doesn’t quite fit your budget (it certainly doesn’t fit mine!) you might want to try this much better priced wine by the same superstar maker.

Bright and fruity with aromas of plum, red berries and pepper. Its ripe tannins and silky texture make it a great food wine.

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For years I stayed well clear of gnocchi. The few times I had eaten them I found they were heavy, doughy and generally unappetizing. Then one night some time ago while at Hearth I was present with a small plate of them by the chef. The guy was standing right there waiting for comeback so I ate one, and to my amazement it was fantastic. As far as anything I remembered gnocchi to be, these tiny little things were so light and tender and just melted in my mouth. Delicious.

So after researching the gnocchi thing and asking cooks for tips and tricks, I decided to experiment a little.

My first attempt here, were served with a simple roasted tomato sauce.

For my second run it was with a shiitake, sage & Jerez emulsion sauce. Less photogenic but a more interesting combination of flavours.

Over all, I’m still unimpressed with the results. The texture was OK but not as tender and light as I want them to be. On their own they tasted a little of raw flour… So I guess I need to keep tweaking. Or maybe I’ve set the bar too high and gnocchi are only good at Hearth after all.


A good pairing with the shiitake, sage & Jerez sauce,  is a wine that will complement the earthy and smoky flavour of the dish. A Valpolicella Classico Superiore or a good Chianti Classico would do if you have loads of money to through at it or in the $20 – $25 range you’ll do well with a Barbaresco or a Barbera d’Asti.

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Pot-au-feu is one of my favourite comfort foods. While I was growing up it made regular appearances on our table and I still ask for it when I go home.

Nothing refined or fancy here, this is pretty much peasant food. The name translates to “pot on the fire” as this is how this dish got its start, a pot always left to simmer in the hearth, topped off with fresh ingredients when some of its content was used.

Composed of winter vegetables that keep well, the original version also has pork belly, marrow bones and cheap cuts of beef, which combined give lots of flavour and body to the broth. Some people simply can’t conceive of Pot-au-feu without the meat but I don’t miss it at all. I’ve found other ways of imparting hearty flavours to this dish.

The broth, specially in this vegetarian version, is instrumental. It needs to be rich and aromatic before you through you veges in otherwise you’ll end up with a boring dish. Since following this simple and ingenious lead, I always have more homemade broth then I can use so I start with that and enrich it with a few dried mushrooms and 1 or 2 full heads of garlic. See recipe bellow.


  • 4 litres of strong vegetable stock
  • 6 shiitake or other flavourful dried mushrooms
  • 2 head of garlic, unpeeled and left whole
  • 8 carrots
  • 4 turnips
  • 4 medium parsnips
  • 1 large rutabaga, quartered
  • 8 medium potatoes
  • 4 leeks
  • 4 branches of celery cut in half
  • 4 onions
  • 1 cabbage, quartered
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 8 cloves
  • 8 black pepper corn
  • sea salt to taste
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) Earth Balance or other vegan butter
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

Serves 4

Put the stock in a large pot with the mushrooms, garlic, bouquet garni and black pepper corn. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered about 40 minutes or until reduced by half. Remove mushrooms and garlic and reserve.

Clean and trim all vegetables, leave them whole except where indicated. Prick the onions with 2 cloves each.

Add to the pot, carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, potatoes, cabbage and salt to taste and simmer for 10 minutes. Add leeks, celery, onions and cook for an other 10 to 15 minutes until all vegetables are done. Remove from heath. Adjust seasoning to taste, add vegan butter and stir well into the broth.

In a small bowl, press the cooked garlic from its skin, add 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil and salt to taste. Mix well. Serve as a side with warm bread.

Serve the Pot-au-feu with coarse sea salt, cornichons and good french bread to dunk in the broth. Dijon mustard is also traditionally served with this dish but I don’t feel that it is necessary with this vegetarian version.

Pair with a simple French red such as a vin de pays des Collines-Rhodaniennes or light and fragrant Cabernet franc from the middle Loire.

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I rarely make desert because well, I’m usually not hungry by then and if anything I’d rather have an other glass of wine then some rich chocolate concoction. (Nothing wrong with rich chocolate concoctions though).

So here’s an easy and light desert to finish your meal with. Delicious on its own or for a more substantial Thai inspired treat, serve over sticky rice cooked with coconut milk.

To make, cut mangoes into 1/2 cm slices and lay them in a single layer on a non stick baking dish. Spray or brush very lightly with mild vegetable oil and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar. Grill in the oven for a couple minutes until the sugar starts to caramelize. If the slices are very thin, no need to turn and grill the other side.

It’s served here with a pomegranate caramel sauce and a few ground cherries.

I would pair this with a luscious late harvest Semillon, either from Chile or from the Barossa Valley in Australia, which have mango and vanilla aromas.

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Saturday night, after a little excursion to Mitsuwa, we had a Izakaya style dinner. Lots of small plates to go with several different sakés. Sort of like Japanese tapas.

On the menu was:

  • Miso soup with tiny cubes of melt-in-your-mouth tofu
  • Takuan,  ume + cucumber, avocado + yamagobo sushis
  • Cucumber, wakame, tororo sunomono (seaweed  salad)
  • Cold cha soba with garnishes
  • Nasu dengaku (grilled eggplant with miso glaze)
  • Robata Yaki okra, asparagus and scallions
  • Maitake, bunashimeji and shiitake mushrooms baked en papillote with sesame oil, sake and garlic served with a squeeze of lemon

Mitsuwa has a massive selection of sakés… We went a little nuts! They were the main attraction at dinner of course and though we didn’t quite polish off these 4 bottles we never the less over indulged.

Junmai Daiginjo Nama
Ehime, Japan
500 ml
Aromas of ripe tropical fruit. Off dry.

Shirakawago Sasanigori
Junmai Ginjo Nigori
Gifu, Japan
300 ml
As all Nigori, this saké is unfiltered which gives it a cloudy white look with a sweeter, mild and fruity aroma.  Floral and apple notes. Would also be great with spicy dishes.

Tokubetsu Junmai
Yamagata, Japan
720 ml
Full-bodied, medium-dry. Notes of apricot and almond.

Rin Draft Saké
Fukushima, Japan
500 ml

Brewed from 100% organic rice. Rich, creamy and buttery aromas.

All were served chilled.

Starting at the beginning, here’s a recipe for dashi, the base of much Japanese Cuisine.

Vegan Dashi (Soup Stock)


  • 1 liter (4 cups) water
  • 15 cm (6″) piece of kombu
  • 3 dry shiitake mushroom
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) mirin
  • 30 ml  (2 tbsp) shoyu


Rinse off kombu if necessary. Put the water in a pot, add kombu and shiitake and soak for 1 hour.

Bring nearly to the boil, simmer gently for 20 mins. Remove kombu, add remaining ingredients and simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove shiitake and reserve for other use.

That’s it. Now you’ve got a tasty dashi.

Next we’ll use this dashi to make miso soup.

Miso Soup with tofu and scallions


  • 750 ml (3 cups) dashi soup stock
  • 150 gr (5 oz) silken tofu
  • 60 ml (4 tbsp) miso paste
  • 3 scallions, thinly chopped


Put dashi soup stock in a pot and bring to a boil. Cut tofu into small cubes and add them to the soup and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat. Dissolve the miso in a small amount of hot dashi and add to the soup. Add Scallions, stir and serve.

Remember never to boil the soup after the miso is added or you will kill all the good stuff.

Serves 4

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While not particularly avant-garde, I don’t know anybody who’ll turn down Osso Bucco when the weather turns cold and rainy. This stuff will ward off even the worst fall blues, guaranteed.

For osso bucco

6 large king oyster mushrooms
all-purpose flour for dredging the mushrooms
90 ml (6 tbs) olive oil
350 ml (1 1/2 cups) dry white wine
250 ml (1 cups) onion, finely chopped
175 ml (3/4 cup) carrots, finely chopped
175 ml (3/4 cup) celery, finely chopped
10 ml (2 tsp) garlic, minced
750 ml (3 cups) homemade vegetable broth (or best store-bought)
350 ml (1 1/2 cups) tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 bouquet garni of 6 fresh parsley sprigs, 4 fresh thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf, tied together with kitchen string
5 ml (1 tsp) sweet smoked spanish paprika
salt and freshly grounded black pepper to taste

For gremolata

125 ml (1/2 cup) fresh parsley, minced
30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon zest
15 ml (1 tbsp) garlic, minced

For risotto

350 ml (1 1/2 cups) short grain rice preferably Carnaroli or Vialone Nano
750 ml (3 cups) homemade vegetable stock (or best store-bought, there may be some left over)
115 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
1 small onion, finely chopped
15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
vegan cooking cream such as Belsoy
1 generous pinch of saffron threads
freshly ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make

king oyster

A giant king oyster mushroom

Cut the king oyster mushrooms into 3cm thick slices across the stem, leave the head whole. Marinade 15 minutes in 60 ml (4 tbsp) olive oil, 15 ml (1 tbsp) minced garlic, paprika, salt and pepper. Remove mushrooms from marinade and dredge in the flour, shaking off the excess. In a heavy skillet heat 15 ml (1 tbsp) oil over moderately high heat and brown the mushrooms in batches, adding oil as necessary and transferring the browned mushrooms to a platter.

osso bucco 1

Browned mushroom shanks

Preheat oven to 175°C  (350°F)

In a medium-sized braiser cook the onion, carrots, celery and garlic in the remaining oil on moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened. Add the mushrooms and the wine and boil until the liquid is reduced to about 115 ml (1/2 cup). Add enough of the broth to almost cover. Spread the tomatoes over the shanks, add the bouquet garni, salt and pepper to taste. Braise the mixture, covered, in the middle of the oven for 1 hour.

osso bucco 2

Osso Bucco nearly ready

Strain the pan juices into a saucepan, pressing hard on the solids, and skim the fat. Boil the juices for 15 minutes, or until they are reduced to about 3 cups.

While the osso bucco is cooking make the gremolata. In a bowl stir together the parsley, the zest, and the garlic. Reserve.

30 minutes before serving, make the risotto.

Bring stock to a simmer in a small saucepan and keep hot.

In a medium size heavy saucepan, cook onion in the oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the saffron and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add rice and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add white wine and simmer until evaporated. Raise heat to medium high and add hot stock gradually in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly. After approximately 17 minutes, when rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, take off the heat, add soy cream and stir well to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible.

Cover to rest 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately after. Risotto does not wait very well at all.

To plate, make a little nest of rissotto in the center of the plate. Add stew over top and sprinkle with the gremolata.

I’ve been experimenting with vegan marrow bones to really round this off… I’ll keep you posted.


A traditional pairing would be a Barolo or Barbaresco but I’d try a southern Rhône, full-bodied, fruity and peppery with a smooth finish. Keep your eyes open for great value for the $ from Cairanne, Rasteau, Gigondas and Vacqueyras.

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pumpkin risotto

Pan-seared maitake steaks with pumpkin risotto and crispy sage

Last night our menu was:

Tiny oven roasted beets on a nest of sautéed beet tops
with a hazelnut & orange dressing

Pan-seared maitake steaks with pumpkin risotto and crispy sage

Tensley Blanc 2007, Santa Barbara

While this may look like zombie food it is in fact a maitake mushroom. They’re delicious and in season right now. Try them.

maitake 1

maitake 2

For risotto

  • 300 ml (1 1/4 cups) peeled, seeded and diced fresh pumpkin
  • 750 ml (3 cups) homemade vegetable stock (or best store-bought)
  • 115 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 15 ml (1 tbs) olive oil
  • 350 ml (1 1/2 cups) Arborio rice
  • freshly ground nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For maitake steaks

  • 2 or 3 medium clusters of maitake (aprox 750 gr)
  • 45 ml (3 tbs) olive oil
  • 30 ml (2 tbs) thinly sliced plus 6 whole leaves fresh sage

Make risotto:

Cook diced pumpkin in a medium saucepan covered with water until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and puré in blender. Reserve.

Bring stock to a simmer in a small saucepan and keep warm.

In a medium size heavy saucepan, cook onion in oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer until evaporated. Add 1 cup simmering stock and cook at a strong simmer, stirring constantly, until stock is absorbed. Continue simmering, adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, about 20 minutes total. (There may be broth left over.)

Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin cream. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Cover to rest 5 minutes. Serve immediately after.

Prepare mushrooms:

Clean maitake mushrooms carefully and cut into 2.5 cm (1″) thick slices.

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the sage and fry until golden and crispy. Careful not to burn it, this only takes seconds. Remove sage from the skillet and drain on a paper towel. Keep the hot oil in the skillet.

Add the maitake to the skillet and sauté, turning once, until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Keep warm.

To serve:

Ladle risotto onto plates, top with maitake steak and crispy sage. Serve immediately, risotto doesn’t wait very well.


Tensley Blanc – 2007

Country : USA
Region : California / Santa Barbara
Varietal : Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier
Price : $25

A Rhône-style blend, fruity and aromatic with notes of ripe peach, green apple and tropical fruit. Hint of floral and mineral. Big, round, ripe and lush fall wine.


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Last night’s menu was:

Crostini of chestnut pâté with caramelised onions,
grape must reduction and a drop of truffle oil

winter stew 1

Winter vegetables stew with turmeric & raisins
and a simple green salad.

Stew recipe


  • 12 small cipollini onions, whole, peeled
  • 4 medium parsnips
  • 6 small white turnips
  • 1 medium ratabaga
  • 2 medium parsley roots
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 500 gr (1 lbs) fingerlings potatoes
  • 5 large chard leaves
  • 45 ml (3 tbs) olive oil
  • 30 ml (2 tbs) flour
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) turmeric powder
  • 250 ml (1 cup) dry white wine
  • 750 ml (3 cups) strong vegetable broth, mushroom and onion is ideal
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • (1/4 cup) large raisins
  • 15 ml (1 tbs) each fresh thyme, sage, marjoram, chopped
  • 45 ml (3 tbs) fresh parsley, chopped


Preheat oven to 175C (350F)

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and blanch the onions. Cool and peel the. Set aside.

Scrub all root vegetables clean, peel only those necessary and cut into chunky bite size pieces. Remove the ribs from the chard and cut into 1 cm (1/2 “) wide strips.

In a large cast iron pot, over medium high heat, warm the oil. Add all root vegetables and sauté 5 minutes. In a bowl mix the flour, salt, pepper, turmeric. Sprinkle the mixture over the vegetables. Cook, stirring regularly, until the flour begins to brown. Add the wine, stir and cook 2 minutes. Add broth, chard, onions, raisins and herbs, except parsley. Cover and bake in the oven until the vegetables are tender, about 45 mins.

Serve garnished with fresh parsley.


Geil muskateller trocken 2007

Country : Germany
Region : Rheingau / Rheinhessen
Varietal : Muscat
Price : $15

A light and crip wine with decent length. Very fruit forward with dominant notes of musky muscat grape of course, also with notes peach, citrus, floral, hint of honey and nutmeg. Slight minerality.

geil muskateller

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eggplant crumble 1

Eggplant & leak crumble

Last night we had a salad of wild roquette, sautéed Bosc pears and lightly candied pecans followed by an eggplant & leek crumble. Here’s a recipe for the crumble.


  • 1 large eggplant cut into 2 cm (1″) cubes
  • 2 medium leeks, white part only, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 90 ml (6 tbs) olive oil
  • 1 block firm silken tofu
  • 15 ml lemon juice (1 tbs)
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 45 ml (3 tbs) fresh parsley, chopped

To prepare

In a blender, put the tofu, 30 ml oil (2 tbs), lemon juice and zest and process until very smooth. Add water if needed to make a very thick cream. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Keep aside.

In a large skillet, over medium high heat, warm 30 ml (2 tbs) oil until very hot, add half the garlic sauté one minute and add leeks, sauté until soft. Add eggplant, sauté until soft. Remove from heat.

Oil a baking dish. Put the eggplant & leek mix at the bottom. Add the tofu cream over top. Bake for about 20 minutes in a 175C (350F) oven.

Mix bread crumbs with remaining 30 ml oil (2 tbs) oil. Season with fresh parley, remaining garlic, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the crumble. Return to oven and broil for about 3 minutes, or just until breadcrumbs are golden and crusty. Serve.


Bott Geyl Les Pinots d’Alsace Métiss 2006

Country : France
Region : Alsace
Appellation : Alsace
Producer : Jean-Christophe Bott

Very Alsatian in character, it’s a beautiful rich golden colour. Overall crisp and fresh and dangerously easy to drink. Dominant notes are pear, apricot, citrus, with a hint of floral, honey and almond. Nice minerality, dept and ripeness. Kind of a steal at $16.

bott geyl pinots d'alsace

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Pizzawith caramelised onions, sauté mushrooms, rucola and walnuts.

This is just to show that not all pizza comes smothered in tomato sauce and tones of gooey cheese. This was a good winter version with rich and rounded flavours. I won’t post a recipe as the crust wasn’t as nice as I wanted it.

This would pair real well with a German Kabinett Riesling with a little residual sugar though lots of people would probably go with a simple red such as a Barbera d’Alba or a Barbera d’Asti.

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Chestnuts & Porcini Medaglioni
with a porcini jus & olive oil emulsion sauce.
Pierre André Chassagne-montrachet Les Blanchots 1er Cru 2004

Ragù of wild mushrooms
with creamy polenta and sautéed dandelion greens.
Altaïr, D.O. Requinoa, Valle del Alto Cachapoal, Chile

Salad of tender Italian mesclum with an hazelnut oil & lemon juice dressing

Compote of figs in Marsala wine
with homemade vegan mascarpone mousse
Coteaux-du-Layon-St Lambert, Domaine du Roy René, Les Cartelles 2001

Plating while intoxicated looks like this. Don’t do it.

Ragù of wild mushrooms

1 kg (2 lbs) mixed mushrooms (I used a mix of dried procini and chanterelles and fresh oyster and Shimeji)
1L jar Italian tomatoes, chopped, with their juices (or 1 large can store bought)
100 ml (1/2 cup) sun-dried tomatoes
30 ml (2 Tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onion, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, minced
250 ml (1 cup) Marsala wine
500 ml (2 cups)  mushroom soaking water or homemade vegetable broth
30 ml (2 Tbsp)  roasted sesame oil
30 ml (2 Tbsp)  fresh sage chopped
30 ml (2 Tbsp)  fresh thyme chopped
30 ml (2 Tbsp)  fresh oregano chopped
5 ml (2 tsp)  smoked paprika
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
100 ml (1/2 cup) thick soy cooking cream such as Belsoy


half bunch of fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
graded zest of 1 organic lemon

Put the dried mushrooms in a large bol and rehydrate by covering them with plenty of boiling water. Set aside to soak for at least 20 minutes until softened. Drain and reserve soaking water. Do the same with sun-dried tomatoes.

Preheat oven to 175°C (350F).

Slice cut mushrooms into big chunks and leave smaller ones whole. Put the olive oil in an enameled cast iron braising pot and sauté the onion and garlic on medium high heat for a minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté until golden. Deglaze the pot with the wine and simmer until the liquid is almost completely evaporated.

Add sun-dried tomatoes, canned tomatoes, smoked paprika, sage, thyme and oregano, roasted sesame oil, 250 ml (1 cup) mushroom soaking water or homemade vegetable broth, salt and pepper. Combine well. Put in the oven and cook covered for about one hour. If the mixture dries out, add a little broth or mushroom soaking water.

Remove from the oven and add the soy cooking cream. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Cover and let sit for a few minutes while you assemble the gremolata.

Serve over polenta, sprinkled with gremolata.

This rustic and earthy ragù is a perfect example the great meatiness (in both flavour and texture) of wild mushrooms. It can be made on the stove top in a heavy pot with a thick bottom but this oven method is easier when you have guests as it requires very little fussing. You can prepare this ragù up to 3 days ahead; cover and refrigerate. Just gently reheat when you are ready to serve. Calculate for generous portions as it tends to disappear quickly.

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I could eat this every day but I try not to.

Pasta with broccoli rabe

Serves 6

60 ml (4 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
175 ml (3/4 cup) fresh breadcrumbs
500 gr (1 lb) orecchiette
500 gr (1 lb) broccoli rabe very coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
10 ml (2 tsp) red pepper flakes
zest of one organic lemon

Heat half the olive oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Add the breadcrumbs and stir gently with a wooden spoon until golden brown. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, drop in the pasta and greens and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet sauté the garlic and the red pepper flakes in the remaining olive oil until the garlic is done.

Drain the pasta and broccoli rabe. Add to the skillet along with the lemon zest and sauté for a couple of minutes. Mix well, top with breadcrumbs and serve.

Wine pairing suggestions:

A dry red from Puglia such as a Primitivo di Manduria DOC or a Salento Negroamaro IGT.

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Chestnut & Porcini medaglioni with a porcini broth & olive oil emulsion sauce and crispy sage leaves.

I took a shortcut here and simply put the stuffing between ready made wonton wrappers. The medaglioni were assembled in minutes. While they were cooking, I fried the sage in good olive oil which I then used to make the super simple sauce with. Dinner was on the table in a flash.

Wine pairing suggestions:

Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC
San Colombano al Lambro DOC
Valtellina Rosso DOC
Sangiovese di Romagna DOC

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An othe “classic” meat and potatoes menu to warm you up during this winter which just won’t quit.

Chanterelles escalope, asparagus with hollandaise sauce  and gratin dauphinois.

Vegan Hollandaise sauce

makes 250 ml

175 ml (3/4 cup) unflavored soy milk or other non-dairy milk
60 ml (2 tbs) warm melted Earth Balance or olive oil
30 ml (1 tbs) cornstarch
30 ml (1 tbs)  fresh lemon juice
zest of half a lemon
salt to taste
pinch of tumeric (for colour)

In a saucepan mix together the soy milk, the cornstarch and tumeric, and whisk together well. Stir constantly over medium high heat until thick and translucent.

Scrape the yellow cornstarch mixture into the blender container containing the lemon juice and zest and salt. Blend well, adding the melted Earth Balance slowly through the hole in the lid while the machine is running.  Blend until the mixture is pale yellow, homogeneous and emulsified. Serve immediately.

Makes a really awesome tofu florentine too.

Wine pairing suggestions:

A white from the Savoie region or a light, fruity and earthy red from Beaujolais such as a Brouilly, Fleury or Saint-Amour.

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Sautéed Jerusalem artichokes on a bed of mâche with a hazelnut oil, lemon juice vinaigrette
Roasted king oyster mushroom “fillets” with caramelized onions and a port reduction sauce
Gratin dauphinois
Haricots verts
Espresso crème caramel

and a bottle of Côtes-du-Rhône “Sagesse” 2007

(A poor cell phone picture of it so I’ve kept it small)

Gratin Dauphinois

1kg (2lb) potatoes (waxy potatoes such as russet)
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
60 ml (2 tbs) olive oil
500 ml (2 cups) freshly made almond milk (or other milk of your choice)
125 ml (1/2 cup) fresh bread crumbs
250 ml (1 cup) fresh cashew cheese
500 ml litre (2 cups) cashew cream
nutmeg to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180ºC (360ºF). Slice the potatoes into thin slices. Rinse in cold water. Drain and dry in a towel.

Put the potatoes in a pan and cover with nut milk. Add salt to taste. Bring to the boil starting at moderate heat for 5 minutes then low heat for 10 minutes. Stir from time to time.

Rub a fireproof dish with garlic and spray with oil. Transfer half of the potatoes in the gratin dish. Add half the cheese, cream, pepper and nutmeg to the layer. Put the second half of the potatoes and cover with the remaining cheese and cream. Top with breadcrumbs.

Cook for 1 hour at 180ºC (360ºF) or until the top is a nice golden colour.

serve 6

Wine pairing suggestions:

Other wine alternatives would be French red wines from Languedoc-Roussillon for their aromas of dark, ripe black fruits or a full-bodied and fruity Portuguese red from the Douro region which firm tannins and acidity would stand up nicely to the sauce.

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