Classic Cumberland Sauce

Cumberland Sauce is a traditional savory sauce of British and French cuisines. Its main ingredients are most often red currant jelly, port wine, and spices. British food writer Elizabeth David discovered that the name Cumberland Sauce first appeared in the French cookbook La Cuisine Anglaise in 1904, but it was Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935) who helped the sauce to its fame in French cuisine. Sauce Cumberland goes very well with patés, venison, cold roasts and hams, and even lamb. The following recipe is very close to the original.

Ingredients:
  • 1 untreated orange
  • 1 untreated lemon
  • 5 cl red wine
  • 250 g red currant jelly
  • 1 tsp english mustard powder
  • salt
  • a pinch cayenne pepper
  • a pinch ginger powder
  • 2 cl red Port wine
Preparation:

Wash and thinly peel the orange and lemon. None of the white part of the skin should come off. Then thinly slice the peels. Alternatively, you can use a zester as shown below.

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In a small saucepan quickly bring the red wine to a boil and remove from heat. Add the orange and lemon zests and let steep for about 10 minutes, or until cool.

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Add the red currant jelly and spices and mix well until all is incorporated. Fold in the Port wine and season to taste. The sauce will keep well as long as it remains refrigerated.

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Florida Keys

Located south of the tip of Florida, the Keys are a coral cay archipelago forming the southernmost tip of the continental United States; they also separate the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic Ocean. The chain of over 200 islands is over 290 kilometres long and connected by the 42 man-made bridges called the Overseas Highway. The Florida Keys have a tropical climate with average annual high temperatures of 28,3°C, lows of 23°C, and total precipitation of circa 1000mm.

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This summer we took all 42 bridges down to Key West and would like to share some of the sights we discovered with the help of a veteran Keys-visitor and hobby fisherman. The practically turquoise Caribbean waters surrounding the coral islands are home to various great game species: In the flats and mangroves closer to the shores, there are tarpon, bone fish, and red fish which are often caught on a fly from flat boats. But venturing further out into the Atlantic, the game changes to mainly trolling for the big game fish: swordfish, sail fish with their spectacular tail walks, and of course the magnificent mahi mahi (or dolphin fish).

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Guided fishing trips can be arranged at literally any marina, with boat sizes varying drastically. A good place to start looking is always one of the numerous bars and grills where the captains hang out after a morning of deep-sea fishing–at the very least, the local wait staff is sure to know where or with whom to arrange a fishing expedition. The general atmosphere in the area is just very laid back and social statuses seem to  vanish with the burning red sunsets over the ocean. As our guide told us, you’ll never know if you’re sitting next to a bum or a billionaire in the Keys.

Here are some of our favorite–and very Keysy–places we visited on our trip:

Island Grill at Snake Creek

The Island Grill in Islamorada sits on a small waterway of the Atlantic just off of the highway. The fare is simple, but it’s a good spot to stop for a diner-like breakfast or lunch with pretty views of the water and, especially, the mangroves.

Lorelei Cabana Bar

The Lorelei is a casual bar and restaurant in Islamorada that serves food and drinks all day in classic Keys style: no frills, live music, unpretentious people, and a great view of the back bay. The sunsets are beautiful here, especially with a cold one in hand.

Morada Bay Beach Cafe

Morada Bay sits right next to the Lorelei and is one of the more upscale options for dinner and drinks on the Keys; that being said, you can still show up in shorts and a t-shirt for dinner. Set under twinkly lights and palm trees, tables are scattered over a deck and the sand-covered backyard overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. There’s often live music and always a bevy of little kids running around and playing on the sand. It’s a great family spot and one of the most beautiful spots to watch the sun go down. Plus, the food and cocktails are quite good!

Sparky’s Landing

Sparky’s is a Keys classic on Fat Deer Key for all-day dining or drinks with live music and a great view of a marina. Come here less for the food (though it’s not bad) than the atmosphere, which is fun, lively, and full of locals. Also worth a visit for the large fishing boats in the marina. Bar staff will be able to point you to the captains of the boats for a fishing trip.

Louie’s Backyard

Amid the raucous bars and dining spots overrun with tourists in Key West, Louie’s is a high-end dining spot with a great view of the ocean looking south toward Cuba. The food, especially the fresh fish, here is excellent, and so is the service. Sit outside on the deck if it’s a nice day, though the inside also has a nice atmosphere with views of the water. On the lower deck, there’s a nice bar to sit if you’d just like a drink.

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Viennese Tafelspitz by Ewald Plachutta

The Tafelspitz is a dish originating from Viennese cuisine; it’s name comes from Austro-Bavarian dialects, referencing the cut of beef used in the recipe. It consists of a whole cut of beef (Knöpfl, Schlegl, Schwanzstück), boiled with root vegetables in beef broth, then sliced against the grain and served traditionally with horseradish, the boiled vegetables, and strained broth.

At age 21, Ewald Plachutta was the Chef de Cuisine of the Hotel Astoria in Vienna, Austria. In 1968, at the Cooking Olympics in Frankfurt, he won the gold medal. In 1991, he was crowned chef of the year by Gault-Millau, and in the consecutive year, he was awarded the prestigious 3 toques. In 1993, he was awarded his star by the Guide Michelin. In short, it is thanks to Ewald Plachutta that the classical Viennese way of cooking beef had its renaissance in the 1980s and 1990s. Here is his recipe of the Tafelfpitz:

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:tafelspitz
  •  1 onion, with peel, cut in half
  • 2 kg Beef Fricandeau (or rump roast–No. 4 in picture) with fat and tissue
  • 3,5l beef bone broth
  • 10-15 black pepper corns
  • 200g carrots, sliced
  • celeriac, diced
  • parsley root, diced
  • ½ leek, diced
  • chives, chopped

 

Preparation:

Brown the two onion halves on the iron stove or in a metal pan without oil over medium heat. Heat up the beef broth in a large stockpot until it boils.

Briefly rinse and wash the meat under running lukewarm water. Then place the meat into the boiling beef broth, constantly skim off the uprising foam. Reduce heat, add peppercorns and browned onion and let it simmer at max. 80°C water temperature for 2 -2.5 hrs. Don’t boil anymore!

25 minutes before the meat has finished cooking add the root vegetables and leeks.

The beef is cooked once it easily glides from a long meat fork when pierced.

Lift the meat out of the soup and transfer to a cutting board. Slice beef against the fiber about the thickness of a finger, place in soup plates, and garnish with the cooked vegetables and some chopped chives. Strain some of the remaining soup over each dish.

Serve with freshly grated horseradish.

For the Beef bone juice:

Bring 3 kg of beef bone pieces to boil in cool water, then pour away the water. Repeat two more times. Boil the bones a 3rd time, but this time for about ½ hour to ¾ hour and keep the “broth,” discarding the bones.

Pikeperch with red wine sauce and mashed potato towers

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Serves 4.

For the pikeperch:
  • 4 pikeperch filets with skin of ca. 150 g each, and some flour to dust
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 150g shallots
  • 2 tbsp. peppercorns in brine
  • 600 ml good red wine
  • 1 pinch / 1 tsp. sugar
  • salt, pepper
  • some lime juice
For the potato mash:
  • 700 g mealy potatoes
  • salt
  • 100 ml milk
  • 100 ml cream
  • 40 g butter
  • pepper
  • freshly ground nutmeg
Also:
  • 200 g mealy potatoes
  • ca. 150 ml vegetable oil for deep frying
Preparation:

For the sauce, peel and cut the shallots in quarters and sauté in 1 tbsp. olive oil until translucent. Add the red wine and drained peppercorns and let reduce at medium heat to about 200 ml. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar and keep warm.

For the mash, wash, peel, and halve the potatoes. Boil them in in salted water, about 20 minutes, until soft. Once soft enough, drain the potatoes and let them cool until they stop steaming. Mash them with a masher. Meanwhile warm up the milk, cream, and butter until butter melts and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Slowly whisk the milk mixture into the potatoes and keep warm.

For the chips, peel the potatoes, thinly slice them, and dry thoroughly. In a pot, heat the vegetable oil to 180°C and fry the chips in batches until crunchy. Let the oil drain on paper towels, and salt them to taste.

Salt, pepper, and lightly dust the fish filets with flour. Heat the remaining oil and pan-fry the filets on the skin side first until crunchy, turn, and finish roasting on the skin side.

Place the potato mash in a piping bag, and in alternating order, build little towers with the chips. Spoon some sauce and the shallots onto the pre-heated plates, place fish filets on top and add the potato towers.

Pikeperch with riesling sauce, apple, onion, and tomato

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Serves 4.

Ingredients:
  • 4 pikeperch filets, ca. 150 g each
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 20 g butter
For the riesling sauce:
  • 20 g shallots
  • 50 ml Riesling
  • 1 cl Noilly Prat
  • 200 ml fish stock
  • 125 ml cream
  • salt, cayenne pepper
  • some drops lemon juice
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 10 g cold butter, in cubes
For the vegetables:
  • 120 g red onions
  • 150 g apples
  • 80 g cherry tomatos
  • 1 tbsp chervil, chopped
  • 30 g butter
  • salt, pepper

Also: Chervil leaves as garnish.

Preparation:

Wash and dry the fish filets. Make diamond-shaped incisions in the skin, then add salt and pepper, and chill until the fish is needed.

For the sauce, peel and finely dice the shallots and place into hot sauteuse. Add the wine and Noilly Prat and bring to a boil. Add the fish stock and let reduce by about 1/3. Add the cream, reduce to low heat, and simmer until creamy. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and lemon juice. In a separate bowl mix the egg yolks with some of the hot sauce and once combined add with the butter cubes to the rest of the sauce. Keep warm and blend with an immersion blender before serving.

For the vegetables peel the onions and slice into thin rings. Wash and quarter the apples, remove the cores, and slice lengthwise. Wash the cherry tomatoes and cut in half. Heat the butter in a pan and sauté onions until translucent, add the apple slices, cook 1-2 minutes, add tomatoes and sauté another minute. Season with salt, pepper, and chervil.

For the fish, heat both butter and oil in a pan. Lightly dust the pikeperch filets with butter, place into the pan, and cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes.

Plate the fish on top of the vegetables on pre-warmed plates, arrange with the sauce, and garnish with the chervil leaves.

Valle Maira

While studying at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Piemonte some classmates and I took a day trip to the Maira Valley in the western alps. It was April, and it was a very interesting experience to see how from the bottom of the valley ascending up the road, we would not only travel a few hundred years back in time but also back to the last winter season. It was spring at the bottom of the valley and the end of the road it seemed we were back in January.

The Val Maira is an alpine valley that stretches about 60 kilometers from east to west in the Italian province of Cuneo in the region of Piemonte. It is also part of the Alpi Cozie in the border region of France and Italy. Settlements as far back as 4.000 years have been found in the valley, however, today it has the highest rate of rural depopulation in the whole alpine region.

From Dronero at 622 meters the valley climbs aproximately 60 kilometers following the Maira river up into the mountains. At the end of the valley in the east are the 3,389 meter high Chambeyron and the 3,166 meter high Sautron peaks. Because the lower valley is extremely narrow, the upper parts of the valley are only accessible on foot paths during summer. Hiking trails from the French side over 2,600 meter high are practically the only way to access the upper and wider glacially formed parts.

Many of the inhabitants of the Valle Maira speak (besides the official Italian language) a dialect of occitan, a gallo-romance language that formed in the medieval times. Originating from the south of France, occitan is still spoken in several Piemontese valleys, the Val d’Aran in Spain, and the south of Italy.

Mid-Valley in Stroppo: Lunch at Lou Sarvanot

Featured in the Slow Food Guide, Lou Sarvanot offers traditional occitan fare from largely local suppliers. The valley is especially famous for its high quality cheeses from raw milk.

Chippera: End of the Road

Chiappera is the highest part (1,600m) of the commune of Acceglio and the end of the paved road up the valley. The whole commune has a total population of 160 inhabitants and many of the buildings are neglected due to the migration into the cities over the past century. Already in early November the snow starts building up and usually does not start to melt until March or April, which makes for an extremely short growing season.

Elva: Above the Valley

Elva is a commune in a side valley of the Valle Maira at an elevation between 1,100m and 3,100m above sea level. The total population was 97 in 2015. The first settlement was Roman, as is proven by an engraved stone in the village’s church wall. This church is particularly important to the whole region because the frescoes in the choir are among the most important works of clerical art in the Piemonte. The œuvre depicts the life of Mary and originates from the end of the 15th century and is attributed to the French-Flemish wall painter Hans Clemer .