Portuguese cabbage soup Caldo Verde

Many national dishes have humble origins and are unlikely to grace any fancy recipe book next to gastronomic courses with noble products.

With water, potato and this cabbage the northern Portuguese made Caldo Verde, green broth, and Portuguese all over the world still eat it with pleasure and as an antidote against homesickness.

Most people are poor and have been poor over the centuries and these people did their best with what was available.

The Dutch, for instance, eat kale and endive as vegetables while elsewhere these greens are only good to feed cattle.

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Pork chops with celery and potato purée

Winter is the season for root vegetables like the celery, as well as the truffle.

Celery is inexpensive while truffles are rather expensive, but there are ways to overcome this and add a bit of truffle flavour to a dish with truffle oil.

So I did here, I cooked a chopped-up celery with six potatoes, then blended that with some stock, reheated it and added some drops of truffle oil.

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Sole with clams and crushed potatoes

We often go to Dieppe and buy fresh fish there on the quay, walk around the market and have lunch in one of the many restaurants.

A favourite place often serves “crushed potatoes’ as a side dish – cooked potatoes crushed with a fork and some cream for smoothness.

Back home, I tried my version to accompany a dish of small sole with a clam sauce.

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Chicken with Maroilles sauce

We were in the north of France recently and had lunch with a friend who had prepared a regional dish of chicken legs with Maroilles sauce. Maroilles, named after a town, is a very pungent soft cow cheese that is produced in the Avesnois region in the north.
Our host, Nathalie Banckaert, made the dish with chicken legs cooked in a stock with wine and made the sauce from cheese, cream and wine and she presented it with noodles.
In “my” version, I braised chicken tights in butter, deglaced with 3 Monts beer from the north, and put shallots and cheese in the remaining cooking juices for a sauce. I presented it with potatoes.
If you do not have Maroilles, another pungent cheese like Epoisses, Pont l’Evêque, Livarot, a Belgian Hervé or Dutch Rommedou will do, or a « Limbuger ». For the beer, any strong brown beer is fine.

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Skordalia and escarole mash

I am not a big fan of fusion cuisine and rather stick to a style.
But sometimes the hazards of the seasons, the menu and the larder create interesting cross-cultural combinations.
So it was with this Greco-Dutch dish. It is vegetarian but you can have meat with it, like veal chops.

Skordalia is a Greek potato, garlic and olive oil mixture that you can use as a mash or, by adding more olive oil, as a velvety cream. I had made some to go with lamb.
I also had some leftover escarole after I had made a salad with burratta.

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Tartiflette Maligny

A tariflette is a potato, onion and cheese dish usually made in the mountains of the Savoie, during winter.
We were at Maligny in a holiday home for a short stay in the Chablis area to taste and buy wines and eat some local delicacies such as snails, chitterling with Chablis wine and cheeses such as époises, Brillat Savarin and Chaource.

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Duckling legs with prunes, beans and tomatoes

Duck is widely used in France, especially in the south-west where they also stuff ducks for the liver. Duck meat is often tough and needs long cooking. On the market in Dieppe, I found a farmer who sold ‘canetton’, ducklings. Not the small birds with a soft down, but larger, almost half-size, birds. This meat … Read more

Celeriac and truffle mash

Truffle has become a rather expensive treat as the production of the tubers is dwindling – because there are fewer oak and hazelnut trees and less favourable soil conditions – and the world-wide demand by wealthy gastronomes is rising exponentially. In the 1925 book of Tante Marie, for traditional family cooking, you can find recipes … Read more