Thursday, November 29, 2007


I've been to Belgium before and been through my fair share of beer pubs and pub snacks, but I never ran into this particular pub delicacy, Pottekeis. So, my interest was piqued when I saw it on Glorious Food & Wine. Luckily, I was going to a friend's house for a lite meal and needed to bring something along with a fantastic bottle of Avec Les Bon Voeux. Pottekeis is pretty much an open-faced cheese sandwich. Or more specifically, a stinky cheese sandwich. It's simply a mix of fromage blanc and fromage de Bruxelles. The fromage blanc was the easy part, but the fromage de Bruxelles (Brussels cheese) was something that none of my cheese shops had ever heard of. I pieced together enough info to know that it is a cow's milk cheese which is smooth and spreadable. It's strong odored, salty and sharp. With this info, my cheesemonger and I decided that a Munster from Alsace was probably as close as we could get. He had a beautiful Munster Alsace finished/washed with Gewurztraminer which was very pungent to the nose, but was actually quite mild once eaten. I am still going to hunt for the actual fromage de Bruxelles, so that I have a proper comparison, but regardless, the Pottekeis I made was very delicious.

The Avec Les Bon Voeux went perfectly with it as well. I have been waiting for Brasserie Dupont to release this year's Bon Voeux. It's probably my favorite of all beers. Dupont makes it as their Holiday beer. They originally used it as New Year's presents for their best clients, but it really stands as more than a holiday beer. It's fantastically refreshing in the summer. It's a big alcohol (9.5% abv), sharp, citrusy blonde ale, with lots of yeasty aromas as well as some wheat notes and a bit of peppery spiciness on the finish. Overall, it's a very complex Saison with some sweetness and a pleasant dryness. Bon Voeux can be hard to find, but more than worthwhile to search out. Once that I found it this month, I grabbed two cases of it to last me the year. If you can find it on draft, it is really a tremendous experience, best enjoyed with some pleasant company and some p âté and cheese.


1/2 of a Bellwether Fromage Blanc- 7.5oz - about 3.75-4 oz total.
1 Munster Alsace finished with Gewurztraminer - 4 oz
2.5 tbsps softened butter
1 large shallot finely diced
organic multigrain bread
1.5 tsp cayenne pepper
fresh cracked black pepper
sea salt
radishes sliced into 1/4" thick discs

This recipe will serve more than 4 full slices of bread.

Combine the two cheeses in a bowl and mix thoroughly till smooth. Soften the butter and then whip that in with the finely diced shallot and cayenne. Slice the multigrain or brown bread into thick slices and toast them. Spread the mixture onto the toasts, top with sliced radishes and top with freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste. Enjoy with a fine Belgian golden ale or Gueze.

Monday, November 19, 2007


I am a sucker for Pumpkin. I am a sucker for White Beans. I am a sucker for Kale. That was easy. Last week's Dining section of the NY Times had this Thanksgiving related recipe that I had to try. My wife and I are glad I did. It's a relatively simple straightforward side dish or vegetarian entrée. We ate it over a couple days as entrées.

I used a three pound Kabocha squash from our Farmer's Market and I used organic vegetable broth, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Cannellini beans from Whole Foods. I also found great dried Cranberries there. They're called, "Just Cranberries" by a really good company, Just Tomatoes, that also makes many different dried fruits and vegetables. A name not too hard to forget. The Parmigiano-Reggiano Sini Fulvi they have at Whole Foods right now is also very nice and worth a try. I had just used it last weekend in a Zuni Cafe Cookbook recipe for Bosc Pears with Fennel, Fresh Walnuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, & Balsamic Vinegar. This is also a very worthwhile endeavor and particularly suited to Thanksgiving. From the same book I'd also like to recommend the Air-Dried Beef & Fuyu Persimmons with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar. (the link is to an adaptation that uses Smoked Prosciutto instead of Bresaola) Sorry, I know I'm hooked on that book. If you don't have it, get it. You'll see.

I prepared the Ragout recipe verbatim and it was delicious as is. A great recipe that I'm sure I'll return to again this winter. Kudo's to the New York Times Dining Section. Check out their whole Thanksgiving coverage. There are a lot of gems like this Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Zest from last Thanksgiving.

(note: The cheese was optional in the original recipe, but I think it totally makes the dish. Therefore, I left it in as mandatory. Do as you wish.)

from the New York Times

Time: 1 1/4 hours

1 3-pound Kabocha squash, sugar pumpkin or butternut squash
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or canola oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large leeks, cleaned and chopped, white and light green parts only
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or use 3 cups cooked white beans)
2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 pound kale, center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese ( 1/2 cup), more to taste
1/3 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped, plus whole berries for garnish
Coarse sea salt, for garnish.
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel pumpkin or squash. Trim stem, then halve pumpkin or squash and scoop out seeds (save for roasting if desired). Cut flesh into 1-inch cubes.

2. Spread cubes out on a large rimmed baking sheet. In small saucepan, combine butter or canola oil, syrup, 1 teaspoon vinegar, kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cayenne. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until butter melts; pour mixture over squash and toss to coat evenly. Roast, tossing occasionally, until pumpkin or squash is very tender and caramelized at edges, about 30 minutes.

3. In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, rosemary and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft and not at all browned, about 15 minutes. Add beans and broth and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Stir in kale, and cheese. Simmer until kale is cooked down and very tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in pumpkin or squash and chopped cranberries; season with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Garnish with additional cranberries and sea salt, and serve.

Yield: 8 to 10 side-dish servings; 6 main-course servings