Tag Archive for Wine

Italian pumpkin soup

A delicious autumn soup. Hearty, warming and bold of flavour. Sometimes pumpkin soup is icky sweet and lacks other flavours, but this soup certainly doesn’t. I’m not a big fan of cooking with wine, because you always only need a glass and have to finish the rest of the bottle in some other way, which often goes wrong around here. And the small bottles of wine generally aren’t that tasty. So usually I just omit the wine in the recipe without any problem, but this is an exception: the soup needs the acid and the complex flavours of the wine. Serve the soup with something cheesy, like cheese straws or cheesy croutons.

Italian pumpkin soup (serves 4)
Slightly adapted from James Martin

1 small pumpkin, peeled, seeds discarded, in large cubes (about 1 kg)
1 onion, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
2 sprigs rosemary
1 tbsp olive oil
500 ml chicken stock (from a cube is fine
1 glass dry white wine
75 ml cream
Salt, pepper, chilli powder and lemon juice to taste

Preheat the oven to 220C.
Combine the pumpkin, onion, garlic and rosemary in a baking tray. Add the olive oil, mix until everything is coated. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender and nicely roasted. Mix halfway through the cooking time to ensure the bottom of the cubes roasts as well. This also prevents catching (pumpkin is quite sweet, which makes it prone to burning).
Meanwhile bring the stock to the boil. When the vegetables are cooked, put in a blender with the hot liquid and white wine (or use an immersion blender). Blend until smooth, then add the cream and return to the pan. Warm through on low heat, don’t let it boil. Taste, then adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, chilli powder and lemon juice to taste. Serve immediately.

Beef stew

The weather is turning cold again, and that means that is time to make wintery stews again. Perfect for a lazy sunday afternoon, prepping it bit by bit, letting the delicious smells scent your house, ending with a delicious, comforting meal. The great thing of this recipe is that it makes quite a lot, so you can spend one relaxed afternoon chopping and cooking and reheat the leftover portions (they freeze perfectly) on days that you really need a comforting meal like this, but don’t have the time to make it. It is delicious eaten with rice or mashed potatoes, and serve with braised red cabbage or brussel sprouts to make your meal complete. You can also add browned baby onions and mushrooms the last 20 minutes of cooking.

Beef Stew

Beef stew (serves 8)
Adapted from Great British Chefs

1 kg of braising beef, in chunks
olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
4-6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
140 g tomato paste
350 ml of beef stock
750 ml red wine
6 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 150C.
Heat some olive oil in a heavy, oven-proof pot on high heat. Brown the beef chunks in portions, only adding enough to just cover the base of the pan (otherwise it will not brown nicely). Add a little extra olive oil when the pan gets dry. The beef should get quite dark brown to give the most flavour. Set aside the beef.
In the same pan, heat some olive oil and add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Saute on medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the tomato paste and fry a little longer (this will sweeten the tomato by getting rid of some of the harsh acids in the puree). Add the browned beef (and its juices) back in, add the stock, red wine, thyme, bay leaves and pepper. Stir well and place the pan in the oven. Cover partly with a lid. Stew for 2-4 hours, checking occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan and adding a little more water if necessary (the meat should be covered). Don’t add to much extra water at the end of cooking, you want the sauce to thicken slightly.
Serve with side dishes of your preference and/or scoop into freezer containers and leave to cool before placing in the freezer.

Coq au Vin

Coq au vin (literally rooster with wine) is one of the most famous dishes of France. And with all traditional and popular dishes, there are many recipes available, good and bad, fast and extensive. This is my version, which I love to cook and eat on cold winter nights. I like to serve my coq au vin with rice, this is not very traditional, but works perfect to absorb all the delicious juices. You can also serve it with bread, which is more traditional. Other less traditional things that I do are: using only legs or thighs, not marinating the chicken, not binding the sauce and adding all the accompaniments (shallots, bacon, mushrooms) already at the beginning of the stewing time.

Some people like to remove the skin from the chicken, but I just leave it on as it protects the meat and gives extra flavour. If you don’t like skin, remove it before browning the chicken and fry it in a small pan with a little coconut oil. With a sprinkling of salt this is a delicious appetizer. Or remove it after cooking and give it to someone who does like skin. I think throwing it away is a waste.

Depending on the wine you use the chicken will be more deep red or more purple, but it should be a decent wine and be quite robust for a good result. Burgundy is the traditional choice, but a Shiraz, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon is also nice.

Coq au Vin

Coq au vin (2 generous servings)

2 chicken legs or 4 chicken thighs (with bone)
200 g bacon, in lardons
200 g small shallots, peeled but left whole
150 g small mushrooms, whole (or quarter larger muhsrooms)
1 bay leave, few sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper
1/2 bottle of wine

Heat a Dutch oven or other heavy based pan with lid suitable for stewing.
Fry the bacon until the fat is rendered out and the bacon is brown and crisp. Take out of the pan and set aside.
Make sure the pan is nice and hot again and add the chicken. Brown on all sides. Add the shallots and mushrooms and fry for a few more minutes. Add the bacon back in, together with the bay leave, thyme and some pepper (no salt, the bacon is salty). Add the wine, cover the pan and stew for about 1 hour. Chicken thighs are smaller so will be ready earlier, legs will take a little longer. Check for seasoning and serve immediately.
Alternatively you can leave out the mushrooms at the beginning and fry them in a separate pan just before serving.


Gluhwein (mulled wine) is a drink very suitable for this season. Nothing better than a cup of warm, spiced wine with your friends and family, while it is raining and storming outside. Or after a nice walk in the freshly fallen snow. Or on a Christmas market. Or just by yourself, under a blanket on the sofa, reading a good book.
You will need a reasonable red wine for this recipe. I always think that using a good wine is a bit of a waste, since you will alter the flavour by adding spices & sugar and by heating. But using a very bad wine will not work either, you will taste that even trough the spicing and the sugar, and you shouldn’t bother to make it yourself, the supermarket has cheap ready made that tastes like bad wine with to much sugar. So a mediocre wine is fine, but it should be a wine with oomph. Otherwise your gluhwein will mainly taste like gluh, and not like wine. I used a Berberana Red Dragon Tempranillo 2009 that was priced down at my supermarket and I was very happy with the result.
For people that can’t or don’t drink wine, you can do the same thing with apple juice. Buy a good apple juice for this (I use “flevosap”) that is unfiltered.
I like to make the spice mix myself in stead of buying ready made, because I can choose what I put in there and it is more cheap as well.

Gluhwein (0,5 L)
0,5 L red wine
1 strip of orange or lemon peel
2 whole star anises
5 whole cloves
5 whole cardamom pods
a piece of mace
1 small stick of cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar (for medium sweetness)
Optional: raisins (for an extra kick, soak them in rum)

Combine everything in a pan, put a lid on and simmer on very low heat for 15-30 min. Drink hot. Take care not to let the mixture cook, not only will you loose the alcohol, it will also make the mixture bitter.