Category Archives: Appetizer

Poached Egg with Grilled Asparagus Sauce

About one year ago, when Phaidon released the revolutionary cookbook Noma by René Redzepi, they also prepared a few short videos for promotion purposes. These short videos show Redzepi foraging and cooking four of his dishes – which actually aren’t featured in the book itself. The videos and the book both try to transmit and deliver the path to the development of new dish and the main idea behind the restaurant Noma.

Poached Egg with Grilled Asparagus Sauce

Buckwheat and Celery Root Ravioli with Goat Cheese

Buckwheat is a very versatile ingredient. It can be cooked in water or stock, sprinkled on top of small buns and baked, or used as buckwheat flour for really flavorful pasta. To enhance the mild flavor of buckwheat, it should always be paired with smooth and light accompaniments. In the simple and light dish below I filled the buckwheat ravioli with a creamy celery root puree, which really allowed the nutty flavors of buckwheat to get into the foreground.

Buckwheat-Celery Ravioli with Goat Cheese, Chestnut Honey, Pomegranate and Orange Butter

Orange and Beetroot Jelly

For several years I planned to cook one of Heston Blumenthal’s “hoax” dishes. As part of his tasting menu he used to serve a very simple dish called “orange and beetroot” with only a yellow and a red jelly arranged on a plate. Then he asked his guests to start with the orange. Of course every guest assumed the yellow jelly to be the one flavored with orange. But when they tasted it, they were surprised by the beetroot flavor. Heston switched the colors of the ingredients: he prepared the red jelly from freshly squeezed blood oranges and the yellow jelly from golden beetroot juice.

Orange and Beetroot Jelly

Kohlrabi with Broccoli, Peanut and Fig

Although I was inspired by a combination I collected via Foodpairing, most pairings featured in this starter are quite well known. For example broccoli is often served with almond flakes, where the almond can be replaced by other nuts, such as hazelnut or peanut. I always use the broccoli stem as well, which reminds me of kohlrabi – so pairing broccoli and kohlrabi was straight-forward. Figs might sound a little bit strange, but I already made figs and broccoli work together previously. The dish below unites the aforementioned pairings in a vegan appetizer.

Kohlrabi with Broccoli, Peanut and Fig

Rutabaga with Cashew Nuts, Apple and Radish

Many people know cashews only as a salty snack. Actually, the unsalted and unroasted cashew nuts are very versatile and can be applied in multiple ways in the kitchen. For example cooked cashews are a great garnish and pair especially well with sunchokes. You can blend the cooked cashews into a fine puree as well, which can be served either pure or flavored with vegetable juices. Compared to other nuts, raw cashews have a slightly softer texture. Roasting them not only crisps them, but also enhances their flavor. Many recipes advise to roast nuts in skillets or dry pans. I always roast nuts in the oven, because this way they don’t get burnt spots, but roast through completely. Roasted cashews can be used as a puree, in desserts or in appetizers, like the starter below.

Rutabaga with Cashew Nuts, Apple and Radish

Colorful Beetroot Salad on Pumpernickel Crumbs

It was a long and winding road until the golden beetroot finally made it to my kitchen. I first encountered yellow beets on a photo in the German food magazine Der Feinschmecker. Later on, in 2009 I got my hands on a copy of Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Cookbook. It included a very simple yet funny recipe featuring orange and beetroot jelly only (see a photo here). The joke in this dish was that the flavors are swapped: the red jelly is made of blood orange juice and the yellow one using golden beets. I appreciate culinary surprises like this, because the twist and the surprise naturally forces the diner to focus more on the flavor. Among other things, this was also a reason why I began to look for golden beets. Unfortunately, the search took me 3 years, but I finally received 3 exemplars.

Colorful Beetroot Salad on Pumpernickel Crumbs