How about a nice glass of sherry? Or a yummy cep soup spiced with sherry? Or even both of them? I warmly recommend the last option since this is a combo that works perfectly well. Ceps, the finest of all mushrooms, have a delicious nutty flavor and therefore, nothing goes better with them than a nutty, aromatic sherry. Or what do you think? Are there any other sherry lovers behind those computer screens? Be brave and raise your paws. Like this, see? My paws are up in the air!
And did you know that the International Sherry Week is currently running (8-14.10.2018) and being celebrated in all four corners of the world with a variety of different events all related to sherry. These days I seldom (read: never) participate in any recipe contents and there are a couple of reasons for that.
First of all they are oftentimes rather unimaginative and people easily just take the easy way out and wing it: they tell you to create a recipe out of this and that and then they promise to send you a couple of packets of this and that as a gesture of kindness for your efforts. Secondly, I simply have no spare time for things like that.
I changed my mind when they contacted me from the International Sherry Week board and told about the sherry steaming cooking competition organized for bloggers and food journalists in regards to the event. Yes, I got excited. I had already familiarized myself with sherry when visiting Jerez and San Lucar de Barrameda a few years earlier and simply said: I really liked this multi-faced drink.
Thus, I notified the organizers about my interest to participate. Soon I got to know that I was one of the 20 chosen participants each of whom was to receive one randomly selected sherry bottle to cook with. My sherry was Lustau’s Penisula Palo Cortado, i.e. a dry sherry with a delicious nutty aroma and deep color of mineral amber. Then there was one week time to invent a fitting dish for this drink. But not any kind of dish: it had to be a local, domestic dish which wouldn’t require roaming in the world of Spanish recipes and ingredients. Actually my choice for a recipe was rather easy.
This year has been record-breaking in terms of mushrooms. And what else we Finns would love to bite in these chilly autumn days but tasty, hand-picked mushrooms in a form or another. I have had an enormous, and even excessive amount of mushroom-luck this year. I picked 30-40 liters of ceps and dried, froze and stored them for the long, dark and cold winter days. These very mushrooms were also the beginning, inspiration and the main ingredient for the following recipe: deep-flavored cep soup ennobled with sherry – in my humble opinion, the finest one of all mushroom soups.
The reason I chose cep soup with this beautifully colored Palo Cortado sherry is that both ceps and this sherry have a sophisticated nutty flavour and they compliment each other well. The sherry brings out the fine aromas of the ceps, gives structure to the soup and simply is the best wine to drink with this kind of earthy soup. When you enjoy this nutty sherry with cep soup it’s balanced and slightly oxidized taste gives nice contrast to the creamy, rich and silky soup.
- 1 liter of ceps
- 4 shallots
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Small lump of butter
- 1 table spoon spelt wheat flour
- 1 1/2 dl aromatic sherry, for example Lustau’s Palo Cortado
- 3 dl chicken broth
- 4 dl cream
- Black pepper
- Hint of salt if needed
- 100 g minced bacon
- 3/4 dl hazel nuts
- 3 slices of rye bread
- 2 dl slices ceps
- Fresh salvia leaves
- Slice the mushrooms and fry them dry so that the possible liquid is being removed. Mince the onions, crush the cloves of garlic, and add them together with the butter on the pan. Sweat, until the onions soften.
- Add the spelt wheat floue, mis and add sherry. Let it boil for a little while. Add the chicken broth and cream and let it boil for 10 more minutes. Drive till smooth with a blender.
- Cut three slices of rye bread as cubes and fry them as crispy croutons in butter. Fry also the bolete slices and bacons till crispy. Roast the hazel nuts on a hot, dry pan so that the skins start to fall off and they start to emit an aromatic flavor. Roll the skins out of the hazel nuts under a kitchen cloth.
- Place the bacons, rye bread croutons and fried penny bun slices on each plate and pour the hot soup on top of them. Decorate with coarse-grounded hazel nuts and fresh salvia leaves. Serve with Palo Cortado sherry.
- For 4 persons
Lustaun Palo Cortado sherry is wonderful. It has a deep, aromatic and multi-dimensional flavor and a beautiful nutty colour. As sherries typically do, also Palo Cortado makes your mouth water and induces the appetite. While the lighter sherries such as finos or manzanillas are dandy aperitifs, this nutty, stylishly roasted sherry that even contains a light flavor of burned sugar is in the right place as a supplement for the main meals.
Sherries in general highlight the aromas of the foods and this sherry specifically brings out the fullness, nuttiness and forestry flavors of the cep soup. I poured sherry in the soup and in the glass. To the soup it brought a certain kind of roundness, nearly sweetness although it is supposed to be a dry sherry. I guess that the sense of sweetness is derived from the strong aroma of dried fruits.
But that is not all. I think that no soup is a proper soup without a small mouthfeel. Therefore, a trick of this soup is hidden in a few ingredients, which bring a dash of crispiness to the soup. The secret ingredients are fried bacon, fried ceps and rye bread cubes fried till crispy and brown. Roasted hazelnuts sprinkled on top of the soup crown the experience. The vigorous taste of sherry becomes rounder and softer when cooked and rises up strong and savory together with the mushrooms. What a lovely combo!
During the sherry week I plan to familiarize myself deeply with different sherries, learn something new and try out how different sherries match with different foods. Actually, one bottle of raisin-flavored, thickly syrupy Pedro Ximenez prepared from overripe, sun-ripen grapes, nests currently in my closet. This sherry dazzles and blooms when served with deserts so we will see what will be created this week!
You can now see that the world of sherries is as wide and complex as is the world of sherry flavors itself. The selection range is large and extends all the way from dry and light sherries to syrupy-like heavy and sweet drinks. And then there is everything in between the two extremes.
Just remember, whichever sherry you decide to pick and enjoy, remember that the light sherries are to be served well cooled and the dark ones also lightly cooled down.
KNOW YOUR SHERRY
Fino – dry, light sherry from Jerez de la Frontera ja El Puerto de Santa María bodegas, a great aperitif.
Amontillado – light brown, lightly nutty, ripened by oxidation, aged finosherry, serve with food.
Palo Cortado – dry, deep-colored, multi-dimensional sherry, enjoy on its own as a meditation sherry or with a food of your choice.
Oloroso – strong, deep-colored sherry, which sweetness varies from dry to semi-dry and which serves well as an accompanion of meat dishes.
Pale Cream – light, sweet version of finosherry, great with patees or duck liver.
Medium – nut-colored sherry, which is a wonderful aperitif, but also goes with starters.
Cream – dark chestnut-colored, semi-dry ”sweet oloroso”, savour as aperitif, drink or with deserts.
Moscatel – dark tinted, raisin-flavored, sweet desert sherry.
Pedro Ximenez – dark brown, syrupy and raisin-flavored, even chocolate-flavored, said to be sweetest sherry in the world that also goes well with deserts and cheeses.
Enjoy Sherry Week 8.-14.10.2018!