It’s such a pleasure to serve a warm snack (appetizer, finger food, quick nibble). In an earlier post we described how to make crostiniwith mushrooms and taleggio. A delicious vegetarian appetizer. This one is also simple and quick, but requires some shopping.
Let’s start with the bacon. Ideally you would use bacon made of pork belly, cooked in water with spices such as cloves, bay leaf and mustard seed, then rubbed with sugar, smoked and dried. The result is a moist, slightly sweet, cured bacon. The Dutch call it Katenspek.
Foie gras is always a bit of a debate. We are flexible and enjoy eating it, provided it comes with an authenticity label, perhaps with an award of an agricultural show and of course with positive reviews from connaisseurs. Ethical foie gras, made without force feeding the geese, is of course the preferred option. One that is nearly impossible to find. The Guardian published an interesting article about making Foie Gras without gavage.
The combination of these three ingredients is savoury and sweet, with a texture that is soft, crispy and a touch chewy. We love it.
What You Need
Excellent Terrine de Foie Gras (Goose preferred)
Sweet Cured Bacon
What You Do
Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. Stuff the dates with foie gras and wrap it in one rasher of bacon. Fry quickly in a non-stick pan. The bacon should be crispy, the foie gras soft, the date warm. Serve immediately on a warm plate.
Perhaps you’re looking for some extra inspiration menu-wise for the Holiday Season? Let us help you with a few suggestions.
It’s of course great to serve a glass of Champagne, but why not start with a glass of Crémant de Bourgogne or Alsace? Or a Spanish Cava? The fun is that you can buy a slightly more expensive Crémant or Cava and enjoy a refined sparkling wine. Serve with Terrine de Foie Gras on toast or with a small prawn cocktail, served in a peeled tomato.
Scallops with fluffy cauliflower purée is a wonderful combination of flavours. The practical advantage is that you can prepare the purée a day ahead and grilling the pancetta is also something you can do in advance. Serve with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Dry, some acidity, touch of fruit.
Canard à l’Orange, served with steamed Brussels sprouts and potatoes fried in butter: a dish that supports the festive character of your evening: sweetness, a touch of bitterness and crispy, rich potatoes. Enjoy with a beautiful Bordeaux. In general you’re looking for a powerful red wine, with aromas of berries and a touch of oak. The flavour must be round and long with subtle tannins.
We tend to go for the classic combination of Stilton and Port. Spend some money and buy a Late Bottled Vintage Port.
Continue the British tradition and enjoy a slice of Christmas Pudding with a coffee and a glass of Cognac or Calvados. No need to serve the pudding with brandy butter.
Sometimes we dream of having a small garden, with perhaps a few roses, herbs, peonies and definitely a fig tree. Being able to pick figs, all summer long, and enjoy the abundance of the tree, it sounds like magic to us. Figs don’t do well in a pot on a balcony, so we depend on greengrocers and the market. And that’s where we struggle: when you want to buy figs, you’ll notice they’re fairly expensive and hard to find. The ones we bought yesterday were individually wrapped in paper, as if they were very exclusive chocolates. But since we love fig jam, we simply had to buy them.
Homemade fig jam combines very well with Foie Gras, toasted bread and a glass of Sauternes, for instance this very affordable Dourthe Grands Terroirs. This wonderful, sweet wine from the French Bordeaux region made from late-harvest grapes affected by noble rot, comes with flavors like apricot, tropical fruit, honey and gently toast. Drinking Sauternes has become less popular, also because it’s often positioned as a wine to accompany your dessert. A concept that seems to be a bit old fashioned. Why not try a glass of Sauternes with some excellent blue cheese, a chocolate cake or simply on its own as aperitif?
What You Need
500 grams of Fresh Figs
100 grams of Sugar
What You Do
We recommend using only 100 grams of sugar, so 20% of the weight of the figs. Therefore the jam must be stored in the refrigerator and the jar must be finished shortly after opening it. That’s why we prefer using small jars and cooking small quantities of jam. Start by washing the figs. Remove the stems. Cut the figs in small chunks, add to a pan. Add the sugar and the juice of one lemon. Put on medium heat, for at least 60 minutes, no lid needed (but be careful if the fruit is not ripe). During the cooking process the jam will become bright red. Use a fork to mash some of the figs. We think using a blender ruins the texture. Make sure your jars are perfectly clean. Fill the jars, close the lid and cool in a cold-water basin. When cool, transfer to the refrigerator.
In 2010 James Tanner published his inspiring book Takes 5: Delicious Dishes Using Just 5 Ingredients. Short shopping lists, easy recipes and tasty results: what more can you ask for! He could have included Onion Confit in his book, but he didn’t. Five ingredients: onions, olive oil, time and perhaps bay leaf and some water are all you need to create a condiment that is perfect with roasted meats and foie gras. It comes with subtle, natural sweetness and lots of umami.
Let’s first discuss the name: it is confit because it is cooked slowly, in fat, over a long period of time. It’s not chutney for the simple reason that it does not originate from India or Pakistan plus there is no need to add various herbs and spices. It’s also not marmalade because we don’t use the peel of the onion.
Onions contain a chemical substance called inulin (also to be found in for instance bananas and Jerusalem artichokes) and given time and warmth it will breakdown into fructose: fruit sugar. Vinegar stimulates this process. So it’s yes to adding vinegar and no to adding sugar.
So how to turn white onions into a deep brown confit? Obviously we don’t add brown caster sugar (as unfortunately so many recipes suggest). Perhaps use balsamic vinegar? Nice try, but no. The only thing you need to do is to cook the onions on very low heat for 8 hours or so.
We served our Onion Confit with Terrine de Foie Gras on toast and a glass of Coteaux du Layon produced by Château de la Roulerie. This is a slightly sweet, golden white wine, made from Chenin Blanc grapes. In general a late harvested, not too sweet wine will be an excellent choice but you could also go for a glass of Champagne or Gewurztraminer.
What You Need
4 White (or Spanish) Onions
1 tablespoon of Vinegar
What You Do
Peel, slice and quarter the onions. Warm a heavy enamelled iron pan, add olive oil and add the onions. Allow to simmer on very low heat for 30 minutes. Add the vinegar and allow to simmer for an additional 8 hours. Check every hour, give a gentle stir and if needed add some water. Let cool and store in the refrigerator. It will last for a week.
Gioachino Rossini (1792 – 1868) was a gifted, talented and great composer. Not only did he compose some 40 operas, many songs and the beautiful Petite Messe Solennelle, he was also an expert with regard to food. Perhaps expert is not the right word: he was a gourmand, an excessive eater and drinker plus a culinary inspiration. Chefs would name dishes after him, such as Filets de Sole Rossini (poached Dover sole wrapped around goose liver and truffle served with a white wine sauce), Cocktail Rossini (strawberries and prosecco), Macaroni Soup alla Rossini (a soup with partridge quenelles and Parmesan cheese) and many others.
The soup was created by Marie-Antoine Carême, a very dear and close friend of Rossini. He was Roi des Cuisiniers et Cuisinier des Rois having been chef to Napoleon, the Prince of Wales (the later King George IV), Tsar Alexander 1st and Baron de Rothschild. He created the concept of the four mother sauces (Allemande, Béchamel, Espagnole, Velouté) and was an essential inspiration for Auguste Escoffier. Marie-Antoine Carême is one of the most influential chefs ever, a brilliant patissier and author of several books on cookery, including L’Art de la Cuisine Française.
Very likely it was Escoffier who came up with the word tournedos, but the combination of bread, meat, goose liver, truffle and Madeira was a creation by Marie-Antoine Carême, inspired by and prepared for his friend Gioachino Rossini.
Tournedos Rossini is a culinary pleasure. It’s elegant, full of flavours and exquisite. It’s simply gorgeous.
A classic red Bordeaux will be a perfect match. Dry, full-bodied and fruity. We enjoyed a glass of Château Gaillard Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2015. This is a dry, cherry-red coloured wine. It features medium woody, fruity and vegetal scents and offers a broad texture as well as medium tannins.
Originally you would need demi-glace sauce, but we take a short cut. Make sure you have everything ready. The oven should be at 70° Celsius (160° Fahrenheit), one heavy iron pan and one non-sticky pan both warm, nearly hot, through and through. Make sure the meat is at room temperature. We prefer a small steak (75 gram). Start by frying the two slices of bread in butter until golden. Transfer the bread to the oven. Clean the pan with kitchen paper and add butter. Quickly fry the meat, it must be saignant (no options here). Wrap in foil and set aside. Reduce heat. Add stock to the pan and deglaze. Add Madeira. Thinly slice the fresh winter truffle (no options here). Add the smaller slices and crumbles to the sauce. Put the beef on top of the bread. Keep warm. Fry the goose liver for just a few seconds in the hot non sticky pan until golden/brown. Now plate up: the bread with the beef and the goose liver on top. Pour over the sauce, add the bigger slices of truffle and serve immediately.