Here’s to the days ahead
To feast on fine delicacies, drink champagne and be merry – that’s how I want my end of year dinner to be. New year’s eve is the perfect time to shine, looking back on the year, starting a new fresh one with a few good (I hope!) resolutions.
I especially love week-end family lunches. Everyone’s appetite is more enthusiastic, spending hours at the table if we want. These days, every meal is an occasion, calling for more refined treats. Chestnuts, guinea fowl, morel mushrooms, eggs, rosemary, shallots, apples, prunes, armagnac and a dash of black truffles – those were the ingredients I used for yesterday’s déjeuner. So simply festive! All the colours and scents were delightful, I enjoyed every moment cooking the meal, with Gertrude by my side. I love using armagnac in the kitchen, or any good brandy, as it really enhances all the flavors, adding depth exactly where it is needed. Pure palate-warming satisfaction.
This year, my greatest joy has been sharing my ‘cooking’ life with you. Sharing the recipes, beautiful Médoc, family stories, my husband’s photography (and the dogs of course!) brings me so much happiness, enthusiasm and fun. Through this journey I have met such amazing, kind, generous, talented, touching and inspiring people. And all of these people are you! So thank you for being there!
2013 will definitely be an exciting year. So much more to share, so many meals to cook as the seasons unfold. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Wishing you a beautiful, healthy and bright new year! Mimix
Chestnuts pancakes: (serves 4)
150 g/ 1 cup and 1/4 chestnut flour (sifted)
50 ml/ 1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp crème fraîche or sour cream
50 ml/ 1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
2 shallots, finely sliced
Butter, for frying
350 g/ 3/4 pounds morel mushrooms
4 eggs, poached
Chives (finely chopped)
1 black truffle (shavings – optional. You could use parmesan shavings as an alternative)
Fry shallots in 1 tsp butter or olive oil in a frying pan until golden. Set aside. In a bowl, mix sifted chestnut flour, baking powder, 1 egg, milk, water, crème fraîche (or sour cream) and salt. Mix well and leave to rest for 30 minutes. In a frying pan, melt 2 tsp butter and pour batter to make individual pancakes, sprinkling a few shallots on each one. Fry approx 1 minute on each side. Set aside and keep warm. (you can make 4 pancakes or a few smaller ones, like I did (see photos). I used a medium-sized cooking ring to shape perfect round pancakes)
In a hot pan, fry the morel mushrooms ‘bare’ to dry them out for a 2-3 minutes, then add 1 tsp butter, salt and black pepper and continue frying for 2-3 more minutes. Set aside.
In a shallow pan of boiling water, add 2 tsp of vinegar. Prepare your eggs by breaking them into little cups/pots so it’s easier to pour into the boiling water. When the water is boiling, pour in the eggs in different areas (maximum four at a time – or the water temperature will get cooler). Leave them alone, cover with a lid for 3 minutes, then check if they need a bit of ‘pushing and shoving’ to make their form rounder. You can use a large slotted spoon for this. Depending on how well you like your eggs cooked, 3 minutes should complete the task. When ready spoon each egg at a time onto a plate. Set aside.
Place chestnut pancakes on a plate, add the poached egg, a few mushrooms to garnish, finely chopped chives, coarse sea salt and black pepper. Add a few shaving of black truffles (optional).
Roast guinea fowl with chestnuts (serves 4)
1.5 kg/ 3 pounds guinea fowl
A bunch of rosemary
1 lemon (cut in quarters)
Olive oil (to coat the bird)
3 large cloves of garlic
450 g/ 3/4 pounds pre-cooked chestnuts
12-15 pearl onions
Coarse salt and black pepper
240 ml/ 1 cup chicken stock
80 ml/ 1/3 cup armagnac (or any good brandy)
Preheat oven 200°C/ 400°F
Take out the guinea fowl from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Rub the bird generously with olive oil. Season with coarse salt and black pepper inside/out. Place the 3 garlic cloves, quartered lemon and rosemary in the cavity. Place the bird on the roasting pan. Cook in a preheated oven 200°C/ 400°F for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If the top gets too brown, cover loosely with foil. 25-30 minutes before the end, add the chestnuts and pearl onions to the pan.
Take the bird out of the oven, set aside on a plate, cover loosely with an aluminium sheet; place the roasting pan (with the chestnuts and onions) on the stove on a high heat. Add half a glass of chicken stock and 60 ml armagnac, reduce for approx. 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Place guinea fowl on a serving dish along with the gravy and chestnuts. Serve immediately with roast potatoes.
Preheat oven 180°C/350°F
900 g/ 2 pounds roasting potatoes, quartered and peeled if necessary
Sprigs of thyme
Coarse sea salt
60 ml/ 1/4 cup olive oil
Rinse potatoes, slice them in half or quarters depending on size. Place in roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprigs of thyme and coarse sea salt. Mix well and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour (give the potatoes a good stir halfway) until golden.
Tourtière with apples, prunes & armagnac (serves 6)
Preheat oven 180°C/ 350°F
5 large apples (I used golden apples)
20 pitted prunes
120 ml/ 1/2 cup armagnac + a dew dashes tro sprinkle on filo pastry
250 g/ 1 cup and 1/4 granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp orange blossom water (optional)
120 g/ 1/2 cup butter (melted)
3 tbsp butter – for the caramelized apples
Approx 10 sheets filo pastry
Note: Use a shallow pie/tart pan, approx 26-27 cm – 10-11 inches diameter.
Soak the prunes in 80 ml armagnac – reserve the rest for later. Set aside. Peel the apples and dice them into cubes.
In a frying pan, melt 150 g sugar. Add 3 tbsp butter when the sugar has melted. Add the apples, fry for 5 minutes, then add the prunes (drain them first). Add orange blossom water and cinnamon. Continue frying for 3 more minutes. Add the remaining armagnac and reduce for 2 minutes on a high heat. Set aside and leave to cool on a plate.
Melt 120 g butter. With a pastry brush, butter each filo sheet generously. Spread 4-5 sheets of filo in a tart pan, sprinkling sugar and armagnac on each sheet. Place the apple prune mixture all over. Cover with 4-5 buttered sheets, sprinkling sugar and armagnac on each sheet. Trim off any excess pastry sheet and sprinkle trimmings on top of the ‘tourtière’. You can either arrange trimmings to form a shape of a flower, or create a wavy top (trimmings should be cut into large finger-sized rectangles). Sprinkle with butter and sugar and bake for 25 minutes until top is golden and crispy.
Serve warm with vanilla ice-cream, crème fraîche, or simply on its own!