It’s officially the summer holidays in Médoc. We’ve been longing for hot sunny days, sun-kissed hues and al fresco meals everyday. The feeling is free and easy, I am happily compiling the recipes for my book, writing away under my favourite trees. My office is very simple. I usually place a table under a tree, where the gentle breeze makes me feel cool and inspired. My laptop, a cool drink and a few dogs by my side.
My adorable step-kids Gunnhildur and Thorir arrived last week from Iceland for the summer vacations. The ‘little ‘ kids have been counting the days forever and it’s such a joy to have the whole family reunited.
On their first day, Gunnhildur requested a little tour around Pauillac and the vineyards, while Thorir and the others decided to have a fun pool day. We took part of the gang on a lovely drive, zig-zagging through the jade green vineyards and stopping by for ice-cream. We saw the most amazing flower fields near St Estèphe, and couldn’t resist picking a few flowers, as well as taking some photos of course. It really was a field of dreams, seeing Louise through the flowers with Jean Genie (our smooth fox-terrier) was a bit of a technicolor vision, like one of those fantastic Japanese animated movies about the spirit of the flowers. Simply breathtaking.
On our way home, I bought some duck magret filet and decided to make duck hamburgers, another family favourite. We brought home some sarment de vignes (vine shoot of the grape vine) for the barbecue. In the winter months, the vines are pruned and the branches are cut off. They are then dried and used for barbecues. I just love the smell and that smoky vine-like taste you get from this type of grilling. It’s called a barbecue à la Bordelaise!
For the duck magret, it’s best to mince the meat ‘au couteau’ (with a knife) – all you have to do is slice the meat finely, then dice and mince. You keep all the juicy flavours preparing the meat this way. Then I just add salt, pepper, shallots, parsley and mustard et voilà, you have a very gourmand burger. I also make my own burger buns and fries – it’s all these little extra touches that make a fabulous meal. I recently discovered an amazing flour made by Elodie Aubert, the daughter of farmers Pierre and Marie-Noëlle, producing organic vegetables in St Vivien de Médoc. Elodie bakes high-quality bread, and makes her own organic flour which is of exceptional quality. I have to admit, it’s the best I have ever used. She sells her bread and flour at the local markets in Médoc. So now I make my hamburger buns with her flour, and they are a real hit at home. Once you make these, it will be hard to buy the ones at the store.
We had a wonderful dinner al fresco, all dressed up, candlelight, flowers and lovely duck burgers & fries. We couldn’t really ask for more… perhaps an extra slice of cherry clafoutis? Oh how I love summer nights…
For a bit of dog passion (and fashion), check out Oddur’s piece here.
Our dinner was ‘gram of the week’ on Food 52!
Duck burger patties (for 8 patties)
4 duck filets (magret de canard), trimmed, sliced finely then minced with a sharp knife.
4 tbsp parsley, chopped finely
1 tbsp mustard
2 small shallots, finely chopped
8 slices of cheese, Ossau Iraty (or any of your choice) – optional
Salt & black pepper, for seasoning
Trim the fat on the duck filets, leaving a little for extra flavour. Slice finely, then dice into small cubes. Mince the meat finely.
Mix all the ingredients together (except the cheese) and shape into small palm-sized patties. Place in the refridgerator to keep them cool.
Season patties. Prepare a medium-hot sarment (vine shoots, or alternatively, charcoal) fire (if you don’t want to grill, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil in a large frying pan).
Grill patties, flipping once, for a few minutes on each side, depending on the ‘cuisson’.
Optional – if you want a cheeseburger: Place on top of each burger a slice of cheese Ossau Iraty for me) during the last 2 minutes of cooking. You can also try to cover with a disposable aluminum pan to melt.
Serve burgers on buns with lettuce, red onion slices and tomato.
Little tip: I love mixing ketchup, mayonnaise, finely sliced pickles and capers – it’s my favourite cocktail sauce for any burgers.
Hamburger buns (makes about 16-18 buns)
1 kg/ 8 & 1/3 cups organic flour, T80 type (farine blé bise)
25 g/ 5 tsp fresh yeast (I use hirondelle fresh yeast, sold in speciality stores or at the bakery)
15 g/ 3 tsp salt
350 ml/ 1 & ½ cup lukewarm water
160 ml/ 2/3 cup milk, lukewarm
50 g/ ¼ cup granulated sugar
60 g/ ¼ cup plain butter, softened
1 egg yolk + 1 tsp water, to brush the buns
A handful of sesame seeds, optional
In a very large bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar.
Crumble fresh yeast into dry mixture (alternatively, you can mix the fresh yeast with the milk/water and wait a few minutes until frothy, but I prefer crumbling it in the mixture).
Mix ingredients and slowly add the water, milk, eggs and butter. Start kneading until you get a soft dough. I prefer kneading by hand, for about 10-12 minutes.
Shape into a ball. Grease the bowl with a little bit of vegetable oil and place dough in bowl. Cover with cling film or a humid kitchen towel. Leave to rise for 1 and a half to 2 hours in a warm environment.
Shape into individual balls and place on a parchment paper lined oven tray, leaving at least 5 cm space between each ball. Cover with kitchen towel and leave to rise for an hour. Brush each buns with the eggwash and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).
Bake for approximately 15 minutes in a preheated oven 200°C/ 390 F, or until buns are golden and puffy.
What I love about this recipe is the salted butter aftertaste that go so well with the cherries. The most simple cake to make!
500 g/ 1 pound cherries
50 g/ 3 & 1/2 tbsp salted butter, melted and extra for lining the cake pan (you can use plain butter if you prefer)
200 ml/ 0.8 cup full milk
100 g/ ¾ cup + 2 tbsp plain flour
60 g/ 1/3 cup plain sugar
1 packet of vanilla sugar (7.5 g/ 1 1/2 tsp)
1 tbsp orange blossom water
Icing sugar, for dusting
A pinch of salt
Preheat oven 200°C/ 400 F
Butter (generously) a cake pan.
Rinse cherries and pat them dry. I leave the stones but you can remove them if you prefer)
Place them in the bottom of the cake pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and vanilla sugar. Add milk and eggs (one by one), whisking gently. Add orange blossom water and butter, mix until you get a smooth batter.
Pour batter on top of cherries.
Bake for 15 minutes at 200°C/ 400 F, then lower heat to 180°C/ 350 F and cook for a further 30 minutes. Leave to cool and set (the clafoutis will be all puffed up and set evenly).
Sprinkle icing sugar and serve immediately.