Tourin Blanchit a l’Ail: Traditional French Garlic Soup

Tourin Blanchit a l’Ail: Traditional French Garlic Soup

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There is an old French tradition whereby garlic soup is given to newlyweds in the wee hours after their wedding night, possibly because it’s thought to be an aphrodisiac, but more likely to aid digestion after a night of feasting and merriment!

I don’t know if this is still observed today but I love the idea of a food being a remedy for too much other food, and garlic does feel as if it has a restorative quality to it. In fact, a Frenchwoman who immigrated to Australia in the early 1960’s told me the only place she could find garlic here back then was in the pharmacy! Times may have changed, but the French still love their garlic soup.

Serve as a starter for any meal or freeze and save a serve for when you’re feeling under the weather to pep you up.

Ingredients:

  • 300g Peeled Garlic
  • 100g Unsalted Butter
  • 60g Plain Flour
  • 350ml Thickened Cream
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • Salt and Pepper

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Method:

  1. Blitz the garlic in the food processor until it forms a paste or chop it as finely as possible with a knife if you don’t have a food processor.
  2. Heat up a medium size cooking pot on medium heat with the butter. Add the garlic and cook it for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the base of the pot.
  3. Sprinkle the flour on the garlic, just enough so that it forms a loose paste. You may not need all the flour. The more you add, the thicker the soup will be.
  4. Fill up the pot to ¾ with water and bring the soup to the boil while whisking. Turn the heat down to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Add the cream, salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Add the egg white while whisking as this way you’ll have little bits of egg through your garlic soup and it also helps to blend everything together.
  7. Serve hot with some thin slices of toasted baguette.

 

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Dijon mustard, Emmental and Tomato Tart

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Tarts, both sweet and savoury are a staple in French cooking with their crispy pastry and multitude of filling combinations. Generally, when you think of savoury tarts, you imagine delicate concoctions of quiche with some vegetables mixed through. For those who want an alternative that packs a little more punch or who aren’t a fan of the flavour of egg-based tarts, I present you with the following option. The ingredients here are super simple and require little more than to be layered atop one another and baked. There’s no beating or stirring in sight as the core ingredient that binds everything together here is cheese, delicious, melty cheese. Perfect as a gourmet upgrade to the humble pizza and just as great with your favourite beer.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 150g Emmental or Comté cheese
  • 4 medium tomato
  • 3 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • Provençal herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

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Method:

  1. Slice the cheese and the tomatoes and keep aside.
  2. Lay one sheet of pastry flat on your bench and brush it with an egg yolk mixed with one teaspoon of cold water. Lay the second sheet on top and gently press together. This will give your tart a crunchier finish. Lay the pastry over a tart baking dish and gently arrange it in the dish. Using a sharp knife trim any excess pastry.
  3. Spread the Dijon mustard at the bottom then place the cheese on top of it.
  4. Arrange the sliced tomatoes on top in circular pattern. Sprinkle with the Provençale herbs, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 25-30 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius (392F) and serve hot.
  5. I recommend a glass of Chateau “La Manufacture” Petit Chablis to compliment this dish, available from airoldifinewines.com.au or if you prefer beer a delicious Pale Ale or even an IPA!

Duck and Cèpe Mushroom Terrine

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It’s summer here in Oz. And to me, as a Frenchman summer means one thing – the season of outdoor aperitif. There are few things I relish more than basking in long, hazy, afternoon shadows cast by the summer sun, sipping on an ice-cold drink and grazing a selection of culinary accoutrements.

When it comes to my favourite nibbles, the Italians get full marks for simplistic perfection with their claim to the melon and prosciutto combo and the Caprese salad. But if you’re looking for something a little heartier but no heavy, the French terrine is an ideal solution.

Yes, they do take more preparation, but your usual terrine mold will make enough that you can eat it over a few days or feed a lot of people at once with impressive flair. Serve it cold from the fridge, sliced, with a side of cornichons and your preferred crusty bread. Parfait!

Duck and Cèpe Mushroom Terrine

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Ingredients:

  • 200g cepe mushroom (You can find these dried at good continental providores)
  • 800g duck meat
  • 2 deboned quails
  • 400g pork shoulder
  • 300g streaky bacon
  • 4 shallots
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 50ml port
  • 50ml brandy
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 2 Tablespoon green pepper (in brine)
  • ½ jar of cornichons (baby cucumbers)

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Dice the shallots, crush the garlic, chop the thyme and keep aside.
  3. Soak the mushroom in warm water for 10 minutes then strain them.
  4. Heat a large frying pan with olive oil. Cut the quail in 4 pieces and season with salt and pepper. Seal the quail in the pan on all sides for a few seconds, until slightly golden. Take the quail out of the frying pan and keep aside.
  5. Then, in the same pan cook the shallots, garlic and thyme for a couple of minutes on medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the port, brandy and flambé it. Put the mushroom mix in the fridge to completely cool it down.
  6. Mince the pork, bacon and duck meat with the coarse grind attachment on your kitchen aid (or other mixer). If you do not have a mincer you can ask your butcher to mince it for you.
  7. In a terrine mold start with a layer of minced meat, press it down, then add the quail, another layer of meat, the mushroom and finish off with meat.
  8. Place the terrine mold in a deep roasting tray and pour hot water into the tray until it sits halfway up the outside of the terrine mold.
  9. Cook the terrine for 2 hours then cool the terrine down in the mold in the fridge overnight.
  10. When ready to serve, remove from the mold and slice into 2cm (or ½ inch) thick pieces.Duc

Christmas Day Lunch “Aussie Style”: Part 1

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I hope you enjoyed a taste (get it?!) of some of the French dishes that I love cooking and sharing during the holiday season. Over the next few posts I’ll show you what’s on my menu for an Australian Christmas Lunch, but with a small French twist of course!

Summer in the land down under is all about seafood, and we are so lucky to enjoy such great quality produce. It’s a must on the menu so for my Christmas Day entrée I’ve chosen Mussels in a white wine and garlic sauce. The sauce is just as important as the mussels in this dish and shouldn’t be left behind. So, make sure to pair with a fresh baguette or loaf of your choice.

Main is the classic turkey, but for those of you who find the whole bird daunting, why not try a Turkey breast roast! You can treat it almost like a pork loin roast, with a flavoursome stuffing (like the fig, hazelnut and orange one I’ve made), served with a sweet cranberry relish to top it off. It’s much easier, still looks impressive on the Christmas table and will also taste delicious as leftovers in a Boxing Day sandwich.

I’d never had a trifle before I’d come to Australia, but now I couldn’t imagine a Christmas day without one. Family secret ingredients abound with this dish, and I’d wager that no two taste the same. I love this kind of dish, which allows people to truly make it their own. It may not be haute cuisine, but it’s fun, casual and refreshing on a hot day, which to me describes the perfect Aussie Christmas dish to finish off a festive family gathering.

So dig in, and have a very Merry Christmas!

Garlic Mussels:

Ingredients:

  •  2kg Mussels
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 Brown Onion
  • 200g butter
  • 6 clove garlic
  • 250mL Dry White Wine

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Method:

  1. Heat up a deep cooking pot on medium heat with a little bit of olive oil.
  2. Dice the onion and crush the garlic. Wash, dry and chop the parsley.
  3. Put the mussels into the hot cooking pot, pour in the white wine, onion and garlic, cover with a lid and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes until the mussels open up.
  4. Add the parsley and butter, cook for a few more minutes on low heat so that butter slowly melts and combines with the mussel juice.
  5. You can thicken the sauce a little bit if you want with a little bit of corn flour mixed with some water or leave the sauce as is, which is what I did as I find it refreshing.
  6. Serve straight away with some crusty, fresh bread to soak up all the delicious juice!

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I recommend a Chateau “Briand” Bergerac Blanc to go with the garlic mussels, available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au

 

Christmas Eve Dinner “à la Française”: Part 1

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Joyeux Noël! | Merry Christmas!

 

Celebrating Christmas in the summer is still something I can’t get used to after so many years living in Australia. I love white Christmases and all the hearty Christmas foods that are so soothing to eat in the freezing winter. That being said, I absolutely love seafood and so being able to crack into a beautiful, fresh crayfish at Christmas Day lunch is something I relish.

Luckily I don’t have to choose between re-creating the nostalgic feasts of my childhood Christmases and indulging in new summer festive food traditions because I always celebrate Christmas Eve French-style with my brother and his family, and then an Aussie Christmas Day lunch with my wife and hers.

So today, I thought I’d share a perfect menu for both and maybe inspire you enough to share some of my favourite family dishes with yours this holiday season.

Christmas Eve Dinner “à la francaise

Most French families will kick off any family meal with a delicious terrine or pâté. I posted a recipe for a great Huntsman Terrine a while back, which you can check out here, otherwise you can pick up a ready made slice from most good quality delis.

For Entrée, I’ve chosen a duck and mushroom vol au vent. The hero of this, aside from the light-as-air pastry, is the Girolle mushrooms (they’re called Chanterelles in Australia), which hail from my region in France and are delicious and meaty in texture.

For main, I couldn’t go past a beautiful pork loin (with the skin on as crackling is a MUST!) that I’ve filled with a sage, pistachio and cherry stuffing, and a classic garden salad on the side.

Lastly, a true French Christmas treat is a Bûche de Noël, which is a sponge, rolled with and covered in crème au beurre (Italian meringue whipped with butter). It’s super rich but there’s like nothing else. You can flavour them too, so I chose to do coconut, white chocolate and passionfruit.

And there you have it. Joyeux Noël and bon appétit!

Chanterelle Mushroom and Duck Vol au Vent with a Port Sauce

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Ingredients for the Vol au Vent:

  • 4 sheets puff pastry
  • 2 duck breast
  • 50g Chanterelle mushroom (dried)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • ½ bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 50 mL milk

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (392 F).
  2. Take the pastry out of the fridge or the freezer (leave it warm up a bit if it’s directly from the freezer).
  3. Whisk the egg and the milk together to make an egg wash.
  4. Using a round pastry cutter cut the 4 vol au vent bases and place them on a flat baking tray lined with grease proof paper. Cut 3 more circles for each one, then using a smaller cutter cut the middle out, so only the outside ring remain. Brush the base with the egg wash and place the ring on top, press down gently to make it stick and repeat the process until you have 3 layers on each Vol au Vent.
  5. Put them in the fridge for 15 minutes before baking them.
  6. Take the Vol au Vent out of the fridge, brush them with egg wash and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Soak the mushroom in warm water for 10 minutes, then discard the water.
  8. In the mean time, grate the garlic, finely chop the shallots, wash and chop the parsley.
  9. Take the fat off the duck breast and dice them (about 1 ½ cm).
  10. Heat up a medium size shallow frying pan with olive oil on high heat. Cook the shallots, chanterelle mushroom and garlic in the pan for 2 minutes on high heat, tossing from time to time. Then add the duck and cook for about 3 minutes on high heat.
  11. Add the chopped parsley and stir.
  12. Add the port sauce and toss well so that all the ingredients mix together.
  13. Spoon the mix into the warm Vol au Vent and serve immediately.

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Ingredients for the Port sauce:

  •  1 brown onion
  • 4 clove garlic
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 200 ml port
  • 350 ml beef stock

Method:

  1. Finely dice the brown onion, grate the garlic and finely chop the thyme.
  2. Heat up a medium size saucepan with a little bit of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.
  3. Pour the port in the saucepan and reduce by half, then add the stock and reduce by half again.
  4. Mix a little bit of corn flour with water, enough to make a runny paste. Slowly add it to the sauce until you reach the desired consistency. Check seasoning and set aside.

With the Vol au Vent I recommend a chateau “Briand” Bergerac red available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au

 

 

 

Steak Tartare

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Steak tartare is a dish of culinary legend as it was originally thought to have come about from the tenderised pieces of meat that Tartar horsemen would carry under their saddles. In actual fact this was to help heal their horses saddle sores and definitely not to consume (ew!). More accurately, the dish evolved from raw and cooked minced meats brought to Europe by eastern Europeans. At the end of the 19th century anything served with tartare sauce was known as “à la tartare” and somehow this really stuck with steak. The dish served most popularly as we know today with a raw egg on top, became fashionable in the 1950’s and is now a staple at most French cafés and bistros.

Some say this dish isn’t for the faint hearted, but I disagree! If you can put aside your judgments on raw meat and let your taste buds guide you, most people would be surprised at how tasty steak tartare actually is!

 

Classic steak tartare for 2:

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch chive
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 lemon juice
  • 50g cornichon
  • 50g capers
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ small bunch parsley
  • 5 drops Tabasco (optional)
  • 200 grass fed rump steak or eye fillet (you can ask your butcher to mince this for you fresh)
  • 2 free range egg yolk
  • 1 baguette

 

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Method:

  1. Finely chop the meat with a sharp knife or if you have a mincer, put it through that, or the easiest option is to ask your butcher to mince a quality piece of meat fresh for you.
  2. Finely chop the shallots, capers, cornichons, chive and parsley.
  3. Heat up a grill pan on a high heat.
  4. Cut little slices of the baguette, brush them with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Grill them on both sides until golden and crunchy.
  5. In a mixing bowl add all the ingredients except the Tabasco, egg yolk and lemon juice. Mix well then add the lemon juice and Tabasco to taste, you want it to have a bit of a kick but not over power it.
  6. On a plate, using a pastry cutter form the mince into a round shape with a hole in the middle big enough to contain the yolk. Gently put the yolk in the middle and serve with the croutons.

With the steak Tartare I recommend a Chateau Mouthes Le Bihan “Vieillefont” available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au