Christmas Lunch: Orange and Coffee Roasted Duck with Borlotti Beans

Duck1_lefermier_221115Christmas is a magical time of the year. It’s a time when families come together and take the time to sit around the table and share good food, good wine and good memories. And yes, if you’re lucky, a few presents as well!

The recipe that I am sharing with you today is my take on “Canard à l’Orange” (Duck in Orange Sauce). I’ve soaked the duck in brine made with orange juice, crushed coffee beans, lime, bay leaves, star anise, peppercorns and water. This process means all those amazing flavours permeate the meat all the way through, and because of the sugar content in the orange juice, the skin will caramelize as it roasts.

Roasted duck with coffee, orange and kaffir lime

For the brine:

Duck4_lefermier_221115Ingredients:

  • 2L orange juice
  • 100 g coffee beans, crushed
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 L water
  • 10 peppercorn
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Bring the orange juice, coffee beans, bay leaves, star anise, peppercorn and water to the boil.
  2. Allow to cool completely, add the lime, and poor the brine in a non reactive container. Place the whole duck in the brine and Refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
  3. In the mean time preheat the oven at 200 degrees.
  4. Remove the duck from the brine and pat dry. Place it in a roasting tray and cook for 2 hours. The skin will slowly caramelized giving it a delicious golden colour.

For the Sauce:

Reduce some of the cooking liquid, about 400ml, by half. Then, reduce the heat and whisk in about 100g of butter. Season to taste. You can also thicken the sauce with a little bit of corn flour if you like it a bit thicker.

Duck2_lefermier_221115For the Beans:

Ingredients:

  • 400g borlotti beans
  • 1 brown onions, finely diced
  • ½ bunch sage
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 100gpancetta?

Method:

  1. If using dried beans, soak them in cold water overnight.
  2. Place the beans in deep cooking pot and submerge with cold water, make sure to put enough water as the beans will soak up the water while cooking. Cook until just tender, you want the beans to remain a little bit firm.
  3. Strain the beans, but keep about ¼ of the cooking liquid.
  4. Sautee the onion, garlic, pancetta and sage in a casserole pan for about 5 minutes. Add the beans and a little bit of the cooking liquid, just enough to make the beans saucy and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

duck6_lefermier_271115Wine suggestion: Chateau Lynch Bages Pauillac 2005 form www.airoldifinewines.com.au



Bastille Day Dessert: Grand Marnier Soufflé

Grand Marnier Soufflé serve 4

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What’s wonderful about the soufflé is that because the basic recipe can be adapted to include any flavour you like, sweet or savoury, you can really make the dish your own. I’ve chosen it as the dessert for my Bastille Day feast this year and because July is in Winter here in the southern hemisphere, I’m flavouring it with oranges, both the real stuff and a splash of Grand Marnier for good measure.

Soufflé had a reputation for intimidating the most avid cooks, due to the fact that you never know whether it’s going to be an epic success or failure until the moment you take it out the oven and gingerly place in onto the serving plate. But as they say you’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit (or the soufflé in this case), so role up your sleeves, take careful note of the instructions and you’ll be set for sweet success.

For the Crème Pâtissière:

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolk
  • 25g plain flour
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 2 orange zest
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeded
  • 5cl Grand Marnier

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Method:

  1. Bring the milk, orange zest and vanilla skin to the boil.
  2. Meanwhile whisk the yolk, sugar and vanilla seed together.
  3. Add the flour to the mix and whisk until combined.
  4. Pour the hot milk over the eggs and mix well so that all the ingredients are combined.
  5. Pour the mix back in the sauce pan and cook on medium heat while whisking until it start to thicken, then cook for a further 5 minutes while whisking.
  6. Pour the crème pâtissière in a clean bowl add the Grand Marnier and whisk until combined. Cover with cling film, make sure the film is in direct contact with the crème to prevent the formation of a skin, then put in the fridge to cool down.

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For the moulds:

  • Brush the moulds with soft unsalted butter, making sure to cover the entire surface. Place them in the fridge to set the butter.
  • Once the first layer has set repeat the process once more, then dust the moulds with caster sugar.

For the soufflé:

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Ingredients:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 55g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven a 240 degrees Celsius.
  2. Whisk the egg whites to soft peak in an electric blender, a good way to know if they’re ready is to tip the bowl upside down if it doesn’t fall off, it’s ready!
  3. Slowly add the sugar while whisking on medium speed and whisk for a couple of minutes or until the sugar is combined.
  4. Mix ¼ of the egg white with the crème pâtissière and whisk to loosen the mix.
  5. Add the rest of the egg whites and gently fold everything together.
  6. Gently spoon the soufflé mix in each mold, gently tap the mold on the bench to avoid leaving any air bubble and smooth the top of the soufflé with a palette knife.
  7. Bake the soufflé for 8-10 minutes at 240 degrees.
  8. Dust the top of the soufflé with icing sugar and serve straight away!

 

 

Bastille Day Main Course: Veal Paupiettes with a Cèpe sauce and Pilaf Rice

 

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Happy Bastille Day! This year for France’s national holiday I decided to mix cliché cuisine with lesser known French fare, and paupiette is one such dish. In a nutshell, Paupiette is meat beaten thin which is then wrapped around a stuffing which could include vegetables, fruit or sweetmeats. For today’s dish I used veal scaloppini and for the stuffing, a delicious pork mince flavoured with fresh herbs.

You’ll find paupiette all over France but most likely in northern regions like Normandy.

A favourite ingredient of mine is the cèpe mushroom and I relish any opportunity to include it in a dish, which I’ve managed in this recipe by including it as the sauce for the paupiettes.

Enjoy the main course and stay tuned for dessert!

Serve 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 thin veal escalopes, about 150g each
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

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For the stuffing:

Ingredients:

  • 2 thick slices of crustless sourdough, about 50g and torn
  • 125 ml milk
  • 500g pork mince
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 100 g button mushroom, trimmed and finely chopped
  • ½ cup flat parsley, cleaned and finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

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Method:

  1. Place the bread into a small bowl, cover with milk and leave for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile place the pork mince, garlic mushroom and parsley in a medium size bowl and season with salt and pepper, mix well until combine.
  3. Squeeze the excess milk out of the bread and add it to the mix, mix well until combine and set aside.
  4. Lay the escalopes on a chopping board, divide the stuffing into 4 equal portion and place it in the centre of each escalopes, make to leave about 2cm on the sides.
  5. Roll each escalopes to enclose the stuffing and form a log shape.
  6. Tie the paupiettes with cooking string to secure the stuffing and place in the fridge for one hour.

Cèpe Sauce:

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Ingredients:

  • 150 Cèpe mushroom
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carotts, brunoise ( finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon port
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 250 ml dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Soak the mushroom in warm water to rehydrate them.
  2. Heat up a large casserole, I normally use a le Creuset, with some olive oil. Add the veal paupiettes and sear on all sides until golden brown, remove them from the casserole then set aside.
  3. For the sauce, reduce the heat to medium, then add a little bit of olive oil to the pan.
  4. Add the onion and carrot and stir well, scraping the bottom of the casserole. Add the mushroom and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the port, remove the casserole from the heat and carefully, using a long match or lighter light the port to burn off the alcohol ( this process is called Flambée).
  5. Return the casserole to the heat, sprinkle the flour, mix well and pour in the wine. Add the thyme, bay leaf and paupiettes and stir. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer.
  6. Cover with the lid and cook for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
  7. Remove the string from the paupiettes and season to taste.

Pilaf Rice:

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • ½ bunch thyme, chopped
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrots, diced

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Heat up a deep baking tray with some olive oil. Add the chopped onion, carrot and cook for 2 minutes then add the thyme.
  3. Add the rice, mix well and cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Pour in the wine, cook for a 1 minutes then add the stock. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil and then cover with a sheet of baking paper.
  5. Cook in the hot oven for ten minutes.

I suggest you serve the Veal Paupiettes with a side of Potato Purée, some fresh baguette and a glass of  Chateau Penin available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au

Watch the how to video below or visit my Youtube channel here

 

Pot-au-Feu Traditionnel

Pot-au-Feu Traditionnel:

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Pot-au-Feu is a prime example that the most basic ingredients, cooked simply but to perfection, can make for the most hearty and satisfying meals. The unromantic could describe it as boiled meats and veg in broth, but the French have had a long affair with the Pot-au-Feu and you’d be hard pressed to find a family table, rich or poor, in France which it hadn’t graced at some point.

It’s one of those nostalgic meals that take me back to my childhood, and in this way, Pot-au-Feu seems like comfort food for the body and for the soul.

Ingredients:

  • 350g beef cheeks
  • 300g beef chucks (neck)
  • 300g ox tail
  • 1 brown onion (halved and chargrilled)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 leek
  • 2 turnips
  • 4 Dutch cream potatoes
  • 4 cloves
  • 10 peppercorn
  • 20g rock salt
  • 2 Bouquet Garnis (thyme, bayleaves, parsley)

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Method:

  1. Put the meats in a large cooking pot and cover with water. Place the pot on the stove and bring it to the boil. Once it starts boiling, gently scoop out the foam on the top of the liquid and keep doing so for about five minutes.
  2. Add the Bouquets Garnis, garlic, onions, peppercorn, cloves and rock salt. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 1½ hours on low heat.
  3. Meanwhile start prepping the rest of your vegetables. Peel the carrots, turnips and potatoes and cut into big chunks (keep the potatoes in water so they don’t oxidize). Chop off the green part of the leek and cut the white part in half.
  4. Then add the vegetables to the pot (except the potatoes) and cook for 1 more hour. Add the potatoes and finish off the cooking for 30 minutes.

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Serving suggestion: Place the meat in the center of a large serving tray and arrange the vegetables around it and serve with a side of Dijon mustard, Cornichons, Fleur de Sel (sea salt flakes) and chargrilled bread!

 

In true peasant food style, waste not, want not! Don’t throw out the beautiful broth that’s left in the pot. Once you’ve removed your veggies and meat from the pot, add some vermicelli egg noodles (or any other soup pasta that you fancy) to the liquid and cook until al dente. Serve this is broth as an entrée before the main event.

To watch the how to video on YouTube click here

France Culinary Travel Diary – La Dordogne (Part 1)

Le Fermier

France Culinary Travel Diary – La Dordogne (Part 1)

The Dordogne will always have a special place in my heart. It’s where I grew up, where my family still lives and where I completed my cooking apprenticeship. It’s also a stunning area of France, with green undulating fields, fairytale woods, and more chateaus than you can poke a baguette at. It’s not a centre by any means for big Industry but it is the gastronomique centre of black Périgord truffles, Foie Gras, and other duck-related goodness in France.

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The ethics surrounding Foie Gras are much debated in the wider world, as the process to create it is the force feeding of corn to ducks or Geese to give them a super fatty liver which is then harvested, sliced and eaten (best raw) for the enjoyment of humans. It’s necessary in these situations to be informed about the realities of production and then make up your own mind about how you feel about it. What I will say is that I would prefer to only buy foie gras from the smaller producers, as these are the ones more likely to use traditional, and more gentle practices and take better care of their animals.

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Speaking from a purely culinary perspective, I love eating foie gras. The texture is almost like a dense mousse and though it’s very rich, the flavour is subtle. You don’t need to eat a lot to be satisfied and so it’s often enjoyed at aperitif on a thin slice of baguette accompanied by a glass of pastis or sweet white wine.

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The Black or Périgord truffle is the second most highly prized truffle after the white truffle. They are found growing among the roots of oak or hazelnut trees and are harvested with the use of sows or specially trained dogs to detect them beneath the soil. They’re an acquired taste and, as they are quite strong and very expensive, are often simply grated into things like omelets or crispy potatoes, or added to Foie Gras for an extra touch of luxury. They are a kind of fungi and have been eaten by man since pre-Roman times.

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The other culinary delight found throughout the region is confit de canard or Duck confit, which makes sense, as there are a lot of duck around thanks to the foie gras. Confit duck is made by salting a duck leg overnight to preserve it, before its rinsed and then slowly poaching it in its own fat. This is then left to cool before it’s put into a glass jar or tin, fat and all, which can last for weeks to months. Duck confit can then be heated and eaten as a main meal of it’s own or used in the famous Cassoulet dish.

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All these amazing products can be found in specialty stores or at the amazing farmers markets, and the best part is that often, the person selling the products is also the person who’s made it.

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My top Dordogne Region picks:

  • Sarlat-la-Caneda – every Wednesday and Saturday: regional specialties, cheese, saucisson and artists wares
  • A La Truffe du Périgord 6 route de Périgueux 24420 Sarliac sur L’Isle (also available at the market)
  • Vidal Foie Gras Pech Mercier 24250 Cénac (also available at the market)
  • Maison Arvouet Avenue des Sycomores 24480 le Buisson de Cadouin

France Culinary Travel Diary – Carcassonne and Toulouse

Le Fermier

France Culinary Travel Diary – Carcassonne and Toulouse

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Though it’s commonplace for French kids to grow up being surrounded by chateau-a-plenty countryside, and villages filled with wooden shutters and terracotta tiled roofs, even I was in awe when I laid eyes on the medieval fortress city of Carcassonne. With a history dating back to Roman times, full of sieges, ruin and renovation, the city walls still hold many secrets.

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What’s not a secret though, is that some of the best Cassoulet in the world can be found here, and because it’s a regional specialty it won’t cost you an arm and a leg either. It’s hard to find somewhere to eat within the fortress walls that isn’t “touristy” but I couldn’t have been happier with my choices, which were a little more tucked away. The first was L’Adelaïde and the second was Le Chaudron. The cassoulet at both ticked all the key boxes: crispy top layer, stewed Lingot beans, confit de canard & saucisse de Toulouse, while Le Chaudron’s version also featured pork to their dish, which was the point of difference for me to declare theirs my favourite. A word to the wise, Cassoulet is incredibly rich and filling so it’s best enjoyed at lunch and in the cooler months.

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After Carcasonne, The Madame and I stayed in Toulouse so we took the opportunity to try another variation of the Cassoulet. I could taste the difference immediately between each towns’ version. My Toulouse Cassoulet from Cave au Cassoulet, was saucier (with a hint of tomato), richer (thanks more duck fat being included in the recipe) and, in my opinion, used more delicious sausages (as I’d expect considering the city of Toulouse is the sausage’s namesake). Though I heartily enjoyed every Cassoulet, my overall favourite remains Le Chaudron’s in Carcasonne. It’s all a matter of personal taste though, so if you’ve found somewhere you think serves better, let me know in the comments below! And, if you can’t head to France anytime soon, but are craving something hearty for a cold winter’s day, check out my recipe and try your hand at it.

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For lunch on the go in Toulouse that’s a little lighter on the stomach and the pocket, you can’t go past Pikanik, a super trendy but equally delicious sandwich and salad bar that was packed by lunch time with students, office workers and tourists alike. For under 10€ you get your choice of salad or baguette, drink and dessert, and it’s even less if you don’t want all 3.

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The true gem of Toulouse though, as a coffee lover, is La Fiancée, a Salon de Café that served coffee to rival the best Melbourne cafés, including perfectly poured lattés! The staff were friendly, the decor justifiably hipster and the location perfect for people watching. A must visit!

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My Carcassonne & Toulouse Picks:

  • L’Adelaïde – 5 Rue Adélaïde de Toulouse 11000 Carcassonne
  • La Chaudron – 6 Rue Saint-Jean 11000 La Cité Carcassonne
  • La Cave au Cassoulet – 54 Rue Peyrolières 31000 Toulouse
  • Pik nik – 6 Bis Rue Roumiguières 31000 Toulouse
  • La Fiancée – 54 Rue Peyrolières 31000 Toulouse