Friday, August 27, 2010

Anne Sophie Pic's, Valence, August 14, 2010

This is one of the most accomplished meals I have ever had. Literally everything from the reception to the coffee at the end of the meal was genuinely three star. Inventive without being unnecessarily fancy, this was food at the very highest level possible. The worst I can say about the experience is that he Tourteau was not as good as the rest of the food.

The Amuse Bouche was a foie gras creme brule with grapefruit mousseline. This is normally a dish I find quite boring so I was very disappointed to see it put in front of me in a restaurant that I have very high hopes for but this was the finest example of the kind I have ever had. Partially this was due to the fg creme brule being made with an exceptionally light touch but more importantly the mousseline was an inspired accompaniment. Mousseline just means light mousse, however, combined with an ever so slight taste of grapefruit it completely cut trough the fattiness of the fg for a melt in the mouth combination.

The anchovies where a very feminine dish that relied completely on all the ingredients complementing each other perfectly. Individually, the ingredients would not have impressed but put together they where perfection. Strong anchovies, soft fresh cucumber, tiny bit of fat from the colonnata and just a bit of taste from the tomato and beurre blanc based sauce. Very difficult to describe but incredibly sophisticated.

The Saint Pierre or John Dory was also incredibly accomplished. In theory a simple dish of some steamed John Dory and anis flavored beurre blanc but in fact the dish was absolute perfection. The fish had been prepared in sous vide at 50 degrees for over one hour which left it cooked but pink and not flaky at all. I am not sure I have ever had braised or slow cooked fish before but that is what it was and the result was very surprising. The combination with the anis flavor and richness of the beurre blanc was perfection.

I was very scared of taking a 24 year old Croze Hermitage as that is usually a bit beyond their tolerance but the solid producer and the strong recommendation of the sommelier made me take the plunge. Although the wine does not have many years left in it I was rewarded with an excellent and highly complex drink.

Foie Gras Three Ways/Foie Gras Suzhi

I was in Gaillac for a few days. That always means raw foie gras... this time I decided to make three small dishes that were inspired by a visit to Dinings a few weeks ago. No rice though.

Two of the dishes require a glazing or a reduction that I made with a combination of apple juice, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and a little bit of sugar.


  1. 100 ml best quality apple juice;
  2. 100 ml medium quality balsamic vinegar (no point in using the £15 stuff);
  3. 50 ml light soy sauce;
  4. 2 - 3 tsp sugar.

Reduce all the ingredients under low heat until you have a thick syrupy substance. It needs to be runny but no so runny that it runs of the fg when applied.

To try: cider vinegar instead of balsamic.

Foie Gras in broth:

  1. 100 ml home made chicken broth per person;
  2. 3 3x2 cm cubes of foie gras per person;
  3. 1 tsp roast spices (I roasted and then crushed cardamom seeds, cumen and turmeric in about equal measure with a very small amount of salt & pepper).

Heat the broth with the spice mixture and let simmer until the spices are cooked and the taste settled.

On a very hot skillet sear the fg until slightly caramelized. Put the fg cubes on the bottom of a small soup bowl and cover with the broth. Serve immediately with a little bit of finely chopped parsley (or another herb) as garnish.

To try: coating the fg with balsamic before searing.

Seared Foie Gras on pear:

  1. 2 ½ cm thick slices pear per person;
  2. 1 thinly slices brioche toast per person;
  3. 1 1 cm thick slice raw fg;

On a very hot skillet sear the fg until slightly caramelized. Assemble the brioche, pear and fg and coat the fg with the glazing. Serve immediately.

To try: caramelizing the pear in butter and use Asian pear.

Seared Foie Gras on fig and parma ham:

  1. 1 ripe fig per person;
  2. 1 15x4 cm slice of parma ham per person;
  3. 1 1 cm thick slice of raw fg.

On a very hot skillet sear the fg until slightly caramelized. Assemble the ham, fig and fg and coat the fg with the glazing. Serve immediately.

To try: caramelizing the fig in the glazing and add some kind of blue cheese to the dish.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Braised lamb shoulder with olives and Artichokes


  1. 2.5 kg Lamb shoulder bone in for about 6 - 8 people;
  2. 250 gr tin of pitted black olives;
  3. 4 Artichokes with stem cut off and cut into half;
  4. 4 tbsp sea salt;
  5. 2 tbsp black pepper;
  6. 3 cloves garlic;
  7. 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves;
  8. 2 tbsp finely chopped thyme leaves;
  9. 1 tbsp honey (ideally scented with either rosemary or thyme);
  10. 2 tbsp EVOO;
  11. Juice of one lemon;
  12. 1 large coarsely cut onion;
  13. 2 finely chopped parsnips (finely chopped as they are meant to completely break apart during the cooking and serve to thicken the sauce);
  14. 4 - 5 sprigs of Rosemary and Thyme;
  15. 1 bottle either red or white wine;


  1. Make a paste of the salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, thyme, honey and EVOO. Rub paste all over the lamp and let sit for at least 30 min but several hours would be better.
  2. Brown the lamb and set aside.
  3. Soften the onion and parsnips, add the artichokes flat side down.
  4. Load the meat on top of the artichokes, add the rest of the ingredients, and 125 ml of the wine;
  5. Braise in a 160 degrees oven for at least 3 hours adding 125 ml of the wine every 30 min or so (pour the wine over the meat) baste every 30 min when the whole bottle of wine is in.
  6. If serving potatoes add them to the pan with the meat about 45 minutes before serving.
  7. Let rest for 15 min;
  8. Cut the heart out of the artichoke and serve with the meat;
  9. Make sauce by reducing the cooking liquid and adding more wine/stock as needed.
Serve with Muhummra and Deep fried chick peas.

Deep fried chick peas


  1. Tin of chick peas in water rinsed and dried;
  2. 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds;
  3. 1 tsp chilli flakes;
  4. 1 tsp Spanish sweet paprika;
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 1 tsp black pepper;
  7. 500 ml vegetable oil (one with a high tolerance for heat).


  1. Pound the spices in a mortar until quite fine;
  2. Combine spices and peas in a bowl and toss to cover the peas with the herb mixture;
  3. heat the oil to high heat (180 degrees) in a wide pan;
  4. Fry the chick peas in the oil for about 30 seconds.


I had this with lamb at Moro's and simply loved it. The Moro recipe book says to use it with fish such as Monkfish which I have yet to try but I have high expectations. Essentially Muhummra is Mojo Roco with substance and as such can replace it in all recipes. Below is my version with is not quite the same as the Moro recipe but obviously similar.

  1. 6 large roasted red peppers (you can use canned ones if you are feeling lazy);
  2. 400 gr toasted walnuts;
  3. 4 garlic cloves made into paste with 1 tsp sea salt;
  4. 150 gr bread crumbs;
  5. 3 tbsp EVOO;
  6. 1 tbsp roast ground cumin seeds;
  7. 2 tsp chilli flakes;
  8. 2 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar;
  9. 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses;
Pulse peppers and walnuts until smooth paste fold in rest of ingredients and hey presto!

Broad bean and Asparagus mousse with poached ducks egg


  1. 400 gr shelled broad beans (or peas);
  2. 300 gr asparagus (cut of the ends if fibrous);
  3. 50 gr rocket;
  4. 50 gr roasted pine kernels;
  5. 50 gr parmesan cheese;
  6. 150 ml chicken stock;
  7. 1 poached ducks egg per person;
  8. 4 rashes streaky bacon fried till crisp and cut into 2 cm pieces;
  9. 3 tbsp EVOO;
  10. 2 egg whites whipped to soft peaks;
  11. Grilled polenta medallions;
  12. Finely chopped chives;
  13. Salt & Pepper.


  1. Poach beans and asparagus in chicken stock until soft, pour off the stock and mash the vegetables in a blender;
  2. Make pesto with rocket, pine kernels, parmesan, salt and pepper;
  3. Combine pesto with vegetables mash and fold in egg whites;
  4. Make forms of grease proof paper same size as polenta medallion and fill with mousse up to 2 cm thick on a non stick oven tray bake at 200 degrees for 20 min;


  1. Cover the polenta medallion with the bacon;
  2. Put mousse on top of the polenta medallion and top with the poached ducks egg;
  3. Drizzle best quality EVOO over the egg (using truffle flavoured EVOO would be even better);
  4. Scatter a pinch of chives over the egg;
  5. Season with S&P.

Note: The mousse can be baked up to half an hour before serving but not much more or it will be too cold.