My French Heaven

FOOD, PHOTOGRAPHY & JOIE DE VIVRE IN BORDEAUX, FRANCE

Category: Recipes

Stéphane’s salmon and hash brown club

Salmon and hash brown sandwich

I’ve always enjoyed people with multiple layers. Multiple layers of goodness that is. I feel the same about food. Taste constitutes the character of a dish, its DNA. But I feel that color and texture make up its personality; the reason why it may stand out.

One of my top five favorite dishes of all times is Peking Duck. The way the crunchy savory duck skin contrasts with the softness of the pancake and the sweetness of the hoisin sauce… I mean come on. If that’s not food porn at its best…

I wanted to find a way to achieve the same complexity in taste and texture last week for my Sunday lunch (or maybe it was the week before. Is salmon like pot? Does it kill your brain cells? I’m getting worried). So, yes, smoked salmon was the main ingredient. I went for a salmon and potato club sandwich and it was every bit as delicious (in it’s own way of course) as any great Peking Duck I had ever had on Stockton Street or in Soho (London) :0)

Salmon and hash brown sandwich

1. Peel, wash and grate raw potatoes. Do not wash them once grated.
2. Form a ball in your hands the size of a golf ball and flatten it. You need to end up with 1/3 of an inch patties
3. Sauté the potato patties i a little bit of oil over medium heat until they are golden brown on both sides
4. Wait for these hash browns type pancakes to cool down (on a grid so they don’t become soft) and build your sandwiches with one layer of hash browns, one layer of red onions, one layer of smoked salmon and so on. You can also add lettuce for color if you want. Avocado would hurt either.
5. Top the sandwich with heavy cream and salmon or trout eggs and maybe some fresh dill

Salmon and hash brown sandwich

It is really easy, not that expensive and looks very fancy… ENJOY!

Note: you may add black pepper for seasoning, but avoid adding salt as the salmon and trout eggs are already quite salty.

 

Of eggs, black truffles and my family tree…

Eggs with truffles

It seems that with every new recipe, I introduce yet another one of my grandmothers; and so today, I want to dedicate this post to my great-great-grandmother Petronille. She was born in our family farm in Dordogne in 1865. Funny to think that we had had the farm for 2 centuries already when she was born. Petronille and her husband (with her in the photo) had a few cows as well as sheep. The farm was (still is) surrounded by deep woods in which truffles grew below the centennial oaks and the chestnut trees. I don’t know if Petronille used a hog or a dog to find her truffles, that part of the story has been lost, but she was famous for making all sorts of fantastic truffle dishes. My great-grandfather whom I had the chance to know well (he passed when I was 10 at the age of 98), would tell wonderful tales of Petronille’s soft-boiled eggs with truffles. We called my great-grandfather “Papy”. He’s the man with the white hair and the beret in the photo. With him are my great-grandmother Manée who you already know and my grandmother on the right who passed 4 years ago at the tender age of 101…

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Pierre (my cheesemonger) and I were talking about truffles the other day. I was telling him that I wish I had access to fresh truffles year round. Indeed, truffles are harvested in December, January and February. After that, you can only get them in jars. They taste very good, but it is nothing like the fresh stuff. Pierre told me that he keeps a few for himself  every year and freezes them. When he needs some for pasta or eggs or even a home-made paté, he takes one of them out, shaves what he needs off of the mushroom and places it back in the freezer. That’s what I’ll do next year! Pierre will save me some.

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I think this is my favorite way to enjoy eggs: soft-boiled. I don’t always add truffles (I don’t have that kind of money), but once in a while, I treat myself. It reminds me of my roots and of our farm in the woods…

Wherever she is, Petronille is smiling down on me. I am certain of it!

Note: I put my eggs in cold water and set the stove on high heat. 5 minutes and they’re out. I mostly use my induction stove though, which brings water to a boil quite fast. Cooking time depends on so many variables. Only you know your stove well enough…

Note: You don’t need to put a lot of truffle. They are VERY fragrant.

Note: You can put a few truffles (when they are fresh) in your egg basket. Their fragrance is so strong that your egg will pick up the taste of them…

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Of July in Cap Ferret and lick your fingers delicious flambées prawns

Shrimp - Cap Ferret

Each year in July, every individual cell of our large clan rents a house in Cap Ferret. Except me of course because I’m so busy (and so damn poor). So you can imagine how special I feel when my friends or my nephews invite me over for a day at the beach. I am not too excited about the beach part (never could stand it); rather, I am out of my mind excited about seeing the kids… My nephews and grand-nephews are the children I will never have. I have 19 of them and I can honestly say that they are the only good reason I have to keep on keeping on as they say…

Shrimp - Cap FerretShrimp - Cap FerretShrimp - Cap FerretShrimp - Cap Ferret

Of course they all know how important good food (and seafood in particular) is to me. So we make it a point to always cook something special when I’m with them. Something light and tasty and lick your fingers delicious… One dish everybody loves to eat on a hot summer day by the pool is grilled or seared prawns flambées with Ricard or Pastis or even Jack Daniels. So I will be driving around Cap Ferret with several bottles of brandy in my car this month :0)

Shrimp - Cap FerretRicardShrimp - Cap Ferret

Every Mediterranean country has its own anise based alcoholic beverage. In Greece it’s Uzo, in France it’s Ricard. We call this type of drink “anisette”… It is very popular everywhere in France, but it is an absolute star in Provence! It is also perfect to flambé seafood. You can find it almost anywhere in the world. You can also look for “Pastis”. I modified my recipe for the marinade recently. Here is the new version:

  1. Marinate prawns in olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zests, salt and black pepper for at least 2 hours.
  2. Grill on a cast iron plate or plancha (2 to 3 minutes on each side) or on the BBQ.
  3. Flambé with Ricard and serve with the left over marinade on the side. You can spread it on toast or put it in your rice or your pasta…

Note: if you BBQ the shrimp, you will obviously need to transfer them into a pan in order to flamber them. Just make sure the pan is hot enough for the alcohol to catch on fire.

Note: Obviously, we don’t have huge prawns like these in France. They come from Madagascar (the best ones do). I will have to post again soon on my next Cap Ferret trips and the local specialties we’ll cook. Oysters and turbot anyone?! :0)

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An absolute favorite of mine from the archives of My French Heaven

Stuffed mushrooms

I am soooooooo cheating today. I had already posted this stuffed mushrooms recipe about two years ago. I just didn’t have much time to write something completely new today. Please don’t hate me! ;0)

Stuffed mushrooms are ideal for an aperitif or as a starter and they look really stunning in a plate… The recipe is quite simple and, as such, it is great to introduce younger kids to cooking…

For 8 pieces – 2 to 4 people:

  1. Remove the stems of 8 large Paris (button) mushrooms and keep them (the stems) aside
  2. Peel/clean the hats and boil them in water for about 10 minutes. Take them out and dry them carefully with a paper towel
  3. Sauté the chopped stems with 2 large shallots in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. Then sear 200g of sausage meat to a nice golden brown. Merge the two preparations together and add a whole egg, a handful of chopped parsley, a clove of garlic (chopped), a handful of grated cheese (comté is best), black pepper, salt and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg.
  4. Fill each cap with the stuffing and place them in a baking dish with a little bit of water and oil at the bottom (not too much). The stuffed side faces up of course. Coat each mushroom with grated cheese.
  5. Place everything in the oven for about 20 minutes at 400°F.

I promise your guests will LOVE this!

Stuffed mushroomsIMG_8454

Serve your stuffed mushrooms with a chilled rosé. Or beer, or white wine, or red wine, or bourbon, or milk, or juice, or… ;) Whatever makes you feel good works for me! No food snobs here :0)

OK, we’ll just have to draw the line at foie gras with cheese or sausages dipped in cheap chocolate sauce; but other than that, whatever rocks your boat! Have fun! Enjoy!

Oh, and here are a few flowers to brighten up your day!

pink tulips

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