My Birthday Apéritif

This time it was my birthday, and I was cooking ... for myself. Nothing very complicated, but nevertheless very good. I invited just a few close friends. After all, I would be using some luxury ingredients, and serving very fine wines. My friend Pierrick had returned from Brittany that very afternoon, and with him he had brought scallops and oysters. Unfortunately, no time to ,take photos, because I was too busy cooking, and enjoying myself.

The menu was as follows:

Gougères served with the Champagne.

Huîtres au Presbytère
I invented this dish at my sister's house, in the Charente. It is a former presbytery, next to the church, where the priest used to live. In their garden is an old bread oven, which can become extremely hot inside. Open the oysters and put a little curry butter on top. Two minutes in the oven, and they come out foaming. Unfortunately one does not have quite the same effect with a domestic oven. But they are good nevertheless.

The bread oven where the "Huîtres au Presbytère" were born:

Bread Oven

Foie gras au torchon
This has become one of my specialities, after long research and studying innumerable recipes. First you need a good quality foie gras. I buy mine at "Metro", but if you live in a foie gras region you should get one from a local producer. The first thing is to remove the big veins inside, without harming the foie gras too much. This is the most delicate part of the whole operation. Next leave the foie to soak in iced salty water for a few hours. This will remove the blood from the smaller veins. Then take the foie out of the water, dry it, put it in a dish, add salt, some port and armagnac, and a binch of "quetre épices" spice. Return to the fridge and leave it for 12 hours.
The next day remove from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. To cook it we are going to use the technique of "sous vide". This enables perfect control of the cooking temperature. It used by great chefs such as Heston Blumenthal, among others. We are going to cook the foie for one hour at exactly 57°C. We wrap the foie in muslin, pop it in the sous-vide bag, and apply the vacuum, and then put it in the sous-vide water bath. One hour later it is done. We take it out of the plastic bag, and leave it in the fridge for a week.
There it is, now you know all. One of the best foie gras in the world, by unanimous agreement. Well, not quite everything. I left out one or two small details: how much salt, how to wrap up the foie in the muslin ... . So you had better let me do it for you. You will not be disappointed.

Foie gras au torchon

Étuvée de noix de Saint-Jacques au Caviar
Adapted from a recipe by Joel Robuchon. Scallops with caviare inside and a light creamy sauce. This really is one of the best dishes I have ever tasted, and I can do it for you!

Étuvée de noix de Saint-Jacques au Caviar

Confit de cuisse de Canard.
To finish, for the main dish, we had something more down to earth and simpler. But this was a Heston Blumenthal recipe. He too uses sous-vide. The dug leg is cooked for 18 hours at 75°C. This keeps it extraordinarily soft and succulent inside.

My friend Angie did a mille-feuille for the dessert.