July 2013 – Pistou

Warning: Purists will be pissed off!  This is an upscale expensive version of what commonly is a street food in the Middle East.

Warning # 2: I do not have a tower and I did not use a vertical spit…  I used my traditional spit and basted frequently.

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OK, now that I have clarified things I hope to have kept the hate mail to a minimum.  I work at a great Mediterranean restaurant in the middle of Southern California’s desert called Figue.  With temperatures soaring in the mid 110’s to 120’s this time of year I got to thinking what do other hot cultures eat this time of year.  My overheated brain wandered past cool bowls of gazpacho and cucumber soups drizzled with Greek yogurt to the Middle East, specifically shawarma.  Even with the heat I still want real food… that shocked me.  I really thought this time of year I would wither away nibbling on frozen popsicles and salads.  Part of the problem is my friend and boss, Lee Morcus, owner of Figue Mediterranean, absolutely LOVES food too and we talk a lot.  We share texts about food, emails about food, face to face conversations about food. Pretty much every single time we are together food comes up. Lee has to be credited with getting me to put shawarma on the menu recently.  I can’t remember if it was his mouth drooling description of eating shawarma at some point in his life or the fact that he is of Lebanese decent and that triggered my mind.  However it came to be, here is how I have been making it lately.  I apologize to cooks who need exact recipes, this is not one of them.  The first thing is starting with high quality lamb.  We buy our from a small cooperative of farms out East called Elysian Fields.  It is a collaborative effort between former lawyer Keith Martin and Chef Thomas Keller and has often been referred to as “Kobe Lamb” because of the unsurpassable quality.  If you want to taste what lamb should taste like please visit Elysian Field’s website and find a way to get some.

Lamb Saddle from Elysian Fields

For our shawarma I used the best cut available, a saddle of lamb.  I boned it out leaving both the tenderloin and filet attached.  Then I made a paste from garlic, cilantro and ginger and spread it all over.

Seasoning paste for shawarma

I sprinkled a spice mix tentatively called “Shawarma Lamb Mix” all over the lamb and tied it up.  The spice mix was basically a mixture of black pepper, cardamon, fennel seed, cumin, star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, paprika, sumac and smoked Maldon salt.

Then I cooked our lamb in our almond wood fired rotisserie and cooked it for six hours basting it frequently with it’s own juices.  Obviously the picture below is chickens (stuffed with herbs and preserved lemons seasoned with Moroccan spices) spinning on our rotisserie…  Sexy, isn’t it?

We shave the lamb off when it is fully cooked and served it on flatbread we make in house.

I top the flatbread with a sauce made from Harissa Paste and Tomatoes, cover with shaved lamb dripping in it’s cooking juices, a salad of cucumbers, red onions and heirloom tomatoes flavored with sumac and parsley and mint, then drizzled with a tahini sauce (tahini, lemon juice, salt, pepper, lamb fat and shawarma spice mix)…  WOW is it good!  I sold out both Friday and Saturday nights.  Come soon to taste this dish!

Here is an incredibly bad shot from my camera phone:

the finished shawarma

Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn…  What an amazing book, absolute food porn for us Chefs and foodies alike.  The problem is two fold, first, it has me curing everything in sight.  I got five Kuni Kuni pigs from Cook Pig the other day.  I normally use them all for Porchetta but got a bug up my ass and decide to make a ton of charcuterie.  I suppose I should back up and mention that I am Chef of Figue Mediterranean in La Quinta, California. One of the big features of our operation is a charcuterie bar reminiscent of a high end sushi bar.  The intent was always that we would make our own charcuterie but I never had much time till now.  I suppose the whole opening a restaurant thing got in the way.

So today sous chef extraordinaire Alex Hernandez and myself set about curing everything in sight.  Filetto cured with Aleppo Pepper and Orange; citrus and fennel cured lonzo, pancetta, spicy guanciale and my first attempt at coppa…  I scared our sommelier Celeste because I told her that I would hang my meat in her wine box since the temperature and humidity was perfect.  I think the thought of over 100 pounds of meat hanging next to her great wine selections scared her…

Here are photos from the day’s work sprinkled with a few other forays into Charcuterie world:

Lamb Mortadella made from Elysian Fields lamb…  It tastes so good!  I have been serving it with house made Fig Pickles

Truffled Veal Sausage that I featured for my Bastille Day menu…  The focus was Famous Last Meals from the Bastille.  The Marquis de Sade ate these.

cures and a rather tattered kitchen notebook dating back to 2003

All in all we cured 100 pounds of freshly butchered pork.  We used the salt box method which essentially is rubbing every single crevice of meat in coarse sea salt, vacuum packing everything then letting it sit refrigerated for a few days.  The basic procedure for all whole muscle meats is the same.  What varied and will vary is the seasoning in the final curing.  Since my palate of flavors includes France, Italy Spain, Basque region, Lebanon, Greece, Morocco and anywhere else in the Mediterranean I have a lot of historical flavor combinations to pull from, not too mention the mixing of cultures.  In six weeks we will have a tasty selection of house meats for our charcuterie bar.

It’s hard to even fathom turning my oven on with summer’s heat so hot that if you dropped a grape it would turn to raisin before hitting the ground.  More and more my mind wanders towards thoughts like: Would an egg really fry if I dropped one on the sidewalk? Or could I really bake cookies on the dashboard of my VW Jetta? Yes, it’s my first summer in the Desert, yes it is hot, but that is no reason to stop cooking.  In fact, summer forces me to light the barbecue and explore outdoor cooking with renewed passion.

There are so many colorful theories as to the true origins of the term barbeque.  Ask a group of fervent believers and you will get a host of different answers.  The two most plausible originate with the French term ‘barbe a queue’ and the Taino Indian word ‘barbacoa’.

‘Barbe a queue’ comes from French speaking Haitians who were quite fond of spit roasting whole animals (and the occasional tourist) over slow burning fires. Barbe means whiskers and queue is the tail, therefore barbe a queue denotes a spit roasted whole animal skewered from it’s whiskers to it’s tail.

Others theorize barbeque is the Americanization of the Taino Indian term barbacoa, which refers to a framework of green wood built to slow cook fish and meats over an open wood fire.  When the Spanish made their way from the West Indies to the shores of our continent, they brought this cooking technique everywhere they conquered and pillaged.

By the early 1600’s, backyard barbeque feuds in Virginia were so frequent it was illegal to carry a firearm to one in Jamestown.  Probably even back then folks argued whether or not what they prepared was true barbeque. The word barbeque shows up in George Washington’s 1769 diary where he mentions that he traveled to Alexandria to attend a “barbicue”.

Lamb was the favorite meat of early barbeques giving way to pigs when Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto arrived in 1539.  Pigs adapted better to the lazy colonial lifestyle than cows.  Colonists found it easier to let the pigs run wild, foraging on wild apples, nuts and other goodies and then recapture them rather than to shelter and raise them.

The battle over authentic barbeque continues to rage to this date with no side emerging as the clear winner.  No matter what history you prescribe to, get out and enjoy, if for nothing else than to keep cooler inside.

Get yourself a copy of Desert Star for the photos and recipes or go to their website: http://desertstarweekly.com/

Last night, Lisa and I had the great pleasure of dining at Belgian restaurant Si Bon, a lovely simple eatery created by Edith and Philippe Caupain.  Philippe was opening Si Bon at the same time we were opening Figue.  He came in one day during construction at Figue to check us out and I had a great conversation with him.  My boss Lee spoke very highly of his cooking so I was excited to give it a try. My experience with Desert dining hasn’t been kind so to throw money at another restaurant lacking in quality scared me.  For instances, at lunch the same day, Lisa and I stopped in a Palm Springs seafood restaurant that was,  ‘GOD AWFUL’.

Thank god for bistros like Si Bon.  The food is absolutely fresh and delicious.  Our evening started by being greeted at the door by Philippe’s wife Edith and the dining room manager.  I apologize I forgot his name.  They seated us in the corner of the dining with a perfect view of the dining room and kitchen.  The dining room was simply decorated which perfectly fit our expectations.

We were inspired to eat by the small but well thought out menu with selections like ‘fried zucchini blossoms with goat cheese; Juniper Gravlax, Cucumber & Goat Cheese Dill Cream; 9 Holers Escargots Waffle; Pan-Fried Wild Oregon Sand Dabs with Capers and Lemon; and Veal Ravioli “Florentino” Tomato Basil Sauce or Alfredo.  We settled on the fried zucchini blossoms and “San Daniele” Prosciutto on a Toasted Waffles.   Philippe was kind enough to send out some waffles with gravlax for us to nibble on while we waited for our appetizers.  We ordered a bottle of Chateau du Prieur 2010 Bordeaux that was unbelievably approachable in it’s youth and an absolute steal at $30.  The waffles really steal the show at Si Bon.  Philippe said he has been working on the recipe for ten years now… it shows.  Forget every preconceived notion you ever have had about waffles.  These are not you diner or supermarket frozen waffles drenched in corn syrup and whip cream. Si Bon’s waffles are light as a feather and supremely crisp and are the perfect vehicle for a plethora of savory and sweet topping.  They danced with the gravlax and sang with the prosciutto.  I could have eaten about ten more easily.

The staff was highly trained and not pushy at all.  I cannot stand eating in a restaurant and having food cleared before everyone is finished.  Maybe it is a French thing.  I call it politeness.  I also cannot stand when restaurants bring food so fast you have no time in between courses to relax and restore yourselves.  The wait staff at Si Bon was brilliant in this aspect.  The waitress was remarkable in her anticipation of our needs.

For main courses we tried the steamed Mussels and braised short rib.  The big fat juicy mussels were from Penn Cove swimming in a well seasoned and delicious broth.  I do not know why but I was expecting some mayonnaise to dip my Belgian fries in. The only blemish of the dinner was the short ribs.  They were very good but not as special as everything else on the menu.  Maybe it is just I am jaded.  Lisa enjoyed them, guests all around us enjoyed them, but I just keep thinking about those damned waffles.

I normally am not a dessert person.  In fact, the only time I eat dessert is in France at the end of an extravagant meal.  I tend to prefer stinky, runny cheeses.  But at Si Bon, how can you leave without eating yet another waffle, especially doused in Belgian Chocolate and custard, topped with sugar and burnt like a creme brulee?  I could not.

We finished out excellent meal with two single espresso’s properly served at the end of the meal and not with dessert.  Pure paradise.  I cannot wait to go back and eat more waffles.  My Chef hat off to Philippe and his beautiful wife Edith for creating a very simple, casual bistro with amazing food.  I highly recommend eating there soon, before season starts again and you won’t be able to find a seat!

Si Bon Belgian Bistro

40101 Monterey Ave #E5 – RANCHO MIRAGE, CA 92270

Phone: 760/837 0011  –  Fax: 760/837 0051

Tarte Tatin has been popular worldwide since its birth at Jean Tatin hotel since its creation in the late 1800’s.   Jean Tatin opened his hotel (l’Hotel Tatin) in the 1800’s.  In 1888 his two daughters Caroline and Stéphanie took over when he passed away.  Caroline managed the books while Stéphanie cooked.  From morning to night, she worked in her kitchen.  She was a great and gifted cook but not the brightest of people. Her specialty was an apple tart, served perfectly crusty, caramelized and which melted in the mouth.

Tarte Tatin of Apples

The sisters were always busy during hunting season and their restaurant was exceedingly popular. One day, Stéphanie, running late because she had been flirting with a handsome hunter, rushed into the kitchen, threw the apples, butter and sugar in a pan and then rushed out to help with the other duties. The odor of caramel filled the kitchen, Stéphanie realized she’d forgotten the apple tart, but what could she do now? She decides to put the pàte brisée on top of the apples, pops the pan in the stove to brown a bit more and then turns it upside down to serve. Raves of delight emanate from the dining room. The story continues a bit from that first day. Curnonsky, the famous gastronome of the time, hears about the Tarte and declares it a marvel. Word of this new gastronomic delight reaches Paris. Maxim’s owner hears about it and he decides he must have the recipe.  He supposedly sent a cook/spy, disguised as a gardener, to Lamotte-Beuvron to discover the secret. The spy is successful, brings the recipe back to Maxim’s, and it has been on the menu of that famous restaurant ever since.  Our version features fresh California figs which currently are in season.

  • ¾ c.                Sugar
  • ¼ c.                Butter
  • 8                    Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cut into ⅛ths
  • 1                      Orange, zested
  • 1 pinch          Cinnamon
  • 1 recipe         Tarte Tatin Dough
  • Tarte Tatin Dough
  •  12 oz.             All Purpose Flour
  • ¾ t.                  Salt
  • 1 t.                   Baking Powder
  • ½ pound       unsalted Butter
  • ½ c.                ice cold Water
  1. For the Apples
  2. In a heavy gauged pan, preferably a 10” cast iron pan, caramelize sugar and butter.
  3. Add zested orange and cinnamon.
  4. Arrange apple pieces in a circle in the pan.
  5. Top with dough, tuck in edges around the sides
  6. Bake in a 500˚ oven till the dough is golden brown, about ten to fifteen minutes.
  7. Let cool slightly then flip over onto plate, dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
  8. For the Dough:
  9. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together.
  10. Cut the butter into small cubes and mix into the flour mixture.  You’ll know it’s mixed in correctly when it looks like coarse corn meal.
  11. Add just enough ice cold water to make a dough.  You want to be very careful NOT to over mix the dough or else it will be tough.  Flour develops gluten which acts very similarly to a muscle.  It’s what gives our bread and pastries structure.
  12. Let the dough rest for one full hour, or overnight.
  13. Roll the dough out to a 12” circle.


63 Degree Egg, Chilled Asparagus, Parmesan Fonduta

Sometimes copying is the sincerest form of flattery.  This dish originated in my repertoire after a cook book written by the folks of Boulevard.  Who doesn’t love a cook book with an obvious slant towards adding bacon to everything.  I never ate there but I love them!

Here is my version:

Asparagus Salad │ Chilled Asparagus, 63 degree Egg, Parmesan Fonduta, Crispy Speck, Baby Frisée

  • 20                    Asparagus Spears, cooked, cooled
  • 4                      63 degree Eggs, peeled
  • ½ c                 Parmesan Fonduta
  • 4                      sliced Speck, dried in oven for 2 hours at 300 degrees
  • 4 oz                baby Frisee
  • Parmesan Fonduta
  • 1 c                  Cream
  • ½  c             Parmesan
  • 2                      Egg Yolks
  • pinch             Nutmeg
  1. To Assemble:
  2. Lay five asparagus spears on rectangle plate.
  3. Spoon fondutta over stalks.
  4. Top with speck then egg.
  5. Cover asparagus base with frisée tossed in olive oil.
  6. Fonduta
  7. Boil cream, add cheese and nutmeg.  Whisk in egg yolks.

The True History of French Cooking
The Italian Myth of Catherine de Médicis Debunked

Catherine de Médicis was born in 1519 to a French mother, Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne, and Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino, in Florence, Italy. She was fourteen (1533) at the time she arrived in the French court of Francis I to marry Henry II, future King of France. Twelve ladies in waiting, also her age, numerous cooks, servants and the like accompanied her. The cooks and servants took care of the large group on the ship over to Marseilles and the overland trip to the Francis I court. As Esther B. Aresty states in her lovely book entitled The Exquisite Table – a History of French Cuisine, “But as far as installing cooks at the court of Francis I to serve her own needs – that would have been bringing coals to Newcastle, and unthinkable in any case with a monarch like Francis I. At that time his court was far more elegant than any court in Italy.” Historian Jean Heritier describes his court as “The foremost court in Europe.” There is no doubt that the Italian Renaissance had an effect on France. “… a French Renaissance had been in stride since the fifteenth century. True, the seeds had wafted over from Italy into France, as they had in other countries, but wherever the Renaissance took root, what matured from the semination emerged differently in each country – on canvases, in books, and in architecture.” Francis I brought great Italian artists like Da Vinci to work for him. “Francis adopted the pose of a chivalric King, the first gentleman of his kingdom, although his autocratic statecraft was imbued with a shrewd realism. His patronage of the arts was intended to augment the splendor of his court. He brought Leonardo da Vinci and other great Italian artists to France to design and ornament his châteaux. He employed Guillaume Budé in creating a royal library and in founding professorships of Greek, Latin and Hebrew, which formed the nucleus of the later Collège de France.” When Catherine arrived she was described as being unassuming and undemanding, even the Venetian ambassador labeled her as molto obediente.

From 1547 – 1559, Catherine reigned as Queen of France. To paraphrase “The Exquisite Table”, it is the misunderstanding of a quote attributed to Michel de Montaigne (1533-92), French essayist and philosopher, which has led some scholars astray. Montaigne was a prominent figure at the court late in Catherine’s reign as Queen. He is often quoted as praising Italian cooks at her court. “One encounter with such a cook, “late in the kitchen of Cardinal Caraffia,” and spoke of that cook’s “magisterial gravity” when discussing his art, “the weighty and important considerations… (in) lofty, magnificent words, the very same we use when we discourse upon the government of an Empire.” In fact he was joking and furthermore it didn’t take place at the court but actually when he was interviewing the cook as a perspective employee. To quote Mrs. Aresty “The conversation struck Montaigne as so hilarious that he was inspired to write an essay on “how to make little things appear big.” He called it On the Vanity of Words. In 1570, when Montaigne traveled to Italy he said, “Provisions are not half so plentiful… and not near so well (prepared).”

“French cuisine had been growing in its own national direction long before Catherine de Medici came to France, and was as fully formed by 1533 as cookery and dining then allowed. At best, all national cuisines were still medieval. Forks were not in general use. Spoon and finger foods were the rule: hashes, stews, potages and meats sliced thin enough to be speared on the point of a knife to be eaten by hand, or laid on a slice of bread and swallowed in a few gulps.” To understand the style of food in vogue in the Aristocratic courts one has to look back at how it came to be. For French references we need to look at the early works of Guillaume Tirel, a.k.a. Taillevent, master Chef to Charles V (1337 – 1380). The earliest known copies of Taillevent’s book date back to 1392. The recipes were organized by ingredients and methods. Le Viander is divided into sections on meat, entrements, fish, sauces, etc. His recipe for Civé de Veau could be considered a very early version of Blanquette de Veau. In the recipe he tells his audience to roast the veal on a spit or grill without overcooking. Then cut up the pieces and cook in fat with onions, mix with stale bread boiled in beef broth and wine, add the normal range of medieval spices that were infused in verjus. Also important to note are two other French books of the same period; Menagier de Paris written for the amateur cook and Chiquart’s masterwork, Du fait de Cuisine, which is considered by scholars as “Europe’s first true cookbook”. All three of these French books were written 100 years before Catherine’s birth. All three books had influences that directly led to the development of modern French cookery. Without trying to sound too corny I have always envisioned the progress of French cooking to be like a torch being passed from one kitchen to another, throughout the generations. Each Chef adding his or her particular spin and dimension to the culinary body. French food did not make gigantic leaps from Carême to Escoffier to Bocuse to today’s crop of great Chefs. There were many small steps in between that history has overlooked.

By the time of the 1600’s, the difference in the cuisine of Italy and France was very pronounced as evident by the two major works of that period, Le Vrai Cuisinier François by François Pierre La Varenne (1615 – 1678) and Opera di M. Bartolomeo Scappi, cuoco secreto di papa Pio Quinto by Bartolomeo Scappi (1540 – 1570) published I believe in 1570 but was still considered the benchmark of Italian cuisine. La Varenne warned his audience “to cook just long enough” while Scappi advocated overcooking. “Scappi presented the noble Maccaronis of Italian cooking in great variety; there were no macaronis in Le Vrai Cuisinier Francois, though present in fifteenth century English cookbooks. The Italian influence was in fact felt more strongly in England, where macaroni (macrow to the English) and spicy forcemeats called “Balles of Italy” appear…” In La Varenne’s works, he classifies preparations considered basic to French cuisine, bouillons, liaisons, roux, farces, etc.

In conclusion, I think it would be foolish to argue which cuisine is better than the other; first and foremost it is a matter of opinion and secondly they both are wonderful, vibrant and different. It is equally foolish to believe that two countries so close didn’t have culinary influences on each other. Both were conquered and occupied by similar peoples. Lastly, I think it is also foolish to believe that one single event defined a countries palate. A palate is a work in progress. Both nations had an established cuisine well before Catherine arrived on the scene.

Important Culinary Books

in the history of French Gastronomy 1373 to 1651

“Gourmandise is an enormous book, always open to whoever knows how to read it, and whose pages offer a series of moving tableaux, whose horizon spreads as far as the eye can see.”

~ Grimod de la Reynière

It has been suggested that French cuisine was unsophisticated prior to Catherine de Médicis. I suggest that there was a sophisticated national cuisine prior to Catherine that kept with the palate of the times and that while the Italian Renaissance did effect French cooking, it started with Platine in 1505, twenty-eight years prior to Catherine’s arrival in France. Catherine may have brought something with her, but most of what she is accredited in contributing has appeared in writing prior to her existence.

The Grand Masters of French Cuisine starts with the oldest French cookbook written in 1290 entitled Traité où l’on enseigne à faire et appereiller tous boires commes vin, clairet, mouré et autres, ainsi qu’a appareiller et assaisoner toutes viands selon divers usages de divers pays or “Treatise where one is taught to make and dress all drinks such as wine, claret, Mouré and others, as well as how to dress and season all meats according to the diverse countries”. Although other books were probably written, the second oldest French book comes 100 years later, in 1380 entitled Le Grand Cuisinier de toute cuisine, “The Great Cookbook of All Kinds of Cooking”. This book has come to be known as Viandier written by Guillaume Tirel whose nickname was Taillevent. In this cookbook, Taillevent gives us wonderful recipes such as Civé de Veel (an early version of Blanquette de Veau), Poached Mullets with sauce Cameline (a sort of relish), Grilled Mullets, Hochepot de Poullaille (Chicken Casserole), Sutil Brouet d’Engleterre (Chestnut Purée from England), Oeufs rôtis à la broche (spit roast eggs), Pâté d’anguilles (eel pate), and Cretonnée de Pois Nouveaux (Green Pea Puree with Chicken) among others.

On first look the food appears to be ancient compared to what we eat now. As a student of gastronomy I can tell you that Blanquette de Veau is still being prepared, as are grilled Mullet, Chicken Casserole, Chestnut Puree, Eel Pate and pureed Green Peas. One could say that the generous uses of what I term medieval spices are no longer in use today. I agree, but that was the fashion of the time. Spices had a great value and only wealthy people could afford them. Spices did not have the luxury of modern vacuum packing and transportation. Therefore spices lost much of their potency through inefficient packing and lengthy travel times from point of origin to the kitchen in France and Italy. I will admit I am not a scholar on early Italian works; some could even argue I am not a scholar on early French works. Perhaps Riccardo, Rogov, or someone else could help us with what the Italians cooked in the mid to late 1300’s. I am certain the cuisine would be similar.

The next book of note to appear on the scene is Le Ménagier de Paris (The Goodman of Paris), written between June of 1392 and September of 1394. Among the recipes, suckling pig stuffed with egg yolks, sausage, chestnuts, cheese, saffron and ginger; Chicken liver and gizzard stew, and eel stew stand out. The middle-aged author wrote the book for the benefit of his 15 year old bride, whom he felt could only give him “petit et ignorant service” without it. Apparently she had begged him to forgive her for her youth and the slight and imperfect service she could render. He wrote the book to quickly educate her on domestic science. The recipes, for the large part, are borrowed from Viandier, but a few new ones did appear.

In 1420, Chiquart Amiczo a book entitled Du Fait de Cuisine (On the Matter of Cookery). He was the Chef to the Duke of Savoy. His book dealt with food preparation as well as planning and arranging enormous feasts that lasted for several days. To quote Early French Cookery, “…staggering logistics involved in preparing for such a feast, even only two days’ duration. In order to allow for something like 57 dishes to be served, the cook must ensure the availability of 100 heads of cattle- to be slaughtered on the spot – along with 130 sheep, 120 pigs, 200 piglets, 200 lambs, 100 calves, 2,000 hens and 12,000 eggs to say nothing of the incredible quantities of wild game and fish, spices, herbs, fruit, sugar, wines, candles, firewood, filter cloth and so forth.” Du Fait de Cuisine gives us valuable information on the royal cuisine of the time.

Maestro Martino whose recipes appeared in the mid 1400’s in “De honesta voluptate et valetudine” (Of Honest Indulgence and Good Health) by Baptiste Platine de Crémone, did have dishes that appear to be more familiar with what we would label as Italian cooking today. In his book he lists dishes like Riso con brood di carne (a forerunner to Risotto Milanese), Ravioli in tempo di carne (ravioli for meat days), and Zucche Fritte (zucchini salad). But upon inspection, I see that medieval spices such as saffron, cinnamon and ginger figure prominently in these preparations. It is interesting to note that Riso con brood di carne is of Arabic origins. But, unlike Risotto Milanese, this dish uses eggs instead of grated cheese. The use of rice is also mentioned in Taillevent’s book. Platine, as the work was commonly known as, first appeared in print in France in 1505 under the name Platine en françois très utile et necessaire pour le corps humain, que traicte de honest volupté et de toutes viands et choses que l’ome mange, quelles vertus ont, et en quoy nuysent ou proffitent au corps humain, et comment se doyvent apprester ou appreiller, et de fair à chascune dicelles viands soit chair ou poysson sa proper saulce et des propriétés et vertus que ont les dites viands. Et du lieu et place convenable à l’ome pour abiter et de plusieurs gentillesses par quoy l’ome se peut maintenir en prospérité et santé sans avoir grant indigence d’avoir aultre médecin sil est homme de rayson or Platine in French, Very useful and necessary for the human body, which treats of honest pleasures and of all meats and things that men eat, what their virtues are, and how they hurt or help the human body, and how they should be prepared and dressed, and how to make for each one of these meats, either flesh or fish, its own sauce, and the properties and virtues that which he can maintain his prosperity and health, with no need to have any doctor, if he be a man of reason. One hell of a title to retype! Platine became very popular in France was published repeatedly for 100 years. The book details all the things eaten in the sixteenth century. He mentions 15 different salad plants. He describes how whale blubber was the fat used by poor people; that porpoise was a noble fish and that one should let it age. That it is better roasted than boiled. And if you are to boil it, it is better in wine than water. He also describes Catalan cookery.

The Italian influence continued with Opera nuova intitolata Dificio de recette, printed in Venice in 1541. The book was translated into French the same year and appeared as Bastiment de recettes (Edifice of Recipes). In 1551, a Parisian bookseller published Manière de faire toutes confitures (Manner of Making all Sorts of Confectionery). There is dispute whether the author was French or an Italian living in Paris. In 1552, Nostradamus published a book, which is most likely the first French pastry book entitled Le Confiturier Français.

Olivier de Serres’s book “Théâtre de l’Agriculture et mesnage des Champs (Theater of Agriculture and Care of the Fields) was printed in 1600 and completely revolutionized agriculture in France. De Serres encouraged their use in cooking and experimented with varieties never grown in France before. He suggested planting rice in Camargue and was the first person to talk about the advantages of the potato as food. Yes, well before Antoine Augustin Parmentier promoted their use in the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

In 1604, Lancelot de Casteau’s Ouverture de cuisine appeared, written in French outside of France by a non-Frenchman. It is one of the first books to list an international collection of recipes for both savory and sweets. Lancelot de Casteau described himself as a native of Mons, near Liège. Lancelot describes the menu of a banquet in 1557 where he served turkey, multi colored gelatins, medieval favorites such as roast swan, peacock pies and bustards. Further in the book he describes Italian specialties: raviolis, Bologna sausage and Parmesan cheese.

The next major work was that of Joseph Du Chesne. Le Pourtraict de la Santé (Portrait of Good Health) was published in 1606. In it he advises that nothing will restore “beaten health” like a leg of lamb with fresh breadcrumbs and lemon juice. He continues by telling us that sardines are best fried in butter and served with lemon juice. My favorite advice has to be that after dinner “everyone should stay at the table, without moving, for a good half hour, chatting agreeably with each other.” AMEN.

In 1607, a book entitled “Thrésor de santé ou mesnage de la vie humaine” (Treasures of Good Health or the Care of Human Life) was published. It is the first book to discuss regional favorite such as Saucisson de Lyon and Andouillettes de Troyes.

And finally, this brings us to “Le Cuisinier François” written in 1651 by Pierre de la Varenne. La Varenne was the founder of classical French cuisine. Dishes like: pumpkin pie, Boeuf a la mode, Oeufs a la neige, omelettes, beignets appear. Dishes like stuffed mushrooms, Chicken casserole with green peas, eel pate en croute, asparagus in cream sauce, and Ragout of rabbit are also included. He went on to write a pastry book as well.

In conclusion, I would like to see specifically how Catherine de Médicis, herself, affected French cuisine. For every chronicle of her feasts I can provide chronicles of feasts with similar lavish presentations. There is no doubt of an Italian effect on French cuisine, but it started before her, in 1505. I haven’t been able to find a book with a reference to her exactly, other than ones written in very recent history. I haven’t seen or heard of a book written by her Chef. I have however, listed many notable books from the French and Italians alike who wrote the books that the influenced the cooks of the time.

“No rule exists for such compositions;

they are at the mercy of the artist’s genius.”

Grimod de le Reynière

Watermelon and Tomato Salad

  • 1 small                         Watermelon, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick, cut into circles
  • 1 each                         Yellow Tomatoes, peeled, sliced ½ inch thick, cut into circles
  • 1 each                         Red Tomatoes, peeled, sliced ½ inch thick, cut into circles
  • 1 each                         Green or Black Tomatoes, sliced ½ inch thick, cut into circles
  • 2 T.                               fruity Olive Oil
  • 1 T.                               Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 c.                              Reggiano Parmesan, finely grated
  • Piquillo Sorbet
  • 1 T.                               Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 each                         Shallots, rough sliced
  • 28 oz. can                  Piquillo Peppers
  • 1 cup                           Simple Syrup
  • 1 t.                               Fleur de Sel
  • 1 T.                               Aleppo Pepper, or Espelette Pepper
  • 1 each                         Lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 T.                               fresh Thyme, chopped
  1. Sauté shallots in olive oil.
  2. Mix shallots, Piquillo peppers, simple syrup, fleur de sel, Aleppo pepper, lemon juice and fresh thyme and puree in a blender.
  3. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Reserve.
  4. Put small mounds of parmesan on a sil baking sheet and bake till melted, bubbly and lightly brown.  Let cool for a few seconds, then pick up and lay over a wine bottle.  Allow to cool fully retaining a rounded tile shape.
  5. Cut watermelon and tomatoes.
  6. Arrange tomato and watermelon circles on chilled plates.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and chill till you are ready to eat.
  8. At Dinner Time:
  9. Drizzle with fruity olive oil, balsamic vinegar and season with fleur de sel and black pepper.  Put a scoop of pipérade sorbet in the center and top with a parmesan tuile.

Nature is the perfect Chef. Things that grow in the same region, in the same season tend to go well together, especially fruits.  The watermelon and tomato combo may sound odd but it will be an epicurean epiphany once you try it.  It is so refreshing and easy to make and perfect for your next Desert dinner party.Try adding fresh mozzarella and basil or creamy Feta cheese.  They go amazingly well with watermelon and tomato.  Next time you make gazpacho add watermelon!Wine Notes

Dry rosés pair unusually well with summer produce. Rosés usually have wonderful watermelon flavors that do nothing but complement the flavors in the salad.  I would suggest a more robust rosé or perhaps a chilled light bodied red wine, such as a Gamay Noir.



Gauzzetto of Wild Salmon, Mussels and Shrimp

  • 2 oz.                             Olive Oil
  • 2 medium                    Carrots, peeled, sliced
  • 1 each                         Leek, cleaned, diced
  • 1 rib                             Celery, peeled, diced
  • 2 cloves                       Garlic, mashed
  • Pinch                           Saffron
  • 2 t.                               fresh Thyme Leaves
  • 1 T.                               Flour
  • 1 c.                              White Wine
  • 4 cups                          Fish Stock
  • 1 each                         Tomato, diced
  • ½ c.                             Tomato Sauce
  • Four – 4 oz. pieces        Wild Salmon
  • 24 each                       Mussels
  • 12 each                       Shrimp
  • 4 sliced                        Crostini
  • 1 T.                               chopped Parsley
  1. Mise en Place (before your party)
  2. Sauté carrots, leeks and celery in olive oil for about five minutes, or until tender.
  3. Add garlic and saffron and continue cooking till the aroma permeates the air and causes you to drool.
  4. Sprinkle flour and thyme and stir into vegetables.
  5. Deglaze with white wine and fish stock.  Bring to a boil and let simmer.
  6. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Check seasoning.  Chill.  Reserve.
  7. Fire (when your guests are seated)
  8. Bring Gauzzetto to a boil.  Add seafood.  Cook about five minutes, or until seafood is cooked.  Spoon into four warmed bowls, garnish with chopped parsley and a crostini then enjoy!

Chef NotesLeave the flour out if you are gluten intolerant.  The flour simply adds a bit of body.  Try adding a touch of chopped anchovy instead of salt.  The anchovies give it a more authentic flavor.  Try finishing with a splash of brandy.  Most importantly, use whatever seafood is absolutely freshest.  Remember recipes are simply guidelines rather than firm unbendable laws.  Cooking for family and friends is one of the best ways to express love and friendship.’Whoever receives friends and does not participatein the preparation of their meal does not deserve to have friends.’ – Jean Anthelme Brillat-SavarinWine Notes 

Ah, the age old question, white or red with fish?  Old wisdom would dictate a white but I think a light bodied red would work as well.  For white wines I would suggest a Viognier, Gewurztraminer or any other white varietal that has a touch of residual sugar to counterbalance the acidity in tomatoes and spice in the broth.  For reds, try a light Pinot Noir, Gamay, Sangiovese or Grenache.  Salmon and Pinot is always a fantastic combination.  If you can’t decide then default to Champagne.  Champagne goes with everything!



Pistachio, Polenta and Olive Oil Cake

  • Pistachio Cake:
  • 50 grams fine Polenta
  • 200 grams ground Pistachios
  • 50 grams Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • 125 ml. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 100 grams Butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 each Eggs
  • 200 grams Sugar
  • 1 each Lemon, zested
  • 1 each Orange, juiced
  • Silk Road Cherries
  • 250 grams Cherries, pitted
  • 25 grams Butter
  • 75 grams Sugar
  • 25 grams Pistachios, ground
  • 1 stick Cinnamon
  • Pinch Nutmeg
  • 1each Vanilla Bean, split and scraped
  1. Mise en Place (before your party)
  2. Mix polenta, pistachio flour, flour and baking powder together.
  3. Mix extra virgin olive oil and melted butter.
  4. Beat eggs and sugar till pale.
  5. Mix eggs into olive oil.
  6. Add wet to dry.
  7. Add lemon zest and orange juice.
  8. Butter and paper four – 4 ounce ramekins.
  9. Pour batter in and bake at 300 degrees till done, about ten minutes. Reserve.
  10. Melt sugar and butter together. Cook to light caramel.
  11. Add spices, vanilla, pistachio and cherries. Cook till liquid again. Reserve.
  12. Fire (when your guests are seated)
  13. Unmold a pistachio cake unto a ten inch plate. Top with cherries, drizzle sauce around and garnish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

You will have extra everything in this recipe. It is so good you probably won’t mind that fact. The batter for the pistachio cakes is better made one or two days ahead.

I forget exactly where I got this recipe for Lamb Mortadella, probably somewhere online.  Making mortadella, in particular Lamb mortadella, became a search for the holy grail kind of quest.  Still to this day I am not sure the exact cause for the allure.  I will say it became a huge hot with everyone that tried it and this recipe is the bomb!

  • The Forcemeat:
  • 6 # Lamb Leg, cube, freeze
  • 3 # Fatback, cube, freeze
  • 1 T. Garlic, mashed
  • 2 T. White Wine
  • 336 grams Ice (yes ice)
  • The Seasonings and Garnish
  • 66 grams Sea Salt
  • 24 grams Sugar
  • 1.5 t. Pink Salt
  • 1.5 t. Pepper
  • 2 t. Coriander Seeds, ground
  • 1 c. Pistachios
  • 12 ounces Fatback, diced, blanched
  1. The Forcemeat
  2. Keep all ingredients at 62 degrees. Gring one time through the large holes then one time through the small holes. Put in a mixer and beat well. Add in the seasoning and garnishes
  3. For Mortadella:
  4. Stuff in a large diameter beef bung and poach at 160 degrees for three hours, or until internal temperature of 160.
  5. For Mortadellini (my term)
  6. Stuff a pork casing and follow same poaching instructions except reduce time dramatically.



An episode from 2004 when I was Chef at Pili Pili in Chicago. Nice to see my wife featured in there amongst old friends.

This recipe comes at the request of my wife Lisa who enjoys hummus in all it’s forms and variations.  The history of Hummus is unclear with a few different nations claiming it as their own.  Chickpeas have been around the Mediterranean since forever though they likely came from Western Asia.  The Phoenicians introduced them to Spain.  Excavations around Languedoc show that wild chickpeas grew there.  Roman vendors used to sell roasted chickpeas at events throughout their Empire.  You can still find chickpea fritters being sold at events in the South of France.  I like serving  Hummus underneath Kibbeh and a refreshing Cucumber Salad.

Hummus with Kibbeh and Cucumber Salad

  • 15 oz              Chickpeas, cooked
  • ½  c.               Tahini
  • ½                     Lemon Juice
  • Water
  • EVOO
  • to taste          Sea Salt/Pepper
  1. Puree everything till smooth as silk.  Add enough water to achieve this.  Add as much olive oil that suits your taste!

Hummus should taste of chickpeas, tahini and a slight bit of lemon. That’s it.

“I have lived all my life in the name of good taste. Now I am to die by the hands of people with bad taste.”

 –          Madame du Barry

On 14 July, as they do every year, millions of French men and women will celebrate the fall of the Bastille in 1789. The passing years have shown, however, that the guillotine might have better served as a better symbol of the momentous events now recalled as the French Revolution. The truth is that life in the Bastille was simply not all that difficult. In fact, for many of those residing there, the Bastille may have been one of the best pre-revolutionary restaurants of Paris. During his own stay there, the Marquis de Sade passed his time washing down truffled sausages with fine Bordeaux wines. On the day the Bastille was actually liberated, there were only six “prisoners” in attendance. One, imprisoned for failure to pay his debts, insisted on staying in his three room suite long enough to finish his roast pheasant dinner. Another demanded that the crowd help him carry away the more than 50 bottles of wine that he had set aside for his use.

In fact, when the crowd tore down the Bastille, they were unknowingly carrying out a plan for which Louis XVI had already set aside funds. In what may be another interesting footnote to history, of the six liberated prisoners, three were eventually executed by the same people who freed them, two emigrated to America and one, Andre Dubois, harmless but quite insane, went on to become a member of the French senate.

French gastronomes of all classes were concerned with the influence of the revolution on their dining habits. Grimod de la Reyniere, a well known banker and gastronome of the ancien regime considered the Revolution little more than “an unpleasant interlude when austerity had to be simulated and chefs given their notice. If it had lasted”, he wrote, “France might have actually lost the recipe for fricasseed chicken.” One of his chefs, Antoine Broissard took it a bit more seriously. When Broissard discovered that he could not locate any Nantes ducklings to serve for dinner one evening, he hung himself in his kitchen. One of the problems that Reyniere did not dwell upon was that many of France’s most devoted gourmets ended both their revolutionary zeal and their gastronomic endeavors by a meeting with the falling blade of the guillotine.

It may be of some historic interest to know just what many of these people ate just before keeping their appointment with the Widow, as the guillotine was known. Danton, surely the most charming of the revolutionaries and a great gourmet dined on stuffed squab, fresh asparagus and raspberry sorbet before his execution. Robespierre, Danton’s rival but not a man who specially appreciated good food, supped on a thick lentil soup just before his own moment of truth. The Duke of Burgundy dined elegantly on salmon mousse and apple pie and Armond, the Prince of Conde had a light snack of salmon in mousseline sauce. As to the women, the only form of equality between the sexes that the legislators of the revolution believed in was the guillotine which decapitated members of either sex with equal dispatch. Marie Antoinette, Madame Roland and Charlotte Corday, the three most eminent women of the revolution were among its victims.

Marie Antoinette, executed as much for her rudeness to her jailers as for her royal position, sipped Champagne and ate truffled pate de foie gras before she was taken off for her final humiliation. The twenty five year old Charlotte Corday, who had slain the revolutionary leader Marat, declined a final dinner but nibbled on a chocolate éclair while standing on the platform of the guillotine, annoying the executioner somewhat because of what he considered an unnecessary delay in carrying out his duty. Madame Roland, the feminist of the group, dined simply on poached eggs, a small wedge of Brie cheese and an apple. Madame du Barry, the last great courtesan of the royal days, and a woman of elevated taste in food as well as in lovers, is said to have dined on raspberries with fresh cream before being carted off to the guillotine. Du Barry’s final words were: “I have lived all my life in the name of good taste. Now I am to die by the hands of people with bad taste.”

I am celebrating Bastille Day by making my interpretations of a famous last meal from the Bastille, the Marquis de Sade’s Truffled sausages.  I am serving them with potato puree and sauteed apples.

Marquis de Sade’s Truffled sausage

  • 26 ounces lean Veal
  • 9 ounces pork fatback
  • 18 grams fine salt
  • 2 grams ground white pepper
  • 1 gram ground nutmeg
  • as much Truffles as you can afford, about four ounces diced fine
  • about 5 feet medium hog casing
  1. Cut the meat and fat into pieces small enough to pass through grinder. Partially freeze.
  2. Grind the veal using a disk with ⅜” (10 mm) diameter holes. Grind the fat using a disk with 3/16″ (5 mm) diameter holes.
  3. Combine the meat and fat with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Chill thoroughly. Add as much chopped truffles as your budget will allow.
  4. Soak the casings in cold water until soft. Thoroughly rinse the casing inside and out.
  5. Set up a sausage stuffer. Fill the bowl of the stuffer with the forcemeat. Be careful not to leave any air pockets in the mixture.
  6. Slide the casing on the fill tube. Tie a knot at the end of the casing after it is fully on the fill tube.
  7. Fill the casing with the forcemeat. Do not overfill the casings. Guide the casing along the work surface as it fills.
  8. Tie a knot at the other end of the filled casing that comes off the stuffing tube. “Massage” the sausage to ensure that it is filled evenly. Twist the filled casing to make 5″ long sausages.
  9. Place the sausages on a rack and dry for a couple of hours in a refrigerator. Using a fine skewer or needle, puncture the skin over any visible air bubbles and puncture evenly along the length of the sausages.
  10. Use within a couple of days or wrap tightly and freeze.
  11. To cook the sausage, poach in 180 °F (82 °C) water until the interior temperature reaches 160 °F (71 °C). Drain and fry briefly in a hot pan to crisp the skin.

Paul Virant‘s book explores in depth different pickling techniques and recipes that are so easy to add to your repertoire.  I had done small amounts of pickling prior to picking this book up, now I am pickling everything.  I have made Sake Pickled Summer Tomatoes, Pickled Okra, Charred Spring Onion Pickles, Moroccan Pickled Baby Carrots and more…  Preserving goes hand and hand with the concept of our charcuterie bar.

Figue Mediterranean’s Charcuterie Bar

  • Yield: Three Quarts
  • 4 cups Water
  • 2.25 cups White Wine Vinegar
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 28 grams Sea Salt
  • 3 teaspoon Coriander Seeds
  • 3 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
  • 3 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
  • 3 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 6 teaspoons Harissa Powder
  • 51 ounces Baby Carrots, peel, blanched
  1. Boil all ingredients, except carrots.
  2. Stuff carrots in jars
  3. Seal jars, boil 20 minutes
  4. Let sit for a few weeks.

Ahi Tuna Flatbread│ Greek Aetopita, Ahi Tuna, Tomato Confite, Feta and Olives

  • ¼ c. Olive Oil
  • 4 oz Seared Ahi, sliced into four pieces
  • 1 t Fennel Pollen
  • 1 t dried Orange Zest
  • 1 ball Greek Flatbread, or pizza dough
  • 2 Plum Tomatoes, sliced and dried in oven
  • 3 oz Feta Cheese, diced
  • 10 Olives, pitted, halved
  • 1 oz Frisée Lettuce
  1. Marinate Ahi in olive oil, fennel pollen and dried orange zest for at least four hours.
  2. Arrange tomatoes, feta and olives over flatbread.
  3. Bake till done.
  4. Arrange tuna on top and garnish with frisée.


Lisa and I celebrated our tenth anniversary by dining at Figue.  All summer long Figue has been visiting various countries as part of a staycation program.  July is all about France.  Our bar is featuring various hors d’oeuvres typically found in Parisian wine bars that our bartenders have created French inspired cocktails to pair with; Celeste our Sommelier has picked a wide range of great French wines, we have a special Bastille Day celebration planned and all month long we are featuring a Brasserie styled menu loaded with all the classics of French cooking.  That’s what brought me in.  Good old fashioned French food.  Comfort food.

We started with two flutes of Champagne and a plate of Beausoleil Oysters from Eastern Canada.

We ordered a bottle of La Fleur Gazin and moved onto to Duck Galantine with Housemade Pickles followed by grilled Onglet (hangar steak) frites with Bearnaise and Short Rib Bourguignonne.

The steak frites were unbelievable.  I never have understood why people like filets so much.  They have a terrible consistency and almost no flavor in comparison to a rib eye or hangar.  The short rib Bourguinonne melted in my mouth and sang with the wine.

Next we had the Chocolate Pots de Creme.  Rich, deep chocolate yumminess!

Next was a trio of mignardises to nibble on with my cappuccino.  All together it was a great meal.  I hate saying that about my own food because I am really not egotistical.  I love French comfort food as it is what I grew up eating.  Please come and visit us this month at www.EatFigue.com

Thank God fig season is back!  French author George Blond once quipped the fig was “the manna of the Mediterranean countries.”  Especially if we take the dictionary definition literally, ‘Spiritual nourishment of divine origin.’ Figs have been cultivated since the dawn of time.  Assyria used figs as a natural sweetener; figs were grown in the hanging gardens of Babylon; they were important to the Phoenician economy; baskets of figs were buried with Egyptian rulers in the great tombs; they were the favorite fruit of the Greeks.  Figs first appeared in America in the 1600’s brought over by the Spaniards.  They were planted in California and known as Mission Figs.  90 % of USA production is in California.  Figs appear with great frequency on our menu at Figue Mediterranean (www.EatFigue.com).  One of our more popular fig dishes is our tagliatelli of figs and pancetta.

Tagliatelle al Pancetta e Fichi│ Hand Rolled Tagliatelle, Pancetta, Conserved Figs, EVOO

Chef François de Mélogue

Ingredients for four orders:

400 g                          Semi Dried Figs, sliced

160 ml                        Olive Oil

80 ml                          Balsamic Vinegar

to taste                      Sea Salt and Black Pepper

5 sprigs                      Marjoram

3 cloves                     Garlic, crushed

3 thick slices             Pancetta, diced

2 small                       Leeks, diced

30 ml                          White Wine

2 T                               grated Reggiano Parmesan

Mise en Place:

  1. Marinate figs in balsamic, olive oil, s/p, marjoram and garlic for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Heat olive oil and sauté pancetta and leeks for eight minutes, or until leeks are soft and pancetta is crunchy.
  3. Add figs and marinade and white wine.

To Order:

  1. Cook tagliatelli.
  2. Heat sauce.
  3. Toss together, top with grated parmesan and olive oil.

“Cooking by Hand” by Paul Bertolli is a book for Chefs and those who love food alike. I wish more cook books were written like this. It is extremely thorough and informative. I am going to make Mortadella this week because of it… Thanks Paul for an amazing book!

Ah, I am going to piss off family members and bouillabaisse purists with this one.  Bourride is bouillabaisse’s troubled cousin.  Try referencing food dictionaries and you’ll see as many different versions as there are books.  Some claim the only true Bourride is made solely with monkfish in a white creamy sauce, possibly flavored with crushed fish liver and others add saffron and orange.  I once had a prominent French Chef taste my bourride and tell me it was good, but not a true bourride.  I started making Bourride at the behest of a lawyer/book dealer friend of mine at ‘le Margaux’ way back in 1993.  He told me it was one of his favorite dishes and asked if I ever made it.  I don’t know why I lied, but I did.  I said with utmost confidence that it was a specialty of mine and of course, I would be delighted to make it for him whenever he could get in, hoping that day would be far off enough for me to make it a few times.  He made a reservation for the next night and was bringing twelve of his closest friends to indulge.  Panic snuck in as I combed through various cook books trying to find at least two books corroborating the recipe.  When I failed in that I figured the oldest book I had probably was the closest to a true Bourride.  I settled on the version written in 1938 in the first edition of the Larousse Gastronomique.  I followed the three paragraph recipe with my mother’s indifference to measurement and impressed the twelve top.  Over the years I have continued to make Bourride and think of my friend every time.  If you want to try my saffron and orange version come on out to Figue Mediterranean in La Quinta, California and I’ll be happy to make it for you!


  • 12                                Cockles
  • 12                                Mussels
  • 4                                  Scallops
  • 1 #                              St. Pierre
  • ½  head                    Fennel
  • 1 large                       Onion
  • 1 large                       Carrot
  • 1 large                       Tomatoes
  • 2 T.                              Pernod
  • loads of                     Garlic
  • 2 c.                             White Wine
  • 1 quart                      Shellfish Stock
  • 1 c.                             Orange Juice
  • 2 t.                               Saffron threads
  • 1 c.                             Olive Oil
  • 1                                  fresh Bay Leaf
  • 2 T.                              fresh Thyme
  • ¼ c.                         fresh Basil
  • 2                                  Egg Yolks
  • to taste                      Sea Salt
  • to taste                      White Pepper
  • 4 large                       Potatoes
  • 8                                  Garlic Croutons
  • 1 c.                             Rouille
  1. Carefully wash the cockles and mussels to remove any sand or grit. De – beard mussels.  Place all your seafood into a non-reactive pan.
  2. Chop fennel tops and spread over seafood.
  3. Add ¾ c. olive oil, 1 T. Pernod, pinch of saffron, and lots of chopped garlic and marinate for six hours.
  4. Julienne fennel bulb, onion, carrots, and tomato, then sauté in olive oil.
  5. Add remaining Pernod and white wine.
  6. When it starts to simmer, add shellfish stock, more garlic, orange oil, saffron, bay leaf, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper.
  7. Bring to a boil.
  8. Add seafood; cook till they are just done.
  9. Put seafood into a serving terrine.
  10. Whisk yolks and one cup of Rouille into cooking liquid, and then pour over fish.
  11. Serve with boiled potatoes, garlic crouton, and Rouille.

I am always looking for inspiration and new ideas and boy did I find a treasure trove in Yotam Ottolenghi’s book ‘Jerusalem’. What an amazing Chef! One day I would love to travel to London to eat at his place! Maybe next year!