The Best Breakfast in the World?

The best breakfast in the world?  Now there is a challenge!  For me it used to be a full english but I find that heavy and, unless it’s made with the best possible ingredients, not so good.  Migas was a favourite – not any old migas but migas from the original 59 diner.  With Hugo’ salsa of death.  But then a friend called Buddy took me to the French Press in Lafayette and frankly my life changed.  There I had Cajun Eggs Benedict and what an incredible breakfast it is…

It is rich  – so rich the term filthy rich doesn’t do it justice.  If it were a car it would be a Bugatti Veyron with baby armadillo leather trim and a case of Krug 1988 Brut in the passenger seat and with Ursula Andress in that Bikini opening the door for you.

I might be digressing.

But with this depth of richness it needs to be a special occasion meal.  You know the sort – a hangover might be involved.  So what is it? Well start with thick buttered toast, topped with boudin and a beautifully poached egg sitting as a crown of yolky(!) goodness.  All covered in Gumbo roux style gravy with smoked sausage. Its hard to describe just how well the flavours and textures blend to be the perfect mix. I had to try and recreate this……

Donald Link’s Real Cajun is full of great recipes.  In there is his recipe for Boudin.  You should really buy the book but just for the boudin look here.  I used this for my boudin. Continue reading “The Best Breakfast in the World?”

Unskinny Bacon

Here in Paris buying bacon can be a challenge.  Well not really if all you want is lardons…… you can buy those with ease anywhere.  But actual rashers of bacon – that’s another matter.  If you do get them they tend to be so wafer thin you just cannot peel them out of the packet without ending up with an absolute mess.  And just occasionally 🙁 that just does not work for a proper bacon sandwich.  Something Evie has become more than partial to.  So it was back to MEAT by HFW, John’s posted about it before, and curing our own bacon.  It’s very simple.  I went off to Les Sablons outdoor market and bought some pork belly.  Really getting to know one of the butchers there now and getting some great produce. Recognising the same merchant makes a big difference here as you build a rapport. Once home the bacon was rubbed in course salt into which was mixed brown sugar, bay leaves, a little BBQ dry rub and a secret hickory smoked salt (from Central Market – one of my must visits whenever in Houston).   Continue reading “Unskinny Bacon”

When You Least Expect It!

Just sometimes something happens that takes you completely by surprise. Sometimes it’s not such good news and at other times it brushes a smile right across your face. Arrival in France has taught us an enormous amount about wine, but frankly the beer selection here is dreadful on the whole. You would have thought with what is in reach the opposite would be the case and there a a few good local brews but on the whole ale very much takes a back stage to vin.

So I was off to Italy to review some of our operations there. I needed to go and see our bunkers which were quite a distance from the base. We drove for over an hour to get there and the country side reminded my of Norway to an extent – glaciers carved this landscape. We toured around the bunkers with me doing my inspection, guided by the chap who runs them. After an hour or so when I had reviewed everything it was time to head off when the casual remark was dropped that we off to see his other “fireworks”… We had been visiting bunkers after all. So off we head Comunanza and stop at a house in the centre of town. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect…. We walked round the house to the back street to see a large under ground garage and the best sign in the world “Birrificio”! So the gent who runs the bunkers (and a farm, and organises the local horse festivals) has just started his own micro brewery and in we went to meet his brew master. As we stood by the fermentation tanks he ran through the process for us.  He started brewing an apple flavoured beer and it was so popular people were asking for it so he started using a nearby by brew house.  Now they have gone it alone. I explained how in a recent location I had learned to brew from barley – malting it ourselves and going through the whole process.  The first one we made was sooo bitter!  Explaining this and where we were caused some laughter as we sampled the three brews on the run right then.  All of them fantastic.  It was as I was lifting the first one to my lips that I got that wonderful aroma that frankly your run of the mill mass brewed amber fizz just cannot compete with. For a moment I was rushed back into the Gingerman in Houston or the Flowerpots in Cheriton where real beer lives. It was heaven.

You can have a quick look at there website… The fairy theme comes from the fact that fairys live in the near mountains and valleys. Frankly (if I wasn’t already married) if fairys look like that I would be hiking a great deal more in Italy! Perhaps after a few glasses they become easier to find! Any way its hard for me to write what a truely wonderful experience the whole thing was.

And another benefit of going to Italy – learning how to cook pasta properly and pair it with olive oil. Cath has always loved pasta but frankly I haven’t – too used to the squishy, sauce covered mop we too often get. I am converted…. We had pasta twice already this weekend! And as I have been hopeless with Christmas cards this year… HAPPY CHRISTMAS.. Let’s hope  2012 is a good one.

As Fate Has It?

I have to share this – sorry not our own recipe but food is all about sharing none the less!

So only 6 months ago family B was living in Saudi. Not much to do there (that’s a subject open to discussion) so cooking was an excellent means of entertainment. Somehow I had been on the web and found a recipe for a “secret sauce”. How could one resist? It was for steak and one thing you could buy in Saudi was some excellent beef. Food shopping was a family highlight and the ranges of foods was amazing IF you were willing to explore. I found an amazing asian supermarket for instance is a search for Dashi. I digress….
So we bought the ingredients for said secret sauce – it was apparently a copy of the sauce from Relais de Venise – sometime called Entrecote. Here is the recipe taken from a chap online.

1 tbsp olive oil
2 large shallots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 bunch tarragon, leaves removed and chopped
1/4 cup white wine
4 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
Heat olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and shallots until soft. Add the stock and simmer for a few minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except the butter and transfer to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth, return to the pot on low heat and reduce for several minutes if the sauce is too thin. Stir in butter to finish.
Makes enough sauce for six to eight servings of steak.

You can find it here.

Any way we loved the recipe! It went down well with some local grape juice. It is rich, silky smooth and if you are savoury vs sweet then you will finish it off with your fingers!

Cut forward to January this year. I am looking for an apartment for everyone in Paris. One night home late I see a small queue to enter a bistro… I join it as I look up in the rain and see “Relais de Venise” home of the sauce!!!! Wow!!!

So in I go – it’s packed. Jeffery Saad has called it touristy – I disagree, at least the night I was there there appeared to by hundreds of Parisians tucking into sumptuous steak, frites and that sauce! The atmosphere was amazing. The lady who runs the place was on the door – glamorous and incredibly efficient. Was the sauce superb?… hmmmmm that’s so hard to say. Truth said we have massively enjoyed cooking it at home. It’s not a perfect match but sod that as it is great. We had it last night – apparently best batch thus far. Please enjoy…. and how weird to find the recipe by accident in Saudi and months later to find it home again by accident! By the way we use it with Cote De Boeuf now! mmmmmmm Cote de Boeuf – the one cut the french have right…


Tartiwhat? Tartiflette I say…. I first had this dish in a small motel while training a school recently. The motel to be honest is not the most up market affair but that is easily made up for the by lady who pretty much runs everything. She always seems absolutely upbeat and is happy to kindly rib her guests- she just seems to be a glass half full person. One night I got in a little late and asked what the special was. Tartiflette I was informed and after a brief description was none the wiser. However on arrival it proved to be superb comfort food. A little research seems to indicate this simple dish is not as well known as many other French dishes but seems to be gaining popularity. It’s simple to make and here is my take….
Potatoes – any that don’t fall apart on boiling and are a good size.
Reblochon Cheese – make the effort to find it!
Onion- one good size
Cream-small tub
Garlic Clove
400g Bacon (mmmmmmmmm bacon!)
Salt and pepper

Peel about 750 grams of potatoes and slice-not too thin and not too thick (how’s that for specific? OK try 1/4inch). Please no comments on mixing units! Put on the boil in salted water for 10 to 15 minutes. Basically cook them quite well through but not so they fall apart and have a bit of firmness. At the same time dice a good sized onion and sweat in some butter and a dash of olive oil. Do not brown the onions. Add 200g to 400g of bacon lardons and fry off gently with the onions with a glove of chopped garlic. As ever avoid pinching all the bacon here. 400g is for those who love bacon and have a weak will. Take a shallowish non metallic baking dish and butter it. Layer potatoes on the base and place some of the onion and bacon mix on top. Take half a reblochon cheese and dice it up roughly- rind and all. Put some of the cheese on top to the potatoes, onions and bacon. Season lightly. Repeat the layers. Drizzle some cream over the dish – a small tub should do as it does not want to be too “liquidy“. Pop in a preheated oven for 20mins or so at 200 degC. Top should crisp up nicely as should the top potatoes if you got the liquid right.
Enjoy! Simple and superb….