Lobster Burger with Foie Gras and Yellow Tomato on Vanilla Brioche

One of the most beloved delicacies in French cuisine is foie gras while one of the most beloved foods in America is the burger. So what better way to introduce your friends to French dishes than to present them with this fusion dish. This is especially great for those who are reluctant gastronomic adventurers. And don’t worry, a healthy helping of  Lobster Burger with Foie Gras and Yellow Tomato Vanilla  Brioche will not disappoint, even those who are new to French cuisine.

Serves: 6

10 oz raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 oz sole
1 squeezed lemon
4–5 oz heavy cream
A dash of Tabasco Sauce
Salt or sea salt, to taste
Ground white pepper
2 tsp Spice de Cosette
1 lb raw lobster meat (small dice from whole lobsters or diced raw tail meat; see Note)
1 Tbsp chopped dill
1 oz shallots, diced and sautéed
6 slices foie gras
12 enriched vanilla brioche buns
12 yellow tomato slices
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 oz frisée
1. Place the shrimp and sole in a food processor and puree. Add the lemon juice, cream, Tabasco, salt, white pepper, and Spice de Cosette.

2. Remove the puree from the food processor and place in a bowl with the diced lobster meat. Add the dill and sautéed shallots, mix well, and let the mixture rest for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.

3. Shape the mixture into 6 equal patties and grill 1–3 minutes on each side.

4. When the burgers are almost done, place a heavy iron skillet on top of the grill, pour some extra-virgin olive oil, and cook the foie gras in medium temperature.

5. Split the buns and place a slice of yellow tomato on the bottom of each. Place a lobster burger on top of each tomato slice and a slice of foie gras on top the tomato. Place some frisée on the foie gras and cover with the top half of the bun.

Note: Lobster meat can be difficult to remove from the shells. Plunging the whole lobsters into boiling water for1–2 minutes makes the job easier. The lobster should not be fully cooked for this recipe.

If you know how to use a food processor, a grill, and a skillet, then this recipe would be easy as pie to follow. Plus, you don’t have to scour the city for the ingredients because they’re quite easy to find in most supermarkets. The lobster and the foie gras might be a bit too pricey for an everyday fare though. More so if you’re only making it for yourself.  So I suggest you make Lobster Burger with Foie Gras and Yellow Tomato Vanilla  Brioche during those special occasions, especially when there’s somebody around you want to impress.

7 Top French Chefs of All Times

French cuisine is among the most interesting cuisines in the world today. It is one of the oldest and most stylish cuisine out there. And this is partly due to the wonderfully brilliant and amazing French chefs that have made innovations and breakthroughs in the French culinary world. Now here are the seven top French chefs that have had huge contiributions in the history of French cuisine.

7. Bernard Loiseau

Bernard Loiseau was born on January 13, 1951. He first got interested in the culinary arts when he was a teenager. At that time, he was an apprentice of the famous Troigros brothers in Roane at their equally famous restaurant La Maison Troigros for about three years. He was among the biggest supporters of the simpler and more delicate dishes of Nouvelle Cuisine, and his restaurant La Côte d’Or was among the most sought after dining places in France. In fact, he was such an icon of the said style that many believe he inspired the character “Auguste Gusteau” in the highly popular animated movie “Ratatouille”. Sadly though, he committed suicide on February 24, 2003 due to depression caused by his restaurant being downgraded in the Gault Millau guide and being threatened with the removal of one star in the Michelin guide.

6. Joël Robuchon

Joël Robuchon was born on April 7, 1945 in Poitiers, France. He is considered to be among the best and most influential chefs in the world today. In fact, he has been given the Meilleur Ouvrier de France award in 1976 and declared by Gault Millau as the Chef of the Century. As with most famous chefs, he has a chain of popular restaurants, most of which have been awarded Michelin stars, and has also published several cookbooks. His restaurants can be found in major cities around the world. Moreover, he is the mentor of the equally awesome chefs Gordon Ramsay, Eric Ripert, and Michael Caines.

5. Paul Bocuse

Paul Bocuse was born on February 11, 1926. Bocuse is among the proponents of Nouvelle Cuisine and has made significant contributions to French cuisine throughout his career. He was the inventor of the famous truffle soup and has founded the internationally famed Bocuse d’Or, a world chef championship that happens every two years in Lyon, France. According to TIME Magazine, Bocuse is the “grumpy pope of French cuisine” due to the many significant culinary heritage and innovations he has contributed to the world of French cuisine. There are even rumors that he may be about to receive the “Chef of the Millennium” award this year from the culinary Institute of America.

4. Georges Auguste Escoffier

Georges Auguste Escoffier was born on October 28, 1846. Escoffier is among the most notable names in the history of French cuisine. He has been credited by some as one of the founders of modern French cuisine because he was the first to simplify the traditional way of cooking in France. He published many famous cookbooks and invented the delectable dessert we call “peach melba”, which he made in honor of Australian soprano Nellie Melba. Of all his achievements in French cuisine, perhaps the most significant one was his collaboration with the famous Cesar Ritz of Hotel Ritz. He ran the restaurants in several Hotel Ritz and established quite a name in Haute Cuisine as a result. In fact, has been dubbed the “Emperor of Chefs” by Kaiser Wilhelm II for his culinary genius. And in 1920 he was given the National Order of the Legion of Honour, among the highest accolades awarded in France, for his influence and accomplishments in the culinary arts.

3. Marie-Antoine Carême

Marie-Antoine Carême was born on June 8, 1784, which was around the time of the infamous French revolution. He was dubbed the “chef of kings” because his services were most often requested by French society’s elites, even including Napoleon Bonaparte. He was also called the “king of chefs” because he was considered to be the biggest influence of Haute Cuisine in the history of France. He started out as a kitchen helper in a restaurant and then as an apprentice to the pastry chef. It was as a pastry chef apprentice that he started experimenting with elaborate food presentations that made him quite popular among France’s high society. By the time he was in his twenties, he was cooking for a French diplomat and a couple of foreign kings. In his lifetime, Carême modernized and organized the kitchen, wrote several cookbooks with hundreds of recipes, designed the standard chef’s hat, invented new sauces and categorized them, and wrote tutorials on his elaborate pastry sculpture

s. For Carême, presentation is as important as the food that’s being served.

2. François Massialot

François Massialot was among the first popular French chefs in French cuisine history. He was thought to be born sometime in the year 1660 in Limoges, a city in west-central France. He was the chef of several members of the French nobility including Marquis de Louvois, Philippe 1, and Philippe II. Massialot was quite proud of the fact that he cooked for French nobles and even considered himself as some sort of royalty in the world of French cuisine. His most influential contribution to French cuisine are his cookbooks, which were translated into English in 1702 and had been used by other professional chefs until the 1900s. It was also in his cookbooks that crême brulée and meringue recipes first appeared in print.

1. Guillaume Tirel

Guillaume Tirel, more popularly known as Taillevent, was born in the year 1310 in a place called Pont-Audemer, which is somewhere in northern France. Tirel was the chef of the royal French court from the reign of Philip VI until Charles VI. His biggest contribution to French cuisine was the cookbook Charles V commissioned him to compile. It had all the recipes of the food he served in court during his years as head chef. The cookbook was entitled Le Viandier and was, according to experts, the first cookbook in the history of French cuisine. Another influence attributed to Tirel was the consumption of red wines produced in Burgundy and the south of France. By the time of his death he was cooking for Charles VI under the title Head of the Royal Kitchens.

Do you recognize any of the chefs mentioned in this list? Are you a fan of any of them? Well, fan or not, you cannot deny the great influence these men have contributed on the great art of French cooking. It is mostly due to them that French cuisine has become the exquisite tradition that it is today.

 

7 Tips on Buying French Cheese

French cheese have grown quite popular these days. Some use it as an ingredient of a favorite dish, others put it in their favorite bread, while others still eat it as it is along with a glass of red wine. However, there are some people who just find it hard to choose that perfect round of Camembert or Brie; or know where to get it. Well, I am no expert but here are seven tips that might help you get that favorite French cheese you want to buy on your next trip to the market.

1. Know what’s in season

As I might have mentioned before, among the most important aspects of French cuisine is the ready availability of ingredients. It is the same with cheeses. Experts say that some cheeses are best during particular seasons. For instance, Camembert is best during spring while Beaufort is tastiest in autumn. Remember, dishes in French cuisine are often seasonal; the same thing goes for French cheeses.

2. Buy from specialist shops

As with most things, it is best to get them from the experts. More often than not, specialist cheese shops or fromageries get their cheeses only from the best cheese makers. They very rarely get their products from factories that mass produce cheese. In fact, most specialist cheese shops actually only buy from small farms that make one particular kind of gourmet cheese. This means that specialist cheese shops would most likely have the best, or near that level of quality, brands of each type of French cheese. However, there is a downside to this. Most products from specialist shops are more expensive than those sold in supermarkets. So you have to decide which one’s more important to you, quality or affordability.

8 Interesting Facts on French Cuisine

French cuisine has been gaining fans for centuries now. And there’s really no puzzle about it. French food is amazingly rich, both in flavor and tradition. And they can be really stylish as well, especially if you go to one of those fancy French restaurants. So for all those French cuisine aficionados out there, here are 8 interesting facts on this wonderfully popular cuisine.

1. Dinner has four parts

French cuisine is noted for its painstakingly careful preparations and dinners could often be a whole evening affair. In fact, a typical dinner in France consists of four parts; a) appetizer, b) main course, c) cheeses and bread, and d) dessert. Sometimes, an alcoholic drink called a digestive is even offered after dessert. Amazing, right? But then, if you were forced to have dinner with annoying relatives, it could be quite an excruciating ordeal. Haha.

2. Lunches last at least two hours

For the French people, food should be consumed with as much care as they were prepared. In fact, lunch breaks are no less than two-hour midday breaks for people in the cities. Yes, most offices in France give employees two hours every day for lunches. And if you work in a small town, you could be even luckier because breaks there could be more than two hours. Lucky employees! I mean, who wouldn’t want to have two-hour lunch breaks?

3. Wines are as important as meals

During main meals, the French typically puts two glasses for each plate. Why? Well, one is for water, the other is for wine. Yes, they would more often than not have wine with their food. And yes, that story about children in France being allowed to drink wine with meals might very well be true. You see, the French believe that wine is an integral part of meals. But of course, they make sure they serve wine that would complement the meal. I believe the old rule of “white wine for seafood and poultry, red wine for red meat” applies, most of the time.

4. Aperitif is served with appetizers

When I first heard about this, I thought it could just be any drink that you serve to guests while they wait for the appetizers, such as soda or juice. I know! I could be such an ignoramus sometimes. But actually, aperitif is an alcoholic drink, usually a cocktail. And it is served along with, not before, the appetizers. Cocktails that could serve as great aperitifs are martinis, gimlets, and manhattans.

5. Truffles are fungi, not chocolate confections

In France, when you mention truffle, people wouldn’t be thinking about a flavorful chocolate ball. They would be thinking of an aromatic fungus that would be perfect for an omelette. You read that right! Truffles are fungi. They are found mostly in Western Europe and they are collected in the wild by sicking pigs, or dogs, on them. I’m not joking. Pigs and dogs are used to find these fungi because they’re the only animals that could smell and find them, as these are usually buried underground.

6. Dishes are often regional

I have read somewhere that one of the reasons French cuisine has excellent dishes is because most French chefs use only fresh ingredients. This means that their recipes have ingredients that are readily available at local markets. For instance, towns near the sea would most likely serve seafood dishes. On the other hand, places in the south of France would often use fruits and vegetables in their recipes because, due to their mild climate, those are the ingredients they have in abundance.

7. There are three types of French cuisine

Apparently, French cuisine is a category with its own subcategories. Stylish, right? Now, the three types of French cuisine are; a) Classical French Cuisine – mainly regional dishes; rich and filling dishes, usually uses cream-based sauces, a-1) Haute cuisine – the more expensive and classier type of Classical French cuisine, most often served in French restaurants outside France, b) Cuisine Nouvelle – simpler and lighter recipes, portions are smaller, heavy cream sauces are avoided, mainly seasonal dishes using local ingredients, c) Cuisine du terroir – mainly regional specialities, strictly uses local ingredients, and food traditions are the main focus when cooking.

8. Italian influences

According to experts, and I’m not sure if this has really been confirmed by meticulous fact checkers, French cuisine is believed to have started right around the time Henry II married the Italian royal consort Catherine de Medici. It is said that Catherine was very fond of parties and festivities. And when she came to France to marry the king, she brought with her an entourage of the finest chefs and pastry makers from Italy at that time to help her organize all the lavish feasts she wanted to hold.

Well, do you know of any other interesting factoids about French cuisine? If you do, don’t hesitate to share. You can never know too much about something as delectably rich and intriguing as French cuisine.

 

French Culinary Revolution

Being genuinely interested in the history of French cuisine, I have recently researched how the French Revolution, in general, and the personality of Napoleon Bonaparte, in particular, influenced the culinary future of France. Even now, two centuries later, many gourmet innovations brought forth by both the Revolution and the glorious conquests of “Empereur des Francais Napoléon I”, have not lost their popularity among connoisseurs of French cuisine from all over the world.

Historical chronicles show that Napoleon Bonaparte, apparently, loved good food and ate well… His reign in the beginning of the 18th century witnessed the refinement and rise of modern-style French cooking, which was enriched by Napoléon Pastries, Chicken Marengo, and Lobster Thermidor. The famous layered Napoléon Pastries, also known as Napoléons, were created by chef Marie-Antonin Careme, who is often referred to as the father of gourmet French cuisine. Careme is also famous for their invention of puffy “chefs’ hats” and the introduction of soufflés into French cuisine of the Napoleon era.

At the same time, that period was also noted for the onset of some questionable methods of cooking and preserving food, such as canning  – a truly revolutionary way to supply French troops fighting in Prussia and Russia with “quality ration”. During early military campaigns of Napoleon, scurry, starvation, and malnutrition were raging among his soldiers. Later, one of the first celebrity chefs of France, Nicolas Appert, invented the method of boiling bottled or canned food in water to stop its spoilage, for which the French government awarded him with a prize of 12,000 francs. His first commercial cannery established in Paris became a thriving business, even though the opening methods of these early preserves were far from modern. Usually, soldiers had to just smash the “cans” open with heavy rocks…

When Napoleon became a dictator of France, he also introduced a strict control over the food prices, which was a good measure to make basic staple foods accessible for the masses. The lessons of the French revolution led by hunger were obviously still fresh!

French “Guides Rouges” Names Tokyo the Most Delicious Place on Earth

In accordance with 107-year old and world famous “Guides Rouges”, a food connoisseurs’ bible published by the French company Michelin, the capital of Japan is ranked the best gourmet city of the world, leaving behind Paris, New York, and London. The first Michelin Guide for Tokyo lists 150 Tokyo restaurants, all of which are rewarded with at least one star and eight are given a high three-star estimate. This impressive amount of stars beats total restaurant ratings listed in the guides for such “gourmet cities” of the world as London and Paris, which officially makes Tokyo the world leader in fine cuisine and dining.

Such gourmet triumph of Japan’s capital should not be surprising – the country is famous all over the world for its biggest fish market, fresh seasonal produce, best-quality foods, and long-established love of the Japanese for exquisite and perfect dishes. Interestingly enough, about half of all TV programs is Japan are somehow related to food and the total amount of registered restaurants, canteens, sushi bars, and other eateries in Tokyo alone is over 190,000!

The initial work to create a list of the 1,500 most popular Tokyo restaurants was accomplished by a group of five food inspectors – both Japanese and European. During the second stage of evaluating, Michelin inspectors for 18 months were paying anonymous visits to the selected restaurants to taste the food and rank the service and interior.

Over two thirds of the Michelin list of fine Tokyo restaurants mention traditional Japanese dining, yet classic French cuisine is also well represented, especially among three-starred dining establishments. According to Michelin, the best French restaurants in Tokyo are: Joel Robuchon, L’Osier, and Quintessence.

Michelin’s turn towards Japan reflects this bible of French gastronomy’s desire to modernize its a bit heavy old-fashioned image and broaden its range of international culinary experience. Besides Japan, the guide has been recently expanded to 21 countries, with the latest published list featuring the finest dining locations of Los Angeles.

Simple French Food by Richard Olney

The book “Simple French Food” has been recently written by one of the most skilful American experts in French cuisine, an enthusiastic advocate of authentic French cooking, Richard Olney. His previously written books include a number of popular paperbacks and hardcovers

on the subject, such as “The French Menu Cookbook”, “Lulu’s Provencal Table: The Exuberant Food and Wine from the Domaine Tempier Vineyard”, “Richard Olney’s French Wine & Food: A Wine Lover’s Cookbook”, “Provence: the Beautiful Cookbook”, and “Ten Vineyard Lunches (Ten Menus Series)”. An accomplished cook, the author of “Simple French Food” is famous well beyond the borders of the USA for his delicious recipes featuring wholesome, healthy meals easily to prepare in any household. One of the best and most accurate reviews of this book belongs to Nika Hazelton from The New York Times: “Simple French Food has the most marvellous French food to appear in print since Elisabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking…. The book’s greatest virtue is that the author…really teaches you to cook French in a way I’ve never seen before. Here you acquire the methods, the tour de main, the tricks that are the heart and essence of French food, unforgettable once acquired in this book because of their logical, well-explained presentation.”

The book is not only a collection of guidelines, kitchen hints, and cooking instructions, it is also an excellent piece of writing that is able to render the appearance, flavour, and taste of delectable French dishes. Olney, unlike many American authors, favours traditional, rich ingredients that give the most authentic taste to cooking. For instance, his recipe of French-style scrambled eggs includes generous amounts of butter and describes a smooth and creamy texture of the ready dish. Another feature of “Richard Olney cuisine” is an emphasis on simple and inexpensive vegetables that he turns by his art into a delight of almost every meal.

This great book is a must-read for every connoisseur of French cuisine. But do not be deceived by the word “simple” on the cover – even the simplest French recipe requires time, effort, and LOVE to be incorporated into cooking. The rewards are worth the effort – lamb shanks with garlic, roasted calf’s liver, Pommes de Terre… you will find there hundreds of exquisite recipes that will transform your kitchen into a culinary temple of the fancy taste from Paris, Provence, and Lyon.

Most readers have given “Simple French Food” 5 stars. Read, cook, and enjoy!

Basil – an Indispensable Herb of French Cuisine

In many cultures, basil is treated as a sacred herb. In India, it is an object of veneration, which is planted in temples and monastery gardens. It is believed to have a power to cure diseases and kill both mosquitoes and demons thriving in the open air. In ancient Persia and Greece, basil was associated with the world of spirits, and therefore, was often planted on graves. In ancient Rome, the herb was considered a sexual stimulant eaten by lovers to promote the “fire of love” and boost fertility…Today, basil is an important plant of Mediterranean cuisine, and especially it is praised in both French and Italian cooking. The French call basil the “royal plant” – “l’hebre royale”, and there is a good reason for that. In accordance with research, the scent of basil has a salutary effect on people’s disposition and outlook. Brewed into a tea, basil is great for the gastrointestinal tract as it can relieve gas and even combat dysentery. Just like mint, the basil’s closest relative, it is easy to cultivate in a garden or in a pot at home. And, of course, it has a pleasant and unique taste, which makes it an indispensable ingredient for the preparation of many dishes. Especially beautifully does basil go with tomato, fish, and meat dishes.

In French cuisine, basil is one of the most important herbs. Very often, the French put torn basil leaves in salads of sliced tomatoes, lightly seasoned with Celtic sea salt (very healthy unrefined sea salt harvested in France), freshly ground black pepper, and virgin olive oil, and accompanied by crusty baguette. Perhaps the most famous basil dish is pesto – and the French have their own version of pesto, called “pistou”, which is made from garlic, cheese, and pine nut. Pistou can be used as a marinade or a condiment, and it is able to turn humble spaghetti into a true feast! To prepare authentic French spaghetti with pesto, first make pesto by combining together (better with a help of a mortar and a peste, but a food processor will go, too) a bunch of basil, 4 cloves of garlic, a handful of pine nuts, 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and a pinch of Celtic sea salt. Toss hot spaghetti with the pesto and enjoy with a glass of light dry Chardonnay. Bon appetite! :)

The Most Romantic French Restaurant in Canada

La Maquette, a great French cuisine restaurant in Toronto, has been voted this year as the most romantic French restaurant in Canada. Besides, every year, renowned for its poetic atmosphere and sumptuous culinary delights, it is nominated in numerous other categories, including “Best Food” and “Best Ambience”.

La Marquette is located in a historical district of Toronto overlooking the Sculpture Garden & St. James Cathedral. It offers truly a perfect setting to enjoy the treats of delicious French cuisine at any occasion: from a private dinner for two to a big corporate meeting. La Marquette guarantees “a culinary experience with exquisite taste and imagination at the forefront of gastronomic trends”.

The restaurant is very fussy about the quality of the ingredients for its wonderful dishes. The owner Ange Kanavas goes to the market every morning himself to select the freshest produce, with a preference of healthy and flavourful organic ingredients. Some of the dishes featured in the menu will make your mouth water… My favourite lunch treats are YELLOW FIN TUNA TARTARE, flavoured with scotch bonnets and served with pickled ginger, avocado and Yukon chips, and DUET OF ORGANIC CHICKEN AND FOIE GRAS TERRINE, made from delicately pulled confit of chicken and Quebec Foie Gras, Island Pumpkin, Bosch Pear and wild berries compote. For dinner, I would recommend a very French starter of WILD MUSHROOM STRUDEL with leek and spinach cream sauce and balsamic drizzle, thinly sliced roasted FILLET OF VENISON, cooked medium rare and served with wild berries, apple and aged port reduction, and, of course, one of the famous La Maquette’s desserts! My most beloved is POACHED PEAR AND ALMOND TART served with caramel ice cream and chocolate sauce.

The Wine and Champagne list of La Maquette is long and exquisite, featuring everything your soul might desire, from a humble Kechribari from Greece at $15.00 for a bottle to a $400.00 Crystal Louis Roederer Champaign from France.

Whenever you are in Toronto, don’t miss the experience! More information about La Maquette.

Steak Tartare from France

Almost every world cuisine offers recipes that include raw animal protein (fish, meat and unpasteurized dairy products), which seems to be a universal practise. In Italy the most famous raw appetizer is carpaccio, in the Middle East – kibbeh, in Norway – raw marinated fish, and in France it is steak tartare and, of course, a wide selection of world famous raw milk cheeses. Today, I am going to share the recipe of my very favourite gourmet appetizer from France,Steak Tartare:

In order to make authentic steak tartare, you should start with the freshest ingredients of the highest quality you can find. Shop for organic, free-range, grass-fed sirloin or filet of beef and freeze it for at least 14 days. The practise of freezing ensures that the raw meat will be clean from parasites and other contaminants. Thaw the meat and grind it coarsely. Also, you will need the following ingredients (quality matters!):

– 1 finely minced medium onion
– 3 tbsp mustard (Dijon is the best)
– 2 fresh egg yolks from free-range chickens
– 1/4 cup of fresh parsley or coriander leaves, finely chopped
– unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Mix ground beef with onion, mustard, egg yolks and herbs. Season to taste and form into a mound on a big platter. Serve as an appetizer with sourdough bread or round croutons, chopped hard-boiled eggs and onions, capers and softened butter. Caution: raw meat appetizers should be eaten the same day they are made! If you have any leftover steak tartare – the next day you can fry the mounds in a mixture of butter and extra-virgin olive oil until well done and serve them with fresh vegetable salad for lunch.

Bon Appetit!:)