Black Is Beautiful
Truffles for two, please. Oh, and a side of foie gras, if you will.
For Eric’s last dinner with us before he heads back to the States, we decided to throw both caution and our investment in the truffle economy where they would do the most good: namely, directly onto our plates. We had two truffles, each about 20 grams, which is just the right amount for two people. Luckily for us, Shel doesn’t really like truffles, so Eric and I were in business.
Last year at truffle time I tried to use little bits of my truffles here and there, to spread them out as much as possible. That was a big mistake, since nothing I made with them was really wow. This year I followed two important principles: 1) you need 5 grams of truffle per person in a dish to really appreciate the Truffle Nature, and 2) if 5 grams per person is good, 10 grams is much better. And you know, 15 grams might have been even more exquisite, but even though truffles are much cheaper this year, they’re still a luxury and a pair of 20 gram truffles was what we had.
Eric asked for a truffle risotto as a starter, and I followed this recipe almost exactly, except that I microplaned my truffle into the cream before infusing it. It’s a gorgeous recipe, and even though it looks like way too much broth for the amount of rice, and doesn’t use any wine, it turns out to be one of the best risotto dishes I’ve ever tasted.
We decided on truffle burgers as a main course, so I grated half a truffle into the ground beef and let it mellow all together for a couple of hours.
I put some nice truffle slices into a bit of olive oil, and chopped the rest into a heap of foie gras, with the result that we sat down to
burgers of truffled beef, with truffle slices in the middle of the patty, and a melt of truffled foie gras on top. After the risotto, eating it on a salad seemed like the thing to do, so I dressed the greens with just the meat juices from the pan deglazed with a bit of red wine, and we were purring.
I’d wanted to make a truffle dessert too, but I chickened out and made this wonderful pudding with leftover viennoiseries, croissants, pain d’amande, and even a bit of baguette, with some little chunks of Bernachon extra-bitter chocolate standing in for the truffles.
A lovely bottle of Domaine de St. Georges 2001 Côtes du Rhône, candlelight, truffles and foie gras, a light rain falling outside,
and a cute French girl to sleep with, and now bonne route Eric, safe trip home, and I hope that large can of duck confit isn’t making your luggage too heavy.
Abra’s Viennoiserie Pudding
12-14 oz assorted croissants, pain d’amande, baguette, or whatever pastries and bits of bread you’d like to use up
1 cup cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup cassonade or raw sugar, plus a little for topping
1 tsp vanilla
1 small handful of the best and darkest chocolate you can find, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350° Cut the pastries into bite-sized pieces and place them in a baking dish. Put the eggs, cream, milk, sugar and vanilla in the blender and whizz to a froth. Pour this over the pastry bits, toss in the chocolate, and press with a spoon for a couple of minutes to be sure the bread is submerged. Sprinkle the top of the pudding with an extra spoonful or two of sugar.
Place the pudding dish in a bain marie of hot water and put it all in the oven. Bake for about an hour, until top is golden but the center of the pudding is still a bit jiggly. Serve warm or at room temperature with a little splash of cream.