Cooking with Jean-Luc Rocha

by mimithorisson

This summer, we had several friends staying at Château Cordeillan-Bages , a beautiful ‘relais-château‘ located in the heart of Médoc. They loved every moment of their stay, but most importantly, they adored the hotel’s restaurant, headed by chef Jean-Luc Rocha. When I told them that I had the chance to meet him and cook by his side, they couldn’t wait to see the recipes and try them out.

Jean-Luc’s predecessor for nine years was chef Thierry Marx – a household name is French gastronomy. Upon his departure, Jean-Luc managed to immediately maintain the prestige of the château’s restaurant and preserve the two Michelin stars. Jean-Luc is a real maestro at his work – his innovative modern touch reflects his passion and love for fine cuisine.

Chef Jean-Luc Rocha

For ‘Manger’, Jean-Luc will be sharing his seasonal recipes. Today he chose two desserts very close to his childhood and his heart – ‘the riz au lait‘ just like his grandmother made, with sprinkled Moroccan cinnamon (she had a talent for making beautiful forms and figures by sprinkling cinnamon). And an elegant set of ‘black and white’ ‘sablés‘ biscuits, something he enjoys making at home with his kids as well as at the restaurant.

I felt incredibly lucky getting cooking tips from such a grand chef – his creativity is boundless. Just as he finished making the riz au lait, he decided to make another ‘last-minute’ dessert – a gastronomical version of ‘riz au lait’. Take half the portion of the warm riz au lait and blend in a food processor for 3 minutes until the texture is smooth like cream. Transfer to a ‘whipping cream dispenser’ and chill for 1 hour. In ramequins, place 3 tbsp of chilled ‘riz au lait’, then squeeze an adequate amount of the ‘blended‘ riz-au lait in the shape of a spiraled meringue. Sprinkle with orange and lemon zest.

Riz au lait (serves 4)

130 g arborio rice (rinsed in cold water and drained)
10 scrapes of orange zest
10 scrapes of lemon zest
500 g double cream
600 g milk
1 vanilla pod (split open and scraped – optional)
120 g egg yolk
140 g caster sugar
Ground cinnamon for decorating (optional)

Rinse the rice in cold water and drain. Whisk the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl until light and fluffy. Set aside.
Mix the rice, orange/lemon zest, cream, vanilla and milk in a saucepan and bring to a soft boil on a low heat for 20 minutes. Off the heat, add the egg yolks and sugar mix to the rice, return to a low heat on and off stirring constantly for 3-5 minutes. Finally, add one pinch of fleur de sel/salt. Set aside and chill before serving. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon to decorate. You can create figures of your choice by sprinkling lightly using your fingertips (see photos).

Black and White Sablés

Plain dough
150 g plain flour (sifted)
100 g butter (softened at room temperature)
50 g icing/confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp egg

In a food processor, combine and mix sifted flour, butter and icing sugar. Mix for 3 minutes, then add 2 tbsp of egg and mix for 10 seconds. Roll in a shape of a ball, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Cocoa dough
115 g plain flour (sifted)
75 g butter (softened at room temperature)
38 g icing/confectioner’s sugar
12 g cocoa powder
2 tbsp egg

In a food processor, mix sifted flour and cocoa powder. Add the icing sugar, followed by the butter. Mix for 2 minutes. Add 2 tbsp of egg and mix 10 more seconds.

Preheat oven to 170 C.
On a slightly floured parchment paper covered surface, roll the plain dough and the cocoa dough separately to a 1 cm/half-inch thickness. Tip: You can use a 1 cm thick cubic bar to align the dough on both sides to create an even dough (sold at your local hardware store). With a sharp knife or dough cutter, cut 1 cm thick strips. Align each strips to your liking (3 strips on three rows). Roll the aligned strips in the parchment paper to secure the strips and transfer to the refrigerator or freezer for 15-20 minutes. Slice ‘sablés’ and place on baking sheet in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes (depending on thickness of ‘sablés’). Leave to cool on a wire rack and serve.

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