Tag: bages

Cooking with Jean-Luc Rocha

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.

The butcher chef

Cannelés with black pig, foie gras and vine leaves

M. Yves Bruneau

When we moved to Médoc, one of the first things we did was drive through the vineyards for some chateaux spotting. As we explored further, we couldn’t help thinking how unreal it was to live in such beauty, and that it would become our everyday reality, not a two week holiday summary. I needed to find my bearings, and didn’t know where to start. Luckily, we stopped at a nearby village, Pauillac, and drove South to Bages where I found my first gem, a butcher. As I stepped in, I couldn’t see anyone. However, I noticed some interesting and peculiar cannelés (French pastry from Bordeaux with a tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust). They looked savoury, wrapped in vine leaves. All they needed was a tag with ‘Eat me!’ and I would become Alice in Wonderland. Something in my heart told me that this was the place to be. Then I saw big names all over the place – Bazas, Pierre Oteiza, AOC Prés-Salés du Mont-Saint-Michel. I smiled to myself thinking I had struck gold. It is not an everyday thing to see all these famous meat labels in one place. That’s when M. Yves Bruneau stepped out of his butcher’s ‘back office’.

I introduced myself, explained how I left Paris for Médoc, how I loved food and cooking. And then he started to talk about his recipes, how he makes his savoury cannelés, how he cooks black pig filets, how he stews veal. I felt like I had met the guardian of my kingdom, and he was opening a new door for my cooking world. How’s that for a first encounter.

Grenier Médocain (left) and vine leaf foie gras

Yves Bruneau is no ordinary butcher. Ex-champion of France in cross-country running, Yves, originally from Normandy, is a true visionary when it comes to the art of being a butcher. He is passionate about his meat (he has been nominated fifth best butcher in France by the prestigious Gault et Millau guide), only chooses truly authentic labels, like the magnificent Bazas beef. To connoisseurs, Bazas beef is one of the finest in the world, only sold at a dozen of the best butchers in France. The unusual grey cattle, bred in the Landes and Gironde region, is destined to masters only. Yves has his own laboratory and dry-ages his meat for five weeks, enhancing the tenderness and producing the perfect taste. One of my favourite meat sold by Yves is the Basque black pig from Pierre Oteiza (Basque ‘master’ farmer and an artisan charcuterie maker) – the pigs are fed acorns and chestnuts, giving the meat a succulent melt-in your mouth nutty flavour. Yves is also a fine chef, always coming up with original ideas, from savoury black pig cannelés stuffed with foie gras, vine leaf infused foie gras, his home-made grenier Médocain (speciality of Médoc made of pig’s stomach, garlic and spices). When asked what is his favourite meat, Yves is proud to say the Bazas beef entrecôte.

Yves was happy to share his recipe for these gourmet cannelés. You can always improvise and adapt to your liking with other types of meat – perhaps veal and porc combined could be a good alternative.

Ingredients: (for 6 canelés)

350 g minced/chopped porc (black pig/pork – a selection of shoulder and belly )
6 pieces of cubed (3 cm) duck foie gras mi-cuit (half-cooked)
6 vine leaves (younger ones are better as they are more tender – boiled in water with 1 tbsp sugar for 10 minutes)
6 small squares of caul fat ‘filet'(for enveloping the cannelé so it stays in shape – you can buy this at your butcher)
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven 90°C. Mince or chop pork very finely, add salt and pepper and shape into a ball (about 8cm length and 5cm width). Make a hole with your finger and insert a cube of foie gras inside. Wrap the cooked vine leaf around the meat and secure with the caul faut ‘filet’ so it holds its shape. Repeat this procedure and place in cannelé cake moulds.
Place your moulds in a large roasting tin, pour water so it comes up to nearly half of the mould. This process is called ‘bain-marie’. Bake for 2 hours and 30 minutes. Leave to cool in mould for one hour. Before serving, re-heat for 5-8 minutes in a warm oven.