Musings from a Seattle personal chef
Christmas has come and gone, and although I didn’t do everything I had hoped, I feel blessed to have such wonderful friends, family and clients with which to celebrate the season.
I managed to get a three-day weekend just before Christmas, so we took the opportunity to relax (well, after our 11-mile run on Friday and 22-mile run on Saturday, that is) and catch up with some out-of-town friends at a local pub. We shared spiked eggnog and wine with our neighbor and gorged ourselves silly with my darling’s relatives Christmas Eve (I’m looking forward to the marathon to help work off all those calories).
On Christmas Eve morning I prepared a decadent brunch for a client: caviar on potato pancakes with crème fraîche, seared foie gras on brioche toast points (with homemade brioche), baked eggs with truffles, popovers with strawberry butter, fresh fruit salad and pigs in a blanket (the latter was requested by the grandkids, but the adults enjoyed them too). As I was cleaning up my client told me to take the remaining foie gras — almost 3/4 pound! She also gave me almost an ounce of the truffles. How incredibly generous.
One of my favorite snack indulgences is truffled popcorn — air-popped corn tossed with a mixture of truffle oil and butter and sprinkled with truffle salt. My darling has never cared for it — he can’t stand the smell of truffle oil — but when he tried the version with real truffle butter he was hooked (the truffle scent in most truffle oil is chemically produced, so that’s what had been turning him off). For the butter I minced up some of the truffle and let it steep in melted butter. I then tossed that with the popcorn. The rest of the truffle was mixed in with a wild mushroom risotto.
For the foie gras, I was inspired by a dish my darling had at Chez Dumonet in Paris: seared foie gras with grapes. I sautéed some minced shallot in some duck fat, along with a couple of handfuls of halved black seedless grapes. I let them sauté until rather soft and beginning to brown, then deglazed with about a cup and a half of tawny port and a couple of tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. I reduced that down until syrupy and set aside.
Meanwhile, I sliced the foie gras into 3/4″ slices and seasoned with salt and pepper. I preheated a skillet until very hot and added the slices. They cook VERY fast; you have to be careful or you’ll end up with a skillet-ful of very expensive fat. After about 45 seconds I flipped them and seared on the other side. I then placed the slices on the brioche toast points and poured the sauce on top. The sauce provided a wonderfully tangy balance to the richness of the foie gras and brioche.
What a way to celebrate Christmas!