« When you work, people have fun. » That was what Hélène Darroze’s dad used to tell her. Her father Francis knew what he was talking about, being part of the dynasty of chefs in the South West of France, in Villeneuve-de-Marsan. Is it her nature or her education? But « there is always an opportunity to gather with relatives and friends to share joy and happiness. »
Food-nerd, I already tasted her generosity at her London restaurant, The Connaught, for a legendary birthday dinner and can’t wait to follow her latest adventures as a jury on TV food competition show, Top Chef. So how not to rush on her book, Mes Recettes en fête (Festive recipes) and to try it for Christmas time? So hard to choose from 50 tasty instructions but clean eating can be a good leading light with love of vegetables, fish and fruit but still greedy because she is a chef.
So let’s start with carrot soup of Marie-Françoise. Who? Marie-Françoise is a friend of Helene Darroze who used to do this starter in the Friends Christmas dinner.
For 8 girls:
2kg of new carrots – 2 shallots – 50g of fresh ginger – 20cl of coconut milk – 3 fresh coriander stems – 2cl of olive oil – salt – Espelette pepper ( a very trendy but really local spice.)
Peel, clean and cut carrots slices. Peel and chisel shallots. Peel ginger. Cut coriander, set aside stems.
In a pan, pour olive oil for shallots. Add carrots. Sweat them gently, making sure they do not brown. Then, add ginger and coriander steams. Season with salt and Espelette pepper, pour over enough water to cover.
Once carrots cooked, remove ginger and coriander then mix it. Then, pour enough coconut milk to get a creamy texture. Add grated ginger, salt and Espelette pepper.
A very colorful and tasty result with deep exotic feeling, travel is also part of the main dish: Seabass steak « back from Prince Maurice ». Who? This is also very personal souvenir for the chef. She used to rest at the Prince Maurice hotel with family for post festive time in Mauritius. Maybe this time we could have a look on her Instagram feed…
For 6 fish lovers :
6 seabass steaks (120g each) – 40g of duck fat – Salt – Espelette Pepper –
300 g of bulgur – 1 shallot – 1 l of chicken broth – 30 g of butter – 1 Alfonso mango – 1 Green thai mango – 400g of palms – 100 g of pimientos del piquillo – 3 coriander stems (yes she’s obsessed too) – Salt – Espelette Pepper ( that’s part of her inheritance.)
In a pot, slowly cook chopped shallots in duck fat until it is transparent. Add bulgur and lustre it in fat then pour over enough chicken broth to cover. Let gently cook and add broth like for a risotto. As a final touch, thicken with butter, add mangos, pimientos, half of palms and coriander. Peel mangos and cut, slice and dice them.
Cut palms, pimientos and coriander. Straighten seasoning with salt and Espelette pepper.
In a non-stick pan, pour a bit of duck fat. Place seabass, skin side, and cook for 2/3 minutes, depending on thickness. Then turn fish over for 2/3 minutes, basting it constantly.
She requires a Green curry emulsion but it seems sooooo complicated, so if you want to add a sauce, please have a look in her book.
As the sweet end, I selected a fruit salad but the most delicious one with a cute story. Coming back from Vietnam with her Quitterie baby girl, she spent Christmas time with Afghan friends for oriental vision with this orange salad of Chekeba.
For 8 clean eaters:
8 big Malta blood oranges – 30g of polyfloral honey – 2 cloves – 1 star anise – 2 cinnamon sticks – 30 of fresh ginger – 150g of cane sugar – 5cl of Orange flower water
Pour Honey, sugar, ginger, spices in a pan. Cover with 1l of water and boil. Then let it cool.
Wash and cut away the peel and pith from oranges. Filter syrup and pour it on oranges. Grate thinly zests over salad bowl and add some Orange flower water drops.
Ouah! What a dinner! See, no need of gluten or dairy for a 4-star Christmas dinner, I will focus on it later. Thank you Hélène for this celebration of multiculturalism that you met between Louis XV’s Alain Ducasse restaurant and San Sebastian pop up restaurant. Reading Mince Pie recipe, after beef tartar with oyster and Aquitaine caviar or chocolate Yule log…
Let’s hang out together !