Chef Christophe Gregoire was born and raised in Les Vosges – one of the most pristine rural regions in France. He says Australian truffles have a superb quality and beautiful aroma... largely due to cold winters, frosts and dry soil in growing regions
There's snow on the Brindabellas and it's sleeting in Bungendore when Peter and I arrive at
We're visiting during the Canberra & Capital Region Truffle Festival as guests of French m
Chestnut & Truffle Flan with Truffled Ice Cream...
Bonjour and welcome to Le Très Bon
French master chef, Christophe Gregoire, and his Italian-born wife, Josephine, a charming and delightfully quirky couple with an obvious love of food and cooking, have been in Australia since 1999 and established Christophe's Restaurant in Manuka.
Josephine explains the history of truffles and reads from The Physiology of Taste...
'The truffle is relatively new to Australia, but is actually an ancient food,' Josephine explains. 'The Roman naturalist and writer, Pliny, wrote about it and there is plenty of interesting food history and stories about truffles. For example, in the Middle Ages, truffles were considered to be aphrodisiacs and magical. The Church banned them, as it was said that they were borne out of the spit of witches! Later, during the Renaissance, people came to terms with the fact that truffles were good'.
Josephine then read a pertinent passage from Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's The Physiology of Taste, written in 1825: 'Whoever says "truffles" utters a great word which arouses erotic and gastronomic memories... The noble tuber is not only considered delicious to taste, but is also believed to foster powers the exercise of which is extremely pleasurable'.
'Savarin predicted the future of truffles,' Josephine added. 'And they have gone global in modern time thanks to science.'
Christophe explains what makes a 'good truffle', including terroir...
'What Josephine and I love about truffles is that they are seasonal produce,' Christophe explains. 'A good truffle has a very good aroma, like this one,' he says opening the lid of a tall jar and unveiling a beautiful black truffle from beneath a fresh wrapping of paper towelling. Immediately, that wonderful earthy scent fills the room. 'In Europe, we never wash the truffle for the market... we leave the dirt on,' says Christophe. 'Truffle with dirt on it will keep for three weeks because the relationship between the soil and the truffle is still there. To choose a good truffle, look for that aroma, but also look for truffle which is really firm and very black. Use your truffle to infuse a basket of rice or eggs and always in the fridge... truffle needs a cold temperature of between minus one degrees C to 2 degrees C.'
Next, Christophe explains his love of local produce: eggs, truffle, chestnuts... and the cooking demonstration begins.
Christophe demonstrates the best way to peel chestnuts and julienne truffle...
And explains the recipes in a fun and informative manner...
Christophe and Josephine have very kindly shared their recipes for Chestnut & Truffle Flan and Truffled Ice Cream with readers of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things.
CHESTNUT & TRUFFLE FLAN
4 egg yolks
100mls liquid (pouring) cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
25g pure cocoa (i.e. Valrhona)
30g fresh black truffle
220g peeled chestnuts
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
The day before making your chestnut and truffle flan, make a julienne of truffle (set aside one slice for decoration purposes) and infuse with the liquid (pouring) cream; wrap with plastic film and store in the fridge.
To make the chestnut paste, in a saucepan combine the chestnuts and enough water to cover them, bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes. Drain the chestnuts and make a mash using a vegetable mill or a fork. Then make a syrup by combining the sugar and water. Bring to the boil (105 degrees C). Add the chestnut mash to the syrup. Stir for 5 minutes until the paste reaches a dry consistency.
To make the chestnut and truffle flan, make a paste by combining the pure cocoa and the water. Cream the egg yolks with the sugar. Combine the cocoa paste, creamed egg yolks and sugar, chestnut paste and truffled cream. Pour the mixture into serving ramekins. Bake in a preheated oven at 100 degrees C for 50 minutes. Plate as shown in the images below. Serves 6.
TRUFFLED ICE CREAM
15 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
20g fresh black truffle
To make the crème anglaise, combine the milk, cream and vanilla paste in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cream the yolks and the sugar. Carefully add the milk, cream and vanilla paste mixture to the creamed yolks. Cook the mixture over a medium heat until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Julienne the truffle and add to the mixture. Cool the mixture down quickly over an ice bath or cold bain marie. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon. When the crème anglaise is completely cold, pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and churn for 35-40 minutes. Makes one litre of ice cream.
After the hands on cooking class, piping hot Soupe à l’oignon gratinée is served...
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.