My Favorite Recipes

Crême Brulée


8 egg yolks
150 grams of sugar
2 beans of fresh vanilla
3/4 liter of heavy whipping cream
1/4 liter of whole milk
powdered brown sugar


Preheat the oven to 100-105 degrees Celsius. Temperature control is critical.

With a sharp knife, split the vanilla beans and scrape off the powdery stuff into a bowl. Leave the skin off. Add the egg yolks and the sugar. Combine with a whip or a fork until well-mixed. Then add the cream and the milk.

Pour into 12 china ramequins, ideally 12-15 cm in diameter. The liquid layer should be no thicker than 1 cm. Transfer to the oven for 60 to 75 mn. The cream must NOT boil. Check under seismological control when CB is ready. Gently hit the stove every 5 mn. There is a point at which the wavelength and velocity of the ripples in the ramequin increase. At this point, take the CB out of the stove, let it cool, then transfer to the fridge after covering with film (saran wrap). You can keep for several days.

Before you serve (the CB must be eaten cold), sprinkle brown sugar just enough to cover the surface. Get a blow torch (yes) and swiftly scorch the sugar in the blue flame until it melts and turns brown and bubbles gently. The grill would not do it as the trick is a contrast between the cold creamy substance and the bitter vitreous sugary surface. Of course, the blow torch should be trotted out on the dining table right next to the silverware to rejoice the company.


Receipe from Christian Germanaz, a skillful climber and astute cook. This project was funded by neither NSF nor CNRS. And for once I can get something published without the reviewers breathing on my neck, please leave me alone.

Terrine de Foie Gras (Fat Duck Liver)

(plagiarized after J. Robuchon*)

More than twenty centuries ago, the Egyptians then the Romans had already observed that geese overfeed themselves before the migrations and that a bird killed at that stage would carry a particularly fat liver that makes a delicious meal. They thought that overfeeding would be best achieved with the food naturally chosen by the animals, figs, and that is how the organ liver became know under its Latin name of fica, since the Romans believed that the fruit passes its shape to the organ. The vast majority of French ducks and geese are bred in free-range farmlands. They are fed with high-quality grains. It is true that most of them would rather skip the end of the meal when they are force-fed. You should, however, watch them getting all worked up right before food time to convince yourself that these 'tortured' animals are looking forward to the upcoming meal.

Remember: Contrary to humans and in particular the female top-model variety, birds have no laryngeal spasm (gag reflex), so when they are overfed, sure they are not happy, but this is not the torture described in the 'humane' literature.

No commercial foie gras comes even close to a home-made terrine. The 'four-spices' recipe of Joël Robuchon beats anything I have ever tasted. One of the ultimate dishes on Earth.

  1. For 12, take two foies gras, 6-800 grams each (1 1/2 pound). They should be smooth, beige, with no green or red stains. Gently split the lobes, clean up any membrane or blood adhering to the liver and trim away the outer edge. Soak the liver and the strip in salty water (1 tablespoon of salt in 3 pints of water). Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Now comes the chore (1 hour). Pat gently dry. Take a sharp knife and poke carefully into the liver to remove any nasty part (membranes, blood vessels). Most likely you will make a mess and break the liver into pieces but it is more important to remove anything potentially chewy than to preserve an ill-fated shape. Combine in a bowl 1 generous teaspoon brown sugar, 1 table spoon fine salt, 1/2 spoon of freshly ground white pepper, 1 teaspoon of the following mixture: cinnamon/clover/chili pepper, 1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. Rub the livers (or the fragments) gently and evenly with the mixture. Return to the fridge overnight.
  3. The next day, preheat te oven to 120C (250F). Take a deep pan as a hot bath with a piece of parchment poked with holes. Take a terrine and fill the pan with water at the simmering point so that the level does not quite reach the rim of the terrine. Place the liver in the terrine (or their fragments) so that the arrangement minimizes the amount of interstices (air oxidizes foie gras and add unpleasant bitterness). Apply pressure firmly but evenly to compact. Place a piece of parchment tightly on top. Place the terrine in the deep pan and cook for 25 minutes per pound. Liquid fat should evolve in large quantities from the foie gras, typically 15 percent. Too much and the terrine will be dry, too little and the taste will be too faint.
  4. Remove from the oven. Remove the parchment. Poor the liquids gently into a bowl. Scoop the light fatty liquid back on top of the terrine** and discard any non-fat juices. Refrigerate for 1-3 days. Remove the foie gras from the fridge 30 minutes before serving. You may use a knife warmed in hot water to cut slices. You can keep the liver for several days in the fridge.

Toasted bred and sweet white wine (Sauternes, Gewurtztraminer) are great companions.


* Patricia Wells, Simply French, William Morrow, 1991.

** You may want to keep the excess fat to sauté firm potatoes cut in cubelets (a la sarladaise).