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Champagne table, Paris, by Barbara Redmond

Champagne table, Paris, by Barbara Redmond

When I came back to France after living in the United States for five years, guess what my dearest and oldest gastronome friend, Elké, cooked for me? Foie gras of course!

It was a very special occasion, but as Elké says,  “le bon supporte très bien de ne pas avoir d’occasion spéciale,” which means “what is good should be served any time without waiting for special occasions!” Elké’s culinary philosophy allows her to serve foie gras any day of the week, any season of the year ― just because!

In France, even if foie gras is the star of holiday dinners at the end of the year, it is a traditional dish all year long. There are thousands of ways to serve foie gras, as an hors d’oeuvre, or as an entrée. I love serving it as a main dish (with some truffles sprinkled on) after a cream of winter squash soup and before a nice dessert ― like an orange salad with honey Madeleine, or a lemon pie. But in each guest’s fond memory, the dish remains a classic “foie gras dinner.”

I’d like to share with you Elké’s recipe that she cooked for me a few weeks ago. It was so unusual and so good that I’m planning to prepare it for Christmas Eve!

French recipe for foie gras

La terrine de foie gras aux pommes d’Elké

Serves 8 people


A very fresh foie gras (1 pound) –or you can use a frozen one
4 Pink Lady apples
Salt, pepper, butter
1 teaspoon of ginger
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 glass of Madeira
1 glass of white Porto

1. Remove nerves from the foie gras―it can help if you do it in icy water―and cut the foie in 4 thick slices.
2. Marinade: put the slices in a Ziploc bag with the glass of Madeira and the glass of Porto, the spices, salt and sugar, and leave for two hours in the refrigerator.
3. Cut thin slices of apple and sauté them in butter, then drain them on paper towels to remove the excess fat.
4. In a terrine, alternate one layer of apple, one of foie gras, again one of apple and one of foie gras.
5. Preheat oven to 300F.
6. Place in a bain-marie for 25 to 30 minutes. A knife plunged into the terrine should come out hot.
7. Let it cool with a weight on it to compress it.
8. Keep for 2 days in the refrigerator before eating it!

Another way to cook foie gras

The terrine is a lovely way to prepare foie gras. Another one is simply “poêlé,” deglazed with raspberry vinegar and served with a green salad. The salad should have a peppery taste ― like the arugula (roquette in French) ― to bring out the complex flavor of foie gras. And to the salad you can add grated green apple, white cabbage, and serve with a light vinaigrette.

Here in Dordogne, South West of France where foie gras has been produced for centuries, the “mi-cuit” is the most popular ― fresh foie gras marinated in salt, pepper and cognac, cooked 30 minutes “à la vapeur,” served on country bread or just a baked baguette (but not soft industrial white bread!) or even on pain d’épices. Fresh figs are my favorite to serve with foie gras mi-cuit, but fresh non-skin sautéed grapes with honey are wonderful too.

Foie gras poêllé (sautéed) or mi-cuit is wonderful with a bit of sweet white wine like a Jurançon, Bergerac or Pouilly Fumé, but you can also serve a red wine with a terrine like Saint Emilion or Cahors. I suggest a dry Tokay from Alsace if you really want a white wine. Champagne is great too, and for special occasions, my friend Elké chooses a rosé brut with very fine bubbles. But just for special occasions.

Holiday cocktail party ― foie gras

Foie gras was indeed the star of my holiday cocktail party. I served it with an extraordinary Chateau Doisy-Védrines 2000 Sauternes, a full-bodied wine with a honey taste, that guests Jean and Lynn brought for the occasion. The pairing was delicious!

The foie gras I brought back from Paris, undisturbed in the clear glass jar from which it came, was at the center of an elevated, bronze wire-knit cake plate ― nestled among layers of toasted baquette slices circling the jar. Silver dishes of Medjool dates filled with Roquefort cheese tucked in their frilly brown paper cups, canapés of salmon mousseline ― and pissaladière (French onion pizza), eight varieties of French cheese displayed clockwise from mild to pungent, and French inspired hors d’oeuvre and desserts brought by guests graced the holiday table. Champagne and wines from Burgundy and Alsace heightened the enjoyment of each dish ― and the Chateau d’Orignac Pineau des Charentes, a French dessert wine brought by Ron and Roberto, left everyone speechless!

My fifteen guests, all of whom are Francophiles: teachers of French, individuals who have studied or lived in Paris, or, like me are of French heritage, arrived at 4 o’clock. “Vive la France!” We toasted France, Paris, each other, and shared stories of travel and living abroad throughout the evening until the last guests departed. It was a special occasion, indeed!

Purchase foie gras in Paris

The foie gras was from La Petite Sciere, 60 rue St-Louis-en-I’Île, Île St-Louis, Paris, France. The ingredients: duck, Armagnac, salt and pepper. Foie gras, rilettes, quail eggs and other house specialties and preserves are naturally prepared on a local farm. The owner has been selling her products on the Île for the last 25 years.

Vocabulary: French to English translations

Baguette: Long thin loaf of French bread.
Bain-marie: Large pan that is filled with hot water; smaller pans containing food can be set in the larger pan to keep food warm or to cook food slowly.
Champagne Rosé: One of the few wines that allow the production of Rosé by the addition of a small amount of red wine during blending. Sparkling wine produced exclusively within the Champagne region of France.
Entrée: For general use in the United States, it means the main course. In French, an entrée is often served at the start of a French meal.
Foie gras: Pâté made from duck or goose liver marinated in Cognac.
Foie gras Poêllé: Sautéed foie gras.
Gastronome: Person devoted to refined sensuous enjoyment, especially food and drink.
Gastronomy: Study of the relationship between culture and food.
Hors d’oeuvre: Food items served before the main courses of a meal.
Marinade: Sauce which is designed to flavor and tenderize meats or used to flavor vegetables and mushrooms.
Mi-cuit: Most popular foie gras marinated in salt, pepper and cognac and cooked for 30 minutes “à la vapeur. Process of partially cooking the goose or duck foie gras.
Mousseline: Savory fish-based dish to which whipped cream and egg whites are added to lighten the texture.
Pain d’épices: (Spice bread) French cake whose ingredients may include rye flour, honey and spices.
Pissaladière: Onion pizza.
Poêlé: Braised or pot- roasted, or fried.
Roquefort: Blue cheese. A trademark for a soft cheese made from sheep’s milk and ripened in caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, France.
Roquette: Salad greens of the mustard family also called rocket salad, arugula.
Sautée: (French, past participle of sauter to jump), Method of cooking food that uses a small amount of fat in a shallow pan over high heat.
Terrine: Pâté or fancy meat loaf baked in an earthenware casserole.
Truffles: (Fungus), Edible body of fungi in the genus Tuber and highly prized as food.
Vinaigrette: Mixture (emulsion) of salad oil and vinegar, often flavored with herbs, spices, and other ingredients.

Laurence Haxaire received her Master Degree in Science and Technology for the Food Industry. She became a journalist and writer specializing in food and flavors after working for the flavor extraction industry inGrasse (the perfume capital of France). Laurence was born in Romans-sur-Isèrre, a bustling town in the South East of France famed for its longstanding tradition of shoe making. She was raised in Lyon, the food capital of Europe, in a family where food is part of a smart education. Her family lives in Bordeaux, France. Website.

Barbara Redmond, publisher of A Woman’s Paris® (AWP), is a long-time Francophile and travels to Paris every chance she gets — and has learned a lot along the way. Her stories about Paris and France have been published in AWP® and republished, with permission, by other blogs and publications. Barbara has presented programs on French fashion and food, and has been a guest speaker for students planning their study abroad. She serves as an advisory board member at the University of Minnesota College of Design and is an active student mentor. Barbara has been recognized for excellence in art by international and national organizations and publications. Prints of her fine are paintings are in collections in Europe and North America and are available for purchase.

You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, French White Wines: Sauternes, by Barbara Redmond with Jo-Ann Ross, French Wine Scholar and Certified Specialist of Wine, who share their conversation about which French white wines to pair with foie gras during lunch at a café outside of Boston. Including Jo-Ann’s French white wine selections for French Sauternes Wines: expensive, less expensive, and something different.

French Women Chefs: Les Mères Lyonnaise, by French writer Laurence Haxaire who tells the story of theformer house cooks for affluent families in Lyon who set up their own businesses after the French revolution in the 19th century. And later, when their reputation reached beyond the edge of Lyon, the most famous of them even welcomed General de Gaulle as VIP at their table.

The Veuve Barbe-Nicole Clicquot and other Widowed women entrepreneurs, by Canadian writer Philippa Campsie who tells about the fast track to business independence — or indeed, any kind of independence — two hundred years ago or so, for many women, seems to have been widowhood. The story of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot, better known as Veuve (Widow) Clicquot; a story that also happened to Louise Pommery, Lily Bollinger, and Mathilde Laurent-Perrier, and a few others. 

Alsace Asparagus, Best in April,  by Michelle Hum who shares the first time she tried the very best white asparagus from Alsace while a student living in Montpellier, France. An unforgettable dish of asparagus dressed with a simple olive oil, balsamic, mustard vinaigrette. Recipe included for white asparagus by Alsatian Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten from Food & Wine magazine. 

Text copyright ©2010 Laurence Haxaire. All rights reserved.
Text copyright ©2010 Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.