Saint-Jacques à la Nantaise |Nantes

Serves 4

Level of difficulty: **

Preparation time: 1 hr 10 minutes

Ingredients

8 scallops in their shell

vinegar, a small amount to rinse the beards

85g (3oz) butter

50g (2oz) finely chopped sweet onion or shallot

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

200ml (US cup) Muscadet, or other dry white wine

small bouquet garni made from 1 sprig thyme, 2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

1 slice slightly stale soft white bread, broken into very small pieces

4 large sprigs flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs mixed with 1 tbsp melted butter

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

Use a small sharp knife to prise open the shell of each scallop, cutting through the muscle and sliding the knife under the scallop to free it. Remove the orange coral (roe) and pull away the greyish viscera and the beard; discard the viscera. Rinse and pat dry the scallops and coral, cutting away any black flecks; set aside. Rinse the beards first in a small dish of vinegar then rinse them thoroughly under running water; drain and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the upper flatter shells. Wash the deeper shells, freeing them of remaining viscera, and set aside to dry.Chop the beards very finely. Slice the coral thinly. Slice through the scallops horizontally to make 2 or 3 slices depending on thickness. Set these items aside, separately.

In a sautoir or wide shallow saucepan, melt about 20g (¾oz) of the butter over gentle heat and sweat the onion until it flops without colouring. Add the beards and crushed garlic and stir briefly. Stir in the Muscadet, add the bouquet garni and let the liquid come to a simmer. Cover with a lid set slightly askew and adjust the heat so that the liquid barely murmurs. Cook until the liquid has reduced to a couple of tablespoons or so and the onion is tender without being brown – up to 30 minutes. Preheat a grill. Remove the pan of onions from the heat; discard the garlic and bouquet garni. Add the scallops, the coral and just enough bread to absorb excess liquid, turning carefully to coat the scallops evenly in the hot onion mixture. Gently stir in the chopped parsley and 50g (2oz) of the butter cut into tiny dice. Season to taste. Brush the inside of the scallop shells with the remaining butter and fill them with the scallop and onion mixture; sprinkle with the buttered breadcrumbs. Transfer the shells to the hot grill and cook for 5–10 minutes, or until the crumbs are crisp and golden and the scallops just cooked through.

Serve immediately.

Kouign-Amann |Brittany

Serves 8

Level of difficulty: **

Preparation: 1 hour, resting: 1 hour

Ingredients

500g (3⅓ US cups) plain/all-purpose flour

20g (¾oz) fresh baker’s yeast or 10g (⅓ oz) fast-action

Dried yeast

300g (11oz) lightly salted butter, slightly softened,

plus 20g (¾ oz) for the cake tin

250g (1 1/10th US cup) caster/superfine sugar

Method

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. In a separate small bowl, blend the yeast with 100ml (3/8 US cup) of warm water. When the yeast has dissolved, pour it into the well. Stir the flour into the yeast mixture and mix until you achieve a smooth, thick dough. Form it into a ball, cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and chill it for at least 20 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch the dough into a large rectangle, dot the surface with pieces of the butter and sprinkle it with 150g (about ¾ US cup) of the sugar. Fold the four corners of the dough into the middle to enclose the butter and sugar and, at the same time, use the ends of your fingers to flatten and ease the dough into a neat rectangle. Fold the rectangle into three. Cover with cling film and chill it for at least 20 minutes. Give the dough a quarter turn, flatten it again with your fingers (or a rolling pin) fold it in three, and chill it again for at least 20 minutes. Repeat this last step one more time. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6).

Butter a cake tin, sprinkle it with flour and tip out the excess. Place the dough inside, pressing slightly to ensure a neat fit. Brush the surface quickly with cold water, then sprinkle over the remaining sugar. Bake the cake for 30 minutes or until golden.

Ttoro Basque |Basque

Serves 8

Level of difficulty: **

Ingredients

For the ttoro

2kg (4½lbs) assorted white firm-fleshed fish, gutted, skinned and filleted, their bones saved for the fumet. Choices include monkfish, hake, sea eel, gurnard, red snapper, cod

1kg (2lb 4oz) mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded

12 langoustines, or Dublin Bay prawns or crayfish or jumbo shrimp

3 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, peeled and finely chopped

8 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped

2 small green/bell peppers, stalk, seeds and pith removed, then sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely sliced

1 litre (4¼ US cups) fish stock, homemade or bought

8 small potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

Pinch of saffron

Croûtons of your choice to garnish (optional)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the fumet

2 heads of hake, halibut or sea eel, split in half and washed (alternatively, 500g (1lb 2oz) small bony fish, gutted and washed)

Bones from the filleted fish for the ttoro

3 tbsp olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 dried red Espelette pepper, deseeded and chopped or ¼ tsp ground Espelette or Cayenne pepper

200ml (US cup) dry white wine

3 litres (12¾ US cups) cold water

bouquet garni made from thyme, celery, bay leaf and

6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

Preparation: 2 hours 30 minutes

Method

For the fumet

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot and sweat the carrots. When they soften, after about 7 minutes, add the wine, water and all the remaining ingredients of the fumet. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan with a lid set askew and simmer the fumet gently for about 2 hours.

For the ttoro

While the fumet simmers, set a large saucepan over gentle heat, add the olive oil and sweat the onions without colouring them. Add the tomatoes, green peppers, garlic and fish stock. Stir, bring the liquid to a light boil, partially cover the saucepan, then adjust the heat to maintain a simmer for one hour. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, simmer the potatoes in boiling salted water for 20 minutes or until just tender. Drain and set aside. Grill the langoustines for 10 minutes, turning them once; set aside. Cut the filleted fish into pieces of a suitable size – about 3 cm (1¼ inches); set aside in the refrigerator. When the fumet is done, discard the bouquet garni. If you like, discard the garlic. Pass the fumet through a hand mouli (or an electric blender) crushing the fish bones to a pulp to give body and flavour to the soup. Put the purée in a stockpot or cocotte large enough to contain all of the soup; set this aside. When the fish stock and tomato mixture are ready, pass it through a hand mouli (or an electric blender). Stir it into the fumet, completing the base of the soup. Bring it to a simmer and adjust the seasoning. Add the fillets of fish to the simmering stock. After 5 minutes, add the langoustines and potatoes; continue to simmer. After 5 minutes, adjust the seasoning and add the mussels. Turn the contents gently with a large spatula. When the mussels open, the fish is ready to serve.

To serve

Serve the ttoro from its cooking container or transfer it to a warm soup tureen, arranging the langoustines on top. With a slotted spoon, gently divide the fish and shellfish among individual serving plates. Ladle the soup over the seafood. If you like, you can offer croutons, freshly sautéed in olive oil and rubbed with a cut piece of garlic.

Note: sometimes the saffron is replaced with a dash of anise-based liqueur.

Foie Gras d’Oie Clouté aux Truffles, à la Périgourdine |The Quercy and the Perigord

If there was ever a prestigious recipe, this is it. Here, specially fattened goose liver throws into relief fresh black truffles straight out of the ground… but at what a price! Before you use the foie gras, soak it in water or milk, if your butcher has not already done so. Soaking makes it easier to remove the blood vessels and veins from the liver. Milk helps to keep the liver pale and tender.

Serves 4

Level of difficulty: **

Soaking: 8-12 hours

Preparation: 1 hour 10 minutes

If there was ever a prestigious recipe, this is it. Here, specially fattened goose liver throws into relief fresh black truffles straight out of the ground… but at what a price! Before you use the foie gras, soak it in water or milk, if your butcher has not already done so. Soaking makes it easier to remove the blood vessels and veins from the liver. Milk helps to keep the liver pale and tender.

Ingredients

1 fresh goose foie gras

250g (9oz) of black Périgourd truffles, fresh and round

1 thin slice of pork fat

3 tbsp goose fat

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

1 tbsp plain/all-purpose flour

200ml (US cup) dry white wine

300ml (1¼ US cups) chicken stock

Milk for soaking the liver (optional)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

In a large dish, soak the liver in water for one hour, then discard the water. Cover the liver either with more clean water or with milk. Add a pinch of salt and a lid. Put the covered dish in the refrigerator or a very cold place overnight. Discard the liquid and remove any visible bile from the liver with a small paring knife. Separate the lobes and remove the network of veins. Pat the liver dry, season with salt and pepper and cover with a cloth. Set aside briefly.

Preheat the oven to 120ºC (284ºF, gas mark ¾). Peel the truffles and keep the peelings to flavour another preparation. Use a small sharp knife to cut the truffles into little sticks with a sharply pointed end, so they resemble pegs. Keep the offcuts for the sauce. Insert the truffle pegs into the liver, pointed-end first, leaving the flat end flush with the surface of the liver, and making a regular and even pattern. Wrap in the thin layer of pork fat, then with a layer of parchment or greaseproof paper brushed with one of the tablespoons of the goose fat. Secure with kitchen string. Brush an oven dish with a further tablespoon of the goose fat. Add the wrapped liver and cook it in the oven for 30–40 minutes depending on its weight. Brush the packet frequently with the surrounding fat. While the foie gras is being cooked, heat the remaining goose fat in a saucepan and sweat the onion and shallot. When they are soft, add the flour and stir to blend without colouring the ingredients. Whisk in the wine and the stock. Bring to a light boil then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Season to taste. Mix in the offcuts of truffle. Bring the sauce back to a light boil twice more. Adjust seasoning. Set the sauce aside in a warm place.

To Serve

When the foie gras is cooked à point, remove it from the oven and remove the paper wrapping. Transfer it to a warm serving dish and surround it with the truffle sauce.

French Regional Food, publishedby Frances Lincoln,franceslincoln.com