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Our Chef's Recipes

A Special Night of the Year

Our Chef Bob Chambers has planned the menu so that you can have the pleasure of preparing the food ahead of time and then be able to enjoy the company of friends on the night. Especially designed for New Year's Eve, it would also of course be a perfect dinner for any other celebration in the year. So, crack open a bottle, and raise your glasses to absent friends and to all our very real wishes for the future.

the Menu

Ragout of Scallops and Shrimps with Thyme Croutons
Serves 12

  • 750 gm (1½lb) medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 750 gm (1½ lb) sea scallops
  • 2 cups rich fish stock or equivalent of bottled clam juice
  • 5 tabs olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed through a press
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced carrot
  • 1 can (1 kg or 35 oz) Italian peeled tomatoes with liquid
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tabs Cognac
  • ¼ cup minced fresh chives

Thyme Croutons as accompaniment, see below

Slice the shrimp in half lengthwise. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Slice the scallops horizontally into ½ cm (¼ in) thick medallions. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, pierce the plastic several times with a skewer and refrigerate. (The shellfish can be prepared to this point up to 1 day in advance.)

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to the boil. Add the reserved shrimp shells. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally. Strain the liquid and reserve, discarding the shells.

In a large flameproof casserole, heat 2 tabs of the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté over moderately high heat until the onions are softened and just beginning to brown, about 5 mins.

Add the celery, garlic and carrot. Cook the vegetables for 1 min. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, the lemon juice and reserved stock. Bring just to the boil and cook for 30 mins, or until reduced to 5 cups.

Puree the vegetables and stock in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve for finer texture, pressing to extract all the liquid; discard the vegetable pulp.
(The pureed base can be prepared to this point up to 1 day in advance. Cover and refrigerate.)

To complete: in a medium saucepan, combine the pureed base with the cayenne, cream and Cognac. Warm the tomato cream sauce over a moderately low heat. Meanwhile in a large flameproof casserole, heat the remaining 3 tabs oil over high heat. Add the shrimp and scallops and reduce the heat to moderately high. Saute, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are pink and loosely curled and the scallops are firm, 3-4 mins.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked seafood to 12 warmed ramekins or a large gratin. Pour any pan juices from the casserole into the tomato cream sauce. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and pour the sauce over the scallops and shrimp. Garnish with chives. Pass the croutons separately.

Thyme Croutons

  • 3 tabs olive oil
  • 3 cups diced French or other firm-textured white bread
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ½ tsp thyme

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the bread and season with pepper and thyme. Toss to mix.

Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the croutons are crisp and nicely browned, 10-12 mins. Drain on paper towels. (The croutons can be made up to 2 days in advance. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.)

Pepper-Rubbed Veal Loin Chops with Madeira Glaze
Serves 12

  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1½ tsp white peppercorns
  • 1½ tsp pink peppercorns
  • 4 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 12 veal loin chops, cut 2.5 cm (1 in. thick)
  • 6 tabs olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 4 cups veal or chicken stock
  • 3 tabs tomato paste
  • ¼ cup dry Madeira wine
  • 1½ tsp arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in 1 tab water

Combine 1½ tsp black peppercorns with white and pink ones, the thyme, salt and sugar. Coarsely grind with a pestle and mortar or an electric spice grinder.

Rub the seasoning evenly into both sides of the chops. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Place 2 roasting tins, each large enough to hold 6 veal chops in the freezer. In a large flameproof casserole, heat 3 tabs of olive oil over high heat. Add the chops, 3 at a time, and sauté turning once, until browned, about 2 mins on each side. As they are browned, set the chops on the cold pans in the freezer. Chill for 25 mins; then remove from the freezer, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile in the pan where the chops were browned, heat the remaining 3 tabs olive oil. Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and remaining ½ tsp black peppercorns. Sauté over a moderate heat until the onions are softened but not browned, about 5 mins. Add the stock and tomato paste. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to moderately high and simmer, uncovered for 30 mins.

Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing gently to extract all the liquid; discard the vegetables. If there is more than 2 cups of stock boil to reduce. If there is less, add water. In a small saucepan, return the stock to the boil. Add the Madeira and arrowroot to thicken. Cook, whisking constantly to prevent lumps until the sauce thickens and returns to the boil. Remove from heat and cover tightly. (The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 1 day ahead. Let the sauce cool, cover tightly and refrigerate.)

About 20 mins before serving, preheat the oven to 250C/500F. Place the baking sheets with the chops on the upper and lower shelves of the oven for 8 mins. Switch the positions of the pans and bake for 8 mins longer, or until the meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 130° and the centre is nicely pink. Meanwhile reheat the reserved Madeira glaze over moderate heat until hot. Let the chops rest for about 2 mins out of the oven, covered lightly with aluminium foil, then serve with the glaze.

Red cabbage with Granny Smith apples, Sage-glazed carrots and potato cakes make the perfect accompaniments.

Cranberry Mousse in Chocolate-Painted Tulip Cups
Serves 12

  • 1½ cups frozen cranberry juice concentrate
  • 1 packet (360 gm /12oz) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch allspice
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup icing sugar (confectioners´sugar)

Chocolate-Painted Tulip Cups, recipe below
or ready-bought

Candied orange zest for garnish

In a medium nonreactive saucepan, bring the cranberry juice concentrate to the boil. Add the cranberries, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Return to the boil, reduce the heat to moderate and simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 mins. Remove from the heat and let cool. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate overnight. (The recipe can be made up to this point up to a week in advance.)

In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream with the icing sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in 1 cup of the cranberry mixture. (The recipe can be made to this point up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Spoon the cranberry mousse into the Chocolate-Painted Tulip Cups. Place a dollop of the remaining cranberry mixture on top of the mousse. Garnish with a few strips of candied orange peel.

Chocolate-Painted Tulip Cups
Makes 12-14

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1-1½ tsp grated orange zest
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tabs unsalted butter, melted
  • 90 gm (3oz) semisweet chocolate

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, orange zest, whole egg, egg whites and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Stir in the butter and 1 tab of water; the batter will be thin. (The recipe can be made up to this point up to 1 day before baking the tulip cups. Refrigerate, tightly covered. Stir before using and add up to 1 tab of additional water, if necessary, to restore the consistency.)

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F. Butter a large cookie sheet. Drop 4 separate tablespoons of the batter onto the sheet. Using the back of a spoon, spread into 10 cm (4 in.) circles spaced about 2.5cm (1 in.) apart.

Bake in the bottom third of the oven until the cookies have a golden brown border about 2.5 cm (1 in.) wide, 6-8 mins. Meanwhile, cut 4 pieces of aluminium foil, each 10 cm (4 in.) square, and set 4 narrow glasses or jars (such as 8 cm (2 in.) diameter spice jars) bottom side up on the work surface.

Remove the cookies from the oven. Working quickly, scrape a cookie from the sheet with a wide metal spatula and invert it over the spice jar. Cover with a square of foil to protect your hands and mould the soft hot cookie into a tulip shape. Repeat with the remaining cookies. If they harden on the cookie sheet, return to the oven for about 30 seconds to restore pliability. As soon as they are set, remove the shaped tulip cups from their moulds and set aside carefully.

Scrape the cookie sheet clean and repeat until all the batter is used.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot-but-not-boiling water. With a dry pastry brush, lightly paint the inner bottom and one-third up the inside of each tulip cup with chocolate. Let cool until the chocolate has hardened. (The tulips can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored at room temperature in an airtight tin.)