20 March 2006

Menu #5: An Aquitainian Feast

[Posted by Colin.]

This weekend, Amy and I continued our culinary tour de France with a some excellent recipes from Aquitaine. For the appetizer, foie gras de canard poêlé aux pommes (duck foie gras with apples); for the main plate, magret de canard aux cérises (duck filets in a cherry sauce); and for dessert, gâteau basque aux cérises (Basque cake with cherry filling). We had Banyuls (similar to Kirsch) as an apéritif, and our wine was a lovely Saint-Emilion Grand Cru.

I recommend waiting until cherry season for these recipes...they're darn near impossible to find in Paris at the moment!! (After visiting our street market, three local fruit markets, and about four supermarkets, the organic food store next door came through for us!) This marked our first experience with foie gras. We're not converts yet, but I think we're both at least willing to try it again. The main dish and dessert, however, are definite keepers for our return to the US—especially since Michigan is cherry country!

So...here we go:

Foie gras de canard poêlé aux pommes (Duck foie gras fried with apples)
Serves 4
Preparation time: 20 min
Cooking time: 15 min


  • 4 slices of duck foie gras
  • 4 golden delicious apples
  • 50 g (3.5 Tbsp) of butter
  • 1 Tbsp of honey
  • 4 Tbsp of cider vinegar
  • 25 g (about 2 Tbsp) of flour
  • 1 Tbsp of apple jelly
  • 15 g (1 Tbsp) of salt
  • 5 g (1 tsp) of pepper


1. Wash the apples and cut them in quarters. Cook them in a frying pan with the butter over low heat for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, salt and pepper the foie gras, then roll each slice in flour. Shake off any extra flour.
3. When the apples are halfway done, heat up a non-stick frying pan and cook the foie gras in it for 2 minutes on each side. Salt and pepper at the end. Remove the foie gras and keep them warm under a sheet of aluminum foil.
4. Add honey and the vinegar to the frying pan and heat it for 2 to 3 minutes, until the sauce has a syrupy consistency. At the end, add the apple jelly.
5. Serve the foie gras with the sauce. Garnish with the apples on the side.

Magrets de canard aux cerises (duck filets in a cherry sauce)
Serves: 4
Preparation time: 45 min
Cooking time: 25 min


  • 2 filets of duck (about 400 g each)
  • 500 g (about 1 lb.) of cherries
  • 10 cl (about 1/4 c.) of kirsch or Banyuls
  • 2 tsp of vinegar (ideally, vinaigre de banyuls or a wine vinegar)
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 50 g (about 3.5 Tbsp) of butter


1. Cut a criss-cross pattern into the skin of the filet. Place it skin-side down in a frying pan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
2. Turn the filet and sear it over high heat.
3. Reduce the heat and continue to cook the filet for another 5 to 10 minutes, turning it often and making sure that it stays pink in the center. Salt and pepper at the end of cooking.
4. While the filet is cooking, wash the cherries and remove the pits.
5. Heat the olive oil over high heat in a frying pan. Add the cherries for 2 to 3 minutes. Spread some sugar over them, stir, and simmer for 2 to 3 more minutes. Remove the cherries with a skimmer and set them aside.
6. Add the kirsch to the frying pan and let it boil for a couple minutes. Add the vinegar and thicken the sauce.
7. Add the cherries to the sauce and stir. Then add the filet and spoon the sauce over them. Cook for 2 minutes, turning the filet once or twice.
8. Cut the filet in thin slices and serve with the cherries.

Gâteau basque aux cerises (Basque cake with cherry filling)
Preparation time: 30 min (plus setting for a couple hours)
Cooking time: 45 min


  • 280 g (about 3/4 c.) of flour
  • 200 g (about 1/2 c.) of sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 200 g (about 1 2/3 sticks) of butter
  • 1 tsp of grated lemon zest
  • 1 jar of cherry pie filling (confiture de cerises noires entières)
  • salt


1. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a crater in the middle and place in it a pinch of salt, the sugar, the whole egg, and one of the egg yolks. Mix the ingredients by stirring outward from the center. Gradually add the butter. Also add the lemon zest.
2. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in cellophane. Leave it at the bottom of your fridge for a couple hours so that it firms up.
3. Preheat the oven to 190° C (375° F).
4. Separate the dough into two parts, one a little larger than the other.
5. Butter a cake pan. Press the larger ball of dough into the bottom of the pan. It should be roughly the same thickness everywhere and should climb up the sides a bit.
6. Spread the cherry pie filling on the dough in the pan.
7. Roll out the remaining ball of dough and cover the cake with it, sealing the edges.
8. Add some water around the edges to moisten the dough. (NB: this step is important, otherwise the edges will be dry out way too much.)
9. Cut some slits in the top. Mix the second egg yolk with a little bit of water, then brush it on top.
10. Press hatch-marks into the top with a fork. (To make it look like a traditional gâteau basque.)
11. Cook for 45 min. (NB: Gâteaux basques are usually served cold, but Amy and I liked this recipe better when it was still warm.)


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