Posts in Monaco
Caviar and Champagne Cocktails

When I think Monaco, I think glitz, glamor, caviar, and champagne. And of course Daniel Ricciardo flying face first into the Red Bull pool after pulling off a redemptive win on the streets of Monte Carlo. 

Any excuse to have a cheese plate, some fancy nibbles, and a tasting menu of champagne is a good one for me. I found some cheeses from Italy and France to honor Monaco's neighbors and served up some caviar with melba toast, whipped cream cheese, and crunchy radishes. 

cheese plate and caviar

Caviar can be served on its own or with whipped cream cheese, butter, or even creme fraiche. Suggested additions range from sliced radishes to smoked salmon or hard cooked egg. 

If serving with radishes, a trick to get them extra crunchy is to slice and let rest in ice cold water for 15 or so minutes. Serve caviar in a bowl of crushed ice to keep it chilled. Serve with a non-metal spoon, traditionally mother of pearl, to prevent metallic taste transfer. 

Caviar

Champagne cocktails are some of the easiest and most elegant cocktails. Everyone feels special drinking from a champagne flute, and with just a little creativity things can be made even more delicious. 

 

Champagne Cocktail

Classic Champagne Cocktail

1 oz sugar
Angostura bitters
1/2 oz cognac
Champagne
Optional garnish: Lemon or Orange twist

Add sugar to the base of a champagne flute, shake 2-3 dashes of bitters to saturate the sugar. Add cognac and swirl. Top with champagne or sparkling wine. Garnish with a twist. 

 

Kir Royale

Kir Royale

1/4 oz creme de cassis
4 oz champagne
Optional garnish: raspberries or lemon twist

Add creme de cassis to champagne flute, top with champagne or sparkling wine. Garnish with raspberries or lemon twist (optional).

 

St. Germaine Champagne Cocktail

St. Germaine Champagne Cocktail

1/2 oz St. Germaine
1/2 oz lemon juice
4 oz champagne

Add St. Germain and lemon juice to champange flute. Swirl to combine. Top with champagne or sparkling wine.

Bonus Cocktail:

Negroni Sbagliato 

1 oz campari
1 oz vermouth
3 oz champagne

Add campari and vermouth to champagne flute or rocks glass, swirl to combine. Top with champagne or sparkling wine.

2018 Monaco GP: Gnocchi with Mushroom Ragu & French Country Salad

Monaco always gives me a feeling of flighty, effervescent, indescribable excitement. The race is set amongst a weekend filled with sparkling locations, yachts in one of the most famous and beautiful harbors in the world, celebrity faces, smiling drivers, and excitable teams. This is a race weekend when qualifications are almost more important than the Sunday race. The drivers put it all on the line, just them against the clock, against the world. Coming so close to barriers you can barely watch sometimes as they fly around the track. Ricciardo showed the world just what he was made of this weekend. Fastest lap - ever - at Monaco in qualifications and he managed the race handily.  And as the consummate racer he is, he showed his humor and grit throughout. From "I got this buddy" in response to his Engineer near the end of a tough race, to a quick bow to the Prince and Princess before doing his now requisite shoey, he made the day for more than just his fans. He showed the world who he is. 

I always know what I am watching over this weekend, but what to eat is a whole other story. Searching for Monagasque Cuisine has not been the easiest venture. Even the Wikipedia page is sad and practically empty save for two dishes I see time and again: Barbajuan and Socca. In fact the only people apparently searching for specifically Monaco inspired food are other people cooking for F1 races! I found this blog in my search: Race Day Recipes ! I knew I couldn't be the only one with this hobby... Over time, I have also found some fellow enthusiasts on Instagram who I am always inspired by. 

I suppose the challenge may come from the fact that "Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, nestled on the east coast of France near Italy on the Mediterranean. Given its location, the cuisine of Monaco is heavily influenced by French and Italian styles. " Vagabond Journeys

Instead of fighting against the influences, I looked to French and Italian cuisines and Monagasque chefs and restaurants to build a menu for the Monaco GP. Inspired by recipes of Chef Alain Ducasse (of Restaurants Paris, and  Le Louis XV - à l'Hôtel de Paris in Monaco, fame) I decided to make Gnocchi with a Mushroom Ragu. Served with a French Country Salad and simple French Vinaigrette. For starters we decided to just go for it and have caviar and champagne cocktails. Alongside I found some delectable cheeses from France and Italy. All in all, it turned out positively lovely. 

Monaco Dinner

 

Gnocchi with Mushroom Ragu

Adapted from Food & Wine, Serious Eats and Smitten Kitchen

Gnocchi
3 pounds russet potatoes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Mushroom Ragu
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds mixed mushrooms, such as porcini, oyster and hen-of-the-woods, quartered if large (cremini work equally well and are more widely available)
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup vegetable or chicken broth, plus more if making sauce ahead of time

To make the Gnocchi

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Pierce potatoes all over with a fork. Set on a wire rack over a baking tray. Bake for 45 minutes – one hour until tender throughout. Rotate halfway through for even cooking. In the meantime, prepare the mushroom ragu.

2. Remove the potatoes from the oven once tender, let cool slightly. Using tongs or a kitchen towel to hold potatoes, peel them, being cautious of the steam they will release.

3. If you have a potato ricer, that is the right tool for the job. If you don’t… try Smitten Kitchen’s solution and use a box grater. Or my solution and use a food processor with the grater attachment. (Honestly, it is not perfect, but it’s also not a mono-tasker!) Rice or grate potatoes onto a clean work surface, let cool for a few more minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl using a bench scraper.

4. Gently stir in egg, egg yolk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and ½ cup cheese.

5. Add flour a little at a time to the potato mixture, mixing with your hands. Use only as much as you need so that dough does not stick to your hands.  Bring dough together with your fingertips and transfer dough, and bits in the bowl, to a cleaned and well floured work surface. Using a fold and press motion, gently knead until smooth. (Serious Eats cautions against using the smearing motion commonly used when kneading bread.) Once the dough is a uniform texture separate it into four balls.

6. Clean work surface well, and dust with fresh flour. Roll out one of the four pieces using your fingertips into a long rope about 3/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into 1 inch pieces using a bench scraper. Transfer to a floured baking tray.

If you want the traditional gnocchi shape, press each piece of dough against the tines of a fork. With your finger, gently roll the dough over the back of the fork creating indents.

7. To cook the gnocchi, place them into a pot of boiling and well-salted water. Stir once very gently with a spider or slotted spoon to prevent sticking. After a few minutes the gnocchi will float to the top. Continue to cook for one minute then remove with a spider or slotted spoon, shaking gently to drain before placing in serving bowl.

8. Serve topped with mushroom ragu and a healthy sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

To make the Mushroom Ragu

1. In a very large skillet, cook mushrooms in batches by melting 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add half of the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until tender and just browned, about 7 minutes. Add half each of the shallots, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. In the skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and repeat with the remaining mushrooms, shallots, garlic and thyme.

2. Return all of the mushrooms to the skillet. Stir in the wine and cook until nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes.

3. Add the broth and season the ragù with salt and pepper; keep warm over low heat.

4. When ready to serve stir in extra broth to get to desired consistency and warm through.

Notes on the Ragu:

Ragu can be made ahead and set on low on a back burner or even refrigerated for up to a day, before serving add just enough chicken broth to rewet ingredients and create a sauce to your preferred consistency.

It may seem finicky to cook the mushrooms in batches, but this is important to promote browning and prevent them from just getting mushy from steaming them in their own juices when they are crowded in a pan. Take the time to cook the mushrooms in batches, and you will be rewarded with delicious browned rich flavor.

 

French Country Salad

French Country Salad

Adapted from Mon Petit Four and Recipe Tin Eats

5 oz arugula, approximately 5 cups
1/2 pound asparagus tough ends trimmed
1/2 cup sliced cooked beets canned
1/4 cup walnuts halves, toasted
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

French Vinaigrette

1 tbsp finely chopped shallots
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2-4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake until emulsified. Set aside.

2. Steam asparagus until just tender, rinse under cold water to stop cooking process. Set aside.

3. Combine arugula and cooled asparagus in a bowl, top with desired amount of vinaigrette, mix until well coated. Transfer to serving bowl. Top with sliced beets, walnuts, and goat cheese. Drizzle on a little more vinaigrette as desired.

Monaco GP - Beef Daube and Champagne

Monaco, oh, Monaco. If ever there were a dream of opulence and grandeur, you are it. With the nearest neighbors being France and Italy and sitting so elegantly on the Mediterranean sea, it is the setting of dreams. I can only imagine walking the streets, eating at sidewalk cafes, seeing beautiful people and even more beautiful cars.

dsc_0129.jpg

I was inspired to delve in to my French cookbooks for this year's Monacan Grand Prix. Dorie Greenspan has a way of making all her recipes perfectly comprehensible and doable even if they have 20 ingredients and take 3 hours! This was perfect served with some roasted root vegetables and a tall glass of champagne. 

 

Go-To Beef Daube

Dorie Greenspan's Around my French Table, thanks to Serious Eats I did not have to type all this up!!

4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces
One 3 1/2-pound beef chuck roast, fat and any sinews removed, cut into 2- to 3-inch cubes
2 tablespoons mild oil (such as grapeseed or canola)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 yellow onions or 1 Spanish onion, quartered and thinly sliced
6 shallots, thinly sliced
1 garlic head, halved, horizontally, only loose papery peel removed
1 1/2 pounds carrots, trimmed, peeled, halved crosswise, and halved or quartered lengthwise, depending on thickness
1/2 pound parsnips, trimmed, peeled, halved crosswise, and quartered lengthwise (optional)
1/4 cup Cognac or other brandy
1 bottle fruity red wine
A bouquet garni—2 thyme sprigs, 2 parsley sprigs, 1 rosemary sprig, and the leaves from 1 celery stalk, tied together in a piece of cheesecloth

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Put a Dutch oven over medium heat and toss in the bacon. Cook, stirring, just until the bacon browns, then transfer to a bowl.
  3. Dry the beef between sheets of paper towels. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the bacon fat in the pot and warm it over medium-high heat, then brown the beef, in batches, on all sides. Don’t crowd the pot—if you try to cook too many pieces at once, you’ll steam the meat rather than brown it—and make sure that each piece gets good color. Transfer the browned meat to the bowl with the bacon and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour off the oil in the pot (don’t remove any browned bits stuck to the bottom), add the remaining tablespoon of oil, and warm it over medium heat. Add the onions and shallots, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the onions soften, about 8 minutes. Toss in the garlic, carrots, and parsnips, if you’re using them, and give everything a few good turns to cover all the ingredients with a little oil. Pour in the brandy, turn up the heat, and stir well so that the brandy loosens whatever may be clinging to the bottom of the pot. Let the brandy boil for a minute, then return the beef and bacon to the pot, pour in the wine, and toss in the bouquet garni. Once again, give everything a good stir.
  5. When the wine comes to a boil, cover the pot tightly with a piece of aluminum foil and the lid. Slide the daube into the oven and allow it to braise undisturbed for 1 hour.
  6. Pull the pot out of the oven, remove the lid and foil, and stir everything up once. If it looks as if the liquid is reducing by a great deal (unlikely), add just enough water to cover the ingredients. Recover the pot with the foil and lid, slip it back into the oven, and cook for another 1 1/2 hours (total time is 2 1/2 hours). At this point the meat should be fork-tender—if it’s not, give it another 30 minutes or so in the oven.
  7. Taste the sauce. If you’d like it a little more concentrated (usually I think it’s just fine as is), pour the sauce into a saucepan, put it over high heat, and boil it down until it’s just the way you like it. When the sauce meets your approval, taste it for salt and pepper. (If you’re going to reduce the sauce, make certain not to salt it until it’s reduced.) Fish out the bouquet garni and using a large serving spoon, skim off the surface fat.
  8. Serve the beef and carrots moistened with sauce.

The round up for F1 related fun times for this week:

One of my all time favorite F1 related media has to be George the Poet on Monaco from 2013. We watch it religiously every year, and get goosebumps with every re-watching. If you haven't seen it yet, you're welcome!

This year with Fernando Alonso making his bold move into American MotorSport this McLaren poster was on point. 

Not to be outdone Ferrari kept their designs gorgeous as ever. 

And last, but certainly not least, graphic designer and artist Chris Rathbone created this excellent contribution for Alonso at Indy!