Recipe of the month: Oyster Rockefeller and Christmas Log [fr]
For Christmas Holidays, our Chef Sébastien Baud presents two recipes to impress your guests!
This month, I would like to present two recipes for the Holiday season. Let us start with a recipe for oysters Rockefeller that has been changed slightly from the famous original. Then, of course, will follow a delicious Holiday staple, a Grand Marnier Christmas log with a flourless chocolate biscuit.
Before becoming world famous and executed in various declinations, the recipe for oysters Rockefeller was first created in the 19th century, by Antoine Alciator, at the restaurant L’Antoine in New Orleans. The oysters were covered with spinach béchamel, and reminiscent of the colors of a dollar bill. A client reportedly exclaimed, “These oysters are rich like Rockefeller!”
Before the expansion of Christianity, especially during Yule in Scandinavian countries or Cacho Fio in Provence, polytheist cultures had the custom of burning a log for several days, as an offering to the gods to ensure a bountiful harvest in the coming year. For several centuries, people kept up with the tradition, slowly burning a large log in the hearth on Christmas Eve.
When large fireplaces disappeared, the tradition lapsed. However, the date when the dessert that replaced it was created remains unknown. Some think a pastry chef invented it in 1945, but the Christmas roll cake was already an established tradition then, and had been in the Poitou-Charentes region since the end of the 19th century.
Originally, the Christmas log was a sponge cake spread with butter cream of various flavors, including coffee, chocolate, or Grand Marnier. The sponge cake was then rolled into the shape of a log, and covered with thin layer of butter cream using a piping bag fitted with a ridged nozzle.
Today, we can find many creative variations: Christmas logs are no longer limited to roll cakes, they are also made in molds; fruit mousse, Mascarpone cream, mousseline, jelly or creams have replaced butter cream, and there are many different kinds of biscuit.
The traditional Christmas log, with or without icing, often has sugar or plastic garnishes including Santa figurines, axes, handsaw or mushrooms. Famous pastry chefs have moved away from this style and favor a pared-down, more refined look.
OYSTER ROCKEFELLER - RECIPE FOR 4 SERVINGS
12 large oysters
1 bunch of chard
1 small fennel
200g of butter
3 sprigs of Tarragon
1. Vegetables for the flavored butter
Wash the chard, and chop the green leafy part roughly. Peel one of the stems (the others can be put to another use) and dice it in small cubes. Peel and finely chop the shallots. Peel and wash the fennel, and dice it in small cubes. Melt 15g of butter in a pan, and add the chard, adding salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool, after carefully draining, and removing as much water from the chard as possible. Mince it and reserve in the fridge. In a pan, melt 100g of butter. Sautee the shallots but don’t let them color. Add the diced chard stem and fennel, not allowing them to color either. Add salt and pepper. Cover and cook under low heat for 10 minutes. Deglaze with the Pastis, and allow the preparation’s volume to reduce by half. Set aside over ice.
2. Flavored butter
Rince, dry and remove the stalks from the tarragon. Chop the leaves finely. Cream the remaining butter. In a bowl, combine it with the minced chard, diced chard stem and fennel. Add the breadcrumbs and tarragon. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. Rectify the seasoning. Spread the butter evenly to a 3mm thickness, between two sheets of parchment paper. Set aside in the fridge.
3. Final steps and presentation
Shuck the oysters, and detach them from their shells. With a cutting shape cut 12 small disks out of the flavored butter that are about the size of the oyster shell. Reposition the oysters in their shells, along with the disk of flavored butter. Brown the oysters under a salamander or under the grill of the oven. Put some coarse salt at the bottom of your serving plates, and place the oysters, keeping them straight. Serve immediately.
GRAND MARNIER CHRISTMAS LOG - RECIPE FOR 6 SERVINGS
Flourless chocolate biscuit:
6 egg yolks
6 egg whites
½ cup and 3 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup and 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
Grand Marnier butter cream:
300g creamed butter
4cl water with a few drops of lemon juice
4 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
2 cl Grand Marnier
25g candied oranges cut in small cubes
1. Flourless chocolate biscuit
Preheat the oven to 280°C (350°F). Place a buttered sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with half the sugar until a ribbon forms. Gently incorporate the cocoa powder, and transfer the preparation to a bowl. Clean the mixing bowl and beat the egg whites almost until firm, and then add the remaining sugar to stiffen them further. Delicately incorporate the egg whites to the first preparation. Spread over the baking sheet to a ½ cm thickness, and bake for 8-10 minutes. Use a knife around the biscuit and immediately flip it over on a baking sheet or a cooling rack covered with parchment paper. Cover the biscuit with a clean, slightly moist towel. Allow to cool down.
2. Grand Marnier butter cream
Put the water, lemon juice and sugar in a pan to prepare the syrup. Heat until the sugar dissolves at a low boil, checking the temperature with a thermometer. The sugar will be ready when it reaches a temperature of 110-115°C. The bubbles will be smaller, and the sugar will start having a sticky consistency. Put the eggs in the mixing bowl, and start mixing them at small speed to render them more fluid. Slowly add the cooked sugar along the edge of the bowl. Continue beating the eggs at medium speed, paying attention to not burn yourself with the sugar. Keep beating until the mixture is warm, turns white and forms a ribbon. Incorporate the creamed butter gradually. As you do this, you should see the preparation start to emulsify. Once all the butter has been incorporated, the emulsion is stable. Add the Grand Marnier delicately.
3. Garnishing and rolling the biscuit
Cut the edges of the biscuit along a straight line. They are drier, and would make the biscuit more difficult to roll. Spread the Grand Marnier cream (reserve some for the outside of the log), and garnish with candied orange pieces. With the help of the towel, start gently rolling the biscuit. Cover the log with saran wrap, and reserve in the fridge for 10 minutes. Spread the remaining cream on the outside of the log. Cut the ends in a bias shape, and place them on top of the log as a decoration. Reserve in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 20 minutes before serving.
I will conclude with a quote from Anthèlme Brillat-Savarin:
“The love of good food is an act of judgement, through which we express a preference for things that are pleasurable to taste over those that do not have this quality.”