Steak au poivre à la Tour Eiffel

Steak au poivre à la Tour Eiffel

This is a festive pepper steak recipe for special occasions inspired by a newsclip on the French morning TV Télématin. They showed how the famous Tour Eiffel pepper steaks were prepared by their restaurant chef. He gently cooked the fillet steaks on one side only in a heavy casserole, then made the sauce from stock and cream in the same casserole while the steaks were kept warm on a plate. The steaks were reheated in the sauce. There was no pepper in the sauce but the upper side of the steaks was generously peppered.

The following pepper steak recipe is my twist. As we are used to cook the steaks on both sides, we did so but gently over medium heat. I added a little Italian truffle flavoured balsamic glaze in the sauce to intensify the mushroom flavour as I served the steaks with fried mushrooms and roasted tomato halves.

2 servings

2 fillet steaks, about 3 cm thick

Olive oil

150 ml chicken stock

120 ml full- fat cream, 30% fat

2 tsp. Italian truffle flavoured balsamic glaze

Freshly ground black pepper

About 2 handfuls sliced mushrooms

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tomato, halved

2 tsp. breadcrumbs

Chopped parsley or rocket to decorate

Warm 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and fry the mushrooms with garlic until nicely coloured. Then turn the heat to very low to keep warm.

Cook the chicken stock in a small sauce pan until reduced by about half. Keep warm.

Preheat the oven to 200°C roast. Spread 1 tsp. breadcrumbs over each tomato half and sprinkle some olive oil over them. Roast in the oven for about 15- 20 minutes until nicely coloured.

Warm 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a heavy steel frying pan and cook the steaks for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Pour the reduced stock in the pan, followed by the cream. Let the cream reduce a little, then stir in the balsamic glaze.

Divide the tomatoes, mushrooms, and the sauce on the plates. Place the steaks on top of the sauce and grind over a generous amount of black pepper. Decorate the vegetables with chopped herbs and voilà!


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Spaghetti with zucchini, shrimps and capers

Spaghetti with zucchini, shrimps and capers

This simple but tasty pasta dish is perfect when you want the dinner quickly on the table.

2 servings

1-2 zucchinis
About 200 g cooked shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. capers
Olive oil
50 ml white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. dried parsley
A handful of grated parmesan
Spaghetti for 2 servings

Wash and thinly slice the zucchini. Cut the slices in half.

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini, garlic, and dried parsley and toss well. Add the white wine and black pepper, cover and reduce the heat to simmering. Stir now and hen. The zucchini is cooked in 10 minutes. Then add the shrimp and capers for a minute or two to be reheated.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain the pasta, add to the sauté pan and stir.

Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the parmesan.


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Mont Gros above Sospel

Bunker at eastern summit of Mont Gros

Situated north east of Sospel, Mont Gros (1272 m) can be easily reached along hiking trails from Col de Brouis by the D2204 road (879 m).

Several bunkers on Mont Gros remind us of its military history. Built between 1931 and 1935 as part of the Maginot line, it was allegedly the most expensive fortification in south east France. The only battle where Mont Gros was involved in took place in June 1940, against the approaching Italian troops. The French withdrew from the fortification in July 1940.

The two summits mark the south-eastern point of the Mercantour National Park. The southernmost fir tree forest of the Alps covers the northern flank (inside the park) of Mont Gros.

We drove through Sospel and took the D2204 road towards Breil-sur-Roya. We parked at Col de Brouis next to our trailhead, and walked back 100 m to signpost #124. We forked right and walked first along a dirt track, passing a ruined garrison. Following yellow markings, we came to signpost #125 bordering the Mercantour Park. We then ascended continuously in the woods as far as to Baisse de Levens (1068 m), and a crossroads at signpost #139. The trail that forked right went to Mangiabo (1821 m); we took the opposite direction (east) and ascended gently along a trail that ran along the northern flank of Mont Gros in the fir-tree forest.

We emerged from the forest and reached signpost #138 on a grassy ridge, turned south and climbed steeply towards the mountaintop. The views from the ridge were excellent, notably towards Sospel, the Bévéra River Valley and the coastal mountains.

We passed the first bunker just before the summit. We climbed to the eastern summit (1266 m), above some bunkers and turrets. We had the best views from here. Continuing southwest, we passed several concrete structures, and climbed to the western summit (1272 m). In spite of being the highest point, it was less impressive. We explored the area a bit more after our picnic break, then descended back along the same trail.

Duration: 3h 30 active

Distance: 8,8 km

Climb: 430 m

Map: IGN TOP 25 N°o 25 “Vallées de la Bévéra et des Paillons” 3741 ET

Mont Gros trail track


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Risotto with butternut squash and duck breast


Risotto with butternut squash and duck breast

This is a great recipe in autumn and winter when butternut is in season. Roasting gives butternut a nice sweetness which goes well with duck breast.

The Moroccan spice mixture Ras el Hanout adds an exotic twist to roasted butternut. If you cannot find Ras el Hanout in your shops, it is easy to make by mixing ground turmeric, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper, and chili powder.

Roasted butternut cubes can be replaced by fried mushrooms; another great autumnal vegetable.

2 servings

1 duck breast, magret

For the roasted butternut:

About 2 handfuls of butternut cubes

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. Ras el Hanout

For the risotto:

120 ml risotto rice

120 ml white wine

About 700 ml chicken stock (you may not need it all)

1 shallot, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp. olive oil

About a handful of grated parmesan

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200° C, roast.

Place 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. Ras el Hanout in a plastic bag. Add the butternut cubes and give the bag a good shake. Line an oven tray with baking paper and pour the butternut cubes on it in single layer. Roast 20- 30 minutes until soft and nicely coloured.

Meanwhile cook the duck breast and make the risotto.

Criss’ cross the fat- side of the duck breast. Warm a heavy iron or steel pan over medium heat and start cooking the duck breast the fat- side down. After 10 minutes, turn the breast and continue cooking for 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board.

Make the risotto the classic way like in the recipe Seafood risotto with a twist

When everything is ready, slice the duck breast. Divide the risotto on two large plates and flatten to make a bed for the butternut cubes. Place the duck breast slices on the side. Bon appètit!


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