Every New Year’s Eve, I host a gastronomic party to celebrate the passing of one year and the birth of the next. It usually progresses (regresses) into a Bacchanalian celebration. The table laid with the finest china and silver, our stomachs tempted with turbot, black truffles, caviar and foie gras, and too many bottles of Champagne to count.
The better the ingredient, the simpler the preparation should be. Simple and pure pairings, like roast chicken and white Burgundy or older Barolos drank with white truffles, are timeless combinations that should never be improved upon. Likewise, a simple caviar preparation is always best and preferred.
Prepare yourselves for the roaring voice of the God of Joy! – Eurides, The Bacchae
A tin of caviar on a bed of ice is all you need – Sturia caviar can be eaten on its own. You’ll love caviar’s roll-in-the-mouth eggs when you taste it in small spoonfuls.
This year, I bought a 250-gram tin of caviar from Sturia, my absolute favorite producer. Sturia is based in Bordeaux and considered France’s leading producer. They pioneered caviar production worldwide and offer some of the finest available. My preferred style is their Primeur, a caviar refined in salt for only four weeks as opposed to the usual several months. It has a taste explosion of creamy hazelnuts that I have never tasted before.
Crepes Vonnas with Caviar, Smoked Salmon, and Creme Fraiche
I wanted to do a dish so simple it would allow the caviar flavors to shine, so I opted for a dish I use to prepare often as a professional chef: Crepes Vonnas (potato crepes) with Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche. Famed three-star Michelin chef Georges Blanc popularized these feather-light potato crepes that his grandmother Elisa, one of the famed Mere Lyonnaise, invented.
The crepes are perfect on their own, with caviar, or even served with a simple roast chicken. Best of all, you don’t have to wait for New Year’s Eve to enjoy, try them this weekend, and share with us on social media using the hashtag #PistouAndPastis. We LOVE to see what you make!
Note: Watch this video of Georges Blanc, from the Great Chefs series, making a variation of Crepe Vonnas at his excellent restaurant in Vonnas, France.
Vonnas Crepes, Mere Blanc's Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon and Caviar
These crepes are perfect on their own, with caviar or even served with a simple roast chicken. They make the perfect dish when hosting a dinner at home because of their rare combination of ease and elegance. Try them this New Year's Eve and share your creations with us on social media with the hashtag #pistouandpastis. We LOVE to see what you make!
Potato Crepe Batter
- 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 eggs
- 4 egg whites
- 4 tablespoons cream
- 8 ounces creme fraiche or sour cream
- 8 slices smoked wild salmon
- caviar, as much as you can afford
Potato Crepe Batter
Boil Yukon gold potatoes till mashable, about 15 minutes.
While still hot, peel potatoes and mash in a food mill or potato press.
Add milk, flour and whole eggs.
Lightly beat egg whites then fold in.
Add cream and adjust seasoning. You may want to add a few grates of nutmeg.
Cook tablespoons of crepe batter in a nonstick pan with lots of butter. When they are brown and crispy flip over and finish cooking on the other side. Despite the name and your possible connotations with it, these crepes are more like thick pancakes.
Put a spoonful of creme fraiche on a room temperature plate and top with two slices of smoked salmon. Cover with a potato crepe. Garnish with more creme fraiche and as big a spoonful of caviar as you can.
Boiling Potatoes: try adding an unpeeled garlic clove, a bay leaf, sprig of rosemary and thyme and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt to the boiling water. It will add depth and flavor to your potato dishes.