How to do Valentine’s Day the Jacques Pépin Way: 13 Recipes from the French Master
Black Olive Tapenade with Figs and Mint
What makes this tapenade special is the clever mix of oil- and brine-cured olives and the surprise of sweet, fresh and tangy notes from the dried figs, mint and capers.
Fromage fort is the ultimate way of using leftover cheese. Jacques Pépin's father used to combine pieces of Camembert, Brie, Swiss, blue cheese and goat cheese together with his mother's leek broth, some white wine and crushed garlic. These ingredients marinated in a cold cellar for a week to a week-and-a-half (he liked it really strong). Now Pépin's wife, Gloria, makes a milder version in a food processor that takes only seconds. It is delicious with crackers or melted onto toasts. It also freezes well.
Salmon Trout Tartare with Pressed Caviar and Tomatoes
Brandade de Morue au Gratin (Whipped Salt Cod Gratin)
The Provencal dish known as brandade de morue is a great example of how to elevate modest ingredients like salt cod and potatoes--in this case, by whipping them with milk, olive oil and garlic until luxuriously silky. Jacques Pépin's extra step of serving the dish au gratin (browned, with cheese on top) makes it that much more delicious.
Gruyère Cheese Soufflé
To get the most crust with the cheesiest flavor, Jacques Pépin uses a wide, shallow gratin dish, then creates a lattice on top with thin slices of American cheese. A souffle ramekin would work, too.
Roast Capon with Mushroom-Armagnac Sauce
Quick-Roasted Chicken with Mustard and Garlic
Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce
This is the quintessential beef stew. Jacques Pépin's mother served it at her restaurant, Le Pelican, where she made it with tougher cuts of meat. Jacques likes the flatiron—a long, narrow cut that's extremely lean but becomes tender and stays moist. He doesn't use stock, demiglace or even water in his stew, relying on robust red wine for the deep-flavored sauce.
Duck à l'Orange
Because a single duck rarely has enough meat to feed more than two or three people, Jacques Pépin prepares two ducks side by side when serving this classic dish to guests. And because he's roasting whole ducks, he cooks them until they're well done, which results in the crispiest skin and best flavor.
Coffee Rum Truffettes
Pépin flavors truffles with many ingredients, but he is especially fond of the coffee-rum combination in this recipe.
While restaurants traditionally make the buttery, orange-flavored sauce for this famous dessert tableside from start to finish, Pépin finds it easier to prepare largely in advance when entertaining. He flambes the liquor in front of his dinner guests and pours it over the platter of crepes while still flaming.
This souffle features preserved fruits and kirsch (cherry brandy). "The base for a sweet souffle is traditionally pastry cream," says Jacques Pépin. He substitutes bechamel here—it's "basically the same thing, but easier."
Warm Chocolate Cakes with Apricot-Cognac Sauce
These moist cakes get a richness boost from butter and extra egg yolks. Topped with a fruity, booze-y sauce, this warm dessert hits all the right notes for Valentine’s Day.