Rouge, Blanc & Bleu

Cafe-Chloe-1Rouge, Blanc & Bleu

With Independence Day and Bastille Day celebrations on the calendar this month, bring the best of American and French cuisines to the table. Here are three chefs’ tasty twists on classic fare that are worthy of fireworks.


Café Chloe

Two American favorites — tuna sandwiches and potato salad — gain French flair when prepared by Katie Grebow, executive chef of East Village’s popular bistro, Cafe Chloe. The pan bagnat (literally “bathed bread”) is a succulent blend of tuna confit, crunchy vegetables, olives and eggs drenched in basil-scented vinaigrette, while the salad substitutes garlicky aioli for traditional mayonnaise.

Pan Bagnat
Serves 8

1 1/2 to 2 lbs. fresh tuna
Salt and black pepper
1 lemon
A few leaves of any of the following herbs: thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil
5 garlic cloves
Approx. 1 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 hard-boiled eggs, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. cup basil leaves, sliced into thin strips
2 Persian cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 c. nicoise olives, pitted and halved
2 baguettes, cut into fourths

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Cut tuna into slices and season all sides with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish. 

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the baking dish. Add lemon halves to the baking dish, along with the herbs and three garlic cloves. Add olive oil to almost cover the tuna. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes, until the tuna is cooked through. Leave tuna in the oil and cool.

Finely chop the remaining garlic cloves, place them in a bowl with the vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes.

Stack the basil leaves and slice to make thin strips. Add to the vinegar and garlic cloves. Whisk in 3/4 cup olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Turn oven up to 375 degrees. Cut the four baguette pieces lengthwise, leaving the halves attached. Pull some bread out, leaving the shells a bit empty. Place in the oven for a few minutes until the inside is lightly toasted.  

Fill the baguettes with evenly divided amounts of tuna, cucumber, tomato, egg and olives. Rewhisk the vinaigrette and pour a few spoonfuls over each sandwich, rewhisking as needed to maintain an emulsion. Squeeze the sandwich tightly to soak the bread with the vinaigrette. Serve with Fingerling and Asparagus Salad With Aioli.


Fingerling and Asparagus Salad with Aioli
Serves 8

3 lbs. fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
1 bunch asparagus, sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 c. olive (not extra virgin) or canola oil
Salt and pepper
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, chopped

Put fingerlings in a pot and cover with water. Salt the water, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes, until potatoes are knife-tender. Drain and cool on a plate.

Bring a small pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook for one minute. Drain and put asparagus into an ice water bath until cool. Drain and set aside.

Place garlic in a mixing bowl with egg yolks. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put shallots and parsley in a mixing bowl and add the fingerlings, asparagus and aioli. Stir to combine. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Suggested beverage pairing: A dry rosé



Currant American Brasserie

Executive Chef Walter Manikowski and Sous Chef Isiais Sanchez wanted a mussel dish to serve bar customers at Currant American Brasserie inside the chic Sofia Hotel downtown. “What better combination for the bar than beer and bacon?” Walter says of their tasty creation, a twist on the wine-sauced French classic moules mariniere.

Moules & Frites Brasserie
Serves 4-6

2 large leeks
2 T. butter
1/4 c. water
1 t. salt
Homemade french fries
Kosher salt and pepper
Fresh thyme leaves
6 oz. pancetta, medium diced
1 t. chili flakes
1 T. minced garlic
4 lbs. Mediterranean mussels, scrubbed and debearded
2 c. Kona Longboard Lager
3/4 c. butter, cut into small cubes

Trim off the roots and green parts of the leeks and discard. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and slice the halves into 1/4-inch half moons. Rinse under cold water to clean thoroughly.

In a sauté pan, melt the butter. Add water, salt and the leeks. Cook until the leeks are tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Make french fries and with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves. Set aside and keep warm.

In a Dutch oven, cook the pancetta over medium heat until crispy and rendered of fat. Remove pancetta and drain fat from the pan, reserving 1 tablespoon.

Add leeks, chili flakes and garlic to the Dutch oven and cook over medium heat 3-5 minutes. Add mussels and pancetta and cook just until the mussel shells open, about 5 minutes. Add the lager and cook until reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper, remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted.

Divide the mussels among warm bowls. Ladle the broth over the top and serve with fries on the side.

Suggested beverage pairing: A farmhouse ale like Saison de Beaver from Belching Beaver Brewery, Vista


Cafe Bleu 1

Café Bleu

Café Bleu in Mission Hills accents American surf and turf with two classic French sauces and thin French green beans (haricots vert) redolent with herbs. For easy entertaining with this elegant dish, Chef Manny Vargas suggests making the demi glace in advance to reheat before serving.

Surf & Turf
Serves 4

For the demi glace:
2 c. beef stock
2 T. shallots, diced
1/2 c. red wine
1/2 T. fresh thyme, chopped
1 t. whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 t. tomato paste
2 t. unsalted butter

For the garlic mashed potatoes:
1 1/2 lbs. Yukon potatoes
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 oz. peeled garlic
2 T. unsalted butter
1/4 c. heavy cream
Salt and white pepper to taste

For the lemon beurre blanc:
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 c. dry white wine
1 T. shallots, minced
1/2 c. heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. unsalted butter, cut into 4 cubes

For the haricots vert:
1/2 lb. haricots vert, destemmed
1 1/2 T. unsalted butter
1 T. shallots, finely chopped
1 T. fines herbes
Salt and pepper to taste

For the beef and fish:
4 5 oz. filet mignon
Kosher salt and cracked black peppercorns
8 jumbo shrimp, tail on, shelled and de-veined
4 jumbo scallops
1 T. unsalted butter
1 T. white wine

Place all the demi glace ingredients except the butter in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon when done. Remove from heat and strain. Stir in the butter until melted. Adjust seasoning to taste. Set aside and keep warm. (Can be made in advance and refrigerated up to a week.)

Peel and evenly dice the potatoes. Place in a large saucepan, add salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat butter and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add cream and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10-15 minutes.

Drain potatoes and put them in a bowl. Add the garlic cream and mash until creamy. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring lemon juice, wine and shallots to a boil, cooking until reduced by half and slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the butter, allowing each piece to melt before adding the next. Remove from heat and strain. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill.

In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add haricots vert and cook 2 minutes. Drain and plunge beans into ice water. Drain and pat beans dry with a towel.

Season the filets with salt and peppercorns. Place on the grill and cook until desired doneness.

While the filets are cooking, add shrimp, scallops, butter and white wine to a sauté pan and cook until done. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat butter over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Cook the shallots until translucent, about 1-2 minutes. Add the beans and sauté 2-3 min., stirring often. Toss with fines herbes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 1 minute more.

To serve, place mashed potatoes in the center of four warm plates. Spoon demi glace around one side of the potatoes and beurre blanc on the other side. Lean a filet up against the potatoes on the demi glace side and two shrimp and a scallop on the beurre blanc side. Stack haricots vert on top of the potatoes and serve.

Suggested beverage pairing: An Oregon pinot noir to enjoy with the filet and a dry Riesling from Alsace, France, for the seafood.

Categories: Food & Drink