Tuan's 50th Birthday- 4/26/2014

A culinary trip with the French Laundry

Table Set up  5 course dinner


We are starting dinner with a trio of amuse bouche followed by a five course dinner.  It took me about 5 hours on Friday and a good 10 to 12 hours on Saturday to prepare and cook the food.

Amuse bouche

1- Gougères filled with mushrooms and béchamel sauce.

Gougères are these airy French cheese puffs that are usually flavored with Gruyere but here I am taking them to another level by filling them with sautéed mushrooms and béchamel sauce.

Click on LINK to see preparation


2- Tuiles salmon Tartar with sweet red onion creme fraiche.

This dish is one of the French Laundry signature dish.  I made is numerous times and it is always a hit.

Click on LINK to see preparation


The tuiles are time consuming to make as I can only bake 5 at a time but the result is a rich buttery, crispy tuile that is simply to die for.

The salmon, the crème fraîche and the tuiles go together so well that even with a generous portion it seems like it was gone too fast.

Phuc paired the 3 amuse bouche with a few bottles of chilled Kistler Chardonnay!  Kistler is probably my favorite white wine.

3- Bacon and eggs-soft poached Quail eggs with crispy bacon

This is an old French Laundry favorite where quail eggs are poached softly served with Brunoise (carrot, leek, turnips), crispy bacon, and served with beurre monté (emulsify butter).  Beurre monté is made with a few drops of water and chunks of butter whisked over a moderate heat to melt the butter and keep it emulsified, in one piece and creamy.

Can't go wrong with creamy butter sauce, quail eggs and crispy bacon.. Love this dish.

This is the last 3 Amuse bouche...


Good conversation while waiting for the next course...


Main Courses

1st course - Creamy Lobster soup.

    This is by far the best recipe for a creamy lobster soup.  The broth takes at least 2 to 3 hours to reduce and all the flavors are concentrated and yield a wonderful lobster flavor.

The dish is brought out with the poached lobster meat and without any broth.  I told everyone not to touch their plate yet as the broth is coming right after.

The broth is then poured at the table for a bit of show. This is an incredible tasty soup, creamy, flavorful, and simply delicious.


2nd course - Peas and carrots-Lobster pancakes with Pea shoot salad and ginger carrot emulsion.

Lobster are poached ...

The lobster meat is mixed with mascarpone, minced shallots, chives, and then wrapped in a home made crepe.

Of course everything is prepared in advance and store in the refrigerator.

The lobster crepe is heated in the oven first and then when plated and decorated with a bunch of fresh pea shoots.

The ginger carrot emulsion is reheated and ready to be poured around the crepes.

Just to give you an idea of how time consuming it is to make this sauce.  First I have to extract juice from 4 pounds of carrots and then  bring the juice to simmer and reduce it to a cup.  Just before serving I have re-heat the reduced carrot juice and add butter, a spoon at a time, to emulsify the sauce.

Final presentation.

This dish was simply amazing.  The ginger carrot emulsion complimented perfectly the crepe filled with lobster meat and mascarpone.  I was perfectly balanced! 


3rd course- Grilled prime filet Mignon (8oz) with green peppercorn served with French Fries and ratatouille.

Phuc originally ordered rib eye but since we only want 8oz per portion his butcher recommended to get filet mignon instead.  An 8oz rib eye is too thin so by the time the steak is grilled the center will be well done and that's not what we want.


Phuc grilled the steaks perfectly with  nice grill marks.



Ratatouille and French Fries are served together with the steaks.

Phuc paired the steaks with a great Peter Michael red wine.

Cheers to the birthday boy!


4th course- Cheese course -whipped brie with pepper and arugula and Roquefort trifle with French butter pear relish.

Whipped brie with arugula and balsamic glaze.

Click on LINK to see prepration

Roquefort trifle with French butter pear relish.

Tuan bought this Roquefort cheese in San Francisco.

This cheese was so good with a nice glass of red wine.

2006 Peter Michael  "Les Pavots"

"Supple and harmonious, with layers of ripe plum, currant, black licorice, cedar and cigar box that are evenly distributed. Rich and full-bodied without being heavy, this retains its focus and elegance, ending with a long, graceful finish and an espresso bean note. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Best from 2010 through 2016."
95 Points


5th course- Desserts

Velouté of bittersweet chocolate with cinnamon Ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Description from the French Laundry book: "Here, a seductive disk of molten chocolate sits atop a frozen platform of cinnamon ice cream -- for that hot-cold surprise -- in a pool of chocolate sauce."



Candied apple - creme de farine with poached apples, ice cream, and twist cinnamon puff pastry.

Hot fried cream of wheat served with cold ice cream and a variety of textures: crispy exterior of the cream of wheat disk, the luxurious ice cream, the crunchy puff pastry, finished with a sauce of the reduced apple poaching liquid.



Time to lit the candles and sing Happy Birthday to Tuan...


Happy 50th Birthday!



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