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The birth of Haute Cuisine . . . . .

Sabayon or ZabaglioneWe are all saddened by the passing away of the Queen Mother this week. The Queen Mother was one of two Royals I never cooked for - Fergie being the other. I never cooked for her, but I did once chat to her through the bars of Windsor Castle when I was a chef at a Hotel close by. She was an icon of a by gone era, an era of poise, of grace and of old world values. Many of us will miss her endless support of charities and being always so approachable.

So this week's planned recipe seems very appropriate, as it celebrates the birth of another queen and of classic French cuisine. Saturday 13th of April sees the anniversary of Catherine de Medicis' birth . . . okay, so she would be four hundred and eighty-three years old if she was still alive, but still worthy of a mention. Who? You ask? Not a name that would be familiar to many I know, but as you will know this column is always about learning as it is about fun and cooking.

Catherine de Medicis, was born in Florence, Italy on April 13, 1519. She was the mother of the last Valois kings of France. In 1533 she went to France as the bride of the future king Henry II, (who became king fourteen years later in 1547). When Catherine arrived in France she also brought with her a retinue of master chefs, who in turn introduced many of the Italian staples: milk-fed veal, baby peas, artichokes, broccoli and of course all their pastas. For the first time, the French court also tasted such delicacies as quenelles (fish dumplings), scaloppine and what we now tend to know by the French term Sabayon or, to give it, its original Italian name 'Zabaglione' (Zah - bag - lee - ohn - ee).

Catherine de Medicis, therefore, by many, is thought of as the 'mother' of French cuisine; the one who started French cookery on a course that produced the most complex and refined cuisine in the Western world.

So in celebration, I thought we would visit sabayons this week. Such a luxurious, velvety dessert and also the basis for many other dishes and sauces also. All one needs is four ingredients, that you probably always have, so it is a great standby dessert for when friends pop around or your planned dessert goes slightly astray.

Many of you may know this dish from holidays in Italy, where it is served as commonly as milk shakes are in the UK and USA. I love it served over crumbled, Italian almond macaroons with some sliced, toasted almonds folded through the sabayon before I pour it into the glasses.

Ingredients for Sabayon or Zabaglione

egg yolks
castor sugar
white wine

How to make Sabayon or Zabaglione

  • Place the yolks and sugar into a round based bowl and whisk until almost white
  • Gradually add the wine and Marsala while whisking
  • Place the bowl over a bain marie and whisk until it is three/four times the original size and is light and fluffy, it should hold onto the whisk and mound nicely when dropped
  • Remove from the heat and whisk until cold
  • Pour into champagne flutes and serve with a light biscuit like Madeleines or Italian macaroons. It is best consumed within 30 minutes of production.

Chef's Tip for Sabayon or Zabaglione:

A bain marie is more commonly called a 'double boiler' . It is used when gentle cooking is required. When using ensure there is only enough water to cause steam, the boiling water should never be allowed to touch the bottom of the bowl or it will 'burn' the ingredients.

The Marsala and wine may be reduced by gentle simmering before hand for a more intense flavour but without the alcoholic content.

Other flavours may be added to taste: port, sherry in place of the Marsala or Grand Marnier, Grappa, etc in place of the wine

Sabayon may also be used as a light sauce with a little whipped cream folded in. Or make a decorative plate of tropical fruits, a whole poached peach or fresh, mixed berries and spoon the sabayon over, glazed with a blow torch or under a hot salamander / grill for a minute.

Enjoy and bon appetit . . . . .

Chef's terminology:

litres   tsp = teaspoon
millelitres   tbs = tablespoon
kilograms   sq = sufficient quantity (add to taste)
grams   pc = piece, meaning a whole one of

Recipe from professional
Chef Tallyrand

Email Hub-UK : info@hub-uk.com