On my last trip to Bourgogne, I discovered the delights of the blackcurrant, mostly in the liquid form of cassis added to a Cremant de Bourgogne to make the lovely kir royal aperitif. These little black jewels thrive in the vine growing soils of the region and are soaked in alcohol to make the delicious creme de Cassis.
In the beautiful town of Mersault, we also discovered another refreshing way to enjoy creme de cassis - in the form of Melon au Cassis. This fantastic entree took the form of a melon with light grey-green skin and bright orange super sweet and fragrant flesh. Seeds removed, its centre was filled with a shot of very, very chilled creme de cassis. In Sydney were the temperature yesterday reached a blistering 39C (or about a 100F), I think this creation from Bourgogne could take a starring role as the entree on your Christmas table - perfectly light and hugely reviving on a hot day.
Back in Mersault, the melon au cassis was followed by a delicious course of rabbit and tiny, tender spring vegetables. The rabbit cut like butter and melted in your mouth, along with the wine and herb filled pan juices.
Before stopping for lunch we had also stopped by the Caveau du Domaine Jean Monnier, where we had tasted some outstanding Bourgognes Rouges. Established in 1720, the Monnier family now own 42 acres of 25 to 60 year old vines. The Domaine Jean Monnier Volnay, had wonderful aromas of bright cherry and plum, with a spicy earthiness on the palate. The Pommard "Argillieres" 1er Cru was a serious wine with plenty of vegetal and mushroom notes. It also had liquorice and was tart with slight rhubarb and cranberry notes at the end.
To capture a little bit of Bourgogne and Mersault for my family and friends in this years Christmas hampers, I decided to experiment with the little black jewels of Bourgogne creating a sweet, dark jam with a tiny bit of lemony tang - and a slight hint of brandy in a Christmassy nod to the alcohol added to the currants to make creme de cassis.
Blackcurrant, lemon and brandy jam
1kg blackcurrants (fresh or frozen)
1kg caster sugar
4 lemons (juice and zest)
2 tablespoons of brandy
1. Place the currants in a pan with sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest over low heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
2.Increase the heat until the mixture is at a slow boil.
3. After around 30 minutes, test to see if the mixture has reached a set (place a spoonful onto a chilled plate and push the mixture. If it wrinkles and a skin forms, it is ready. If not, cook jam for another 10 minutes and test again. If you want a very strong set - you may want to add some store bought pectin at this stage).
4. Once set, stir in the brandy and then pour into sterilised jars.
This jam is absolutely delicious added to a very chilled glass along with a large dollop of drained Greek yoghurt. I also love the purple, magenta colours of the jam - they remind me very much of an Australian Christmas with the bloom of bright pink and purple hydrangeas and the leaves of the jacardana trees under the hot sun.
Last but not least, the third way I will be bringing Bourgogne into my kitchen this Christmas is via a coupe dijionaise a la creme de cassis (cassis sorbet with whipped cream, toasted almonds and mint). You may recall in my last post about Bourgogne Vines, Wines and Snails in Beautiful Bourgogne that I nearly lost my mind when I tasted the
the explosion of tart black currants in this divine sorbet. I could not rest until I had sourced the recipe, so here it is!
500g blackcurrants (fresh or frozen)
250 ml water
200g caster sugar
juice of half a lemon
200 ml creme de cassis
1 egg white beaten until frothy
1. Put the blackcurrants, water and sugar in a pan and cook on a low heat for five minutes.
2. Sieve and to the blackcurrant juice add the lemon and creme de cassis.
3. Chill the juice mixture and then blend in an ice cream maker.
4. When the mixture is almost frozen, add the small amount of egg white and continue processing. You will notice immediately that the sorbet is much fluffier.
5. Serve with whipped cream, toasted almonds and a sprig of fresh mint.