The only highlight of being left at home while your significant other goes to Europe is receiving food gifts when he returns.
Jacob went to a conference in Hungary a few weeks ago and traipsed around Eastern Europe afterwards. I stayed in Beijing, fuming about the ridiculous cost of a Beijing-Budapest ticket in August (and finally escaping to Hong Kong in frustration.) I was, however, ecstatic when he brought home not only chocolate and liquor, but also goose liver foie gras and fresh Hungarian truffles.
What to do with these, what to do, I mused, while bouncing around in giddiness. (You must understand, dear reader, that while I am blessed with abundant Chinese food here, I have also been seriously deprived of decent Western cuisine.) The truffles had to be used, pronto, before they lost their fragrance. I was reminded of one day in culinary school, when the stewarding department accidentally sent up a softball-sized chunk of black French truffles instead of a few ounces; when the chef-instructor shrugged and turned a blind eye, my classmates and I feverishly shaved the entire chunk and made the most decadent polenta I am likely to ever eat in my life. Likewise, this time I also had to liberally use truffles in whatever I made.
Unfortunately, Beijing is not Italy or even Fairway, so I couldn’t find the porcini or chanterelle mushrooms I wanted for the risotto of my dreams. I finally made a brown-butter shell pasta with shaved parmesan and truffles, which tasted better than it photographed. Then I made french toast.
Or toastettes, if you will, since the sliced bread I bought seemed too thin to be used whole. I mixed the foie gras with shaved truffles and added some salt and pepper. At first I slathered the mixture on the bread before cooking. Then I realized there was no need to add fat on top of fat when the liver itself was beyond indulgent. In the end I just cooked the bread and left the foie gras untouched, with the exception of a few seared bits for texture contrast. More shaved truffles, of course, were sprinkled over the finished product.
Friends who live in China should go to Hungary more often. And bring me along.
French Toastettes with Foie Gras
Mix 1/2 tin of foie gras with shaved truffles and a few pinches of sea salt and ground pepper. Set aside.
Pan-fry a few bits of the foie gras-truffle mixture.
Slice sandwich bread slices into quarters. Dip in egg wash, then cook in a nonstick skillet with butter until golden brown on each side. Slather the foie gras mixture on top, then add seared paté. Sprinkle additional truffle shavings on top, then serve.