In the country house, it's okay if things are a little akimbo.
I recently spent a morning with Chef Laurent Tourondel, creator of the popular BLT Restaurants, in his country house kitchen on Long Island. A gaggle of French relatives plus Laurent's girlfriend and her family had descended for a holiday weekend so the house was full of energy. Pancakes, from Laurent's book, Fresh from the Market: Seasonal Cooking with Laurent Tourondel (Wiley) were on the menu. The pleasures of this visit were many: I not only got to open the cabinets and drawers of a famous chef, but I got to have the best pancakes of my life.
Upon entering this house, it is immediately apparent that nothing here is too precious, and everything is well-used and loved. It is a gathering place, and this day was no exception. Chef Tourondel moved in a few years ago, did a little bit of work on the kitchen to brighten it up, mostly with white cabinets and a bunch of great eBay finds.
His pride and joy in the kitchen is the "beach blue" (officially Provence Blue) La Cornue stove. It is one of the few things I asked about that did not come from eBay. "I think eBay is a good way of not moving out of your house, but still spending your money," Tourondel said.
The rest of the kitchen is simple and minimal, with open shelving, only as many plates as he needs, and dry goods in antique French jars.
The bounty of the east end of Long Island's local farms was part of the inspiration of Chef Tourondel's latest cookbook, Fresh From the Market: Seasonal Cooking with Laurent Tourondel. Though he is probably best known for his famous burger, he prepared for me the best pancakes I'd ever had.
I was struck by his tiny two-drawer Sub Zero refrigerator freezer. "I don't spend much time here at a stretch, so it's efficient."
When I asked about decisions like the bluestone countertops and if his contractor sourced the materials. His response was, with his best French Chef confidence, "No contractor! I was the contractor!" It is apparent, in all the best ways.
Maine Blueberry Pancakes with Orange Blossom Maple Syrup
adapted from Laurent Tourondel
1 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled + 3 tablespoons, softened for cooking
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups Maine blueberries
Whisk the maple syrup and orange blossom water in a small bowl to blend. Place over a small pan of simmering water to warm.
Whisk the milk, eggs, and oil in a medium bowl to blend. Slowly whisk in the melted butter, making sure not to cook the eggs. Whisk the our, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the egg mixture into the our until just combined. Be careful not to overmix or the batter will break.
Heat a griddle or large nonstick pan over medium heat and brush the surface with 1 tablespoon of the softened butter. Using 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake, ladle the batter onto the griddle. Cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle some of the blueberries evenly over the pancakes, then ip the pancakes over.
Cook until the pancakes are brown on the bottom and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining butter, batter, and blueberries.
Serve immediately with the warm orange blossom maple syrup on the side.
Good Links for Laurent Tourondel:
• Fresh From the Market: Seasonal Cooking with Laurent Tourondel (Amazon, $23.10)
• LT Burger
• BLT Market
Related: Rachel Saunders's Retro Kitchen
Thank you so much for sharing your kitchen with us, Laurent!
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(Tour images: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)