This month’s recipe is from the famous Italian fashion designer, but was written in French. This is not just a sign of the years Valentino spent at the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, then serving his apprenticeship in the city, or his decades as a rival to the great Paris couture houses. It is also about his love of entertaining at Château de Wideville. Valentino bought the estate, 30km west of Paris, in 1995. It has been known to host parties that would make Elton John blush at the excess. Yet Valentino has suggested a dish that is practically an exercise in restraint – at least for a man who often has an extra limousine just for his pugs. It is an elegant, French country salad of artichokes, spinach shoots, curly endive, tomatoes and poached eggs. The hollandaise, made with ten egg yolks, is rich, but not nearly as rich as the man himself.
300g spinach shoots
1 frisée lettuce
Prepare the salad, removing the stalks from the spinach and keeping only the yellow parts of the lettuce.
8 camus (large) artichokes
12 poivrade (baby) artichokes
Trim the camus artichokes, keeping only the hearts. Leave for 1 hour in cold water with a squeeze of lemon juice, to keep their whiteness. Trim the poivrade artichokes, keeping part of the stem, and soak as before. Cut the poivrade artichokes in two, lengthways, and cook in chicken stock. Cook 6 of the camus artichokes in the same way (reserve the 2 remaining artichokes to make crisps). Take a round, 6-7cm pastry cutter to perfectly shape the camus artichokes. In a pan with a little olive oil, colour all the cooked artichokes on both sides. Heat a deep fat fryer to 150°C, finely slice the 2 spare camus artichokes using a mandoline and fry them, then drain well on kitchen paper and season.
20 red cherry tomatoes
6 (oval) Roma tomatoes
Blanch and peel all tomatoes, quarter the Roma ones lengthways and deseed. Place all on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and sugar. Roast at 90°C for 2 hours.
8 fresh eggs
150g white vinegar
Bring 2 litres of water to the boil in a pan, add the white vinegar and keep at a simmer. Break the eggs one by one into ramekins then pour into the water. Remove as soon as the white is set, then cool immediately.
10 egg yolks
Juice of 2 lemons
250g clarified butter
Whisk the egg yolks with 100g water and a pinch of salt, making figure of 8 movements, in a pan over a low heat (65°C) to obtain a custard. Add the clarified butter, butter and lemon juice and season. Pass through a fine strainer to remove any lumps.
Season the salad and dress with olive oil. Place first the spinach, then the lettuce on a silver platter. Position the poached eggs on top of the artichoke hearts. Then add the poivrade artichokes, the cherry tomatoes, the ‘petals’ of Roma tomato and the artichoke crisps. Finally, pour the hollandaise sauce over the eggs.