Celebrating Jacques Pépin

Jacques Pépin’s birthday is tomorrow and he is going to be 80. That is amazing isn’t it?  He is such an icon in the culinary world, the celebration has been going on for some time now.  Like just about every food blogger,  I had actually used this as an excuse to plan an elaborate dinner. The Girlfriends (aka dining club) were poised to gather this past Sunday. Then a friend offered me six tickets for the Baltimore Ravens Game. Now we always get together for dinner so it was a no brainer to take Elizabeth up on her offer. It was so much fun to pile into a mini van and enjoy an afternoon at the game. The weather was beautiful with temperatures in the 60’s, we had an amazing time, even though the Ravens are struggling this year, the day was glorious.

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This is the thing that we need to accept. Life gets busy and we take the opportunities we have and enjoy it to the fullest. That is what Jacques teaches us. So instead of celebrating Jacques with toast at an elaborate dinner, Steve and I were home together last night exhausted from all of the holiday festivities (or should I say he was exhausted, having a meeting on Monday night, then his Men’s Club Christmas Celebration on Tuesday). I took the opportunity to slow things down with Jacques Mother’s Deviled Egg Salad and Potage Parmentier. The two recipes in his memoir he refers to fondly and with good reason.

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As I chopped the leeks and potatoes then blended in my home made chicken stock, I was struck by how simple and comforting this dish really is. This is where the heart and soul comes from. The simplicity and comfort of this dish was amazing. As I served us these simple dishes with some basic grilled chicken and San Pellegrino, it was like a collective sigh of releaf. Steve & I sat down at the bar (which serves as our breakfast nook) and enjoyed this simple dinner I was struck with the realization this is probably the way Jacques celebrates tomorrow with his family. A nice quiet dinner with all of the comforts simple food provides. Just the opportunity to catch our breath in the midst of all the daily chaos is what Jacques is all about.

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This summer Food and Wine Celebrated Jacques in an article where Thomas Keller stated that Jacques: “taught us that food doesn’t make sense unless you share it with someone.” That is what what I remember when Jacques comes to mind.  Last night Steve and I ate simply, enjoying each other’s company and toasted to Jacques. I think he would have approved.

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In the doldrums of winter we’ll gather and prepare the elaborate menu I had planned:  Pate, Jacques Skillet Duck with Parsnips and Shallots along with a decadent dessert. We’ll toast to Jacques contribution to our dining club and I’ll think of this nice quiet and humble dinner and how warm and comforting it was. The simple menu that showed us the true spirit of Jacques Pepin.

Pan Crisped Deviled Egg Salad inspired by Jacques Pépin


    For the Eggs
  • 8 Large Eggs, hard boiled and peeled
  • 1 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1 - 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarse chopped
  • 1/2 - 1 Tablespoon of Capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon of Mayonnaise
  • 2 Teaspoons Champagne Vinegar
  • Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • For the Dressing
  • Leftover Egg Stuffing
  • 4 Tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 generous teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of Mayonnaise
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 - 2 Teaspoons of finely chopped fresh Basil
  • Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
  • For the salad:
  • 4-6 Cups of mixed lettuces, washed and dried in a spinner
  • A Few Handfuls of Croutons (optional)


  1. Slice the eggs in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place in a small bowl. Set the white of the eggs cut side up on a plate. Add the mustard, garlic, onion, parsley, mayonnaise, and vinegar to the yolks. With a fork, crush everything together into a thick paste. Add the milk ia few drops at a time to thin the mixture if needed, then season with salt, pepper to taste.
  2. Spoon the yolk mixture into the hollows of the egg whites, the filling is to be even with the surface of the egg, not mounded. Set aside the leftover stuffing for the dressing.
  3. Now for the dressing: Mix all of the dressing ingredients into the bowl with the leftover egg stuffing. thin with a few drops of milk, if needed, then season with salt and pepper
  4. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Gently place the eggs in the pan, stuffed side down. Sauté until the eggs are beautifully browned, checking frequently. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper as they cook.
  5. Divide the lettuce between 4 salad plates, scatter the croutons over the lettuce. Gently lift the eggs from the pan, set them on the greens filling side up, drizzle with the dressing and serve.
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