Tag Archives: French

Say “Cheese” for the Holidays

To celebrate Thanksgiving, my students and I created and enjoyed an elegant cheeseboard featuring the below seven cheeses.  As you know, a cheeseboard should contain cheeses of various textures from various countries of origin – this board did just that.  If seven is too many, choose any subset of three or five – an odd number is a must!

The below descriptions are from the cheesemonger and/or from the producer’s online descriptions.  Our accompaniments were Marcona almonds, Acacia honey, and fruit and nut crisps.

It was no surprise that the favorite was the Saint André…who doesn’t like butter? The Cambazola was also a standout and an effective way to introduce young turophiles to blue.

This assortment would be ideal for a holiday soirée with some Prosecco or Crémant d’Alsace.  Cheers, or should I say “Cheese”!

cheese-board

Saint André (France/Cow)

This soft-ripened, triple crème cheese is a product of Soulie, France.  Its luscious, mild, buttery flavor and velvety smooth texture make it a favorite of most everyone.  St. André may be served before a meal or for dessert with fresh fruit.

Mt. Tam (U.S.A./Cow)

This is Cowgirl Creamery’s signature cheese.  Smooth and creamy, this triple cream is made with organic milk in Petaluma, California.  It is firm yet buttery with a mellow, earthy flavor, reminiscent of white mushrooms. 

Taleggio (Italy/Cow)

This washed-rind, pressed curd cheese is from Lombardy at the foot of the Alps.  Its flavor is rich, buttery, and beefy with nuances of fruit and nuts.  Its texture is creamy yet substantial.  Fruit and crusty bread serve as good companions.  Serve it alone or consider sliced sopressata and prosciutto.

Manchego (Spain/Sheep)

This is Spain’s most popular cheese, and this version is aged for 4 months.  It is uncooked, pressed curd cheese that is made from sheep’s milk in the region Castile-La Mancha.  Look for the cross-hatched tire track pattern on its rind from the basket in which it was pressed and aged.  Enjoy it with fruit and truffle honey.

Ossau-Iraty (France/Sheep)

This cheese has been twice named the best cheese in the world.  It is made from raw sheep’s milk in the French Pyrénées.  One of the oldest and most heavenly of cheeses, its origin goes back thousands of years.  Enjoy the splendid nutty and fruity flavor of this firm cheese with fresh pears and figs. 

Couronne de Fontenay (France/Goat)

This cheese is from the heart of the Loire Valley and aged for one month.  The name means “crown” because it is shaped in a small crown shaped ring coated in vegetable ash.  While the center is a chalky texture, it becomes creamier closest to the bloomy (soft and fluffy) rind.

Cambazola (Germany/Cow)

This smooth, creamy, soft-ripened cheese combines a rich German triple-crème with Italy’s marvelous Gorgonzola dolce.  Cambazola is intended to appeal to those who find blue cheese a little too harsh and spicy.  The smooth and creamy texture is enhanced by subtle blue veins, creating a mouth-watering experience.

Rustic Summer Tart

For a simple, fruity dessert on a summer’s day, all you need is a good crust and some stone fruit…

Ingredients for the crust:

2 cup flours

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

3/4 stick chilled unsalted butter

1 egg, beaten

Iced water

Ingredients for the filling: 

4 red plums, pitted and cubed

4 nectarines, pitted and cubed

Juice of 1/2 lemon

3 tablespoons sugar

1 egg, beaten

Mix the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  With a sharp knife, cut the butter into small cubes and add to the dry ingredients.  Rub the pieces of butter and the dry ingredients together with your fingers until the butter is broken into tiny pieces.  Make a well and add the egg and drizzle in the iced water.  Begin to knead the dough quickly into a ball.  Add more iced water until the dough is just wet enough to form a ball.  Wrap the dough in waxed paper and chill for an hour until it is firm.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and add flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and the work surface.  Roll the dough into a circle until it is about ¼ inch thick and place it on a baking sheet.

Toss the fruit with the lemon juice.  Arrange the fruit in the center of the dough, leaving the outer 1 1/2 inches of dough uncovered.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Fold up the uncovered edge of the dough and pinch so that it stays overtop the fruit.  Brush the top of the dough with the beaten egg.

Rustic Summer Tart

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the fruit is golden and the crust is lightly browned.  Cool slightly before serving with a chilled French rosé, such as Château Pesquié Terrasses (2015) from Ventoux Rhône Valley Vineyards.  This blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah tastes of red berries and pairs well with fruity desserts.

Rabbit with Mustard and Spiced Apple Wine

For a succulent fall dinner, try this simple preparation of rabbit – the perfect balance of sweet and spice.

Ingredients:

One rabbit, cut into pieces

Sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

1 1/2 cup apple wine

3 tablespoons whole grain mustard (Edmond Fallot is my favorite.)

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence

3 tablespoons salted butter

5 cloves garlic, sliced

Salt and pepper the rabbit pieces.  Combine the wine, mustard, honey and Herbes de Provence in a bowl.  For this recipe, we used Chadds Ford Winery’s Spiced Apple wine – a gift from a friend!

Heat the butter over medium heat in a large stainless steel pan.  Our large steel round Mauviel frying pan was ideal for this recipe.  Brown the rabbit pieces on both sides.  Then, add the garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes until soft.  Pour the liquid mixture over the rabbit pieces.

Cook at 390 degrees for 40 minutes.  As an alternative to baking in an oven, we set our gas grill to the desired temperature and cooked with the grill closed.  Midway through the cooking, turn the rabbit pieces and spoon the thickening sauce over the rabbit.

Serve this tender and tasty rabbit with sautéed gnocchi and exotic mushrooms…and a Rhône.

Rabbit Mustard

Creepy…Like a Snail – Escargots in Butter

Ingredients:

1 baguette

1 dozen escargots

3 tablespoons French butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

3 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Finishing salt

Fresh ground pepper

For this recipe, I use Roland escargots.  Each can is 8.75 ounces and contains 12 escargots – perfect for two servings.  The benefit of using these escargots is that they are already clean and cooked; you only have to heat them.

Preheat the broiler.  Slice the baguette on an angle, two slices per person.  Place the slices under the broiler until they are golden brown on one side.  Then turn the slices over to brown the other side.  Remove the slices from the broiler and arrange two slices on each small plate.

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil.  Allow the pan to heat up and the butter to foam.  Add the garlic and scallions to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon.  Allow the garlic and scallions to cook for about 2 minutes.  Drain the liquid from the can of escargots and add them to the pan along with the parsley.  Turn the heat down to medium low and stir with a wooden spoon.  The escargots will only need to heat for about 3 to 4 minutes.  Spoon the escargots on each baguette serving, and drizzle with some of the butter mixture.

Snails

In response to Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Creepy

Eggplant and Tomato Tian

This Provençal dish is a bright accompaniment to a grilled steak or lamb chop.  The term “tian” refers to both the earthenware dish in which the vegetables are cooked and the gratin of vegetables and cheese itself.

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant (preferably Sicilian), thinly sliced

2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced

Fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil

Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a round 9-inch ceramic tart pan.  Arrange the eggplant in a layer on the bottom of the dish, permitting the slices to overlap slightly.  Then add a layer of tomato and season with pepper.  Continue to layer in this fashion until you use all of the tomato and eggplant.  Top with another drizzle of olive oil, and bake covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes.  Uncover, add the cheese, and bake for another 30 minutes until the vegetables are browned and the eggplant is tender.  Top with fresh basil and sea salt before serving.

Tian

Beneath Your Feet – A Summer Tavel

Summer is the season for rosés, and my favorites are French.  Tavel wine, known as the “King of Rosé”, is from the Languedoc region in Southern France.  This wine royalty is richer in color and more full bodied than the typical rosé.  Tavels are also quite versatile – I have paired them with meals ranging from a Salade Niçoise to a crispy duck leg.  Do not permit summer to pass by without savoring a Tavel from the wine cave.

Tavel Final

In response to Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Beneath Your Feet

Mara de Bois: Thoughts on a Special Strawberry

I could spend days strolling through the weekly market in the French town of Vaison-la-Romaine.  The vendors at this open air marché sell food and wares from sardines to soap, from Morbier to mattresses.  Of all the treasures on display in this maze of stalls, the Mara de Bois – the strawberry that is like a large ruby – is the most precious.

This flavorful gem is smaller and rounder than other varieties, and my husband and I were lured by its sweet perfume.  The merchant offered us a taste, and the aromatic sugar cube melted on my tongue.  Of the two pints we purchased, one made it back to the house.  It took all of my will power to save the other for dessert.  (The tiny berries are so delicate that you must consume them within hours of purchase; at least, that is what I told myself as I popped the juicy candies into my mouth.)

There was no need to stop at the confiserie after our trip to the market.  The Mara de Bois is a natural confection.  And, that evening’s dessert was the simplest I have ever prepared – two petite bowls of Mara de Bois.  No honey, no whipped cream, and certainly, no sugar.

Pistachio Madeleines

My go to madeleine recipe is from Fernand Point’s Ma Gastronomie (copyright 2008 The Rookery Press).   This cookbook is a collection of recipes and thoughts on food by Point — the famed chef and owner of Restaurant de la Pyramide in Lyon, France, where he honored the traditions of the culinary masters while creating new dishes showcasing seasonal ingredients in the early 20th century.  Point’s cuisine would likely be considered “farm to table” in today’s foodie vocabulary.  I recently modified Point’s recipe to include pistachios…

Raw Pistachios

Ingredients:

3 egg yolks

¾ cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons

14 tablespoons melted butter

Zest of one lemon

1 1/3 cups flour

5 stiffly beaten egg whites

1/3 cup of unsalted, shelled pistachios pureed in a food processor

Blend the sugar into the three egg yolks.  Then mix in the butter and lemon zest.  Add the flour a bit at a time, then fold in the egg whites followed by the pistachios.  Butter your madeleine mold and spoon the batter into the mold.   Bake for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees.  This cooking time is for a larger size madeleine (this mold will typically have 12 cavities).

Madeleines 3

When I made the pistachio madeleines, I used a De Buyer silicone mini madeleine mold with 20 portions and reduced the cook time.  The mini madeleines were a lovely summer green hue and made for a perfect accompaniment to gelato or sorbet.

Not Another Fruit Cake!

Enjoy some holiday gift ideas in my November issue of The Judicial Palate.

Not Another Fruit Cake!

This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of The Journal of the Delaware State Bar Association, a publication of the Delaware State Bar Association. Copyright © Delaware State Bar Association 2014.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

French Women Love Les Pâtes

Everyone knows that French women love wine and cheese, but did you know that they also love pasta?

French Women Pasta, a mother and daughter team based in Newark, Delaware, is a  local distributor for Pappardelle’s Pasta produced in Colorado.   You may have spotted French Women Pasta at local farmers’ markets during the summer months along with their over fifty flavors of pasta.  Although most farmers’ markets have ended for the year, French Women Pasta will participate in several fall and winter events as listed on their website at www.frenchwomenpasta.com (and will accept orders!)

My husband and I have tried several flavors, including the Lemon Chive Angel Hair, Orange Szechuan and Spicy Thai Linguine.  The pasta is packaged in eight ounce containers, ideal for serving three or four.

Pasta

The Lemon Chive Angel Hair had a subtle, fresh flavor – a perfect pairing for shrimp and scallops.  To prepare, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the pasta and stir.  While the pasta is cooking (which will only take a few minutes), heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and add several tablespoons of butter.  Allow the butter to foam, and tilt the pan around so that the butter coats the bottom.  Place the shrimp and scallops in the pan, cooking for about two minutes per side until opaque.

When the pasta is ready, drain the water and add the pasta to the sauté pan of seafood. Using a wooden spoon, blend the pasta and seafood and coat the pasta with the butter and oil.  You will likely need to add additional butter.  Plate the shrimp and scallops atop the pasta and season with freshly squeezed lemon juice, ground pepper and sea salt.  If you would like additional heat, try a dried red pepper!

Pasta and Seafood

Look for French Women Pasta and their unique flavors this fall…from Lavender to Porcini Mushroom to Lime Cilantro.