Saturday, 11 February 2017

Jerusalem artichoke soup

This is a delicious soup which will sustain you through those cold winter months. 


1 pound of Jerusalem artichokes, washed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of cream
1/3 cup of chopped onion
2 teaspoons of chopped garlic
1 teaspoon of freshly chopped chives
2 cups of chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste


Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan on high.

Add the onion and garlic, and saute for 2 minutes or until they soften.

Add the Jerusalem artichokes, and continue to sauté for 2 more minutes.

Pour in the chicken stock, and simmer the blend until the artichokes have softened.

Pour in the cream and bring the mixture to a boil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Purée the soup in a blender until smooth. You can strain it through a sieve for an even smoother result.

Sprinkle chives over the soup, and serve it warm.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Slow Cooked Lamb Shank

Slow cooked lamb shank is one of my favourite winter dishes. Using the slow cook method requires a slow cooker and if you are looking for one make sure they have the capacity to sear as well as cook slowly and even more important, the capacity for holding sufficient quantities (this dish serves 8 so it needs to hold 8 lamb shanks as well as sauces and vegetables).

There are a large number of slow cookers on the market and they range in size and cost from $50 to $150 so ensure you know what you are going to use it for. The slow cooking itself is fairly basic but it is added on elements which drive up the cost. We use a Cuisinart which cost $130 on offer and are very happy with it.


2 tbsp olive oil
8 lamb  shanks
1 onion , roughly chopped
2 carrot , roughly chopped
few sprigs fresh rosemary
3 fresh bay leaf
4 garlic  cloves, left whole
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato  purée
350ml white wine
500ml lamb or chicken stock
Strips of kale lightly blanched (optional)

Method using a slow cooker
This recipe assumes you have a large slow cooker with facility to sear/brown as well as slow cook. Pour the oil into the slow cooker and add the shanks. Spend a good 10 mins browning the lamb all over.  Remove the shanks. Add the onion and carrot and cook for 10 mins until starting to brown. Stir in the herbs and garlic and cook for a few mins more. Stir in the flour and tomato purée, season well then pour over the wine and stock. Return the lamb shanks to the slow cooker. Switch to simmer, cover with a lid and slow cook, undisturbed, for 7 hrs.
Remove the lamb from the sauce and set aside. Put pan back on the heat and reduce it down for about 15 mins until rich and glossy. Pass through a sieve into a jug. To serve, reheat the lamb in the sauce, adding a splash of water if the sauce is too thick.

This dish goes exceedingly well with garlic mash, pan fried mushrooms and strips of kale.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Traditional French Onion Soup

French Onion soup prepared and served the traditional way is hard to beat especially on a cold wet winter evening!
This classic dish is delicious and will have your guests salivating at the door! 
 PrepTime 35 mins serves 4-6 persons. 

4 medium Roscoff onions cut in half and sliced into 3mm slices (regular onions can be used too)

50 gram of butter

1 tbsp of plain flour

200 ml of dry white wine

1.5 litre of boiling water

salt & pepper

1 teaspoon  of sugar if needed

1 very small clove of garlic (optional)


To serve;

12 slices of Baguette cut into 1 cm thick slices

150 gram of grated Comte cheese - or similar cheese ( Emmentaler)



Put a large non stick pan on the stove and melt the butter without browning, add the onions and soften them for 5 minutes and stir frequently, season with salt and pepper. 


pre-heat   the oven to 200 degrees


Caramelising the onions by continuing cooking the onions for 20-30 minutes to achieve an even, rich brown caramel colour , remember to stir every 2 -3 minutes to preventing burning


sprinkle the flour an a baking tray and cook in the oven for 8 minutes or until it is very lightly brown, stir in the flour into the caramelised onions and mix thoroughly.


Gradually stir in the white wine and one third of the boiling water, Whisk well and add the remaining water. Bring to the boil, skim off any impurities from the surface and simmer for 15 minutes. 


Taste and correct the seasoning, adding the sugar if needed. and a tiny bit of garlic 



Arrange the bread slices on a baking tray and sprinkle two thirds of the grated cheese over them.

place under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes to melt and slightly brown cheese.

serve the soup with the croutons on top and serve the rest of the cheese separately .


Thursday, 8 September 2016

Nicest village in France

We count ourselves lucky to live within easy access to two of the most popular tourist sites in France : the amazing monastic fortress of  Le Mont St Michel  and the megalithic spectacle of Carnac. However Brittany has lots more to offer. The little town of Rochefort - en- Terre has won the prestigious "Prettiest village in France" twice in recent years and is only just over an hour away from our cooking school. Just the spot to visit in between cooking classes!

There is a lovely chateau to see as well as the town with its wide range of shops and galleries. It is a real gem! 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Dance of Death, 11 Apostles and an Irish Prince all in one little chapel

Students often ask me what is there to see and do in Brittany when not cooking in the kitchen. I usually refer to the astonishing beauty of the Briton coastline, or the medieval splendour of ancient towns and villages but rarely do I think of churches! Well that is a big mistake as I recently found out by my trip to the little 13th century Chapel of Kermaria An Isquit  located just six kilometres from the town of Plouha in northern Brittany and only about an hour's drive from our cooking school.  This little chapel deserves to be nominated for listing as a UNESCO world heritage site for its breathtaking frescoes of the Dance of Death visible along both sides of the nave and painted between  1483 and 1501.

The chapel is thought to be the work of Henry of Avaugour and other Lords of Goelo who wanted to show their gratitude to the Virgin Mary after returning home safely from their crusades in the Holy Lands in 1240. The first building dates from the 13th century includes the first four spans of the nave and the side aisle.  It was promoted by the monks of the Abbey of Beauport and expanded as it became an important place of pilgrimage with further expansion in the 15th and 17th centuries. The visitor enters through a Gothic porch where amazing original wooden sculptures of the 12 apostles stand either side as you enter the chapel.  Sadly one statute (of St Luke) was stolen from the collection in 1907 and has never been found. More worrying is that there are signs of woodworm in some of the sculptures so they do need proper maintenance and security if they are to last for future generations to enjoy.

However it is the Danse Macabre or Dance of Death which draws most visitors to the chapel. This is an extraordinary collection of frescoes which were only discovered in the middle of the 19th century by Charles de Taillard one of the original descendants of the lords who owned Kermaria since the 16th century! In fact it was the discovery of the frescoes in 1857 which saved the chapel from demolition. These frescoes were initially inspired by the Dance of Death painted in Paris in 1424 under the arcades of the cloister of the grave of the Satin Innocents, reproductions of which were widely circulated throughout Europe.

The thirty figures which are holding hands represent living persons of all ages and all classes but separated by emaciated cadavers who put a rhythm into the dance. Here is some further information:

There is so much more to see here that I suggest you visit at 3pm in the afternoon when you can avail of a very knowledgeable guide to show you around (the chapel is open from 10.30am to 12 noon and 3pm to 5pm each day).

Initially I assumed this little fellow was St George with his dragon but I have been reliably informed and that he is St Michel et le dragon!  You can also see him at Le Mont St Michel which is another great trip to make one day!

I was intrigued to note the commemoration to St Maudez with the tiny Irish harp in the little stained glass window on the left side of the alter.  This Irish prince had visited Brittany in the 6th century and gives his name to both the island of Maudez (near Ile de Brehat) where he built a monastery and the commune of St. Maudez in Cotes d'Armor.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Latest Review

Of all the culinary courses you have arranged for me, this was quite simply
the best so far. From the small class size to the very, very hands on
preparation to the sheer amount of recipes we learned to blend together from
scratch including lessons on presentation and proper table setting to the
simply sublime flavors of each and every dish--appetizers to desserts and
everything in between. There really was no dish I did not enjoy! Throw some
amazingly refreshing cocktails in that mix, too! As that is how Poul started
every dinner. I have already replicated some of these new dishes back in
Hawaii to the gratification of many sated stomachs!!

Both Poul and Niall were friendly and accommodating at all times. Meal
conversations were varied and interesting and very international. Definitely
as much fun as the classes themselves.

I will definitely pass the word on to friends and will hope I get to come
back again one day in the future.

Lia H August 2014