Monday, 21 January 2019

A visit to the food market

Rennes has the second largest food market in France outside Paris. The Marche des Lices takes place every Saturday morning and my advice is get there as early as you can so that you can park up (underneath the complex) and get to see the vast array of food products on offer. The market which is over four hundred years old opens at 7.30am and closes for lunch at 1 o'clock. Students attending our cooking school will also visit the food market at Dinan on Thursday morning (on route to Le Mont St Michel) but we do recommend that you make time on your trip to visit this extraordinary market on one Saturday morning during your visit. More information here: Marche des Lices.

Here is a video link Rennes Market Video Walkabout with Chef Poul

We were there last Saturday and here are a few photos to whet your appetite!







Bring your bicycle!

Brittany is one of the top places on earth to cycle! We say this for many reasons but the most important one is safety. Drivers here give great respect to cyclists on the road. They will wait until it is safe to overtake and then only do so with a wide birth. However if you prefer to cycle off road there are over 2000 km of well maintained dedicated cycle routes which run throughout Brittany.





  
Cycling is safe because many drivers also cycle. The roads and cycle paths are well marked and well maintained. The topography of the regions works well for cyclists with many undulating hills and rustic valleys but nothing to compound the average cyclist. The Tour de France is the most televised sport in the world. Every small town and village has its cycling club and everyone is involved from eight to eighty! The Kerrouet Cycle Club started in 1933 and the traditional Sunday cycle is still popular! The local topography of rolling hills and good quality surfaced small roads is another reason to cycle. What I particularly enjoy on the morning cycle is the numerous opportunities in tiny medieval towns and villages to treat yourself to a coffee and croissant. 




This morning we cycled from Kerrouet to the 12th century Cistercian abbey of Notre-Dame de Boquen less than an hour away. It's a lovely route taking you along ancient archaeological ruins (Allée Couvverte de lLa Hautiére/ Dolmen Tomb), ancient villages and beautiful countryside. 


 The famous French theologian and philosopher Bernard Besret was Prior of the Abbey from 1964 and was also involved in restoring the abbey to it's former glory. It is now in the hands of the French Catholic community of Chemin Neuf who will be delighted for you to visit and do some voluntary work for them. Here is a link: abbaye-de-boquen They also have Sunday lunches and a bookshop and craft shop. 




Monday, 15 October 2018

Beauport Abbey Quince

Within the sacred grounds of the beautiful 13th century Abbey of Notre-Dame de Beaufort lies a quince tree. It is currently heavily ( heavenly) ladened with swell ripe quince ( Keats would be in his element here on his ode  "To Autumn"!) With steely eyed determination, we quickly filled our bag with windfalls hoping the ghosts of the Premonstratensians monks would forgive our transgressions!





















It is an extraordinary place to visit not just for the Quince so I do recommend you visit if you get the chance. There is also an amazing orchard with over sixty unique varieties of apples and lots more to see. I love the spaces designed to sit and completely relax or pray or meditate whatever takes your fancy! Here is a link to the website for more information:
Beauport Abbey


Quince Jelly Recipe

Quince Jelly is easy to make. You keep the skin on the quince but remove the core with the seeds and any bad bits. Then simply dice and place in a large saucepan with water and boil the quince until soft.
















Measure the quince juice. For every 1 litre of juice add 800 grams of (pectin) sugar. Boil up  again mixing the juice regularly to ensure no burning at the base, for a further five minutes. Note the change in colour the more you cook the more red it becomes. The quince we used gave off an amazing perfume smell of roses and honey.




 Strain the water and place the remaining pulp in a muslin cloth over a large container and allow to drain overnight. Next day you may have to gently squeeze the cloth to get as much juice from the cloth as possible.

Place the jelly in a flat tin and allow to set in a fridge for at least 12 hours. It has a full solid texture and exquisite taste.







Quince is traditionally served with cheese and is particularly good with a strong cheese such as Comté, Tomme des Pyrenees's or Cantal.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Quinoa Burger with cauliflower and spinach

One of our most popular vegetarian dishes last year was the Quinoa Burger, It is so dam tasty you don't have to even be vegetarian to enjoy it. It's also dead easy to make and very versatile in terms of how you serve it. Here we present in on a nice French green bean base:



Ingredients 

200 gram white quinoa
200 gram cauliflower bouquets
Spinach chopped
2 cloves of garlic
4 eggs
200 gram fêta cheese
80 gram of oats
Salt and pepper

Method

Pour 1/2 litre of light salty water into a pan and add the quinoa, heat it and let it simmer for 15 minutes or till ready. Strain it and chill.
Put the cauliflower into food processor, chop it so it looks like rice.
Pour it into a bowl with the quinoa and the rest of the ingredients and mix it well,
 let it rest for 30 minutes.

Make 12 small frikadelle burgers and fry them in clarified butter till golden, 3-4 minutes.

Serving suggestion:
Serve on a bed of green beans.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

A Wine Tasting Day


It's been a long time since we took the open top out for a spin. The weather has been far too wet and cold!  However  last Sunday  was our first day of beautiful warm sunshine this year and so all we needed was a good excuse to get out. What better excuse can one have but to head to a wine tasting!

A  wine tasting in our very own lovely local town of Dinan is not to be missed. The French do their wine tastings together with the  local food producers and so you get the best of both worlds. These small wine and food artisans offer products rarely seen in the big supermarkets so you get an opportunity to meet lovely people and  taste some extraordinary foods and wines.


Bringing the open top also means we can't go completely mad with the credit cards as the boot will only hold a few boxes at best!!


Our first wine tasting  was a local small producer Benoit Merias from Montlouis sur Loire. We tasted some great whites - La Loge 2014 semi sweet and a La Maisonettes dry more sweet 2015 which was full of flavour. Both wines had great taste and full bodied and would be a delight with fish or seafood.
www.benoitmerias.fr .



 Montlouis sur Loire is located just outside Tours about three hours drive from our cooking school.



We all love a good rosé on a fine sunny day and our next tasting with Philippe and Esméralda Laduguie did not disappoint. In fact it was bursting with taste. Philippe and Esméralda run a small vinyard called Domaine de Saint-Guilhem near Toulouse about 10 hours drive from the school. This was without doubt one of the best rosé wines we ever tasted and its nice to know they offer accommodation at their vinyard so we will be making tracks to their sunny rustic place very soon. www.domainesaintguilhem.com 



Rosé d'Emeraude - A fine rosé bursting with flavour with a full body.



We were also smitten by the dry white Vermentino grape wines (originally from Sardinia/Corsica) but now growing at the Domaine de Cantaussel near Siron in the Pays D'Oc about 8 hours drive from our school. Jean-Luc owns a small vinyard of around 10 ha on limestone soils which produce the intense fruity aroma and the unique  terroire of the region: www.cantaussel.fr.


Vermentino - a very rich dry white wine with lots of flavour  (citrus and wild fennel) 


Well very soon we reached our maximum storage space and had to call it a day! However what a wonderful day it was with the discovery of some excellent new wines too!!



Home to Kerrouet  to sample a few more of those delicious wines!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

It's a dog's life at Kerrouet




Well spring has sprung at last and the garden is taking a lot of our time having been neglected for the past four months. It was a long cold wet winter. But now at last we have bright evenings and plenty of gardening to catch up on. However the point of this blog is to let you hear a message from me directly! So just clink on the link below:


Scoobeaudoo

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Buckwheat Galettes



The buckwheat galette is probably the most famous dish in Brittany. In every town and market place 
you will see the biggest queue is the one of locals waiting to order their galette for lunch. Don’t hesitate to join the queue in the market as you will be offered a sausage and onion all rolled up in a delicious buckwheat pancake or galette as is commonly known in Brittany.

The most wonderful attribute of the galette is their versatility. Whilst delicious on their own, they are a great accompaniment to lots of additional ingredients. The local farmers simply added the galette totheir morning  bowl of buttermilk for a healthy nourishing meal.  The most popular galettes served in cafes will add cheese, ham, vegetables, seafood and even fish. Its a great empty the fridge dish and one can experiment with all the ingredients and herbs one has to hand. My favourite ingredient is simply grated roquefort cheese and spinach or simply with brockley as in the above photograph.

Galettes are relatively easy to make but I recommend you make the batter the night before and let it rest in the fridge.

INGREDIENTS

(For 8 galettes)

250g buckwheat flour
1 egg
1tsp coarse sea salt
100 ml milk
200 ml water
Butter for cooking the galette on the pan.
Your additional ingredients to add to the galette once made.


As I said its best to make the batter in advance. Its very simple and a great way to get kids into cooking. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl making a well in the centre. Add the egg and salt into the well with a wooden spoon gradually bringing in the flour into the mix. Mix the milk with water and add a little at a time as you mix the batter into a smooth paste like mayonnaise. Add the mix to a food processor and add more milk & water as necessary until you get the consistency of cream. In the old days, the traditional method was for women to use their arms together in a big cauldron working the batter for up to four hours until the right consistency was found. Thank God for Kenwood!

Leave the batter overnight to rest.

Next day, grease a large pan with butter and heat up to 110 degrees (gas mark 1/4). Stir the batter well and place one ladle of the batter in the centre of the pan quickly swirling the ladle around so you get an equal spread on the pan. Cook until the edges go brown and add your additional ingredients now if you wish. Make an envelope shape of the galette so it looks good and cover for a minute. Serve immediately.

With this dish, as so often, practice makes perfect!

Serve with a glass of lovely cider.