Monday, 8 February 2016

A visit to the food market at Dinan

Our students spend a lot of time in the kitchen (most days up to 8 hours per day (from 10 am to 2pm and from 6pm to 10pm)) so when they get the opportunity (on Thursday morning) they usually are delighted to get out and explore what the French do really well  - the food markets! Every little town in France has its own unique food market and these are held on different dates and times in different areas so it is best to check with the local tourist office in advance of your visit. We can tell you when the food markets in Brittany are held and recommend you visit at least one during your visit. What our students are most impressed with is not just the variety and quantity of foodstuffs on display but also the dedication and sheer love and pleasure which is evident in regard to both the market seller and the customer. It does not matter whether it be the baker, the fishmonger, the vegetable supplier or the flower merchant, all are bound together for the love of their food and wine and it is such a colourful, vibrant and positive experience. This is humanity at its best all searching and finding the best produce for sale at the best price in beautiful surroundings. If you have the time I would strongly recommend you visit the Marche de Lice in Rennes (https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/March%C3%A9_des_Lices) on Saturday morning as it is renowned as being one of the best food market in all of France! Rennes is only an hour from French Dining School so is easy to get to but other lovely markets are also available to visit near us including Dinan, Lamball, St Malo and Moncontour. I attach some photos taken by one of our recent students who came from Cape Town in lovely South Africa (Thank you Ronney).

Artichokes

Take your pick!

Chard & Pumpkins

Practice your French

Great displays

Carrots galore

Radish

Tomatoes


Sausages

Scallops

Fresh made pasta











Friday, 29 January 2016

Gourmet Brittany

Brittany is renowned in France and throughout the world for the quality and variety of its seafood. Cancale oysters and scallops are sought for their unique taste and culinary delight. Brittany is also famous for a whole range of wonderful dishes from the famous galette buckwheat pancake to the “Far Briton” a local custard cake. The mussels and lobsters of Brittany are considered the best in the world. The region is also known for its artichokes, ciders and local cheeses as well as its locally produced calvados or “eau de vie” – the water of life! Brittany is also famous for its extraordinary coastline, its medieval castles, towns and villages. Great tracts of original forest remain where wild boar roam and are hunted in season. So what better place to visit for your French cooking school vacation? Here are some photos to whet your appetite.


French Dining School Brittany France
Scallops in a Sauternes Sauce
Local cider

Langoustines in garlic butter. lemon & parsley
Cooking School
Dinan Rue de Port

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Orange and Lemon Chocolate Candy


If you tend to have a deluge of orange and lemon rind around the kitchen,  making your own home made chocolate candy is a wonderful  idea, This is a delicious chocolate sweet which will delight your neighbours and friends. It is also very easy to prepare.

Recipe

The peel of 3 oranges and 2 lemons
Half litre of water
1 kilo sugar
500g pure dark chocolate



Blanch the peel with boiling water after cutting them up into short bite size strips. Remove the white pith beneath the peel. Add the water and sugar to a pan and bring to boiling point. Add the orange/lemon peel cuts to the boiling water for two minutes, let cool. Repeat this six or seven times. Strain the peel cuts and allow to dry out so they are sticky. Place some grease proof paper on the table. Melt the chocolate gently in a pan and once melted remove from heat. Dip the peel cuts into the chocolate and place on the grease proof paper to dry. Store in an air tight container.






Saturday, 23 January 2016

Hot Chocolate with Cognac

There is only one drink which drives away the winter blues - hot chocolate laced with cognac, chilli, cinnamon and whipped cream. You will need:

150 g dark chocolate
400 ml milk
100 ml whipping cream
10 ml cognac
pinch of chilli
pinch of cinnamon

2 warm mugs/large glasses


First heat up the milk and chocolate stirring constantly to avoid burning. Whip the cream to a light fluffy texture. When the milk and chocolate are melted together, pour into warm mugs/glasses. Add the cognac and sprinkle  with chilli. Add the whipped cream and sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon on top. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Beautiful Brittany - it's not just the food!


Brittany is not only famous for its gastronomy. Yes most people place a high value on the top quality food products available in the restaurants and food markets of Brittany. After all, Brittany is the garden of France. Not just for pork, beef, lamb but vegetables including all the basics - potatoes, carrots, cauliflowers and greens but artichokes, onions and garlic too! Brittany supplies most of the seafood consumed in France including oysters, mussels, scallops and lobsters. The fish market too is exceptional supplying the bulk of sea bass, monk fish, turbot, mackerel and cod. How can a place supplying such phenomenal foodstuffs also be so beautiful?  We just need truffles to make the place perfect! I hear they are on the way thanks to global warming!

Here is a short video of some of the beautiful sights which await you in Brittany (or Breizh) as the country is called in its Celtic language.

Monday, 18 January 2016

French Onion Soup


It's hard this time of year to beat a good French onion soup. This is a winter warmer dish which pleases on so many levels and particularly on a cold miserable day. It is also surprisingly simple to make at home and well worth the effort. There are numerous recipes for this soup but this is my own unique take following years of practice  which gives it that extra special magic!


Ingredients (serves 4)

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 tsp of sugar if needed
1 very small clove of garlic (optional)
Fresh chives (optional)

To serve;
12 slices of Baguette cut into 1 cm thick slices
150 gram of grated Comte cheese - or similar cheese ( Emmental)


Method
Place 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.
Caramelise  the onions by cooking them for 20-30 minutes to achieve an even, rich
brown caramel colour ; remember to stir every 2 -3 minutes to preventing burning. 
Add 20g of flour in a baking try and bake in the oven for 8 minutes or until the flour is very lightly brown, Once browned, stir 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.

Serving; 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 the cheese.














Serve the soup with the croutons (and chives) on top and serve the rest of the cheese separately .

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 tsp 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
)
French Dining School
French Onion soup
serves 4-6
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 tsp 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
)
French Dining School
French Onion soup
serves 4-6
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 tsp 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
)
French Dining School
French Onion soup
serves 4-6
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 tsp 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
)
French Dining School
French Onion soup
serves 4-6
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 tsp 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
)
French Dining School
French Onion soup
serves 4-6
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 tsp 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
)
French Dining School
French Onion soup
serves 4-6
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 tsp 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
)

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Our Latest Review on Trip Adviser

5 of 5 starsReviewed 5/1/2016NEW
I spent the week over New Year's with my 15 year old daughter at Niall and Poul's French Dining School and we had the best time ever chopping, slicing, dicing, mincing, julienne-ing, whisking, frying, boiling, simmering, baking, roasting, tasting, adding more butter/salt/cream/lemon and re-tasting, plating, and sitting down to eat with good wine and conversation! The setting is true Brittany, in the green rolling countryside, in Niall and Poul's lovely stone Breton farmhouse which they have renovated themselves. The house, kitchen and instruction are a reflection of the hosts; warm, inviting, a dream to work with. Everything is made easy, clear, and not the least bit intimidating, although as you can see from the pictures you end up creating some fantastic haute cuisine dishes, and you leave thinking, "I can do this at home!"

I would add that as an American who has lived and explored in France for several years, I still found myself learning new things every day. Even if you feel you 'know' France I would say you will still get quite a bit out of this experience and shouldn't feel hesitant about taking the course because you already have spent time in France or Brittany. And my teenage daughter also found lots to do and learn that did not involve her smart phone or an ipad! In addition, she does not eat red meat and we found Poul and the menu to be exceedingly accommodating with her diet and easy for her to find things to eat every meal. While we were there a friend of theirs with Celiac disease also joined us for several meals without problem--truly they are very open and adaptable to all diets and restrictions.

We stayed at a nearby gite with full amenities, arranged by Poul and Niall, which was wonderful. We had a car, and I would recommend one, but we also hitched a ride with another student on a couple of occasions to visit the local sites, as did another student who was car-less. There are also lots of walks right out your front door, and this being Brittany I would recommend a raincoat and weatherproof shoes if it's not high summer, but otherwise we did not need anything but a pair of comfy shoes for working in the kitchen.

Finally, as all other reviews reflect, the food is excellent and you will come away with new knowledge and confidence, but the people and friends you will make truly make the experience great. Can't recommend enough!

JM

Visited January 2016